There wasn’t a teenage girl in the western world that hadn’t become overwhelmed by the existence of the Throbbing Cox. The four-piece alt-rock outfit from Framingham had burst onto the scene showering audiences with gold records and a god complex that left America with a gaping maw. Grant Cox was the kind of sophisticated, polished rock-and-roller the world had been waiting for. Unlike their predecessors, there was to attempt at subversion. The rest of the rock world was obsessed with giving the middle finger to convention. Grant Cox was more interested in using his fingers for other things.
While the Eddie Infernos of the world were saying “Fuck you” to the man, the Throbbing Cox were saying “Let’s fuck” to the fashion industry, the record companies and anyone willing to pay them for their increasingly valuable time. Grant Cox had the face of an angel and the voice of the devil. He used both to take over the popular new medium of music videos. The cable-ready televisions of the Western World could barely contain the pulsing vibrations of Grant Cox as he took over the music scene one scantily-clad, glitter-covered video at a time.
He was the fine coat of polish the music world was waiting for, painting over the dark reds and blacks and filling in the chipped edges of an era of music that promoted swinging a hammer at the foundation of the establishment. Their music didn’t promote changing the world an unjust system to rubble. It promoted changing yourself so that you could become fabulous enough to stitch yourself a ladder of made of blood, sweat and lame and climb out of the crater of a boring existence.
“Put down that 18th-century crystal champagne flute you pointed, peppered ponce.” Said Eddie Inferno, silencing the room. “You and me need to have a few words.”
“I expect you only know a few words,” said Grant as he sipped on champagne.
Eddie walked right past Grant in a show of indifference, reaching down for one of the many empty bottles of J Roget Brut littering the VIP Booth.
“I don’t understand how anyone can drink this vile swill,” said Eddie in outright disgust. “It’s like drinking the piss right from Beelzebub’s cock.”
“Some of us like to remember where we’re from, Eddie. Not everybody is running from their past like a frightened schoolboy.”
Grant’s dry, expressionless delivery added an extra layer of bite to every utterance.
“Careful, Cox,” said Eddie wearing his trademark sneer. “I’d hate to see what this place looks like decorated with your gray matter plastered across the wall”
“Give it a go,” replied Grant, trying to maintain a sense of bravado. “Let’s see if your mind bullets are faster than my hands.”
Grant held up his ring-covered hands, his fingernails painted pitch black.
“Not even here a minute and we’re already wading through a pissing contest,” said Ivy working her way towards the bar. “Can we save the cheap theatrics for your comeback tour, Eddie?”
No one could stay angry at her for longer than a fraction of a second. By the time your anger registered the blood rushing towards your head had already been redirected to your genitals.
“Ivy. Always a pleasure. I didn’t realize you were traveling in such antiquated circles.”
“We’ve got a situation and I need every able-bodied icon that’s available.”
“Able-bodied?” scoffed Grant, looking at a well-past-his-prime Eddie Inferno. “Seems like the bar is at an all-time low.”
“This is bigger than you two boys,” said Ivy, trying to put a pin in the pissing contest.
“Bigger than him?” laughed Grant and turning to his entourage who followed suit. “I don’t think I can wrap my head around that.”
The laughter subsided and the white-hot humidity of tension filled the room.
“We’re here to talk about Vincent Stain,” said Ivy, desperate to keep the conversation on track.
“Vincent Stain,” replied Grant, dropping some cocktail onions into his glass. “Absolutely dreadful music. Unrefined. Guttural. Lacking any depth or nuance”
“His music isn’t the problem. His influence is. He’s leading a bunch of easily influenced kids across the country. People are going to get hurt, Grant.”
Grant stared into Ivy’s bright green eyes, her impassioned plea managing to move him more than he cared to admit.
“If he’s such a threat, why don’t you have your boyfriend do his little parlor trick and POOF… problem solved.”
“It’s not that easy,” said Eddie, looking for a surface to lean on. “There has to be intense, all-consuming hatred. I’ve never even met the man.”
“Nothing worse than performance issues, eh, Eddie?”
“We need your help, Grant. Trevor wants us back in Detroit to deal with this crisis.”
“Crisis?” replied Grant with a hint of venom. “I suppose that’s one way to look at it.”
“There’s another way?” asked Eddie.
“Everyone’s comfortable with the concept of anarchy, but when they see it playing out in real-time, they start to get too nervous,” said Grant, all too familiar with the trappings of a lavish lifestyle. “You’re the one who told the world to ‘help me swing the hammer and tear it all down.’”
“That was just a song.”
“Just a song?” said Grant with the incredulity of a thousand angry slackers. “It was a fucking anthem.”
Grant’s somber, melodic ever-darkening tone began to drain the energy and the color from the room.
“You had every kid in the civilized world singing that chorus … raising their fists in the air. I was one of them. I’m betting Vincent Stain was one of them, too.”
Eddie didn’t have a response. Grant had him dead to rights. Perhaps Vincent Stain was a creature of his own creation. He had spent a brief lifetime lacing nihilism and insurrection with sexy licks and catchy hooks.
“Maybe he can be reasoned with,” said Ivy, presenting the potential for a peaceful resolution.
“First time for everything,” replied Eddie, grabbing an unopened bottle of chilled champagne as he headed towards the exit.
Anghus is encore’s 2020 fact or fiction writer, featuring the serialized piece, “Burning Sensation.” Read the prologue and previous chapters at encorepub.com.