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Authors: C. M. Stunich

Get Bent (4 page)

BOOK: Get Bent
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“Listening,” I say, leaning my head back against the bus and breathing in the sweet scent of sweat, smoke, and alcohol. Oh yeah, the party is on tonight. The crowd is whipped up into a riotous frenzy, screaming outside the front entrance, tossing shit over the gate. The press isn't helping much either, reporting on rumors and spreading them like forest fire. If I were to go searching for the little bald bitch now, I'd get torn to shreds by my own fans. They would freaking trample me to shit. I take another hit and hand the joint to Ronnie.

Before Dax gets a chance to speak, Jesse moves up between us in his red skinny jeans and baggy tank, wearing a bunch of stupid, rubber bracelets on his arm, you know the ones they give out for fundraising and whatever.

“Check this shit out,” he says, flashing me his wrist and the white writing that adorns all eight of the bracelets he's squeezed onto his skinny arm. They all say the same damn thing:
Mrs. Turner Campbell.
Huh. “They're passing these out by the dozen.”

“Who is?” I ask, lifting up my shades and looking closer. Jesse shrugs and withdraws his arm, casting a curious glance over at Dax.

“Dunno. Chicks in a blue van? Looks like you're even more popular now. Nice job, Turner.” He picks at the bracelets again and pauses, biting at the black stud in the center of his lip. Jesse doesn't know what to do with me now. Every other thing he says to me is punctuated with an
I'm sorry
or some shit. Doesn't make me feel any better. All his awkwardness does is make me worse. It's a constant reminder that things are not right, that they might not be right for me
ever.
Naomi Knox had this … this
something
inside her that made me think of puppies and kitty cats. I want to kiss her face off and make babies with her, and she is the only damn woman on this earth that I would give the title of Mrs. Turner Campbell to. Fuck the rest of them groupies.

“Well, glad you're interested in the position, but I don't do dick. Thanks.” The joint makes its way back to me, and I take a hit. “And tell the rest of the crew that anybody I see wearing those damn bracelets is getting fired.”

“Can I please talk to you seriously for a moment?” Dax growls, sounding pissed. I glance over at him and wish that the drugs did it for me like they used to. Guess the pain of losing the only spark I've ever had lit in me sort of diminished that. Now, they take the edge off, but that's about it. I think about getting up and snatching the bottle of vodka from the cabinet. Maybe if I mix a few choice substances, I'll pass out? Seems better than the alternative.

“I'll see you inside,” Jesse says, getting the hint. I notice he doesn't take the bracelets off as he goes. A few seconds later, Josh slides by, but he doesn't say anything. Good. He's starting to learn his lesson and stay the hell out of my way. Ronnie thinks we should get along better, but I just don't have the energy to try right now. Maybe when Naomi comes back, I'll give it a go?
If
she comes back.

“What do you want, Dax? Kinda busy right now, okay?” Dax wrinkles up the left side of his face for a moment and then grabs control of himself, sucking in a deep breath and shaking out his hands. He's wearing fingerless red gloves with black stitching today. I think they're made of leather, but who the fuck knows?

“The band and I have been talking,” he pauses and looks over his shoulder like he expects Naomi or Skinny Bitch to pop out of the crowd of roadies at any moment. “And we'd like it if you took over, at least until Hayden comes back. I mean, if she comes back. If not, then until we find somebody new.” He doesn't have to ask twice.

“I'm in until Naomi comes back,” I say, and then before the asshole can speak up, I add the next bit. “However long that takes, you catch my drift?” Ronnie whistles under his breath. Being a front man for two bands? Maybe not such a good idea, but I'm making this pledge on a bet, on the idea that Naomi Knox
will
come back, that she's out there somewhere, alive.

I'm making this pledge out of love, stupid or not, because without that, there ain't nothing in this world worth living for.

How cruel is it that after I've accepted my defeat, surrendered to the dark and allowed myself to slip to the other side, that I wake up? That I come to with a gasp that never escapes my lips, that gets caught up in something constrictive, that chokes me as I flail and struggle, desperate to determine the purgatorial hell I've been caught up in?

It's wicked cruel. Wicked cruel and real ugly.

I kick and fight and snarl, but it doesn't do me any good because I'm caught. In what, I don't know. It could be rope, could be chain, could be threads of demonic power, or shit, if I'm lucky maybe it's angel hair? Maybe I'm waiting at the gates of heaven, wrapped up and ready for judgment? If so, then I know I'm screwed. So I struggle some more, and I scream, and I scream, and I scream. And in the background of my mind, I hear a response, a chant coming from all around me, echoing in response to my cries.

And the chanters are repeating one thing and one thing only, two little words that mean nothing and everything all at once.

Turner Campbell.

 

The next morning, I wake up to rain that plasters the windows with moisture and leaves room for really inappropriate sketches from my bandmate's fingers. The windows in the back all have giant dicks drawn on them. I swipe them away with my hand and smoke a cig, hoping that Milo's still feeling sorry enough for me that he won't bitch. It's my bus anyway.

I sigh and wonder where it is we're going now, what city's next. I stopped caring after Naomi went missing, but I can't help but feeling like I'm getting farther away from her, like maybe she's still in that blood drenched bus back in Denver. I tap my ashes into a glass tray and put the cig between my lips.

