Prime

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic


What happens when you come out of your prime?

Submitted: July 07, 2018

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Submitted: July 07, 2018

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  Check, check, one two three. And the microphone is working. Don’t touch it again, okay? Nope, that’s the extension cord! All good, now? Perfect.

Alright, Eric, whenever you’re ready. Lights, camera, action!

(hit single Timeless Revenge, fading out as the lights come up. Forty-year-old Eric “Rottweiler” Rodney sits in couch chair approx. fifteen feet from the camera—per his hesitant suggestion. Unlike previous interviews, he wears a maroon and gray flannel over a black Nirvana tee. He unkempt auburn hair falls limply over his ears, watery green eyes red-rimmed, exhausted. The past three years have not been kind to ol’ Rottweiler. His husky voice, still the same, the only distinguishable thing left of the ex-Rockstar.)

 “I had put a new meaning behind riding the high life—

 --hair so gelled it’s practically defying gravity, tattoos the memoirs of a wild life plastered on my arms—even their run-of-the-mill polo wearing dads would agree—abs the kids used to say you could “grate cheese on” (that I used to discarded my shirt for, both on and off stage, to please the female fanbase—and some of the males, because you never really knew, especially back then). Deafened by the screams of strangers, blinded by the flashing strobe lights. Everything’s all so…rad. Surreal—that’s a good song name, surreal…

(…sorry, I’ll keep going. Ahem.) 

It was like I’d entered Heaven, like I was the Devil taking a one month vacation in the good place, living among the mundane with tacky angel wings plastered onto their backs. Heads turn, whispers thrown around, a click of a camera shutter, then another, when I walked down the streets. Lucifer, the fallen angel, that’s what everyone told me I remind them of. Without the Devil horns, because I’m only human, after all ( yet another great song, goddamn). Two sleeves of rated-R tattoos winding up my biceps, auburn hair dyed dark, green eyes my fans told me give them the will to keep living (more specifically, the female database. God, you don’t know how much I miss them, man.).  

That was the prime, baby. Man, was I in my (f**king) prime. Sold out stadiums, our Mad Dogs swiggin’ down whiskey before we went on (and after, just for the kicks), my twenty-three year old metabolism. Life was good, man. Real, real good. High school band, signed, playing out in London by the time I was twenty-one. Man, I was floating all the way up in Heaven.”

  (Rottweiler glances down at his protruding gut. Tracing his sagging biceps. Patting down his balding hair. Clearing his throat.)

  “Yeah, the fall was hard. I’d forgotten how hard Purgatory’s floors are. I don’t remember how we crashed—all I remember was the three-month break we took after world tour. I went home, Jessie went home, Alfie—I thought, went home.  We were gonna begin working on the fourth studio album when we got back. Twenty-seven then, I think. I thought I was getting old then. If only I knew. Haha.”

(The wheeze, a hard gurgling sound, like a coffee grinder. He hacks a cough off the side of his red chair, wiping the tears from his reddened eyes.)

“When Alfie overdosed, I…I didn’t know what to do. Jessie didn’t know. Alfie was the brain, the technician. I wrote music, Jessie wrote solos, Alfie gave us a sound, monitored the recording and such. Helped with the distribution. Booked our gigs. He was the best drummer to ever walk the face of the Earth, I’ll tell ya. The crowds only appreciate the lead singer, I think, ‘cause I’m the name, the one who formed the group, I guess, the one everyone wants to interview because I’m the only voice that everyone else hears. Singing the words. But Alfie…he was the hero that no one gave any credit to. Always snooping around in the background, doing the dirty work. I don’t remember thanking him, not once. Now I really wish I could, just once. It’s funny how ya miss someone more once they’re dead, ya know what I mean? Alfie was more serious than the rest of us, but man, he could do everything. He was more the Rockstar than I was.

(Rottweiler sighs heavily, rubbing his eyes with the crook of his thumb and forefinger. They come away, glistening with tears.)

“But I didn’t admit to that, not in my prime. How could I? I was an idiot, too stuck up in my head to process what was going on around me. Even if I had realized…man, they would think I was a fraud! That my fame was being handed down to me by a comrade who hid behind some drums. I think Al killed himself to prove a point, to remind me who was really in charge. That bastard! God, I hate him, hate him so much for dying right at the peak of my—our—careers. Could have had anything we wanted, done anything we wanted, and no one would have cared…

 “…I wonder sometimes, why Alfie did it. Why he would kill himself during the peak of his career, his dream job, of traveling the world and playing on stages only the best Rockstars have ever played on. And getting drunk, whenever the bastard wanted. Maybe it was acknowledgement he wanted, the jealously of my fame, and his lack of it. But I think on it, and I know that’s not the reason, because Alfie was a shy little punk who didn’t need everyone else to make himself happy. Maybe he wanted to make a scene of his death, be remembered as the drummer from that one band that lead to its inevitable downfall. But that wasn’t in his character, either.

“I figured it all out a year ago, when I was in my small guitar shop, restringing some kid’s guitar, the broken AC haunting me in the ninety-five degree weather. Hating what my life became, so simple, so mundane—I hate the angel wings Alfie’s death gave me. Hating the memory of my prime, of people roaring their little heads off when I would strut on stage in leather tights and no shirt. The sound of the first chord strummed, the sweat beading down my forehead after the third song, the lighters they would wave around during the slow ones. When the world was at a standstill, and all I thought about was music. I loved it. Jessie loved it. But I could tell Alfie loved it the most.

“We all know the downfalls of musicians. I’m a living victim of it. But the greats, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, man, those guys died young. Right at the peak of their primes. And we all knew, the Mads Dogs, we were teetering over our edge of fame; there was no place to go but down. So Alfie decided to cut the suspense and end it already. And yeah…we fell down, pretty damn hard.”

  (Eric stands from his chair, gut spilling over his t-shirt. With one final vulgar gesture, he walks from the set of Sixty Minutes, and the screen fades out to dark. Faintly, you can hear the high-pitched sound of the microphone unplugging from the speaker, and a casual “f**k”, from Rodney. Some things never really change.)


© Copyright 2018 halle schaffer. All rights reserved.

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