Sexualized account of, well, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, really. In any event, late '60s/early '70s rock gods.
This page copyright © 2009 Olympia Press.
Due to the spaciousness of the place, the frantic backstage activity appeared to be well-channeled, almost orderly. While the musicians smoked, tuned their instruments, or talked to the few groupies who had somehow gained admission to the promised land, six burly stagehands shoved the heavy amplifiers into position on the revolving stage. Electricians scurried around checking and rechecking each connection of the hundreds of yards of cable that lay in apparent disorder everywhere. Up above, suspended from the flies in a cage of disconcerting delicacy, the light show technicians worked at their projectors, transforming the blue rear-projection screen that separated the performers on stage from the activity behind them into a field of blossoming color. It was Saturday night, showtime at the Nova Auditorium.
Peter sat apart from the hub of activity, perched casually on a broken amplifier, dead wreckage left behind by some earlier group. He watched without comment as one of the stagehands fastened the floor mike in front of his bass drum, and then turned back to his tarot cards, an opening night gift from Rita. Turning the pasteboard rectangles over in his hands, he studied the color and design of each one. He didn't know how to read them and had no real intention to learn, but they were pretty and it was a way to loll time. The second group had just gone onstage. Peter had over an hour to waste.
When the stagehand had finished adjusting his drum set Peter put the cards away, pulled the drumsticks from beneath his belt and walked onto the huge turntable. He squatted onto his stool and tapped the head of each drum experimentally to make sure they were tight enough.
“Everything okay?” the stagehand asked.
Peter squinted critically. “The floor torn is too high.” The stagehand plucked a small tool out of his pocket and advanced on the offending instrument Peter waved him away and began to fidget with the drum himself. The stagehand stood by watching, anxious to be of help.
“Nervous?” he asked.
“We've played in public before,” the drummer answered without looking up.
“Not here,” the stagehand countered. “The Nova is big time.”
“Big deal,” a third voice interjected. Peter glanced up from his work to see the bearlike figure of Monster, born Ronald Avrams, unpacking his guitar.
“No nerves, Monster?”
“All guts,” the big man answered. The group's lead guitarist, Monster, was the one who named the quintet Triphammer. It was he who, together with Peter, had organized and directed the group through the early, lean times. For two years Triphammer had played bars, dances, and teen fairs for food money. Now, with an album selling well and concert dates across the country, things were looking better for them. Holding the guitar lovingly in his huge paws, Monster laid it reverently atop the bank of amplifiers and turned to Peter.
“Let's cop a smoke,” he suggested, patting his pocket significantly.
Peter gave the drum a tap and, apparently happy with the timbre, laid the sticks aside and stood up. “All right, let's.”
Rita was in the shower when she heard the door bang shut, heralding Mark's return. Letting the waters rinse her slender body one final time, she twisted the faucet off and stepped out of the stall. Although the hotel was well-heated, the sudden step from the steaming shower to the dry half of the bathroom chilled her, and she hurriedly wrapped herself in a thick terry bathtowel emblazoned with the hotel's name and coat of arms. Stripping off her shower cap, Rita stepped into the bedroom.
Mark was loading the bed down with packages of various sizes. Seeing her enter, he stopped arranging the packages and looked at her.
“Nice,” he said appreciatively, walking over to her and kissing her lightly on the neck. Rita snuggled against his breast gratefully, dampening his shirt slightly.
“How much time have we got?”
Mark released her and returned to the bed, where he began transferring his purchases from the mattress to the top of the bureau. “A little over an hour,” he answered carelessly. “I suppose that you ought to start getting ready.”
“I guess,” Rita sighed.
“What's the matter, nervous?” “No. I'm okay.”
Mark looked at her critically. The pipes are all right, aren't they?” he asked. Rita's singing, as a number of reviewers had already pointed out, was Triphammer's strongest point, and Mark was a little frightened at the possibility that Rita might not be feeling well. At this point, a bad concert could do irreparable damage to the group.
Rita dispelled his concern with an easy, bubbling laugh. “It's not that,” she explained. “I feel great, really great. There's just no way we can miss tonight, so rest your head.”
Mark heard her words clearly, but there was a tone to her voice that alerted him and told him to disregard her statements. After two years of living with her, Mark had come to know each of Rita's moods intimately, but she sounded different to him this time. He was anxious to know what was troubling her, but his instinct told him to wait, to let her tell him in her own time.
