Episode 6: Nickelback
Well, what should I do? Lana asks Rolf, after she’s told him the whole story that night. Let me think on this. Get a good night’s sleep. I can call Bettina, if you want your room back for tonight. She nods. Thanks for listening, Rolf. Borrow your phone?
Lana, where are you? Jax and Simon were here waiting for you to get in. Bettina, Rolf Asgaard. Oh. Hi. Lana’s going to stay at my place tonight. Would you be willing to come get her in the morning? Yes. Thank you. Good ni… How was Mexico? Bettina asks quickly. In the space between a blink and a tear, death blooms. That was unexpected, she stammers. Silence. You’re supposed to ask me how was Las Vegas? Bettina, I’d love to hear about your trip. But can we do this in person, and not over the phone? Sure. I’ll look forward to it, he replies. Good night. The alarm beeps. Rolf opens the door and steps outside, as Jax’s grey Hellcat comes up the drive. Got room for me? Rolf asks Jax and Simon. Lana in there? He nods. She just went to bed. Simon gets out. Rolf sees that he’s packing heat. You willing to keep watch? Door’s open. I’d rather ride along and listen in. All right then. And Rolf climbs in the back seat. Aren’t you going to lockup? It locks automatically.
So I just got off the phone with Bettina, Rolf says. She’s going to swing by in the morning and pick up Lana. She threatened me. Simon remarks. She said that she’s going to do a hit piece on me if I stay in town. Rolf laughs at this, and grips Simons shoulder. And yet here you are. And then laughs some more. What did Lana have to say? Jax asks. She believes Kostamo’s warning to be credible and sincere. It’s the Mexican guy from the club who planted coke in his car, isn’t it. Simon says. Raul Gutierrez is the name of your rival. But he is not the threat. The threat is from Ramon Ortega, now the head of the cartel, upon the recent demise of his father. And from his aunt Tia. Lana says she was the lady eating with him at the restaurant, if that brings a face to mind. Say what? Simon says. According to Kostamo, this Raul seems to think that the rockstar will self-destruct with Lana, and he only has to wait out the clock. His family, on the other hand, wishes to speed up the clock.
What does Lana think? She said seeing the Grand Canyon at sunrise was like winning the lottery. But going back to Las Vegas was like seeing all the money blow out the open doors behind her. So what should I do? Jax asks after a while.
I say we go into studio lockdown mode. All the ingredients are there. It’s going to be the best we’ve ever done, and also our last. What? Let’s face it. You guys are both settling down, losing the fire. Lana. Bettina. I’m happy for you. Tribal drumming is the new frontier, and I need to explore the inchoate alone. Jax and Simon glance at each other.
But that can wait. Let’s get this done while you’re still hungry and while there is so much uncertainty. It’ll produce an edge, sharper than anything we’ve ever done before. Yar. Jax roars. But understand that we’ll never be Nickelback. Nickelback, Simon shrieks in a high voice, while scratching himself frantically. Jax cannot help but break out in laughter at the band’s long time inside joke.
Simon, I want you to take all the anguish and longing that Bettina is going to inflict on you and use them against her. Your voice is a weapon. Put this on the stereo. Jon and I have been working on the keyboard and synths. Rolf sings the open:
So glad to see you well,
Overcome and completely silent.
Whoa. Jax comments. It’s good, by why such muted drums? Simon asks. I want to employ a midsong stepup, and for you to just let it all out at the crescendo. Then the drums cut off and it’s just you two. Rolf sings the end:
Your halo is slipping down,
Your halo is slipping down,
To choke you now.
We’re going to be rich, Simon says. The guys all laugh uproariously. Let’s go trash this guy’s club, Rolf suggests. Nickelback, Jax shrieks.
Lana comes downstairs and finds Bettina cooking breakfast. Smells goods, Lana says. Good morning, Bettina says brightly. Two or three eggs for your omelet? Three. The door was unlocked, she tells Lana. What? Where’s Rolf? Bettina sighs. The guys are in county lockup, drying out. They went on a bender? I’m sure it’s Simon’s fault. But your Latin Romeo, well, Rolf set his club on fire while Simon and Jax were being escorted out by security. What happened? They got drunk and loud, and kept requesting the DJ play Nickelback. Lana raises her eyebrows. It’s on Youtube, but you might not want to watch it. Rolf got beat up really bad.
