Corey and Emmi - Part II
“Did you see who got added to the concert lineup?” Rai asked Emmi, stepping into the threshold.
From within the bus’s bedroom, Emmi glanced over. She tied on her thin heels with a snicker. “I certainly did. Mr. Taylor, but as a solo act. I sent his rep an email two weeks ago.”
“Did he ever answer the last one you sent?”
“Nope,” Emmi replied with a muted sigh. “I’m just a nobody, after all.”
“You’re Emmi Vendetta,” Rai argued sweetly, her hand on her hip. “Asshole.”
“Whatever. If he humors me, great, but I’m not holding my breath.”
“I know you can’t wait to tell him about that concert. He was so high that night, I bet he doesn’t remember a single note, let alone some starry-eyed girl in the pit.”
“Probably not. I only wish I’d tried a little harder that night.”
“Oh, I bet,” Rai snickered, stepping back into the main cab. “You managed to score a few mementos. But they’re ready for soundcheck, hot stuff.”
Emmi rose, eyeing herself in the mirror above the build-in dresser. Strewn with makeup brushes, leather accessories and guitar picks, it was the truest sign of their situation. Months of endless touring, back and forth across America, had left her too exhausted to scold her roommate.
Rai’s clutter was the least of her concerns now, though. She had to earn the respect of a heavy metal crowd at Rockfest.
After being turned down the year before, they’d jumped to fifth from the top of the lineup. A few one-hit wonders were their openers. Emmi was immensely proud of that. But playing after Second were some huge acts, with powerful front men and successful albums behind them. Second, once again, was the only female act in the lineup and while their current album was outperforming the one before, they were still muscling their way into the spotlight.
It was part and parcel for them but never an easy ask, having five chicks open a midwestern festival ahead of pompous, pig-headed, and often substance-addicted bands to follow.
The Rockfest invitation was a huge coup. Tonight, they had to be perfect. Among those following Second was Corey Taylor, doing a solo show or two close to his hometown after years with Stone Sour and Slipknot. No longer was she that starstruck teenager pressed against the concert fencing. She was a rock singer, and tonight, she was his contemporary. And shamefully, she was starstruck, though she’d never admit it. The curvy blonde bombshell that wasn’t taken seriously, especially when surrounded by her equally feminine bandmates, was in over her head.
Mentally preparing for another night of catcalling, inappropriate backtalk, and risqué insinuation, she strapped her gunmetal corset over a black tee-shirt dress, stuck in ivy ear climbers and wrung her hands.
“Let’s go,” she murmured, glaring at her reflection. “Time to earn it.”
A few hours later, Emmi was recovering from their performance in a side stage room, no bigger than a walk-in closet. The acoustics of the open field pushed her voice to the limit, the landscape so flat and expansive compared to the pub rooms and clubs they’d been playing in recent months. She downed a bottle of iced green tea, scowling at the cloying liquid as it coated from tongue to belly.
Quick check of her email account showed no reply to her email. Corey was in the arena, yet there was radio silence. Disappointing but anticipated.
Destiny and Deis swept into the tiny room, forcing Emmi toward the corner. With Marilyn behind, the four jammed together in the humid space.
“Theory just kicked off their set. Your lungs good?” Deis asked, her palm on Em’s shoulder.
“Yep,” the singer murmured back. “I’m sneaking back to the bus, though. I’ve got a million calls to return. See the acts, network a bit. Just be back by midnight so we can set off for Des Moines.”
“Des Moines’ three hours away,” Marilyn bellyached. “Why do we have to be there sixteen hours before our next show?”
“Come on, Em. I wanna nab a quick fix,” Destiny whined. “Too many hot people here. Don’t be a prude. Let’s party a bit while we’re surrounded.”
Em could only sigh. Outvoted as always. Prudence was never a bad thing in her mind. The heckling, she could do without.
“Fine,” Emmi conceded. “Be on the bus by ten in the morning. If you’re late, your taxi fare for the three-hour leg is coming out of your pay.”
