Family for me had always been screaming parents, fighting children, and a lot of brokenness. Brokenness referring to bones, hearts, and glass or china. My mom was a nurse who worked the craziest hours and picked up shifts whenever she could just so we could drink our milk for dinner (if we even had that). My dad, on the other hand, worked twelve hours a day, six days a week, and drank it all to hell. Sometimes I wonder if he even worked that long, or if he took off early to go to the bar. I know for a fact that it was my mother who refused to get the divorce. Even when Dad's fists put her in the hospital, she believed it was what she should have to put up with. After all, a woman was made to be married and raise kids, right? Needless to say, she wasn't happy when I wasn't engaged or pregnant by high school graduation.
Compared to a lot of other kids at school, I had it good. Sure, my dad drank, but neither of my parents were hard drug users and neither of them hit me. I guess that's why I was voted prom queen my senior year. I had a "good outlook on life." That was a load of bull shit my friends thought would be funny. Apparently the whole school thought so too. Although, it was a pretty good laugh to see the look on the all-girl-Catholic-school principal's face when a pale girl with dyed black hair, a short black dress, and heavy eyeliner walked up to take the crown. Actually, the whole ordeal was inspiration for one of our songs, but I'll tell you about that in a minute.
Now, as for the band, we've known each other from the ankle-biter stage of our lives. Ryder, I think, may have actually bitten some ankles back then, but he's too prideful to stoop now.
I think it was freshman year that Ryder came up with the idea that we should form a band. We laughed at him at first, but after about a week, we realized he was for real and, eventually, we were too. So, we picked our instruments, got jobs, took lessons, and, thus, the birth of The Undead Givers. It was awkward at first, because none of us sophomores (or junior) could write songs worth a damn. Then, after senior prom, we were strewn about Molly's basement, getting stoned, and the idea hit me. I miraculously found a pen and paper (miraculously because of how high I was) and wrote down the first verse and refrain of what would one day become our first song (and hit) on the radio. I called it "High School Drama" and the first line of the refrain was "Prom queen cuts herself with a razor blade." It was lucky as hell I could read the lyrics the next morning, let alone remember the tune, but I did.
From that moment on, I was a machine, writing songs like I smoked pot: there was very little if any thought involved. I think Molly was a little nervous I would take her spot as lead singer, but I enjoyed the dark corner of being bass player too much. Not to mention I was way too close as a friend to stab her in the back.
Graduation finally rolled around and I decided to move in with my older brother Michael in his apartment. Ryder wanted to get the hell out of his parents' house so he crashed on the couch. It wasn't hard to get used to the couple that constantly fought in the apartment next door because that was all I knew, but I can't say it wasn't a relief to finally leave all that behind for a bunk on a smelly tour bus when the time came.
But that didn't come easy either. We had full time jobs and tried to fit in as much practice time as we could when we weren't playing live at bars and clubs and even a few wedding receptions. If they paid, we played. We had a pretty good fan base, but it was still local, so we tried branching out, telling our fans to tell their friends, especially those out of town, hoping it would work. Shooter, in all of his nerdy glory, set up a web page. It actually turned out to be awesome and spread our crowd further.
While Shooter was the brains, Molly was the voice of both the songs and the public relations. I don't know how she pulled off half the gigs we got, but she was the power that pushed us to the top. And Ryder was our face for the ladies. He drew them from the streets into clubs and bars just by sending his pretty-rays out the doors. Michael, on the other hand, was my saving grace. Nobody wanted to mess with my big brother. He was burly and liked to hit things, thus: the drummer. It was incredible how many guys eyed me or Molly and then, after seeing Michael's hard gaze holding fast on them, would never say a word to us. I guess you could say he sort of adopted Molly as our sister.
Even under my brother's watchful gaze, I managed to have some regretful nights. Especially if there were drugs involved, which was often. I would always wake up at about four in the morning after those mistakes and shower and then leave before the guy noticed. What a constant hangover.
And yet, there's still one night that stands out clearer than any other in my mind and that was the night my life changed in two major ways.
I was still nervous going out on the stage, to the point that I was losing weight from losing my dinners. But I just remember walking out, that purple guitar clutched in my hands like if I let go I would die, and I played the first few notes of "High School Drama." The crowd, which was about two hundred people, went crazy. It was the most incredible feeling. They were obsessed with my song. Then Michael started on his drums and Shooter joined in with the undertone guitar. Ryder wammied in with the lead guitar and Molly literally flipped out onto the stage and sent the crowd into a riot. It was insane and the best high I've ever had, beyond what any drug could give me. Something just seemed to go right that night and we were constantly on the radio after that.
The second change came after our show. While the band we opened for was rocking the floor, we usually hung out in the hallways, giving out our autographs to random people on their way to or from the bathroom. At that point, we weren't big enough to have our own bathrooms and the adrenaline always got to me, so that was my first stop after playing that night.
I was standing at the sink, washing my hands, when the door opened. I looked in the mirror and saw Shooter standing there. I laughed a little through my nose. "What are you doing?" As nerdy and emo as Shooter was, I'd always had at least a little bit of a crush on him. I mean, he wasn't classically, drop-dead gorgeous or anything, but he had that bad-boy attitude, black-brown eyes, and black hair that was just long enough to hang in his eyes. And, as an added bonus, he was the-girl-can-wear-heels taller than me, which is hard to come by at my five-nine standing.
He just stood there for a second, almost nervous, so I turned to ask if something was wrong because I could tell he was clean. Suddenly Shooter was right in front of me and his hands were on my sides. I had just enough time to blink before he had his tongue in my mouth. I can't say I was complaining.
After the initial shock of what was going on, I managed to get my hands on his shoulders and push him back, but not full out shove-away rejection. His face was fire engine red with embarrassment and I knew what he was thinking: Shit.
That's when I smiled and wrapped my arms behind his back, pulling him close as I leaned back up against the countertop. I tucked some of unruly hair behind his ear and let my hand linger on his cheek. It was me this time that engaged our mouths.
The door opened and I could have sworn it was Molly. The girl stopped in surprise and then walked out. I think I almost drew blood from his tongue. He jerked back and glanced at the door.
"Jesus, Sally, who was that?" he asked, extremely nervous now.
"Sorry, I thought it was Molly," I said and then quickly added, "But it definitely wasn't. She was like thirteen."
"Well, I think we should get back to the band…I mean—er –they probably are wondering what happened to us," he stuttered.
"Yeah," I replied, drawing it out in disappointment and begrudged agreement.