Hi folks, here's another tale of love gone wrong. Another somebody done somebody wrong song ... I mean story. Anyway this time, you'll be helping me out with the ending. Nope I'm not doing that two endings thing, because some of you hate that. I'll explain how we're doing this at the end of the story. But for now. Thanks to Mikothebaby for everything she does. For compassion, for words of encouragement and even for kicking me in the butt when I need it and especially for editing these things. Okay, here we go. SS06
I'd waited two weeks for this evening. I'd gone through two weeks of repressing my anger and pretending that everything was fine. In a small town like ours, where everyone knows everyone else, it was easy to get help taking care of my problem. It was especially easy when the problem was caused by one of our own. But it was also very difficult to keep everyone else from knowing that I had one.
The grunt of my electric blue 2011 Mustang GT's FlowMaster exhaust system was like music to my ears as I drove towards the high school. I'd graduated from that school, as had most of my friends. I volunteered like everyone else in town whenever the school needed anything. My wife taught at the school.
Tonight was one of those nights where it seemed as if all of the stars lined up. Just this once, two very special occasions happened to coincide. The high school's annual "Adult Evening," which was one of my favorite nights, happened to take place on my wife's birthday.
I'd been planning a special present for her birthday for two weeks and tonight was the night that she'd receive it. We were supposed to have dinner with her parents in one of the town's nicest restaurants. What happened before that was the reason I enjoyed the "Adult Evening" so much.
Back in my youth, I used to play in a band with my four best friends. We often played talent shows and concerts at the school. As we improved, our shows became big events. We were playing a concert tonight at the "Adult Evening."
Actually we often got together to rehearse, even though we'd all been out of school for a long time. I'm thirty five years old and have a seventeen year old son who attends the school and will be graduating this summer. Our rehearsals aren't really anything serious. We'd all given up our dreams of being rock stars years ago as real life intruded on our dreams.
Back in the day, we did have a record company or two sniffing after us. But college and kids and jobs and girlfriends who in most cases became wives took away the single minded focus that you need to have in order to climb to the top of the music business.
I put on my turn signal, checked my rearview mirror and moved into the passing lane. Then I put my heavy right foot down and the car surged forward. My pony loved to stretch her legs and this was a great chance for it. As I watched the road with one eye on my speedometer, we shot past a white Dodge Challenger. The guy driving the car looked over at me and waved and then tried to keep pace.
He didn't have a chance. His car was great and if he was chasing anything in town other than my Mustang, the results would have been different. But with my car being almost two hundred pounds lighter and having over a hundred more horsepower, it simply wasn't a fair comparison.
As we hit the series of twisting turns leading into the town proper, it became laughable. I'd modified my Pony's suspension and steering with Ford's Track Pack handling system. It included many of the same suspension components that made the 302 Boss such a dream to drive.
I also had several things on the car that were unique, including functional side scoops that channeled cool air to cool off the brakes. That, added to cross drilled and slotted oversized rotors and huge brake calipers that were painted the same electric blue of the car's body panels and my car could stop halfway across a dime.
The ability to stop faster meant that I could brake later and get back on the gas even sooner. That was a deadly combination in maneuvering through sharp turns at a high rate of speed. The charger was soon just a distant dot in my rearview mirror. It didn't matter since we were both going to the same place. I needed to get there before he did though. And for him, getting his ass kicked on the road, yet again, was only the beginning.
A few moments later I drove past a gate and into the large parking lot that surrounded the school. I got out of my car and hot footed it to the back door. Ordinarily this door was used for deliveries, but during special events and performances it was the stage door. I fumbled in my pocket for my security badge, but the chief of security, who was normally the school's bus driver/ security guard waved me through.
"Good luck, Danny," he said. The expression on his face told me now sorry he was for me. I tried to smile as I nodded but I'm not sure I made it. Even two weeks after the fact, I have trouble wrapping my head around the idea.