Deis smirked, knowing she’d be back well before then. Destiny and Marilyn whooped, though, fleeing in a rush to get friendly with the other bands and coeds in attendance. Deis stuck around long enough to hug her friend.
“I see all the work you do,” she murmured by the band manager’s ear. “Try not to work yourself to death. I didn’t bring my defib paddles.”
Emmi sighed again, dismally this time. “You’re a pediatrician anyway. I’d have to defib myself.”
Deis petted her friend’s damp mane. “Shower. Leather, midwestern heat and spotlights turn you into a drowned rat.”
“It’s part of the image. Now get lost before I put you to work.”
“Want to find Corey?”
“Not really,” Emmi scowled. “Feels like pandering.”
“It’s not. Come on.”
Deis didn’t wait for another argument, dragging Emmi by the forearm out into the narrow hall. Dwarfed by speakers and equipment jammed into the backstage corridor, they weaved between dashing roadies and VIP guests.
“He’s probably busy,” Emmi argued.
“Rai put me to this. I owed her. Now shut up and keep up.”
Emmi grunted and wiped her dewy forehead, keeping pace as the hall opened to reveal a modest seating area. Folding chairs and tables in the center were surrounded by a makeshift circle of musicians, many of which Emmi recognized instantly as members of the bands who’d gone before them in the lineup. They chatted, laughed and drank as the music from the stage eked out through wall-mounted speakers above them.
Deis stopped suddenly, her claw still bearing into Emmi’s forearm. “Over there.”
Emmi’s eyes focused on a crop of blonde hair, swept to the side to show off the undershave below. A charcoal chain hung from back pocket to front belt loop atop faded indigo denim. The once-white tee clung to his torso in the heat and the tall glass in his hand sweated worse than he did. He was leaning against the rear wall, clearly needing its support.
Her breath caught. He was older, so was she. But there he was. Corey Taylor.
Gathering some nerve, falling back on staunch professionalism, she pushed forward, weaving through the cluster of bodies between them. Deis was two steps behind.
When his azure eyes lifted to the stage-ready blonde, they widened slightly before retracting again. Her doctor brain whirred to life. He was drunker than she’d assumed, hours before his set.
His eyes swept brazenly north to south and back again before he smacked the guy to his right on the shoulder. His voice was a slur of syllables. “Fuck, dude. Scar’s here. What are you doin’ to me?”
The college-aged guy looked confused but laughed it off, slapping Corey’s shoulder in turn. “What are you talking about, dude?”
Emmi lifted a brow, crossing her arms while the guys argued. Deis settled at Emmi’s back, her head tipped curiously as she listened in.
“I appreciate it, bro, really. Can’t though. Scar’s not the sharing type. Wish she was though. Can’t piss off my full-time ride a second time this week.”
Corey’s cohort chuckled, stepping between Emmi and Corey with an apology full of bravado before she could even introduce herself. A quick glance down reminded her that she was in stage attire; mile-high heels, corset, skin-tight dress and leather wristlets.
“Nice to meet you, Corey,” she scowled at the bro’s back before storming off.
An hour later, Emmi was knee-deep in paperwork, drafting emails and waiting on hold. Camped out at the bus’s living area table, surrounded by open folders and unsigned contracts, her fingertip touched her temple. That earpiece needed to be replaced, the ever-present humming bringing on stronger and stronger headaches. She’d evaded tinnitus thus far, but it was chasing her like a rabid dog.
The door swung open, the flood lights beyond casting golden light on the interior of the cab as Rai rushed inside. After a long swig from the soda can in her hand, she tossed it into the trash.
Emmi scowled, her glare fixed on Rai. Eventually the new arrival caught on, sighed and moved it nto the recycle bin.
Emmi could only shrug with a grin as her eyes returned to the paperwork. “You have until ten a.m. to enjoy yourself.”
“I heard,” she replied, perching on the seat across from Emmi. “That leaves us plenty of time to go hunt Corey out. He’s going on in about fifteen.”
“That’s nice,” Emmi replied, her eyes down on the documents. “I’m a little busy here.”
“It can wait,” Rai insisted. “And, to be honest, I’m a little shocked you aren’t seeking him out. That concert way back when was a turning point for us, wasn’t it?”
