An atomic blast of music filled the auditorium as Adam Town's fingers flew up and down the fretboard on his Gibson Les Paul A voice sounded in his ear piece, "Okay, Adam, we're done. Nice work."
Adam Town, youngest member and new lead guitarist for the music group Shaddio, stretched his arms above his head, trying to improve his circulation. He smiled at the stage crew, "Thanks, guys. The mix sounds good, we ought to rock The Redbird tonight."
Adam Town, youngest member and new lead guitarist for the music group Shaddio, stretched his arms above his head after getting back from the early soundcheck. The tour bus was filthy and he needed a chance to rest and refresh. Thank God the Bluebird had a top of the line dressing room and clean showers.
Making 16 stops in 18 days had been murder on them, but, Adam reminded himself, the band had been almost dissolved 10 months earlier. It wasn't until the three orignal members decided to restructure and rebuild with a more current sound that word of a tour had even been breathed. Twenty-year-old Adam had been recruited as one of the fresh faces thanks to his youth, energy, positive outlook and blindingly fast fingers.
The first single made it to the top of the chart and, in the unexpected and subsequent whirlwind of publicity they had a gold selling record and the biggest tour the group had seen in half a decade. He called home to his mom at almost every stop if he had the time, which reminded him, he was due.
Making his way through the dining area of the tour bus he was practically zombiefied, muscles aching, fingers sore. There was nothing in his mind that could deter him from getting a change of clothes and heading straight for the shower. However, an unforseen distraction accosted Adam as he heard a commotion coming from the onboard bathroom, the door standing slightly open. Concerned, curious, or perhaps both, he pushed the door aside and peered within.
*** ** ***Ken Watts, dynamically musically gifted vocalist, lyricist, occasional pianist and second-in-command for the band Shaddio felt the tension melt from his body. The fingers that kneaded his shoulders were strong but slender and the scent radiating from his masseuse was divine. He felt great exaltation as his muscles un-kinked and he groaned gutturally. She smiled back at him and rocked herself gently in his lap causing further sensations to spread throughout his body.
He felt her hot breath on his neck and then her lips on his ear. "You must work out; your physique is fantastic," he heard her say.
"You're no slouch yourself," he replied, and dragged a fingertip across her taut, smooth abdomen. She was a specimen of youthful perfection and he admired her dark, wavy hair. She cooed to him as he did this and he closed his eyes.
Suddenly, he felt her shift and go rigid, but not in a good way. His eyes flew open and he saw that her cheeks, once flushed to a rosy pink from exertion had turned deep scarlet when she noticed the band's guitarist in the doorway. Blue eyes wide, she gasped and shrieked. Ken's gold-banded left hand, once entwined with her right, shook free as he attempted to extricate himself from his startled teenage fan.
Adam hurried out of the bus, obviously attempting to convince himself that he hadn't seen what he saw: The man who hired him, his hero, his idol, a man married with two children, a devout and founding member of the Christian rock band Shaddiio, in a tryst with one of the locals? It was impossible. There had to be an explanation.
After making his own hasty and stumbling retreat from the tour bus, Ken found the younger man leaning against one of the concrete pylons near the delivery door trying to keep himself from vomiting. He approached Adam quietly, noticing out of the corner of his eye that his young admirer was buttoning her Levis as she scampered away. He stared at the boy, unspoken questions and answers hanging in the air for several minutes.
The guitar player broke first, "You gotta tell me. This isn't what I thought, right? I didn't see what I saw, did I?"
Shamed, Ken hung his head. He was a deeply flawed man, but lying in response to a direct question was not one of them. "I'm pretty sure of what you saw. And it was pretty much what it looked like."
Tears gleamed in Adam's eyes throat as he looked up at the vocalist, "You're married, Ken! You have a beautiful wife and two great kids. You spoke at my church about family values for Christ's sake! FAMILY VALUES! Now I catch you screwing some girl in the can during soundcheck? I didn't know I joined Led Zeppelin; I thought this was a Christian band!"
Unsure of what to say, Ken adjusted his wedding band. It felt tight on his lithe finger. Finding his voice he said, "Even Christians make mistakes, Adam." The words sounded hollow, even to him. Of course Christians made mistakes, but that didn't make it right. He could have stopped the girl when she met him at the stage door. He could have stopped when she started flirting with him. It would have even been possible after they had kissed the first time - to at least prevent it from going this far.
The problem was that this wasn't his first "groupie" encounter. He had been engaging in them for years before he met his wife. When they were dating and eventually married he had taken a seven year sabbatical from the "little relievers" as he liked to call them. This was his first relapse, perhaps because this was the biggest, longest and most arduous tour the band had undertaken since that time, like that was an excuse.
As if he knew what the elder man was thinking, Adam said quietly, "Yeah, sure. The problem is, taking a few extra pennies from the Give-n-Take dish at the gas station or going 85 in a 55 zone on the highway are a little bit different than cheating on your wife with an impressionable young girl."
Ken stifled a chuckle. Cheating, to be sure, young, yes, but impressionable? This girl was a pro. She was as much a party to this and likely had premeditated the entire affair; he even recalled her mentioning Bill Rose from the Rose Again Gospel Trio in a comparison. This was, of course, neither here nor there.
