1976

Below you will find the results of my having challenged myself for a number of days to write a short story with a beginning and middle and an end inside of 30 minutes. Here is what I came up with. I hope you like it.

The youngest guy in the band was 22, but they played off like they were teenagers. Tipping over onstage. Grimacing like Keef hitting the wrong chords. Johnny Thunders. Link Wray. Gene Vincent. Black jeans and Beatle boots. Fender amps and busted up Gretsch guitars.

“This one’s called ‘The Bat.’ It’s for you ugly motherfuckers,” Stevie Reverb spat. He made sure his eyelids were appropriately hooded.

The band lurched and clanged through The Ventures’ cover like a man with a cane trying to descend a flight of stairs. It lost its balance on the last two steps.

“Anybody out there got any Valium?” asked marble-mouthed Stevie.

“Nope,” a young woman with a leather jacket and a Beatle haircut answered.

“How about some Quaaludes?” drooled Stevie.

“No,” answered a young man wearing a white tank top and a Greek fisherman’s cap.

“You guys got any blow?”

”I thought you were looking to head down, man,” asked a bearded man, a local rock writer who, as a child, had seen Eddie Cochrane at a state fair.

“Well, whatever you got.”

“Well, we don’t have any blow.”

”Do you have any uppers?”

”I’m afraid not. No.”

”Acid?”

”Not in years.”

The bleary quality had departed Stevie’s voice. Replaced by genuine curiosity.

“Weed?”

”No.”

”Hash?”

”God, no.”

“STP?”

“Uh-uh.”

”DMT?”

”Never heard of it.”

”You have beer?”

”Of course we have beer. We’re in a bar. What kind of question is that?”

”I’m sorry, but I was on quite a roll, there.”

”This number’s called ‘Mr. Pharmacist!” Rocco The Drummer called out. The rest of the band politely ignored him. He’d probably yell it out again, soon enough.

“Well, what else do you have besides beer?”

”We have TANG.”

”The orange stuff…”

”…that the astronauts drink. Yes.”

The band drew in, close together.

Finally…

“Two beers and two TANGS, please.”

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