Thursday, 8 November 2012

Lightbringer 003

Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 (unfinished)

Chapter Two

Stick Man

Another night, another city.

This one is larger than the last but less sophisticated. The culture of this metropolis has been feeding on industry and its corroded ruins instead of the ivory towers of the one Turner had left. He was starting to master the strange dance his recollections made in his mind. His thoughts were clearing up.

He felt guilt persistently gnawing at him. While Murphy had refused any kind of help, Adrian felt like he should have done something, anything. Instead he had run away. To late. He had to move on and he was telling himself that once he had advanced with what was slowly appearing to be ‘The Plan’ he might be able to go back and save Murphy. What he was attempting to do is to gather musicians who were special in their own way, somehow revolutionary, assemble them and then do what good musicians did. Go on tour and blow the peoples minds away with the power of rock. That was the way it worked right?

With Murphy he had been trying to bring back a fallen talent. This time he was going to recruit an obscure master who was still very much in his prime. So his target tonight would be a man named Ian Lockwood. He was not known to most people but for the people who knew him he was a legend. One of the few people who had mastered the Chapman Stick, a fretboard as large as an ironing board with 12 strings that was, in Lockwood’s case tuned from guitar to deep bass. The man could play a concert on his own or integrate into any configuration of band. He had started his career as a session musician but slowly over time he had gotten his own dedicated rabid fan base. A Lockwood concert would never fill a stadium. But it it would fill every club and jazz cave all over the world and his tickets would sell for a kings ransom.

Turner felt melodramatic again. He was going to do this one in style. Na cab. This time he would walk.

Turns out that was a shit idea. Granted Lockwood lived in one of the few more affluent corners of this city but that was still fucking far away from the motel he had chosen as his base for this mission. These distances did never look that bad in a car. 10 minutes with wheels turns out to turn into an eternity on foot. Also, endurance was not among Lucifers gifts. At least not when it came to walking. Turner now realised that all those times he had be thinking of hitting the gym or taking up some kind of work-out program, as he was not getting any younger, he should have listened to himself.

Slowly the air around him changed. The smell of dust and stone was slowly replaced by that of pine trees. He was finally reaching the parts of the city were the people living there could afford trees as decoration for their neighbourhoods instead of the derelict buildings that dominated the streets were he was coming from. At least he had reached his destination street. Now it was only 12 blocks to go. Adrian hoped that this hike would be among the things he would forget as part of his bargain.

The sun had long gone, and a cold distant night was ignoring Turner when he finally arrived at Lockwood’s house. It was decent sized middle class house with delusions of grandeur. Instead of the big open lawn that all the other houses around it had, this one sported a high wall, topped of by vicious looking metal spikes on top daring anyone to try to climb over the wall and maybe slip on the way to the other side. Only the topmost floor of the house behind could be seen peering over, looking at passerbys through sleepy half shuttered windows. Turner knew that Lockwood was one of the people who comfortably lived in the artists time zone, where the day started around midday and no kind of serious work would get done before midnight. So when he approached the large heavy wooden gate and rung the bell he felt pretty confident that he would find Lockwood in the most productive and therefore also most receptive time of day.

It took a while until he got any answer. The camera that had been embedded in the wall above the bell button turned on a little red light telling Turner that he was now appraised.

He was weighed and found wanting. The little red light went dark again.

Turner rang the bell again. Slightly more insistent this time but careful not to be more annoying than strictly necessary. The little red light turned on again after only a few seconds.

“If you want I can call the police. They will tazer your sorry ass and haul it off to some hard, cold cell. If they feel genrous they will not beat the shit out of you but leave that to the other inmates.” the voice paused for effect “Or you just piss off so that we can both enjoy of what is left of the night.”

“My name is Adrian Turner, I have come to you with a proposition which…” he did not get to finish his sentence.

“How nice for you. Now. Get lost.”

Turner did not move. The little red light was still burning.

