Authors: Brad Vance
HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME
Copyright © 2015 by the author
All rights reserved
Cover art by Aubrey Watt
“Hey, uh, Rocky…?”
Rocky turned to the sound of the inquiring voice. Without even thinking, he put on his “fan smile,” ready to sign an autograph and put out about two sentences worth of chit-chat. Then he’d make his excuse about getting ready for the show, and find out why someone had let a fan onstage during a sound check.
But it wasn’t a fan after all. It was Adam, the stage manager, looking abashed.
“There’s a problem.”
“Okay,” Rocky sighed. “Let me have it.”
“We, uh, someone anyway, made a mistake in the booking department. And um, this stage is double booked.”
“Well, I just did my line check,” Rocky said, indicating the microphone. “And we’re next up on this stage.”
The Boulders had started setting up as soon as the last act was off stage. Rocky was a perfectionist; he wanted all the time he could get to put everything in order. Fifteen minutes between acts was all the festival gave to bands for setup. Fortunately for Rocky, the previous band was The Ferns. And they were fronted by a major alcoholic who’d just fallen offstage, ending their set early.
“Yeah…and Dex and the Delta Devils are, too.” Adam cocked his head stage left.
Rocky looked into the wings to see a tall man in a black cowboy hat, fuming, his band and crew behind him. The dude wasn’t bad looking, Rocky thought, if you like that sort of thing. He had that whole Tim McGraw/Toby Keith thing going on, big shoulders and tight jeans and a Fu Manchu moustache – something you only saw outside the Deep South on gay leather men.
Rocky shrugged. “Well, first come, first served. And besides,” he waved his hand at the few dozen people hanging around the stage, “these people are here to see The Boulders.” He swung around, put the mike close to his mouth and stage whispered into it.
“Right, folks? You all are here for Rocky and the Boulders!”
Some ragged cheering ensued, but Rocky could tell it wasn’t a genuine fan response – more like the generic whooping of people who’d had a few beers and would cheer anything right now. And, he suddenly noticed, there were more than a few cowboy hats out there.
And not the straw ones with the brims turned up on the sides that pretty much said “I’m going to Burning Man” – no, the other kind. They were in Texas, so they could be this guy’s fans. But they were just outside Austin, which wasn’t really Texas at all. So it was hard to tell what a cowboy hat meant here in terms of musical taste.
CrossFest was a weird-ass festival, for sure. The idea was to bring rock and country acts and their fans together in one place, to break down borders and all that stuff. You know, convince the country fans that the rock fans weren’t all decadent drug addicts, and convince the rock fans that the country folk weren’t all crazed ignorant rednecks. Or something like that.
For the Boulders, it was a high profile gig, and while Rocky would mouth all that peace, love and understanding shit for an interview, he didn’t believe a word of it. These country types would smile and nod and look like they were being friendly and open-minded, and then they’d eventually manage to tell you that they’d “pray for you,” like they were doing you a favor, praying your gay away.
Rocky’s appeal to the crowd was the last straw for the dude in the wings. He stormed towards Rocky, growing ever larger as he got closer.
Rocky stood his ground. He was rock-star lean and movie-star short, but he wasn’t weak, and the days when he’d let bullies push him around were long gone. All the same, there was something about this…mass of angry man coming toward him that made him want to take a step back.
“I think you’re mistaken,” the cowboy said. “They’re here for Dex Dexter and the Delta Devils.”
He had a deep voice, husky and rich with loamy Southern earth in it. Rocky had grown up in Georgia, and knew the Mississippi twang when he heard it. Any Southern accent could instantly fill him with rage, at all it represented, all he’d escaped. He had smothered his own accent long ago, replacing it with American Broadcast Standard inflections.
Still…Rocky felt his dick betray his defiance, as it extended to welcome the stranger. The dude was in his late twenties, and handsome, in that beefy way that could go to fat later if he wasn’t careful. His dark brown hair curled out from under his hat –
just long enough to look a little rebellious,
Rocky thought cynically. And his eyes were just as dark, hot with rage now. He reminded Rocky of a bull, the way he was breathing hard, nostrils flaring.