“Okay,” he replied. “We're a sure hit, then. You better start getting ready.”
“I thought you said we have better than an hour.”
Mark stripped off his wet shirt, tossed it on the bed and started towards the closet for a fresh one. “We do.”
“In that case,” Rita purred, placing herself between him and the closet, “what's the hurry?” She touched his chest lightly, letting her damp fingers trace little trails of coolness over the rough, hairy surface. Mark looked down into her happy eyes and smiled through his beard.
Rita slid her cool hands to Mark's waist and began to struggle with the heavy buckle of his belt. He let her work fruitlessly for a few moments before lowering his own hands and skillfully guiding her through the movements. The belt out of the way, she hurriedly applied herself to his fly. Mark's pants fell to the floor. Rita sucked her breath in sharply as her eyes lit on the healthy bulge of his crotch.
“You look anxious,” Mark observed, smiling slightly and slipping his feet out of his boots.
“Hurry up!” The pitch of Rita's voice revealed her growing urgency. She stepped back and let the towel drop to the carpet In spite of their long and unusual relationship, the sight of Rita naked never failed to excite Mark. Each flowing curve of her strong, slightly tanned body complemented the others. Her breasts were small and very solid; they swung upward in a natural curve that terminated in small, dark nipples. It was easy to see why Rita never wore—didn't own—a bra. Her slender body was its own support. Beneath her flat stomach, her dark pubic thatch spread over her skin in tight glistening ringlets.
Mark shrugged out of his underwear hastily and leaped towards her instantly. His muscular arms closed around her waist and he tossed her effortlessly onto the bed. Instead of following her at once, Mark paused to admire the sight of her nude body stretched out on the snowy sheets. Her hair lay in disarray on the pillow, forming a sort of halo around her smiling face. At that moment, Mark considered her to be more beautiful than any time since he had known her. Still smiling, Rita opened her legs. Through the tangle of jet, Mark saw the pink cleft opening for him, beckoning to him.
“Hurry,” her lips said soundlessly.
The bedsprings shrieked their protest as Mark threw himself atop her. He was more excited than he realized, and his hips began to thrust involuntarily at the first touch of her cool, still-moist flesh. The head of his rigid weapon banged ineffectually against the interior of her soft thighs a few times before he felt her hand close around the throbbing shaft and guide it to her. The throbbing head of his weapon opened her slick labia smoothly, and Rita's breath became heavy as she felt the thick intruder slide into her hungry cunt.
“Work me,” she hissed, digging her nails into his shoulders. “Break me.” Still digging at his back with her nails, the frantic girl curled her legs around his hips and pulled herself still further onto his conquering phallus.
With mind-snapping exactness, Mark began a slow in-and-out motion. Her moist opening rippled with each new invasion. Each time he thrust into her, a little squeak of need escaped her lips and her nails carved fresh trails over his back. He was lost between the warmth of her cunt and the delicious pain that her hands gave him. His thrusts became more violent, until his steely engine was hammering into her with the fury of a jackhammer. Her little sighs stopped, replaced by frantic gasps for air and moaning pleas for more.
“Please... she begged. Then her orgasm shook her entire frame. As she came, Mark stabbed his pulsing manhood into her depths. He felt her crotch mesh with his own. Rita's hands fell to his buttocks and squeezed, just as her oozing cunt contracted around his prick.
With a groan of gratitude and happiness, Mark came, bathing her interior with his hot fluid. Just as he thought he was done, Rita's nails sank painfully into his ass and a fresh outpouring splashed into her, completing her orgasm as well as his. Exhausted, Mark collapsed atop Rita's sweating form. He stayed there until he felt himself go soft inside her. Everything was right. In the street below, a police car wailed by.
After a few minutes, Mark reluctantly dragged himself out of bed and began to dress for the evening's concert Rita remained on the bed and watched him with smiling eyes as he opened the closet and studied each piece of clothing critically before finally settling on a pair of striped bells and a lace body shirt. “Mark,” she said softly as he slipped into the pants, “can we talk?”
Mark turned and faced her. “Sure,” he answered, “but you'd better start getting ready. There's not much time left.” He gestured towards the clock.