“I really mean it. Go. Away.”

Adrian felt like an idiot as he walked back to his motel. He could have called for a taxi but he wanted to be in the cold night air to vent his burning shame.

The next day he spent talking to agents. First to his own agent who of course had no idea who he was. It would have been slightly awkward if his own band had forgotten him but their manager started to ask silly question like “What happened to your lead guitarist?”. Not only would no one know what he was talking about but it would also turn into a heated argument if there was anyone who was particularly feeling like being the ‘band leader’. Well disaster averted.

This left him with without a way into the celestial realm of band management where the people who walked between the bands lived. If he did not want to give up on Lockwood his agent was the guy to talk to. He decided to oil the wheels in his head with some horrible bourbon from the fridge in his motel room. It had worked for the likes of Spade and Marlow and it would certainly work on his nerves. After the first sip he decided that he should add some coke on top of it. The rich flavour of industrial solvents was made a bit more mellow and palatable after that. After downing he drink he paced around in his room, walking on the bits of carpet that had not been worn down by the people who had inhabited this room before. It helped him to focus his mind.

Shit like that would not have happened in the past. When he was still a real rock star. He had been on the cover of magazines all over the world and he would certainly not have been turned away from the door of a fellow musician. At least not from one he had not met yet. He was also becoming keenly aware of the limitations of Lucifer’s gifts. Had they always been of so little use. But back then he had mostly used his gifts to pull chicks, have nice stash of money and drugs and improve his skills on the guitar, of course.

Of course! The past was the key to his Lockwood problem. Back in the eighties he had another band and another agent. That guy represented a lot of the big names in the business back then and was still going strong today. They had split on friendly terms about eighteen years ago, as Adrian was following his vision of music which did not mesh well with his old agent’s international super act plans all that well.

It took some work but he got his number. He called his office in London but he had already gone home. Fucking time zones. But as luck would have it his secretary was still working, going over some paper work that inland revenue was very keen on having as soon as possible. A bit of small talk and a few well placed compliments later he had Clive Haynes home number.


“Hello Clive. This is Adrian Turner, it’s been a while.”

“I’ll be damned. Adrian blood Turner. I can’t believe that you are calling mate. I found one of your old records today and was just talking with Susan about what had become of you.”

“I’m great Clive. Thanks.”

“You’re still doing music?”

“Of course I am. Can you imagine me without a guitar?”

Clive laughed. “No. I can’t say I can.”

“This is also the reason why I am calling you because I want to go back to doing music big time.”

There was a moment were the only thing that Adrian could here was the faint white noise of a bad intercontinental line. “Damn Adrian. I love to hear that but times are really getting increasingly hard for your type of music.” after a bit of hesitation Clive continued with sliver of well contained hope in his voice. “What were you thinking off? Maybe we can work something out?”

“Glade you ask. I am just now travelling the states recruiting some of the best musicians no one in the mainstream has ever heard off to form a kind of super band. This is going to be big. The people in the know will know what they are getting with our little dream team and the rest of the world will not know what hit them.”

There was moment where Clive Haynes was about to give in to the voice of reason, fed by his decades of experience, but something inside of him stirred thinking of the possibilities and nudged him over. “You know what? I think that your idea is bloody stupid. It is so stupid that I think we might be able to pull it off.”

And so Adrian Turner now had a new agent who had not promised him to get him an appointment with Lockwood but would also point him in the direction of other promising candidates.

Two hours later he was to meet the man that had turned him away a day before. This time he took a cab to take him close to Lockwood’s home. He walked the last two blocks. Balancing style with not being an idiot was important.

