They were up, dressed, and out the door by five in the morning. Not that it mattered much, there was a line around the block by the time they got there. Number seven hundred and fifty-two, it was disheartening. The mood was tension filled as they waited around the building for hours just for a single opportunity to play. That uneasiness grew as one by one people went in and were sent right back out. From the complaining, the trio could tell that the people did not have the right look or the right sound.
Sadamitsu found himself worried. He considered that they had already found the person they wanted, but were simply going through the motions. Crushing the dreams of those that walked through the door. Thankfully he was not the only one on edge. His friend, Hiko Kari had never been the nervous sort and yet with each step closer to that door he could tell he was. The only thing that seemed to be keeping him from thinking about it was the fact that Tationy was the object of far too many men’s attention. Rock music, especially in Aslann was a boy’s club. There were very few women who played in rock bands and even less that were bass players. On one hand, Sadamitsu could count all of the famous female bass players he had ever heard of.
Despite that he considered Tationy in a league of her own. Hiko really had no idea what he had. Not only was she Tylo, but she had the beauty and sex appeal of the Yamada. A body you wanted to fuck, a mouth you wanted wrapped around your cock, and more importantly than those things she was smarter, then he was. She matched him easily and he liked that. Some people might confuse that like for interest. Certainly there was curiosity for Sadamitsu, but it was on a purely intellectual level. Kuro and his brother Mikio had been the only two people he had ever encountered that could match his intelligence. With reluctance he was able to admit that Mikio was probably smarter than him by leaps and bounds, but Tationy was the first girl he ever met that challenged him intellectually.
Even though he tried to keep his eyes off of the two of them he was listening, “Hiko, what do you think you are doing?”
“I am tired of these guys looking at you.”
“So, you are just going to cover my body with yours the entire time?”
“Ahh, the only one that has the right to look at you is me. If it was not for Sadamitsu, I probably would have started killing people by now.”
She chuckled as she teased, “Your body pressed against mine, our lips close, the fact you look like you want to take me right here. They probably want to watch you do nasty things to me.”
Sadamitsu laughed, “I would pay money to watch that.”
“See even Sadamitsu wants to watch us have sex.”
“Is that what you want? A bunch of guys watching me and you?”
“I want whatever you want.” He found that he, instead of Hiko, nervously laughed. That was about the hottest thing he had ever heard any woman say. She added, “I doubt any of them could handle it.”
“I could handle it. Probably not for very long, but I definitely would not be complaining,” Sadamitsu joked.
“Stop encouraging him,” Hiko told Tationy.
Tationy had a great laugh. It was infections and calmed the tension in both him and Hiko. He did not need her to say the words to understand what she was trying to do. This was about his future, but at the same time there was no point in getting worked up over it. If they were tense and nervous it would make their performance uncertain. They needed to be themselves and have fun. He had never seen anyone capable of calming Hiko and she did it without even trying, but the fact that she also calmed him was not lost on Sadamitsu.
With the ease it took her to relax their tension they were able to laugh and joke around. The people surrounding them were far too serious and Sadamitsu was thankful to Tationy. That was not who he was. He was not the type of guy that got all freaked out over every little thing. The situation with Tsubaki and his father was probably the reason he was on edge, but he really did not want to think about it. He wanted to have fun and do what he loved even if it was just for a single moment. This was his band. Not what he expected his band would look like, but it was definitely his.
When their number was finally called they stepped into the room and stopped. Tequila Monsters was sitting there talking amongst themselves, but it would be Hiko’s voice that would catch his attention. “You should really let me carry that for you.”
“Hiko Kari, what type of bass player would I be if I let someone carry my kit for me?”
“I am your guy though. I feel like an ass letting you lug it around.”
Sadamitsu laughed as he sat his guitar case on the floor, “You can carry mine.”
“Fuck you, carry your own shit.”
He feigned hurt as he responded, “So mean.”
“What a lively bunch.”