Lana goes and gets her laptop from her luggage. SH5 clubfight, she types in the search box. She picks the clip with the most views.
They’re going to get kicked out if they keep this up, the person holding the phone yells to a friend over the beat. The song ends, and sound of yelling can be clearly heard. All we want is some Nickelback. Is that too much to ask? Just one song. Put on Photograph, Jax yells. The DJ ignores him. Put on Far Away then. Simon yells. Muscled up security comes over. I’m going to need to ask you guys to leave, a man says politely. I’m not leaving until I hear some Nickelback. Jax says. And he resists as security swarms him and carries him out the door. This is bullshit, man. Simon says, as two security guards take his arms. Rolf jumps the bar in one fluid motion, when they’re gone. Did you just see that? A stunned voice says. He smashes a bottle on the bar. Nickelback! he yells. A bartender throws a punch, which lands on Rolf’s cheekbone and sends him against the counter. Rolf knocks a whole passel of bottles to the floor. Is that the best you got? They hear Rolf yell. The bartender hits him repeatedly in the face. There is a loud gasp from the person filming. Rolf sways forward, and the bartender holds him up with his left palm, his right fist cocked. Nickel…and the man punches Rolf in the mouth, and then starts swearing loudly and waving his hand in pain as he backs up. Rolf staggers forward punch drunk, and collapses into the man, and they fall out of sight. But a couple seconds later, it’s Rolf who drags himself up and grabs two bottles and starts pouring them on the bar. He empties them and pulls two wires out of the bar and arcs them, and suddenly the bartop is on fire.
Come on, everybody, drinks are on the house. And Rolf starts to sing This Is How You Remind Me, when two cops come in with guns drawn. He raises his hands palm up to his shoulders in a what did I do, who me combination. Lana laughs. It’s not funny, Bettina says. He got beat up really bad. That bartender was an amateur boxer. We have to go bail them out after you’ve finished eating. Their band manager will take care of it. Lana replies. I’ve slept on it, Bettina, and I’m not going to see Jax anymore, starting now. You can’t do that to him, Lana. It’s his choice. Lana doesn’t say anything, and just looks at Bettina. You have to tell him in person then at least, Bettina pleads. Fine.
We’re willing to pay treble damages, James, the band manager of SH5, tells the prosecutor, who looks over at Raul. It’s a matter of principle for me. Law and order is why I came to this country. Can we talk alone? James asks Raul. I’ll go grab a soda, the prosecutor says, and steps out of his office, and closes the door behind him. What is it going to take for this to go away? He asks Raul. The entire structure suffered from smoke damage; obviously it will have to be completely renovated. No, no. You’re missing the point. You want to keep the damage. It’s going to be such a draw. You can double the cover and you’ll still have people lined up outside. Raul steeples his hands and considers this. You are right. Forget about renovation. James smiles. Now I’m thinking a concert. James frowns, and then shrugs. A Nickelback tribute concert. No Nickelback, Raul says flatly. New material only. What is this called in your parlance, a demo? James considers this. Only if you don’t bill it. I do not understand what this means. No advertising. That is unreasonable. How am I to recoup my losses? The band gets to perform one Nickelback tribute song; they always do at every concert. If they announce on their website date and time a week in advance. 12 hours, James responds. And it will be sold out in twelve minutes. 72 hours, Raul responds. Let’s meet in the middle: 24 hours, James says. Both of the men start to chuckle, and they shake hands. You sir, are a shrewd businessman. James tells him. Let me know when you are looking for new investors. Raul nods at the compliment. James opens the door and the prosecutor comes back in. I do not wish to press charges, Raul says. But if I might have a word with these men, that they might know that their actions harm not a faceless corporation, but a man of the community. No problem. Officer, would you see that Mr. Gutierrez gets to visit with the miscreants. Now, there’s still the drunk and disorderly plea…Raul hears as he walks out the door.
The sergeant takes Raul downstairs. Your guy really did a number on the drummer, he tells Raul. We all have jobs to do, Raul tells the man unapologetically.
