Here’s the thing.
Riding high is the easiest shit in the world, right? It’s pretty much automatic. No thoughts, just float. So you beat some folks and have some strong showings, and you think against all better judgment that this is it. This is my time.
Higher you fly, the harder it is to stick that landing.
And that’s where the boys are.
This isn’t what we’re used to.
We’ve seen them looking pretty shabby. Rode hard, put away wet. Green in the gills. ‘Partied out’, in the parlance of their industry. But this is different. This is 12 bars, a slide guitar, and harmonica territory. Real pain like when rock was just directly cribbing from the sons of sharecroppers and scrawny British fucks were making guitars sound like funeral wails. Hell, the hotel room even looks slightly sepia. Trent can’t help but look like a sex god, but at least he’s in the Dior print ad vibe right now, all smolder and longing ins satin shirt, leather pants that practically show every wrinkle, and blackout shades. Likely womens–but what are gendered clothing choices to a being of raw rock and roll magnetism? Barry is in a considerable doldrums and for once actually dressed more skimpily than his cohort. He reclines in battered running shoes, a pair of 1970’s silky plum smuggling track shorts, and a Gold’s Gym muscle top. Looking just furious with the world at this point.
How do you fix this? The boys are isolating. No amount of backstage betty nor thoroughbreds from the Mustang Ranch have had any real lasting effect. Booze and substances aren’t hard to come by, and are no longer numbing the pain.
If you’re Huw Ollie, you fix it by begging management to make sure the boys stay busy–but even that hasn’t worked. He told them about their match and they said nothing. No strategy meetings. Ignoring the group chat when Riff sends a video of Sid Phillips powerbombing someone–ignoring him even saying that Barry’s own efforts in the medium of bombs powered are superior.
But they know the hour is near. And they know their mope is only gonna take them so far. So when the knock finally comes at the door of the suite, they share a knowing glance. Two men at the gallows who know there’s no escape. Face the music, as it were. Barry lets a big sigh out of his Peterbilt chest and gets up, striding to the door. He doesn’t even bother to check who it is. When he sees it, he’s confused. Trent is confused.
It’s just Iron Sam.
The boys were expecting to see the whole band, maybe Huw Ollie alone, but to just have their drummer stride in, snag a beer from the fridge, pop it open on the counter, and then have a seat? That wasn’t what either of them were expecting to happen today. She eyeballs both of them, her sinewy neck looking sculptural as she takes another pull of the brew. Finally, she speaks up.
Iron Sam: Three other saps had this job before me. The guy right before me, Hank? That dude could rumble, man. And then you pluck me from obscurity and tell me that I’m not just a seat filler. That I’m here for life, better or worse. Full partner, no session rate. You know what some die hard told me after my first show as the backbone of Solid Gold?
Iron Sam: “Doesn’t matter if I didn’t like how you played–I just have to wait a couple of years and there’ll be someone else.” I think about it all. All the racial shit I caught for being into music that, let’s be real here, my fuckin’ people invented. All the shit from my dad. And here I am, fully invested in the idea of Tag Team champion members of my group…and here you are. Acting like fuckin’ kids. We’ve been blowing you up on the phone with encouragement, support, ideas, clips, everything. Christ, you know Riff has made you in a video game and he’s simulating matches? Full partners. No session rate. Remember? You succeed, we succeed. You fail, we fail. And you failed, assholes.
Another tug of the brew.
Iron Sam: Thing is? None of the rest of us are acting like you are right now. I’m here because I see what you’re doing, what this whole pity party bullshit is doing to all of us. If you rob us of something to give a shit about, then why would we ever stick around? You keep this up, you’re gonna have to find yourself a new support system–and a new band, likely. Which would suck since we really have found a great pocket and a great sound.
That does it. That little bon mot at the end and there’s at least a smile, which is more than can be said to have crossed the face of Boogie and Boots in a hot minute. Trent pulls his shades off with a characteristic flourish of his tresses and eyes her with no duck lips or preening.
Boots: Iron Sam. Raw power. Thing is…we failed you, right? Mama that don;t make us wanna face not a one of you.
Iron Sam: You didn’t fail us.
Boots: We ain’t bring those straps home.
Iron Sam: …so?
Boogie: So we promised, Samira. We promised that if we had your support behind us 100 percent that we’d go out there and achieve. We didn’t do that. That makes us either liars or failures.
There’s a long, tense moment. Sam grabs the pack of smokes that she keeps rolled up in her left shirt sleeve. One glance to the smoke detector to make sure it has a shopping bag tied around it, she lights up her Marlboro red and considers the form.