I scurry further into the school and away from the door as the sound of another car skidding to a stop alerts me to the fact that I'm not that far ahead of my ex-friend. I duck around the corner and lean back against the wall to listen as he starts screaming and whining about not being allowed in.
I almost laugh as he shows his security badge and is told that he isn't on the list of performers.
After a few moments of listening to his frustration fueled anger, I've had enough fun. I head into the back stage area to see the other guys in the band.
I'm the last to arrive and the other guys look up when I walk in. No one says anything. I guess they're trying to gauge my mood. Friends do that.
"Hey, Mike," I say as he looks across the large room at me. "Are ya ready to get out there?"
"Are you sure that you want to do that song?" he asks. Mike and I, in fact all of the guys and I have known each other since kindergarten. We played little league together, we played football together. We were all at each other's weddings and now that we've grown up, at least age wise, we bowl on the same team and play golf together.
Mike's concern stems from the fact that he thinks I'll be embarrassed if everyone in town finds out what I'm going through. I guess in his mind, this is the kind of thing that should be handled quietly and perhaps privately.
"Mikey, they say that the truth shall set you free," I told him. "Anyway, the town is so small that everyone will know sooner or later anyway. It's better for me to get out there ahead of this. At least that way I can let everyone know that I might be hurt by it, but I won't let them, or it, beat me."
He nods at me and tries to smile. Pete starts to twirl his drumsticks and he pats me on the back as I go by. "This actually makes things better," he said. "Instead of kicking him out of the band, we ought to be kicking his ass, though."
"I don't like the bastard anymore and I'll never trust him again," said John. "But I still don't see how his absence makes things easier."
"Johnny, Johnny, Johnny," laughs Pete. "When we play golf, it's weird because we're always a five-some instead of a foursome. What about bowling? The whole league is set up for four man teams, not a four man team with a rotating alternate. Everything will be easier now. And truthfully, now that we know what a God damned snake he is, do you really want him around your wife or your daughter?"
"Not on a bet," said John. "It's just odd. I mean we've all been friends for so long that it's strange. It feels kind of like finding out that your brother has been stealing from you. I mean you know that it's wrong. You're also pissed about it. But deep down inside, he's still your brother. So you keep wondering why he'd do it, that's all."
"Look guys," I said. "I really appreciate you standing by me like this, but I don't want this to be anything that anyone doesn't feel good about. If you want we can take a vote about this and figure out something else. It's not too late to go out there and bring him back here and you guys can still play the show."
"Danny, there's no need for you to try to be a martyr," said Mike.
"I'm not trying to," I said. "Did you notice that I said, "You guys could still play the show? They don't have a stage anywhere in the world that's big enough for him AND me."
"I'm just amazed at how well you've kept your cool," said Pete. "If it had been me, I would have gotten into his ass from the very beginning. Both of us would be all beaten up right now..."
"I wanted to," I said. "And there's a very real chance that it may still happen like that, but sometimes an ass kicking alone isn't enough."
"The worst part of it is the betrayal," said Mike. "It could have been any one of us. We're always at each other's houses. Remember when I had to go to Nebraska for that executive training seminar a month after I got married? Right now I don't think anyone of you understands just how glad I am that I asked Danny to look out for Leanne instead of Greg. I mean at the time Greg was already married to Amanda and you were still single, Danny. There was also the fact that Greg lived right down the street from me then. But it just didn't feel right even back then."
The door opened and my son, Jordan, walked in.
"Everything is ready, Dad," he said. "Are you sure that I can't..."
"Yep Jordy, I'm very sure. I really appreciate your help and I hate to drag you into this ... Anyway all we have to do is push the button right?" I asked.
"Yep," he said shaking his head. I reached into my pocket and handed him some bills.
"What's this for?" he asked.
"Why don't you forget about all of this crap and take Selena to see Pacific Rim like you've been talking about?" I smiled.
"Thanks Dad," he gushed.
"Uhm, where will you be tomorrow?" he asked tentatively.