If the woman in the hospital is Naomi's manager, America, and she's
not
the girl in the morgue, then who the fuck is that? That's the question that's been bothering me all night. I figure the police should have DNA or some shit, and I wonder what's taking so long. Or maybe if they know and they're just not telling me. It'd make sense. I mean, who the fuck am I really? A rock star? A drug addict? They don't fucking care. In all reality, she and I have nothing to do with each other. The police don't know I'm in love. And even if they did, love doesn't mean shit in the real world. It opens you up inside, fucks your soul crazy hardcore, but outside, it's just a weakness to be exploited.

And right now, I'm being shit all over.

I crush the cigarette into the ashtray and spin around, moving between the bunks, past Jesse's snoring ass and into the front where Trey is sitting shirtless, nursing a rank ass hangover and glaring daggers at me. He's mad, I get it. I'm not acting like myself, but you'd think he could cut me some slack considering the circumstances. I pause and look over at Milo who's typing away furiously on his laptop. I know last night created some buzz; I heard my name being chanted in the parking lot. I bet he's got his hands full. At least I know I'm paying him to do something other than bitch. On a whim, I reach over to the counter and grab one of the stupid
Mrs. Turner
Campbell
bracelets, sliding it on my wrist. I snap a photo with my phone and post every-fucking-where.

Only woman that could ever hold this title is missing. Help me find Naomi Knox and keep the music alive.

“Turner,” Milo warns when he sees what I'm doing. When I glance over at him, he looks tired, and I feel guilty for maybe the first time in my life. The man's infuriating, but he's a good manager. I guess.

“It wasn't a picture of my dick this time, I swear,” I tell him, and he almost smiles. The little crinkle between his brows takes over quickly enough and wipes that bit of humor away. I move over to the fridge and grab a beer.

“Turner, if you're going to be singing for Amatory Riot, there are some things we need to talk about, legal things.” I take a swig from my bottle and set it down on the counter, folding my fingers around the edge of the countertop. Up front, I catch snippets of the song our driver is listening to. It's something old, something that I recognize vaguely that I've heard before.
Hiding from you in the most obvious way, giggling behind my hand I pray, that'll you'll see me. Oh baby, just see me. See me.

“I don't want to talk about legal things, Milo,” I tell him, letting my chin drop to my chest. “Work it out for me, will you?” And then I stand up and start to move towards the back. Ronnie's finally done in the bathroom, leaving it open for me.

I head straight in there with a single purpose in mind: getting high. Last night, I had a dream that Naomi was sprawled out on a bed in front of me, eyes rimmed with liner, face sweaty and lips parted. In it, I crawled on top of her, kissed her and found my way down her throat, between her breasts. I tasted her, and then I fucked her hard, and we ended up coming together and lying twisted, arms and legs tangled. When I woke up, I wanted to blow my fucking brains out. I give Ronnie a look as I move past, finally feeling for the first time that I understand what he went through all those years ago. If it's this bad with an unknown hanging around my damn throat, how would it be to actually know that the one you're so desperate to see is dead?

I can't even fucking imagine.

I don't want to.

So I'm going to get high, so what?

But then I pause with my feet on the tiled floor and my mind starts to spin. With only a few sips of beer in my system, this is probably the most sober I've been in a long time. Wheels start to turn, clues click into place. The blonde in the hospital is the manger. By my faithful pledge, Naomi Knox is
not
in the morgue. There's another woman then, dead, cut up so that she looks like Naomi, or rather doesn't look like much of anything. And nobody's reported her missing, so nobody's made the jump yet.

I slam the bathroom door and head back to the front, ignoring Treyjan's glare and Milo's frantic typing. The old song winds its way through the air and crawls into my skull, getting me thinking.

See me, baby. Oh, oh. See me, baby, so you don't miss me. If you miss me, then I'll have never been there.

The driver. The roadies. The groupies. There are a whole host of people that follow us around, who come and go so often that they're not ever really missed. If one of them were to end up toe tagged, who would know? That's right. Fucking nobody.

“Milo,” I begin, setting my beer down in the sink. I might not get it then, but I don't have as big of an urge to pick it back up. Whether this is a trend that'll continue, who the shit knows? I'm not saying I want to go straight-edge or anything, but if I have to stop using to think straight, and thinking straight leads me to Naomi, I'll become a damn priest. “Can you get me a list of all the people approved for travel? Anybody that has a backstage pass that might've had access to the buses during a show?” He stops typing for a moment and looks up, obviously baffled. His blonde hair is stuck to his eyebrows with sweat and his lips are pale. Again, I get that little niggle of guilt, that whispering voice on my shoulder that says maybe I'm too hard on the guy. I try to smile, but it won't come out, not without Naomi. Still, my face ends up neutral which is better than a straight-up frown, right? “I need the records from the day before Naomi went missing up until now. Can you do that for me?” Milo opens his mouth to respond when I interrupt him with a word I'm pretty sure he's never heard pass between my lips. “Please?”

He pauses, fingers resting on the keys of his computer, and then sighs.

“Alright, Turner,” he says, and I try not to get too excited. This could mean nothing. But then, it could be fucking everything. “Let me finish what I'm working on and I'll get that together.” Milo looks down at his screen and then back up at me. “Is this important?” he asks, like maybe he already knows the answer to that question.

“The most important fucking thing I've ever asked from you.”

A couple hours later and I'm holding a stack of printed pages in my hand. On page ten, I find exactly what I'm looking for.

BOOK: Get Bent
11.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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