She had been standing in front of the Club Zio for nearly five minutes when the door suddenly opened… she was early so she hadn’t bothered to knock yet… still closed the place was deserted of the normal throng of people. She could feel the bouncer look her over, she was easily as tall as he was and carrying her 40+ pounds of gear it was clear this was no delicate flower looking to wait tables and flirt with the customers.
But the fact that he stepped aside to let her in told her she at least was expected, maybe they had been warned to look out for something a bit more straggly than she was appearing now. The thought drew a faint smile. Did the man think she couldn’t clean up?... she was blind… not a bum.
Sensitive ears listened to people milling around, someone behind the bar setting up glasses and bottles in preparations for the opening rush, the squeak of cloth and cleaner running over tables unmistakable. But what her attention was drawn to instantly was a hissing whisper that probably few others could make out.
•band leader• "… this is bullshit and you know it…"
The voice cadence was easy for her to place, it was the frontman for the band that had been playing when she was there last, the one that didn’t know how to take care of his damn gear. He was on the far side of the stage, probably with his band mates. She made for the near side to set down her gear and start unpacking as if she couldn’t listen in on the annoyed conversation.
•drummer• "..listen… I know about as much as you do…. told we had to back up someone tonight that..…""
The second voice was the backup singer, but she wasn’t sure if he had been the drummer or keyboardist. His faded off voice told her she had been spotted…
• band leader • "… you have got to be shitting me… a chick?…""
Frontman was definitely not taking the hiccup in their routine very well.
Bessy was lifted and set on stage with a purposefully even smack. Head cocked ever so slightly as the reverberating sound told her where things were on the stage… the drum set… keyboard stand.. the distinct small shape of a guitar amp was missing so while he was complaining… he also hadn’t set up. Testament to the owner more than the frontman's "hospitality" most likely... she doubted many crossed Dempsey.. especially in his own establishment.
It was a good size stage, room for her to move without running into things, or fall off the damn edge.
The second case was set on the edge of the stage, clamps popped open before she drew out the Boss GT-10 powerhouse footboard. A high pitched whistle told her at least one of them knew what it was… the top of the line in guitar processing boards when used right, which most never did. Used right, one could make an electric sound like just about anything they wanted, including more than one guitar… a specialty of hers.
As far as she knew they weren’t made after 2012.. the company had vanished with the collapse of the world.
Hand laid on the stage and she hopped up, her height making the distance easy to cover but what said more about her was how silent the heavy boots hit the stage… she knew where her body was in space… all the space.
Walking towards the center with the footboard in one hand and Bessy in the other she began to meticulously reset the equipment. The mic stand was the first thing to move, off setting it so she wouldn’t be standing directing in front of the drummer. It was an arrogance a lot of frontmen were guilty of, but a good drummer was as important as the guitar and more importantly standing directly in front interrupted the flow of sound from the percussive instrument. She also yanked the mic up about another twelve inches… were all frontmen these days so short?
Based on the mic’s position she laid out the footboard, standing and testing distance several times, not to be sure it was in the right place so much as to make it feel natural to her where it was located, it had been a while since she had used the highly adaptive tool, she didn’t want to have to fumble for its position.
The amp was next and slowly the wires were all connected as she laid her hand over the floor jack. A faint frown drifted across her brow as one raised static against her sensitive fingertips, too volatile a current, unstable. She would need to mention that to Dempsey, she wouldn’t risk her gear on that, fortunately the other one was stable…
She heard a chair slide out and weight flopping into it…
The soft plea was from the back up singer still near the stage… which meant it was the disgruntled singer in the chair…
•band leader• "… what?... I just wanted to hear what they were putting on instead of me for the night.."
“For the night”…. the way it had hissed from his lips implied it would be for just the one night and had been purposefully said loud enough this time to be sure she could hear. Lips quirked upward as she knelt for her guitar case, long fingers sliding over the top before affectionately flicking the locks. The gem she pulled out was a bit scuffed, the creamy white base marked with “love”, the delicate vining under the strings that wisped up the neck very distinctive.
The guitar was Flo, not just any guitar, it had belonged to Steve Vai. Not a replica… not the Ibanez line of “inspired” guitars… this had belonged to.. been bled on by the man many had started calling one of the best in the first part of the century.
Strap was pulled over her head as she uncoiled the cable and plugged herself in. The faint smirk remained on her lips as she glanced to the cocky frontman who thought he had her all figured out… just a chick with a guitar…. nothing special.. chosen because she was a chick and no other reason.
Pulling on the vibrato arm several times to feel the tightness in her fingers she walked forward right off the stage, dropping silently to the floor below as the long cable let her walk out nearly ten feet before turning around. She was actually testing placement of the amp, wanting to hear it course out from the stage.
The glance in the direction of the moved chair was purposeful, a brow lifting over the blue rectangles that made the sightless eyes seem icy but living. Licking her right thumb she ran it down each string, listening to something they couldn’t hear to be sure the powerhouse was tuned before facing the stage, neck of the beast pulling nearly straight up as the first clear note magnetized the room with anticipation, the coarse sound flicking several times until it erupted into something deliciously old school.
Voodoo Child came spilling out across the dance floor, raw and sensual the way Jimi had always intended it. Her spine leaned back as muscles through her arms flicked to attention, an almost masculine confidence in the way she played that gave her an intriguingly sensual allure that was all her own.
•drummer• "…fuck me…."
The soft exclamation of surprise from the backup singer by the stage drew a lopsided grin to her lips. Fingers didn’t miss a beat as she walked back to the stage, the hop up fluid and effortless, height gauged perfectly before her foot slid the amp a bit further to the right. Icy eyes glancing over to the backup.
”…real men know when to pick up their sticks… either drop a pair or stay off my stage….. ”
The quiet words likely missed by the frontman but she heard the chuckle from the backup, clearly she had guessed correctly… he was the drummer. She listened as he hopped up and got himself behind his own gear, the sound enriching with the sudden addition of the rhythms he laid down. More important… he kept up…. really well.
Her back to the empty dance floor she jammed with him, the vocals left out for now as the past came alive with a rich sound and deft fingering that the band's lead guitarist had no hope of competing with.
She could feel the vibrations of the strings the way a sighted person never could, it gave her the ability to riff far faster and more complicated without the notes ever getting muddy.
It felt so damn good. His sticks keeping up even when she started to change it up, rocking the sound more and speeding it up only to drop into a real blues rhythm. She was testing him, seeing if he could pick up her cues and not lose the beat.
It only took a few more minutes for the keyboardists weight to thunk up on the stage, she glanced over and offered a nod as he switched the electric black and whites on and timed perfectly a pick up to join them.
Who needed drugs or alcohol….this was her ecstasy….
And it would only get better from here. Her soul had already been sold to the devil…. now it was time to show him what he had paid for.