Hey there, folks! I was listening to the song 'Jukebox Hero' by Foreigner the other day, and I had this idea! (And I had just watched Back to the Future five times in a row on my plane flight.)
Disclaimer: It's all Zemeckis' and Gale's, not mine. Those dudes are the shit, though. Seriously.
Marty pulled on his jacket in his room with a gigantic grin on his face. His parents were letting him go with Dave to a rock concert on the edge of town as a late birthday present, since they had forgotten it last week. And because thirteen was such an important number, they grudgingly allowed him to go. They'd also bought him a new pair of Nikes, even though Marty could tell that they were used. It didn't matter, he was going to a rock concert!
"Marty! Come on, get your ass out here, we're gonna be late!" Dave yelled from the living room, followed by a scolding from his mother for using 'that kind of language in her house'.
"Be right there!" he yelled back. He grabbed his wallet and stuffed it in his back pocket, then rushed out the door into the living room. Predictably, his mom was pacing in front of the couch, looking flustered. She was talking to Dave, who stood by the door, although he obviously looked uninterested.
"Finally, squirt!" he said as soon as he saw Marty. Marty ignored him.
"See ya, pops!" Dave yelled into the kitchen where his father was doing his paperwork. George stuck his head out from behind the corner and frowned at them.
"You're still going to the rock concert thing?" he asked.
"Duh, dad. That's why we're all doo-dadded up. We gotta look good for all the ladies!" Dave said enthusiastically. Marty grinned in spite of himself. He hadn't thought about the girls part of the deal.
Lorraine huffed. "Girls? What girls? Are they skanks? I don't know about this now, Dave." She looked over at George worriedly.
"Relax, ma. I was just jokin' around!" Dave spoke up. "It's just gonna be a bunch of us guys hangin' out and listenin' to music! Very low-key."
Lorraine still had her eyebrows furrowed and her lips out like she still thought it was a bad idea. George retreated back into the kitchen, obviously not wanting to get into an argument. Dave and Marty took that as their chance to get the hell out of there.
"Well, see ya guys! Don't wait up!" Dave yelled as he ran out the door.
"Yeah, bye!" Marty yelled also.
They were already in the car by the time Lorraine had followed them outside, and she was trying to get them to listen to her.
"Now, don't get into any trouble! Don't stay out late! Don't-" And they were gone.
It was quiet in the car all the way to the concert, and Marty stared out the window at all the shops they passed on the way to the old concert hall that sat on the edge of town. Marty could see it in the distance, all respectable-looking and clean and usually only used for school plays. They approached it and Marty expected to turn off, but Dave kept going.
"Uh, Dave? I think you just passed it."
Dave snorted. "Well duh, dweeb. You really think they're going to have a 'Skin and Bones' concert at 'Willbury's Concert Hall'? Give me a break, Marty."
Marty was silent for a few minutes.
"Where are we going, then?"
Marty thunked his head against the window. Perfect.
Marty's trepidation disappeared as soon as he saw the looming building among the rows of corn. They had been driving for nearly a half-hour, and Dave wasn't one to follow the speed limit. The parking lot was packed with cars and motorcycles alike, and there were people making out on the hoods.
"No girls, huh?" Marty smirked at Dave, and Dave grinned back.
"I won't tell mom if you won't."
They pulled into one of the few parking spaces after searching for a couple of minutes. They both climbed out, and Marty took his jacket off. California heat could be a bitch.
Almost immediately, a group of dazed-looking boys squeezed their way in between the cars and greeted Dave with fist-bumps and head-thunks. They smelled like beer, whiskey, and any other alcoholic beverage that Marty could think of. They didn't pay any attention to him, and he was glad. Dave hung out with them in back of the drug store and smoked weed. Needless to say, the whole lot of them were a bunch of dicks.
They all got in line, Marty in the back as usual, and waited to get tickets. They got to the front after a long wait and Dave and his pothead friends paid for their tickets. However, when Marty took out his wallet to pay for his own ticket, the burly ticket-master held up his hand.
"Sorry kid, we're out of tickets. We're all out of tickets, dudes!" he yelled back at the line. There were some groans and drunken curses from behind Marty, but Marty didn't even hear them.
