The summer is half over… at least by school standards. I don’t want it to end! Sigh. It’s also time for another promptly penned. I’ve missed a couple of flash fictions, so… jumping in for this one. This month the prompt is…
S/he gripped the rim of the porcelin sink and tried to steady his/her hands.
“One last time,” s/he whispered to her/himself. One. Last. Time.
Once again it’s super late… I know. One day I shall be prepared, just like the goat/ram/sheep? in Hoodwinked. Promise. Today is NOT that day.
“Christ, Shane, what’s taking so long? Everyone’s expecting an encore. You can’t just blow it off.”
Shane Driscoll glanced at his manager’s reflection in the mirror, instantly wanting to slap the judgmental look off the man’s face. Tom had no idea the toll simply performing had taken on Shane. Just thinking about having to walk back out on stage…
He suppressed the shiver that threatened to shake through him, splashing more cold water on his face. “I need another five minutes.”
Tom’s left eye twitched before he plastered on a fake smile. “I realize you’re probably tired—”
“Tired? I haven’t slept in the same crappy hotel room for two nights in a row since we left Montana four months ago. I told you I didn’t want to be gone that long, and you promised me you wouldn’t let it get out of control. Yet, here we are, balls deep in concert dates with no damn end in sight.”
“You can’t stay on the top of the charts if you don’t give your fans what they want, buddy.”
Shane glanced at the man. They weren’t buddies. Never had been.
Tom continued, apparently obvious to Shane’s glare. “And they want you strutting on stage—tight pair of jeans, that cocky smile of yours breaking hearts. Do you have any idea how crazy women are over you?”
Shane shook his head. “This isn’t what I wanted my music to become. It’s not supposed to be about whether or not my ass looks good in some denim, or if I’m sporting a six-pack. It’s about the melody, the lyrics. About making songs that matter.”
“The songs can matter once you’ve been at number one long enough no one will forget your name. Ever.” Tom moved a few steps closer. “You’re poised to be the next Johnny Cash. But that won’t happen if you hide away. So, drink, smoke, pray. Your choice, but get your ass back out for one more round. You’ve got a few days off after this one. You can hide all you want on the bus.”
Shane didn’t answer, watching the other man disappear out the door. Right. A few days off. On his way to another town. Another stage where his music got lost behind strobing lights and artificial fog. He’d told Tom he wanted to keep it simple. Him. His guitar. A backup band. Nothing fancy or fake. He just wanted to be…him. Shane Driscoll. Real. Unplugged. But Tom got caught up in the ugly side of the industry. The one ruled by money and fame. Shane just didn’t know if Tom had forgotten his roots, or simply never had any.
Shane took a calming breath, staring at his reflection again. Ten years. That’s how long he’d been chasing the neon lights, trying to make it big. He’d been thrilled when Tom had offered to take him on—make him a star. Not for the money or the fame, but for the chance to share his message. Hopefully inspire people to change for the better. But somewhere along the road, he’d taken a wrong turn, and his dream of using his music to make a difference had gotten lost.
Or maybe it was just him who’d gotten lost. Who’d forgotten what it was like growing up in a three bedroom shack with four other siblings all vying for a spot. How he’d had to work three part time jobs just to earn enough to help out his mom and still buy the guitar Mr. Wilson had set aside for him. It’d taken him six months, but he’d never regretted it. Hell, he still played it.
Another round of pounding sounded on his door, followed by the hollow echo of cheering voices. And he knew he couldn’t stall much longer. Not without going another ’round with Tom. And Shane wasn’t convinced he wouldn’t simply sock the other man in the eye before storming out. After all, this is what he’d wanted, wasn’t it?
He gripped the rim of the porcelin sink and tried to steady his hands. He’d figure out how to switch gears—get back to his roots. Find a way to make his music matter, again.
He glanced at the door, smiling as Tom’s voice boomed through. Hell, yeah. He was going to make some drastic changes, and he’d start by getting himself a new manager. One who understood what his music truly meant to him. Who didn’t try to commercialize it for a heftier profit. Who had earned the right to call him buddy because they were.
He just had to make it through one more song.
“One last time,” he whispered to himself. One. Last. Time.