by Brian Costello
"For Whom the Spits Toll, or, Broken Foot in the Afternoon"
It was a March afternoon in Austin, and the weather was warm. Ron Cozumel liked the way the Frito Pie tasted with the Lone Star Beer. The Lone Star Beer came in tall boy cans. They were cheap. Beerland was crowded. Ron liked Beerland. It's good seeing one's favorite bands in dirty, poorly-lighted places.
The Spits were one of Ron Cozumel's favorite bands. The Spits are different from you and me. They have better songs. The Spits were from Kalamazoo, but now they live in Seattle. A lot of people live in Seattle. Bands. The Spits were about to play their set. Ron was near the bar talking to his friend Brian Nervous. They played in a band together. The Functional Blackouts. Many people liked them, but many people hated them. Some were indifferent.
"I think I'm already getting a buzz," Nervous said.
"Yeah, brah...fuckin'...me too," Cozumel said. "Let's go watch The Spits."
Cozumel forced his way to the front and center. The Spits wore Ronald Reagan masks. Their lips smirked when they spoke. The keyboard player dressed like the Statue of Liberty. He had a large belly exposed by the green Lady Liberty gown.
They played their set. It was loud, fast, and stupid. Cozumel knew the lyrics and sang along. When the Spits sang, "Shitty world, oh oh oh," Ron Cozumel was happy. He danced and jumped in the air.
The rest of the audience stood there with their arms crossed. This confused Ron. Why wouldn't they dance to the Spits? They acted like it was all nunca. Beat on the nunca. Beat on the nunca. Nunca on the nunca with a baseball nunca. Oh nunca. Oh nunca. Oh oh.
The Spits played on. The Ronald Reagan masks were too hot, so they pulled them off their faces. Ron Cozumel jumped up and down. Each time he landed, he jumped higher. He wished the audience would join him in the fun. He jumped and felt weightless. Cozumel's right foot smashed into the stage sideways. He had forgotten that the concrete stage was only three inches off the floor. It was impossible to put any weight on the foot. The swelling enlarged his right shoe. The Spits kept playing, and Cozumel limped away through the audience. If he could make it outside, he could sit down and take off his shoe.
Jimmy Hollywood stood by the front door. He was tall. He played in the Baseball Furies and the Tyrades.
"What's up?" Hollywood asked.
"My foot's all fucked up," Cozumel said. "I think it's sprained. It really hurts. I need to sit down."
"You gotta check out the newest issue of 'Razorcake,'" Hollywood said. "They interviewed us, and I said you guys were my favorite band. You're like the Pagans of today, like, nobody's gonna know who you are for twenty years, and when they finally discover you, we'll be like, 'See, you missed out!'"
Cozumel nodded and limped out the front door. He leaned against a brick wall and sat on the sidewalk under the Austin sun. Many of his friends were outside. It had been a long winter in Chicago, and the weather was refreshing. Cozumel took off his shoe. His foot was purple, red, and swollen to twice its size.
"What happened to you?" Uncle Ted asked, smiling.
"My foot's fucked up. I was dancing to The Spits," Cozumel said.
"Damn. That sucks," Uncle Ted said.
Overdressed music industry creeps walked by with SXSW laminates hung around their necks. Cozumel could ignore the pain. He just needed more beer. And ice. A bag of ice for the foot.
The Black Lips were standing on the sidewalk. The Black Lips were from Atlanta. Cozumel liked the Black Lips both for their music and as people. He wished he could say that about every band. Jared was ten feet away. He played bass guitar for the Black Lips. He had a t-shirt with pictures of muscle cars, a mohawk, and clear tape protecting stitches across his forehead from a self-inflicted razor wound from the Black Lips show the night before. The blood spilled in thick red spurts across his face and bass guitar. The soundman and two others applied towels to his forehead to stop the bleeding. The Black Lips kept playing.
"Jared!" Cozumel said.
Jared turned and went over. "Can you do me a favor? My foot's fucked. Can you go in there and get me some ice?"
Jared immediately ran inside and came back with a five pound plastic bag of ice half-filled. Cozumel thanked him and put the ice on the foot. The ice was cold. Maybe this will cure the sprain, and Cozumel would be walking like normal in a day or two. It wasn't like the x-rays would show that the injury was in fact a fracture of the fifth metatorsal bone and would require Cozumel to wear one of those unwieldy giant velcro boots for four weeks.
Alix from The Lids sat down next to Cozumel. She wore sunglasses.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
"I'm gonna beat this thing," Cozumel said, pointing to the swollen foot. Water from the melted ice formed a puddle that leaked towards his red pants. The Texas humidity was taint-chafing.
The afternoon show ended. It was time to leave. There was a party that night. The Mistreaters, The Black Lips, The Baseball Furies, and The Spits were playing. Before that, they would drink. Mike Miller from Delilah's would buy Ron Cozumel a shot of whiskey. He would feel his biceps and announce that he was too weak to work for him as a doorman after Jimmy Hollywood suggested they hire him. It would get dark outside. The crickets chirped. There was a chance of rain. Inferior bands were scoring record deals.
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