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Aberrant: 2011 - The Simple Truth


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The City that Never Sleeps had a place for those who had no place to go to, or not place they wanted to go to, for Christmas. More than one place, in fact, for these lost souls. Ravenshire made his way through the slushy streets, moving around the trashcans, snow piles and other flotsam and jetsam that littered the sidewalks. It was a cold, bitter night and he just wandered down toward the Battery.

A warm grey great coat blocked out the worst of the cold. Underneath were a brown tweed jacket, once-crisp white shirt, black tie, and black slacks. Grey boots kept his feet dry and cozy. Ravenshire had head out into the drifting snow without a hat. In truth he didn’t need it. His innate nova-ness fired his metabolism, keeping the worst of the chill away. Daniel bundled up, but it wasn’t to repel the weather. It was to an attempt to repel the truth – the truth of his current situation. Daniel may have been warmer than most of the people he passed, but he was just as alone.

A random step took him to the Stay. It was one of the numerous clubs on Houston street and rather dreary this Christmas Night. I was open though, and some music crept through the doors. Ravenshire felt like having a drink or twelve and turned from his wanderings. He paid the cover and crossed into the warmth of the foyer. The music was a little louder. He felt little sympathy with it. He didn’t know if he was looking for sympathy, but a good buzz would do.

Inside, there were few enough people – young and not so young New Yorkers – that moving to the bar didn’t make you feel like a salmon heading up stream to mate. Daniel ordered a double of something, turned, and looked out over the crowd. Beyond the crowd, there was a stage and a band was tuning up. A band, on Christmas Night, playing in a bar must mean they weren’t that good, or they should fire their manager. The prospects of hearing them play were less than exciting.

Daniel took his drink, nodded to some ladies, and two guys, who were smiling his way. It was that kind of non-committal, have a nice night but not with me, smile that could usually fend off all but the most desperate. It was working, which was good. Daniel wasn’t looking to be with anyone this night. He wasn’t in the mood for passion of a good kind. Tonight he had saved to grieve for himself, to take in that self-pity and embrace its selfishness. Tonight was for taking stock of what little he didn’t have, not all that he did.

How does a grown man say that he misses his Mother?

Take things and make them better, had become his sometimes motto. Why didn’t that apply to him tonight? Maybe it was because he had no one close he could go home to. Dark Spiral had taken that away from him, from Lina and Zach, and from the sense that his life meant something more than getting by day to day. He was a hunted man – stalked. The authorities couldn’t do anything and he had yet to find any allies who could. She was free to make his life miserable and he was powerless to stop her.

Daniel finished his first drink and called for another. That one went away too, so he ordered a third. He could feel the alcohol warming in his belly, but his metabolism was a long way from surrendering any kind of control. Maybe he could dorm down.

That felt like cutting of his frontal lobe, like his tongue swelled up inside his mouth, and he was walking around in a lead suit. Screw that.

The band’s name was The Simple Truth. It was tuning up. The third drink was followed by a fourth and then a fight broke out. Normally, the bouncers/security would handle it, but this time was up on the stage. The lead singer/guitarist was screaming at everyone else in the band. It was frustration, drink, and bitterness brought on by the season. It was also a wholesome dose of ego. The jack ass stormed off, leaving the three other members staring at each other uncertainly.

Ravenshire took drink number five with him as he approached the human drama being played out on the stage. The drummer, a woman with red spiky hair, a black and white striped top and orange sweat shorts took after the lead and his guitar. The bassist and the electronics whiz looked at each other and shrugged. The Whiz began taking his combination DJ/keyboard assembly apart. It looked like there wasn’t going to be a show after all.

The crowd looked pissed. Scratch that, they were looking disappointed and disheartened. It wasn’t like their Christmas spirit was all that, being at a club, mostly with strangers, on the day made for family togetherness. The music would go on, sure, but this band had been something to look forward to. It had been something personal. Now it was gone.

Daniel wasn’t sure what moved him to speak. He wasn’t sure he wanted to do anything, but still …

“Anything I can do to help?” Daniel asked the two on stage.

