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The Third First Show This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

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     Jeff was our singer for one show - our third first show. We called it our third first show because the band was always breaking up and getting back together in such quick cycles it was as if we were Black Sabbath, returning to the stage as a whole for one last time (even though they had about 30 “for the last time” shows), or the video game Final Fantasy, which has so many sequels. Each time we reunited, we came equipped with a brand-new style and a new name so ridiculous it made Schr^dinger’s Kitchen sound good. This time, it was Natural Fluids. Tom, our lead guitarist, came up with the name and will go to the grave claiming that he got it off a Skittle’s wrapper. Our music had softened from the previous screaming metal to an alternative rock sound with a slightly rebellious punk vibe.

After I set up my drums on stage, a young guy with crazy hair and a whiny voice that spoke the words dude and man with such consistency and randomness that I knew he would spend the rest of his life in that café, helped me apply microphones to my drums.

“Dude, you got a butt loada drums, man. This kit rocks my world, dude,” he said as he worked. “All right, man. You’re set, dude,” he said and walked off.

Jeff lined up the scribbled pages of lyrics in front of his feet on the painted black wooden stage, just in case he forgot a line (or all of them) as Tom tuned his baby blue Tom DeLonge guitar to the obnoxious twangs that filled the first song we were going to play, “Human Plow,” which we had written. There was an awful smell of coffee and cigarettes in the air that reminded me of Grandma’s house. Artwork for sale hung on the walls - mostly abstract naked women - and I knew that they, too, would reek of that tobacco-coffee smell until the end of their existence. Above all the noise, I could hear toilets flushing every 15 seconds from across the room in violent, gurgling explosions.

I started the first song of our third first show with the casual four taps on the hi hat, and Tom tore into the song with a driving riff that made some kids with long, dirty hair combed over one eye start pushing each other as Jeff sang, “She looks at me, simplistically, when all this time, she’s been liaring.”

Ugh, lying, Jeff. The word is lying, I thought.

The song went well except for a couple speech malfunctions and a second when Tom almost forgot to come back in after the bridge. The second song was Papa Roach’s “Between Angels and Insects,” which went swimmingly, as my English teacher would say, until the last chorus. I guess with my added enthusiasm of playing a show outside of the wonderful acoustics of my concrete-walled basement, I had been beating my snare drum with an increased effort and split the drum head straight down the middle just before the whole head caved in like a crashing ocean wave.

Tom turned and stared at me, wondering why he couldn’t hear it anymore. I mouthed an explicit word before I said, “Broken.” He made a face that said, “Oh, that’s bad,” and turned to the audience as we finished the song.

“I broke it!” I cried as I raised the slaughtered drum over my head, showing it off and also looking for help. The PA speakers emitted a muffled thud as the microphone that the tech guy had placed on my drum fell to the ground. The crowd cheered barbarically, as if they were part of Jack Merridew’s group of hunters after stabbing the sow with a spear in Lord of the Flies.

The drummer of the band playing after us ran up on stage with his own piccolo snare drum.

“Dude, that stinks about your drum. You’re lucky I’m here,” he said, and the word dude rang in my head as if I’d heard someone just say that word about a million times.

I thanked him, and he jumped from the stage in an awkward leap. There was still a problem, though, as I fumbled with the drum microphone. I muttered a few more expletives before Jeff spoke into his microphone, “Can we get the tech guy up here?” in a voice that told me Jeff wasn’t going to be able to speak the next day.

I saw his puffy, Kramer-like hair above everyone as the infamous tech guy parted the sea of people.

“Dude, what’s wrong, man?” he asked.

“I broke it,” I said holding the microphone over my head.

“What’d you do!” he cried in a frightened voice that sounded choked. He was so scared that I noticed he had fallen out of his “rock-on” vernacular.

I realized that I was still holding the microphone over my head, and knew he must have thought that I’d broken his microphone. “No, I broke my snare drum head. Can you just put this back on?”

I saw instant relief on his face as the color returned. He was almost blue before he started breathing again, and I could see tears in his eyes. He’s definitely never leaving this place, I thought. I bet he sleeps here.

“Oh, thank God, dude,” he said as he reapplied the microphone and adjusted it.

We finished the show with some crowd support - the front row had to hold up the lyrics sheets so Jeff could read them. We played a version of “By the Way” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and “Shinobi Versus Dragon Ninja” by Lost Prophets. We finished up with another song we had written called “Decisions,” about how Jeff had a crush on this girl named Jackie in sixth grade. We realized that we had about ten minutes left as we reached the last chorus and ended with an insane bunch of intense solos that we knew we’d never be able to play again.

That was the last show for Natural Fluids, and unfortunately, that band has never been heard from again. Jeff smashed the CD that the café had recorded of us into microscopic pieces that glittered in the sunlight like diamonds. We forgot how to play “Human Plow” and “Decisions” a week later. Nevertheless, the band re-formed with new members, a heavier sound, and the name A Natural Cause two months later for a fourth first show.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the May 2005 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.






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