PART A (The Psychologist) — 13

Revy peeked into his greenroom just in time to see Mack erupt in a long cascade of vomit, covering clothes and drums.

Their eyes met, and Revy giggled dazedly to himself as Mack began to mumble and spaz around.

After all their countless little gigs thus far, everyone in and near the band knew to allow for Mack’s nerves to make things unpredictable at every last moment.

At least it was only the tiny practice kit that got trashed, and not the studio’s expensive set now waiting out on stage.

“You good?” called Revy.

“No!” came the muffled reply.

Revy chuckled again, pleased to be aware of a general haze taking form.

It was just a soft sense of sweetness and warmth, which he hoped would allow for this, the third worst moment in his life, to at least be cut and spliced with smiles.

“See you out there, buddy,” Revy bellowed, leaving before the smell could cause a chain reaction.

He sped by Crew and Angel’s greenroom on shaky feet, hoping to see neither.

Just get through tonight, and it will all be over.

Or it will be . . . starting.

That’s right.

Revy’s induced comfort made it no less difficult to ignore whatever underlying tensions might cause half a band to insist on separate greenrooms before and after their first big headlining gig.

He also had to fight to reel away from such sharp realities as all the money, jobs, and other moving units now wrapped up in delivering a perfect performance.

Five minutes.

His mind jumped to disjointed shards of a confusing conversation with Crew an hour earlier . . . something about key changes and vocal exercises.

Hadn’t some important decision been made?

He only remembered Crew barging in and going off at him about . . . which song was it?

Oh no!

Three minutes.

Revy’s oldest, strangest lyrics began to tumble in and out of his mind as they had been in intervals all afternoon.

He couldn’t help but grin at old-reel flickers of him and Dale getting so excited whenever a second verse would somehow lead back into the same chorus as the first.

What were the lyrics to Second Nation again?

He strained to imagine the intro.

But the whole song seemed so fake and meaningless now . . . a time-filler really, which he had tried way too hard to make say something important.

Did they have to play it?

It did usually get a good response.

One minute.

He peeked around heavy black felt to see a wavy sea of blank faces brightly lit by the bloated stadium’s house lights.

Who are all these people?

Why are they here?

What is music, anyway?

There was an awareness of movement, some cheers, flashing lights…

He dimly heard the last of Mack’s count-off clicks.

And then it was all just sort of happening.

Feelings, and politics, and hopes, and sketchiness disappeared into a sonic wall built in real time upon an ever-steady grid of perfect clockwork.

Even Mack seemed relaxed and mechanical.

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