She comes backstage, you make eye contact, and it’s like fuck. You’ve seen her before, floating at the edge of your awareness—didn’t she date that guitarist from Cult Feet whose private plane crashed? Your drummer tells you her name is Courtnée. Says she loooooves rock stars.
You are a rock star.
So you smile at her and she half-smiles back. Drummer (who you wish would go away and let you work your mojo) adds, “…to death. She’s the plague, man. Keep her off your cock.”
You joke, “I’ll wear a rubber.” He says, “Dude,” and counts off her kills in 4/4 beats: Eric in a plane crash, Benny in a bus, bassist shot by stalker, Wes’ overdose.
You dismiss the gossip. Even later when you hear about the fan who died that night of heat stroke six feet from the stage where you sang, you can’t see how she’d be involved in any of those deaths. She looks all handle-me-with-care (except for her emerald don’t-mess-with-me eyes.) And rock gods live fast, die young…hell, they make movies about that shit.
One day, you’ll be a rock god. You’re so close you can almost taste it, taste her.
So you walk over. Kiss. Meet. You’ve never felt so jacked. Shit, it’s kismet. You write her a song and just like that you got your own fucking love story.
You offer to let her sing backup on the track, but she demurs. Says she’s not really the type to kiss and sing. But, she promises, one day she’ll sing for you. Just you. A concert for one.
You’d like that. Get all sorts of ideas in your head. Ask if you can pick the song, but she already has one in mind, an old ballad, she says, that she learned at her grandmama’s knee.
You lean in close, press against her. “Ah. You’re a crooner.” Makes sense, you can’t imagine her screaming, least not into a mic.
“A keener,” she says. “But I’ve been known to wail.”
And you don’t think nothing of it—not then, at least.
You’ve never been so inspired. Courtnée’s like The. Best. Drug. Ever. She tells you stories—legends—about great loves. You lick that shit up, digest it and crap out albums. Your band’s cool with that, not so much with your girl. Bassist sweats garlic these days and drinks holy water by the bottle; drummer gets a crucifix tattooed on his chest.
Fuck ’em, she’s your muse.
Her voice whispering in your ear—you hear it all the goddamn time. Like lyrics lost without chords, but no worry. Muuuuuse it equals muse-ic. You twist her words up and belt them out.
Courtnée says, “We singers need to stick together,” and you think, “we” is a little ballsy for someone who only hums when on her knees. She still hasn’t sung for you, although you keep asking to hear that ballad, the one she promised you, the one she claims will be epic.
So you say, “Scream for me, baby.”
“Not yet,” she whispers. “Soon.”
You hit gold and head platinum. Soon feels like an eternity, but you can do the time. Your dreams are coming true. Your cock is, too.
Your drummer, though, is a fistful of downers. Says, “The thing about legends is: all the good ones end bad.” And you say, “Fuck yeah, they do.”
He shakes his head, warns you one last time. “She’s gonna eat you up and spit out your bones, dude,” and you call him a shithead. Tell him to bone off and die.
Those are the last words you ever say to him.
You get wasted and steal his hearse. Think, it’s all downhill from here. Least till you hydroplane and plow into a row of gravestones.
Bump-da-bump, bump. Your drummer is hitting the skins, slamming cymbals in the back. A glimpse in the rearview shows nothing but coffin and you’re damn sure he’s not in there. He’s not anywhere.
Sirens go off in your head or maybe for real, it’s so hard to tell over the pounding. Feels like the whole world is about to rock, to roll.
So you scream. Then scream some more. Hey, it’s what you’re known for.
The busted hearse fills with your voice. You know this song. Fuck, you wrote this song. You are this song.
Till you aren’t. Till it’s not your song, not your voice, not your goddamn anything.
And guess who’s standing in the rain, next to cement angels, wet and grinning? Waiting for you.
Everything’s crystal fucking clear. You see it. Worse, you hear it—her. She sings. With-a-capital-S, she keens about broken bits of you and me.
It’s so good. So, so, so epic, your eardrums burst, first left, then right. She fucking Beethovened you—not to mention killed your drummer with a lightning bolt. Your band’s dead—guys blame you and they’re right, you know they are.
Yeah, that Courtnée, she loves rock stars to death. Sings them to godhood and eternal sleep.
But you, you she leaves living. Sends you a postcard every now and again.
Last one said she’s touring with TechniTonik, doing that lead singer chick with the piercings. You think about warning the band, realize it won’t stop nothing. Weren’t you warned?
Yeah, you were.
And she wasn’t a muse, now, was she? ‘Cause muses don’t sing—or suck—like that, do they?
Maybe if you’d known it wouldn’t be you paying the price, maybe you’d have done things different. You like to think so. But that’s just something you tell yourself when you feel bad about putting your friend in with the worms.
Face it: You got what you wanted. You’re a legend. A rock god. They make a movie about that shit. You watched with closed captions and cried whenever you saw the little musical notes that indicated singing.
Because the only song you can hear is hers. It’s in your head. Stuck on repeat. 24/7, three sixty-five.
Epic, isn’t it?
Sometimes it’s so loud you know someone’s about to die. Sometimes you even know who.
Not that it helps—you can’t stop rockers from rolling—but you screech warnings the best you can.
You singers got to stick together, right?
|H. L. Fullerton writes fiction—mostly speculative, occasionally about being cursed—which can be found in more than 50 anthologies and magazines including Mysterion, Fireweed: Stories of the Revolution, Tales to Terrify, and Lackington’s. On Twitter as @ByHLFullerton.|