1979. "And that's a wrap," the producer, Chandler Michaels said into the microphone, pressing the notch that allowed him to make contact with the band on the other side. "Nice work, guys."
Guardian Avenue had just finished recording their latest single, "Same Thing," and it would wrap up the recording session for the day. The first to walk out of the booth was a dark-skinned man, medium height, with a thin smooth face and full curly hair. He was dressed flamboyantly with a wide array of colors in his wardrobe.
He sighed with relief as he walked into the studio room. "I need some water," he said, smacking his lips.
"I believe we all need water after all of that howling." said, a tall black man with a lighter skin tone than the man he'd followed into the studio room. He sported a large Afro that was pushed down by the fedora on his head, pressing it past his ears. He had a thin goatee but the resemblance to the first man was very noticeable, only his clothes were more plain and casual than the others' flashy attire. "I nudged you several times to get you to move back from the microphone, Chuck. You just can't understand body language, can you?"
"I can when it's a from lady," Chuck said with a smile. "You know I ain't never lied about that, Jimmy."
"Hold on a second," called out a tall, skinny pasty white teenager walking out of the booth and into the studio room. His face was covered with acne and he spoke with a heavy British accent. "My lucky Beatles record is gone. Did any of you take it?"
"Did you check the bass drum, Paul?" Jimmy asked, turning back to him with a raised eyebrow. "Where it's always been?"
Paul shut his eyes and snapped at the thought. "I keep forgetting. Thanks Jimmy."
He walked back into the booth just as another man stepped out. He was young, younger than Jimmy and Chuck, but older than Paul. His mustache was thick, his long flowing hair went down to his shoulders, and there were heavy sideburns down to his jaw line. His clothing was as equally as flamboyant as the rest of them, save Jimmy. He was holding a bass guitar and pulled the strap off when he walked out of the room.
"I'm enjoying this new bass," he said, in a smooth deep voice. "I think the Fender might be my new thing."
"Should have been your thing from the beginnin'," Chuck said playfully as he and the others began to pack up their possessions. "If you'd played like that the summer of '77, we'd have been signed two years ago."
"It's been two years, brother, time to get over it already," the man said, chuckling. "Especially when we're signed now."
"Yeah, you aren't the annoying kid, you used to be, Will," Jimmy joked.
"Will?" a female voice muttered from the doorway of the studio room. When he turned to see her, he smiled. Her hair was long and blonde and her body was coke-bottle shaped. She smiled brightly when he spotted her and ran into his arms. He picked her up and twirled her through the air vibrantly before letting her down and passionately kissing her.
"Hey, get a room," Paul said, emerging from the booth to see the two locking lips. "Every day with this. You'd think he just got back from war."
"Should I tell them now?" Will asked the girl with excitement once they parted.
"Uh, you sure you want to do it right at this moment?" she asked with a bit of hesitation.
"I wanted to do it weeks ago. Can I do it now?"
"Sure, I guess so."
"Hey guys," Will said turning to the others with a large smile. "I have an announcement to make. Melisa and I are now engaged to be married."
Jimmy, Paul, Chuck, and Chandler applauded in approval. Will nodded at them in appreciation as he looked back at Melisa, his eyes bright with affection. She smiled back at him.
"It's about time," Paul whispered to Jimmy.
"We're headed to Chilli's after this if any of you want to join us," Will mentioned.
"Actually, honey, I'll meet you there, I've got to go cash a check before I go.”
“All right, that’s okay,” Will said. “You go ahead and take care of that and I’ll see you later.”
“Okay,” Melisa said, tugging on Will’s shirt as they kissed again.
“One day their going to rip each other’s faces off doing that,” Jimmy whispered to Paul, who laughed lightly.
“Bye everyone,” Melisa said, stepping out of the room. Will watched her intently as she left and turned to the rest of them.
“Man, do I love her. I’m going to head out too guys, you meeting us at Chilli’s?”
“We’ll be there, man,” Chuck said enthusiastically.
