We were standing on the corner of Grant and 23rd when this guy came sidling up to us. He had on a long skeezy coat and was talking out of the corner of his mouth in that mumble where you can’t tell if he wants to beg a ride or a dollar or sell you drugs or what. His had a lumpy scarf wrapped around most of his face and under it, he could have been twenty-eight or thirty-five or sixty.
My brother Jack said, “Is it sold out?” and after he said that, I could kind of backtrack the guy’s mumble and break it into words.
Tickets. The guy was holding a pair of show tickets. They glowed paper-white under the streetlights. You boys need tickets?
I shook my head, but Jack was already digging around in his pockets, searching for his wallet.
“No!” I said, and I said it fast and loud, grabbing for his elbow like that might actually stop him from doing whatever the hell he wanted.
Jack only laughed and pulled his arm out of my hand. “Hey, what’s the problem? You love Giantkiller, right? And you’ve been yowling all day about your stupid guitar, so this makes us square.”
I just looked at him. Square would be my Fender back.
Square would be if I could have a new brother.
He looked right at me, smiling in the way that when we were little always meant he was about to hold me down in the swimming pool or take my candy bar or lock me in the basement. “Acting like a whiny little bitch isn’t going to get your guitar back.”
There was an empty Schlitz can lying in the middle of the sidewalk and I kicked it hard so it went bouncing along the gutter and down into the storm drain. “If you’d have just stuck to pawning your own shit, I wouldn’t need to get it back. And yeah, I liked Giantkiller in the eighth grade. ”
Jack shrugged and smiled like none of that even made a difference. He handed the guy a couple of twenties and punched me on the arm. “Stop moaning about the guitar. We’ll get you another one.”
He passed me a ticket. It was crumpled and worn soft from being held in the guy’s gloved hand all night.
Also, Jack is an asshole.
Inside the club, the crowd was packed in all the way to the back bar. The whole place was dim and smelled like stale sweat and old beer and drying blood from the mosh pit.
Jack pushed straight through the swarms of people like they weren’t even there, and everyone just let him, even though two feet away, I saw a guy get punched in the face just for trying not to get crushed against the wall.
When Mason Tyler came onstage, the crowd screamed like they were being eaten alive. keep reading…