History never repeats itself.
That’s a motherfucking lie.
It’s also the motherfucking truth.
It all depends on your perspective.
“Holy shit, Carter. It’s like déjà vu.” My best friend Gus Reynolds stood next to me, slack-jawed. “It’s like seeing you play here for the first time all those years ago.”
Gus owned The Mission, Seattle’s most enduring and iconic live music venue. We were watching my son Zane shred through one of the most intricate yet nuanced guitar solos I’d ever heard. Lost in the music, his face contorted with each note. Expressions mirroring the emotions he squeezed out of his instrument.
How I loved my son.
How I’d let him down.
Too many times to count.
Now, Zane’s band, Less Than Zero—or LTZ as they were more affectionately referred to—was poised to steal my band Limelight’s rock-and-roll crown. At least, if I had anything to say about it. “Yeah, they’re good,” I finally answered Gus. Little had changed in the twenty-plus years since Limelight had played the same sticky stage. The club was perpetually dank and dark and smelled of old beer and Pine-Sol.
My neutral observation masked my total and utter excitement. The kids on stage were poised for true greatness. I felt it in my bones. The energy throughout the club was electrified. Intense. Every single person here tonight knew they were witnessing something special.
My son’s mop of dark, unruly hair hid his infectious grin and dark-brown eyes while he bounced all over the stage. A natural performer, he engaged everyone in the crowd. Drew them in. He’d learned from the best—me, but somehow for him it was effortless. At an early age his mother Lianne and I realized he was a musical savant. Tonight, I was in awe, just as I had been from the day and hour he was born.
His other band members were spectacularly talented too. Lead singer Tyson Rainier had been Zane’s best friend from the time he’d moved back in with me at age sixteen. They’d bonded over their love of guitar, but Ty’s voice was like the second coming of Chris Cornell mixed with Geoff Tate and a little Johnny Cash in between. Ty was practically homeless when Zane first brought him over to our house. After hearing him sing just once, I took it upon myself to secretly ensure he had proper training. Like Zane, Ty was a musical unicorn, he’d deserved my investment.
Rounding out the band were bassist Conner McLoughlin and drummer Jace Deveraux, who played the Seattle college circuit for years. They also had my stamp of approval. Solid, hardworking and talented, the duo provided a steady backdrop to showcase the two virtuosos in the band.
Gus handed me a Diet Coke. “What did your management office say?”
“They’re in.” I took a sip, simultaneously wishing it were a beer and lamenting I’d never have a taste of the hoppy beverage ever again. “I’m having this show recorded to send over for final vetting. The social numbers are out of this world. There shouldn’t be a problem.”
A tiny, dark-haired pixie came up behind us. “Dad, let me settle the show on my own tonight. I won’t ever be able to take over this place if you don’t let me handle some of this stuff.”
“Fine, Fiona.” Gus booped his daughter on the nose, causing her to wrinkle it in protest. “If you want to fuck around with Zane’s ego, offer to settle up with Ty.”
I laughed. Fiona rolled her eyes and resumed her position behind the bar.
Zane had become the de facto business manager of the band. Ty was too shy, he really only came alive on stage. Connor was distracted by family stuff. Jace had his hands full with LTZ’s social media. Leaving my son, man of little attention span, to handle the money. Surprisingly, he took the job very seriously. And, like everything else he put his mind to, he knocked it out of the park.
He’d shit a brick to have Fiona in a room alone for ten minutes. She was a few months older, but they’d been playmates since they were born. Throughout high school and into adulthood, Zane had an unrequited crush on the gorgeous girl who was like a daughter to me. She’d been very careful not to lead him on, but he was determined to win her heart.
Luckily, I’d set up a six-month tour for the band. None of these guys needed the distraction of a girlfriend when their career was just getting started.
I was living proof.
LTZ started one of their newer songs, a slow, sultry groove. Ty stood at the front of the stage like he owned it, scanning the crowd. His duct-taped Doc Martin tapped the beat. His eyes fixated on something in the crowd and in an instant, his entire demeanor changed. Almost like he’d been struck by lightning. The expression on his face was dreamy when his eyes locked on someone close to the stage.
I made a move from the back of the club, wanting to see who caught Ty’s eye. Down in front were two young blonde girls, the shorter girl with loads of wild hair seemed to be the object of his fascination. She looked like a deer in headlights when Ty made eye contact with her. Ty was a very good-looking dude, which was another reason he made such a compelling front man. Many girls tried to get his attention, but his focus was on the band. Survival. Getting his life on track. He never took the bait.
Moving stealthily closer, I dodged a couple of fans and kept an eye on Ty and the girl throughout the rest of the show. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. She couldn’t take her eyes off him, though she was more demure about it. After the show, I observed Ty approach her and have an awkward interaction. It didn’t surprise me, seeking out a young lady was unprecedented for LTZ’s singer. When he disappeared with her moments later?
The last thing any of the guys in LTZ needed were distractions, especially Ty. Connor was already practically married, though I didn’t foresee that relationship lasting long. Jace had no interest in a girlfriend, only a good time. His crush on Fiona aside, my son was a horndog who’d never shown interest in a longer-term relationship.
Which was good.
Over the next few months, the guys were recording their first album then going on tour. With a distribution deal, my management team behind them and social media numbers that grew stronger every day?
LTZ was poised to be the biggest band out of Seattle since Limelight.
Even though I was barely past forty, I made the guys suffer through my endless old-man lectures about keeping their cocks wrapped up, so I wasn’t worried about mistakes or diseases. Tonight, I was more concerned about my pseudo-son Ty’s fragile heart. After the considerable personal currency—both financial and industry—I’d put into LTZ, there was no way I’d allow the band to be derailed by some girl trying to get her hooks into one of them.
I’d already been there and done that.
With disastrous results.
Motherfucking history would not repeat itself in this case.