The Bassist laughed, “You know our play list and play guitar? Then sure, you can help us out … like Santa!”

Man was he bitter.

“I sure can,” Ravenshire responded. That was, he knew how to, but lacked any real practice.

The Whiz gave him a hairy eyeball. The Bassist looked at the Whiz. The Whiz looked at the Bassist. Obvious their whole night had gone to shit … so, why not?

“Sure, buddy. Hop up here and let’s see what you can do?”

Ravenshire hopped up on stage. As he stood, he finished his drink and put it down.

“I’m Daniel,” he told them.

Their looks said ‘Yeah. Whatever.’

Daniel took the mike and sung into it ‘Check, check.’ The note grew out of sound system and echoed over dance floor.

A quick few verses came from Ravenshire and wrapped up the crowd even without accompanying music. Daniel looked back at the two band members. They leaned into each other and had a quick conversation. At the same time, the drummer returned with the guitar, the keys to some vehicle, but no guitarist. She joined the conversation. The three became quite animated. After all, they didn’t want to look like idiots, but they did want to play. They were musicians after all.

“I’m Rose,” the drummer opened, “this is Clive,” the bassist, “and Royoko,” the Whiz. She offered her hand and Daniel shook it. She had a strong grip and a piercing gaze.

“You’ve got good lungs, but can you play?”

“Hook it up for me and I’ll show you.” Daniel like the thought of this challenge to his abilities, to do something he’d never done before. Rose and Clive hooked up the guitar. One quick equipment check and Ravenshire tantalized the instrument. It wasn’t anything too loud, or too flashy, but is showcased his obvious talent.

Clive was grinning ear to ear. More people were starting to come in. Ravenshire had been recognized and a few who cared had called their friends. In the time it took for the group to finish setting up, the trickle had begun. The atmosphere was close, but not crowded. It would take a lot more than a semi-famous nova to bring people out on this night. Daniel liked that. It was who he wanted to be.

The Simple Truth plus Daniel kept to the songs Daniel knew, which were thankfully plentiful, and their improvisations only made the crowd love them more. People danced, eyed the stage, and had a good time. Hell, they had a great time. Ravenshire weaved a message of Christmas peace and hopefulness into his intonations and lyrics. The atmosphere lightened and for a while. The seasonal bitterness wasted away in the quantum embers of his abilities. In short, Daniel’s debut was a small, but memorable success. It finished with one of his most heartfelt performances – an old favorite, Bangle-fied, and one made for the season.

Time, time, time, see what's become of me.

While I looked around for my possibilities,

I was so hard to please.

But look around, the leaves are brown,

And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.

Hear the salvation army band

Down by the riverside, it's bound to be a better ride

Than what you've got planned,

Carry your cup in your hand.

And look around you, the leaves are brown now,

And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.

Hang on to your hopes, my friend.

That's an easy thing to say but if your hopes should pass away,

It's simply pretend, that you can build them again.

Look around, the grass is high, the fields are ripe,

It's the springtime of my life.

Oh, seasons change with scenery,

Weaving time in a tapestry,

Won't you stop and remember me?

At any convenient time.

Funny how my memory skips while looking over manuscripts

Of unpublished rhyme,

Drinking my vodka and rhyme.

I look around, the leaves are brown,

There's a patch of snow on the ground,

Look around...

I look around, the leaves are brown,

There's a patch of snow on the ground,

Look around...

I look around, the leaves are brown,

There's a patch of snow on the ground,

Look around...

I look around, the leaves are brown,

There's a patch of snow on the ground,

Look around...

“That’s all folks! It’s been great.”

The guitars echoed. The drum throbbed into silence. It was over. The band mates took his number and let them part ways. The people in the crowd patted him on the back and a few even kissed him. He just wanted to be gone. He had given something to all these people, but what had he kept for himself? Daniel turned and looked back at the band he had shared this time with.

It had been a good time, hadn’t it?

He had stepped away from his cares and lived just a little, right?

Ravenshire left the club, whistling.

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