Sledgehammer Nightmare, Chapter Three

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Opera music, heavy metal cross!

Chapter Three:
After the disaster of “Sledgehammer-Fest”, he figured it was all over, but like most of his figuring, he had figured wrong; his dream had come true, although Sir Robert Timkins still didn’t know how they had been picked to open for one of the biggest bands in the nation, Square Hole.  He thought back to the strange phone conversation he’d had with Square Hole’s manager, Dirk Rammer:
“Hello?” Sir Robert stumbled to the phone and answered.  He had a gut-churning hangover from drinking the antifreeze, strained through a loaf of bread, that he’d become desperate enough to swill.  This being beyond poor blew.  The guy on the other end of the phone line, answered,
“Yes, hello, is this Sir Robert Timkins?”
Sir Robert immediately became suspicious.  It sounded like a bill collector.  “Who wants to know, and why are you yelling?”
“This is Dirk Rammer, manager for Square Hole; and I’m yelling because there’s a concert going on behind me, and I’d like to make myself heard.  I’m trying to reach Sir Robert Timkins to see if Sledgehammer Nightmare would be interested in opening for Square Hole when we play in Big City as scheduled?”
Square Hole, only the biggest band on the planet; this HAD to be a bill collector, although he could definitely hear music in the background.  “Ah, no, he’s not here, but I’ll give him the message.”
“And who might I be talking to?”
“Ah, this is his butler, Langdon Larimore.”
“Well Langdon,  please have him call me at 555-1000 as soon as he can; we’d like an answer as soon as possible.  We’re anxious to get you guys locked in so we can concentrate on the show at The Roundhouse Coliseum Saturday night.”
As he was saying good bye, Sir Robert heard in the background, the cheering of thousands of people, and the unmistakable melody of “Fire Walker”, the current number 1 with a bullet, runaway hit for Square Hole.  Maybe this guy was legit.  
“Alright, I admit to being Sir Robert Timkins.  I thought maybe you were a bill collector; I’ve had a little trouble with money lately.”
“Sorry to here that, Sir Robert; no, I’m not a bill collector, and will $25,000 dollars guarantied help with your money problems?”
Sir Robert felt his hangover disappear, and he croaked, “$25,000, dollars?”
“Yeah, $25,000 dollars.”
“How would that work?”
“Well, all you’d need to do is agree to open up for Square Hole, and we’ll pay you $25,000 dollars.”
“No way; I don’t even need to ask the other guys, the answer is YES!”
And so, here were the members of Sledgehammer Nightmare, looking out from backstage, on the milling crowd.  They were all surprised; none more so than Sir Robert Timkins.  He was finding it a trifle hard to believe they were about to be playing before a ‘milling’ crowd.  “Milling”.
Dirk Rammer was talking to lead guitarist Mack Daddy of Square Hole.  Daddy was saying,
“...and I don’t know where you keep finding bands who suck, so that when we come on, all we have to do is strike any chord even close to at the same time, and we’re Increda-Band.”
“Well, you know how it is; I fly into town ahead of your show, and strike up a conversation with someone about the local music scene.  Then, after they list the good bands, I’ll casually ask about the s**t bands.  They’ll know.  After I hear a couple of names, I’ll make some excuse, and bail.  Then, I’ll look up their number, and make contact with one of the crap bands, usually THE worst one, and offer them a lot of money to open up the show.”
Daddy chuckled, as they walked backstage.
Sir Robert, along with the others, was totally nervous, as they waited to go
onstage.  The crowd was HUGE; this wasn’t really happening to them, he must be having a delusion.  And yet, there they were, at least 25,000 screaming rockers, awaiting Sledgehammer Nightmare; or more accurately, awaiting Square Hole, but this was what he’d long dreamed of.  The band had been given a chance for massive publicity, and, by god, they weren’t going to waste it.
They opened with ‘No Good News’; Sir Robert thought it was sufficiently depressing enough the keep the audience happy, or at least keep them mollified.  
“No Good News means nothing but bad; No Good News, alright, it’s so rad!”  
Then he could hear it; booing.  After finishing the song, they decided to stop playing; well, to be honest, the coins and rocks hurled at them may have had a little bit to do with it.  
Sir Robert was depressed, again; his unique experiment just wasn’t working out.  He needed to fine-tune his ideas.
The cheering crowd was ringing in the ears of Sir Robert Timkins.  He was vindicated.  Finally, a crowd who appreciated his unique vision; which was crossing opera with death metal, to form a one-of-a-kind musical experience.  He stood on the stage and soaked in the applause.  THIS was what he’d dreamed about when he’d first thought up the idea.  True, someone else had thought up the idea, but he had gradually been won over into thinking that way also.  Granted, up until this very moment, nothing but bad had come from his vision, but this made up for all that.  
