Welcome back to Saturday Showcase! This week I welcome Weirdo to have some Saturday fun! See what happens when a minion of hell goes to an underground punk concert.
Werido’s Prompt: ‘Two years ago, I swore I’d never come back here again.’
Two years ago, I swore I’d never come back here again.
I would never had made such a bold promise had I known The Xcavaders were going to be playing another show in underground Seattle. Now that I was back on Earth, I looked like a full fledged idiot that had just reached its final form of stupidity. It was a clumsy look that consisted of a rigid scowl accentuated with deep rooted annoyance (and shame) and a thick aura of “don’t fucking talk to me” radiating off my body. I had left Hell for this show- I didn’t want to be bothered.
As soon as I arrived, I saw just how much Seattle had changed since I had been here last. Stomping down the street in steel toed boots, I had come to see just how low humans had stooped in their conquest for thinner phones and healthier food choices. The disease of self indulgent advertisement had spread to every surface in the city like the case of herpes it was, and a haze of boosted egos polluted the air with every flash of a phone’s camera pointed to self important 20-somethings. That was the thing about the human world- they were always so fast yet so slow. They were speeding down the track of improvement, but they were headed the wrong way. It would be easy to laugh at the skill of stupidity they had evolved to but here I was, the most stupid of all, walking down a bustling Seattle street at midnight on my way to an underground concert.
The moment word had made its way to the depths of the eternal Inferno that the punk rock group and my favorite band of all time, The Xcavaders, were making bad on the promise they had made two years previous of permanently breaking up the band by announcing an upcoming concert, I had choked on a mouthful of coal. Yes, music managed to make its way to Hell and yes, I ate coal to help fuel the internal fire of the ancient evil of sin that set my soul ablaze, not because I liked the taste or anything. Promise.
The news had been bittersweet. The excitement of my favorite band coming together after a two year break up to perform again had led me sprinting to my room to prepare for my arrival in the human world, but the anger of having to return to Seattle in the near future led the temperature to rise in Hell from a tepid 18,251 degrees fahrenheit to a warm 38,705 degrees.
There were plenty of things to hate about Seattle, but one of the most prominent things was the location of the only gate to the underworld that seemed to be open in the whole city. Every time I came here, I was spit out in the same place given it was my only choice. A sloppy underworld portal had been etched into the bathroom wall of a deteriorating gas station a few blocks away from downtown. The floor was consistently covered in two inches of piss water and it somehow smelt of rotting flesh, both elements that rivalled any disgusting aspects of the underworld. Hell was bad, but not like this. This was something new. I would have sent some of the legions of demons that occupied the residence of suffering to that specific bathroom for inspiration and motivation, but it was much too much for even them. Even me, son of Evil, have found it to be too much.
But here I was shuffling down a crowded street with masses of alcohol heated bodies spilling out of headache inducing clubs and into the street, all laughs and smiles. I huffed as I pushed passed them, turning a corner only a few blocks away from the hidden club. It was located in an alley behind a Chinese restaurant no one in the city seemed to know existed. It would have gone out of business had it not been for the punk gigs hosted in its basement. Excitement bubbled and my pace quickened as I neared the back of Bamboo Kitchen, but just as soon as I had begun to perk up, my mood deflated. “Hey, man, you’re hair color’s insane!”
Every muscle in my body tensed and my teeth whined under the immense pressure of my jaw squeezing them together. It was bound to happen. These mortal, decaying, pointless fucks couldn’t help themselves. They had to seek me out of the crowd, the one person that they would ever meet that could actually ruin their life and afterlife, and berate me with constant noise. I turned my head to my right so I could see the face of the new prisoner of Hell, my new punching bag I would work out my anger and annoyance on. He was a punk himself, about 20 years of age and sporting a studded denim jacket, pitch locks stuck into a mohawk with dried soap. Tattoos circled the entirety of both his arms like thorned vines cutting his skin, and piercings decorated the shell of his left ear. He held an open bottle of cheap beer with a loose grip and seemed to be wholly hypnotised by my hair. “Your hair dye rocks. What kind of hair dye do you use anyway, dude? That shade of red is unreal…” The punk asked with wide eyes trained on the top of my head. “It’s not even like firetruck red. It’s like….nuclear red.”
I couldn’t help but release a growl of warning, like an animal about to attack the mohawked, studded idiot poking at it. Strangers always seemed to zero in on my insecurities whenever they dared talk to me and my naturally neon red hair was one of my only sources of embarrassment. It was the product of being born with the Angel of Death as my father, his genes giving me blinding red locks. The color had always mortified me.
