Perspiration shone on his brow, the bass guitar magic in his hands. Even though Rob never played bass on stage anymore,
the bass guitar remained his favorite instrument. Sometimes, Rob didn't want to be front and center, and bass players could stay out of the spotlight.
On these nights, he would switch out his guitar with a band member. They would hand him their bass or the lead guitar, or he would sit at the piano and play along. Sometimes, he
got on the drums, and the audience went wild.
The night was on fire, and even though he hated for it to end, exhaustion had been setting in for some time. When he left the stage, the crowd screamed for more. Rob did
three encores before his fans let him go.
Someone put the A/C down to sixty degrees, so the dressing room was nice and cool. Rob peeled off his shirt, tossing it on the vanity as he strolled through the door. He ran his hands
through his saturated hair. His heart still banged a rhythm in his chest. He took deep breaths to slow it down. He savored the high from the performance, but he needed something to bring him
"D!" he shouted.
"D!" Fuck. Rob hoisted himself from the chair. There had to be a bottle here. D always made sure to keep one stored away no matter where they played.
He found it in one of the cabinets, hidden in a paper bag behind the glasses. Rob pulled the whiskey bottle from the sack and smiled.
"Hello, lovey." His grin widened, and he put the bottle to his lips, giving it a big kiss. "Nice to see you. Come with me. Let's party."
Tucking the bottle under his arm, he grabbed a glass from the cabinet and, taking both to the overstuffed chair, he sank into it.
He sat still for a moment, his eyes closed. His ears rang from the loud music and his eyes burned. He blinked rapidly. Then he opened the bottle and poured the whiskey into the glass.
He took a long drink, letting his head rest against the chair, as he felt the liquor burn his throat down to his stomach. He never bothered with the Coke anymore.
He pulled his phone from his pocket and pulled up the contacts. The conversation with D made him think about Lucy. He missed her. He needed to keep trying to reach her. But every
time he tried, all he got was her voicemail. He left so many messages already. One more wouldn't hurt.
He pressed the button for her number. It rang several times, and then her voice came on.
"Hi, this is Lucy. I'm in the shower, or I have company. (a light laugh) Just kidding. Leave a message."
He waited for the beep. "Lucy, it's me again. I miss you. And I'm so worried about you. Please, get in touch with me. I love you, babe."
Rob ended the call and glanced up.
Rob didn’t see Caleb in the chair by the door when he came into the room.
Caleb stood, walked over to Rob, his arms held out.
Rob hesitated, the shock of seeing his brother plain on his face. Then the anger set in. Caleb sat there and spied on him, not saying a word. "What are you doing here?" He stood
motionless, the whiskey bottle still in his hand.
"Can't I come to visit my little brother, who's a big star now?" Caleb asked, his hands dropping to his sides.
"You hate rock music, so why are you here? Are the girls alright?"
"The girls are fine. Why don't we sit down?"
Rob held out the bottle, offering his brother a drink, which Caleb declined.
"That stuff's no good for you, Rob, you know that."
"You didn't come here to lecture me about my drinking.” Rob tipped the bottle again. The whiskey burned his throat.
"Jacob and Luke send their regards. We were all surprised when you chose music as a career."
Rob laughed. "You weren't the only one," he said. "It was because of desperation, not want.
"Don't think you do, Caleb. But why didn't they come with you?"
"They're with Dad."
Rob wanted to ask about his father, but his pride kept him silent.
"Dad's sick, Rob." Caleb volunteered instead.
"So, where's his cunt of a wife? Is she still alive?"
"Oh Rob, for goodness sake! Please don't use that kind of language around me. It's disgusting and vulgar."
"You shouldn't think of her that way. The woman raised you after Mum died, for Pete's sake."
"She did more than that," Rob mumbled, raising the bottle to his lips.
Caleb sat quietly for a moment, then nodded. "We heard all about it, Rob."
Rob's eyes widened, and he sat up straighter, staring at his brother. "What do you mean, we heard all about it? he asked. "What did you hear and who from who?"
"It was a terrible thing you did, Rob, but you can be forgiven."
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Rob jumped to his feet, his face red with anger. "How could you say that?" He stopped. "You have no idea, do you?"
Rob's vision blurred. He sank back into the chair. His voice was low when he said, "You don't know fucking shit, Caleb. Nada. Nothing."
Caleb stood. "Let's pray together, brother."
Rob struggled to his feet and pointed at the door. "Get out."
"Rob, please, you need Jesus."
"I don't need Jesus or anyone else!" Rob screamed. "Where the fuck was Jesus when this happened, Caleb? Where were you when I needed you? You have no
idea what I've gone through! Get out and leave me alone. The same goes for Jacob and Luke, too. I don't need you sonofabitches preaching at me.”
“Rob.” Caleb reached out his hand.
"Get out!" Rob screamed. He kept screaming after his brother walked out the door. He sank to his knees, his voice growing weaker. "Get out! Get out!"
He was still screaming when D's strong arms cradled him. "He's gone, Rob. It's alright now."
"It's not," Rob cried softly. "They think it was me." He looked up at D with an incredulous stare before collapsing completely.
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