“I’m afraid that I can’t help you. Sorry.” Said Lockwood. Not quite the answer Turner had expected. Lockwood had been gracious enough to ignore last nights incident. He even shared a spectacular Glenlivet with him while he listened to ‘The Plan’. “I like your plan. I really do. The things you say make sense. I see it myself. It’s been all to long since the last time I was really blown away by a young new musician and most of the ‘new’ music I hear today is crap. Generic, tepid, soul destroying shit. Hell, I’m old now. I never wanted to be an old musician. I want to live a comfortable life when I’m old. With a nice house, a hot kinky wife and enough money to not have to work anymore. I was thinking I’d have a favourite bar or club or something like that and I’d go there maybe once a week and just play there for the patrons. Shit, maybe one day I would see a young boy or girl standing near the stage with this deep hunger in their eyes when they hear the music and make him or her for that matter into my apprentice. Pass on the torch. That sort of thing.” Lockwood paused for a moment. He took his thick heavy tumbler with his whisky on the rock from the rough wooden table that had been cut lengthwise from a sequoia tree. He just inhaled the aroma while lost in thought. “If that had happened I think I might be tempted.” he continued, “It never happened. I just saw how music started to decline. Sure there are still great new musicians around in these parts of the woods maybe a dozen. But if I stop playing, if I leave my bent there will only be elven left.” He put the glass down with a loud thud. “I can’t have that happen.”

“But if you join us we’d be able to do so much more…” Turner tried to keep the confidence in his voice.

“Would we? I believe that you are going to get something done Turner. You still have that fire burning. But not with me. You know there is a great Chinese proverb that says: ‘Don’t go hunting while your house is on fire’. Which is pretty much what is happening. Right? That’s why you are here. I need to stay were I am and hold the fort. I wish you all of luck and if there is anything I can do to help you in your quest I’ll be happy to help. I can put you in contact with people, I’ll tell my manager to assist you and maybe that way we prevent you ringing at the doors of unsuspecting people in the middle of the night.”

Adrian took a big sip of whisky. It was all he could to to hide his blushing face. “There must be something I can offer you that will change your mind. What do you need? Money? I’ve got money. I can pay you and your band. You’ll just take a break and once the thing is running you can return to your normal life.”

“I don’t need money. I’ve got enough. And I can’t just take a break Turner. I’ve got concerts scheduled for the next two years. I might not fill stadiums but I have fans and I am not going to disappoint them. OK?”

“OK…” Adrian was now reaching the point beyond desperation when one stopped to struggle and just accept death. Only that in this case there would be no death. Just a slow decline into silence.

“Hey why the long face? I believe in you and your idea. I think it’s brilliant! Only because I’m not the right man for the job doesn’t mean that you are on the wrong track. Did you just tell me that you only asked one other guy before me.”

“Yes but…”

“Nothing but, you will get there. Have a little faith in your own plan for goodness sake. Third time’s the charm after all right? Noe let’s drink more whiskey and listen to some records, that’ll lift your spirits.”

Hours later Adrian left Lockwood’s house, very drunk, slightly dejected but with gritted teeth.

He would push on and next time he would not get no for an answer.

What he got was actually worse.

Chapter Three

Leader of the Rebellion

The third city was gigantic. It covered so much land that its borders intermingled with that of other smaller cities threatening to absorb them. Towards its centre it stretched towards the sky, with its middle studded with skyscrapers that raced each other towards the stars. Looking out into the night from his window in the plane he had no memory of boarding, the city looked like a jewel encrusted mountain. As Turners flight approached the airport the plan was shaken time and again by strong gusts of wind that had been caught by the city below which had given it strength and direction. No one understood quite why the city had such strange meteorological qualities but in time its inhabitants had grown weary of hating them and in time grown proud of them. The only thing that grew in Adrian was the temptation to grab a sick bag and get rid of his horrible in-flight meal and what was left of his dignity. In the end dignity and a stomach that had been through worse prevailed and Adrian found himself in the endless halls of an international airport.