“All right, see you,” he said, leaving the room.
“Hey, Chuck, I’m going to ride with Paul,” Jimmy said as they both headed for the door.
“What, you don’t like ridin’ with your big brother no more?” Chuck asked with a smile.
“Don’t make this about you, you pretentious prick,” Jimmy teased. “I need to go by my apartment and I know how you get about driving me there. I’ll see you later.”
“All right, see you man.”
Jimmy left with Paul and only Chuck and Chandler were still in the room. Chuck got the last bit of information on the final mixing process from Chandler before he headed out himself, his guitar case in one hand and his jacket over his shoulder. He walked casually to the exit of the building, but did a completely 360 view of his surroundings before heading for the door. He put one hand on the handle, still surveying the area and then took it off and walked in another direction, heading for the bathroom of the building. He went in and dropped his things by the urinal. There was one stall in the corner of the room. Chuck ducked down and saw a pair of heels under it. He smiled.
“It’s me,” he said securely.
“Well, what are you waiting for,” the girl muttered from the other side. Chuck stepped over his guitar case excitedly and opened the stall, walking in to greet her. It was Melisa.
She grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him in, kissing him with even more passion than she had done her fiancée`, who was now driving down the I-70 Freeway, completely oblivious. She ripped his shirt open and pulled it off of him, breaking lip contact momentarily.
“We can’t keep doin’ this, you know,” Chuck said cautiously, taking frequent breaths in between each kiss.
“Why not?” Melisa smiled, slipping off her blouse. “Is it the age difference? You’re 25 and I’m 20, it’s only few years.
“You know what I’m talkin’ about,” Chuck said, pushing her away lightly. “I can’t keep sneakin’ around with you like this. Will is my friend and you’re gettin’ married to him.”
“Will will be fine as long as we’re careful,” Melisa said. “Do you think it would be fair to him if I told him I was having feelings for one of his friend and I wanted to break up? Do you think that would even be fair to your band? He’d bail out as soon as he found out.”
“If you knew this, why’d you agree to marry him?” Chuck asked sternly.
“He was on his knee, what was I supposed to do? The whole reason why I haven’t broken up with him in the first place is to avoid hurting his feelings, that’d be counter-productive.”
“So neither of us want to hurt his feelings but we still want to be together. What do we do?”
“I don’t know, but I’m done talking about it now,” Melisa said, unhooking her bra. “Let’s do what we came here to do.”
Chuck sighed nervously. “Okay.” He grabbed her face delicately and kissed her as they disappeared in the shadows of the studio. Unbeknownst to them, Chandler Michaels walked out of the bathroom quietly after entering at the heat of the conversation and raced back to his studio room as quickly as he could.
1990. The door to the mansion slammed shut furiously as Will stormed directly into the kitchen with a ravenous demeanor. He stopped by the doorway, staring at his pregnant wife with a dangerous gaze. She was unaware that he was there, minding her own business as she cut potato skins off in the sink. In eleven years, both of them had changed considerably. Melisa was much older but still beautiful despite gaining a few pounds due to the pregnancy. Will had shaven most of his hair and was now sporting a spiky black and grey hairdo with a scruffy but urban beard. When she turned around to see him, she jumped.
“Oh, Will, you scared me,” she said with a smile. “What’s wrong, honey?”
“I had a talk with the band’s old producer, Chandler Michaels today,” he growled in a rough voice. “He had some interesting things to confess....about the old days.”
“Oh really?” Melisa said without much thought, going back to her potatoes. “Relishing in the old memories, I bet. The band was great, I don’t know why Chuck had such a problem with it that he needed to quit. That ruined it for all of you.”
“Yeah,” Will said, slowly creeping toward her. “Its been a year, we needed to catch up. He told me about you. Something he’d been holding in for a while. He said it was probably still going on and he wanted me to know because it would effect me.”
Melisa looked up into the window and stopped what she was doing. Her eyes darted back onto Will, whose expression didn’t change.
