On the edge of a mining town Jackson and Josh’s mom’s SUV squealed to a sudden stop as a lizard of some sort raced across the road. Caleb crashed from the backseat onto the floor.
“What the hell, man!” Caleb shouted. His almond-shaped eyes grew wide as he took in the scenery. An ocean of desert, a lonesome cactus, and a sun-beaten metal sign: Deadhorse, Ariz. Population 338.
“Look I told you to buckle up. If you got Mountain Dew all over the carpeting—“
“Dude, where are we?” Caleb said, “What the—“
Josh raised his hands in a soothing gesture.“Calm down, everybody chill.” Josh retrieved a package of baby wipes from the glove compartment and tossed it in to the backseat. Jackson pressed the gas.
“I’m fine by the way. Thanks for asking. Who cares if the drummer has a broken arm? Population 338. There were more people in my robotics club. 338. I should have taken that teaching job. I knew this trip was sus from the get go.” Caleb continued muttering from the backseat as he used his own shirt to suck up the sloshed soda.
“Dude where in the hell are you taking us? You said this gig was near Phoenix,” Josh asked. He rubbed his temples. Josh knew Jackson. He knew Jackson lied reflexively, never took responsibility for his bad decisions, and he could spin every disaster into an adventure. Josh knew his brother like the back of his hand.
“No I said outside of Phoenix and we are outside of Phoenix. Maybe the venue is a little bit more off the beaten track, a little rough around the edges, but think what a terrific origin story this will make when we make it. Maximum Overdrive from Deadhorse to Top of the Charts.”
Josh pressed his forehead against the glass of the passenger side window. He could see another string of empty seats and cheap beer, counting change to buy a burger, coasting back home on fumes, and explaining to Darcy why he would be late with the rent. Again.
Josh checked the backseat. Caleb aka Chaos had fallen back asleep his long black hair smushed to one side, his yellow stained band tee stuck to his skin. The nickname was Jackson’s idea to create mystic and social media buzz. In public Caleb was Chaos, Jackson had to be called Ajax and Josh was Jinx or Jet or something else he always forgot. Mostly he was Just Josh who played bass and maxed out his credit cards for the band. Josh reminded himself to check Caleb/Chaos’s meds after practice.
Jackson and Josh’s mom’s SUV turns onto the Main Street of the tiny mining town, a desperate sliver of mom and pop stores and low slung houses. Josh waited for Jackson to start up his spiel again about their bright future and Jackson’s big plan.
“I can feel it this time things will be—“