This time things would be different. Turner sat in a bar, which was mostly glass and light, seeming to float above the city, looking down on it. He was sipping a cocktail that was 50% decoration and 100% overpriced while thinking over his approach. He would not be ringing at the doors of total strangers anymore like some kind of musical version of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. No, this time he had been announced. He had not told his mark when and where he would arrive, but the mark had been told to expect him. He would not go in blindly. He’d have a good look at the guy and then make his move.

The concert hall was packed, the audience was on fire. Max Stryker lead guitarist, singer and mastermind of the underground sensation “Corrosion Through Power” was screaming his soul out. The lyrics were a bit adolescent rebellion fantasies but combined with the music and the powerful performance they worked their magic. Turner wasn’t all that impressed yet he could not help but tap his foot and nod his head to the hard rhythm.

The band screaming through its set list almost without pause further reinforcing their armoured train vs. innocent wall impact. The impression was only marred by some sound technician fucking up near the end of the concert getting the levels wrong so that in one of the songs the singer could not be heard anymore. The audience went ballistic, screaming and booing until they got the attention of the band. It took a while until they noticed what the problem was. Now it was Max Stryker’s turn to get angry. He vanished gesticulating and screaming off stage, shortly after his voice could be heard again. He came back on stage screaming at the audience. Telling them never to take shit like that from anyone. Asking them to storm the ticket booth after the concert. Let their voices be heard and not be treated like some brainless consumers who would just take this kind of second rate experience without speaking up.

The audience went wild and the concert went on.

Until the sound technician made the same error again.

The audience went almost instantly mad with rage. This time the singer noticed it right away and after a bit of body langauge communication with his fans he had confirmed that some fucker had turned off his mic again. Max Stryker hulked out smashing his guitar in a sudden rage, stomping off the stage. Only a moment later another guy came stumbling onto the stage followed by a still raging Stryker dragging him to the mic, screaming at him and then hitting him with the microphone like someone would hit a disobedient dog with a rolled up news paper. His band showed their support by trashing their own instruments. The band members shoved the poor technician around of the stage and the concert was over.

‘I think I will have to teach that kid some manners first though.’ thought Turner working his way towards the backstage area.

The security had set up a perimeter back stage were not even fans with passes could get passed. Had Turner not prepared his own performance for tonight this would have been it. But the security guys knew that he was coming and that he was a VIP of sorts. So after some back and forth, including the checking of the great holy scripture of every security man around the world the hallowed ‘list’ Turner could pass.

Turner was about to knock on the door to Stryker’s dressing room when the young man opened the door “This is sooo pathetic.” he laughed, shaking his had. He stopped in his tracks when he saw Turner. “And who the fuck are you, grandpa? A fan?” a rhetorical question.

“No.” rhetorical answer.

“A critic?” there was contempt mixed with something that Turner could not quite pinned down in Strykers voice.

“For fucks sake, no!”

“A journalist then?” this came out with a pinch of eagerness.

Turner had to resist the urge to punch some basic manners into the young man in front of him. He closed his eyes for a second taking a deep breath. When he opened them again he said: “My name is Adrian Turner. I. Was announced to you. I come with a proposition and a fist full of cash.” he let that sink in. When Turner saw that he now had the undivided attention of the young man in front of him he continued. “We need to talk. Just tell me when and where.”

“Sure thing grandpa…”

“Call me grandpa one more time and I will punch you so hard that you your ancestors will lose teeth.”

“Mr. Turner?”

“That’ll do. Go on.”

“I’m done with this tour Mr. Turner. This was supposed to be the grand finale. Did not turn out quite like that, eh? I live here in the city so we could just meet at my home. Tomorrow OK?”

Turner just nodded and left.

“Hey don’t you want my address?” Stryker called after him.

“I know where you live.”

Monday, 5 November 2012

Lightbringer 002

Chapter 1 (continued and finished)

He walked down the wide stone and concrete corridors of the hotel going towards where his instinct told he he would find the lobby. It did not take long until the smell of obsessively scrubbed stone gave way to the the smell of colourful cocktails and micro-brewed beer. The silence was replaced by the subdued murmur of a crowed were everyone was talking about things precious to them but carefully keeping their voices down.