Em set the pen down, sitting back. When her eyes turned up to the ceiling, she flashed back to earlier in the evening. Her stomach roiled at the memory, the hot sting of shame at being confused for a backstage whore rushing back. Shame on her for assuming he’d think differently.
She pulled herself together enough to reply. “Haven’t seen Deis tonight, have you?”
“Let’s go find Corey. We have unfinished business. I’ll fill you in on the way.”
Rai rose, an evil smile on full display. “This is gonna be awesome.”
Emmi doubted that completely.
The pair stepped back on premises as Corey began the third song of his set. Emmi had taken the time to redo her makeup, plus slip on a ruby bustier, thin leather jacket and heels before allowing Rai to lead her back into the mayhem. Dressed the part, fans fawned and followed until the show security shoved them back at the fence line. With waves and smiles, the girls swept backstage, dodging roadies as they snuck closer to the side stage viewing area.
Nestled alongside were a half-dozen VIPs, a stunningly beautiful woman in worn denim and a Slipknot tee, and a squat table covered in fifths and plastic bottles of Coke. It was a familiar sight for the girls, the VIPs teetering on the edge of mania while the musician’s girlfriend scowled at the new, semi-famous arrivals.
Emmi hadn’t stolen anyone away from their significant other and had no intention to do so today, but she could only sigh at the brunette with overdrawn eyeliner and ruby lips glared unabashedly. Rai, turning to see the jealous rage just in time, returned the glare long enough to divert the envious female’s attention.
“Is that Scar?” Rai murmured into Emmi’s ear.
“Looks like it,” Emmi replied, her eyes forward on the performer.
Rai watched Corey as he finished his tune, the audience applause deafening as he strapped on a guitar. “He’s had a few.”
“Been drinking all day,” Emmi observed, her diagnosing gaze narrowed. “That guy he was with before kept his glass full. He’s headed down a dark road.”
Scar’s eyes narrowed at the pair again, her arms crossed. “Mind your fucking business.”
Before Rai could snap back, Emmi grabbed her forearm. With a noticeable grunt, Rai refocused on the musician as he strummed the intro to a calmer, melodic tune. Scar’s diamond ring set came into view as she cupped her lips, calling out to him as Corey crooned into the mic and the audience lifted lighters toward him.
Emmi and Rai remained silent for the rest of the set, stunned into silence by the showmanship, passion and artistry of the vocalist. The audience was enraptured, the VIPs alongside them openly crying and the roadies watching with pride. His voice never wavered, even when the crowd echoed back his vocals twice as loudly, and the inspiration the girls had seen years before was even more stunning to witness now. They’d pursued the limelight but still had so much to learn.
The set ended and Corey handed the guitar to a roadie, waving to the crowd before walking toward them. Emmi released a slow breath as his gait closed the distance between them. Before his eyes could adjust to the dimmer side stage light, Scar flew forward to wrap him up in a hug. He side-armed her harshly, muscling past Rai, Emmi and the VIPs with his attention down on his shoes.
“Corey!” Rai shouted over the audience adulation. “Hey, a second for us?”
He glanced up for a split second, just long enough to take in Emmi’s face. “You again? Fuck off. I need a damn drink,” he growled, storming off with the scent of a bar mat left in his wake.
“I got you, baby,” his wife replied, snatching the Jack Daniels bottle from the table as she rushed along at his side. “You were so good. So good.”
“Whatever,” he scowled, quickly escaping down the shadowed steps and out of sight.
“Jesus,” Rai uttered in his wake. “What a POS.”
“He’s drunk,” Em replied easily, a shrug in her voice. “Sad that he feels like he has to be.”
Rai watched as Emmi apathetically escaped the same way Corey had, descending the stage steps into the darkness.
< Part III Out Tomorrow, July 17, 1p EST! >
*This is a work of fiction. Any details, characters, situations and circumstances within are works of fiction and are not reflections of true events. Story is copyright protected – use, dissemination or distribution of this work for personal or commercial use is prohibited.