Iron Sam: So I get where you’re coming from, I’m sympathetic, all that good horseshit, but. But. And I say this with all due respect: Pull your heads out of your own asses for three and a half seconds and think with something other than your dicks or your egos, okay? You went out, you lost. You think a whole bunch of people who do this get the championship first fuckin’ shot? No. They don’t. Being a champion like…okay, did you guys get a record deal off your first album?
Boots: Ha! Hell no, we had to jam econo, hit them streets, play them gigs!
Boogie: I’m pretty sure a guy who ran a SoCal indie label told us that we shouldn’t even continue after he gave Squatter’s Rights a listen.
Iron Sam: Notice how we don’t play songs off of that?
Boogie: Well yeah, most of it is basically covers with different lyrics on top of it.
Boots: Bad lyrics.
Boogie: One of the choruses was just “Rock and roll mama, put it on me baby”, repeated over and over…
Iron Sam: But you didn’t quit.
Boots: Mama how could we? We were born to sling these notes and whip these loins! We just needed some time to get the alchemy correct, right? Had to figure out our place, our vibe, our style, our drive.
Iron Sam: And this is gonna be different for you?
Iron Sam: For six years Rocking and Rolling has been paying your bills and giving you a good life. By any measure, you’re a success. We aren’t the Beatles or anything, but who the fuck would wanna be? We’re us. And making a living melting faces off is something that like half a percentage point of people get to do. So you’re coming into this real wrong. You’re facing adversity and you can’t figure that because for over half a decade, adversity hasn’t been in your vocabulary. You’re dudes in two worlds: You’re a success in one…
Boogie: …and in the other we just self-released an EP with a song called “Road Head.” I see what you’re saying.
Iron Sam: So stop moping about. You’ve got a match. And these guys aren’t slouches.
Boogie: You’re right.
Iron Sam: Riff is sending you a bunch of strategies. While you two have been jackin’ off, we’ve been at work. Now I expect you both to go out there and give those two something to think about. You know they both basically came up in this shit, right? Like I said. No cakewalk. This ain’t a three-song radio showcase, this is headlining with no opener.
Trent, having heard all he needs to get his fire back, unfurls to standing. The shirt? That’s open. The cum gutters on full blast, turn it up and yank the knob off volume.
Boots: So these clowns, Fontaine and Sid, probably think they got it on easy street! Oh baby baby baby I hope they doin’ their homework and resting up! Boogie Barry what’s more dangerous than a pair of second generation talents?
Boots: Two prowling jungle cats who got denied their last meal, baby! Licking they chops, hungry for it, stalking in the jungle waiting for them lost souls! Now sure, they have the pedigree. They have the vibe!
Iron Sam: They have that one guy.
There’s a moment of electricity where Barry’s hands tighten into fists so powerfully that his knuckles crack. He looks up through his peroxide, feathered bangs.
Boots: Hey I can sing on it all night, about how they think we’re jokes, about how they’re gonna talk the trash they need to talk to feel like big boys, about how pride gonna come before the fall–but Boogie Barry, the jungle cat, the Stallion to my Stud? He got something important to say. Barry slap them notes so furious the dental work rattles!!
Boogie: Sid Phillips, you’re a real jokester, okay? But understand this much–there’s gonna come a time in this match when you get doubled over, and I hop on the back of your neck like I’m trying to break a wild horse at the Calgary Stampede. And you can try to fight it, but you’re gonna have to face the hard facts that I’m not just as good as you at this thing we do–I’m better. And I’m gonna flip you onto my shoulders, raise you up to the dang rafters, and make you Kiss the Devil I bury you so deep! You said some real rude thing about me, hoss. And you got a payback comin’! Boots! Iron Sam! Let’s go meet the boys, I wanna watch some more tape of this fool so I can properly explain to him all the ways he’s gonna lose to the brawn of Barry Delgado!!
With that, he furiously grabs his phone and stomps out of the hotel room, not even five and a half feet tall of ridiculously oversized bulk. Samira and Trent look at one another, frankly surprised by his outburst, but Sadikaj grins and shrugs his shoulders. He throws on his glasses, lanky perfection, tossing an arm around the toned shoulders of his bassist. They begin to traipse out of the room themselves, laughing as they do, and in these tiny moments we see the camaraderie at play. She didn’t have to come here and shake them out of their funk, they could have just crashed and burned and the band would have gone back to music full time. But as harsh as she can be, she does care about them. It takes an ecosystem to prop up these future champions. As they open the door, she belts out.
Iron Sam: “Rock and roll mama…”
Iron Sam and Electric Boots: “…put it on me bay bay!”
As the door closes?
Cut to black.