Adam cut in. “We have a slot later, around midnight, if one of you is willing to…”
“Oh, I don’t think so,” Dex said. “I think we’ll go on now.”
“Yeah,” Rocky said, not breaking eye contact with Dex, even though at six foot four (maybe five in the boots) he had Rocky beat by a full foot. “He can’t go on that late. His fans have drunk their prune juice and gone to bed by then.”
He could hear his own band chuckle at that, which only made Dex angrier. “Listen, here, Rocky the rock star. I’m sure you really rock, but that ain’t what the people are here to…”
Rocky’s disbelieving laughter cut him off. “Rocky the rock star who really rocks? And what’s your name, Dex Dexter? Like the character on ‘Dynasty’?”
Dex blinked. “That’s right.”
Rocky smiled. Wow, talk about redneck! His momma must have been a huge fan of that show back in the 80s. Imagine naming your kid that!
“You know Dex was a nickname, right? His real first name was Farnsworth.” Finally, all those stoned nights watching VH1 had paid off with a useful piece of trivia.
“And you, real name Norman? Seriously?”
Rocky blushed. How did Dex freakin’ Dexter here know that? Maybe he watched too much VH1 too. It was really Norman Rockwell McCoy, a fact he’d concealed until his budding fame had made it worth someone’s while to troll his birth records.
“That’s real nice, Rocky.” Dex grasped the mike stand. “But now you gotta move aside and let the big boys play.”
Rocky grabbed the stand below Dex’s grip, ready to fight for it. As he did, his thumb brushed the skin of Dex’s hand, and a little shock went through him, as if the mike hadn’t been properly grounded. But it wasn’t electricity, at least, not the manufactured kind. Dex’s skin was warm and silky and made Rocky remember how long it had been since the last time he’d felt a man’s touch.
“Okay, okay, whoa, whoa!” Adam said, inserting himself between the two singers, holding up his clipboard like a wall. “This is a concert, guys, not a rumble. And look out there,” he said, pointing at the gathering audience. “Check out all those cell phones filming this right now. You guys want promoters to think of you as troublemakers? Because that’ll do it.”
Dex took a step forward, pushing into Rocky’s space. Their faces were inches apart, and Rocky felt himself get weaker, but not with fear. Dex’s body heat was intense, and the glower on his face reminded Rocky of what a man looked like, when he had Rocky on his back, legs up, ready to penetrate him and ride him hard…
Rocky’s lips parted, and he gasped a little. He knew hot sex when he saw it, and God knows he knew pent-up lust and desire when he saw it, too. Dex wasn’t this close so he could threaten Rocky, he was this close because…he wanted to be. Whether he’d admit that to himself or not.
Dex blinked, his eyes widened at Rocky’s response to his proximity – not intimidation, but something else.
Rocky saw the fear in Dex’s eyes, the dilation of his pupils at the realization that he was
to another man and if they weren’t gonna fight, there was only one other reason for it...
Rocky smiled. All he had to do was reach out and touch Dex, and this repressed closet case would fucking cum in his jeans.
Dex backed off. “Fine, fuck it. We’ll take midnight. That’s when the real fans are out anyway.” He stormed off stage, his band in tow, and though they looked back with glares and flipped fingers, it was all for show.
Rocky let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. They went on with their sound check, Rocky listening closely, nodding or shaking his head at the different monitor levels and EQ. But this was all automatic, years of experience kicking in, as his conscious mind was on another path altogether.
Dex Dexter. Fuck. The dude was a class A closet case. And, yeah, okay, admit it. He’s fucking hot.
Rocky couldn’t take his mind off what the sex would be like. Dex reminded him of his first lover, well, his first sexual partner, hardly a lover – Nico, a hot straight man who’d taught him more about how great gay sex could be than...