“He said the twins might not be mine.”
“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Melisa muttered, dropping the potato and it’s cutter into the sink, before turning away from it and moving to another corner of the kitchen. He cocked his head and followed her every move in an almost mechanical fashion.
“You’ve been fucking another man all these years, haven’t you?” he said, the tone of his voice unchanging as he crept towards the sink where a rack of silverware and dishes were set up. “It’s someone I know, isn’t it?”
“Will...I don’t know what to tell you,” Melisa said, turning back to him slowly.
“Tell me the truth!” he shouted, swiping the appliances from the counter to the floor. “Who have you been sleeping with?!”
“Will, calm down,” Melisa muttered quietly. “Have you been drinking?”
“Answer the question!”
“We’re not together anymore, I promise.”
Will reached behind him and pulled out a pistol with a silencer at its end, pointing it directly at his wife. “I got this today after I heard the news and I’m so eager to use it right now,” he said, with humorless chuckle. “Who is it?”
Melisa bit her tongue and Will tightened his grip on the gun. “WHO IS IT?”
Melisa opened her mouth as if to say something but no sound escaped her throat.
“You know, I’m hesitant about killing you because those kids might be mine, but then I start thinking, ‘What if they’re not’?” Will said vibrantly filled with sarcasm. “What if that lying whore got herself knocked up by another man? Then I start thinking two to the head would suffice-”
“Jimmy,” Melisa muttered simply, tears forming in her eyes as she avoided eye contact with Will.
“Jimmy,” Will repeated firmly.
“I swear the kids are yours though. We haven’t been together for years, I promise!”
“Jimmy, my best friend,” Will said sternly as if not believing it. He blinked hard several times and his jaw clenched. “The only member of the band I still keep in contact with. The one confidant in my life when my own wife can’t be faithful.”
Melisa was extremely hesitant but she nodded weakly. Suddenly, a young blonde-haired man walked down the stairs of the mansion and emerged into the kitchen to see his brother-in-law his sister at gunpoint.
“Hey, what the hell is going”-
Will turned the gun on him immediately and fired, sending a bullet into his throat. He grabbed it, his eyes wide with shock as blood gushed from the wound and he gagged loudly all the way to the floor. Melisa screamed at the top of her lungs as Will lowered the gun in shock. Melisa ran to her brother’s side immediately and Will took off running past her, headed straight for the door.
1997. Will sat at the bar, incredibly drunk but not feeling the buzz. He’d recently been released from prison for the murder of his brother-in-law and with no means of housing, the only possessions he had with him were a few hundred dollars in his pocket, another silencer pistol he’d recently bought out of spite, and the clothes on his back. He took another swig of his drink as a couple entered the bar, smiling and laughing.
The man, a young handsome fellow of some Asian decent, and his attractive blonde partner sat directly beside him, kissing each other passionately. Will turned and looked at them disparagingly before turning back to his own business. When their antics grew tiresome, he spoke up.
“Would you two mind doing that somewhere else?” he asked with an attitude.
The man turned to Will with a raised eyebrow. “What’s wrong with you?” he asked apathetically.
“I’m not having the best day, all right? Could you please take your mess elsewhere?”
The man exchanged pathetic looks with his partner and they laughed together as they continued to make noise and flirt. Will gripped his glass tightly as he got up and moved to the back of the bar, closely observing the flirting couple, most likely newly weds as they were full of energy and more affectionate than an average couple. An hour later, the couple walked out of the bar and Will followed them closely.
The two got into their car and drove down the road, taking the interstate downtown for more action.
“Did you see that guy staring at us in the back?” the woman asked, with a smile. “That was weird, no?”
“Yeah, it was annoying the crap out of me. I was like ‘if this creep doesn’t quit staring at me, I’m going to have to get that shotgun from my trunk and teach him a few things.’”
The woman laughed out loud and moved in closer to the man. “I’m sure you could teach him a lot of things,” she said, stroking his hair.
