One of the best ways to feel the sin in the air of a population is to check out their late night entertainment. When not sewing discontent in the hearts of your brethren, I walk the streets at night scoping out your sick and depraved. From the strip joints where CEO’s watch titties jiggle while they plot to steal your 401k to college bars where you can smell the desperation on the guys known as “dude-brahs” as they try to tag a piece of ass for a late night score. Sometimes I make my way into the joints with live music, not the popular places where bands like Guns N’ Roses once played, but the dives where the bar owners don’t care about quality.
As much as everyone thinks rock n’ roll would be my style, I’m not really into it. Folk and classical are where my roots lie: the old souls of the musical world. (I also used to like country, until Charlie Daniels wrote a little song about a supernaturally gifted fiddle player.) Bob Dylan’s my fave, wouldn’t harm a hair on that old fart’s head if I could; still dig him. Now, when it comes to rock n’ roll you’d be surprised that it’s not the talented ones who try to sell their souls for fortune and fame. Those types don’t need my help, they don’t need anyone’s help and they know it. Then you have the extremely untalented bands that make it big because people have no taste, like The Darkness. Then you have those wannabe rock stars who think they have talent and are trying to find a way to make it. Those people think I’m their lord and savior.
Andrew Scott and the Great Wall of Thunder didn’t have the audacity of a band like The Darkness to gain a following, or the talent of GNR to make the regular rotation at the Roxy Theater down on the Sunset Strip. I had my eye on Andrew Scott for years, his collaborators would merely have been consolation prizes if I wanted to take the whole group down a peg, but Scott was one of my “people”, so to speak. Survival of the fittest is the way Father Nature plays his game, and I enjoy picking off the weak and damaging or collecting them.
It was with that intent that I walked into Billy Goat’s Rockin’ Pub on the outskirts of Santa Ana. I made sure to show up late so I would be noticed, and with only five people in the audience that night it was hard not to be noticed. The nauseating sound of un-tuned guitars and wailing and gnashing of teeth greeted me as I walked through the door, and that familiar feeling wafted over me. It was the feeling of every eye turning in my direction as the hairs on the backs of every neck stood up. One kid bolted for the bathroom making a retching sound more in tune with the music than Scott’s vocals.
I walked up to the bar where the bartender stood gawping at me with his mouth on the floor before he found the will, consciousness, and fortitude to speak.
“I’m sorry sir,” he finally found the gumption to say, “I don’t know why I was starin’, but you got a quite peculiar way about you.”
“I know, I get that all the time,” I replied.
“Well, what can I do ya for?”
“Just a glass of water for now, and if you get it right there’s a big tip in it for ya.” He looked at me with wide eyed wonder (or terror) as he poured the water, forgetting what he was doing until his hands were drenched with Sprite. After a moment he realized his error and apologized. “Now, Steve,” I said slyly, “that’s not gonna do. I hope we won’t have a problem here.”
“How do you know my name?” he asked, stopping dead in his tracks, practically shaking.
“Just pour the drink,” I said with a slick grin (it might have turned out to be a little more sinister than that, I can never tell anymore) before adding almost as an afterthought, “Steve.” He jumped at the use of his name again and quickly hurried over the glass of water. “Thank you,” I said reaching in my pocket. Beads of sweat sprang up on his brow as I withdrew my hand from my pocket and tossed him a dime. “Keep the change and keep ‘em comin’ Steve.” I walked away not visibly noticing the dark spot that appeared on Steve’s trousers, but I took in the smell graciously.
I took my place at a dark table at the back of the bar, and all eyes turned to the band as if they’d all be vaporized if I caught them staring at me. It’s interesting to observe a room of people who are scared out of their wits but don’t know why. The Great Wall of Thunder kept their eyes on their audience or their instruments; all of them except Andrew Scott, who kept his eyes fixated on me. When I finally caught his eyes I made sure that he’d never look away, not until we spoke.