I’m Raul Gutierrez. We’ve met before, and I help you, he tells Jax, and this is how you repay me, he says voice rising. Just wanted to hear some Nickelback, man. Jax responds. Jonesing for it, usually have their CD in my center console, but someone broke into my car and took only that. Simon starts laughing at this. What is funny? I was just thinking of this joke that my friend Lana told me. It was about the Tarahumara Indians and running shoes. Do share - I like a good joke. I’ll get it wrong. And it was in the telling. She said the story came from a book called Born to Run. Sounds fascinating. Would this friend be Lana Radley? None other. I’ll buy the book. Raul declares. I admire her immensely. Raul turns his attention to Rolf, whose face is all bruised up, his head hanging down. Are you alright, sir? I’ll be fine. Rolf replies not looking up. And I’m sorry. That’s all I wanted to hear. He nods at the police sergeant, and turns around to leave.
Raul runs into Lana and Bettina as he gets out of the elevator. Please, wait. Lana tells him. You go on ahead. I’ll catch up, she tells Bettina. Do you have time for an iced tea? He nods. Follow me, I know this building. She leads him down a hallway to a soda machine. She puts two dollars in, and it spits out a can of Liptons, then another. She hands him his. Thank you for helping me back at the club. You’re welcome. Do you want to know how the story of the redhead and the rogue ended? Is it a happy ending? No, but it’s not like a Greek tragedy. Sure. Several weeks later he took her to Las Vegas and proposed. She said yes. He gave her a huge diamond engagement ring. She met up with an old friend, who introduced her to a harmless quirky rockstar at dinner. They all went to a magic show and had a great time. But the night was young for the redhead and the rockstar. The heart of her fiance did safely trust in her, and he gave her five thousand dollars in cash to play with. The rockstar also put up five thousand. And they pooled their money so they could gamble with the high rollers. They won three hundred seventy-nine thousand dollars, and then lost it all. But she wasn’t finished. She put up her diamond engagement ring against a hundred thousand dollar marker. And the house always wins. The rockstar brought her back to her hotel and they hugged goodbye. The rogue saw to it that his former fiance got home on a first class flight. She got to keep her brand new Volvo and her luxury condo, and he had already paid off all her student loans. She is unhappy and drinks too much now. So he was serious? Raul asks. Lana nods. I thought you would want to know.
What happened to him? None of my business. I was hired to find her. Raul stares at her. I should be going, Lana says. It was good to see you again, Raul. You too, Lana.
Bettina is brought into the detention room. She sees Rolf sitting with his head down staring at the floor. Are you guys okay? Where’s Lana? Jax replies. She wanted to talk to Raul for a minute. He studies her face. I tried, she tells him. Best I could do was get her to do it in person. Her mind is made up. Jax looks down dejectedly.
Timeout for a little while? She asks Simon. Sure. I don’t get you, Simon. You could have just borrowed the CD from me. All you had to do was ask. He starts shaking with laughter. I’m going to wait for Lana outside, she says disgustedly and leaves the room.
Lana comes in ten minutes later, and ignoring Jax, sits next to Rolf, and puts an arm on his shoulder. You stood your ground, she tells him. He sits up and tries to grin at her through his swollen lips. Bettina gasps at his bruised face and puts a hand up to her mouth. I took care of it, he tells Lana. He nods for her to go over to Jax. Lana closes her eyes, and when she opens them again ten seconds later they are moist with tears. And she suddenly rushes over to Jax and gives him a fierce hug, and then kisses him. Rolf closes his eyes and leans his head back in his chair and starts to laugh softly to himself. Simon stares at him with a stunned look on his face. En boca cerreda no puede se entran moscas. Rolf says with his eyes still closed. What does that mean? Simon asks Bettina. Flies cannot enter a closed mouth, Bettina tells him. It means keep your mouth shut about this, Lana says. James comes in a minute later with some paperwork. Sign these, and… he stops talking when he sees Rolf’s face. Borrow your sport coat? Rolf asks him. James hands it to him in silence. I love you guys, Rolf tells Simon and Jax. Get the others up to speed. The window is closing - fast. Lana, if you’re up for it, I need you to stay at the house for awhile. Bettina – I’ll have a Miller High Life in the fridge waiting you, after I sleep for three days. With that, he puts the sport coat over his head and ties it off. We got this babe, Jax says and gives her a quick kiss. See you over at Rolf’s.