"Wait, what do mean 'out'?" he asked.
"I mean 'out', kid. Deal with it." The man started picking up the cash box.
"What? No! Dave, Dave, you gotta do somethin', man!"
Dave was already half-way through the door, his buddies laughing and yelling with glee. He looked over his shoulder and saw Marty standing there. "What? Oh well, Marty. It happens. No big deal! Just wait until next time!" He continued walking.
"Dave, Dave! You can't do this to me, I can't stay outside! I came all this way to see a rock concert!" Marty yelled as his brother continued walking with his friends. The ticket-master held him back from breaking his way in.
Dave looked back, looking only a little bit guilty. "Hey, I can't help it if they're out of tickets! Besides, we'll be out in," he looked at his watch. "four hours. Keep yourself busy, no problem!"
"Four hours?" Marty yelled incredulously. "Damn it, Dave, what am I supposed to do for four hours?"
But Dave was already gone, laughing around the corner with his friends. The ticket-master still held onto his arm with a powerful grip. Marty shrugged out of it and stepped backwards away from the door. The man grabbed his lock-box full of cash and swung the heavy metal door shut behind him.
At that exact moment, it began to rain.
"Shit!" Marty yelled, looking around for shelter. There was none. He ran back to Dave's car and pulled on the handle, only to find it locked. Even better, he could see his jacket in the back seat. "Damn it." he hissed, punching the side of the car. He was already starting to get cold, even though it was a rather warm rain. The other people who had also failed to get tickets were already loading themselves into their cars, leaving Marty behind. Dejected and angry, he walked around for a while.
Ten minutes turned into thirty, and thirty turned into an hour. And it was still raining.
Water sloshed around in his Nikes, and mud spattered the edges of his jeans. He was soaked to the bone, water dripping off his fingertips and plastering his hair to his head. There was no shelter from the rain, no roof or awning anywhere except inside.
"God damn it!" he yelled, kicking the wooden boards that lined the wall of the concert arena. The one time, the one time that his parents had allowed him to go to a rock and roll concert, and he was stuck outside in the rain! He saw a flash of lightning and heard the distant boom of thunder. He kicked the wood again, but he only got splinters in the rubber tip of his shoe. With a frustrated growl, he sat down with his back to the wall, not even caring that he was sitting in a puddle. He couldn't even feel it.
Dave was probably still inside, 'hanging out' with his high school dropout friends, living it up in the front row. Most likely, he didn't even realize that his little brother was outside in the rain, freezing his ass off in his T-shirt and soaked jeans. It sucked. It all just sucked. He should've stayed home and moped around his room. He should've taken his dad's advice and avoided entertainment that could potentially 'damage his mind'. He almost wished that Dave had left him at the gas station in... in...
Damn, he didn't even know where this place was.
So, if he had been thinking about calling for a cab before, he knew that he definitely couldn't call one now. He put his arms and head on his knees and sighed.
Just my luck. Marty thought to himself bitterly.They manage to be sold out of tickets, but DAVE still gets to go inside. Bullshit.
Something brought him out of his reverie. Another boom of thunder resounded in the air, across the empty corn fields surrounding the concert hall. It had sounded closer that time, maybe three miles aw-?
Without warning, a lightning bolt struck the lamp-post that stood across the road, exploding the glass and shattering the metal. Marty could feel the vibrations and electricity run up his spine and into his chest. He jammed himself hard into the water-logged and splintering wood, gritting his teeth.
It was over before he could even blink, and it left a bright white streak in his vision everywhere he looked. His heart was beating a tattoo against his ribs. He rubbed his eyes and blinked experimentally, but the streak was still there. His hands were shaking, and all he could think was, "Whoa."
He sat there for a few more minutes before slowly standing up and walking across the parking lot. Gravel crunched under his sneakers as he stepped carefully onto the pavement, staring at the mangled remains of the post. A little bit of the metal still stood resolutely from its foundation, then suddenly keeled over at about five feet. Fragments of it were littered along the road like a jigsaw puzzle, melted and still smoking. Marty could feel the heat coming off it, and it sizzled in the rain.
