By: Andrew Culture
The quick shallow breaths pull the foul taste of the surrounding air over my thick dry tongue. The air is thick with the fresh sweat of hundreds of people who were strangers to me, but each of whom feels they know me. The stage smoke and cheap cigarettes catch my throat raw and I fight the urge to cough hard and clear this foul mixture from my burning lungs. Instead – with my head hung low over my gently heaving chest – I try to take a long slow and impossibly deep breath. I know how it will burn but I am sacrificing my comfort for the fleeting admiration of people whose names I will never know. I want the scene to be complete, and completely of my design, not cheapened by something so base and banal as the need to breath fully. My moments of suffering are my gift to those before me.
At the deepest ebb of my hidden gasp for air sharp pains launch across my chest like red hot flares and shake me momentarily from my dedication to ascetics. Noticeably taken aback I see the fallen face of a crowd member as exhaustion pulls me to the floor. My legs crumpled beneath me I come to rest with my hips awkwardly jammed between my ankles on the beer soaked stage floor like a half felled oak. This new discomfort coupled with the feeling of woeful compression on my chest very nearly destroys my dedication; I want to get up, I want it to be over, I want to be normal.
I watch the green and red stage lights dance backwards and forwards on the fingerprint smeared face of my bass guitar as it rocks gently on my lap, in perfect symbiosis with my laboured breathing. As my head sinks closer to my lap I can hear the feedback I’ve helped create fade away as the audience drown it out with their own cadence to my creation.
My body is foreign to me as it jerks involuntarily a couple of times – far beyond my control or design. My back arches over my lap and pulls my chin tighter to my chest; the conclusion of each convulsion returns me to my broken position. The pain subsides; I feel the gentle shivering at the sides of my abdomen quelled by a force unknown and a feeling of deep calm and well being washes over me like cold refreshing water.
My bass shifts on my lap and the gargantuan crashing noise made by the headstock striking the floor sounds distant to me, as if in another room or the remnant of a dream upon waking.
I try to lift my head but I am spent, my very soul fatigued. My eyes trace a rivulet of blood running away from me and across the stage towards the monitors. I smile weakly in the corner of my mouth; it is done.