• thejsingraham

Prestrum - II

Updated: Feb 8

In part two of the precursor to my story "Strum," from Big Book of Orgasms, Vol. 2 (Cleis Press), Apollo runs through the setlist one night for his band's upcoming Valentine's Day show. After the run-thru, he's summoned by his new, not-so silent boss.


One Night at Miko's


“Whew! Yeah, Ace!” Yelled one of the bandmembers from the shadows.


Ace Ono, was currently fucking the stage up during an impromptu soundcheck. The pint-sized dynamo, with the dynamic vocal range, was a young legend in the area that had recently been convinced to sit in with the band Revol on a temporary basis. To say she was everything she had been rumored to be and then some, was an understatement.


For the past two weeks, where she was proving to be an unforeseen asset

was in helping the band’s frontman, Apollo, fine-tune the setlist for their upcoming show. She had the perfect temperament, background, and cache to make sense of the colorful chaos his brain existed in musically. Tonight, however, it was Ace’s vocals that melded together perfectly with the strong, deft, lightning-quick fingers of one of the coldest guitarists around.


Standing to his feet, Apollo signaled the lighting tech who cut the lights to the stage. The band played out the previous tune as Ace transitioned her vocals into something that could only be described as a siren’s call in preparation for the final song of the set.


In a flash, the stage was bathed in red light before it focused solely on Ace and the mic stand. Stepping out from the shadows, Revol's frontman transformed into the Sun God as he stepped forward into the light--the band ushering him in. He was a musician's musician that could jam for hours if given the opportunity, but guitar solos and spotlights brought out the natural performer in him.


Naked from the waist up with a pair of faded jeans resting low on his hips, Apollo was impossibly close to her now as she started singing. His presence penetrated a breath, maybe two, of space that existed between them like a wanton lover in an exhibitionist ménage. In his right hand, was his favorite girl, whose strap licked the hardwood floor shamelessly.


The music portion of this walkthru was easy. What he really wanted to drill down on was the production, transitions, and show aspects for the set.


With his height, Apollo was overly confident that the move he had thought up to end the show could be pulled off with ease, but the perfectionist in him needed to alleviate all doubt.


Ace had reworked Paul Rodgers’ vocals from Bad Company’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” adding an element of soul to it that was eerily hypnotic and seductive. When she sashayed across the last verse and riffed into the chorus, it was like she was passing the baton to him and his favorite girl Strawberry Reign, a Gibson SG Standard ‘61 electric guitar.


In the original song, Mick Ralph’s gritty guitar solo plays the backdrop to Rodgers’ vocals. In this reworked version, Apollo’s intent was to massage Ace’s. Give her riffs something to straddle, then buck her breathy drop-offs with intermittent homages to the original power-chords with one of his signature freestyle variations–building off her energy, making it theirs.

Feel like makin’ love

Feel like makin’ love

Oh...I feel like makin’ love tooo you

Ace’s hips snaked as she delivered a syrupy sensual vocal over the band's background. In his mind’s eye, the showman in him could see beads of sweat on the forehead of people in the crowd that weren’t actually there. The first time he heard her scratch vocal of the record he played it back no less than twenty plus times, marveling at the woman’s talent, especially in creating an optimal entry point for him. He could visualize the crowd losing all composure over the scene from the audio and visual stimulation and that turned him on to no end.


He slowly raised Reign out to the side and overhead, allowing Ace’s riffed ‘love to you’s’ to ease around him and claw at his back. On the last ‘you’, he dropped the guitar in front of her, falling to his knees dramatically at the same time. Catching it by the base with one hand and the neck with the other before it hit the floor. He launched into a heavy guitar freestyle chorus while his arms encircled the songstress’ legs.


Ace swayed from side to side, riffing over his chords, and they both seemed to transcend reality.


What he loved about the woman the first time he saw her live, was how lost in the music she seemed to be when she performed. It looked like everything he had been told about himself when he was on stage. They existed like that for a couple of minutes, that felt like a sin-filled eternity.


When she drug out her final note Apollo jumped to his feet, strumming the strings at a frantic pace, still playing from behind her. When he felt her final note coming he whispered, "tilt your head to the left abruptly at the end." She did and he feigned licking up the side of her neck, and the lights were killed.


"Yeah, we did that shit," he said to her as the house lights came back up. The staff meandering about the space that froze in place when they rehearsed this final scene, applauded, whistled, and shouted their approval.


"I'll be the judge of that," Ace said with a steely eyed glare. "I'm getting a copy of the rehearsal tonight, right?"


He grinned and nodded, wiping sweat from his chest and abs with a towel, his cell phone vibrating in his pocket.


