This is a work of fiction. All characters and events reside solely in the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual people, alive or dead, is purely coincidental. All characters are eighteen years of age or older.
©2016, Annette Fields. No portion of this work can be reproduced in any way without prior written consent from the author with the exception for a fair use excerpt for review and editorial purposes.
This title is for adults only. It contains explicit sex acts, adult themes, and material that some folks may find offensive. Please keep out of reach of children.
Torsten sat like an ominous, watchful statue. His muscular, tattooed forearms rested on his thighs while his long, guitarist hands connected at the fingertips in a gesture similar to a prayer.
He didn't want to be there. But he had to do this. Every other option had been exhausted.And no one else but him could do this.
Across from him sat Lars, or rather, Lars' body being animated by whatever substance altered his brain chemistry at the moment. Who knew how much of the real Lars was still in there. Torsten stopped caring a long time ago.
Lars fidgeted, twitched and scratched. Every few seconds he would look at a space on the wall above him, then look away. His once round baby face sunk in, stretching tightly over his skull. The dark circles under his eyes indicated he hadn't slept for days. He didn't even seem to notice Torsten in the room.
The two men sat across from each other in sleek swivel chairs in the recording studio as they had many times before. Back then they wrote and produced songs, got into fist fights, bragged about the girls they slept with, the drugs they scored, and everything else in between.
They made memories in this room. After a grueling, non-stop twenty-one-hour session, they produced their first album in this room. Lars had certainly been on cocaine while they recorded, but he could still show up and hold his drumsticks then, so Torsten let it slide.
That album sent their band, Mjolnir, to the top of Northern Europe's heavy metal charts like a bat out of hell. Torsten's only dream and only reason for living had come true.
He named the band Mjolnir after hammer of Thor, the Norse god of thunder. While he kept his beliefs private, Torsten sincerely felt he relied on Thor for his source of strength, and his weapon, Mjolnir allowed him to reach a status he never thought possible, and destroy what stood in his way.
But he learned fame and fortune had a price. He didn't anticipate losing his best friend-- and the best drummer the metal world had ever seen-- like this.
"Where are the others? Are we recording today, Torsten?" Lars asked in an unusually high voice as if he were talking to a small child.
"No." Torsten paused to fully exhale a breath before continuing. "I'm removing you from the band, Lars. You're no longer part of Mjolnir."
He saw no point in pussyfooting around. Might as well rip off the band-aid all at once and get it over with.
For the first time since he arrived, Lars focused his eyes on Torsten. He said nothing but stared curiously for several long seconds. He then began to giggle as if Torsten just told a toilet joke.
"I'm dead serious. You're out," Torsten repeated. The depth of his voice filled the room with a heavy bass. Interviewers always asked him why he didn't do vocals. He always gave a generic brush-off answer about the guitar being his biggest strength.
He felt no pleasure in doing this to Lars, but it was necessary. At one point, Lars was an irreplaceable pillar that elevated Mjolnir to its new platform. But when people get big, some of them get lost along the way. Now, he was nothing but dead weight.
Lars continued to giggle. "Well, what the fuck are you going to do without a drummer? Play acoustic guitar while begging for change?" he asked, still in that high, childlike voice. The patronizing tone sent Torsten's blood simmering. He still didn't get it.
"We'll hire another one that shows up, gets shit done, and doesn't develop fucking junkie tendencies," Torsten answered curtly.
He didn't feel the need to say they already found a replacement drummer. The new kid, Markus, had excellent skill but lacked Lars' natural talent. But if he stuck it out, he could still learn.
Lars' childishness began pissing off Torsten years ago. Torsten never had an anti-drug policy with his bandmates. He knew it came with the lifestyle. His only hard fast rule was to show up and do your fucking job. If your extracurriculars made you late or play like shit, there would be problems.
His tolerance for bullshit among the band members hit an all-time low when Lars pulled up late and high out of his mind to a live show. He couldn't tell apart his drumsticks from his asshole. Thankfully Stig, the vocalist, knew drums well enough to take over. But that was Torsten's last fucking straw.
Finally, Lars stopped giggling. The crazed smile dropped from his face while Torsten remained still and watchful. He finally seemed to make sense of the situation and twisted his face into a mask of panic.
"Torsten! You can't!"
"It's already done. The decision's been made. At this point, your behavior has harmed Mjolnir more than it's helped."
He felt an uncomfortable tightness in his chest. He couldn't afford to show remorse, or any emotion, for that matter. But even for a hardened, iron-fisted leader, this was among the most difficult things he'd ever done.
"You were a brother to me, but I can't let you drag us all down with you."
Torsten tried his best to swallow the dry lump in his throat. If it had been any of the other band members, this wouldn't be as difficult. Without Lars saving his life, then pushing him to start a band all those years ago, Mjolnir simply wouldn't exist.
Lars leaped to his feet, scratching himself more fervently, his eyes bulging from hollow sockets. Veins protruded from his neck and forehead looking like they were about to pop. He stuck his face inches away from Torsten's, practically spitting on him as he pointed a bony finger in his face. Torsten didn't move and kept his expression neutral, but remained tense and coiled like a snake ready to strike.
