The Wolf River Kings

by Jenny

Derek grimaced against the scream of feedback in his ears and ran his fingers down the taut, quivering strings of his Fender Telecaster. It screamed, the sound echoing around the empty stadium. It was good to be back.

He pictured it. In a few hours this place would be a sea of faces all shouting his name. Ok, so he wasn’t twenty-seven any more and he couldn’t quite manage all that writhing about on the floor anymore, but fans of the Wolf River Kings didn’t come for all that - they were here for the music. And he, Derek Electric-Fingers Rivers, could still give them that.

He was picking out the familiar riff for Danger Girl when a deafening thud thud forced its way inside the melody and drowned everything out. That bastard Eric Fucking Wolf was back on his bass drum. Derek didn’t see why drums even needed soundchecking, it wasn’t like they were a real instrument. Eric smirked

It was all Eric’s fault they’d broken up in the first place. Derek couldn’t remember exactly why - those days had been a blur of booze and bonking, of drinking till dawn and never thinking of tomorrow - but if there was one thing he knew, it was that he hated Eric Wolf.

Derek escaped the insistence of the bass drum in the dressing room, where it was quieter. He took a slug of Bourbon from their rider and collapsed with it onto the sofa. In the old days he’d have had half of it inside him already, along with God knew what else.

Derek didn’t remember closing his eyes, but he came to as someone was shaking his shoulder. It must be time to go on. Shit. He tried to haul himself to his feet, but the woman wouldn’t let him stand. She was mouthing words to him, but he could barely hear her over the ringing of feedback in his ears.

He looked down. Where were his snakeskin boots and leather trousers? Why was he wearing pyjama bottoms? Didn’t these people understand that he had to be on stage? He looked back at the woman and tried to make out what she was saying. She was pointing to her ears.

“Derek - your batteries are gone - we need to get them changed.”

Batteries? What was she on about? If only that dreadful ringing would stop.

Then, over her shoulder, Derek caught sight of Eric’s smirking face. He was wearing the same striped pyjama bottoms as he was. Was this some kind of new look for the Wolf River Kings?

In confusion he reached for the Bourbon, but his hands reached only a mug of tepid tea on a saucer with biscuits.The woman’s hands nipped in, did something quickly and expertly and the ringing stopped. He could hear again at last.

“There Mr Rivers, isn’t that better?” She smiled and walked away. Derek lost her in the sea of armchaired, blanketed figures filling the overheated little room. To his left a large television blared Jeremy Kyle at killer volume.

Derek blinked in confusion, but before he could ask any questions, Eric looked him dead in the eye, reached over and stole the bourbon biscuits from Derek’s saucer with a smug little wink.