Sir Robert awoke to the rays of the morning sun streaming though his bedroom window.  It had all been a dream.  He thought bitterly, Well, that sucks.  He felt cold despair wash over him.  Why couldn’t it have been real?
Later that same day, Sir Robert was watching an old movie, A Night to
Remember on T.V., when his phone rang.  He hit mute on his television, and answered the phone,
“Sir Robert speaking, hello?”
“Yes, my name is Larry Lightoller, and I’m the entertainment director for Sea-Spray Cruise Lines, and I understand you might be interested in providing the entertainment on one of our cruises?”
What? A death metal band on a cruise ship?  Then he remembered the temp agency must still have him listed as an opera singer.  Hey, an opportunity is an opportunity.  “Yes, that’s right, only now I have an entire band.; is that going to be a problem?”
“No, Mr. Timkins, we can make allowances for the great opera singer, Sir Robert Timkins.”
Sledgehammer Nightmare was aboard the cruise ship, Aquanatica, on it’s Alaskan cruise.   Sir Robert would have preferred a Caribbean cruise, but hey; a cruise was a cruise.  He hadn’t advertised the new name; as the name Sir Robert Timkins sounded more like a name for cruise ship entertainment.
The ship’s lounge was overflowing with rich, snobby-looking people with their noses in the air.  They had set up behind a curtain, and had gone out of their way to disguise the fact they were a death metal band.  Would the snobs be in for a surprise?   Let’s hope they all have their heart medicine handy, Sir Robert thought to himself.  As he was thinking this, an amplified voice announced,
“Ladies and gentleman, tonight we have quite a treat for your listening pleasure;  give a warm reception to Sir Robert Timkins, a well-known opera singer!”
The curtain opened on a band dressed in black, and before the shocked look on the faces of the audience had faded, Sir Robert let out a scream, and a wall of noise engulfed them.
“Satan hear our cry, someone’s gonna die!”
If it could have been heard, the sound of silverware being dropped by aghast passengers who were eating dinner, and expected to watch a soothing , QUIET opera singer, instead were assaulted by an unbelievable wall of sound, put out by 5 guys who looked more like ax murderers than anything opera.  Just then, the ship shuddered beneath their feet, and glass wear fell to the floor, where it shattered.  Screams were heard from the passengers, as well as the members of Sledgehammer Nightmare, who’s song abruptly ground to a halt.  Everyone looked frantically at each other, as no one knew what was going on.  Then, a voice came over the intercom.
“This is Captain Astor speaking.  We’ve struck an iceberg, and are sinking; please...”
Sir Robert didn’t hear anymore, as he sprinted out of the lounge, and made a panicked dash for a lifeboat, ANY lifeboat.  
The rescue ship Red Cross 5 steamed into Juneau, with 1,243 fortunate souls on board; 643 men, and 600 women.  What authorities couldn’t figure out, was the fact that, according to the Aquanatica’s manifest, there should have been one more man, and one less woman on board, but the total number was correct.  All passengers and crew had been accounted for.
Sir Robert was p****d; he’d panicked, and because in his mind, all he could see were the unlucky passengers on board the Titanic, where, if you were a man, you had almost no hope of getting on board a lifeboat.  So he’d stolen a dress from the lady who was staying in the stateroom next door, and climbed aboard a lifeboat.  He’d been dismayed when he overheard one crew member talking to another about sweeping the ship to make sure they hadn’t missed anyone.  He hadn’t needed the dress; apparently, not having enough lifeboats for all the passengers was a thing of the past, but he’d been so panicked, he had decided to become a cross dresser in order to ensure his safety.  Now, as Red Cross 5 neared the pier, there was a man insisting to help, and this he’d overheard the man say to a fellow passenger, when the guy thought Sir Robert was out of hearing range, ‘The hot broad’, meaning him, find their hotel.   It was the classic’ Some Like it Hot’ scenario, but he didn’t find it the least bit funny.
After the ill-fated cruise, Sir Robert thought it would be a good time to step away from the pressures of The Nightmare Tour, and concentrate on writing the best possible songs for the upcoming release of Sledgehammer Nightmare’s first album.  Granted, nobody else was aware of this fact as of yet, but Sir Robert had reached this decision on his own.  And, he was bound and determined not let the fact of being signed by exactly nobody stop his idea.  They’d just been lucky to have survived the close call with the iceberg, so the boys would be up for getting back to normal, or a least normal for them, and recording an album, at least as good of an album as the old reel-to-reel tape recorded would allow.
