Al Kratz

Fighting Demons
 
It was two hours before the gig and I was letting this brunette blow me when I remembered something my manager said to me right before my album Fighting Demons went platinum. Tex said, “Cliches still sell as long as they aren't boring.”
 
But the blow job was getting boring and that made me want to destroy my dressing room and reminded me I was out of blow. The whole night was destined to rot.
 
When she was done and the “I can't believe I just blew Johnny Demon” turned into the inevitable “what now” look, I remembered something else Tex told me. This venue had some unique rules, something about no drugs and “they really mean it this time so don't fuck up.” I heard doors knocking and heavy shoes walking down hallways and had to get out of there.
 
I took the 9mm I bought in Tallahassee, my journal, a bottle of whiskey, and then found The Guy outside the gig. It wasn't hard to do. Just found some kid in his car, waiting for a glimpse of the great Johnny Demon, and up-charged his ass and said let's go for a ride.
 
 “Really, Mr. Demon?”
 
You won't believe the crazy shit people say in that moment when they can't believe they're with me. I told him to scoot over, threw my stuff in back, and took the wheel of his restored Camaro. While he was still coming back to earth, I stuck my head out the window and drove out of the lot with my long golden hair flying free until I heard Tex's voice in my head saying, “Not now Johnny,” so I sat back in the car.
 
I had my favorite boots on and my trademark black leather pants (they fit me like a condom) but I just didn't feel right. The Demon was flat and needed a lift. I'd heard the road stories of rockers having runners score their weed, but in my time with it legal, mom-and-pop dope shops were everywhere, which isn't very rock-n-roll, but damn convenient.
 
In the store, Hope, a cute little number with dreadlocks helped us. I tried to do The Guy a solid and introduce him.
 
 “Hope, this is my friend,” I said, but remembered I hadn't ever got his name.
 
 “Steve,” he said and was still staring at me instead of her. Totally un-rock-n-roll if you ask me. Whatever.
 
Her dreads looked like buds ready to smoke and I was sure they'd be smooth. I touched them, but she stepped back and I realized she didn't know who Johnny Demon was. That kind of turned me on, but I didn't know what to do. I couldn't remember wanting something that wasn't given to me. Instead, I bought a ton of weed and we carried on.
The best road story said you remember the fall more than you do the rise. I guess it's because you're so wasted on the way up, but I was just as wasted on the way down, so I don't really remember much about either ride.
 
I woke up and wondered what the stop sign was doing in the front seat between us and couldn't explain the existence of anything I could see. Stupid rock star, stupid car, stupid stop sign, stupid guy. None of us justified. A cop showed up and sat us on the curb, and Steve, like a little wuss, gave permission to search his car.
 
The cop placed my journal, my bottle of whiskey, my gun, and a purple three-ring binder I had never seen on the roof of the car. He thumbed through my journal and I couldn't resist watching for approval, but he was poker-faced. His eyes did expand when he opened the binder and found it full of roughly two-hundred sheets of acid.
 
He asked whose it was, and I wanted to let the kid take it, but he was already down since I  destroyed his Camaro, and showed the true Demon, so an idea popped into my head and when that happens I can't stop it. I'm just as interested at what I'm going to say as anyone else is.
 
The thing that had felt wrong became obvious to me on the curb under the red and blues. I didn't want to be Johnny Demon anymore.
 
“It's mine,” I said.
 
The officer put me in the back of his car. “Do you have any identification?”
 
 “Nope. Tex holds all that for me.”
 
“What's your name?”
 
 “Stewart Brown,” I said.
 
 “So I guess I won't write down Johnny Demon on this report,” he said and shook his head. “You know, Fighting Demons was obviously great, but my favorite was Sextoy. That one got me through high school.”
“That's cool,” I said with a canned response that hid how little I cared. Everyone had taken their little piece of the Demon and I forgot to get mine.
 
“I'd overlook this. I really would. I'm sorry, man, but that's a ton of acid, Johnny. This is serious.”
 
I knew it was, that's why I did it.
 
 
That was the last time I heard anyone call me Johnny Demon. The judge and all the lawyers called me Mr. Brown. My lawyer was frustrated his argument the drugs were for personal consumption failed. After the verdict, I whispered to him, “Don't get mad at beauty. Acid doesn't want to be understood.”
 
On the way out we walked by my ex-manager. “Sorry, Tex, the song got boring to me.”
 
The paparazzi got their last pic and, once inside, the Demon became inmate #40624-055. I know when they write it, they're going to paint it sad, but they can stick that story where the sun don't sing. Everyone had made lots of numbers off the Demon but they were the wrong kind. The ones that cost me in the end. Now I got a new number and it's all mine.