Friday, March 30, 2012

Platinum

Posted just on the edge of Friday/Saturday, but it's still good. Closed on a house today and almost forgot about this. Please let me know what you think, and as always, feel free to be extra stabby with your critiques. It's the only way to help both of us grow.



Mark ripped the cable from Thom’s guitar. The amplifier crackled with static followed by a droning hum.
“What was that for?”
“You’re off beat again.”
Thom took a seat on the old, beat up couch, sinking deep into the cushions. “I can’t take this anymore. I don’t get what you want. I was playing to the clicks...I don’t even know where to begin.”
“It wasn't much, but I heard it. The only reason I'm bringing this up is because we should strive towards perfection.” said Mark. “Not silver level perfection, not gold level perfection, but--”
“Platinum. I get it. You’ve told us a hundred times.”
“Then why do you look so confused?”
“How come you don’t get that we’re humans? You know, real life musicians. We’re not robots. If you need perfection every single time to the 256th of a beat, perhaps you should consider a career in techno.”
“That’s not what I expect and you know it. I want us to strive towards that level of excellence, but expect...no.”
Thom lifted his guitar over his head, laying it on his lap. He ran his swollen fingers gently across the strings, pressing them down just enough to touch the fretboard, but the guitar remained silent.
“You could have fooled me with that whole 'platinum' perfection thing and the way you’ve treated all of us. And if this isn’t going to change at all, let me know because there are plenty of things I’d rather spend my time on.”
“Are you...you’re not thinking of leaving, are you?” asked Mark.
“The other guys and me, all of us, we’ve talked about it for a while. We’re at our breaking point. This was supposed to be fun. What happened to that?”
“I told you. The fun will come. But we have to make it first.”
“How’s that going to happen when the entire band dreads coming to rehearsal, studio sessions, and even shows?” Thom said. "The reason we sound so flat half the time is because we’re so afraid to make a mistake that we can’t put any life into the songs. This isn’t healthy.”
“Then maybe you should leave. If playing the songs the way they were written is too hard for you, perhaps you’re in the wrong band. I need people who can play.”
Thom pressed his lips up against his teeth and sucked in, making the sound of a balloon when air is slowly let out. He stood up, picked up his guitar, and packed it away. “I can play. You know I can play. But it won’t be with you anymore. It’s not worth it.”
“Give me back my key.” Mark held out his hand like a teacher demanding a student give up a toy they’ve been hiding.
“I’m gonna get the truck tomorrow so I can get my amp out of here. Then you can have your fucking key.” Thom picked up his guitar case and left the room, flipping Mark the bird as he turned the corner.

7 comments:

Larry Kollar March 30, 2012 at 10:55 PM  

My son is a lot like Mark — driven to perfection, to the point of being a prima donna. Neither one of them has yet learned that perfect is the mortal enemy of good enough. And this story was good enough — you kept it totally fucking real.

Matt Merritt March 30, 2012 at 11:29 PM  

Good stuff as usual! I like the slice of life stuff a lot. It's always a great test to make you characters and their interactions carry the story instead of a plot twist or graphic scene.

I really liked this: "Thom lifted his guitar over his head, laying it on his lap. He ran his swollen fingers gently across the strings, pressing them down just enough to touch the fretboard, but the guitar remained silent."

My only suggestion would be to build the anger. They were both pretty calm up until the end. Subtle escalations would give the story more momentum.

Thanks for the good read!

Sulci Collective March 31, 2012 at 7:42 AM  

this line made me laugh: "If you need perfection every single time to the 256th of a beat, perhaps you should consider a career in techno.” That was excellent.

The line "making a sound like a balloon" is clumsy. Simpler to say "sounding like a deflating balloon" although to be honest I don't think it's a great simile anyway. They're rock and rollers, they must be able to come up with better aural similes! Even a Whoopee Cushion would be better, if a bit slapstick!

marc nash

Helen March 31, 2012 at 9:50 PM  

I don't blame Tom for leaving, all the fun of playing has gone out of the band. Nice slice of life, noting that someone who strives for perfection often forgets how to enjoy what it is they are doing.

I agree with Marc that line "Thom pressed his lips up against his teeth and sucked in, making the sound of a balloon when air is slowly let out. " is clumsy, may you could blowing out the air slowly.

PS: Can I request the submit to comments by email button to reappear again pleeeze ^_^

Helen March 31, 2012 at 9:52 PM  

Oops may you should read maybe you could say..

Icy Sedgwick April 5, 2012 at 10:25 AM  

I've encountered people like this and you just want to headbutt them. Or maybe that's just me. Still, I really liked this! Good balance of dialogue and action, and it felt really "real".

Michael Tate April 6, 2012 at 6:31 PM  

Larry: Thanks. I feel I'm way too much like Mark a lot of the time, but glad this was was alright :)

Matt: Thanks for the suggestion. I think in hindsight you're right about the scaling issue there. Great point!

Marc: Thanks for the comments. I was trying to work on my metaphors/similes which I'm not very good at. So hopefully after a good 3 or 5 hundred more duds I start to get some winners :)

Helen: Thanks for the comments and with the balloon thing, see my comments above.

Icy: Thanks again for your comments. I'd wager they've headbutted before. :)

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