Become a Fan
A Lifetime of Vengeance, the debut novel by Sandusky, Ohio author, PJ Grondin, is available for FREE in most eBook formats from Smashwords. Try PJ Grondin's writing with no cost or obligation today.
Bill Grimes wasn't having much luck as a salesman. He was starting to get a little worried that he wouldn’t be able to move the weed that was fronted to him, not by the deadline anyway. He'd made twelve calls and only three people were home. Only two of those expressed any interest in purchasing any significant quantities of the stuff. Bill began to doubt his own ability to do anything right. Maybe Karen was right when she said that he’d never amount to anything. Well, she hadn't said that exactly, but she might as well have said it. His thoughts of self-doubt were compounding, feeding upon themselves. The more he thought about his inadequacies, the more he began to believe in them. He went to the refrigerator and opened a beer and began to think about what his next move should be. Just then the phone rang, almost causing Bill to drop his beer.
"Bill, this is Phil Daniels. How are you doing?"
There was a pause as Bill tried to think. Who is Phil Daniels? The name sounded familiar, but he just couldn't place him. So Bill replied, "Fine. What can I do for you? Who are you, 'cause I don't remember you is what he wanted to ask? He was trying to be cautious, but friendly, because he didn't want any unexpected guests to show up at his apartment right now with the huge amount of stash he had in the closet.
"You remember me, don't you? We used to hang around with Cindy Worthington, way back in high school. Remember, we went to the Boston concert at the Lakeland Civic Center with her and that other chick, the sleazy one, Sandy Essy. Remember we used to call her Sandy 'easy' because everyone was jumpin' her bones. What a show Boston put on that night. And what a slut Sandy was. She got hosed by three different guys that night. Just the kind of chick you want to bring home to momma, right?"
Bill remembered this guy now. He was a real freak back then. Bill hadn’t remembered him that well because he’d been so drunk that he’d passed out during the warm-up band’s set. Phil had helped carry Bill out of the concert hall. They weren’t real sure that Bill would survive. Karen was his girlfriend back then. After Bill passed out, she’d latched on to a friend of Phil’s for the rest of the show. Phil thought that Karen was going to go down on Buddy right in the civic center. As it turned out, she did on the way back to Orlando in the back of the van. Bill never found out about that. He was passed out all the way home. Boston did put on a good show, but Bill missed the entire thing. It was no wonder that he couldn’t remember Phil very well.
"Yeah, Phil, I remember now. How are you doing? What can I do for you?" Bill was still being a little cautious. He had no idea why Phil Daniels would be calling him after all these years.
"Well, a mutual friend of ours said that I would be doing well to call you about some business matters. He mentioned that for a mere $12,500, I could get about ten big ones from you. You know, of the leafy variety. So how about if I come over and check it out."
Bill was amazed. He hadn't talked to this guy in over six years! Now, out of the blue, this guy was willing to put $12,500 into his hands.
"Sure, Phil. Do you know where I live?"
"Yeah. Jimmy Duke told me. I'll be over in a few minutes. I'm just around the corner."
"Okay, see you in a few." When Bill hung the phone up, a thousand thoughts rushed through his head. What if this guy was working for the cops? What if this was all a set up? Where could I hide the stash? Should I get my gun and have it ready? After all these frantic questions raced through his head, he finally decided that it would be prudent to have his gun loaded and on his person. He took a sports coat out of the closet and laid it on the bed. He put his AN1911 .45 caliber pistol in its holster and put on the shoulder harness. He then donned the sports coat and checked himself in the mirror. Bill smoothed out some of the wrinkles on the coat and made sure that the weapon was not visible from all angles. He was ready. He looked at himself again in the mirror, sticking out his chest with pride. Man, I even look like a successful dealer. Just as he was making the last adjustments to his suit, the door-bell rang.
As Bill walked to the door, he thought to himself that maybe he should have checked out Phil's story with Jimmy Duke, their common friend. Bill had called Duke earlier that evening, and the Dukester wasn't interested. He didn't even lead on that he knew anyone that was interested. It was a little late for a checkup call now. $12,500 was waiting at the door.
* * *
"Man, Brian, you guys are hot! I can't believe the crowd, man. The chicks are screaming like back when the Beatles were just coming into the big time." Al Michaels's compliments were a little too much for Brian. He knew the crowd was into the songs, but like the Beatles? That's a stretch, he thought.
"Thanks, man. It really feels good to hear the crowd getting into it like that. We play just that much better. The energy pumps us up. Our last set is going to be a short one, because of the time. We've been playing over on the normal sets because the crowd is really into it and we want to keep the energy level up. It's fantastic."
Just then a group of young girls came up to the table to ask for Brian's autograph. He obliged and received several kisses on the cheek for the trouble. After they left, Al looked at Brian in near amazement.
"You must be moppin' up on the pussy around this town. They're falling all over you; throwing themselves at you. How do you keep up with the pace?"