Rita didn't move. “It won't take long,” she said. There was something in her voice that bothered Mark. Laying the shirt over a chair, he returned to the bed and sat down.
“It's about us,” she said.
“What about us?”
“How long have we been together?”
Mark frowned. There was something coming, and with their first major engagement only half an hour away he could do without surprises. “Two years, you know that Can't this wait until later?”
“I'd rather it didn't.”
Mark didn't answer.
“Two years together,” Rita reminisced aloud. “Two free years.” Though they lived together, the couple adhered strictly to a principle of non-jealousy. Though they were, for all appearances, a married couple, each was free to carry on as many affairs as desired. No restrictions.
“It's not going to change, is it?”
Mark looked puzzled.
“I mean, I know we've got to worry about image and everything now, but I don't want it if it's going to start changing things.”
Mark laughed out loud. Standing, he crossed to where his shirt lay, picked it up and put it on. “Is that all that's bothering you?” he chuckled. Buttoning the short, he went back to the bed and kissed Rita lightly. “Nothing changes,” he promised, still a little amused by her assumption that with success come limitations. “Now get moving! We've got to run.”
Smiling, Rita bounded out of bed and began to dress. As they left the room for the theatre, she caught Mark by the arm. “Thank you,” she whispered.
In the alley behind the Nova Auditorium, Peter and Monster leaned casually against the brick wall, passing a smoldering joint back and forth and trying to see the stars through the polluted New York air. An equipment van was backed up to an exit between them and the street. Thus shielded from prying eyes, the two men smoked and passed the joint openly. The cool night air flowed over them softly and as the grass disappeared both grew more comfortable. Peter even found himself half-liking the city, which ordinarily depressed him.
“Nice night,” Monster observed.
Peter's beatific smile widened. “Mmmm. Probably hot inside, though.”
“If it ain't, it will be.”
There didn't seem to be any point to continuing the conversation, so both drifted off into their private dreams. Monster quietly hummed an old Beatles tune; Peter pulled an harmonica out of his pocket and joined in.
“You can't see me,” a voice rumbled out of the darkness. Both men stiffened, though they recognized the voice.
“Show me yo' teef, so's I knows where you is,” Monster responded, doing his best to affect a Negro accent. “No way,” the voice answered. “You white.”
“We ain't white, we're liberals.”
Sam, the group's bassist ambled out of the shadows at the end of the alley. In an age of black-is-beautiful, Sam could be considered living proof of that slogan. He was tall—nearly six feet four in his bare feet—slender, and well muscled. His skin was ebony, and glistened in the sunlight like onyx, and he moved with the sureness and easy grace of a cat, gliding rather than walking. He was the newest member of Triphammer, having been with them less than a year, but his late joining had had no effect on his relationship with any of the other members. He just fit in, as Rita expressed it.
“We now have a quorum,” he observed lazily, leaning against the wall next to Peter. “Rita and Mark here yet?”
Monster lit a fresh joint and handed it to Sam, who took it eagerly, grinning his thanks. “Haven't seen them.”
“Only fifteen minutes left,” Peter observed, “they better hurry up.”
As he spoke, Peter heard Rita's voice asking one of the equipment handlers loading the van where he was. He yelled out her name, and a few seconds later she and Mark appeared in the alley. Sam extended his hand towards them, offering the joint, but both waved it away.
“What are you smoking for?” Mark asked anxiously. “We've got to go on in fifteen minutes.”
“I said it first,” Peter laughed.
“Nerve medicine,” Monster offered, snatching the joint from Sam. “Putting the butterflies to sleep.” Mark grunted his disapproval but said no more about the matter. His nerves were beginning to tingle, and he tapped his foot impatiently as he waited for the others to finish the grass. A wave of applause from inside told them that the second band had finished, and they marched inside toward the stage.