“You really think so?” he asked, smiling.
“Yeah, I bet”-
The car lurched forward as another vehicle rear-ended them.
"What the hell?" The man looked back in frustration when the vehicle behind them collided with the back once again. He looked forward in fear.
"What's going on?" The woman asked with terrified eyes.
“Somebody’s trying to run us off the road,” he shouted.
They were traveling on a dark street with little light and there were empty fields on either side of them. Eventually the pressure from the car behind them was too much and it shifted to one side, causing the man to swerve violently. The car began to swing back and forth between the oncoming lane and the right lane. In the moment of lost control, the car behind them shoved their car one final time, sending it hurling into the ditch adjacent to the road.
The car flipped several times, smashing and tossing the man and woman inside violently before rolling to a stop and landing back on its wheels. Both of them were bleeding but were relatively unharmed. After a few moments of breath, the man was the first to move, shifting slowly as the images swimming in his head began to take form again. He looked to his side to see that his partner was recovering from the crash as well. He opened the broken door of the car and got out slowly, limping away to survey the damage from afar.
“Hey!” a figure yelled from the top of the hill. The man turned around and a bullet struck him in the stomach. He grunted and put his hand on it delicately before he felt another shot hit him in the chest. One of after another, several bullets pierced his torso, causing him to collapse back onto the broken car before sliding down to the grass, the light leaving his eyes.
The woman witnessed the death of her partner just in time and opened her car door as quietly as she could. Unfortunately, because of its destruction, the sound of scraping metal filled the air. She immediately burst out of the car knowing her cover had been blown and ran away from the scene as fast as she could.
“HELP! SOMEBODY HELP ME! PLEASE GOD, SOMEBODY HELP ME!”
Will had approached the dead man before the woman had exited the car. He circled around it quickly and shot at the woman’s legs, causing her to fall to the grass with a thud. He walked to the woman slowly as she started to crawl away. She turned onto her back and watched him walk up, pleading for his mercy with tears running down her face. Will pointed the gun at her and shot her right between the eyes. There was silence.
He breathed heavily surveying the damage he had done. It felt good. He enjoyed himself, enjoyed the feeling of having another human being's life in his hands and then taking it away. Stealing life, that’s what he called it. He was a thief of the living. He’d felt the same ecstasy when he killed Melisa’s brother and now the feeling was rushing back to him. He reached down and picked the woman up, hauling her onto his shoulder and taking her back to his car to complete the unspeakable ritual that would soon become a frequent occurrence.
2002. Will had committed his third murder that year and he sat in the seat of a BMW outside of a strip mall the day after with nothing to do. He was living in his car; clothes were strewn all over the back and all of his food was kept in a cooler in his passenger seat. He adjusted his radio, but with a broken antenna in the back, he was unable to receive a signal, so he decided to quit fiddling with it. As he surveyed the people walking by, he couldn’t imagine anything but the image of their body riddled with bullets, seeping blood over the concrete that they walked across with him standing over him. As they went by, he made a gun motion with his hand and closed one eye, imagining planting one each of them. It was such a satisfying image.
To siphon off the feeling, he grabbed a bottle of lukewarm water by his side and drunk it quickly but let it down slowly when he saw two people crossing the street several feet in front of him. They were both black; one was an older man in his 40’s, light-skinned, with a thin goatee and a lanky disposition, his long Afro spilling out over his ears and to his shoulders; The other was a teenager who was a shade darker than the older man and several inches shorter, but equally as lanky, with a tight t-shirt, baggy jeans, and a somber expression. His hair was just beginning to grow out, his Afro not even a centimeter in length. He followed the older man into the building obediently, but with a youthful curiosity.
Will recognized the older man instantly. Jimmy. The man who ruined his life and had a lengthy affair with the woman of his dreams behind his back. Will’s eyes burned vigorously and he was about to jeopardize his own freedom without even caring. But there was really nothing he had to lose. He started the engine of his car and revved it hard as he waited for Jimmy to exit the store.