When he’d told the others of his idea, at first they’d laughed, until they realized he was serious.  He had written 11 songs, all they would have to do was learn them.  He’d made them each a tape recording of his songs, so they’d know them.
Sir Robert had his old reel-to-reel tape recorder set up in his basement, and the other members of Sledgehammer Nightmare stared around them in amazement, as if to say, ‘You’ve GOT to be kidding?’  Sir Robert said,
“Let’s get to it.  Knuckles, you set up your drums next to the hot water heater.,” he commanded drummer Knuckles Magginty.  The rest of you, set up over here by the washer and dryer.  
They were ready to begin recording at last.  Knuckles Magginty blurted,
“This isn’t going to work; the sound quality will be terrible.”
Sir Robert shot back with, “Hey, it’s the only thing we can afford.  Let’s make the best we can of it.”
The band was all ready; Sir Robert pushed ‘record’, and drummer Magginty launched into ‘Good day to Die’.
The crushing, bruising guitars joined in, and Sir Robert sang,
“It’s a Good Day to Die, it’s not exactly clear why!”
The song crunched to an end, and an anxious Sir Robert rewound the tape.  All the members were gathered around the 1950’s era reel-to-reel, Sir Robert pushed ‘play’, and the drums could be heard, but when the others came in, just a droning hum could be heard.
“What is that?” Magginty wanted to know.  The others exchanged looks, and Sir Robert replied, “It sounds to me like the recording microphone was overwhelmed.  We should all turn down, and try it again.” 
Through trial and error, mostly error, a happy medium was reached where all the instruments and Sir Robert’s vocals could be heard, although it still sounded like muddy s**t.  
“Well, I’ll make everyone their own copy on a cassette, so they can listen,” said Sir Robert.  Inside, he was totally depressed, thinking there was no way this was good enough, but outwardly, he had to act enthused.  He would make the rounds to record stores, and try to get them to buy, but with the sound quality they’d achieved, the sound of two cats in a dryer, humping, would have sounded like a masterpiece, comparatively.
“Ah, ha, ha, ha,” was the response from the record store owner that Sir Robert Timkins had approached about selling Sledgehammer Nightmare’s self-produced album, “Well Beyond Disaster.”  So far at least, this was the typical reaction.  He’d expected it would be a hard sell, and his expectations were being met.  
Sir Robert walked into Bomb Casing Records, and his eyes sought out the manager or owner.  A man wearing a “Love Machine; Just Insert a Quarter!”  Maybe a couple of ROLLS of quarters, and maybe not even then, tee shirt, he thought, asked,
“Can I help you, sir?” 
“Yeah,  I’d like to expose, eh, you, to--“
“Whoa, there, perv!”
“No, expose you to a great new band, Sledgehammer Nightmare.”
“Oh, if it’s metal, I’d be more than happy to hear it.”
“Great, do you have a cassette deck I could use?”
“Sure, I’ll play it on the store’s system.”
He put in the tape, and the far-away sound of some type of music came on, along with some overpowering drums. 
“Holy s**t; that’s awful,” complained the storeowner/manager.
Sir Robert then said, “So, that’s a no?”
He had decided to skip stores and sell the album on line.  So far, they had sold a total of 5; each member of the band had purchased one.  Time to focus on our stage show; I guess we’ll become renowned as a live act, thought Sir Robert.
Let’s see; a picture of a ferocious bear, with claws bared, standing on it’s haunches, about to attack a boy scout troupe.  He was trying to come up with a huge backdrop picture for their live show.
“What the hell, a picture of a blob of s**t with legs, chasing a bunch of circus clowns?  I don’t get it,” smirked Knuckles Magginty, the band’s drummer, upon seeing the amateurishly-drawn backdrop.  
“Hey, it’s supposed to be a grizzly bear chasing a helpless boy scout troupe,” answered Sir Robert.  “I think it turned out rather well, considering I had a limited budget.”
“Yeah, hiring some 3rd grade finger painters was a stroke of genius,” replied Magginty.
“Hey, how did you know?” Sir Robert then said.
“I was kidding,” responded Magginty.  
Oops; “Yeah, so was I.”  Well, the rest of the band had no idea how hard everything was with a limited budget.
“Mountains of evil, tower over your head; you’d be looking at them, but you’re dead!” screamed Sir Robert.  Sledgehammer Nightmare was opening the ‘Losers with No Hope’ concert.  The 5 kids in attendance raised their fists and punched the air.  
