And Now I’d Like to Introduce the Band
The guitar player, bass player and drummer
Are in love with the singer
Who has a boyfriend out of town.
They’ve never told her and she pretends not to notice
The way they stare at her when she sings.
She thinks they play better that way.
Her voice is specially designed to break your heart
And they know it’s a kind of a trick
She sings the songs the same way every night
But they’re lonely.
They’ve never met the boyfriend
People say he’s a lawyer. Some kind of lawyer.
She doesn’t talk about him at all.
And she tells them how hopeless she’d be without them
Even though most of the audience doesn’t know their names.
On the few nights they don’t have to sleep on the bus
She gets her own room. They have to share.
Boys line up for her at the backstage entrance
Girls sneak into her hotel and present themselves to her
Like baskets of exquisite fruit.
It’s exasperating, she says
(With an ironic little smile).
She introduces the band at every show
Mentions they’re single
Encourages their efforts to pick up women on the road.
But most nights they all end up together
Drinking on the bus, playing endless games of cards
They’re all lonely.
Their conversations consist
Of old jokes and affectionate insults.
They’re all getting over a cold
Acquired somewhere in the midwest.
Sometimes the miles between here and the next town
Are measured in the sacrifices they’ve made.
But then it’s time to get ready for the show
And the show is magical that night
(Or at least a few moments are).
And after the show a beautiful girl is waiting outside
For the singer in the opening band
He’s already gone.
Michael Koenig’s work has appeared in recent issues of The MacGuffin, Harpur Palate, Hardboiled, and the Paterson Literary Review. His short story, “The Man who Never Sleeps,” was featured in the Soft Skull Press anthology Awake! A Reader for the Sleepless, alongside work by Joyce Carol Oates, Aimee Bender and Margaret Atwood.
TJ Edson is the Art Director of Oddball Magazine and a volunteer at the Out of The Blue Art Gallery. He has also had work appear recently in Terrarium.