Note: this scenes comes shortly after the end of Opening Act: Infusion Deep Meets Buxton Peak (which is FREE on Amazon!)
She’s here again. As usual, her outfit doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Looking up into the glare from the lights, I focus on the feel of the music and open my mouth to sing. It’s enough. My spirit soars as I lose myself. As the song ends, I notice the crowd again. They’re starting to sweat as the warmth from thousands of bodies adds to the summer heat. Taking a moment, I grab a drink from my water bottle and smile into the crowd. I make eye contact with as many of the fans as I can. I can tell when they know I’m looking straight at them and it gives me a rush. A natural high – the only sort I get these days. Her, I ignore. She’s been at every gig on the tour so far and I don’t want to give her any more encouragement. Another obsessed fan is the last thing I need right now.
I rest my hands back on Jude, my favorite guitar as the band starts playing. My band, the one I started when I was fifteen. Back when I thought I was invincible. Now I know better. The words are a part of me. This song always makes me feel the pain. I close my eyes as I sing.
I can fly
Ain’t nothing gonna stop me
Watch me soar
Bow to the applause
Feel me, feel my song
Thought I was invincible
But now I know
When the illusion shatters
Ain’t nothing there
To stop me falling
The crowd goes crazy as the music ends. They love this one. They think they know about my battles, my demons. But they don’t know the reality, the truth I’ve kept hidden. God willing, I’ve moved on. No one ever needs to know. I slip my guitar off my shoulder and hold it high as the applause grows deafening. The lights dim and I bow my head. Another show done. Another crowd convinced they know me through my songs.
Adam gets up from behind the kit and high fives Drew. They’re laughing; they must be happy with how the show went tonight. Sometimes I can’t tell anymore. Was it a good show? I need to find Wes. He usually waits for me after the show, but he’s already left his usual spot behind the keyboard. Something must have happened. Wes is the serious one – he takes care of all the day-to-day stuff the rest of us don’t care about. Wes has known me since second grade when his family moved onto our street. He knows me better than anybody.
Backstage the hallways are crowded with roadies, groupies and who knows who else. I turn around to look for a place I can find some peace and quiet to try and ground myself.
“Finn, hey…wait up.” Trent’s voice is the last one I want to hear right now. As a tour manager he rocks. As a person, he’s a turd. Like sewage that seeps up from the ground and taints everything it touches.
“Yeah?” I reluctantly turn around.
“Did you forget the Meet the Ultimate Fan promo?”
“Ahh, that’s tonight?”
“Sure is. Come on, I made sure the winners were hot.”
“You’re such a sleaze.”
“Used to be you didn’t mind so much.”
“Yeah, well some of us grew up.”
Trent’s voice takes on a hard edge. “Well, it’s in your contract, Pretty Boy, so suck it up.”
“He had to take care of something.”
“What?” Sweat breaks out across my forehead. “What things?” Wes is always around after the show. He knows how hard I find this crap.
“Doesn’t matter, you can ask him later.”
Trent practically pushes me back down the hallway, and I let him. This is a part of my life I can’t escape. I just hope I can hold it together long enough. Please let it be enough, I pray silently as I’m shoved into the crowded room. The noise level intensifies and my head starts to pound. My eyes half close as I try to take it all in. The sudden squealing is impossible to ignore. Before I can take another step I’m surrounded.
“Finn! I love you so much. I’m your biggest fan.” A curvy brunette with too much make-up and too little clothing presses up against me. Before I can say anything a camera phone is right in front of my face as she snaps a dozen pictures.
They never ask, they just take from me as if I’m not even a real person. I can’t stand it, I want to vomit. As she finishes, another girl takes her place against me. A blonde this time. She doesn’t even seem to care that I’m not answering her inane questions. As long as she has her photos to post all over social media. She’ll probably make up some absurd story about our time together. It won’t be the first time.
The girls move off to sit with Drew and Adam, where they get a much more accommodating welcome. Drew pulls the blonde onto his lap and she giggles. I need to get out of here.
“Finn?” A quiet voice says beside me. I turn towards her, glad for the less-demanding voice.
I can feel the blood drain from my face – it’s her…my stalker from the last dozen gigs.
“Um,” she says, twisting her pale hair around her finger. Her face flushes.
Not what I was expecting from the outfit and the suggestive dances she’s been performing for the past few weeks in front of the stage.
“What’s your name?” I ask, taking pity on her for some reason. It’ll probably come back to bite me later when I have to take out a restraining order.
“Like the season?”
“Yeah.” Autumn's face turns as red as the leaves her name represents.
“At least they didn’t call you Fall,” I joke.
Autumn smiles and her face lights up. I have to concentrate on breathing again. She’s beautiful, breathtaking. Her smile disappears as quickly as it came, and I can breathe again. What am I doing? There’s no way on earth I’m getting involved with an obsessed fan.
“What’s your favorite song?” I ask. I may as well spend my required time talking to the one fan who doesn’t seem to think she has a right to my body.
“Downwrite,” she says, surprising me again.
Downwrite wasn’t even a single. The record execs said it was too melancholy. It’s one of my favorites and I still include it in our set list sometimes. It means a lot to me; it was the song I wrote after I hit rock bottom and realized I had to change my life.
“Why that one?” I can’t stop myself from asking.
“It just spoke to me when I was going through some stuff.”
I smile for the first time. “I’m glad. It was cathartic for me as well.”
She doesn’t pry, and I am beyond grateful. Perhaps she doesn’t want me to ask her about her life either. I can’t believe how different she is to what I thought. Perhaps the clothes and the make-up are just a shield. Far be it from me to judge someone else’s coping mechanism.
“What are you working on now?” Autumn says, finally asking a question.
“I haven’t written anything for a while actually.”
“I hope that’s only temporary, I don’t know how I’d function without any new Infusion Deep music.”
“You’d probably go into marketing or something.”
“Heaven forbid! The last thing the world needs is more people trying to sell us stuff we don’t need.”
“Yeah, like the world needs more Snuggies.”
Autumn laughs and I laugh with her. I can’t remember the last time I laughed like this. Adam and Drew are staring at me like I’m an alien with two heads. I guess I’ve been a mopey prick for the last few months.
Trent blows back into the room like a flatulent gorilla and rounds up the meet and greet girls. Before I can take stock, Autumn is gone.
Drew comes over and flings an arm around my shoulders. “What was up with you and the hot blonde chick? Did you get her number?”
“It wasn’t like that.”
“Looked like it from where I was.”
“We had a…a… connection.”
“No, like on a personal level, we connected.”
“Yeah, connected. I’d totally connect with that.”
“Get over yourself, Drew,” I push his arm off my shoulder. Drew and Adam still carry on like horny teenagers. I shove the door open and exit as fast as possible. Maybe now I can find some peace somewhere.
Click on the link below to read Infuse by Lara Wynter. See where it all began (and see a new side of Buxton Peak!) by reading Opening Act: Infusion Deep Meets Buxton Peak by Lara Wynter (with a little help from me!)