STEP ON IT
The lights in the bar had been dimmed, made up for by the screams and cheers of the audience. Apart from a small space in front of the stage, there was only standing room in the packed bar. On stage, the Harpies finished their sound checks and started to play. The rock music blared out from the speakers flanking the stage so loudly, it caused the air to reverberate. The crowd didn't care how loud it was and they screamed their adulation at the band as the Harpies' lead singer stepped up to the microphone.
The cheers of the audience were faded slightly so the crowd could hear Helen Hall sing. Unlike most rock music where the lead simply screamed into the mic, she had a fantastic singing voice. As she sang the crowd yelled back the lyrics, and as the song gathered pace, the band grew more passionate. The crowd grew wild in response.
The audience consisted mostly of local Harpies fans, and they had spent most of the evening drinking as they waited for their favorite local rock outfit to take the stage. The mixture of alcohol, loud music, and a raucous atmosphere were a dangerous combination for a bar. As the band played, the wild, excited fans began to break objects and furniture. The crowd rocked back and forth in undulating, human waves which surged periodically towards the stage. More than a few scuffles broke out as people were shoved or hit by accident. All the while the Harpies kept on playing, reveling in the sound of their own music and the antics of their berserk fans.
By this point, the owner of the bar had called the police to break up the crowd. The Harpies had finished their gig and were busy packing up by the time the cop cars pulled up outside the bar. As the fans were hustled out of the building, some in cuffs, the rockers who'd instigated the mayhem had already disappeared backstage.
"That was wild," Dana remarked in a huge understatement.
"If it ain't wild, it ain't worth it," Helen replied with a satisfied smile.
The three band mates packed up their gear and began loading it onto their pickup truck.
"Hey, where's the owner?" Kat asked. "We need to get our pay checks from him."
"He’s probably busy cleaning up the mess our fans made," Dana answered. "So I kinda doubt that he'll wanna pay us."
"He'll pay up," said Helen with a nasty tone. "I'll make damn sure of it."
Helen strode into the bar area, stepping over numerous piles of litter left strewn across the floor by the audience. All the patrons had gone home or been hauled away by the cops for their rowdy behavior at the gig. The bar owner was busy sweeping away the debris left by the fans. He looked in no mood to discuss payment. Helen didn't give a shit.
"What the hell do you want?" the bar owner demanded.
"We need our paychecks before we get out of here," Helen replied, "and you're gonna pay up—now."
"The hell I am," he replied as he continued to sweep. "Look at the fucking mess your fans left behind. It'll take me hours to clean up here, and I doubt the extra business will cover the cost of letting you have a gig here."
"I don't give a fuck, buddy. You promised to pay us a thousand bucks each to play at your bar tonight. That was our deal," Helen reminded him with an increasingly menacing undertone. Her patience was wearing thin.
"Fuck the deal, and fuck you," the bar owner shot back.
The bar owner was visibly angry at having to pay for the privilege of inviting such an out–of-control rock group, made worse by all the damage their boisterous fans had caused. But Helen was done being nice about it. She kicked the broom out of the guy's hands and grabbed his wrist, twisting his arm behind his back and pushing him up against the counter.
"Listen, buddy," Helen hissed in the hapless bar owner's ear. "When the Harpies play, we always play wild. That's what we live for and that's why our fans love us. We're real sorry about the fact