Jimmy opened the door to the music store and turned back to his son on the inside. “I’ll be right back, I’ve got to get something out of the car. Just go ahead and pay for it,” he said, turning to walk off of the sidewalk and into the street.
Will pulled the gear back to drive and floored the gas, lurching the BMW forward and flooring it across the concrete. Will’s driving was reckless; he began to slide on and off the curb of the sidewalk. His foot would not let off of the gas pedal. Jimmy was in the middle of the street when he turned to his side and saw Will charging toward him. Their eyes met briefly in a moment of mid-storm peace that seemed to last forever.
The car hit him full force. Jimmy was tossed through the air as Will’s front bumper snapped off slightly and he zipped out of sight. Will’s own eyes were wide with shock at his actions but he was not feeling any form of immediate remorse. He’d just killed an old friend in cold blood. He knew what he did was wrong and it didn’t effect him in the least. If anything, he was currently feeling excitement. He smiled to himself and chuckled as he sped out of the strip mall and out of sight.
“Oh My God!” A woman exclaimed as she witnessed the accident unfold before her eyes. “That man was just hit by a car!”
Johnny’s ears perked at the sound. He left his guitar at the counter and ran for the door, his heart sinking into his stomach as he saw the bleeding body of his father lying on the concrete. He burst from the store, tears immediately flowing from his eyes as he skidded to his knees, scraping the skin from them when they made contact with the ground. He fell beside his father’s body, his speech and breath obstructed by an overflow of emotions. Jimmy lay on his back with his eyes slightly closed, blood seeping from his open mouth. Johnny was dry heaving from the crying; his mind not accepting what he was currently seeing, and therefore his body began to break down. He collapsed onto his father’s body and began to seize violently.
The woman who’d witnessed the hit-and-run ran out to him. “SOMEBODY HELP!” She screamed as she held the broken boy in her arms.
September 2007. Uncle Chuck slipped out of the car and approached the woman who had just T-boned him recklessly. “What the fuck?!” were the first words to fly from Chuck and the woman's mouths, almost in an intentionally quick baritone/soprano harmony. This instantly set off a reaction between the two; a torrent of screaming, fussing and child-like arguments echoed throughout the parking lot.
“You know what?” Chuck exclaimed in anger, pulling out a pen from his pocket and readying his hand to be written on. “What’s your name, bitch? I need your insurance information.”
“Don’t call me a bitch, I’ve got a name, It’s Kathy Walker!” the woman yelled, heading back to her van. “Tell me your name, you probably have crappy insurance anyway.”
“Charles Goode,” he shouted proudly, going back to his broken-up car.
The woman stopped and looked back at Chuck curiously. “What?”
“Charles Goode, bitch, can’t you hear?”
The woman straightened up and her scowl disappeared instantly. She waited a few minutes before speaking again. “I’m sorry,” she said quietly.
“What?” Chuck said, looking back at her in surprise.
“You’re right, I’m sorry. It was my fault.”
Chuck approached the woman slowly, sizing her up with a bit of suspicion. “It’s all right, no harm done,” he said plainly.
“Look, um,” the woman said, looking down with a bit of embarrassment. “I’ll give you my insurance information, maybe over a cup of coffee?”
Chuck looked around confusedly. “You know you’re talkin’ to the guy you just ran into right?”
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” the woman said with a smile. “So you up for it or are you bitching out?”
Chuck smacked his teeth and rolled his eyes. “Yeah, you need to get to know me so you'll find out I don’t bitch out on anythin’. Yeah we’ll do the coffee thing. And forget about the insurance shit, I’ll get this straightened out myself.”
“That’s generous of you,” the woman said vibrantly. “Here’s my number.”