Their first number was a long blues piece. It had been chosen, over Peter's ardent objections, because it built slowly, allowing each member of the band to have the spotlight for a few seconds. Sam went onstage first While the audience applauded, he picked up his bass and began to thump out a very heavy, basic bottom. Peter was next. He stood just offstage and let Sam work for a little while, and then walked out quickly, picked up his sticks and joined Sam, working very lightly on the cymbals at first then moving to the snare and finally on to the bass drum and tom-tom. Mark was next his guitar augmenting and softening the relentless pounding of the others. When Monster entered, the evening really started. Smiling at the crowd, his head rolling from side to side, the big man touched the guitar that in his hands seemed tiny and insignificant and brought it all together. While he smiled, his thick fingers flashed and the instrument began to snarl at the crowd. Within a few moments, Monster's shrieking, convoluted riffs had the audience moving in their seats. In the space in front of the stage, a handful of dancers were joined by others until the whole area was filled. While his guitar fired a sharp line at the dancers, Monster turned towards the others and grinned. “Beautiful,” his eyes seemed to say.
Rita was the icing on the cake. Striding on to the stage boldly, she snatched the microphone from its stand and howled at the audience. They loved it. The band had set the crowd up, and Rita laid them down. Twisting each word of the song until it seemed as though it would shatter before leaving her throat, hair and beads flailing wildly, Rita conquered them. From the corner of her eye she saw Bob Green, Nova's owner, in the wing, moving happily in time with the music. She looked at Monster.
“Beautiful,” he shouted.
The offices of Nova Enterprises occupied the floor over the auditorium. The approach was nondescript. The inadequate lighting in the stairway and hall did little to hide the cracked and peeling paint and broken floor tiles. Most of the group, disturbed at being expected at ten in the morning, grumbled as they mounted the stairs and started down the corridor towards Bob Green's office. The common feeling seemed to be that it was bad enough to have to go anywhere before noon, and to have to leave their comfortable hotel to go to the run-down offices was depressing. Were it not for the fact that the occasion was the signing of a contract for a return appearance at the Nova, they probably would have turned back.
Sam, however, was cheerful in spite of their surroundings. Claiming the condition of the place reminded him of his childhood, he pointed out that only a very good businessman could afford to locate his offices in such a dump. “You can count on it,” he gushed enthusiastically. “Some dude's on the make, he needs a showy office. It's like he sayin', 'Look here, I got all this cause I'm sharp. I'm good. You best do business with me.' But a man who got it made already can get away with a trap like this. He don't need to impress nobody.”
“Judging from the looks of this place, then,” Mark offered, “I'd say Green has got the world by the balls.” Rita laughed and the company's spirits began to rise.
The sign on the door said:
ROBERT GREEN, PRESIDENT.
Monster listened at the door for a moment before twisting the knob and shoving the door open. The office was brightly fit and in noticeably better repair than its approach. Not that it was luxurious, it wasn't, but the walls were freshly painted in bright colors, the floor was waxed and polished, and the furniture, though starkly utilitarian, was new. In all, the place gave the impression of being well planned and well cared for.
Monster entered the room slowly, his eyes trying to find Green among the gaggle of young employees who hurried around from desk to desk looking serious enough for government employees. He could locate him nowhere. He moved a step or two further into the room before being noticed by one of the workers. She got up immediately and hurried over to him.
“You're Mr. Avrams, aren't you?” the girl asked.
From the doorway, Peter laughed to hear Monster addressed so respectfully. Beside him, her arm curled possessively around his waist, was a girl of seventeen whom he had met the day before.
“Mr. Avrams, that's right,” Monster replied. “We...”
“I know,” the girl snapped. “Mr. Green is expecting you. Follow me, please.”
“With pleasure,” Monster answered with exaggerated politeness. The girl turned and started off. The group and Peter's groupie followed silently. She led them to a door at the rear of the room, opened it, and stepped aside.
“Come in,” Green cried enthusiastically. He half stood as they filed into the office and found chairs. “Sit down anywhere.”
They did as requested, Monster and Mark taking the chairs nearest to Green's desk. Peter and Wendy, the groupie, found an out of the way corner and sat there. Beyond collecting his share of the profits, Peter was bored by business, and had come to the meeting more to please the others than to argue about contracts. While the rest of the group got settled down for the meeting, he looked around the office. Upon meeting Green a few days earlier, he found the rock tycoon rather dull. He guessed at that time that if Green hadn't made his money in the music industry, he would have made it in socks, kitchen appliances, or something equally prosaic. The office strengthened his conviction that Green was more businessman than cultural revolutionary, as a newspaper columnist had referred to him once. As in the larger front office, everything was plainly practical, and were it not for the huge pile of records on the desk, the stereo, and the framed pictures of some of the people who had appeared at the Nova, the cubicle could just have easily belonged to a clothier or sausage salesman. Peter thought it all rather depressing.
