Categories > Original > Drama0 Reviews
Rita Holster is a highly sarcastic, slightly neurotic singer and bassist in Noah's Arkansas. She's trying to figure out who she is and what she's supposed to do in life.
There’s no telling where any road you take will lead you. It could lead you to become a llama farmer. It could lead you to become a therapeutic masseuse. It could lead you to die at a ripe old age of 112, or you could kick the bucket before you reach the legal drinking age.
For example, I found myself sitting inside of a stubborn, short school bus that was decorated with graffiti art. There were five other people seated/lying/passed out inside this bus, along with six boxes of merch, various fast food wrappers and cups, and a rather large pile of clothing that just so happened to smell like urine baking in the hot summer sun.
Which could have happened.
The whole atmosphere felt hot and sticky, and none of us had taken a shower in the last five days. The smoke pouring out from under the hood wasn't really helping either.
We should have vacated the bus, but Fran, rhythm guitarist/lead singer and my best friend, was sprawled out on my lap, two other band mates were asleep under the seats, and our merch guy was attempting to play something unrecognizable on an acoustic guitar. Our band manager was sitting in the driver's seat trying to call information to find out where exactly we are and the phone number of the closest, cheap towing service.
We had to make it to a club in Indiana in five hours and were parked on the side (thank God) of the road on a highway in Missouri.
I cannot express enough how amazingly screwed we all are. And not just because we are sitting in an immobile automobile (ironic, huh?). I meant screwed in the head. It works for us, though. How many people can pour their hearts out for everyone to see and sing along about what resides inside their heads?
I can. And I get paid for it. Which means that we make rent. Well, most months anyway.
What the hell did I do to start down this particular road?
That's the question I should ask, I suppose. But, existential thought never really gets me anywhere.
Moving on. Everyone except our manager, Erik—our savior and adopted road father—and myself was terribly hung-over or still a bit drunk from the escapades of the night before.
I could practically hear Erik thinking about how he gave up his good, steady job to become a tour manager. For us, no less. Noah's Arkansas. A punk rock band made up of a lazy but enigmatic twenty year old boy (who was a drum god in training, no really), an extremely calm, cool, and collected female rhythm guitarist, a fun-loving, loud lead guitarist (also, surprisingly, female), and yours truly. A slightly psychotic, obstinate twenty-three year old bassist and lyricist.
I was trying to read Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger for the fifth time. I hadn't read it five times, but attempted to read it five times. I was currently reading about a man telling a girl about a bananafish.
Am I supposed to know what a bananafish is?
A groan escaped from my lap, interrupting the thought process that I was trying to use after reading the same paragraph three times and not comprehending one bit of it.
"Oh, man, Rita. What did I drink last night?"
"What didn't you drink last night?" Do bananafish taste like fish or bananas? Can you peel them? Are they yellow? I'm reading way too into this story. I'll bet the man dies at the end anyway. He’s pretty depressed. "Oh, yeah. Anything that wasn't hard liquor."
"That explains it. Who made it so fucking bright today?"
"The being that separated the light of day from the lack thereof at night."
"It's too early to decipher whatever you just said."
"It's one o' clock, Fran."
"Shut the fuck up."
"Did the seat just talk to us?" I nodded and turned the page.
"Yeah, it must have peeled off the duct tape. Or the smell just made it dry rot open."
"I'm tired, I'm hot, and I've got a fucking headache. Shut up."
"Oh, it's just Pally."
"Damn, I thought I was still asleep."
Here is the life of Rita Holster. Sleeping on top of and under the only people in the world for whom I'd give two shits and playing shows every night; playing so intensely that I sometimes regurgitate my daily, unconventional meal afterward.
A single, middle finger peeked over the top of the brown seats that we had unbolted, slid together and re-bolted to the middle of the aisle. It was soon after retracted and snores came from under our seats, so that ended the fight. If one could even call it that. A real fight with Pally, was usually reconciled over a trip to the hospital. And it was never Pally that was hurt. She’s our black-belted life-lover.
My cell phone, which was bought for me by my mother to keep contact with family—most of which I loathed—started ringing in the bottom of my backpack that was cushioning my back. Or it was in the duffel where I was resting my head. Shows how much I use the damn thing.