"Jordy, the town isn't that big," I smiled. "Just look for the electric blue Mustang GT. If it isn't in our driveway, it'll be somewhere else."
A few moments after Jordan left the four of us filed out of the changing room and into the area behind the stage. Hank Hill was on the stage doing his magic act. Hank was in his sixties and had been our science teacher back when we attended the school. As we watched Hank I noticed a tiny energetic woman running around the area with a clipboard. She couldn't have been taller than 4' 10" or 4' 11" but she drew most of the attention in the back stage area. Her long mane of honey blonde and her sparkling eyes gathered the attention of every man in the building.
As we stood there watching Hank attempting to pull a rabbit out of his hat, my eyes were constantly drawn to her. I almost didn't pay any attention to the fact that she'd walked up to us and was talking to me.
"I thought there were supposed to be five of you?" she said. "I only count four. What's your name, Handsome?"
"He's sick, babe," said Mike.
"First off, Michael Rogers; to the best of my knowledge, I am not now, nor have I ever been your BABE," she said sharply. "But, I could be mistaken. Just to make sure it isn't me in the wrong I'll ask Leanne about the whole "BABE" thing, Monday at work, okay?"
"Rhonda, I would be ever so grateful, if you could possibly refrain from doing that," gulped Mike. "Please forgive me. I allowed the excitement of the moment to carry me away."
"Very well," she spat. Then she looked directly at me for some reason. Then the moment passed and she looked over her shoulder. "He apparently doesn't know that he's sick. Isn't that him standing out in the audience holding a guitar and trying to get your attention?"
Mike opened his mouth, as if he was about to say something. But he couldn't think of a thing to say.
"I don't need to know," she said looking at me again. "I just needed to make sure that there was a band here and ready to go on. Who's in the band is above my pay grade and below my level of interest. Break a leg or whatever you say at times like this."
And then she was gone, clipboard in hand and her tiny but proportionate ass undulating from side to side with every step.
"Bitch," hissed Mike.
She immediately turned on her heel nodded at him.
I thought that Mike would piss on the floor he got so scared. "Do you think she heard me?" he asked.
I turned my attention back to Greg. He was waving his guitar over his head and trying to get our attention. Somehow we all managed to pretend that we didn't see him. It was really hard for me not to laugh. "Look at that asshole," smirked Pete. "He has no idea of what's about to happen."
The entire day had been like a nightmare. First, my boss had asked to see me and then had rescheduled the meeting for Monday morning. From the expression on his face it didn't seem like it was going to be the kind of meeting where he have me the raise that I'd been asking for. Then he sent me out in the field to evaluate a new sales rep. The rep was just completing his probationary period and we'd have to make a determination on whether to hire him permanently or not. As the sales manager, normally I didn't go in the field. The sales rep had an experienced rep who'd trained him. Usually we'd send a different rep to evaluate him. We did that because the guy who trained him would probably want him to succeed, so he'd be far less critical. And since the rep who trained him would also get a bonus if he made it, it would be even more likely that the new rep would pass with flying colors.
The whole thing just felt like my boss wanted me out of the office or out of town for something. Then suddenly I remembered another time when he'd acted like this. When he'd promoted me to Sales Manager, he'd sent me out of town on some stupid errands so he could get some feedback from everyone else then too. I started to feel better. The only thing that sucked about it was that being out in the field meant that I'd missed the sound check.
It's not like it was a major deal. George, our sound man would probably just set the levels of my amps and the PA by having Danny play my guitar through my amps. We'd done it before.
But then to make things worse, I got here with plenty of time to double check the sound if necessary but that asinine security guard wouldn't let me back stage. I actually had to buy a ticket and go in through the front door. My friends were probably really pissed at me. I figured the security idiot had probably been at the sound check and had only seen four guys in the band. It was a fucked up situation, but he was only doing his job.
Then I caught a break. I saw all of the guys together off the edge of the stage. They were talking to a woman that I hadn't ever seen before. She was absolutely tiny, but she was beautiful too. If I didn't already have my plate more than full when it came to women, I might start talking to her. Shit maybe I would anyway.