Turning my head forward without a word, my gaze was now unbroken on the door of the basement located down the alley, a few mohawked individuals slipping inside in drunken stupors. My lighthearted eagerness returned but the idiot beside me made it a point to remind me of his pathetic existence. “I assume you’re going to The Xcavaders show tonight?” I didn’t answer. “My roommate and his band were supposed to come down to see them, cause they, like, built their fucking band on their example but they’re in Portland tonight. So here I am goin’ alone, but it’s all good. I think the music’s better without having to worry about your friends picking fights in the middle of your favorite song, y’know?” I burrowed deeper in my jacket and gave a snarl. “Leave. Me. Alone.”
His answer was a blank expression with a ghost of surprised innocence. Taking his silence as defeat, I congratulated myself at the fact that I had shook him for good, but he murdered my victory most violently with a smile or the purest joy. I was left with a furrowed brow in a state of nauseating embarrassment. We both stopped right outside of the basement door, waiting for the bumbling Oi! Boys in front of us to push their way through. “Dude, I thought you were fucking serious for a second.” He chuckled and then slipped through the basement door before I could answer. I followed after him, tripping over my booted feet in the process. I was completely insulted at his blatant amusement at my attempt to be threatening and I was more than ready to fulfill my initial desire to drag him with me to the underworld. I stumbled on the bottom step in my fury as I followed after him but I landed face first into a wall of cigarette and marijuana smoke and the flammable vapors of alcohol stalled me.
I shook my head to clear the smell from my sinuses, leaving me susceptible to a hot plate of a hand grabbing the sleeve of my army jacket and pulling me through the dense mass of people all watching the small stage for any kind of sign of approaching musicians. I followed their example with ease, forgetting all frustration and involuntarily putting my trust into whoever was pulling me across the room and to the bar at the far end so I could search the stage for any movement or peek at my idols. We broke out of the crowd and I gaped in confusion as we made it to the bar. I had just been dragged across the room away from the stage, the only place I wanted to be in the whole universe, and I expressed my frustration by withdrawing my sleeve from the grip of the anonymous stranger and I bared my teeth. I opened my mouth to begin screaming at the beaming fuck in front of me, but his own scream came first. “I’m buying you a beer, ‘cause your hair color is the best I’ve ever fucking seen!” The punk yelled over the now performing opening act. I hadn’t recovered before the promised beer was thrust into my hands. I fumbled with it as I was being dragged once again but this time to the edge of the audience.
“No,” I found myself protesting before I could even understand what I was saying, “I wanna be…there.” I gave a loose point to the area directly in front of the stage and the 20 something beside me gave a wide smile. “Sure, once these talentless fucks get off the stage.” Understanding just how juvenile and desperate I had just been, and not at all frightening and threatening, I looked down and forced the bottle to my lips in an attempt to escape this embarrassment. My now acquaintance thankfully stepped in as a distraction from my heightened self-loathing. “I’m Harvey.” He said belatedly with an outstretched hand, and I took it with caution. “Seth.” A wail of absolute terror sounded from the ten foot amp beside the stage and the crowd pushed each other in glee at the sound of raw emotion that the guitar strings had vomited. “You from here? I haven’t seen you at any recent shows.” Harvey yelled and I swallowed some more alcohol with a shake of my head. The punk quirked his head and I answered with just as much volume of the current bellowing drums and screeching lead singer. “Hell.”
Harvey’s laugh was just as raw as the screaming guitar but was in no way mocking. I wanted so desperately to take offense so I would at least have more incentive to be as terrible as I wanted toward him, but I couldn’t bring myself to care. It was as though my company was enjoyable to him. “This place isn’t much better!” He took a swig of his own cheap beer as I nodded. “Yeah, it’s actually worse.” It was the truth. In most aspects, it was. This music was the only thing saving it. Harvey gave another amused laugh before patting me on the shoulder. It was a strange feeling to be the source of such amusement but it wasn’t necessarily bad. It was just new.
“The Xcavaders are my favorite band.” I shot out pathetically before I could stop myself. The part of myself that was surprisingly desperate for any semblance of a friend spoke against my wishes and left my conscious mind to cringe at the words left in its wake. But Harvey only nodded with interest and didn’t at all acknowledge my self doubt. “That’s awesome, man. I don’t know many people who actually know who The Xcavaders are.” He gestured to the drunken mass of bodies that were trying to climb over each other, the desire for elevation inspiring such movements. “The majority of ‘em are here for this band. They suck hardcore.” We both laughed at his blunt honesty.
The lead singer of the opening band rasped out that this was their last song and Harvey took the chance to beckon me to follow him to the front. I cooperated immediately and followed the fellow punk, bouncing with excitement with every step. Harvey shoved anyone who stood in his way to the side and I walked in the path he had cleared for me, ignoring the rain of beer and low growls that erupted from those who had gotten in his way. We reached the front just as The Xcavaders took their spots and so flowed this moment.