“Rocky!” Jet, his drummer, shouted at him. “Earth to Rocky the Flying Squirrel. Come on down, man.”
Rocky laughed. They always called him that when he got too deep in his own head. “Yeah, I’m coming, Bullwinkle. Hold your antlers.”
Exhausted, Rocky flopped out on his motel bed and turned on the TV. The Boulders had put on one hell of a show tonight, he knew. Rocky’s energy was always good on stage, and the sensation of performing live always got him high. But tonight had been extra special. He couldn’t put his finger on why. But he’d been…inspired tonight. They’d even done that cover version of Audioslave’s “Like a Stone,” a song that usually toasted his vocal cords, but tonight it had come almost effortlessly.
The Boulders were staying at the Austin Motel, the coolest place to stay in town. They’d been lucky to get a reservation. This festival wasn’t as big as SXSW, but it had sucked up most of the reasonably priced hotel rooms.
They could have stayed at the Hilton or some such, but what was the point of traveling, Rocky thought, if every room you ever saw was the same as the last? The Boulders weren’t big enough yet to have a tour bus like Dex Dexter did, but they were doing well enough they didn’t have to sleep in the back of a van.
Besides, the rooms at the Hilton didn’t have wallpaper that transformed a whole wall into a panoramic ocean vista, or a long view down a canal in Venice. It didn’t have a kidney-shaped swimming pool, or a rusted-out old car transformed into a planter, or any of the character that the motel had. And the Hilton would be a madhouse, with groupies staked out in the lobby waiting for a glimpse of their idols, and newly successful bands feeling the need to “do the rock star thing” and throw a TV out a window.
No, much better to be here, with some peace and quiet, and time to think. He hadn’t had time for that lately, hadn’t had time to process his breakup with Frank James, the famous actor who’d made a career out of publicly flirting with gay identity without ever saying, “I’m gay.” Like the white hipsters who inserted themselves into African American musical culture, Frank had immersed himself in gay culture – but like the whiteys who could walk away and still enjoy their white privilege, Frank had never given up the advantage he had in Hollywood of not being “actually” gay.
And it had turned out that Frank, when all was said and done, was straight after all. Or something. He’d certainly pounded Rocky’s ass with all the enthusiasm one man could muster for fucking another man. But when it had come to getting serious, getting real, having an honest-to-God relationship that meant more than furtive fucks…well, Frank might be gay, but he was definitely not gay for Rocky.
The old joke was that the difference between a straight man and a gay man was a six pack of beer. Well, Frank had been “gay for” an opportunity for a little self-promotion, at least until people thought he wasn’t kidding anymore.
Being out on the town with openly gay Rocky, being known as his “friend,” had let Frank flirt with gayness just enough to jolt the publicity machine, boost his career…but actually
gay? That would have been the end of a leading man’s movie career, even these days.
Fucking Frank. Who’d grinned at him that last day and said the cruelest thing he could have possibly said. “Well, being seen with me helped your career too, didn’t it?”
And Dex. Rocky could still remember the
of Dex, so close to him. Like the feeling on an August day when you leave an air conditioned building, and the heat felt so nice for just a moment… Until the cool bubble you’d carried with you burst, and the smothering heat closed in on you.
No. No more fucking closet cases. He wouldn’t go through that again. Rocky lived in a world full of musicians, artists, and freaks, a world full of men with flexible sexualities, and he didn’t need to go outside his own world looking for trouble. And yet, he always did…
Sure, even cool kids can carry a lot of sexual baggage from their upbringings. Rocky was the proverbial preacher’s son, and had survived it. And the last thing he needed now was to listen to some fucking redneck get nervous about his own sexuality and start spouting that anti-gay shit in his face again.
He turned on the TV and flipped through the channels. Ah, good, VH1 was actually playing videos. It was rarer and rarer to find any actual music on the music-oriented channels, in between all the stupid reality shows, and even then it was usually “Pop Up Video” with all the chit-chat.