It smells like burning popcorn. Marty realized, and he leaned a little bit to the side to see some exposed wires coming out of the ground from the mainline that ran underground. One of them sparked, and Marty took off back across the lot and toward the dilapidated building that housed his brother and a thousand potheads. He ran up to the metal door and skidded his feet to stop before slamming into it. Without even wincing, he banged his fist on it and kicked it at the same time.
"Open the door! Open the door! I'm gonna get hit by lightning, dammit! Let me in!" he yelled, his voice cracking at the end of each sentence. His knuckles were purple by then, but he continued to scream and bang and kick.
Ten minutes later, his throat hurt and and his hand was rather gross-looking. He said "Let me in!" one more time with his hoarse voice, but it didn't matter. The rain was too loud, and the percussion instruments could even be heard from outside. There was no way that anyone would be able to hear him.
He walked back over to chunk of rotting planks that served as the wall, glancing at the sky worriedly. If he got struck by lightning, he was totally blaming Dave.
The rain was still coming down resolutely, mocking Marty and the fact that he forgot to bring his jacket. He was chilled to the bone, and his T-shirt stuck to his skin. He had to keep wiping the water out of his eyes to see anything, though nothing changed. No cars came passing by, no hitchhikers or hobos, and no animals. It annoyed the shit out of him.
"I wish..." he said out loud, thinking about how crappy everything was going today. How crappy everything was everyday. How Dave only hung out with his loser friends, how Linda only wanted to talk about boys and clothes, how his mom was only happy when she'd had a few too many, how his dad was afraid of everything and everybody because he was too much of a chicken.
"I wish..." he repeated. What would he wish for if he had the chance?
Chicken. he thought. My father is a chicken. Marty made up his mind.
"I wish I could change things. I wish I could... go back in time or somethin' and change things. Change them."
He thought for a moment. What if his father was brave enough to stand up for himself? Stand up for his wife and kids?
...He imagined that life would be pretty good.
"Yeah, that'd be bitchin."
Suddenly everything was quiet. Looking up, Marty realized that it had stopped raining, as if the weather gods knew how much shit he had been through that day and decided to give him a break. Marty could still hear the rumbling of thunder in the distance, though.
Another fork of lightning flashed far away from him, and he blinked the streak out of his eyes. Predictably, another boom followed seconds after it, louder and deeper than any of the earlier ones, sounding like a great voice in the sky. He could almost feel the vibrations in his teeth.
There was complete silence following it. The air felt full of moisture and electricity, and everything looked clean and new. The corn stalks were dripping drops of water onto the pavement, which was slick and shiny. Even Dave's old junker was shining in the dull light.
Marty slowly got to his feet, still shivering from the rain. A couple of sparks flew from the shattered lamp-post across the street and he eyed it wearily. The sky was darkening, the horizon tinged with pink and red. He looked down at his watch and found that the rain had shorted it out. He shook his wrist a few times, then sighed. He guessed that it was around eight or nine o'clock.
And of course, the show would probably run til ten or eleven.
He dragged his legs around the corner and walked along the wooden walls. He noticed that it really was a cheap building, large, but old and wasting away. The planks were splintering and rotting, and chunks were missing where animals had undoubtedly made their way in. Many had been boarded up and most of it had been replaced with only slightly better wood, but there were still sagging planks that stood out among them. Marty made his way over to one of them and poked it. It squished and expelled a foamy trail of water.
Marty could hear the deep thrum of the bass guitar, but that was it. Maybe if he pulled some of the wood away...
He grabbed a hold of the edge of the squishy wood and tugged. It came off the wall completely the first time, and he stumbled a bit backwards. Picking himself out of another puddle, he inspected the square hole. There was thick, soundproof foam lined on the inside of the wall. Marty steeled himself for a moment, wondering if he should rip it open so he could hear the music. For a brief second, he heard his dad's voice in his head.
"Now, Marty, think about this. There could be some very angry people on the other side of that wall, and you'd be in trouble. You don't want that kind of trouble. Confrontations are bad, Marty. I don't like to deal with them, and neither should you."
Marty's hand hovered over the foam, his fingernails barely touching it. He could feel the vibrations of the music in his fingertips.
