* * * * *
Give the Devil his Due
"Guys?" Michael jogged from the backstage door over to his band, "Almost missed you."
Joey, the drummer, ran his hands through his hair and said, "Yeah. Gotta get back. Work tomorrow, y'know?"
"Sure. Okay. So, have you guys given any thought to that wedding gig?"
Sam shook his head, "Can't do it, man. I'm already in enough trouble just playing these gigs. Marcy says the weekends are the only time we have together."
"Okay. Well, hey, maybe next time, right?" He fought to keep the smile on his face. Michael hated begging the band to show up, but he couldn't go to a gig with no backup.
"I'll just finish packing up the equipment. See you guys next week!"
Michael could hear the roar of their engines before he made it back to the stage door. At 4AM, the bar was quiet and deserted. Even the owner had gone home. Michael stepped out onto the stage, walking past the preamp, the cables, and his guitar case. He sat on the edge of the stage and looked out at the empty room. In the dim light, he could just barely see the grimy, lightweight tables and barstools that ran along the walls. The faded wall mural of flames was obscured by a thin coat of second-hand smoke. In the back, the bar was illuminated by neon beer signs. Through the wall-length mirror over the bar he could see a failure.