The guys seemed to be looking for me. I jumped up and down and waved my guitar. I wish that I could yell or something, but old man Hill was doing his lame magic act. If I started yelling they'd kick me out of here for sure.
I tried to push my way up closer to the stage but a bunch of people would let me pass. "Hey, I'm supposed to be in the show," I said.
A guy in front of me started laughing. "I used to do that same thing back in the nineties," he said. "I'd take a guitar to a concert and try to get people to let me get up near the stage or even back stage sometimes. I actually got to meet Bon Jovi that way. But it ain't working for ya tonight buddy. So calm down before I call security and have you thrown out of here."
A few moments later, I felt someone tap me on my shoulder. I looked over and saw Betty Martin. Betty was Danny's wife.
"Hey, Bet," I said casually. Betty was tall and thin with collar length curly blond hair and glasses. Like the guys in my band, I'd known Betty for most of my life. I had to be really careful around her. In a town as small as ours where everyone knew everyone, it wouldn't be a good thing for anyone to see us together and notice that we were perhaps a bit friendlier than the norm.
"Happy birthday," I said. I noticed that no one was paying us any attention. "Sorry I didn't get you a present," I said. "I've been really busy."
"Don't worry about it," she said. "You gave me what I wanted at lunchtime yesterday anyway."
"And there's more where that came from," I said.
"So what's Danny going to get you?" I asked her.
"Some type of jewelry and a trip to Hawaii," she gushed. Just mentioning Danny always made her smile.
"How do you know that?" I asked.
"Danny loves me, Dumbass," she said. "He tries really hard to make me happy. All I have to do is drop a few hints and he starts working overtime or raids our savings to get me what I want."
"What a schmuck," I said. "Too bad he doesn't know that what you really want is to have your ass beaten. Or that you like to have a vibrator in your pussy while I pound your ass and twist those tiny little tits of yours."
"Shut up asshole," she hissed. "Someone might hear you." But I could tell by the way her voice wavered that I was turning her on.
"Too bad my old buddy doesn't know that his wife likes it when I show up with a stranger or two to run a train on her. The funny thing about it is that he really doesn't know that I was fucking you before you ever met him," I said.
"If you keep flapping your mouth, everyone will know," she said. "Why aren't you up there on the stage?"
"I couldn't get in the back way," I said. "I'm just waiting for the intermission between the magician and us, so I can let them know I'm here. I've got my guitar and everything."
"Oh," she said.
"Bet, who is that woman with the clipboard?" I asked her.
"I can't stand that little bitch," she hissed. "Her name is Rhonda Barbie and she's..."
"She's hot, is what she is," I said.
"Keep it in your pants Cowboy," she hissed. "The only woman you're having sex with outside of your wife is me."
"Maybe I'm ready for a change," I said. "Maybe I feel guilty about sneaking around behind Danny's back. He is my best friend."
"And you've always been jealous of him," she said. "Every time he got something, you wanted something exactly like it, but you always felt like you were second best. And every time you got something, he always ended up with something better." Even as she spoke I felt a burning in the pit of my stomach.
"You guys have a band," she said. "He's the lead guitarist and you're the backing guitar, right? And he has that Mustang and you got a ... what is that thing you drive, anyway? I forgot what it's called, but once again it's almost as good, right?" She was really pissing me off.
"But I think the thing that really hurts, is me isn't it?" she asked. "You had me first, but you were ashamed of me. All you ever did was to take me out in the woods and fuck me. Then you met Amanda and the two of you got married. But when Danny and I met, he treated me like a princess. I fell in love with the fact that he loves me so much. So now he has ME too. And all you have is your fat little wife and a string of second bests. And if you go after Rhonda or I even think you've tried to replace me with her, someone might mention to Amanda that you're doing it and..."
