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As Good as It Gets
As Good As it Gets
The life of Rhyn Axel
Told by: Rhyn Axel
A short story by Winona Krska
“I would like to buy that bass guitar over there” said the scrawny 17 year old.
That’s how this whole mess started. If my friend wouldn’t have told me to get one I would have done something actually worth my time. But no. I had to join that stupid band. I thought that the chicks at school would love me if I was in a band. I thought that I had the looks and all that was missing was the talent. Boy was I right.
All the girls loved me; they thought that I was the greatest thing to hit that stupid brown desert. Popularity followed me where ever I went. Now all the girls did too. Sure there were lots of ugly ones but the hot chicks were ballsy enough to throw themselves at us so we didn’t care. Living the dream. That’s us Crazy Creosote. Until now.
Life got hard as soon as I turned 18. Everything was fine until my parents kicked me out. Sure I had a job but it sucked. Dominic and I got an apartment together. He’s a total pig.
See I’m the kind of guy that likes to look good for the ladies. That means everything. The house is always clean. I really don’t like it when it gets dirty. They call me Mr. Clean.
“Rhyn my man, you look amazing,” I tell myself.
“Especially for a blind date,” Orin tells me.
Who is this girl?”
“If I told you I’d have to kill you” Orin said with a smirk.
“Don’t I need to know her name?”
“Oh sure. She goes by Sawyer Trey.”
“OK” deep breath. “I’ll see you later?” I asked.
“Duh! I wouldn’t miss that for the world,” Orin was on the verge of hysteria. Something was up. He’d been acting weird about this whole blind date thing since he planned it. Maybe I was an idiot for accepting but anything was preferable to hanging out with that Nazi.
I got there a little early and find this knockout sitting at my reserved table. I headed over and her date comes back and grabs her. They leave before I could get there. So I sit and wait. She showed up right on time. Dressed in a shiny red blouse and a pencil skirt, her legs looked a mile long in her shiny black heels. The host brought her over. Upon closer inspection Sawyer wasn’t the most beautiful girl I’d seen but she defiantly wasn’t ugly. She still had her glasses on. Oh no! I hope she doesn’t wear them all the time.
“Hello.” That snapped me back.
“Hello. I’m Rhyn Axel.” Oh der.
She looked at me quizzically and smiled. “I’m Sawyer Trey.”
We shook hands. “Do you always wear glasses?” I found myself asking.
“Oh! No no!” She took them off. “I was in a hurry after class. I just forgot to take them off.” She smiled.
I inspected her once again, noticing that she was very pale especially for Arizona. Her hair was a deep mahogany with random copper strands much like my own. The eyes her face sported were large and forest green with brown in the center. Well, not really brown. More like a cherry wood color, ‘because you know it’s redder. The hands attached to her long arms were well used for manual labor. A slight tan line told me that she wears gloves during the summer. Her nose. It wasn’t small and pert like the good looking girls I knew but strong; obviously her most dominating feature.
We talked all through the night. She asked what I did and I told her that I did book keeping for a couple local businesses and worked at a tee shirt screening shop as well as other seasonal stuff.
She on the other hand was going to college. Criminal Justice and Pre-Law were her majors. Money is where she came from, (why she does manual labor I’ll never know.) not millions but her parents were lower- upper class. Both of them were doctors. Go figure.
She was 18 at the time; Just starting college. A square and was impressed but not overly excited by what I plan to do.
“I think that’s awesome! I play cello in the orchestra. I love music. When did you start? You should learn an orchestra instrument. They’re almost the same. I’ll teach you sometime.”
And that was the start of our frequent lessons. How she did it with all that homework I’ll never know. We worked on scales and technique and all that other stuff. She bought a concert bass and we worked on it twice a week. I do have to say, I learned a lot. Patience is one of her best virtues. Learning together was pretty cool. The one thing I was extremely grateful for was her teaching me how to run a soundboard. I now work for the local high school and Mormon Church working their microphones and PA systems.
Six months is when the band really started picking up. We were offered so many gigs… it was incredible! We didn’t have a name at the time but Duran came up with Crazy Creosote. We thought it was alright especially since none of us could come up with anything else. I was working the soundboard and playing bass at every gig. Sawyer came when she could, which was only half the time. The gigs were all out of town. The next largest town was 20 minutes away and they were always there. We heard rumors of a talent scout from L.A. that likes to come here and check out the local talent once a year. We got jumpy.
“Layne! We need new music!” said paranoid Dom.
“Dude, calm down,” Jeff remarked. Dang peacemaker. “No scout is going to go to the stupid little gigs we do.”
“Well… you never know.” Orin was always butting in.
“Shut up Dude!” my nerves and voice were shot. This all happened right after one of our shows. “Who cares about a fricking scout? We do need new music though. We should do a version of Route 66. People her love it.”
“Yeah, sure. Layne change the key to fit our ranges,” ordered Dominic. “And make it kind of bluesy. It’ll fit nice with the rock.”
“I’ll do whatever” the rest of us chimed in.