Turner walked through a saloon door. Just like in the westerns of old. An old veteran doubled sided swing door that after years of service had been left out to rot, the rough splintered wood spoke of a rain soaked life on the street, that had been given a new purpose in life when all hope had long faded away. And the door did his job well. Turner just wanted to pass through to the room next door. Yet he could not help himself but slow down, adjusting his leather jacket, sweeping aside the right hand side from his imaginary peacemaker. He pushed both side of the door open of the door as he walked through the door. He paused for a moment as the old western door behind him swung back into its neutral position, radiating professional pride.

The Eastwood moment quickly vanished as no one in the bar paused to look at the nameless stranger who had just entered the scene. “Well” Turner thought, “it was fun wile it lasted.” He looked around finding him self on a generous balcony surrounding a large entrance hall which doubled as the hotels lobby and bar. The balcony was filled with designer tables, not one looking like the other, everyone positively crowded by people as thoroughly designed as the tables. Turner started walking down a trail that was implied by the inch of space between the backs of the people crowding the place. The privacy between the table was kept by some cleverly planted creeper plants, growing into living walls up to the celling where they crawled towards the edge of the balcony from which they pored down to the lobby bellow.

Turner squeezed his way past the anonymous bodies towards the cast iron helical stair leading to the first floor. He marvelled at how the waiting staff seemed to effortlessly moved through the crowd. All of them perfectly beautiful specimens of humanity, wearing perfectly decent clothes, cleverly designed to highlight and improve the physiques of the wearers. While the patrons wore mostly black, charcoal and dark brown colours, the staff wore light-coloured grey in grey uniforms. They looked like heavenly beings slowly dancing their way through the sea of people who they served. When he had reached the stairs Turner took a deep breath. The air smelled of of fruit with hints of alcohol and wet earth. A strange smell for a hotel bar. Sliding his hand over the cold iron guard railing he descended, seeing that while the main entrance area and the reception desk were almost empty, behind the green curtain created by the vines growing above there was another bar or restaurant area, as crowded as the one above.

In the lobby he was not quite sure what to do. By now he was wide awake and all the things he thought he did not get because he was still half a sleep still made no sense at all. Why was he here? How did he even get here? Where was here anyway? He shook his hair trying to clear his thoughts but nothing came. “Here I am standing like some hobo who is slowly getting senile.” he thought his mood slowly going sour.

“Wow Mister, I really love that leather jacket of yours. It looks so… vintage. You must tell me were you got that from!” this came from a young man, still mostly a boy really with a complicated advanced geometry hairdo and worn out grey clothes. That was not quite right his clothes were well made and very carefully tuned to look worn out.

“Thank you young man.” said Turner watching the boys face for any traces of sarcasm, but he could not see any. He looked genuinely impressed. The group he was with had not yet noticed that he was missing and passing through the green curtain looking for a table. “Well I bought it in a Sears.”

“No way Mister. I understand that you want to keep your sources a secret.” he quickly looked around before closing a little closer to Turner, “I really do. When you find something really special you want to keep it for yourself for a while, before everyone else gets onto it. It’s really hard work not to look like everyone else. But if you do not share your secrets you risk a great designer or perfect little boutique being lost. And that’s just not right. Right? So. Want to trade secrets?”

Turner smiled. It was a big warm smile. While he did remember his youth all to well, so many things that should better be forgotten, he had somehow lost track of how it felt to be young. There was this nervous young man in faded blacks, who had fallen in love with style and had this burning passion still going. Turner really could not give a fuck about boutiques neither could he understand how anyone could be so obsessed with what clothes they wore. But the passion behind it, that was something that he could relate to.