My mouth dropped open in shock as the huge screen behind the stage lit up. It started showing all kinds of images and then the band was on stage. My fucking band was playing without me. I've played every show that band has ever done since we were fourteen years old and just made noise. I had spent hours listening to tapes of us doing every song in our repertoire.
Two things leaped out at me right away. The first was that the song wasn't one that we normally did. The second was that the band had never sounded better. I don't know what it was. It couldn't simply be the fact that I wasn't on the stage with them; could it?
"What the... ?" began Betty.
"Shut the fuck up!" I hissed. I needed all of my faculties to examine what was going on. I needed to examine the sound. Danny and I often argued about out approaches to equipment. We had completely different tastes when it came to guitars and amps. I preferred Fender combo amps and liked to mic one amp and direct the output through the PA. I also only used vintage stomp boxes through an effects loop. I played only vintage Les Paul guitars.
Danny on the other hand preferred BC Rich guitars that were painted with different themes that ranged from women to cars. He used a full rack of all digital effects. His amps were vintage 50 watt Marshalls. And he loved using at least two amps. This time he had four heads and four cabinets. I had to admit that he had never sounded better.
The thing that astounded me the most was that I expected that the band would sound thinner with the missing guitar. Instead they sounded not only fuller, but tighter than ever. I realized instantly why that was happening. Danny had often experimented with running his guitar rig in stereo and directing one side of the feed to each side of the stage. It also allowed him to pan and sweep his guitar lines from side to side for interesting echo effects. He had also doubled the number of amps he was using.
John had also upgraded his bass rig and was placed a lot louder in the mix than ever before. The stage also seemed roomier with only the three of them in front instead of the four of us. Danny was running around like a man possessed and Mike was picking out women in the audience and singing to each one. God I wanted to be up there. By midway through the song which I recognized as Dokken's song, "Breaking the chains," the audience was singing along with them.
Then I noticed that a lot of the images on the screen behind them, blown up to more than twice life size, were pictures of Betty.
"Why are..." said a feminine voice from behind me.
"I told you to shut the fuck up," I growled.
"EXCUSE ME GREGORY?" she said and I immediately realized my mistake. I turned and stared into the angry eyes of my wife Amanda.
"Sorry Honey," I thought you were Betty.
"Why would you talk to Betty that way?" she asked.
"I was trying to concentrate and she was getting on my nerves," I said.
"The band sounds great," she said. "Why aren't you up there? Danny looks hot. Look at Rhonda. She looks like she's ready to eat him alive. I think she dropped her clipboard. Betty looks like she's ready to beat Rhonda's ass. Do they know each other?"
"Yeah, yeah," I said. "Whatever."
"What is this song about?" she asked. "Does it have something to do with slavery?"
"No," I said tersely. "It's about getting out of a relationship with a woman who treated you badly."
"Oh, I get it," she smiled. "That's why he's breaking the chains. But why are there all of those pictures of Betty on the screen?"
After the song was over they got the biggest round of applause I'd ever heard and then they launched into a favorite of Danny's. They ripped through an absolutely killer version of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid." I was even more upset then. Danny was going nuts. Usually I was the voice of reason. I held him back to keep him from turning every song into one long guitar solo. But without me there, he had to play all of the rhythm parts which only allowed him to throw in quick lead lines, here and there. It worked beautifully. Since he only had a couple of measures each time, it meant he had to be very frugal with his bits. Almost too quickly the song ended.
It left me wondering what they'd do next. Danny and John stood directly in front of their amps and aimed the pickups on their guitars towards the speakers. I know there'd be feedback and there was. John stayed facing the speakers and kept the feedback going. It was brilliant and the audience loved it. A spot light came up then and the video screen showed ... Danny's house?
I wondered why he'd want to show his house. Then I noticed that it wasn't his car parked in front of the house, it was mine and I started to feel afraid.
"Honey, that's your car isn't it?" asked Amanda. I just nodded.
