Mike Vranken stood, knocking over his stool. Better that, he thought, than one of the drums, or worse, the high hat again. He stretched his arms over his head and arched his back. After righting the stool, he stood beside it. His body ached, objecting to the hard push of practicing new songs for three hours.
“Let’s call it,” Jon said. He pulled the strap of his guitar over his head and set the instrument in its case.
“It’s not like he’s going to show,” Beryl added. She strummed her bass to accentuate her fury with their singer.
Mike shrugged and checked his phone again. No messages. “I don’t know what he’s up to. I reminded him this morning–”
“I don’t really give a fuck, Mike.” Beryl stripped out of her instrument and left it leaning against an amp. “What is it? He’s suddenly too good to practice?”
Mike shrugged. “He’s no more pretentious than usual.”
She barked a sardonic laugh. “Is it the new lover then?”
Jon’s eyebrow shot up. Mike shook his head, silently begging that Jon not press that one further.
“You didn’t know?” She smirked. She knew he didn’t. Or thought she did anyway. “Crandall’s running around with some new… I don’t know. Some new skank.”
“As opposed to the old skank,” Jon muttered.
Mike cringed. Sure, Beryl was ticked off enough not to catch his not quite under his breath comment, but if she did, he’d be hurting. Beryl and Crandall had been on again and off again – more the latter than the former – for the entire time Crandall had been singing for Inertia Stand. That is, until about a month ago.
“Well if he’s missing practice just to get laid, then–”
Beryl interrupted Mike. “Of course he is. What else could he be doing?”
With a resentful snort, Mike rattled off a few things in his head, but she’d never hear any of them. Vampire hunters were more of a myth than the vampires themselves. People wanted to believe in vampires nowadays, but that fascination did not extend to those that would police their bloody, vicious activities.
“Yep, I’m done.” Mike rolled his head around on his shoulders, his neck popping drove Beryl away like garlic absolutely wouldn’t do to a real life vampire.
Once Beryl stormed off and Mike started packing up his gear for tomorrow’s show, Jon sidled up to him looking like the kid who found the Christmas present stash during Thanksgiving weekend.
“What’s up, man?” Mike focused on his equipment, but he knew that wouldn’t bother Jon.
“I got a message from Blood Moon. They have a last minute cancellation for Saturday.”
Mike tensed and almost dropped his snare.
“I figured as much,” Jon said, not missing a thing left unsaid. “But I couldn’t just delete it without asking.”
“I told you Crandall got the shit kicked out of him that night.”
“Yep, but still. I know how much he loves to perform, so…”
“Yeah.” Mike sighed and rubbed his eyes. If Crandall found out about the offer, he’d raise holy Hell to go – vampire audience or not. “Let’s pretend you never heard the message. Don’t call back, just don’t respond at all.”
Jon nodded and then shrugged one shoulder. “It might’ve been a one-time incident.”
“Not that crowd.”
With another nod, Jon reluctantly dropped the subject and returned to his own equipment, packing up his guitar with the care a father would take with his first newborn.
Mike checked his phone again. Crandall was always connected, yet he hadn’t answered one call, text, or voice mail. He wasn’t with a new skank as Beryl so eloquently put it, but Mike sure as Hell wouldn’t correct her assumptions. For now, let her say what she wanted. It would be easier for everyone involved. He knew who Crandall was sleeping with and that person did not inspired him to miss a practice. Never would.
His phone vibrated making Mike jump out of his thoughts and back to reality. With a quick glance at the screen, he waved the phone at Jon and ducked out the door. He hit accept as he lifted the phone to his ear. “Vranken.”
“You might want to come down here.”
“I can be there in twenty. What’s up, Dragon?” Mike yanked the door of his Mustang open, mentally reminding himself to do something about the stiff hinges on the driver’s side. He didn’t need Dragon’s answer. When Dragon called, Mike responded. Life or death. Living or immortal.
Up Next: The Heart