“OK.” Turner agreed. The young mans face lighting up despite trying so very hard not to look excited. “I will tell you my secret. The reason why it is so loaded with roguish cool,” he had meant that to be funny but the young man just nodded eagerly, “the real reason is because I am vintage. I bought this jacket in ‘72, I was about to turn 16 and I had this head full of music and rock’n’roll dreams and I probably did not even knew that yet but I felt that I was going to walk down the path of rock. It’s probably hard to imagine now but back then I was surrounded by the giants of rock. People like Hendrix, Zappa and the King were still alive, bands like Sabbath and Zepplin looked like they would never stop going. And the titans of old were still around. Miles Davis was not only still going he was kicking music still forward. Areatha Franklin with her unstoppable voice. Man, back then I was surrounded by these gods of music and they just kept popping up pushing the envelope further and I wanted to be part of it. So this jacket was the first step. A statement of intent, if you know what I mean. And t my jacket here has been with me for all that time. It is soaked with my history. The nicks and patches and the burnt parts, they are all part of my history. They were there when I bought my first used guitar, they saw me ascend becoming a star and they have been with me while I slowly descended back into mortal life.” Turner had run out of words overcome by a longing for something he did not quite understand anymore.

“Wow…” the young man said. His eyes big a sparkling. His mind lost in Turner’s memories and their tales of greatness. He was about to ask something he was not quite sure what it was yet when a girl appeared from behind the curtain of green. She was looking for something, the young man.

“Alexander!” the girl shouted, “What the fuck are you doing? You better get your ass into gear because we will not be fighting to keep your chair for ever.”

Alexander looked conflicted. Turner smiled nodding towards Alexanders friend. “Alexander? I like that, it’s a conquerers name. Now go your friends are waiting.” Alexander was about to say something but Adrian turned around and left the lobby. It would have been a shame to let the opportunity to leave dramatically slip by. Thus the nameless stranger left Alexander walking boldly into the rain soaked night.

He had caught a Taxi not far from the hotel. Old school arm waving and shouting style. Now he sat in the back of the cab looking out at the street glistening in the rain. He watched as the colourful lights of the streets where the hip clubs and bars were slowly giving way to the more sensible streets. These were still shining bright in more sensible, better matched colours representing shops, banks, insurance buildings, all the things which were essential parts of a grown up life. After that the colour started to fade even more leaving only the regular street lamps behind, standing stoically in their municipality given positions. By this point magic of the city-as-night was gone leaving behind a cold place where everything was hidden in half gloom.

And it got worse.

The cab manoeuvred its way into neighbourhoods where the lights were broken, the streets were decorated with the bleached out chassis of long dead cars, killed and picked apart by predators a long time ago. While they drove deeper into the wild city the cabbie started swearing softly already knowing that he was not getting paid enough for this shit. Adrian was trying to get a grip on his mind. He remembered his new deal with the devil now. He was wondering if forgetting this rather crucial deal of information was part of the deal or if these were just side effects. He also became slowly aware why he had come here. He was looking for a drummer that once upon a time had almost become a legend. Ryan ‘Hardclock’ Murphy had been known for being able to play every rhythm no matter how strange by ear and improvise on the fly. He never missed a beat, never slipped, never messed up. He should have become one of the great ones of his trade. Somehow that never happened. The rumours around him slowly disappeared. Turner had just remembered him after he had left Lucifer trying to figure out what the fuck he was supposed to do. Finding the a semi mythical drummer forgotten by all, sounded like a solid start.

By the looks of it he had to descend into the underworld to find him. The streets outside looked like the only thing they were missing to make them picture perfect was a touch of armed robbery. It did look like all the criminals preferred to stay at home for the night, no one likes to get soaking wet. “Or,” Turner thought, “I might simply have the Devil’s Luck.” He wondered which memories this little boon was costing him. He quickly realised how silly it was trying to remember what he had forgotten.

“I understand that you don’t want to get out of the car pal, but don’t you have any business to do? Or are you just here to take in the sights?” Turner had not noticed that they had arrived.