"Danny started to play a very bluesy opening line over John's feedback. It was just the two of them on that stage with the audience in the palms of their hands. Then the tone of Danny's guitar changed to a more distorted, more aggressive sound and he started riffing as Pete's drums kicked in and John started the heaviest bass lines I'd ever heard from him.
"Mike's voice actually sounded both nasty and pissed off as he began to sing.
"I'm knocking at your door but there's no answer." he ran across the stage and pretended to knock on the door of Danny's house even as my heart beat so loudly in my chest that it threatened to overwhelm Pete's cannon like drums.
"I hear the moans and groans of your nasty laughter," sang Mikey, as Danny punctuated each line with soulful atomic blues fueled guitar. Each and every note he played seem tinged with raw emotion. I could hear hatred, anger and pain pouring out of him through his guitar ... Even louder though, was the sound of a woman's giggling and moaning her pleasure. And there on the giant screen was Betty. The moans were hers and she and I both knew it. We looked at each other in abject horror. There was a huge censored banner over Betty's naughty bits but everyone in the building knew that she was naked. Betty and I both knew who the man in that picture would be when he was shown and she screamed and tried to run. The crush of the crowd trying to get closer to the stage held us in place though.
Amanda looked at Betty and put her hand over her mouth in shock that her friend would allow herself to be filmed and shown in front of a crowd of strangers.
"I'm kickin' in the door as your breathing gets faster," sang Mikey on the stage. The audience was torn between watching the scandalous little scene on the screen and the band's performance.
"Your trail of clues is leading to disaster," sang Mikey. And I knew then that for my own good, for the future of my marriage and family, I couldn't let them finish that song.
Mikey and Danny came together to punctuate the changes in the music as they reached the bridge. Mikey had moved across the stage until he was directly in front of Betty, who didn't have a clue of what was happening.
"Once I looked into your eyes, I thought that they were true," he sang. Danny was riffing feverishly next to him in mute agreement with the sentiment of the lyrics. The pure pain on Danny's face cut through to Betty and she started to cry. But she had no idea how bad it was about to become.
"Innocence can turn to lies and now the finger points at you, baby," sang Mikey and his tone changed from pleading to chiding as he plowed into the simple repeated one word chorus.
"Shame, shame, shame," he screamed at the top of his lungs. "You should've known better."
He was pointing his fingers straight at Betty and the audience was beginning to put two and two together.
"Than to cheat on me," sang not Mike, but Danny directly to Betty. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that what was on that screen had actually happened. People around us were pointing their fingers at Betty too and she was trying to get away but again the mass of people trying to get closer to the stage wouldn't let her get away. She'd have been better off trying to get to the stage and sneak out that way.
Mikey summed everything up. "You've got your own self to blame. Now it's time to feel the pain, of your twisted little game. It's such a crying shame, shame, shame." As the audience started pointing fingers at Betty and laughing at her, I finally recognized the song. And I realized that my instinct was right. I had to stop them from finishing that God damned song. Danny had made his own wife the object of ridicule and scorn. They were humiliating her even now. If they made it through the second verse, my marriage probably wouldn't survive.
"Did you do your poses in the mirror?" sang Mikey, accompanied by lightning fast guitar lines from a now smiling Danny.
"Did you tell him baby, baby please?" Both Mikey and Danny looked me straight in the eyes and the faces that had always shown me nothing but love and friendship were devoid of any shred of compassion. I realized that they knew and there was no iota of forgiveness left for me. I dove for the edge of the stage. I figured that I could snatch out Danny's guitar cord or the main cord from Mike's microphone. Both of them used cordless transmitters, but Danny's transmitter fed to a receiver that was linked by guitar cables to his array of triggers and stomp boxes on the floor.
As I landed roughly on the edge of the stage, my fingers were only inches away from the chain of effects pedals that were linked by thin and extremely vulnerable quarter inch guitar cables.
