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Drunk on stage E-mail

Hank Barnett, the country music star, does a show drunk

Barnett stumbled on the last step, almost dropping his cigarette, and lurched toward the center stage mike. He was dressed in his usual stage get-up - embroidered flared jeans that might come back in style some day, western shirt, and leather vest. Jewelry on his hands and around his neck sparkled in the colored stage lights. Maybe half the crowd was paying any attention to what was happening on stage, and they roared when Barnett came into view.

The band kicked off "Southern Lovin'", the song he always came on with, but after a few bars he hollered at them to be quiet, waving a disdainful hand at them, and they trailed off one by one. Everything got real quiet, except for the distant clamor of pinball machines and conversation from the far reaches of the club, and the musicians looked sheepishly at each other.

Jackie stepped back, trying to find a shadow to disappear into. Will put his bar down and sat with his elbows on his steel, awaiting further developments. Osgood began to freak, and the thought that this was somehow his fault flashed through his mind, and he fought down panic. Dax made a face at Barnett's back and took a drink from the beer he'd smuggled onstage. Austin fingered his bass nervously, the smile nailed onto his face, ready to try to cover the situation. The crowd waited expectantly. Maybe this was part of the show?

Barnett struck a pose, one arm outstretched, the mike clutched in his other hand along with the cigarette. The spotlight was on him, turning his evilly grinning face a washed-out sickly white. He took a drag off his butt and looked out over the crowd.

"Old loves never die," he began singing. "For those like you and I..."

This was one of his other records, and the band struggled to find the key. There it was - F. He normally did it in C. Everybody had it but Austin.

Jackie stage-whispered to Austin, who was plucking around haphazardly on his bass. He grinned and nodded when he got with the rest of the band.

Barnett sang a few more lines, but stopped when he got to the bridge, realizing he was in a foreign key. The band trailed off one by one again, except for Will, who still hadn't picked up his bar.

Suddenly Barnett whirled around, tottering a little, and pointed an accusing finger at Will, who looked back at him, wondering what the hell. "'Southern Lovin'!" Barnett screeched, glaring at him. Will had a cold knot in his stomach, but he managed to play the intro again, and Barnett turned to face the crowd and began singing half a measure behind where he was supposed to be.

The show tapered off from there, with Barnett swearing, singing snatches from various songs, stumbling around tripping over cords, and making fun of the band, and everyone on stage and off was pretty relieved when the big Nashville star, amid scattered grumbling and boos, kicked at a monitor and left the stage after doing only twenty minutes. The contract called for a forty-five show, two of them, in fact. Well, at least he had lived up, or down, to his image again, and some of the paying customers were satisfied with that. Others, not quite so philosophical, might want their twelve bucks back.

The crowd had never seen a band so berated, reviled, abused, and generally demeaned as the unfortunate group that backed up Barnett, and they gave them a sympathetic round of applause as they unplugged their guitars.

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My eBooks

I wrote some books all by myself that you might be interested in if you like country music, steel guitar, the 60's and/or mysteries.

Steel Guitar Insanity, the book

My latest book. A compilation of the blog of the same name. Buy now.

 

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My 2nd ebook: The Beast From the Back of the Bus

A musician procedural. What it's like to be on tour through Texas with a murderous White Supremacist on your trail.

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My first ebook, a mystery, available at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and the the Sony Reader Store.

Hot Rods, girls, music and murder from 1963. More at Chevy Summer.

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