Damien Strong – Vincent A. Alascia

I watched the groupie dress. The cool light slipping in the tour bus window ignited her magenta hair in a halo of color. I watched the dark line of her jeans slide over the curve of her hips to just above the line of her skimpy thong and thought about asking her to come back to bed. I shook my head, and the thought ran away into the night. She pulled on her shirt, grabbed her jacket, and blew me a kiss before heading to the exit at the front of the bus. I always like it when they leave on their own. I avoid the uncomfortableness of asking them.

I waited a bit as she talked to one of the roadies and then heard her get in a car. I left the bed and dressed. I needed some fresh air. I spotted a piece of paper with a phone number scrawled on it, that my guest left behind. I was about to crumble it up and changed my mind. Folding it in half I slipped it in the front pocket of my jeans. I never wanted to be that rockstar, but here I was, groupies in every city. Sex and nothing but sex, I was a user, but hey we all can’t be saints.

Outside, I spotted the bus driver. “We gonna be here a little longer?”

“At least another hour, the speaker towers are being a pain in the ass again.”

I nodded. “I’m going to take a walk around the block, clear my head, you know. Don’t leave without me.”

“What and have your dragon lady manager bite my head off?”

He was right. Michele was not one to fool with. I wouldn’t be surprised if she wasn’t back on the stage wrestling the speaker towers back in their road cases herself.

The block around the civic center was deserted by now. The air had a coolness to it as the concrete around me gave off the august heat from the day. I turned a corner by a closed and boarded up sandwich shop with some apartments on top of it when I heard something soft, but unmissable. Crying. I looked around. Alone down here. I strained my ears and could hear the sound coming from the rooftop, some eight stories above me. Now I know I should have just kept on walking, but something about this pulled at me. To the right of the building was an alley. I went into it and looked for a way up. Fire escapes hung about ten feet from where I stood. I took one more look around and confident no one could see, I leaped. A little too much as I wound up on the third landing. Climbing over the rail I hurried up the iron stairs making as little sound as I could.

A woman with black hair in a denim jacket and torn jeans sat on the edge of the roof sobbing into the street below. I slowly approached.

“Damn it Becca, I hear you.”

I stopped.

The girl shifted around to look at me. “Who the Hell…” She stopped and I could tell from her eyes she was asking herself what the hell is Damien Strong doing on a rooftop with her. “How did you get up here?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I was taking a walk while they loaded up the truck and I heard someone crying.”

She looked over the edge at the street. “You heard me from down there?”

I pointed out the right side of my head. “Good ears.”

“Just go back to your tour bus or whatever and leave me alone.”

“You sure? I thought you could use someone to talk to. It looks like you might be planning to do something kind of drastic.”

“Drastic, the story of my life. You don’t know anything. It’s all turned to shit, talking ain’t going to fix it. Nothing will.” She leaned towards the open air and let gravity take her. The air rushing from her lungs barely left room for a scream.

Without even a thought I leapt over the ledge after her. I managed to grab onto her at about the fifth floor. I landed feet first with her in my arms. My legs buckled and we tumbled to the sidewalk. The girl scrambled off me and puked in a storm drain. I unfolded my legs and heard the shin bones snap back into place. I gave them a minute as they healed. I stood up and went over to help the girl up from the curb.

She looked at me and then up at the roof. “How? You?” She shook. “What the fuck?” And then punched me in the chest. “Really, you couldn’t just let me do it?”

“No. I couldn’t just stand there and watch someone throw a life away.”

“Oh, spare me all the life is precious bullshit. What do you know?”

I grabbed her arm and turned it over to expose the needle marks and bruises I caught a glimpse of on the way down. “I know what these are. I’m not going to lie to you. Getting high is a lot of fun but it has its cost. You might think throwing yourself off the rooftop pays them but all it does is push it off on someone else. Believe it or not there is someone out there whose world would come to an end without you in it.”

“She threw me out,” the girl said, and beyond the puffy eyes and shaking lips I could see my words had hit something.

“You gotta fix your own messes. Decide who do you love more: that needle or your partner? It’s not like there’s superheroes running around to do it for you.” I winked at her, and she cracked a faint smile. “Go home, you got a second chance to make it count for something.”

“Thank you,” she whispered.

I turned and walked away with a bit of a limp but that should be gone by morning. I’m not fully used to my powers but for the first time I think I’ve done some good. I made it back to my tour bus as the guys had just finished. It was fifteen hours to the next city, and the show goes on.

Vincent A. Alascia is the author of, “The Hole In Your Mind,” “Undead Heart,” “In the Presence of Gods,” and, “Xristos: Chosen of God,” available on Kindle and paperback as well as works that have appeared in anthologies and online. Originally an East Coast native, he makes his home in the Portland Oregon area with his wife. Vincent has been a librarian for over 15 years and is also a musician. He is currently working on a Steampunk Horror novel and a guide to reading Tarot. Website: www.vaalascia.com

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