Tales from another broken home.

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Chapter 55: Spotlight Syndrome.

Somewhere high in the desert near a curtain of blue
St. Anne's skirts are billowing
But down here in the city of the lime lights
The fans of Santa Ana are withering
And you can't deny that living is easy
If you never look behind the scenery
It's showtime for dry climes
And bedlam is dreaming of rain

When the hills of Los Angeles are burning
Palm trees are candles in the murder wind
So many lives are on the breeze
Even the stars are ill at ease
And Los Angeles is burning

From "Los Angeles is Burning." By Bad Religion.

It was Saturday morning in February and the coldness of winter was beginning to die off. The trees were once again a lush shade of green and there was a wet warmth in the air. I was rubbing the sleep out of my eyes as I lay on my bed. I pushed the play button on my stereo as I pulled off my boxers. I put the music loud enough so I could still hear it in the shower. I stood under the warm water untill I felt awake, alive again. I put on some black Dickies' shorts with a pair of black Chucks and a white From First to Last shirt. I walked downstairs slowly meeting Mike on the way down.

"Hey kiddo." He smiled patting me on the head.

I walked into the kitchen and my Mam had made me breakfast.

"Ready for the show?"

"Kinda I guess. We've got to be at Jerrys at about two for rehearsal and stuff and the show starts at seven and were on at eight."

"Ok. Well eat this and Mike will drop you up to Jerry's."

"Mam you don't have to scope his place out. You know he's a good guy."

"I know. I'd just like to know where his house is."

"Fine. But your not allowed interrogate him."

"I would never do anything like that."

"Whatever you say."

"I wouldn't Riley. You know I wouldn't."

I downed a couple of cups of coffee and went into show mode. I went upstairs and did like a hundred situps. I watched Almost Famous and listened to Deathcab to chill out. After that I played acoustic guitar and went over the melodies for our songs. I was confident with this band. Aaron was a great drummer and Jerry was pretty much the best bassist I'd ever heard. I put on some eyeliner and decided last minute to put a red and black stripy tie on over the shirt. Mike drove me to Jerrys and seemed pretty interested in the band. When we got to the house Jerry walked upto the car.

"Hey Mr. Hannigan. You wanna come in and see everything's above board." Jerry smiled.

"Well if you wouldn't mind that would make my life a lot easier with his Mother. Oh and call me Mike." Mike laughed.

We walked into Jerrys house and Mike scanned every last detail.

"Wow the arts amazing in here." Mike almost shouted.

"Thanks I do a lot of sketching and stuff for tattoo clients and I hang some of it up."

"I've always meant to get another tattoo."

"You should come by the shop man."

"I'm generally working during shop hours and I'm too beat to leave the house on the weekends."

"Well if you want I could come over and do it at your house."

"Well that would be cool."

"If you have any freetime or ideas give me a call and I'll sketch something up and bring over the machine and a plynth."

"Well if your free next Saturday that would be great."

"Yeah sure. What do you want?"

"I want Hannigan with a Shamrock and my Mothers maiden name, O'Reillly underneath it."

"Ok I'll sketch it up."

Mike left and we rehearsed the songs over and over again untill my voice was about to bust. Jerry made me some hot water with honey and lemon in it. I sipped it slowly while we watched some T.V. and it made my voice feel much better. We left in Jerry's van at around five and arrived at the venue just in time for a soundcheck. The place was cool it was in the basement of a bar and all the walls were covered in graffiti. I made my way backstage with Jerry.

"Keep close kiddo. There's gonna be a lot of drugs and stuff here and I promised your parents I'd keep you safe."

"I don't do anything other then weed Jerry."

"Well I made a promise and I always keep my promises."

The dressingroom was just four concrete walls with a couch and a table with some bottles of water. I drank a bottle and we all went out to soundcheck and get our sound right. Jerry had already put our settings on paper so the soundguy got us sorted pretty quickly. I went backstage and Aaron was already talking to guys from another band.

"Hey Riley come over here."

"Hey." I smiled.

"This is our amazing singer guys." Aaron laughed.

"Yeah we heard you on the cd Aaron gave us. I know loads of people who listen to that e.p. everyday."

"Really? That's crazy."

"Anyways guys we gotta soundcheck. Catch ya lata."

"Who were those guys Aaron?"

"Oh they're in A Screaming Vendetta there a pretty cool hardcore band."

"Ok. How many people have that e.p. ?"