Before I could manage to grab the cable and stop the guitar signal from getting through, Danny, my best friend, almost since birth stepped over and kicked me in the face so hard that I fell back off of the edge of the stage spitting teeth as I fell. I saw the look on his face just before he struck me and there was nothing in it but joy. He clearly had no remorse for what he'd done.
Before my body had even settled, the security men had grabbed me.
Back on the stage Mikey threw another knife in my back. "Did you twist his tongue and bend his ear up?" he sang. "Did you have him begging on his knees?" That was the worst moment of my life as my sweet innocent wife looked away from me for just a second when she realized that the naked man cavorting on the screen with the new town whore was none other than her own husband. She launched herself at me and scratched the shit out of my face before the security men snatched me away from her in their haste to throw me out of the building.
Since Amanda couldn't get to me, she turned her fury on Betty. Betty is at least four inches taller than Amanda but Amanda has thick arms and thighs. She forgot about being a lady and just threw the hardest and best pure punch I've ever seen at Betty's unprotected face. All I remember before they threw me, bodily, out onto the hard concrete surface of the parking lot, was Betty's head snapping backwards as Amanda's fist hit it.
I couldn't believe that one song had put my entire life in jeopardy.
But the fact was that the past few days had been off. I don't know why I never sat down and thought about it before now. But lying there flat on my back while two security guards prevented an enraged Amanda from stomping me into the ground obviously wasn't the time for deep thinking.
I struggled to get to my feet with my head spinning. All of the people in the crowd who were near enough to see what was going on were jeering at me and someone spit on me.
It was hard for me to believe that this was the town I'd grown up in and worked in and had raised my son in. I looked towards the stage and saw that my husband was still there performing with his band while half of the women in the audience screamed and tried to get closer to him. Before this moment I'd have laughed at them because Danny had never loved any woman except me. I'd grown up kind of wild, but my Danny had always been a boy scout.
I screamed his name out. I needed to look at him and see the expression on his face. Danny was easy to argue with because even when he was so angry at me that he didn't want to talk to me, I could always just look at him and he'd melt and forgive me. That was how much he loved me.
We made brief eye contact as he launched into his guitar solo. It felt strange. It was as if an alien consciousness had taken over my husband's body. As our eyes met, I felt nothing coming from him. There was no love, no forgiveness and barely any recognition. It was almost as if I had looked into a stranger's eyes.
But before I could even begin to think about what had happened I was pushed away to the side of the crowd by people trying to get closer to the stage.
"Hey!" I shouted angrily.
"Shame, Shame, Shame, stupid bitch," replied an obviously drunken woman. I looked closer at her and realized that she was the mother of one of my students. I had to get out of there before more people started to put the pieces together. I was hurt. I was angry and my face was throbbing where Amanda had hit me. I needed to talk to Danny. I had to beg his forgiveness and try to put this behind us.
I figured that the smartest way to handle it would be to go backstage and wait for him. Then I'd convince him to go somewhere that we could talk this all out. I also needed to figure out exactly what he knew, so I could determine what to say about it. I also wished that I had some way of getting to Greg so we could synchronize our lies and avoid tripping over each other. It would also be good to know what Amanda knew and when she found out. But I think it was pretty obvious that Amanda had only found out during the song. If she'd known any earlier she wouldn't have defended me when Greg told me to shut the fuck up.
Then I remembered that today was my birthday and that after the concert, Danny and I were supposed to be meeting my parents for a birthday dinner at my favorite restaurant. I didn't want my parents brought in on this if it could be avoided. At that moment something else came to mind; my son Jordan. This morning when I'd reminded him about the birthday dinner, he'd looked at me crazily. I should have realized something was off then.
Jordan was so much like his father that it was uncanny. He'd flipped me one of those cryptic remarks that teenagers are known for and I hadn't understood it at the time.
"Jordy make sure you're not late getting to the restaurant," I'd said as I tried to hug him. He'd moved away from my hug and threw a sarcastic comment over his shoulder as he left.
"Like I'm going to be anywhere near there," he'd smirked.