"I made you!" Lars yelled at the top of his lungs. His panic quickly gave way to rage. "There'd be no Torsten, Heavy Metal God of Norway, without me! You can't cut me out! You owe me your pathetic fucking life!"
"You saved me," he responded flatly. His memory flashed to his teenage youth of living at a bus stop. Only Lars knew what he went through before his family opened their home to him.
"If your family hadn't taken me in, I would be in the same shape as you right now, if I were even alive. But brother--," Torsten's breath hitched on that last word. "I've tried to save you. We all have. But you'll drag us all down with you if you keep going this way. Everything we have will be lost. All of our hard work will be for nothing if you stay."
"EVERYTHING YOU HAVE IS BECAUSE OF ME!"
Lars’ whole body shook so hard with rage, his teeth rattled. He embodied the exact opposite disposition as Torsten, who prided himself on maintaining complete composure and control, at least outwardly.
Torsten sighed. This was going nowhere and already dragging on for too long. So much for ripping off the band-aid.
"Payroll has already deposited your final check into your account," he said plainly. "You'll have it in a few days."
Lars' demeanor changed swiftly. He backed out of Torsten's personal space and walked away a few feet. Like a mask again, his face changed from anger to sadness. His brows unfurrowed and his mouth dropped from a scowl to a frown. He seemed to realize anger and intimidated wouldn't work on Torsten, so he decided to plead.
"Okay, look, look... I'll get clean!" He dropped to his knees and flashed a desperate, rotten smile. He definitely lost more teeth since Torsten last got a clear look at his mouth. "I'll go to rehab and do the twelve steps and all that shit again, but I'm gonna need more money--,"
"I just said--,"
"Look, I gotta pay off some people, alright? I gotta keep these fucking dealers off my back, then I swear I'm going in for treatment. I swear on my parents' lives, Torsten!"
Torsten shook his head. He could not believe he was dealing with this. "You're a broken record at this point, Lars. There's no bullshit from your mouth I haven't already heard." He rose to his feet to tower above Lars still kneeling on the ground. "This is goodbye. There's nothing more to say."
Lars scrambled to his feet again, his eyes just at Torsten's chin. He was all twitchy, an uncontrolled ball of nervous energy. Even when not on drugs, he always had to twitch or tap on something. They always joked his hands only steadied when hitting the drums or holding his dick.
In contrast, Lars alway said Torsten was only a metalhead because of the pole shoved up his ass. By rockstar standards, Torsten was as straight-edge as could be. His drugs of choice included tobacco, alcohol, and playing the guitar for up to six hours a day. He enjoyed reminding Lars and the others they were the richest, most famous metal band in the country because of their rigorous practice schedule.
Those memories floated like ghosts through Torsten's mind as he looked at Lars, feeling his first stabs of pity and shame. This would be the last time he'd see him, the only man he considered a brother. He didn't want to remember him like this.
He exhaled a deep breath, relaxing his shoulders and letting them slump forward. “I really wish it didn’t have to be like this, brother,--”
"FUCK YOU for calling me your brother!" Lars was back to being angry, stabbing his finger inches away from Torsten's broad chest. "I'd never do this shit to you! Now I have nothing and you're throwing me out on the street!"
"You have a home, and your wife is somehow still supporting your ass. You're already better off than most. You'll figure something out."
"My WIFE?" Lars spat in his face, foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. "She's fucking onto me about shit. If she knows about this, she'll kick my ass out!"
"Then she and I have something in common. Tell her I said hello," he responded coldly.
Torsten tried to picture Helena, Lars' wife, in his mind, who he only met once. He remembered her being beautiful, though acting like she had no idea. She had those classic Scandinavian features: long blond hair, pale skin over high cheekbones, and large, pale green eyes that he found intensely sexy.
At the party where they met, she clung to Lars' side and seemed terrified by all the tattooed, long-haired, and bearded metalheads, himself included. She'd been with Lars since they were kids, and girls like her didn't mix with the metal scene for any other reason.
He considered getting her a drink and striking up a conversation. It felt odd to not be on friendly terms with his best friend's wife, but she seemed especially uncomfortable around him. Whenever he talked to Lars and glanced over at her, she avoided eye contact like her life depended on it. He didn't know what her beef was. Maybe she was on drugs and paranoid too. Whatever.
That was their only meeting because Lars claimed he preferred keeping his personal and professional lives separate, which meant he enjoyed fucking groupies and getting blasted behind her back. Torsten felt a deep stab of pity for the woman. She was the last person on Earth still willing to deal with him.
"Something in common? Oh, Torsten!" Lars started that really fucking annoying giggle again. "You've been my scapegoat for years to keep my old lady off my back. 'Fucking Torsten supplies all the drugs and bitches, baby. He says it's part of the lifestyle!' She eats it up every time!" He laughed as if telling the most clever joke in the world.
Torsten narrowed his eyes and clenched his fists, fighting to keep his temper at bay. All sympathy for Lars evaporated in that moment like a puddle in a desert.