The Dissonant Ballad of Eric Noble: part four

They were almost at the venue when Shannon chimed in with “Let's just wrap him in a blanket for now so no one sees him, and we'll drop him off at a hospital on the way back”. Christine stared daggers through Shannon before saying, “We are not giving Kevin the homie drop! Fuck that, and fuck you for saying it”. The two of them argued back, and forth debating a dignified death versus covering their own asses. Eventually it was agreed that any hope of dignity was gone upon the release of Kevin's bowels.

“The longer we wait, the worse we look” said Vince, “they already might think we killed him.” Eric was regaining his composure as they pulled into the driveway of tonight's venue, a block building beside a couple modest houses in the middle of nowhere. “Just cover him up for now at least, it's too late to do anything about it right now.” said Eric, deadpan, and disenchanted. He stepped out of the van, and surveyed the block, contemplating a new life in this area. He was sure this trip was the worst decision he ever made, perhaps things would start looking up with a fresh start in a new town.

“How are we supposed to play this show anyway? What are we even doing here?!” said Shannon, as Vince, and Christine started pulling out gear. “I don't know” was the only response either of them offered until Eric spoke up “I know all the words”. No one was sure if it was a good idea, but they decided to play the show with Eric filling in on vocals. For now, they were going to pretend that their friend, and former vocalist wasn't dead in the back of their van. They convinced themselves that the show must go on. Procrastination was much easier than dealing with their problems head on.

Everyone in their party was visibly shaken, but they did their best to act normal. No one at this venue had ever met them before, so they did at least have that going for them. Aloof musicians aren't exactly an anomaly, but this was a band that was clearly having some issues. They barely spoke a word to anyone as they set up. They started playing their first song as music still blared from the stereo connected to the P.A. system. Eric stepped to the microphone with a thousand yard stare, and belted out every word with ferocity. He channeled every bit of frustration in his being through his voice, and the crowd was enamored.

The chaos of the mosh pit whirled in front of Eric as he snarled the same lyrics he had mouthed along to at every show prior. Everyone played with intense passion, using this opportunity as therapy, realizing this could be their last show. They knew this could even be their last night of freedom. There was no between-song banter, only song after song of blistering Hardcore Punk, played with reckless abandon. Eric screamed until his head spun, and he dropped to his knees. As the final notes rang out, he just kept screaming until he was breathless. The crowd loved them, and wanted more, but twenty minutes of personal catharsis was all they had to offer.

As they packed their gear into the van, they were approached by people who wanted to express their appreciation, and buy whatever they were selling. As difficult as it was to make transactions within reach of a dead body, Vince sold T-shirts, and CDs with a smile, thanking everyone for their support. They didn't stick around long after the last band, they had a 4 hour drive ahead of them, and wanted to get out of town immediately. Christine began to give real consideration to the “homie drop” idea, and felt like a horrible person. They all packed into the van, and pulled away in silence. No one would even look at Julius.

They drove for an hour before Eric said, “pull over”. Vince protested, insisting that there was nowhere to pull over without possibly attracting attention from police. “Pull over!” Eric demanded, giving Vince a look that confirmed he had no interest in compromising. Reluctantly, Vince pulled over, and told Eric “hurry up, and piss or whatever you've gotta do, we can't sit here long”. Eric was a step ahead of him, already pulling Julius by his hair out of the van as he opened the side door with his free hand.

Eric slammed Julius to the ground, and began wailing on him even worse than Christine had before, screaming through clenched teeth “I'll fucking kill you!”. Julius' head was full of knots that were starting to open up rather wide as Christine pulled Eric away. No one really noticed his bruises at the show, but they were hard to avoid by this point. By the time Eric was pulled off Julius, he had covered his face in blood. Eric was shaking, and screaming nonsense, inconsolable. Julius was motionless.

On the side of the Interstate, not far from the Georgia border, the body count for this tour increased by one. Normally stoic, and completely in control, Christine began shaking, and crying as she screamed “What the fuck, Eric!?”. Vince walked over to console her, but she pushed him away, and began walking. Vince chased after her while Shannon sat in shock “I- I can't do this anymore” he said as he moved into the driver's seat. Eric stood there staring at Julius' battered body, thinking about all that had gone wrong in such a short time. Shannon started the van, and pulled away with Kevin's corpse as his only passenger.

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