As they finished their set, Sir Robert rushed to get everything loaded in the 1973 shag-carpeted van he had purchased from “Free-Love Reasoner”, a burned-out hippy woman from the drug days.  As he was finishing up, a teenager wearing jeans that hung so low, his a** looked like it was trying to escape jean prison, came up to him and asked,
  “Awesome show, dudes; except what’s with the blob of s**t with legs backdrop?”
Oh, well, he should have known better than to agree to open for a bunch of bands he’d met at an all-you-can-eat chili place.  He’d been sitting there eating his 9th bowl of chili; which was the reason he felt like he was riding a self-propelled a**-rocket; when he’d overheard this group of vampire-people, who were dressed all in black, which matched their fingernails, saying they had put together an all-ages concert called the “Losers with No Hope’ festival.  Sir Robert piped up with,
“Excuse me, gentleman, I couldn’t help but overhear you have a metal show planned.  Any chance my band could get in on this deal?”  BIG mistake!
Black shadows flashed before the eyes of Sir Robert Timkins.  Nothing was going right; his idea to cross opera with death metal had gone from a high-flying jet, to an albatross with deformed wings, plummeting down to be smashed to bits on the rocks of reality; he tried to get out of bed, but why?  
The ringing of the phone shattered the cone of silence he had over his head; in reality, it was just his blankets; and a bony arm that may or may not have been attached to his shoulder, snaked it’s way up to the phone. 
“Yeah?” he barked into the receiver.
“Yes, I’m trying to reach Sir Robert Timkins; I’m told he’s the man in charge of Sledgehammer Nightmare.”
“Well, he stopped giving a s**t about anything a long time ago, but I’ll give him a message anyway,” he retched into the phone. 
“If you would please tell him that Reed Duecer called from ‘The Disadvantaged Youth of America’, and he would like to invite Sledgehammer Nightmare to perform live during our ‘Disadvantaged Youth Telethon’, on cable access channel 4,678 on this coming Saturday.  Of coarse, there would be no pay.”
Suddenly, the dark shadows that had taken over Sir Robert’s mind lifted.  The Hammer lived!  “Mr. Duecer, we’d LOVE to , I mean, ‘yes.’”
The members of Sledgehammer Nightmare had loaded all their gear into the tiny studio.  They were scheduled to play right after ‘Whiz Green and his Magic Saw’.  
Whiz Green had finished, mercifully, and The Hammer was ready to rock.  Sir Robert had written a new song on the way here, and he wanted to be sure everyone knew their part.  Everyone answered yes, so it looked to him like they were as ready as they’d ever be.
“Ladies and gentlemen, next up, we have a special treat for you,”  said the announcer, “some of you younger viewers may have heard of this next band; would you welcome to our studios, and your television, Sledgehammer Nightmare!   And don’t forget, call in your pledge, to benefit ‘The Disadvantaged Youth of America.”
Sir Robert approached the microphone, and said, “Thank you; we’d like to play a new song we wrote to honor why we’re all here.  It goes something like this.  A one, and a two...” 
Suddenly, the walls of the little studio almost seemed to bulge outward under the onslaught of just about the heaviest riff anyone had ever heard.
“Just send your money to help these loser kids, and you’ll feel better.  Just a little money is all it takes, but what a difference in these loser kids lives it makes!  Yeah, these loser kids need all the help you can give; they’ll more than likely still be losers, but at least they have some cas---” 
At this point, the band looked like a reject pantomime outfit, as the continued to play their instruments, while nothing was coming out of their amplifiers.  
“What the hell?” asked a livid Sir Robert.  Reed Duecer appeared, and replied,
“What kind of lyrics are those?  We pulled the plug on this absolute c**p; we’re trying to help these children, not call them names.”
The black shadows had once again descended over the eyes of Sir Robert Timkins.  Once again he failed to understand what they’d done wrong.  All they were singing about was true.  Once again he thought, this is the year of my discontent!
Davis Conover had gotten out of jail; not released, mind you, but escaped.  He had climbed inside a bread truck making a delivery to the prison.  He’d been locked up for the last two years, and that seemed long enough to him.  Up until that point, he’d been a model prisoner; ingratiating himself with Warden Foster.   As a result, he was outside sweeping the parking lot, unsupervised, which was against every rule of the prison, but, because the Warden trusted him, the normal rules didn’t apply.  He had watched as the Boffo’s Bagels truck had pulled in to restock the prison’s supply.  He’d been looking for a way back to freedom, and this was it.  He waited until the driver went inside the prison, and climbed in.  Luckily, the keys were still in the ignition.  He was planning on hiding in the back, but this was perfect.  With the keys left in the ignition, he simply started the van, and drove away.
