Just another Friday night.
Keith Turner finished cutting up lemons and limes to stock the fruit wells behind the bar, grabbed a damp towel, and proceeded toward the tables.
Tonight was going to be special. Fridays were always busy but with tonight’s big-time singer coming to perform – Keith looked up to Heaven and said a silent prayer that nothing stopped that from happening – it was sure to be slammed, slammed, SLAMMED.
The Glass Of Beer Saloon never looked better than it did right now. That’s because of two things: One was that Keith had been scrubbing and polishing all afternoon and now it was approaching 4 o’clock. Two was that the bar hadn’t changed, or been updated as Keith liked to sneer at, since his dad first opened it nearly 45 years ago and the antiques in the room looked pretty cool and trendy in today’s world.
Yes, all was well at The GOB, as the locals called it, and it was likely that every single person in Stellar, all 444 of them at the last official count, would stick their head in tonight for at least one song. Keith put a hand over his heart and this time muttered a prayer out loud, asking God to bring The Man to his saloon as planned.
Local boy who made good.
Backstage was about as neat and clean as it ever was and as it ever would be. Keith had hired extra help to make sure of that.
In a flash two seriously muscular young men darkened the doorway to his office and smiled at Keith. One of them spoke, “We’re gonna set up for Blaine.” It wasn’t a question, and they didn’t wait to see how Keith reacted. Instead the two beefy guys began the task of hauling in sound and lighting equipment and a lot of stage props.
Keith smiled and watched with pride. Blaine Dewson. The Man himself. King of Country Music for how long? 14 years at least? And he was still going strong. Hell, everyone in Stellar knew him from years back. The entire Dewson family for that matter. Blaine’s parents, Chester and Doreen Dewson, still sat on the front porch of that big blue farm-house just outside of town watching the sunset every night, and it was a rare day when they didn’t know the names of every person who passed by.
Yes, Keith’s prayers had been answered all right. Blaine coming here was truly a Godsend. Times had been tough for The GOB but if things went well, as they were looking like they would, tonight’s take would be enough to pay every damned past-due invoice piled high on his desk. With a bit leftover.
“Keith!” His weekend manager, Dwight, sounded a bit alarmed.
“What’s going on?” Keith looked up from his desk. There wasn’t much that would ruffle his feathers tonight. Things were going even better than expected.
“The sign’s out! The goddamned sign just threw off sparks and went out! Looks like we are shut down from the road!”
Keith swore under his breath. “Can’t you get it working?”
Dwight shrugged. “Tried. I just called Parker to see if he can get over here quick and work his magic.”
Keith nodded. Parker was the local electrician, the only local electrician, so if anyone could get the sign working it would be him. “Good. Parker’ll patch it up.”
Back to life – or death.
Parker stood outside looking up proudly at the now functioning “OPEN’ sign. “Sure looks pretty!”
Keith let out the breath he’d been holding. It was way too early to have his sign run out of juice. People driving by from the main highway could see it and he’d get even more business out of this miracle. “You’re a lifesaver, Parker!” Keith slapped the electrician on the shoulder and made his way back into the bar.
Come show time it was wall to wall people at The GOB. The music was loud, the customers getting drunker by the minute, and the ladies had come out in their best short skirts and boots. There had been busy nights at the bar before, but tonight? It was from crazy to insane!
Never heard it coming.
With the music, laughter and foot-stomping rockin’ the joint, The Glass Of Beer Saloon patrons and employees alike were deaf to the outside world. Not that it would have done any of them any good.
Something came to visit them that night. And when it was done getting acquainted all that was left of many bar-goers was shreds of hair and a bit of leather.
And they were almost impossible to identify. Except for one. Blaine Dewson. Part of his left hand was still intact and he was wearing the ring he got from the town to honor his first platinum record.