I managed to dump Fran, who had fallen back asleep or was drowning in a drunken haze, into the floor, on top of Pally and Mac in my frenzy to find the chirping device. Whoever set the ringer on my phone knew I would find it annoying. It was probably my mother.
Getting shouts of pain and promised revenge and death, I found my phone in a blue Chuck Taylor that was not mine in my duffel bag. I pondered a moment if I could get athlete's foot in my ear, but saw the number flashing was my boyfriend's of a year. The boyfriend with whom I hadn't spoken in about five days. I knew it was five days because I’d talked to him right before my last shower.
It stopped ringing in time for me to answer it, but I hopped over my disgruntled band mates and fell face first out of the bus door. Scraped elbows and knees resulted, making me want to reconsider calling him back. I did anyway.
Lying on my back with one foot propped on the first step of the bus and the other resting on the front tire, I dialed his number and waited.
"Hey! It's my groupie! You owe me skin for two elbows and two knees."
"Okay. We need to talk." Uh oh. Danger on the home front. Where ever home was at the moment.
"Is this going to end with me on the rampage killing innocents in cold blood on my way to torture you to death?"
"I hope not." He knew I was only half-kidding.
"Well, out with it then." He let out a sigh that only made my heart beat that much quicker. I could almost hear him scratching his head.
"I think we should see other people." Oh. Damn. Balls from left field certainly are a bitch. I wasn't sure what to do. I'd never been dumped before. I was usually the dumper.
"Rita, say something."
"What is there to say?" Shouldn't he be saying something now?
"I was just obliging to your request. You say something, Brian."
"What do you want me to say?" Ass.
"If I tell you what to say, then there's no need to say it to me. I'll already know it." Silence ensued.
"I'm sorry. I just need someone that's here with me. You're never here. You've been touring for practically our whole relationship."
"I'm in a band! That's my job. What do you want me to do?" I was sitting up now and four little heads were hanging out of the bus windows watching me sit in the dirt and beat the ground with my hand. Erik was probably still calmly explaining to the lady in information at what mile marker we were currently resting.
"I'm an art gallery director! I can't keep up with your lifestyle. I need stability!" I had managed to snag myself a normal, stable guy. I thought opposites attracted. Obviously not.
"Fine! I'm going to go and you can just go fuck some stable, artistic girl. And you can have stable, artsy sex. Maybe she’ll enjoy that shit." Yes. I indeed stooped to that level. Defacing his performance in bed. And my comeback didn’t even make sense. I’m aware.
"I'm going to hang up now."
"Yes. You should." And he did. I got up, brushed myself off, and climbed back into the bus. No one said a word, and we all sat like perfect little school children in our seats until the tow truck came.
I still didn't know what the hell a bananafish is, and the guy ended up shooting himself at the end of the story. It was symbolic or something. Or I read too far into it again.
So, every single relationship seems to get dashed by cheating. He cheats, she cheats, they fall out of love to condone it, it's all very tiring and many illegitimate children are born because of it.
It so would have been easier if Brian broke up with me because he was cheating.
One thing about him, though, was that if he was cheating, he would have told me. He was nothing if not honest.
The kind of 'yes, dear, I was fantasizing about doing ungodly things to your body on the altar whilst sitting in church beside of your parents and other members of your extended family' honest.
I'm paid to be blunt and imaginative. So shoot me already.
It's not like I loved him. He was nice to have there for me, though. Doesn't everyone need someone there for them? Someone to care, for reassurance, to miss you when you're away?
And, let's face it. I'm away most months out of the year. I was home for a month last year in total. Yeah, we're that band. You know the one. The one that's severely dedicated to the brink of self-destruction. We all live and breathe this band, and God help anyone that tries to stop us. It's our baby. So to speak… If any of us had to take care of a real child, the world might just stop spinning and fall into an icy oblivion. Or the child's brain would become extremely botched before it received all of its normal motor capabilities.
If it ever did. We live hard.
We had to conceal some members of our group in our bus so that we could all get a ride to the garage at the same time. This translates to: Mac, our drummer, Phillip, our merch guy and long-time friend, Fran, and myself hiding under massive amounts of filth, our filth, so that when the tow truck guy told us that he could only take two people with him, we would all get a free ride. Well, not free exactly. We still had to find a way to pay to get our bus fixed.