At the time, I'd chalked it up to a nearly eighteen year old boy trying to assert his independence. My little boy is growing up, I'd thought. He was trying to distance himself from his mommy as part of him getting ready to leave the nest and go off to college. I'd smiled at the time and thought it was funny. But now I understand that even my son knew about this. I wondered then if he had played a role in his father's humiliation of me in front of all of those people.
As I tried to move myself towards the door, the song ended and the crowd went crazy trying to get the band to come back for one more song. As I looked towards the stage, I could see that John had already left the stage and Pete was walking away from his drums. Mike and Danny were talking to that little bitch Rhonda. It gave me a chance to catch him.
I pushed my way through the crowd, forgetting all about politeness and decorum. This was an extreme situation. Outside of the building, I noticed that a crowd was watching as Greg whined and begged for Amanda to talk to him. They didn't notice me as I made my way around to the back of the school. I walked up to the door and opened it.
"Hi Ollie," I said with a smile to the man seated just inside of the large metal door. "I have to talk to Danny. We're going to dinner with my parents for my birthday. Which way should I turn?"
Ollie was short for Oliver Wendell Douglass. Ollie was both the school's armed security guard and bus driver. He also coordinated security for larger events like the adult evening.
Ollie and I had been friends for a long time, but I sensed something different about him then.
"You can TURN your ass around and go back the way you came," he said evenly. "No one is allowed backstage unless they're on my list and you aren't."
"But Ollie," I whined.
"Butt, is what I call my ass," he spat. "Do you remember Nina?"
Nina had been Ollie's fiancé until she ran off with a salesman who'd been passing through town. It had taken Ollie a long time to get over her and what she'd done to him. The funny part about the story was that he'd moped over her for more than a month. No one could cheer him up though we all tried. Danny and the guys had taken him fishing. They'd bowled with him and tried to teach him to play golf, but nothing worked.
What finally got him over her was the one thing that none of us had thought about. It was closure that brought him back to life. Nina had dragged her sorry ass back into town about six weeks later and begged him to take her back. She'd had all kinds of stories about how she'd been lied to and how she just wanted to see what life away from a small town was like. She swore to him that she had her head on straight and it would never happen again.
Ollie had smiled at her, but it was a weird crooked smile. Then he'd told her, while smiling that same smile, to get the fuck out of his life and stay there.
From then on he was back to being the same gentle, kind man that everyone knew and loved. He'd married one of the local farmers' daughters and they had a couple of kids. Ollie did have one blind spot though. It was women who left their men. I guess he'd extended his description to include me, although I would never leave Danny.
"Yeah, I remember her," I said quietly.
"Shame, Shame, Shame," he said.
Nothing else needed to be said. I turned around and left the building in time to see Greg getting into his car and spinning his wheels trying to get out of there. Someone had painted the words "Cheater, Backstabber, and Asshole," on Greg's prized muscle car.
I felt a vibration coming from my pocket. I reached down and looked at my phone. My mother was calling me. She probably wanted to make sure what time we were meeting.
"Hi Mom," I said.
As I'd predicted she wanted to verify the time and make sure that nothing had changed.
When I ended the call, I called Danny. I was shocked. He answered the phone and he didn't sound depressed or upset.
"Danny, Honey, we need to talk," I said. He didn't reply.
After what seemed like hours he said, "Maybe we should talk after the dinner with your parents."
"Perfect," I said. I knew that gave me a chance. I'd spend the dinner being as solicitous and charming as I could. I'd do all of the things that I knew Danny loved. I'd make it extremely hard for him to just write me off."
"I'll be waiting for you out front, Honey," I said.
"You're going to have to get there on your own, Betty," he said. "I drove the Mustang."
"Danny, I know that car rides rough, but you love it so much that I don't mind riding in it. Maybe we could talk a bit on the way to the restaurant," I said.
"No, Betty," he said. "You can't ride in my car anymore."
"So that's my punishment?" I asked. "I don't get to ride in a car that I don't like anyway?"