“Wait here, I won’t be long.” Turner said.

“Like hell I will. The moment you close that door I’m off, pal.”

“Mr. Franklin thinks differently.” Turner said handing a 100 $ bill to the cab driver. “And if you are still here to bring me back to my Hotel he’ll get company.”

“Alright mister. But the moment I see someone suspicious coming anywhere near my car I’m off.”

“Can’t argue with that.”

Turner stepped into the rain. The side walk was not as slippery as Turner had expected. There was so much crap lying about that it improved footing considerably. He stood in front of housing block that had been ugly when it had been new. Now it was decorated with graffiti, the odd broken window and had cracks running all over its cheap concrete walls. Turner walked right through the entrance door. It had been a glass door, now it was only a metal frame. The lobby of the building was just a large ugly room full of cracked tiles, bent mail boxes and the beaten up metal plate holding the bell buttons. Most of them were still there. It took him a few minutes to located Murphy’s flat number. After that he had just make his way through the corridors piled with rubbish. The whole building was filled with a stale smell of old trash mixed with piss to freshen things up a bit.

Murphy’s door looked like all the others. Although Turner was sure that an expert would be able to turn them apart by their unique blemishes. This door had some rather fascinating burn marks for example. Well the door still sported its number, tarnished as the metal digits may have been they were still securely screwed into the fake wood. Adrian felt slightly bad for coming for a surprise visit in the middle of the night. He could here the TV blabbing in the flat which helped to lessen the feeling of guilt.

He knocked a couple of times until he finally got a reaction.

“Who’s there? Fuck off!” presumably Murphy shouted.

“Hi. My name is Adrian Turner. I’d like to talk to Hardclock?”

“What? Fuck off man. It’s late.” after a short pause, “How do you know that name?”

“Where I come from that name’s a legend.” Turner tweaked the truth slightly. Hardclock Murphy was a legend, a rather obscure one, but still.

“Fuck. Off! What do you want from me?”

“I’d like to offer you a job.”

“Allready got a job. Fuck off.”

“OK. But you could at least give it a try? It pays well?” considering the place he found himself Turner thought that money would at least get the door open.

“How well?”

No ‘fuck off’ this time. He was making progress. “Enough to pay you 100 bucks just listening to me.” it was Satan’s money spending it came easily.

The door opened a bit spilling out dim light. A suspicious eye peered at him. Turner opened his arms empty palms held towards Murphy. “See? No trick. No weapons. I just want to talk.”

“Fuck off…” Not that again. “No trick? Where’s the money?”

Turner fished his wallet carefully out of his pocket and handed Murphy a clean, crisp one hundred dollar note. Apart from turner it was probably the cleanest thing in a diameter of at least fifty yards. Murphy surprised him by not grabbing the money first. Instead he vanished for a moment to unlock the door.

“Come on in then.” Murphy said. Turner walked through a tiny corridor only a few feet long, a door led into the main and only room of the flat, that smelt of stale smoke and week old left overs. It was the usual kitchenette room-for-everything-else combo that was the hallmark of shitty little abodes built around the world to make to stow away the not quite homeless. The kitchenette was well decorated in with empty boxes. Mostly ready made meals with a few take away Chinese boxes and a helping of empty beer cans for company. The main room consisted of a bed doubling as a sofa, a low table, some shelves and crammed into a corner a drum kit. Adrian’s heart sank. The kit had been shoved together as to take as little space as possible. It looked not unlike one of these fossils he had once seen in a magazine. It was some kind of half-bird, all crumpled together, Adrian remembered always had remembered the picture vividly because looking at it had made his neck ache. Now he felt pretty much the same looking at what had once been an instrument. Now its most noble task was to hold up a half wilted nightshade of sorts.

Murphy had cleared away a few boxes, magazines and discarded clothes uncovering another document of prehistory, this time in the form of a chair. “Please have a seat. Want a beer?” Turner considered accepting for a moment but he saw what passed for beer in this apartment and decided against it. “No, thanks.”

