Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tour Bus - Fiction

When we were younger and less known, we toured in a bus with our name on every surface along with lots of flash and dancing eye candy, hoping we would be as famous as we thought our bus's paint job made us seem to be. Then, when we were actually famous and well-known and sought after and tired of the attention when we were tired of being 'on' after a show, we started to tour in 2 plain white unadorned buses with heavily tinted windows. These sleek white beasts glide barely noticed through town after town and earn us the quiet our old bodies and brains need to sleep off the adrenaline and then pump it up again for another show in another town. But back when we partied all night on the road in our flashy bus, we were burning ourselves out and not all of us made it out alive. Somewhere on the road between Chicago and Milwaukee on one such trip, one of our bass players took on a bit too much of something or a bit too many of some things together and his heart stopped beating in the second seat of the 5th row. After that, nobody would sit in that seat, or even in that row, really, and there was frequently a disturbance when someone would forget, one of us or some lowly lighting guy or one of the costume girls would plunk down with a beer and the bus would gradually go dead silent as we gaped at him or her. They would remember and leap up or maybe have to be told and pulled into the aisle. One night, we were waiting in a parking lot in one of those big L towns in Kentucky, waiting to find out if the last minute add in some nearby college field house was a go or if we were going to hit the interstate for Georgia instead. We sat around in our funk of uncertainty and someone and someone else got into an argument that lead to people taking sides that lead to someone mentioning the dead bass player's name and that shut us all down. We sat in the gloom staring at the empty seat and each other when finally one of the drummers said "I'm gonna torch that seat," and started pushing and pulling on it. A couple others joined in and only managed to get the arm wrenched akimbo. Jimmie finally got up and skulked through the aisle glaring, which made most of us shut up and sit down. He went to the driver and asked for the toolbox. They went outside and underbins were opened and closed and Jimmie came back with a yellow plastic box. He yanked up the carpet and poked his head around under the seat and one of the sound guys joined him. Pretty soon they had the seat unbolted and 3 or 4 of them were carrying it over the other seats to the door. They set it down a few parking places away. We all sat there stunned for a few seconds before we poured out of the bus and gathered in a circle around the seat. There were a few whispers about how we might be arrested but a couple others were rolling up paper towels from the lavatory and wedging them between the seat and the back and pretty soon, the paper was lit and the flames started to creep. Well, it wasn't as dramatic as we'd hoped, for instead of bursting into wild and brilliant towering roaring flame, it mostly just sizzled as the flames crept around and over and under, melting then actually burning the polycarbons of which it was made. It took a long time and there were little plumes of black smoke now and then, yet no fire trucks roared up, no police cars with flashing lights zoomed in. Soon it was a twisted framework of angled metal and sinewave curving springs and then it was over. We left the metal remains there on the pavement and trickled back onto the bus as the driver radioed to dispatch for our directions. The spot in the row of seats stayed empty for years, until we got the new white buses, and became the place where the ice chest full of bottled water and yogurt that reflected our cleaner habits was kept. We fondly remember the removal of the seat as more violent, we remember the flames as higher and hotter, we remember cheering and yelling instead of the somber quiet observance that actually took place, and at least some remember the driver cleverly talking our way out of trouble with police or fire officials, but in the end, "the day we burned Eddie's seat" was a turning point for us. We lived cleaner and worked harder and played better music and earned more money. Remember the day we "torched the bus seat"?

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