Short fiction and serialised novellas of GJ Fairlamb

Archive for June 2013

Savage Writing: Time to Shine

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This week’s theme was “Bob, it’s your time to shine” due to a funny incident at the last meet. My brain refused to come up with anything good so I stole this from a real life gig I went to last week. It’s meaner than I like my writing to be and not written well, so just consider it a placeholder while I try to finally finish the short story I’ve been working on the past while.


We had been the supporting act and it had all been fine, except for that title. I was reminded of why I shouldn’t wear denim under stage lights, and why Niall and Sam – despite one looking metal and the other like a hipster lumberjack – both agreed on sleeveless shirts. The man-sweat hovering about the stage smelled like cheesy crisps to me, because my sinuses were playing up again. I knew from experience to blame the bearded wonders who shredded on either side of me, because somehow, despite having the sweatiest job, Doug the drummer bled clean, stench-free water out his pores. As for me, well, a lady never admits she sweats, even if she will tell the whole crowd that a hair got so far into her mouth while singing that she retched. Got to have some standards. And got to remember to tie my hair up for our next gig.

We were standing beside the stage, ready to watch the main act from the wings. It was our first night supporting ArcadeLand, and I was eager to see what the fuss was about. Once upon a time we had been slated to perform at Mods Fest but they never got back to us, and when we rang them up they said they had gotten ArcadeLand to play instead. I don’t think the manager realised who I was, because he said to me “They’re the same kind of thing, but the singer’s better.” Boy was I angry when, months later, they asked us to support them. I was defeated in a vote on whether to do the gig, three to one. Unfortunately the singer is not a dictator in the band, as much as all the publicity focuses on them.

I was coming down from the high of applause, from the flow of playing and singing, when the lead singer crouched down to fiddle with a pedal next to a speaker, and sent a screeching wave of feedback over the crowd.

‘Something up, Bob?’ Doug asked, as I cringed, my afterglow burst. Doug decided once when he was drunk that it’d be hilarious to call me Bob, and he’d stuck with it ever since. He even introduced me as Bob at parties, and I played along because it was quite cool to be a girl called Bob.

‘Just checking her out,’ I said, as ArcadeLand’s singer stood up. Doug raised his eyebrows and smiled in sleazy appreciation, and we watched as the singer fiddled with her guitar strap and talked to her bandmates. The lights filtered purple through her bleached blonde hair. I would’ve liked purple hair, but it wouldn’t have suited our laid-back look. Same for the summer dress she was wearing – the outfit that had let her walk through the crowd and jump up on stage without anyone realising who she was.

‘Now that’s confidence,’ Doug said, nodding as the drummer came in. He was wearing a shirt, with buttons done up and everything. I wondered if he’d look like he was drenched by a hose by the end of the gig, or if he’d go Metal and just throw it off and be shirtless. He didn’t look like the type – more of an accountant wandered into the wrong place – but that would just make it all the more fun.

The sound check began and the singer and lead guitarist started strumming a few chords, singing lines into the mic. The crowd hushed, and the discord between the two guitars was obvious. I couldn’t hear the singer at all. They talked to the staff, the crowd began chatting again, and when the singer bent to get her bottle of water, another shriek of feedback rang out. The surprise on her face made me wonder if she didn’t realise that could happen.

Another sound check. Mic still too quiet. The drummer leant back in his seat and looked over at us in the wings, flashing a shy smile.

A few more lines sung and strummed, and the singer turned to the others, saying ‘One-two-three-four!’ The drummer snapped into action and everyone came in dead on time. Pity it took a whole ten seconds for the crowd to realise, since the change from rehearsal to performance wasn’t obvious.

I frowned and shook my head, but I couldn’t stop a pitying smile breaking out on my lips. The singer was barely audible, and the lead guitarist’s playing was far quieter than it should have been. The only thing I could hear clearly were the perfect beats from the ice-cool drummer. The crowd, finally shut up and paid attention, but while we had taken to a happy head-nodding, torso-swaying level of involvement by our last song, were stiff as statues, straining to hear the lines they had memorised from the album. It would have been fixable – if her voice wasn’t a mess. She strained at the higher notes and rasped the lower, all the time belting out and pushing her voice further in an effort to be heard. She grimaced as she kept her lips on the mic, looking like she was attempting to eat it. And throughout it all, she didn’t give the other members a single look or acknowledgement, and I could hear them struggling to keep time between her and the relentless thump-thump of the drums.

I glanced at Doug, He was suppressing a grin.

The song ended, and the singer made some comments involving genitalia that were far too weird for such a laid back place. Even the lead guitarist looked a little put off.

‘That’s your rival, huh?’ Doug murmured in my ear.

The singer crouched down to get her bottle of water, and another shuddering, electronic scream rang out, wavering, its existence prolonged as the singer again fiddled with her pedal. The crowd were getting antsy. The bassist and drummer glanced at each other and rolled their eyes, and then the drummer glanced at me.

‘Well, Bob,’ Doug said, in the tense moments before the next song began, ‘looks like it’s your time to shine.’


Written by G.J.

13/06/2013 at 8:46 am