Murphy sat in front of him on the edge of his bed. “So?”

“I…” Adrian was not quite sure how to put this into words. While he had a vague idea what he should be doing he had no real plan and this kind of improvisation did not come naturally to him it seemed. “I am looking for musicians.”


“Well I was thinking of you, for the drums.”


“Yeah. You are Hardclock Murphy after all.” should not a Silver Tongue be among his gifts from the Devil? “Back in the day everyone was telling me that you were special. That you had a talent to hammer out every beat in the blink of an eye and with perfect precision.”

“Not talent.”


“Hard work. Not talent. I pretty sure everyone else could do it too. IF they had the drive.”

“Well you certainly had the drive it seems. And you were known for being to improvise and come up with cool new stuff as you went along.”


“That’s what they say.”

“Did they also tell you how much bands appreciate a creative drummer?”

“No. I can imagine though.” Adrian had seen enough ‘bands’ where any kind of creativity by any member was instantly attacked by everyone else. “I can promise you though that if you come with me, that won’t be a problem. I’m not only guaranteeing that you’ll be able to be creative, I want you to do so. It’s one of the reasons why I chose you.”

Turner had thought that this would be easy. Especially after seeing the conditions in which Murphy was living in. He waited for an answer. But Murphy kept silent. His eyes dull staring at some far away spot.

“I wish you had come earlier. I really do. But I can’t help you.” there was nothing left in Murphy’s voice now. The anger was gone, as was the aggression. “The music. It’s gone.”

Adrian just shook his head.

“I can’t do it anymore. Fuck I can’t even listen to music anymore. In the past I could not spend a day without listening to music. MY MP3 player would never leave my side and if there was a moment of silence and a flat surface I would try to lay down a good beat. You know?” usually when people reminisce there is a glint in their eye, Murphy’s eyes were dead. “There was a time when I could not imagine a world without music, where I could see a path clearly in front of me and that was making music. It was that love that motivated me so much, that made me as good as I was.” Murphy fell silent for a moment. If he was remembering better times Adrian could not tell as Murphy’s eyes remained dull.

“But life does not always work out like that.” he continued “I was out of a band for to long. I was looking for the right people and I knew that right team we could make something special. Right? But the right people never appeared and a man must eat. So I worked. I worked every shit job you can imagine. You would think that in time you would work your way up. But I? I only moved sideways. From one hell hole to the next. I’ve been stuck in a cubicle hell for years now. Ever worked in one of those places?”

“I have had my shares of shit jobs.” Turner said. “Filling in shelves in super markets, cleaning bars, shit like that.”

“What I’m doing is worse. I am working at large company you never heard off that professionally pretends to be other companies that you’ll all know. Don’t ask me how this shit is even supposed to work but we are cheaper than if the companies we mis-represent did their shit themselves. And it is like going to work to Bizzaro World my colleagues have PhDs, Masters degrees, years of work experience and all of that is worth shit. Our bosses on the other hand… I have to admit that most of them have university degrees. But I swear to fucking god that all of them are either stupid as shit, utterly incompetent or just play evil. It’s like they are trying to crush ever little shred of motivation you have your will to live. And at least in my case they have succeeded.” Murphy looked up with his empty eyes.

“I’m sorry but the man you are looking for is long gone. I am only what is left of him. The only reason I keep going is because I’m to much of a coward to kill myself.”

On the way back to the hotel Adrian felt like shit. He had tried to argue with Murphy, in the end he had been pleading. But he got nowhere. Who ever he was looking for, the most important part of him was dead and there was no way he could bring him back. The worst part of it was that Murphy knew. He knew that he had been broken and that part of what had made him human was gone, he had known that what Adrian was offering him was a way out, a new beginning. But Murphy had no hope left. He would remain a disposable wage slave until his shell finally followed his soul.

Adrian left the city on the same night.