Andrew slowly placed his head on the table as if fighting some unseen force that was pulling or pushing him down. After a moment he slowly lifted his head and looked around, and that was when the real fun began.
There was a flicker of recognition as he looked behind him to see a stage full of instruments with no band, and a banner behind it touting: Andrew Scott and the Great Wall of Thunder. Horror took recognition’s place as he looked around seeing that he was no longer in Maze, but rather in Billy Goat’s Rockin’ Pub. He looked at me like a little lost puppy dog and I couldn’t suppress my laughter any longer.
“Where are we?” he asked over my howls.
“We’re in Billy Goats’ my dear friend.”
Andrew further looked around the bar in astonishment before upchucking the contents of his stomach on the floor, with the exception of the Jack Daniels I had given him, which will never leave his system. “We shouldn’t be here man,” he said. “Why the fuck are we back here!”
This isn’t the first time I’ve pulled a job like this. As a matter of fact it’s a specialty of mine. Whenever I do such a job I have a little poem I recite to my “clients”. So when Andrew asked this question I felt obliged to recite it for him as well. I cleared my throat; ahem, ahem; and then I began:
“Dreams are a place that offer peace
Until a nightmare takes its seat
It will remain even when you wake
You cannot run despite the light of day.
And in the midst I will stand
In that dream I will take your hand
Planting seeds that spread my hate
Until you as man know your fate.”
Open mouthed, unsure of everything he had seen and heard Andrew screamed at me: “What the fuck does that mean?”
Calmly, or as calm as I could muster, I responded, “I suggest you lower your voice, you’ve partially earned my ire and by raising your voice to me you risk so much more.”
Andrew closed his mouth and stared at me, attentive to every word.
“You don’t understand what you have, or I should say what you had. See, I’ve known the greatest love this world has ever been privy to, a love that would have lasted an eternity. I made one simple mistake, however, and I lost it, all of it. I’ll never know that love ever again. Every day that same love is extended to you and you squander it. Never letting it pass through your sad, ignorant brain more than once since you left your parents. The love I knew was near that of a mother and father for their child. Even Jennifer could have loved you, but you took advantage of that as well. If she wasn’t gone, she could have been redemption for you, but you’re an asshole, a creep. You’re the scum of the earth that I seek out, the refuse that no one wants.
“I’m the father of lost causes, the king of con artists, not because I want to be, but because I have to be. You are a lost cause. You should have followed your parents’ wisdom, boy. I’ve heard sheep at the slaughter whose final screams had more musical talent than your whole oeuvre, and no matter what I do you’ll never be rich and famous. You’ll never amount to more than a druggie on the side of the road with a few dreams and no way to facilitate them.”
At this point Andrew was nearly in tears. He had been duped, and with good reason. He wasn’t very bright, he hadn’t been schooled on how to deal with con artists, and no one had bothered to tell him that a hill of beans would mount to more than him in this crazy world. I didn’t feel sorry for him though. His life, no matter how high it rose on a scale of fortune and misfortune, led to this point.
Finally, with the trembling lip of a toddler he said, “But you promised.”
“What did I promise you Andrew? I promised you dreams beyond your wildest imagination. In those dreams I promised you adoration, sex, the ability to do anything you wanted without consequence, and you experienced it all. Never trust a man who puts his hands in a drink he offers you, Mr. Scott. Now you see how that deal ends.
“You’ve still missed the point of this little lesson, but I didn’t expect any less of you. You never knew how to deal with love and adoration; you have no idea what real respect is. I’m not a genie Andrew; I can’t grant you one wish let alone several. When you get screwed by a con artist it’s not the con’s fault if you got duped, it’s yours. Unfortunately, you got picked off by the wrong con. My waking you up from your little fantasy was not the end, it was the beginning. Really, you could look at that as an act of mercy. Be glad I didn’t let you wallow in your proposed fame even more before waking you up. It doesn’t matter now though, you belong to me. Everything you are, you promised.”
Andrew stared, the fright and horror exuding from every part of his being. He had never understood exactly where that part of the promise was heading when he made it, but now I needed to make it explicitly clear. That’s one of the shortfalls of dealing with the ignorant.
“I don’t care if you’re starving living in a cardboard box under an overpass, if I call you: you better come with bells on. If I ask you to jump don’t bother asking how high, but if you can’t reach heaven you can consider yourself a failure. I’m assuming you’re used to that though.” I stood up and looked at Andrew’s bewildered look and chuckled to myself. “Take care, Andrew. And always remember: I’ll be watching you!”
I walked out of the empty bar and didn’t bother to look back at the poor boy. I say poor because he lost everything that day. I haven’t kept much of a tab on him; after all, I had my fun with him. However I do know that he quit the band, moved out of Steve’s place, and has been wandering around California like a nomad. He looks over his shoulder constantly, and his nightmares and past haunt him.
The truth is I’ll probably never see Andrew again; my purpose with him is done. I pointed out the error of his ways while making sure that he never rectifies them. I own his soul only in as much as he thinks he has no other choice, and that to me is the true victory. You people don’t seem to understand the true meaning of free will, but if you have no will the power of suggestion takes over.
Meanwhile, I have other fish to fry. As I scan my mind for future candidates for my unique brand of torture my mind comes to Zhou Long of Madison, Wisconsin. Yeah, I think he’ll do just fine!