December 2007. “What’s the big hurry?” Chuck asked as he was pulled into the bedroom by Kathy. She was frantic in her movements and she crossed the large bedroom, reaching into her clothing drawer and pulling out a retro-looking photograph. She handed it to Chuck. It was a picture of the four Guardian Avenue members with Melisa Miles, Wilford Miles’ wife, standing beside the group. The photo dated back nearly 30 years.
“Where the hell did you get this?” he asked, looking up at her in amazement.
“You don’t remember me?” she asked quietly. “I’m Melisa.”
Chuck stared at the woman and his gaze grew increasingly familiar. She had aged considerably but it was obvious who he was looking at. His recognition of her sparked a lost history that was rushing back to him in a torrent of forgotten memories. He chuckled in disbelief and reached in to hug her.
“What the hell happened to you?” he asked pulling away. “How come you changed your name? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Chuck, I did something bad,” Melisa said losing all enthusiasm. “When Will found out about us, he nearly killed me and I didn’t want him to get to you. I told him something I shouldn’t have.”
“I’m sure whatever you told him, it was only a matter of time before he went psycho, girl. Don’t worry about it-”
“I told him it was Jimmy.”
Chuck stopped and his face went blank. He backed away from her slowly. “You-you told him it was Jimmy you had the affair with?”
“I know. It was probably Will who killed Jimmy, I’m sure of it. He’s a heartless monster, he’s why I’m under Witness Protection and so are my kids. He wants to kill us too. I didn’t know he'd react that way when I told him, I didn’t know he’d go after Jimmy. I never wanted Jimmy to get hurt but I didn’t know Will would turn into a killer either. I was in the heat of the moment, I wasn’t thinking straight.”
Chuck stepped away from her and sat down on the bed, shock overwhelming him. “I-I can’t believe this,” he said in a hollow voice. “I killed my own brother. This affair destroyed the band and killed my brother. I broke up the band so the affair wouldn’t fuck up anything but it did the exact opposite. I should have known. I always knew it was my fault.”
Melisa walked up to Chuck, kneeled down, and caressed his face to comfort him. “I’m sorry, but I had to tell you. I’ve been living with this guilt for over fifteen years and as soon as you came back into my life, I knew I had to do the right thing and tell you. It took me a while to confess it but I did. Now, I don’t know where this leaves us but for some reason I feel if you and I let this go, everybody who was hurt by Will and our actions will suffer in vain, because it’d prove that our love was never genuine. It'd mean it wasn't worth the trouble we caused.”
Chuck looked up, tears forming in his eyes as he gazed deeply at Melisa. Their lips met and Chuck was instantly hit with memories of the bathroom stall love affair he’d participated in nearly thirty years ago.
May 14th, 2008. “Hello, Mel,” Will whispered coldly, staring at Melisa with a crooked smile. She had been standing at her bedroom window, staring outside dismally. Slowly she turned around with a look of horror in her eyes, a satisfying sight for Will to see. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for almost twenty years now. This is what all of my sacrifices have led up to.”
“You call what you did ‘sacrifices’?” Melisa said bravely, though her voice shook when she spoke. “You’re even more twisted than I thought, you murderous fuck.”
Will cocked his head curiously and his smile grew even wider, adding an extra set of chills down Melisa’s spine. “Don’t be like that, Mel, you know why I’m here.”
“Do what you want with me, just don’t hurt our kids,” Melisa said, shaking with fear.
“Why would I do that? They legally carry my name, even though they were born after I got put away. Why is that?”
“I thought you would change!” Melisa shouted. “I thought you would get over it, but I can see I was wrong.”
“Sorry to disappoint,” Will said, brandishing his silencer pistol freely. “Last words?”
Melisa swallowed hard as she began to sweat furiously and twitched with anxiety. “No,” she said simply.
“Fine. Just so you know, I plan to destroy everything good in your life. Especially your kids. ” Will pressed his lips together and immediately shot her in the forehead. The blood splattered onto the window behind her and she fell to the ground below it, leaving a streak of blood down to her body. He pulled the gun back up to his shoulder and held it’s barrel up casually. “Two down....two to go.”