He abandoned the bagel van about 10 miles from the prison, as he didn’t think driving around an advertising sign, that screamed, 
“Bagels; Escaped Convicts Here!” was a great idea.  
The first thing he did was change his name to Shorty Phallis.  Then he had run some child-like scams on people; strictly nickel and dime stuff, but they gave him enough cash to lie low, while he came up with his bigger scam; one that would make him a healthy chunk of change (or, whopper dollars). 
Sir Robert read the ad again.  “Are you a band that just needs to get some exposure for your music, and your band would make the big-time?  Well, here’s your chance; expose yourselves; play before thousands; for a small, one-time fee of $2,000 dollars, your band will get to play at my ‘Big-Fun, Big-Time’ concert, two weeks from this coming Saturday. And just who the hell am I you ask?  Well, I was a powerful concert promoter, who, because of a crack cocaine problem, and prison time, fell from grace.  I mention that only so you’ll know I want the big-time again as much as your band wants to make it initially.  So just send $2,000 dollars (in unmarked bills; ha, a little prison humor) to P.O. box 787 here in town, and I’ll tell you the when and where; please make checks payable to Shorty Phallis.”
Sir Robert felt a surge of excitement.  This sounded like just the thing for his band, Sledgehammer Nightmare.  $2,000 dollars would use up all the money he had managed to save from doing odd jobs around town for the last 6 months, but this was just the opportunity he’d been saving up for; The Hammer was about to explode all over America.
Shorty Phallis, or in reality, Davis Conover, smiled to himself.  Another idiot band had fallen for his bulls**t.  What was these moron’s band name?  Sledgehammer Nightmare.  They were the latest band to fall for the fantasy he was offering.  So far, 10 bands had sent in their money.  Well, he’d better call this Sledgehammer Nightmare and hand out more of his b.s.  
Sir Robert was worried.  Everyone had told him he was one gullible dip-s**t for sending in money, and the more he thought about it, the more he thought that maybe he should call his bank and put a stop payment on that particular check. 
Just when he had decided to do exactly that, his phone rang.
“Hello?” he said.
“Yes, I’m looking for Sir Robert Timkins.  This is Shorty Phallis, and I wanted to tell him that Sledgehammer Nightmare is scheduled to hit the main stage at The Big-Fun, Big-Time concert I’m holding at 8 pm.  They’ll be right after Anarchy, Inc.  The location is 1234 Upper-Crust Way, here in town.”
“Really?  This is Sir Robert Timkins, and great; we’ll be there, and thank you for calling.”  He hung up the phone.  Well, it looked like he hadn’t been so dumb, after all.  
Davis Conover thought, wait until they pull up to a sewage pumping station to play.   He should have been thinking about leaving town; he’d forgotten one major thing. 
Sir Robert couldn’t hold in the excitement; he had to go see where they’d be playing.  He had to walk, because this $2,000 was all his money.  He set out walking, and miles later, he was still walking.
This couldn’t be right; all he saw at that address was a sewage pumping station.  Surely, he’d gotten the address wrong; but no, this was the place.  He at first felt shock, but that quickly morphed into blinding rage.  He’d been duped.
He tried to think of his next move.  He was hacked with himself for wanting something so much, he’d been blind to the danger of just sending money, money which he could ill-afford to lose, into some stranger on his word alone.  There wasn’t much he could do, however.  The chances of this Shorty Phallis calling from his own home phone were zero, but what else could he do?   He punch *69 on his phone, and got the number.  He dialed the number with dread running through his veins.  He just knew that no one would answer; that he’d find out later it was a pay phone.  But, almost right away, Shorty Phallis’s voice answered, “This is Davis Conover, how may I help you?”
Davis Conover?  Of course, Shorty Phallis was only an assumed name.  He hung up the phone without saying anything.  He’d be damned; Phallis, or Conover, had been stupid enough.
The knocking on his front door woke Davis Conover from a sound sleep.  He groggily stumbled his way to the front door.
“Yes?” he asked after unlocking the door and opening it.
“Mr. Davis Conover?” asked a man of medium height, whom Davis had never seen before.
“Yes; is there a problem?”, he said into the chilly air of the still-darkened morning.
“Davis Conover, you’re under arrest for fraud,” replied the man, suddenly brandishing a policeman’s badge, and waving it in front of him. 