I was glad the garage wasn't too far away. The stench from all of our dirty, sweaty and/or moldy belongings was making me a bit disoriented. The very back of our bus was used for things' existences of which we didn't want to acknowledge anymore. We bolted some of the bus seats in the middle, along with some more plushy seats from our old van that tried to kill us with carbon monoxide poisoning, placed our amps, instruments and other equipment on one side of the back, and left our other odoriferous possessions to rot on the other side. I would have totally chosen to dive under our heavy equipment and face a hasty death rather than be slowly suffocated under Mac's grimy pants and Pally's… piece of material that doesn't form a jacket anymore.
Pally, the drummer, and Erik (naturally) were the ones that got to ride in the nice, air-conditioned truck cab. Erik did just because he was the obvious choice, and Pally managed to slip in smoothly right in front of Erik much to the rest of our dismay. We were about to bicker when Erik gave us “the look.” You know, the one where you stop what you’re doing immediately just so your blood doesn’t freeze from terror? Yeah, that one. We acted like we were getting some stuff out of the back and stealthily slid under some junk. Or, in my case, some biohazard.
Erik disappeared inside the shop to talk about prices, and Pally walked around to open the back hatch and let us out.
"That was just entirely… repulsive." Mac crawled out from under Mysterious Pile #2, mine was #1, and removed a once-pink bra from his head and a torn pair of underwear from his shoulder in disgust.
"I think Mac got the worst of it," Fran said laughing as she pushed a guitar case onto Philip's blonde head, which popped up at the worst time for impact.
"Ahh, fuck." We all had such blazing vocabularies. Phillip reached over and picked up the closest thing to sling haphazardly in Fran's direction. It happened to be the torn pair of underwear that was adorning Mac's shoulder earlier. Fran jumped and ran, picking up a rock and throwing it towards Phillip, hitting a window instead. Thankfully, it didn't break. We didn't have the money to get our bus fixed anyway, and a broken window would have further annihilated our measly tour budget.
The underwear landed on Mac's other shoulder this time.
"Ahh!" He flicked them off.
"Hey! I think those are mine." Fran came back with a rock in one hand and a stick in the other, keeping a close eye on Phillip, who was just sitting amongst the amp cases and smiling at her. I looked closer.
"I think they might belong to one of Mac's girlie fans." He was the promiscuous member of the band.
"Nope, those are mine. I lost them last year, though." Pally came up and grabbed them. Bare-handed. I shuddered, but I was probably lying in worse just minutes earlier.
Mac laughed and leaned against the bus door, lighting up a cigarette. Kid'll die before he reaches twenty-five. He'd smoke in his sleep if he could figure out how to do so without burning down where ever we crashed at night.
"Anyone have any aspirin?" Hangovers were still intact. Erik walked out of the shop, followed by the tow truck man, and threw a bottle at Pally. I swear, it was like he was God. Knows all, sees all, has the cure-all.
"Where did all you people come from?" The man was nauseating with broken, yellow teeth, a crooked smile and coarse, white hair growing in all the wrong places and directions. Including straight up out of his half-buttoned, blue flannel shirt.
"Well, you see, when two people in a relationship want to prove their love for each other, or, y'know, they're both drunk and desperate…"
"They were dropped off a second ago by someone else," Erik cut me off, glaring all the while. He really was our second father. Scarier than my real one, too.
"Oh, okay then. Uh, there's a diner down the road there. I'll have your bus fixed in a couple hours or so." If making the show tonight was contingent on this man, we were surely going to miss it. "Three at the most, I think."
We needed the money from this show to fix the bus, but wouldn't be able to get there due to our bus' lack of devotion to this band. Vicious circle. The world was a vicious circle.
We made it into the diner and all wrinkled our noses at the same time. The air inside was stale and smelled like spoiled food and bleach. I should know. That's how our apartment smells after we get back from tour and Fran cleans out the fridge.
"Where did we break down? Couldn't it have been a few more miles down the road?" No one was sitting in the diner and the kitchen appeared to be empty as well. We sat down at the tables pushed together in the middle of the floor. My seat was now stuck to my ass; the jury's still out on what made up the glue.
"What can I get for you?" A woman just kind of appeared between Erik and Phillip at the end of the table. A collective jump and gasp resulted. We had all spent way too much time in close proximity with each other, ultimately becoming one cohesive brain while keeping our distinct personalities. Each one of us was an organ and did our respective job, but when the heart went into cardiac arrest, the lungs stopped, the brain seized, and the tongue was swallowed. If that can happen. I think either Erik or I played the role of the liver. Everyone else drinks too much.