Sadamitsu recognized the voice as belonging to the lead singer, Hero Takahashi. Even though he wanted to acknowledge them, he simply picked up his guitar case and took a step toward the stage. He could feel Tationy and Hiko moving along behind him. They had been instructed before they entered to move to the stage, make sure their equipment was set, and play their two songs. Of course, from what they had witnessed throughout the day, most people had not even gotten through their music before being told to leave. He was a little curious about why, but if Tationy was right they were not looking to hear their own music slaughtered by people that thought they could do it better.
Sadamitsu situated himself and when he looked to see if Tationy and Hiko were ready he noticed that Hiko seemed a little tense again. He opened his mouth to speak, but Tationy responded first. “Hiko, if you do really well I will give you a special treat when we get home.”
He only managed a nervous chuckle as Sadamitsu spoke, “Damn it Tationy. Sex is like candy. If you don’t bring enough to share with the class you can’t have any. You two are selfish always leaving me out.”
“Want to join us?”
“That is not happening,” Hiko responded quickly before Sadamitsu could even respond with a yes.
“Some band mates you two are. I am telling you two right now, if I get any I am not sharing.”
Tationy laughed, which brought a smile to both of their faces. He looked out and noticed that Tequila Monsters had their eyes fixed securely on them. Again, he wanted to address them, but he had to keep himself from saying anything. Ultimately all he could do was just stand there until Tationy made the initial start of their song. He was waiting and waiting and waiting as his attention switched to Tationy and nervously laughed, “What the fuck are you going to start?’
“Don’t rush me, this bass player takes her damn time and besides that you are not ready yet.”
“What do you mean I am not ready yet?”
“You have not looked at my boobs once today.”
Hiko snorted, “He better not look at them now.”
It took him a moment before he realized what she was trying to say. He started laughing again as he leaned his head back and stared up at the ceiling. She was telling him he was not himself. That he was nervous. He had been so focused on the two of them that he had not even noticed it in himself. “Say, Tationy?”
“You told Hiko he could have a special treat if he does well, do I get one?”
“Sure, we can have ice-cream after,” She teased which forced him to bark a short laugh as she suddenly started playing.
Songs Played: (1) Higher Ground by Red Hot Chili Peppers
The sound of Tationy’s slap bass was exciting to hear and he knew the start of the song was going to make quite an impact about the style of ‘his’ band. He liked this, even if Tequila Monsters decided he was not what they were looking for, he was happy playing with Tationy and Hiko. Their sound meshed so well together and even Hiko who had learned how to play in just a few days had captured the essence of their groove.
♪ I’m so darn glad, He let me try it again, ♪
♪ ‘Cause my last time on earth I lived a whole world of sin. ♪
♪ I’m so glad that I know more than I knew then. ♪
♪ Gonna keep on tryin’ till I reach the highest ground. ♪
Songs Played: (2) Shut Up Now – DJ Lobsterdust
He was most nervous about the second song because it relied on Hiko to start and there was a lot less guitar playing with the drums and bass being a lot more prominent. Tationy seemed certain that this song would be the one that Tequila Monsters would like the most because they had lost their guitarist for a reason. She seemed to suspect it was all ego. Playing a song that focused on the other instruments instead of the guitar, was not common among rock music. She was certain it would make him appear humble. Even so, he was still concerned. Sadamitsu did not want a long pause between the two songs and was grateful that Hiko had not hesitated. He had always been the type of guy that jumped in feet first, no surprise this was no different.
♪ Bob Marley poet and a prophet ♪
♪ Bob Marley taught me how to off it ♪
♪ Bob Marley walkin’ like he talk it ♪
♪ Goodness me can’t you see I’m gonna cough it ♪
He noticed as he sang that Tequila Monsters was not talking amongst themselves. They were being relatively quiet and just sitting back and watching their performance. Sadamitsu could not help wondering why they were allowed to play both songs, when others were quickly sent packing.