Sir Robert Timkins felt a little better when the police had called, saying Davis Conover had been arrested.  Once he had learned the man he knew as Shorty Phallis’s actual name was Davis Conover, and he was still at his home, which Sir Robert found stunningly moronic, he’d looked up the name Davis Conover in the phone book, gotten the address, gave all the information to the police, and they had made the arrest.  Now, it may take a while, but he had a chance to recover his money.  He was still bitterly disappointed that Sledgehammer Nightmare had taken it in the shorts yet-again, but at least Shorty Phallis had been brought to justice.
Davis Conover had broken out of prison once again, thanks to a file baked into a cake.  It was the most clichéd way that always seemed to work in the movies, but you would never try it in real life, unless your name was Davis Conover.  He figure it was like hiding from someone; the best place to hide was it plain sight.  On one of his phoning times, he had called Chef Harry Pile, who had been a prisoner once himself, and instructed him to bake a cake, with a file in it, and send it to him at the prison.  Harry had asked him,
“What, a 3-layer cake, a bunt cake, what?”
Davis just shook his head at the receiver, and replied, “Oh, maybe one of those German chocolate ones; mmm, yeah, a Germen chocol--who gives a s**t?  Any kind of cake that will conceal a saw.”
“Well, I just wanted you to be happy with it,” Pile responded
Such was the crap he had to deal with when his partner in crime also ran a bakery.  He’d first met Harry Pile in Fordham Correctional Facility, or as it was referred to by the inmates, “The Foreskin Factory.”  
Sir Robert Timkins drove down the highway in the used, but tricked-out 67 VW bus he had just purchased.  He had FINALLY gotten his $2,000 back from 
the police.  It had taken Sir Robert months to get his money returned, but now, as he cruised down the highway in his tricked-out roadster (the van), it all seemed like it was all a bad dream.  
Davis Conover had made it to the freeway.  He was FREE.  He’d been sitting in his cell, when the guard yelled into his cell,
“Hey, Dick, you have a box from your Aunt Lucy; looks like a cake or something.”
“My names not Dick, it’s Davis.”
“Oh, many apologies; it’s just that you look like a Dick to me.”
“Ha, ha; you want to open my cell?”
“Say, what kind of cake is it; and is your Aunt Lucy a looker?  A woman who can bake AND is hot; perfection.”
What is this,1932?  That attitude went out with the Hoover administration.  And considering he HAD no Aunt Lucy, it was his escape tool, smothered in chocolate.  “Ah, she’s not a very good cook, and my Uncle Brutus might take exception to that question.”
“Oh, well here you go, Dick, I hope you enjoy it, Dick,” and with that, he unlocked the cell door and handed Davis the cake.  
Davis immediately saw the overhead light glinting off a blade, where it protruded from one side of the chocolate cake.  He glance up sharply at the guard, but either he was oblivious, or stupid (Davis guessed the later), because he was already headed back to the guard’s office.   Then he noticed the handle sticking out of the other side.  Boy, Harry had done a masterful job.
After he had used the saw to escape, he had called Harry from a payphone beside the highway.  He knew he should just get out of the area as fast as he could, but he was hacked.
When Harry had answered, he said sarcastically, “Boy, Harry, great job, hiding the saw.  You may as well have made the cake in the shape of a saw, you were so obvious about it.”
“Sorry, Davis, but the saw was too big; I couldn’t find a cake pan big enough.”
Anyway, now he was out and had to get as far from the prison as possible, as quickly as possible.  He saw a van approaching, and stuck out his thumb.
Sir Robert was just enjoying the sunshine on this beautiful morning.  He had Lumps cranked; Lumps was his new favorite death metal band, and he pounded the side of the bus below his open window.  Life was good.  He shaded his eyes against the morning sunshine that was blinding him, as he drove east.  Damn, was it hard to see.
The van didn’t seem to be slowing; and Davis started getting a funny, uneasy feeling.  He backed away from the roadway, but not fast enough.
Sir Robert was blinded.  He just couldn’t see.  He felt the buzz of crossing the outside warning strip, so he veered left.  The thought of slowing down never entered his mind.  Instead, he kept trying to cut down the glare with his hand, and sped on.
The van veered right at him, and Davis threw himself to his right, and tumbled end-over-end down a boulder-strewn hillside; he felt a surge of adrenalin, then nothing.
There was the warning buzzer again; he was off the roadway.  He slammed on his brakes, thought he saw a man dive out of the way, but he couldn’t be sure, and slid to a stop amid a huge cloud of dust.  As he sat there stunned, waiting for his heart to quit trying to escape from his chest, he looked in his rear view mirror and saw there was a big hill feet away.  He’d come THIS close to buying it.  When at last his heart quit beating wildly, he got out, and glanced down the hillside.  He thought now that he’d only imagined a guy jumping out of the way, but it looked like a shape lying at the bottom of the hill, 100 ft or so back up the road.  He walked closer, and saw that it was indeed a man sprawled out at the bottom of the hill.  He ran back to his VW bus, grabbed his cell phone, and called for help.