The waitress looked at us expectantly, silently criticizing our appearances. Pally's blonde mohawk was spiked out weirdly from sleeping and partying, as were her long pieces of hair on the sides of her head. Her face was a myriad of piercings and we were all heavily tattooed, save for Mac, though he was on his way. Every tour brought more ink and steel under and through our skin. We were obviously a bit much for this poor woman to handle.
"Um, just some… coffee for me," I wasn't going to risk actually eating any food. The coffee might have been what smelled like bleach, though. Everyone else looked at each other and muttered some response before contemplating what they were about to put into their bodies. Fran and Mac got Cokes, Erik and Pally just ordered water (in bottles—the tap water? I don't think so.), and Phillip ordered an omelet. Which he was planning on eating. We were all hoping he wouldn't, though.
The waitress brought us our orders and fiddled around with the jukebox in the corner until it started to play. Heartbreak Hotel. How very fitting for me, right? I stared at my lap, the yellow-stained black and white tiled floor, and Phillip as he poked around at his runny omelet. The yellow of the omelet matched the stains on the floor, and I was extremely glad when he decided to not risk his life and pushed the plate away from him.
The song changed, and the Beach Boys' 'Wouldn't It Be Nice?' came on the static-y speakers. I laughed at how random our lives were. We broke down in the middle of nowhere. My boyfriend broke up with me. We hid in our own mess to avoid sitting on the side of the road for three hours. We discussed smelly women's underwear. We were almost poisoned in a diner suitable for the set of Leatherface. Amusement was found by all via Fran flicking Phillip's egg paste at Pally who was chucking forks, both parties getting scolded by Erik and receiving laughter from the rest of us.
It's just so outright absurd that no one could make it up.
Just for the record, my ass was still stuck to my chair and my elbows and knees were itchy with dried blood and dirt. But, I think was over Brian. Which took all of about two hours.
I was completely serious when I said I didn't love him. I would compare him to comfort food. I needed him to be there. He was always there in the same place when I needed him. But, I think I like cookies more than him. They'll never bail on me when I'm trying to watch my extremely ingenious four-year-old niece that loves to tie my shoes together while I stand with her so my brother can go to the bathroom. Cookies will just sit there on the table and say, "When you get your shoes unknotted, you can come eat us. We'll be waiting."
I really wasn't there for Brian ever, but I couldn't help that. I mean, we postponed our first proper date for two months until I got home from tour. He had to have taken that little hint and deduced that our relationship wouldn't be cliché and reliable. Come to think of it, he probably likes cookies more than me too. A cookie will never call you at four in the morning to tell you about the greatest show it ever played while its friends are in the background cheering drunkenly and screaming obscenities.
And we've had a few 'greatest shows' in our time.
Three and a half hours and two fork injuries later, we were back on the road, Erik was trying to get us a later time slot at the club, and I was lying in the floor trying to get some sleep.
Which wasn't happening. My stomach was gurgling from a deficit of nutrition and whenever the bus took a turn or a curve to the left, an amp cabinet would slide over and hit my shin. I was too famished, or lazy, to move, though.
"I don't care that you've already booked us for seven, we can be there at nine and play by nine-thirty. It's not the band's fault that the bus broke down. Just push one of the other bands up to our time slot. Noah's Arkansas is ten times better than the last opener…"
I love Erik for so many reasons. We would have already imploded if it weren't for him.
"That sounds great. Thanks." He flipped his phone shut and turned around to face us. Phillip was driving and, for once, all of us were awake and not causing any disasters or conflicts. "We will have about fifteen minutes to set up when we get there. But, you still get to play, so be happy and no groaning. And I got you a buyout." (buyout, n. money that a club gives a band for food after the show.)
"Jesus Christ, Erik. You sure you're not a father yet?" Pally was riding shotgun.
"Yeah, to you guys."
"Don't mope about it. You know you couldn't make it without us." Fran was lying perpendicular to me. If she moved one inch to the left, though, she would get gum stuck to her pants.
"Yes, you are my lifeblood, guys." I rolled my eyes.
"Oh, we're definitely more than that."