When their songs came to an end they were told to come forward. With a sigh the one Sadamitsu knew as Hero Takahashi spoke, “I am going to be straight with you. There is someone we like better. His skills are exceptional…”
Sadamitsu snorted, “You must be talking about Kuro Ishi. I am willing to put my skills against anyone and I am fairly confident in the fact that I would do well. He is the only person I know that is better.”
“Guitar players all have massive egos.”
Hiko spoke up, “It is not ego. He is Anami. You could give him any song right now and he could play it. Even match the style of the original musician. For him to say that someone is better than him, it is because he respects that person and acknowledges their skill.”
“It is alright Hiko. I figured Kuro would do this.”
“You seem so certain it is this Kuro Ishi.” Sadamitsu gave Hero a hard stared which elicited a chuckle, “Alright, you are right. We seen him and his band earlier this morning. Honestly, we only came to see him. We stayed and watched another six hundred crappy musicians only because Miroku thought it was necessary to see you play.”
“Why is that?”
“Maybe because his little girl was in your band.” Sadamitsu’s lips pursed. He was getting slightly annoyed the more Hero Takahashi spoke, “It really did not matter honestly. Miroku says we should do something, it is better to just do it. There is opportunity in waiting around occasionally, though definitely not enough alcohol in this place to listen to anymore people trash our songs. We are pretty set on choosing Kuro, but tell me what is it you have to offer us?”
Sadamitsu shrugged his shoulders and turned to walk away, “If your mind is already made up there is nothing I can say here that is going to mean shit. Why waste my breath? I am not going to suck your cocks because you’re famous, don’t think I am that type of guy. Come on, let’s get out of here.”
“So that is it you are just going to walk away?”
Sadamitsu felt Tationy’s hand grab his which forced him to stop moving, “I know a thing or two about opportunity as well.” There was a moment of pause as she directed her attention upon Hero, “Your guitarist thought himself bigger than the band. He didn’t need you guys holding him back. Miroku wasn’t writing enough songs that focused just on him. Hero was mic hogging and not allowing him a chance to sing. The drummer Toshiro was such a novice that he was not capable of keeping up with his pacing. Kuro is not what you are looking for. It is not because he has ego, it is because of his mood. It reminds the three of you of the past and you are worried he will become just like the one that left. You stayed because Miroku can see Sadamitsu’s spirit and energy. Don’t blow smoke and talk a bunch of shit. He is not the only one capable of seeing beyond the moment.”
Hero spoke, “Miroku, your little girl has a potty mouth.”
There was tension in Tationy’s hand. She was angry, “Don’t make jokes. You are still sitting here because you know that if Sadamitsu walks out that door, he will become a star bigger than your band will ever be. You need him.”
There was silence that followed until Toshiro finally spoke, “We are getting far too serious here. Let’s calm down a little bit and just chat. Sadamitsu, Hero was not trying to be insulting simply telling you like it is. It is not that you are not very good, but I obviously don’t need to speak to you on the skills of Kuro Ishi. With that said, we are worried that he is not the right fit for us at this point. The mood has been shaken quite a bit and what we need more than a great guitarist is someone that is energetic and passionate. That is why we stayed. Miroku felt that there was one out of the thousands of performers here that could rock with a lot of power and excitement. Let’s just chill a bit and get to know each other, alright?”
“Sure,” Sadamitsu responded.
“You have an interesting band backing you up. All of you seem to be friends. How long have you been playing together?”
“Less than a week.”
Toshiro laughed in disbelief, “Really? Damn, pretty good. How did you feel about the songs you performed?”
“I was a little uncertain about the choices. Mostly with how they might be received. Tationy actually picked them. She thought you might like to hear something other than your songs being butchered.”
“She was right,” Hero responded. “Three person rock bands are unusual, do you feel that your bass and drum player accurately helped to represent your style?”
“I definitely do. No offense to Miroku and all, but Tationy is by far the best slap bass player I have ever heard. Hiko learned to play drums in three days and incorporate funk, reggae, punk, and rock into a style making it all his own. I am in awe and inspired just playing with them. They are my friends and my band and I like what we did here. Even if you don’t pick me, I got to play with my friends.”