"I gave it to a few friends and they ripped it for a few of their friends and it just spread. That's why Jerry was so anxious to meet you straight away he loved the e.p. that why I'm in the band."

"We should release it for money man maybe buy a P.A. or something."

"No point dude most people already have the free copy."

"I guess so."

"You want a drink?"

"Yeah okay."

We both drank some beers in the dressing room and Aaron sparked up a thin joint.

"Just to kill the nerves." He laughed.

I took a deep drag and felt relaxed. We were on in like half an hour and the whole band was running about making friends with other bands. I had talked to so many people that had heard the e.p. and loved it. I talked to loads more people and before I knew it Jerry was dragging me into the dressingroom.

"You ready to go Riley?"

"Yep I'm ready."

"Ok guys first gig. Let's make it a classic."

We walked out from behind some curtains onto a huge stage and I ran straight out and started screaming at the crowd.

"Are you motherfuckers ready for this?"

The whole crowd screamed back there must have been nearly 500 kids down here and it was hot and sweaty and the whole place stank but the atmosphere was insane. Stevey and Freddie kicked into the first song and I nailed the vocals and grabbed a slug of water as Jerry and Aaron started the drum and bass part that lead into the next song. When the song started the whole crowd came alive and started to jump with me. It was getting too hot and I tore off my shirt and threw it back to Aaron. I leaned into the crowd for the chorus and some girl shoved her hand down my shorts. I grabbed a bottle of water from someone in the crowd and poured it over my head. Jerry had to help drag me back onto the stage and I noticed he had taken his shirt off to reveal two full sleeves and the lines "Wish Upon a Star But Do You Know What Stars Are?"along his collarbone. We made it through the next four songs without a problem and we finished with the new song. I wasn't sure how the crowd was going to react but from the opening riff I knew it was going to be good. Midway through I jumped into the crowd. I was on my back moving over people still singing through the wireless mic. It was probably the most intense experience of my life. We finished the set and I grabbed my shirt on the way out. Loads of bands shouted support and gave us high-fives as we walked down the corridor.

In the dressingroom everyone was smiling.

"Dude fuck that was good."

"I think that was the best gig I've ever played."

As we were talking and partying a local manager walked in the door.

"Hey guys so are you guys under contract by anyone?"

"Nope this was our first gig."

"Ok I'd like to get you guys some more gigs. Are you interested?"

"Of course."

"Well I'd need you to play Friday, Saturday and Sunday's and probably on a Thursday and maybe a Wednesday."


"Yeah this is a commitment."

"Well four of the guys are still in school." Jerry interrupted.

"I'm willing to do it." Freddie shouted.

"Me too." Came Aaron and Stevey at the same time.

"I'd have to ask my Mam but I'll make it a yes." I smiled.

"Ok well I'll have contracts that your parents will have to sign."

Jerry gave the guy his number and we all started to go crazy.

"Guys this is like huge after a first gig."

"I know man."

A girl walked into the dressingroom.

"Hey guys." She smiled.

"Guys this is my girlfriend Hailey."

"Oh my god you're so cute." Hailey laughed grabbing me into a hug.

"Hey." I smiled.

"Hailey leave the poor kid alone." Jerry laughed.

"I think we're goin to leave you two alone." Stevey joked as he dragged the rest of us out.

I walked into the club and watched some of the bands. People kept buying me drinks and soon I was pretty loaded. I wasn't even sure what I was drinking but I knew that JagerBombers kicked ass. Before I knew what was going on I was onstage again with another band singing a cover of "Sugar, Where goin down." The crowd went crazy again and I had a great time. When I got offstage Stevey brought me to the bathroom where I puked over and over again.

"It's okay dude just get the worst of it up." Stevey comforted.

When I was done puking Jerry picked me up and we all went out to the van. When we got back to Jerry's everyone left and I made an attempt to stumble towards the door.

"No Riley you're staying here tonight. You can't go home in that state you won't be allowed out again."

Jerry setup a bed on his couch and he and Hailey sat watching t.v. and drinking herbal tea. Hailey did some Chinese therapy she had learned on my head and I felt much better and drifted off to sleep. When I woke up Jerry was sitting on an armchair next to me.

"You feeling okay kiddo?"

"Did you stay up all night?"

"I had to make sure you were okay Riley."

"You didn't have to Man I'm okay."

"You could have choked on your own puke if there was nobody there to turn you over."

"Ugh." I moaned.