Davis Conover slowly swam his way back towards the light.  Owe, the bright light was blinding; he didn’t recall what had happened, or where he was.  “Hey, man,” he said to the man in uniform bending over him, “what happened; where am I?”
The man wearing the uniform answered,  “Oh, you’re awake.  You’re in an ambulance, and you had a close call.  You suffered a head injury when you fell down a rock-strewn hillside, diving out of the way of a van.  The man reported the accident to police, and when we checked your wallet for identification, we found out your name is Davis Conover, the same Davis Conover who had just escaped from The State Penitentiary; and when Robert Timkins found out your name, he went nuts.  I thought for a second we’d have to arrest him.  Oh, by the way, say hello to Officer Danbury.”
“Hello, Mr. Conover, I hope the prison hospital is okay with you?”
Now he remembered, s**t!
Enough! Sir Robert Timkins said to himself.  He’d sat around and bemoaned the fact that his hybrid band, Sledgehammer Nightmare, wasn’t going anywhere, and for far too long.  He was sick of trying to figure out where they’d gone wrong.  He just didn’t get it.  He needed to stop dwelling on their failure and get out of the house.  He hadn’t been record shopping in a while; he’d hit the local record store, and just browse.
The booming and throbbing beat of some kind of metal greeted Sir Robert as he walked into Hell-Hammer records, and looked for the cassette section.  It was nice to just be a customer looking through records, well, cassettes, really.  He’d forgotten how much he’d enjoyed this.  Lately, all he’d been focused on was Sledgehammer Nightmare.  He’d put everything his life used to be about, such as just enjoying a day out at a record store, on hold because of his burning desire to have The Hammer be a success.  His eyes lazily scanned the titles for sale.  He wished he could afford something, but with the way Sledgehammer Nightmare was sucking the money out of his pocket, he couldn’t; he was flat broke.  
He was thinking it was about time to get going, when his eyes fell on the new Steamhammer Deluxe album, ‘ The Face-Torch Fire Brigade’.  Wow; that he just had to have; he loved Steamhammer Deluxe; but, he was flat-a** broke.  There was no way he could buy that.  But damn it, he wanted it.  He should have enough guts to just swipe it.  No, he wasn’t that type.  Or was he?  He looked at the door; no one could see.  The cash register was clear on the other side of the store.  It was tempting.  He fought a war with his conscience, with guilt on one side, and greed on the other.  
Guilt said, “Don’t do it, it would be dishonest!”  
From the opposite end of his brain, greed smiled seductively, and whispered, “Oh, come on, do it.  You know you want it; no one’s looking, just stuff it down your pants, and casually walk out!”
Greed won the argument.  It was a hot day, and he’d worn shorts.  He grabbed the cassette, and jammed it down the front.  He nervously glanced at the sales clerk, way across the store; no one had seen.  He casually walked, rather stiff legged, towards the door.  This was easy. 
Guilt kept up a running commentary in his head, telling him this was so wrong, but greed shouted him down, saying why the hell not; after all, did he or did he not want the damn tape?  If he did, this was the only way.  
As he approached the door, he stole one more nervous glance at the sales clerk, and reached out to open the door.  The sun was shimmering, and he was headed home with rock.  As his hand found the bar that would open the door, a screeching wail rang through the store.  An alarm; oh s**t!  He saw the sales clerk running towards him, and panicked.  He sprinted out the door. 
“Stop, thief,” the sales clerk yelled behind him.  As he ran, the stolen tape flew out of his shorts and clattered to the pavement.  It slid along the pavement, but Sir Robert kept running; desperate to get away.  He cut through the parking lot between two parked cars.  Behind him, he heard the sales clerk shout from the doorway of the record shop,
“Somebody stop him; he’s a shoplifter!”
All he had to do is make it out of the parking lot, and then he could disappear among the many buildings.  He was going to make it; what had he been thinking?  He was no thie---suddenly, without warning, the door of one of the two cars he was cutting between swung open.  He couldn’t stop, and ran head on into the door.  All forward momentum was instantly halted, and Sir Robert remembered nothing after that.
The bright light hurt his eyes.  He blinked in confusion; where was he?  A medic was looking into his eyes with a penlight flashlight.  
“Officer,” the medic said to a guy in a policeman’s uniform, who was standing behind him, “he’ll be okay, he just got his bell rung.”
“Okay, thanks; are you sure this is the man?”  This last comment was directed to the store clerk, who replied,
“Yeah, that’s the shoplifter.”