“Three days, maybe we should replace you Toshiro,” Hero laughed.
“That is not funny. You make jokes about replacing me all the time,” Toshiro responded. “We could always replace Miroku….”
Hero chuckled, “She is pretty nice to look at.” He glanced toward Miroku, “Ohh, he is ignoring us.” Hero was still chuckling as he asked, “How was it not playing much in that last song?”
“I thought it would be a little weird having the bass guitar as the lead, but actually it sounded great. I really got to listen to Tationy and Hiko play and it was amazing.”
“Do you want to play with them again?”
“It might be a little selfish, but yeah. I hope I get the opportunity to play another day with them.”
“What about Kuro? The two of you have obviously played together or at the very least heard each other play. If we pick him over you…”
Sadamitsu interrupted, “I don’t know who he is or what he is doing right now. The guy I know has integrity, but the things he has been doing lately I don’t like. I still consider him a friend, but I cannot support the man he is becoming. If you pick him that would not be a bad decision. As I said, he can play.”
“So, there would be no ego involved on your part?”
“On his, no,” Tationy responded. “I am the one you have to worry about. If you don’t pick him that is fine. I will just make sure he succeeds without you.” Both Sadamitsu and Hiko showed their surprise by glancing suddenly toward Tationy.
Hero seemed to find this amusing as he laughed, “Miroku, your daughter is awfully spirited. I guess she is really mad at you.”
Sadamitsu felt annoyed again. What was the relationship between Tationy and her father? He did not know Tationy all that well and only recently found out that Miroku and Tationy were related. It was clear that Hero and Toshiro knew, but for how long was anyone’s guess and according to Tsubaki, Miroku was never in Tationy’s life. He glanced toward Hiko and could see how irritated he was with the entire situation. The only reason he was holding his tongue was certainly because of Tationy. The fact that Miroku continued to not even speak, was even more curious. Did he have nothing at all to say to his own blood? Maybe they were all just too wasted on alcohol to take this situation seriously.
For a moment they talked amongst themselves and then Toshiro finally said, “We are going to give you and Kuro both the opportunity to play again. Then, we will make our decision. Come back later tonight. Speak with our manager outside for the details.”
Sadamitsu felt a heaviness. Of course it would come down to that. Him versus Kuro, normally he would have it no other way. There were just certain things you did not do. You did not steal another guy’s girl and you did not come between your friend and his dream. As much as he wanted it, he was not about to step on Kuro’s toes no matter how he felt about his behavior lately, “Thank you for the opportunity, but I can’t do that. He is my friend and no matter how much I would love to be your new guitar player I am not going to fight him out for the spot. Sorry to waste your time.”
Hiko stopped him, “Are you sure about this?”
“Yeah. I knew that day we all practiced together that it would probably turn out like this.” Sadamitsu could tell that Hiko wanted to stop him, but instead he moved toward Tationy’s bass and helped her pack it up. Tequila Monsters did not say anything. Perhaps they were expecting him to change his mind. How many people in that position would just turn and walk away? Probably not many. “Tationy.”
“Can we get strippers with the ice-cream.”
“I am not eating ice-cream off of strippers,” Hiko responded.
Despite the somberness of the moment, Tationy chuckled. “Sure, we can get strippers with our ice-cream. Hiko will pay.”
Hiko objected by opening and closing his mouth several times, “I am not paying for strippers.”
“Well then there is nothing that can be done about it, I will just have to do the stripping.”
Hiko changed his mind suddenly, “Alright I will pay for the strippers.”
There wasn’t any action taken by the band to stop them and Sadamitsu was determined that this was how it should be as they left the audition.
They never quite made it to the strippers, but as promised they did get their ice-cream. They sat under a tree not far from the shop, watching the world in silence. Eventually Hiko laid back and Tationy snuggled into him. Sadamitsu found himself watching the two of them. He had always been curious about the Kari and how they moved through a relationship. There were stories about the type of men they were. It was said that they tended to be controlling. Without passion and incapable of love. A woman was to know her place, yet as he laid down next to the two of them he found himself wondering who really had the power in their relationship.
