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    C James
  • Author
  • 1,233 Words

Let the Music Play - 1. Death of a Dream

Chapter 1: Death of a Dream



The first sign of trouble came in the form of a muffled snap as the audio monitor, accompanied by its mounting bracket, came crashing down from the scaffolding. Brandon felt more than heard the sharp thud as it smashed onto the stage less than a dozen feet from where he stood. He turned in time to see the last skittering components of what, moments before, had been an expensive speaker come to a standstill. Sudden, overwhelming silence, the calm before the inevitable storm, was soon shattered by Gabe's grating voice bellowing through the P.A. system, "Get that thing fixed, now..."

After he'd cleaned up most of the speaker and its scattered debris, Brandon, barely stifling his rage, headed for the storeroom to retrieve a replacement, swearing under his breath, "If that asshole had listened to me, this never would have happened." He promised himself that this time, he would mount the speaker the right way, no matter what Gabe said.

Brandon hauled the replacement speaker into place, winched it up, bolting it to the frame with the required number of bolts. This time, to his relief and surprise, no one attempted to tell him how to do it. As he worked, Brandon wondered why his boss had it in for him to such a degree; Gabe had been riding him non-stop ever since Brandon had been hired as a roadie-tech and he couldn't figure out the reason for the malice. He knew he was qualified and did good work, so why all the hassle when even the slackers on the crew got a free ride? Brandon shook his head; Gabe had it in for him and him alone He tried damn hard to make his life hell, but the thought of quitting never crossed his mind because in every other way, this was his dream job. After all, how many other guys had the chance to be a roadie for a hot, up-and-coming group like Instinct?

Instinct had long been high on the list of Brandon's favorite groups, ever since he'd first heard them play at The Mason Jar in Phoenix on one of their very first gigs, even before their first album was a hit. He'd have never guessed, then, that he'd get to work for them, both on the road and at the studio in the Wilshire district of Los Angeles, where they were starting work on their second album.

Brandon flinched as Gabe's electronically amplified yell from the booth ended his reverie;"Clean up the damn mess you made with that speaker, sweep down the stage, then run all the sound checks. I want everything working right before you leave, or don't bother coming back."

Gabe exited the booth, turning to storm up the aisle towards the exit, passing between the rows of old, seldom-used theater seats, evidently leaving for the day. Left with only the echo of the slamming door for company, Brandon steamed, furious that he had once again been left to finish up alone. Gabe knew that the sound checks were far harder to do single-handed, so he seemed to take delight in making Brandon stay well past quitting time to do them alone; he also took care to ensure that Brandon wasn't paid for the overtime.

Glancing at his watch, Brandon saw that it was barely past noon. Anger welling up inside, he heard himself yell, "Son of a Bitch!" as he realized that Gabe was getting yet another half day off, with pay, at his expense. Grabbing a broom, he swept up the stage before beginning the laborious sound checks. He looked around the small auditorium; it was just a stage in what had once been an old movie theater, the seats still in place, the wooden stage a more recent addition. A sound booth near the stage containing the control boards was another modern construct, though much of the old theater remained as it was; faded elegance, well past its prime, the drab, faded red velour covering the walls, the carpet threadbare, for only what served the current purpose was given any care or thought. Converted to a new role as part of a recording studio, this auditorium was where groups rehearsed. At the moment, Instinct had the whole studio booked for three weeks in order to work on their new album and practice for their upcoming tour. He was eagerly anticipating the tour and hoped he could keep his job long enough to go... It was, truth be told, the only remaining thing in his life that he could look forward to, his sole remaining dream since the harsh reality of his isolation had dashed his formless hopes of discovery for a modeling career.

By mid-afternoon, still alone, he was working his way through the sound checks and needed to test the lead singer's mike, hook-ups, and settings. Walking onstage, he grabbed a guitar and a microphone. This, he reflected, was the part of his job that he loved the most: getting to sing on stage, where he could close his eyes and imagine himself as having an audience.

After setting up the mike and plugging in the Stratocaster, he jacked his earphones into the main output from the board, standing for a moment to prepare, as he heard the old air conditioning humming softly in the distance, that being the only sound, save for his own breathing and the quickening beat of his heart. Strumming his fingers over the strings, the slightest of smiles lit his face as he played the fast-paced opening riffs to one of Instinct's biggest hits, ‘Beyond', with a skill that belied his eighteen years.

Satisfied, he started over, brushing his sandy-blond hair from his face, launching himself passionately into the song, his mind filling the empty seats with the familiar, spectral audience.

Music had always been close to his soul, though it was even nearer now, for in these fleeting moments he could forget his former hopes and ambitions, dreams that had been lost, with so much else, one dark night in Phoenix.

Left with no home, no means of support, his friends mostly turned against him, his dreams thrown forever beyond his grasp, ended along with so much else that had once been his life.

Brandon closed his eyes tight as he sang, filling the words with feeling, giving them a depth drawn from his own pain, as he again reached out to his phantom audience, for sometimes, dreams die the hardest deaths of all.



© 2007 C James

feedback.gifPlease let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.

Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"



Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions.

Thanks also to Shadowgod, for beta reading, support and advice, and for putting up with me.

A big "thank you" to to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice, and to Captain Rick for Beta-reading and advice.

To Graeme; thank you for your wonderful idea, and your wise council and input at a very critical stage.

And to Bill, thank your for your expert advice.

Any remaining errors are mine alone.

© 2007 C James
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Chapter Comments

Gabe is a bitch. Brandon seems to have the umph to cope with him . Love that Brandon has a talent to replace his lost dreams. I can't wait to hear Brandon's backstory and how he came to be a roadie instead of a model

Looking forward to reading more.

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CJ, you just made my day! I am certain this story will be as captivating as Circumnavigation!

Your greatest fan in Darkest Africa


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It's about damn time!


You do know that we missed you! The opening was a good hook and as usual I'll be following.

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Great second chapter, C James!


I'm curious to find out about Brandon's past.


Gabe sounds like such an ass.


I'm looking forward to the next chapter. :)

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Help me, CJ. I know I've read this story before. Haven't I? It was a great read the first time (I read it the first time right after I finished For the Love), and I'm actually looking forward to it again. But please tell I'm not crazy about this.

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  • Site Administrator

I forgot Gabe and how much of an ass he is :P


Great development of Brandon and looking forward to what his past is and where he is going to go. Hopefully not fired like Gabe wants him to be.

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Love the disclaimer at the start.

Regards Q

Edited by quokka
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As I commented on the prologue, I must have skipped it the first time around, because this is the first chapter I remember reading.  It hooked me instantly.  Brandon is such a good guy, you really want him to overcome the harshness of his circumstances and to triumph over Gabe.

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