Oh c**p, now he remembered.  
The policeman was saying to the acne-faced sales clerk, “Boy, it’s a good thing that older lady opened her car door to go to bingo when she did, or he may have got away.”
Sir Robert Timkins tried in vain to roll over and get some sleep.  His mind kept thinking about their upcoming performance at the big ‘Rocka-Paloosa’ concert today.  He knew this was Sledgehammer Nightmare’s big chance, as roughly 100,000 fans would be in attendance.  He knew they had only been invited to play after he’d begged and pleaded and basically groveled to his friend, Max Davis, who was in charge of booking the show.  Granted, he hadn’t called Max, whom he’d met doing community service after being arrested, since he’d picked up garbage inside and outside the arena Max owned, but when he’d read in the paper that ‘Rocka-Paloosa’ was going to be held at The Arrow Dome.  The Arrow Dome is where he’d drawn trash duty, and he knew Mac was the also manager there, and he was damn sure going to take advantage.  He reflected on their telephone conversation:
Sir Robert had put on his invisible knee pads, and called up Max Davis.
“Arrow Dome, this Max Davis speaking, how may I help you?”
“Max, Max, it’s me, Robert Timkins”
“You know, Sir Robert Timkins?”
“Oh yeah, how are you doing?”  Inside, Max was still thinking who?
“I’m doing well; I read in the paper you’re having ‘Rocka-Paloosa” this year, and I’d very much like to get my band, Sledgehammer Nightmare, signed up to play.”
“I’m sorry, Robert, but we’ve already got all the bands.”
“Oh please?”
“I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do.”
“Please?  It would mean so much to me; please do it for our friendship?”
Max Davis thought, friendship, what friendship?  I don’t even remember who this clown is!  “I’m sorry, Robert, but the lineup is set.”
Sir Robert didn’t want to have to play this card, but he sensed a golden opportunity slipping away.  “Let me tell you that you might want to reconsider; 
I was emptying the trash in your office, and I happened to see that paper.  You’re embezzling lots of dough from the Arrow Dome.”
There was silence from the other end of the line.  “Are you still there?” asked Sir Robert.
“Eh, yeah, but how did you just ‘happen’ to see that paper?  It was at the bottom of one of the drawers.”
Nothing but silence came from Sir Robert, then he answered, “That doesn’t matter; what matters is, unless we are added to the bill, the press WILL be hearing about it.”
“Why, you snooping little b*****d!”
“Well, what’s it going to be; play or prison?”
Max was p****d, but he didn’t see any option.  “Okay, your band is in; and you’ll say nothing?”
Sir Robert was getting more and more tired as the day progressed.  He knew he should have slept, but all night, the excitement wouldn’t let him.  Now, he was finding it harder and harder to keep his eyes open.  Well, there was nothing he could do about catching some zees, they were due at The Arrow Dome in 1/2 an hour.
The members of Sledgehammer Nightmare were backstage, waiting to go on.  They had been told they’d go on next.  The members exchanged worried glances; where was Sir Robert?
Sir Robert awoke with a start.  Did he or didn’t he hear Sledgehammer Nightmare being introduced?  He hadn’t meant to fall asleep; he had gone into an empty office just to have some quiet, for he had a pounding headache, but he had made the mistake of closing his eyes, just for a second, and been jolted awake by their announcement.  Of all times for his lack of sleep last night to catch up to him.  He stumbled towards the stage, and picked up his wireless microphone, which had been tested, and was ready to go, and screamed,
“Are you ready for a Sledgehammer to your nuts?”  He then stumbled out on the stage.  
Max Davis was watching as “Hellalouya” got ready for their encore.  Suddenly, a thundering voice announced a dip-s**t saying, and Sir Robert Timkins staggered out onto the stage.
Sir Robert stared at the suddenly-quiet crowd.  Wait a minute, what was wrong with this picture?  Where the hell was HIS band?  
Sir Robert stared at the program on the T.V. without seeing it.  He’d made a total disgrace of himself.  He’d been so embarrassed, Sledgehammer Nightmare didn’t even play.  There was NO way in the world he was going back out there in front of 1000,000  people who now thought of him as Sir Robert D**k, lead singer for a band of d***s.
The End 

Submitted: November 17, 2016

© Copyright 2021 Mike S.. All rights reserved.

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That's the music business, I guess! It was like that in 79 and I'd say it's still the same. I loved it, Mike!!

Thu, November 17th, 2016 10:59pm


Thank much, Hully!

Thu, November 17th, 2016 3:02pm

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