Her breathing was steady. Sadamitsu could tell she relaxed enough that she had fallen asleep, but Hiko was definitely awake. “I am a little jealous,” Sadamitsu spoke.
“No, of you. My father always expected me to be a priest of the Anami. There was never an option to have love or pursue a career. Hard work is for men like the Kari. The Anami are above such things. We have a higher calling. That is what he would say. My dad is one of seven children. As the youngest his duty was to marry and have babies. It was his dream to be a priest of the Anami, but children are not given an option among my kin. You are either a priest or a breeder. I just wanted a normal life. Even though I wanted to be a rockstar, I always thought I would teach music and have lots of kids. My father is really pissed at me.”
“Without getting to deeply into your personal life, you said you have not been chaste since you were twelve. Why?”
“I was always tall for my age and older girls thought I was cute and charming. I suppose I was a wild child because my father was always hiring people to watch me when my parents were both away. There was this Zenaku girl. Not as pretty as Tsubaki, but still gorgeous in her own right. She always told me how cute I was and that if I was a little older she would eat me all up. I was just starting to get curious about girls at that point and one day I just braved it. Kissed her like I knew what I was doing. I was pretty excited and embarrassed, but then she kissed me back. She kept saying we shouldn’t. I was too young, but we didn’t stop.”
“So, what happened?”
“I don’t know. Never saw her again. My father said she went off to the seminary.” Sadamitsu paused a moment, “When I watch the two of you together it makes me think that I need to tell my father what I want.” He sighed as he rolled to his back and stared up at the sky. Sadamitsu was not really into talking about the ‘drama’ in his life so he changed the topic to something else, “Kuro is my friend, but he really pisses me off.”
“Are you okay with leaving like we did?”
“He and I always agreed that if we both wanted something we would respect each other enough to be honest about it. Healthy competition and all. The day we practiced he just kept arguing with me about the right song. At first, I thought maybe it was because I told him to drop that shit about the Kari Foundation and taking Tationy from you. He just kept nitpicking. One song did not suit his voice well and another the guitar was too harsh for his liking. He has always been a bit of a perfectionist, but how he was that day seemed more like he was forcing a rift between all of us. Maybe he thinks it will be easier that way. Honestly, I am not happy about walking away.”
“Competing with Kuro like that, is just going to divide us all further. He is choosing to pull away from his friends. Being young means we can socialize with people that are not of our own blood, but there comes a point when we all have to face reality. I would have liked to have competed against him, but this is not how Kuro and I agreed to do this sort of thing. He went back on his word. Fighting to be the guitarist of Tequila Monsters would feel tainted under those circumstances.” Sadamitsu took a moment to reflect on the conversation before asking, “Is Tationy alright after seeing her father?”
“I don’t really know. He did not say a word, barely even looked at her.”
“When she grabbed my hand to stop me from leaving I could feel her anger. Normally, she is very sedate and hard to read.”
“The few times he has been mentioned she has gotten really upset. She has a lot of questions that need answering. After meeting her mother, I just don’t understand why he would not come and find her. I wanted to believe he could not possibly know, but it is clear he did. It took everything in me to keep from punching him.”
A laugh drew their attention, “I would have liked to have seen that.”
Sadamitsu stood quickly, “Toshiro, what are you doing here? Aren’t you worried someone will see you; recognize you?”
“Nah, Aslann fans know how to restrain themselves. I only have to worry about being mobbed and raped by screaming girls in Europe and North America…well for that matter, every other country. You mentioned ice-cream and strippers which are two of my favorite things. So, here I am.”
“How did you know this is the one we would be at?”
“It is the only one with a strip club in walking distance.”
“Why are you really here?” Hiko asked bluntly.
Toshiro chuckled, “The Kari are so direct.”
