The Nightmare Tour
By Mike Stevens
A Sir Robert Tale
Sir Robert Timkins had made a fateful decision; he was well aware of the fact that Sledgehammer Nightmare, his death metal/opera hybrid band, hadn't been doing well enough; and that he'd already sunk a small fortune into promoting the band, but, with the last of the money from the 2nd mortgage he'd taken out on his home, he was going to go all in. He'd charter a bus, and Sledgehammer Nightmare would tour; tour their a***s off! He knew some may consider what he was thinking as foolish, even reckless, but nobody ever got ahead in this world by being too chicken-s**t to take a risk; and he was really rolling the dice on this one!
He had called venues in all the major cities, and, once the people on the other end of the phone managed to stop laughing long enough to manage a no, he was already ready to slam the phone down in disgust, which is exactly what he'd done more than once. He was getting desperate. The others were expecting to hit the road, but he hadn't lined up one single show. He HAD to line up some shows, besides, there was the 2nd mortgage deal. His a** was hanging out a mile on this one!
"Are you ready?" asked Sir Robert of the other band members, who were already seated on the chartered bus, the only thing he could afford; a 1968 old school bus, that he'd chartered from his neighbor, Crazy Carl Downer. Crazy Carl collected old vehicles and restored them.
"You can charter it, but I've got to warn you, I haven't had time to work on her yet. I was going to buy a replacement part here, a replacement part there, until I was finished with her, but since you need her badly, she's all yours!" Carl had told him.
Sir Robert had priced chartering an actual new touring bus, but had come to the conclusion they were too damn expensive, and, since he'd only lined up one lower-paying gig, he needed to do what he could to save a few bucks.
Everyone was ready, and they chugged out to the freeway, with Sir Robert at the wheel. A massive cloud of oil turned the outside air blue, and the fumes made their way inside, and the hacking and coughing from everyone could have drowned out a nearby jet engine.
"S**t, Robert--eh, hack, hack--where did dig up these fossilized remains!" drummer Knuckles McGinnty managed to choke out between loud hacks.
They pulled up to Roller Balls Skating rink, and a collective sigh of dismay could be heard.
"What the hell's this s**t?" asked guitarist 'Amplified Thunder' Dave Dripper. "We'd better be here to get some exercise, or you're lost, because this is seriously messed up!"
"No, we're here to play an all-ages show; it's nicer inside than it looks." Actually, it looked about as bad as it could get, but Sir Robert had to put a happy face on the situation. He'd been desperate, and the others didn't yet know the worst of it; they were here to play a 13 year old kid's birthday party. Sir Robert told everyone to stay on the bus, while he went inside to find out what was what. He walked inside, blinking in the gloom, and saw a stage set up at one end of the rink. A woman came up and said,
"Hello, you must be the entertainment for little Ralphie's birthday party; I'm Mrs. Sloane," and she stuck out her hand.
"Nice to meet you, I'm Sir Robert Timkins." He'd kept the fact they were a death metal band from her, as he hadn't had any luck advertising the name Sledgehammer Nightmare. He hadn't told the other members yet, but he'd probably have to soon. Here he had pushed for this "tour", and it was a total disaster, at least so far. He had lined up nothing else, and judging by the looks of this, that was probably a fortunate thing. He was holding off on telling them; just hoping for a miracle!
"Would you mind if I ask you where the name Roller Balls Roller Rink came from? It seems a very different name."
"Oh, certainly; as I understand it, the movie Rollerball is the owners' favorite movie, and he wanted to pay homage."
Well, to Sir Robert, the owner sounded like he must be huffing glue!
They had lugged all their equipment in and set it up. When Mrs. Sloane had caught site of their equipment, she had remarked,
"Say, that looks more like a loud band would use, than an operatic one."
Sir Robert had had to keep his response vague. "Oh, it looks louder than it is." Boy, what a whopper!
"Well, okay, but I wanted wholesome entertainment, and the name Sir Robert Timkins carries quite a bit of weight in opera circles."
Oh s**t! "All I can say is you'll be very surprised once you hear our music. Not to worry, Mrs. Sloane."
The kids in the audience were excited; a real singing star, here! They watched as the band took the stage; then they began to play. An incredible wall of noise assaulted the children's ears, then Sir Robert began to make noises that the thunderstruck kids could only liken to a choking farm animal.
"Ohhh, a witches brew of unholy screams, filled the air of this whorehouse of misery!"
The song came to the end, and the members of Sledgehammer Nightmare listened to the deafening roar of silence, as both children and parents alike struggled to react to what they'd just heard. They were just about to launch into their next song, when Mrs. Sloane calmly walked over to the plug-in for their instruments, and pulled the plug for everything. The drummer kept going until he wasn't joined by anyone else, then he stopped too. A livid Mrs. Sloan stomped over to Sir Robert, who was checking to see if the microphone was somehow miraculously working, and said,
"This show is OVER! Totally inappropriate!"
The bus, filled with gas exhaust and depression, slowly limped back the way it had come. Sir Robert had finally told the band the truth, and the other members sat in depressed silence, and shot murderous glances at Sir Robert. S**t, was it his fault the little b******s at the roller rink couldn't tell fine music when they heard it?