Playing to my target audience

This is a very old piece of flash. It’s the first thing I wrote about anarcho Christmas punk darlings Elf Made Men. It functionally has no plot, but it’s an intro to the band — Hank, Dundus, Ricky, and Mike.

I knew we were in trouble when the first jug hit the stage.

It spun over the crowd — ass over spout — like a meteor propelled by the frenzied gravity of a nearby star. When it made contact with the uneven boards of the stage, the brittle plastic exploded sending ugly orange plastic shards and a spray of what just had to be piss droplets over our legs and feet.

I took the worst of it because I had the keen idea to stay barefoot. Not that it would have changed my mind had I known that I was going to have piss sprayed across my feet—it’s not like soggy sneakers would have been a welcome alternative.

At my side, Ricky writhed away from the shrapnel. His motions more a dance than a recoil—did the audience notice? I don’t know that they did. They seemed at war with each other as much as they were at war with us.

Directly below me, I saw a dread-locked head dip and fall carelessly into the crowd, knocking down a wave of dissidents. All around him was pandemonium. I saw a guy wearing a pair of leopard print briefs over his jorts grab hold of a support beam and hang off of it like Tarzan.

I stepped back and tried to wipe my feet on the rug under the drum set.

Mike sneered at me with unfocused eyes and mouthed, “what are you doing?” But Mike couldn’t see the pandemonium as it unfolded in the crowd below him—severely myopic, Mike would remove his glasses during a set to subdue his hopped up sense of stage fright.

He was also pretty drunk, assuredly. I used to give a fuck about it, but not after this tour. I’d argue that it’s better that he drops a beat or two if it takes the edge off, the hazards of this job require that we can get a little stupid.

We spend night after night, pouring our hearts out for crowds of people more concerned with if they’re going to get their dick sucked later than they are with unpacking the weighty moral and ethical dilemmas we artfully bundle in our music. Hell, I don’t think any of these fuckers has heard a damn word I’ve sang, but I can’t let it get me down.

As for the Christmas thing? Don’t ask me, that was Ricky’s idea.

Something about needing an act to appeal to the ‘glazed over masses’ and Christmas being a symbol of the rotten Christian capitalist patriarchy.

We’d been sitting on the cold concrete floor of Dundus’ garage — just me and Ricky, shooting shit as we waited for him to restring his bass.

We hadn’t yet wrote a song, but had thought a lot about the concept of what we wanted to write.

Ricky had taken a long drag off of a joint before leaning in and whispering something to me about how we just had to hook them with the musicality and then we could infect them with our ideology. Then he’d held the back of my neck and pressed my nose into his mouth as he exhaled.

After Dundus returned, we’d determined that our hook was red velvet pants and a matching fluffy hat. “We’ll make it dirty,” Ricky said.

Unfortunately, the charm was lost on these folks. The pit rolled with greasy-haired crusaders for modern thrash wrapped in fake studs and fake leather.

They screamed slurs at us as we danced around incoming spitballs.

“Get off the stage and leave the music to real men, you fairy queens!” I couldn’t see the man but I heard him.

“Yeah! You suck!” A fat guy with a piss-gold man bun locked eyes with me at me as I leaned over my amp and played over the crowd.

I nodded and gave him a wave.

Ricky shimmied across the edge of the stage as twenty hands pushed up to meet his ankles—no doubt to seize him and yank him to the ground where they could pummel him, uninterrupted by the security, frowning bulldogs that hung around the edges of the fray.

I was about to drop my guitar and run to yank him back when that same dread-locked head dipped again and the hands that grasped his ankles suddenly released and fell to the side.

Ricky laughed and pointed at the guys on the ground—a cocky quarterback taunting the clobbered defensive line knocked temporarily senseless by an overzealous guard.

Ricky finished his dance and hopped back over my amp landing next to me with a devilish grin on his face, “That guy with the dreads, he gets it, he’s hardcore.”

I edged back toward where the stage dipped down into the chaos of the crowd and peered over in a sheepish motion. The big, dreadlocked guy, had gotten to his feet—flanked by two shorter guys, one with a red mohawk, one with a weird, thinning bowl-cut. His face crinkled, his eyes aflame, “Who wants to die?!” Dreadlocks demanded.

The various ne’er-do-wells pulling themselves up from the floor scrambled to get away from the guy who seemed to be psyching himself up by banging his fists into his chest, swinging his head from side to side and hollering something about “sweet chili.”

The guy in ladies underwear pushed out of the crowd, falling onto the opening around the Chili Crusader with an effort not unlike a baby animal pulling itself from the womb.

Behind him was a woman, dressed in all black, sectioned by a bulky knock-off bullet belt—she climbed her way out of the mire with a scowl, releasing what was likely a stream of curses, inaudible—but visible by the movement of her lips and the darkening expression on her face.

The two joining bowl cut and red mohawk at the dread crusader’s side. They were the dumbest looking group of superheroes I had ever laid eyes on—but somehow they belonged to us.

They belonged to my best friend in the deconstructed Santa suit waving his hips at the audience in a never-ending taunt; they belonged to Myopic Mike who was chewing on his tongue as he followed the band by sound, in a bliss of complete unawareness; they belonged to Dundus, staring with glassy, fearful eyes over the crowd.

That group of certifiable morons, that perhaps walked in here tonight not even knowing who they were, they were the target audience. The ears to hook and minds to infect.

I glanced over the edge of the stage one more time, just in time to catch the dread-locked guy running headlong into the crowd.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure how much mind there is to infect.