“Yeah, well I do not see a reason to skirt around a discussion. Just get to the point.”
Smiling he responded, “Alright. Miroku said you would leave if forced to complete against Kuro. When put in the same position, Kuro did just the opposite. I imagine that does not surprise you though, does it? You already knew he was going to do the audition and as his friend you are probably more aware than anyone else about how he might maneuver through a situation. We like Kuro’s style. He is a technical lead guitarist and has a very soft edge to it that we think would fit in nicely with Tequila Monsters.”
“You came all this way to tell him the same shit?”
“Hiko, it is alright,” Sadamitsu responded as he let his eyes settle completely upon Toshiro, “Thanks for being honest, but you did not have to come all this way to explain.”
“Actually, I came to tell you that the decision on which one we were going to choose was ultimately dependent on whether or not you walked out and did not come back.”
Sadamitsu hung his head. Walking out apparently was the wrong decision after all, but he did not regret making it. “Look, Toshiro. I appreciate the opportunity to audition, but there are just certain things you don’t do. First, you don’t steal your best friend’s girl and second, you don’t step on your friend’s dream. If Kuro had told me he wanted it as much as I did, we would have competed against each other. He didn’t. I asked him to sing for my audition and this is how it turned out. He is better than I am, you like his style, and I am okay with the decision I made. He always told me integrity was the most important thing and right now he is not the person who said those words to me when we were growing up.”
“Which is why we did not pick him.”
Sadamitsu stared blankly, shock adorned his face as he asked, “What?”
“Whatever is transpiring in his life right now Miroku feels it is going to be a burden upon Tequila Monsters. Perhaps he is trying to hold on to what little bit of self he has left, but we are certain that if he joins us that it is going to be a push in the wrong direction for him and for us. We are not looking to lose another guitar player so soon. You have a lot of energy and your lead and rhythm guitar skills are very good. You did not show off, though certainly you could have. The three of you when you entered were tense, but joking. It was a good vibe and you stuck together and protected each other, and more important when it was all said and done you walked away united even when things did not go how you wanted. Walk with me for a bit.”
“Uhh…alright. Hiko, you and Tationy can head back. I will catch up later.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, thanks for today.”
Sadamitsu looked back at his friends as he walked with Toshiro in silence. Eventually, Toshiro chuckled, “You are a lot taller then you appear.”
Glancing a moment at Toshiro he stuck his hands in his pockets, “So, just like that you are not choosing Kuro?”
“It is not such an easy decision. We have known for a while now that we might potentially lose our guitarist and going into any audition we knew what we wanted. Another ego will just hurt us and as good as he is, we cannot afford that. The band is pretty fragile right now and the media has not been kind. Always talking about Miroku and Hero being at odds with each other. That it is Ego versus Ego. That Miroku is demanding more money because he writes all the songs. Tequila Monsters is plagued with drug problems. Musical differences are forming noticeable rifts. It is a long list.”
“So, what does this have to do with me?”
“Sorry, I thought I was clear. We want you to be our new guitarist. We like your energy and we think that you will help to liven the darkened mood that has been overshadowing us for a while now.” Hearing those words, Sadamitsu thought he would be more excited. What did it mean that he wasn’t? His thoughts instantly went to Kuro and Toshiro must have sensed it as he said, “Understandable that at a moment like this you would think of your friend. Someday he might play for Tequila Monsters, but now is not the right time for him. He has far too much going on in his head and life to be an intricate part of the band. So, what do you say? We are kind of on a time crunch here, we have to resume our tour….”
Sadamitsu cut him off, “Will I have time to say goodbye?”
“Not much, but yeah.”
He almost could not believe what was happening. Sadamitsu thought Kuro would be living his dream and now here he was a member of Tequila Monsters. It felt heavy. Somehow he thought when his dream finally came true that it would make him feel light, but that was definitely not the case. As Toshiro talked he listened silently trying to decipher what these emotions were swirling around inside of him.
To Be Continued