Al's question hit a nerve, and for the first time, Al saw that Brian Purcer had a temper. Even in the darkened bar, Brian's red face was visible. Brian dropped his eyes to the table before he shouted, "Al, I'm not handling it well! OK? I'm tired, I'm lonely, and I'm not getting pussy every night! I'm too fucking tired to even think about it! Even if I wanted to, the women I want to be with are always taken!" He began to think about Karen Grimes . . . then Ginny Parks. They were the loves of his life; at least in his mind. He wondered what they were doing tonight.
Al broke into his thoughts, "Brian, I’m sorry, man. I didn't know you were whipped like this, but I know the feeling.” He thought about his own workaholic lifestyle. He changed the subject to get Brian’s mind away from the drudgery. “Are you getting’ a recording contract soon? I mean, you could quit your job as soon as you sign and get a big paycheck."
Brian calmed down some and replied, "Look, Al, sorry for the outburst. I'm just way out on the edge right now. I've been working overtime at the Sentinel and with the weekend gigs and all, I'm just wiped out. The only energy I get is from the crowds. They keep me going, man. I really get fired up on the stage.” He paused and thought about Al’s question. “We should know later in the week about the contract. We're discussing numbers right now. I have an agent and everything. Even the preliminary numbers look great, and our agent is working on some improvements to those. We'll be in the recording studios by the end of the month to cut an album. I’m hopin’ anyway."
"Excellent! You guys are . . . how do they say it these days. . .Awesome, dude! Keep me in mind when you get to be famous." Al was truly feeling good for Brian. If there ever was anyone who deserved to be a star with all the good things that go with it, Brian Purcer did. He was a selfless individual who would do anything for you; a genuine nice guy. Not many nice guys make it to the big time in this world. Brian was about to break out of that mold and go against the odds.
Just then, two figures approached. Al didn't know either one but Brian tensed visibly. Al noticed that Brian was not pleased to see these two.
"Brian! Great set tonight. We just got here to hear the last three songs. You were awesome!"
Brian mostly ignored Danny Vallero except to say thanks. He immediately turned his attention to Danny's date. For the second night in a row, Ginny Parks was at his side. That was unusual for Danny. He usually didn't like repeat dates. He especially didn't like to be seen in public with the same woman two nights in a row. It hurt his image. Brian figured that it was just to get under his skin.
"Hi, Ginny. How are you?"
"I'm fine. It's good to see you. Danny's right, you guys are terrific. Are you going back on soon?"
"In a few minutes." Pointing to Al, Brian said, "This is Al Michaels. He runs a nursery out in Apopka. Al, this is Ginny Parks, and this is Danny Vallero."
"Nice to meet you." Al could feel the chill in the air. Brian didn't have a whole lot more to say to Danny, but continued to make eye contact with Ginny. This meeting had all the ingredients for a bad scene. Ginny seemed to be responding to Brian's stares. Finally, Danny said, "Let’s go Ginny, Brian's got to get back up to play."
Ginny turned to Danny and coldly stated, "He has a few minutes, don't you Brian."
"Sure, we're not due back on stage for another five minutes. Stick around." Brian's reply was directed at Ginny, no mistaking that. Al could tell that this might escalate quickly. Brian and Danny were playing mental tug of war and Ginny Parks was the rope. Brian pulled a chair out and told Ginny to sit for a while. She obliged, and now Danny was hot. He wasn't going to have anyone, not even a rising rock star show him up.
He glared at Brian and sternly stated to Ginny, "Let's go." That was all he said. The chill now turned to a deep freeze. Danny expected his women to obey his commands, so when Ginny said that she was talking, he screamed, "I said, let's go! I mean now!"
Brian and Al both jumped to their feet and told Danny to back off, that the lady wanted to stay a little while. A small crowd was circling the scene by now and Danny didn't want a scene. He looked down at Ginny and shouted, "That's it, bitch. Find your own way home."
Brian didn't like that a bit. No one calls a friend of his a bitch. As Danny turned, Brian leaped on him, drew his fist back and caught Danny's jaw on the right side. Danny felt the attack and turned to retaliate, but Brian was already being dragged back by Al and Rick Wessler, the band's drummer. He’d just showed up on the scene to tell Brian that it was time to play. Rick and Al stood between the two combatants and told them both to cool it. Brian shook his shoulders and turned away. Danny couldn't let it pass without one last barb.
"That's not the end of it, Purcer. You hear me? This isn't over."
Al couldn't resist the temptation. "Bag it punk. Do yourself a favor and go take a cold shower."
Through all the rustling, Ginny Parks sat quietly. She didn't want to be with Danny anyway. She was hoping that Brian would give her a ride home since her ride was walking out the door of the "Rock" as she stared. Before Brian went back on stage, he talked to Ginny for a few minutes, mostly small talk. He offered her a ride home.
Rick Wessler said, “Come on, lover boy. We gotta play if we’re going to make a living at this.”
They left Al and Ginny sitting at the table alone. Al's first night out in several years was an eventful one. He'd seen a different side of a close friend, one he liked. Finally, Brian Purcer had some fight in him. Al figured that he would need that spunk in the industry that he was about to enter.
He turned to Ginny Parks and talked for a few minutes, mostly about Brian. He asked how they met and the usual casual conversation that two near strangers have. Al could see that this woman would be good for Brian. Then the man himself raced out onto the stage, and a whaling Stratocaster took control of the crowd.