"You'll have it before midnight killer."


A smile bloomed across her face at this and they shared a laugh. Two perfectionists sharing similar strands of DNA woven with bright lights and metronomes.


Apollo gave one of the engineers strict instructions to walk Ace to her car and to make sure not to leave until she pulled off. Afterward he chatted up a table of ladies that were seated near the stage. He liked having a few live bodies present for soundcheck depending on what was being rehearsed, not for sound but for an unbiased reaction in real time. The type where he didn't have to ask, how was that, because he wanted to see if their body was listening to what he put in their face.


Judging from the mixture of lip bites, fanning, and the very approving, very interested, non-blinking gaze of one of the women, he got his answer.


“Apollo. Apollo!” A very discernible and pained voice called out from the back of the room.


A disheveled and clearly unnerved man stood at the end of the bar a hundred feet away, cell phone in hand, with a grimace. Terry Stevens, the owner of Miko’s Blues Alley, tended to always look that way, as though he perpetually held the fate of the world in his hands.


“Mr. Big, what’s good moe? Whatchu think about that song we just wrapped?”


“Hmmm?” Terry replied clearly distracted.


“The song we were just rehearsing...did..you...hear it?” he deadpanned. “Ace composed the music. Shit was crazy. It’s wild as hell how talented she is.”


“Oh, sorry big guy, I was in the back. But I’m sure it was A1 as usual right?”


“Eh, I heard a few things that need to be cleaned up but it wasn’t terrible,” Apollo replied. “But that’s not what you wanted to talk to me about. What’s good?”


Terry looked toward the bar, back to Apollo, then back at the bar, hesitating to respond. As he did this a woman walked up from behind the cooler and calmer of the two men just as he had slid his arms through his tee and pulled it over his head. Unabashedly she ran her hands through the twists atop his temp fade. He flashed her a wicked grin, with thick lips that naturally turned up on the left side when he did. They exchanged a mutual appreciation, he winked and she walked on.


“My bad Terry, you were saying?”


“Does that ever get tired,” the man nodded in the now departed woman’s direction.


“I’m twenty-six,” he replied flatly, then grinned.


“Right, right. Look, I hate to ask you this but Gwendolyn called earlier. And she’s holding up our liquor license renewal unless…”


“Terry…” Apollo exhaustedly pushed out, turning his head to the fan silently whirring overhead. “Unless what man?”


“Unless you listen to her pitch to play the mayor’s fundraiser.”


“I’m not cut for that stuffed shirt, slow snapping and toe-tapping shit. You know this. More importantly, she knows this. I’m an artist. I need to be able to cut loose when the moment hits. How is the donor crowd gonna deal with me sweating and naked from the waist up? Answer me that!”

 

Terry Stevens had been given a lifeline three months ago, when his club, suffering from the impact of a few bad business decisions, was saved by an angel investor group. That group was led by Gwendolyn Hill, a lawyer, and philanthropist from northern Virginia. The decision by Terry to seek out Apollo to form a house band soon after, impressed the group's other investors.


It excited the firm's managing partner, who had been trying to connect with the mercurial musician for the last few years.


What the power broker didn't plan for, however, was the raw and undeniable sexual energy that oozed from the man. With every legit business opportunity he rebuffed, she became more determined. Her determination transitioned into intrigue, intrigue that morphed into a fiercely restricted want.


When she realized that she had begun to make up reasons to force their interaction, she knew she was nearing the danger zone.

 

The dejected look on Terry’s face was unmistakable. Apollo in his heart of hearts knew the man was in a precarious position and thus was earnest in his reluctant ask. He also knew the true reason that the woman called Terry tonight of all nights.


He hadn't spoken to her since they texted briefly at the shoot yesterday.


“Let me guess. If she called you tonight, she wants to talk to me tonight, right?”


Terry's lips parted, but no sound came out. Instead, he merely nodded.


Shaking his head, Apollo didn’t utter another word he just patted Terry on the shoulder as he walked by him. On cue, the bartender tossed him his coat which he caught in one smooth motion as he headed toward the door.


“I got you Terry, don't even worry about it,” he called over his shoulder. “Oh and you owe me for the Uber there and back,” he said as he pushed through the old wooden door.


It’s amazing how terrified of that woman he is, Apollo thought as he stepped into the vestibule and ordered the ride. Luckily for him, I’m the exact opposite.


After about ten minutes, the Uber pulled up to the curb.


Jerian: So we've graduated to late night rendezvous' huh?


He sent the text before stepping out into the cool night air. Say less, Ms. Hill. Say less.

 

"Strum" can be found in The Big Book of Orgasms, Vol. 2 (Cleis Press), released on February 8.





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