The Last in Line
Three hours of standing in line had gone by, when the boy’s dad’s wife (it was hard to think of her as his stepmom with only a decade between them) showed up with 40-oz bottles of Schlitz Malt Liquor. His favorite since the age of 12—four years ago. Getting buzzed helped the time pass. The line was made up of hair, denim, and leather and smelled of grass and testosterone. Headbangers from all over gathered to meet the voice of heavy metal, Ronnie James Dio.
Another hour went by before the line finally took them inside the record store. The walls were adorned with the announcement of the Dio meet-and-greet. As the line sluggishly moved, the boy could now see his idol sitting behind a table—leaving his signature on posters, photographs, and albums. The boy looked down at his small cassette case. It was all he had to hold Dio’s majestic markings. He wished he’d never stopped buying vinyl.
As the boy approached the end of the long table where the band sat, his eyes were fixed on Ronnie—watching him take pictures with his fans. The boy’s dad, a seasoned photographer with an expensive camera, began capturing the moments. A picture would be far more valuable than any ink from a marker, rushed and squeezed onto the insert of a cassette tape.
Dio’s band members sat like bland side dishes in a lunch line as the boy slowly passed each one, while others in line fed them various band paraphernalia for their signatures. The boy held tight to his cassette. The small area reserved for one signature—the voice of Rainbow. The voice of Black Sabbath. The voice of his generation.
The band’s new guitarist sat idle; his hand eager to share his practiced rockstar scribble.
“Don’t you want my autograph?” Asked the virtuoso.
The boy squeezed hard at his cassette, protecting it. “No.”
NEWS UPDATE: The winner of the Two Before Dawn giveaway is Helen Keely. Helen has won a copy of my new double feature collection "Two Before Dawn" as well as a copy of my short story "One for the Road." Congratulations, Helen! I hope you enjoy the stories!
*The Night is Long and Cold and Deep - Terry M. West
*From This Day Forward - Craig and Amy Groeschel