SEVEN – STEF KLEIN
Stef Klein twanged out the final notes of his solo and threw the guitar into the audience. Behind him, the other members of the Coffin Nails were busy breaking their instruments on the club’s small stage.
It wasn’t a very original finale, Stef knew, but it seldom failed to get a crowd going. And, as Pete Townsend noted once, it precluded the possibility of any encores.
Stef signaled to the other members of the band, and they stalked offstage together, tipping over several speakers and amps as they went.
The patrons of The Barn screamed at the tops of their lungs, but the Nails hardly noticed it. They’d gotten used to the adoration of the locals. After five years sweating in Frosthaven and the U.S. side of the Lake Superior shore, the band felt ready to move on to bigger things.
And The Barn was as big as it got in Frosthaven. Bigger, even, than anything in Superior to the west.
But it just didn’t give Stef the buzz like it used to. He couldn’t believe their manager had booked them into an even smaller club downtown this next week. what was the man thinking? Stef made a mental note to get the rest of the band to fire the guy.
“Nice set, Stef,” said Johnny Blue, clapping his compatriot on the back just a bit too hard.
“Get a life, Johnny,” Stef growled. “We sucked tonight.”
“And you sucked most of all, big man,” said Alyson Chaney.
“Fuck you,” said Stef.
Alyson threw a drumstick—which she had somehow neglected to break during the act—at him. Stef ducked, and it clattered off the door of a small dressing room behind him. “You wish,” she taunted.
Klein shook his head. “Not a chance. I don’t want to catch anything.”
Alyson smiled and flipped him the bird.
Lincoln Washington pulled his leather coat around his shoulders. “Cut the bullshit, Stef. You coming out with us, or not?”
Kym Yaep sidled up to Washington and gave him a hug, being careful to scrape the metal studs of her black-leather vest against his coat. Linc didn’t seem to mind. “Not Stef,” she said. “Didn’t you hear, Linc? He’s gotten too big for the rest of us.”
Lincoln shook his dreadlocked head. “Nah. I seen him. He ain’t that big. Not too big for you, tight thighs.” Kym smiled up at him.
“Maybe he was cold,” put in Alyson. “Cold can make a man feel pretty small.”
“Fuck you all,” interjected Stef, waving them away. “Fuck you very much.” He swung open the door of his dressing room and stalked inside.
“Have a nice night, Stef,” Blue called back as the rest of the group exited through the stage door.
Klein kicked the door closed behind him, prowled across the room to the make-up mirror, sat down, and ran his hands through his stringy blond hair. “Assholes,” he muttered. “Every fucking one of them. Assholes.” A moth flitted near his head and he brushed it away.
“I like your music,” said a woman’s voice from the other side of the room.
Stef spun around so fast he nearly fell off his chair.
“What the fuck?! Who are you? How did you get in here?!”
Glory stepped from the shadows and smiled at him. A strap on her powder-blue gown slipped from her right shoulder.
“I came to see you, Stef,” she said placidly. “I like your music.”
Stef frowned. “So you fuckin’ said. Got anything else to say?”
Glory shook her head and stepped toward him.
Stef gazed up into her black eyes and smiled. He could almost taste her tits already through that thin dress. Sure, she might be some psycho-bitch groupie—but she was a hot psycho-bitch groupie.
Just what he needed right now.