"I'm not like you, dad." he whispered to himself. "I'll never be like you."
He ripped the foam open until his entire forearm was dug into it. Then, he could feel air on his fingers, and he quickly withdrew in case anyone saw them. He heard a singer's voice, still muffled from the foam. Carefully, he pulled a bit more out and pushed his arm through again. The music became more clear then, sharp and unbroken through the hole in the wall.
And he heard the most amazing sound he had ever heard. It cut through the audience's cheering and screaming like a knife and smacked him in the eardrums. It was a guitar, sharp and metallic, performing one of the best solos Marty had ever heard. Granted, he had only ever heard anything like it on the snatches of radio before his dad changed the station, and occasionally when he passed the local music store, but Marty imagined this sound to be one of the greatest things he'd ever experienced. He peered through the hole and managed to make out a stage through the throng of people. A man with wild hair was jumping on the stage, his fingers moving crazily over the strings of his guitar. The man turned around and kicked one of the amps down, sending a shower of sparks over the raving fans. Marty was entranced.
And it seemed almost fitting that on the night he promised himself that he wouldn't be like his father, that he would promise himself that he would be like that man on the stage. That he would devote his life to rock and roll.
The next two hours passed by quickly, definitely too quickly for Marty. He cheered with the rest of the crowd for an encore, but eventually joined them in groaning and walking towards the exit. He searched for Dave among the brightly-clothed people, and found him a few minutes later, hair crazy and clothes ripped. A joint was hanging from his lower lip, and he was as blazed as a campfire.
"Jesus Chri-Dave! You're supposed to drive home!" Marty said.
Dave turned around, dazed and eyes out of focus. He looked at his own eye level before looking down at Marty like he was gold.
"Marty! Du-dude, that was the fu-ucking bomb, Marty. Totally bitchin A. Like-like..." his eyes went unfocused again and he stared off into the distance.
Marty waited a moment, then snapped his fingers in front of Dave's face. He came back again, slowly.
"Marty! When did you get here! When did I get here? Dude," He grabbed Marty's shoulders. "When did any of us get here, man? Like, whoa. I think I just blew my mind. Meanin' of life and shit. You know what I mean?" He looked at Marty like he was the Messiah.
"Yeah,yeah Dave." he conspicuously snuck the car keys out of Dave's pocket. "Why don't we go find that meaning of life thing you were just talking about?" Marty's stomach growled ferociously. "And food." he added.
Dave's eyes widened. "Food! Holy shit, food. Holy-hic- shit I'm hungry." he grabbed hold of Marty's T-shirt again. "Like a dragon, man. As hungry as a fuckin' dragon, man."
Marty grabbed Dave's shoulder and steered him to the passenger's side of the car. "Yeah, Dave. Like a dragon. Get in the car and we'll go see some dragons."
Dave behaved surprisingly well and got into the car, eyes wide and glazed over. Marty hopped into the driver's side and put the key into the ignition. He'd driven Dave home several times since Marty was eleven, so he knew the tricks of the trade. They'd never been pulled over once. Marty put Dave's seatbelt on and drove away from the dilapidated old concert house, and played that first guitar solo over and over again in his mind.
He'd made a decision. He'd be visiting the music store the next day.
They'd made it home past eleven that night, and Marty snuck both himself and Dave through the window to his room. Dave didn't say anything to him the next day, but he looked like a had a pounding hangover.
Near lunchtime the day after the concert, Marty pulled out his stash of money from under a loose floorboard he had hidden under his bed. From his escapades of doing house chores and neighbor jobs like mowing the lawn and mucking out the gutters, he had managed to accumulate $516 and 23 cents. Without telling his parents where he was going, he hopped out the window and skateboarded to the music store on Main Street. Things like ukeleles and flutes hung in the window, and a lone acoustic guitar that was made for five-year-olds.
With a pocket full of cash and a deep resolve, he pushed open the door to the shop. A bell rang above him, and an old man appeared from the back with a friendly smile and warm face.
"Well hello there, son! What can I do for you, now?"
"I'm looking for a guitar." he said confidently. "Electric."
Reviews are certainly appreciated.