That scout came and was taking a breather at the club we were playing at. He said he came because he didn’t think there was any talent here, but low and behold he found us and we started recording for a record. An Agent hasn’t gotten to us and we still don’t have a deal but we were sure we will sooner or later. Sawyer was always there in her down time. Her lawyer stuff was going good.
By the time we got a deal, about a year had passed. I turned 20 that summer, which is the perfect age to get a record deal, to start my life, and to start a serious relationship. Sawyer and I were pretty casual and the timing was perfect. Perfect.
We all moved to L.A, even Sawyer. All of us rented a house on the outskirts. It was nice to be working full time for once. I wasn’t able to run the soundboard since I was always on bass. The band also got a team of songwriters at our disposal as well as technicians. A new name was given to us. We are now called Spotlight. We seemed to like it. Our entourage really liked it.
We weren’t performing consistently but it was enough. We were scheduled to do a concert in the next four months. Four months came and went. The concert we did was on Labor Day; the turnout was good. People generally liked us. They said that we were like a Bon Jovi Coldplay mix. We were all infatuated with the idea of being as successful as either of them.
For Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years we all went back to Arizona; back to the creosote and prickly pear. I found out that my mom died just before I got there. I will always feel bad because I never got to say good-bye. There was a memorial service for her which we all attended. Afterwards I went home with my dad.
“You stupid SOB!” Dad yelled. “You’re the reason that she died! She would have been fine if you wouldn’t have left and been a stupid… a stupid…”
That’s when my dad did something that I’ll never forget. He wept. In my arms he wept. I’d never seen him cry before. He was hardened and never showed much emotion before.
The holidays were nothing without Mom. We didn’t have a feast like all the other American families. Our days went on with the same monotony of a life without meaning.
We went back to L.A. and sold CD’s like crazy. We were getting more popular by the minute. We were doing lots of concerts by spring. The money was rolling in on huge waves of success. Oprah even wanted us on her show. “It was almost like the Beatles” everyone was saying. They jinxed us. You know what happened to the Beatles? They broke up and two of them are dead. Now is that the kind of stuff we want to haunt us for all our days? I think not.
Everything was fine after that with the band. We all got back into the groove. As soon as we got settled again we swamped with all this stuff like offers, e-mails, and snail mai Fan Mail! We had fans! Everyone was stoked. We were getting real popular, real fast. These were the best days of our lives.
After that we went on tour, all over the States. I frequently called Sawyer to let her know how things were going and to make sure that she wasn’t seeing anyone else while I was away. Wouldn’t I be able to tell if she was? She was probably thinking the same thing, I hope.
You know, our successful careers were very short lived. Because when we got back from the tour everything went sour. Orin wanted more fame. Dominic wanted more chicks. Jeff wanted more money. And like someone out there, I wanted out. I couldn’t handle it anymore.
Kinship that we felt in our early days had gone extremely sour. But we continued with everything and got more popular every day. We even had two number one singles, which is really good for a starting band. We were extremely lucky that we were found and that we were so successful.
There were others that didn’t feel the same way though. Remember what happened to John Lennon? Someone thought that it would be funny if the replicated that incident and chose Orin as they’re victim. Orin Ghallager-Baynes was shot four times in the back after being followed by this loon after signing an autograph for him. He was our lead guitar. We didn’t even think of replacing him even if he was a d*****, he was our d***** and we loved him even though we thought it better for him to be silent. Eventually we did get another one but only because the Agent told us that it was in our best interest to get one if we didn’t want to get fired. Ha! Us fired! They can do that. They pull the funds right out from under your feet, and when you’re a new band you need people to invest in you.
Spotlight continued to climb the charts. Success was our friend but we weren’t happy. We were always fighting about everything. Nothing could be resolved and so… we broke up.
Plain and simple. We couldn’t stand each other since Orin died. The friend that we would never see again or talk to or argue with was always on our minds. Nothing was getting done. So we went our separate ways. You can’t trust others to do the right thing in those situations. I should have never done any of that. I trusted them to take me places as they trusted me.
I had to get another job. No one really liked that I was almost 21 years old and was in a band that had a member knocked off. I applied to many places but they all said that I was not what they were looking for.
I finally found a place that would take me with the experience that I had. This company made me an agent. For actors, musicians, and anyone else that had talent. I get payed good and Sawyer and I now live in a house that we bought. The happiness was yet again short lived because someone slipped the “never do drugs” Jeff some acid, got him tripping and then strangled him. Dominic and I are the only original ones left. We go see their graves frequently.
I am on my way to the movie premiere where the actor I am an agent for will be introduced to the public. He’s a good looking guy that all the girls love so I’m sure he’ll do just fine. Sawyer is coming with me but she’s taking the car. I decided to walk to give me some time to think about how I will ask her to marry me. I know it’s what she wants and I think owe it to myself to do something for me to make my life a little bit sweeter. Where this life will lead me, I have no clue. But I will never let anyone else partner with me in any sort of business effort because I don’t trust anyone with my success. This is as good as it gets.