It was like heroin favored ecstasy under my tongue, warmth and love and adoration and surreal. Each note that broke through the amps was shot directly into my veins, clots of electricity forcing themselves through the narrow channels of tight wires underneath my electrocuted skin. The throbbing crowd around me rocked me into a state of pure bliss and I relaxed my muscles, allowing them to move me to their will because their movement made my blood sway in just the right way. My mind hummed with each reverberation that tumbled through the air and rattled with the utter abandon of which I submitted myself to the throes of their powerful voices and earth changing melodies. I bowed before these individuals.
As they moved onstage and screamed from the bottom of their souls into my face, I forgot my nature of perpetual hate as I fell in love with every member of this band all over again. There was no unrest, no annoyance, no disappointment- those in Heaven would never know peace and wholeness like this. And I realized that in that very moment, I didn’t want to leave this place. I would stay here for all eternity in this state of raw and violent perfection. Time blurred in this trance they had forced me under, the songs firing one after another, but then came their very last. For their finale, their energies were gargantuan and each word was screamed with enough force to carve their memory into my mind for all time. The last note droned out and my tongue managed to find purchase against my jagged and crooked teeth to utter one sentence to no one in particular as I watched them exit the stage- “I don’t want to leave.”
I was staring blankly at the now empty stage and the audience was crawling up the stairs and out of the small, dirtied room still heavy with the ghost of such influential music. A minute later, a gentle yet firm hand gripped my shoulder in a silent offer as an anchor to the real world whenever, or if I ever, chose to come back to the ugliness of reality. The once forgotten flaws of my person and of all existence flooded my mind like the smoke that filled my lungs on each breath and I sighed at such a loss as this. “Then don’t.”
The movement of me whipping my head toward Harvey gave me whiplash, pain which only heightened my racing heart. “What?” I choked out. He shrugged but kept his hand on my shoulder. “If you don’t want to go home, then don’t.” He stated as though I was the most dense individual to ever walk the planet and I felt like I was as soon as his words registered. “It’s so fucking lame, but my roommate has a band and they’re not as god-like as The Xcavaders nor will they ever be, but they’re their main inspiration,” he cleared his throat as his eyes scanned the now empty stage as though he could still see each member performing, “and they’re about to tour the coast and I’m going and you seem like a cool guy, so like…come with us.”
I could only stare. I watched as he squirmed uncomfortably under my silence and his timidness soon transformed into irritation. “If you don’t want to come, that’s cool but at least tell me to fuck off so I don’t waste my time.” I weighed the option in my mind of staying here on this burning planet and jump from gig to gig drinking trash liquor and smoking my lungs black almost every night of the week all under the expanse of Pacific sky. There was nothing holding me to Hell other than my birth and lineage really, but even then, my father had given up on me when he saw how unmotivated I was about ruling the underworld. Torture was only amusing for a short while and blood stained my clothes. It was always sweltering and the only music that came through the gates of the damned were the tastes of music present on the new arrivals’ tongues and in the gusts of chill air that blew in from the dimension in which it originated. At least here, there was something a tiny bit more. If it meant more music, sharper words, grating melodies, meditative screaming, I had more incentive to stay here then return to a home that was not awaiting my return. “I want to come with you.”
Harvey’s smile was unparalleled in brightness and he gave my shoulder a squeeze. We were the last ones to take leave, leaving us to step through the vomit, sweat, alcohol, blood and spit that decorated the entire length of the stairs leading out. The cool night wind chilled my clammy skin and I sighed, never feeling better than I was right now. Harvey guided me to the street and in the direction of his admittedly shitty apartment. We chatted about music and the best way to break in Docs, the vinyl we wanted and the vinyl that should burn, and all about Seattle and how much we both hated it as we made our way home. We actually had a lot in common and as he kept talking and telling stories of all the shows he had been to, I realized that I was completely interested and invested in whatever he uttered. He wasn’t all that bad, this punk, and I could already see that my future here would be of great interest. For once in my existence, I actually wanted to fuck around with this dimension for longer than an hour long show.
“You never did tell me where you get your hair dye.” Harvey remarked after finishing his story about getting in a fight on 6th Street after a show in Austin. “It’s natural.” I replied, feeling light and buzzed with adrenaline. He laughed again with a shake of his head. “You’re gonna have a lot of fuckin’ fun on this tour, Seth. For fucking sure.” I nodded, submitting to a smile, something I hadn’t done for the past two years.
Two years ago, I swore I’d never come back here again. Now, I wasn’t leaving. And I didn’t want to.
I’m an aspiring writer who enjoys writing about the supernatural and the punk subculture. With two novels in the works, I’m constantly immersed in worlds stranger than this one. The only things that keep me sane are deafening punk records and sporadic naps.
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