He smiled when he saw the black and white opening to Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” Now that was a man who was still hot, after all these years – pushing sixty and still worth a tumble. Rocky was a firm believer in the a “rock star gene,” the magical quality that left Anthony Kiedis or Iggy Pop or, hell, even Rick Springfield looking unbelievably great well into middle age, regardless of substances abused.
But it wasn’t the original “Wicked Game” video. The clouds rolled past, a man stood in silhouette, and the achingly mournful opening notes were the same…but not. It wasn’t the famous opening that James Wilsey had produced on his Stratocaster, but it still had some of that ringing, rolling sound of the original.
The lead vocal came in, deeper that Isaak’s, a voice flaked with Southern accent. It was mournful, sexy, seductive. The visuals were the same as the original, starting with the woman on the beach, dancing slowly, bare breasts covered only by her arms.
The singer was revealed, wearing the same white wife-beater Isaak had worn. Only this guy was beefier, his arms tatted up. He danced and flirted and begged the woman, finally carrying her on his back towards...well, you know what. Damn, he’s sexy…
It suddenly hit Rocky. Shit. It was Dex fucking Dexter. And the video wasn’t a shot for shot remake, after all…no, this was much hotter. There was a lot more of the two bods on display, for sure, and what was suggested in the original, well, it was enthusiastically recommended here.
Dex and the woman cavorted on the beach, and, in a shot that would have been banned 20 years earlier, she dropped to her knees in front of him. She looked up, lifted his wet tank top, and the camera was right there as she licked the salt water off his abs. He lifted her up and put his face between her breasts, mouth open to catch the trickle of liquid running down her chest.
And whoever Dex’s guitarist was, Rocky thought, he was insanely talented.
Too good for a country band, that’s for sure. Maybe I could poach him….
Then the camera showed Dex, sitting on a rock on the beach, and damn it all, it was him playing the guitar. The camera even did a close up of his fingers on the strings, the “classic American” sparrow tats on the back of each hand. Then it zoomed back to show Dex’s face too, as if to say, yeah, bitches, that’s really me playing.
The sight of Dex’s gorgeous face and body had excited Rocky, and his voice had made his temperature rise, forced his guts to churn at a low simmer. But that image of Dex’s agile fingers was the one that sent all the blood straight to his cock. He wasn’t just some stupid redneck shouting some stupid song about beer – he was a fucking
Rocky wanted to turn the channel, to look away. The video was deviating far from the original, accommodating the public’s taste for raunchier material than you could put on TV back in 1991. Now it looked like a remake of the beach scene in “From Here to Eternity,” with Dex in the Burt Lancaster role, shirtless now, his hands, his lips, all over the woman on the sand as the waves rolled over them. If the water had risen up in steam from the heat of their bodies, Rocky wouldn’t have been surprised.
Dex could kiss. He could use his hands, and did, enthusiastically. The damn video was one pair of panties short of a sex tape. There was an animal passion in him that…
God damn it,
he told himself.
There you go again, hot for a straight guy. Like being with Nico and Frank didn’t teach you a thing.
Obviously, Dex was straight. He’d been all over that woman. And however good a guitarist he was, Rocky was sure he could never be that good an actor.
Then the video was over, and then Miley Cyrus came onscreen, twerking like a fool. That definitely broke the spell. Rocky got up and broke open the gift basket the festival organizers had sent him. He tore the cap off the bottle of Garrison Brothers, a locally distilled whiskey.
Then it hit him. A memory of a day in a loft with Korey, their manager, his best friend. Listening to random music and there it was, a cover version of a Belle and Sebastian song by, of all people, Dex Dexter. Who was this guy? What kind of shit kicker covers “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying,” anyway? It had been…beautiful. Achingly heartfelt. Dex wasn’t just some shit kicker, was he…
He looked in the mirror in the bathroom and wanted to slap himself.
“No,” he told himself. “We’re not going to do that again. We’re not,” he took a swig from the bottle. “Ever,” and another, even as the burn from the first one registered. “Going to do that again.”