“Before we get started,” Green said, “I'd like you to know that from what my people have been able to find out, the concert Saturday was an even bigger hit than we thought. If you can follow it up, you could end up as big as”—he paused and looked directly at Rita—“as big as, oh, Joplin.”
Monster nodded his head and looked impressed.
“Of course, there's no guarantee, but all the signs are present,” Green continued, his eyes still on Rita. “You can count on a good tour, if you keep moving fast. Word travels fast in this business.”
“We got a couple calls this morning,” Mark admitted.
“See. You do well here, or at the Fillmore or one of the West Coast halls and it's only a matter of hours before the word's all over.”
“Been a long time coming,” Monster mumbled.
“It'll be a long time gone, too,” Green replied. “Take my advice. Keep moving, play as many dates in as many places as you can. Nothing's permanent. Get your money while the getting's good.” His voice, without being really hard, had a firmness that could be taken for authority, and his movements too had a certain directness and purpose. Little by little, Rita felt herself becoming interested in the man.
“Well, let's get the business over with,” Mark suggested. Green nodded and pulled a sheaf of contracts from his desk. He rifled through them until he found the correct bundle, and put the rest away.
“It's the standard form,” he said, handing a copy to Monster. “You can read it over if you like.”
“We like,” Mark answered, moving his chair closer to Monster's and reading over the bigger man's shoulder. Though they had a manager, the band handled some of their financial affairs themselves, both Monster and Mark being suspicious types when it came to money. While they silently went over the contract line by line, Green looked back to Rita and smiled. Rita smiled back.
“You made a mistake, here,” Mark pronounced suddenly, trying to sound as nice as possible.
“Here.” Mark shoved the contract over to Green. His finger rested on the amount they were to be paid.
“No mistake,” Green answered simply. “It's the same as you got for Saturday's performance.”
“That's just it,” Mark snapped.
“Green smiled. “You want more, is that it?”
“No way. One performance can put the public on to you, but it doesn't make you superstars overnight. The price stands.” Listening to him, Rita noticed that though he didn't raise his voice, he sounded sharper than before.
“We've got other offers already,” Mark reminded him.
“Take them,” Green responded quickly. “Remember, though, another night here cant hurt you, and the price is fair, even if you think otherwise. Future concerts, of course, are negotiable.” As Green's voice rambled on, pointing out the advantages of signing the contract, Rita felt her interest in the man growing. She had, naturally, dealt with businessmen before, but something about Green seemed different. He seemed both hard and soft at the same time. She was almost certain that he could be dangerous, and she was beginning to think that he'd be good in bed.
“Oh, sign the goddamned thing,” she burst out suddenly, “all this talk is giving me a headache.”
Mark and Monster conferred with each other and finally agreed to accept the job for the price offered. Neither seemed very happy about it Green smiled, but offered no further sigh that he was pleased with the arrangements. He took the papers silently, added his signature to one copy, and handed it to Mark.
“Well,” he said, rising, “see you in three weeks, then.”
“Right,” Sam said, speaking for the first time since entering the office. “Now I gotta split. Got some people to see.” He turned and was out of the office before anyone could ask him his destination.
The business out of the way, Green came out from behind the desk. He seemed friendlier, more at ease than he had been earlier. “Anybody care for a drink?” he asked.
“Me,” Rita piped up.
“No thanks,” Monster demurred. “I have to meet someone at the hotel.”
“We'll go along with you,” Peter announced from his corner. He stood and slipped his arm around Wendy. Monster nodded to Green and led Peter, Wendy and Mark, who was rereading the contract and frowning, out of the office.
“Let's go somewhere,” Rita suggested as soon as the others were gone. “Somewhere expensive. I want you to treat me like a star.”
Smiling, Green reached for his coat.
Leaving Monster and Mark at the hotel bar, Peter led Wendy upstairs and to his room. He didn't speak to her, either in the elevator or as they walked down the long wide corridor to the room, but simply steered her by gentle pressure on her arm. His silence, however, did nothing to tone down Wendy's exuberance, which had been growing steadily since leaving Green's office. She had been thrilled, in the first place, when she met him quite by accident the previous day. When he asked her to come to the hotel the next morning, she was ecstatic, and now...