He did not find it odd at this point that he was amused. Adam Town had been hired for his virtue just as much as his talent when the three members of Shaddio, Matthew Link, Jason O'Toole and Ken Hyatt had gone coast to coast to recruit. "Talent Search" contests at local churches gave them the opportunity to interview, pray with and audition hundreds of young people before hand-selecting three new members for the band. Adam had deeply impressed them with not only his honesty and directness, but his heart. There was no way that he couldn't go public with this story and no way that Ken would try to stop him.
Ken Hyatt had resigned himself to his fate: his music career was over.
*** ** ***
Flashes snapped and video crews worked feverishly. The scandal caught the attention of not only those in the Christian contemporary circles, but of the mainstream media as well. The press conference where Ken Hyatt would announce his resignation from platinum and gold-selling music group Shaddio after 11 years was a packed house. Sadly, Ken smiled to himself, muttering, "If only this many people had shown up when I wanted to talk about the importance of virtuous living."
Finally, everybody had settled. Ken sat on one side of the stage while the other five members of the band sat on the other. De facto band leader Jason O'Toole approached the microphone. He had a youthful exuberance, curly blonde hair and piercing green eyes. He looked barely two-thirds of his 33 years in spite of a silent but powerful bout with alcoholism early in the band's history. He flashed a grin to the crowd in what Ken saw as an effort to win them over.
In the week following Ken's "indiscretion" as it was now being called, buzz had gotten around. The pretty brunette, Megan Whittmeyer, had been approached by various members of the media after a roadie had leaked the story. She begged for them to leave her alone and attempted to defend Ken's honor by saying that she did the seducing and had done so with several other respected Christian musicians and leaders whose names she would not reveal.
With the exception of Adam, the rest of the band made efforts to reconcile with Ken, but pressure from the label made it clear that they were to sever any ties, both on and off the record. Jason approached Ken quietly and asked to pray with him, Ken accepted. He needed supplication now more than ever.
While often stoic, Ken was moved by the amount of emotion Jason felt over both the betrayal and having to remove Ken from the band, watching as the leader dissolved into tears repeatedly during the lengthy prayer. When they parted, Jason apologized and said he would do everything in his power to salvage Ken's good name. The singer asked politely that the band work on its own good name because they still had good works to do.
For publicity purposes, Ken's marriage was said to be in a fragile state. His wife held his hand with white-knuckles as they sat side-by-side on the stage. They gave the impression of damaged, but sustained solidarity. The broken bric a brac and smashed china told a different story, as did her own words, "You are scum."
Ken's honesty harmed him when he admitted his wrong. Rachel Hyatt, his beautiful, sweet, sincere wife, initially acknowledged that she could forgive him since this was, as far as she knew, the first time he had engaged in such behavior.
When he revealed the whole story about the years prior to their meeting, she cried and said that it would be alright, so long as he hadn't cheated before. Looking into his face, she begged silently for him to agree with her.
When he provided the date of his last encounter, knowing that it was a full month after their first date, Rachel shook with rage. She screamed and wailed, beating his chest with her fists as he tried to calm her to no avail. She refused to believe that he hadn't been cheating the entire duration of their marriage, regardless of how many times he tried to convince her otherwise. She hired a lawyer that night and he moved into a hotel.
When Ken attempted to contact Adam, he received no answer. E-mails went unreturned. Phone calls and voicemails were ignored. Finally, Mrs. Town, Adam's mother, called and asked that they simply be left alone. When he asked if Adam would remain with the band, she admitted that it was very likely. He sighed in relief at this.
Jason O'Toole spoke into the microphone, his crystal-clear oration that had served well in spoken-word portions of the band's albums, faltered only a little, "Good afternoon, people of the press. As you well know, we are here to issue a statement about one of our own, Ken Hyatt." He took a sip from the glass on the lectern to calm his nerves. It was clear he felt as though he needed a drink of more than water. "Ken joined Shaddio in 1987 after Matthew Link and I started playing around with recording equipment in my garage. His honeyed vocals and natural gift for poetry, along with his disciplined formal musical training added a much-needed element for a couple of kids screwing with guitars and drum machine synthesizers. He brought heart and skill to our team and he has grown both as a musician and a Christian in the intervening years.
"Earlier this month, Ken admitted that he had been engaging in an "indiscretion" with a young woman during one of the stops on our tour. As is shown in your press packet, we have temporarily suspended our concerts for the next few weeks as we regroup and realign. Effective today, however, Ken Hyatt has resigned from Shaddio in order to focus on his marriage and his Christian walk. He has declined this opportunity to speak and only appears today at our request, to show that we both love and continue to pray for him. We also ask that those of you in the press take into account what Jesus said, asking that 'he who is without blame cast the first stone.'" Jason then paused, setting aside the written speech, glancing over at Ken and flashing a weak rendition of his typical 50,000 watt smile, and continued, abandoning the prepared statement.
"Because I can't. Because Ken is my best friend, my brother and my band mate. Because when I struggled with alcoholism during the first four years we played together he loved me and supported me." The crowd gasped as Jason forged ahead, "It's true! I would hide bottles all over the dressing room and around the stage to give myself a pick-me-up while we toured and later even during the concerts. Heck, once I remember sneaking vodka out of my water bottle while I was praying.
The crowd was in full revolt as he continued, "Ken helped me through those dark times and loved me more than family, protecting me from having my cover blown. I only wish we could have let him have the same chance, instead of making an example of him, like I know you all will."
Discovering that his microphone had mysteriously gone dead, he started to scream,, "I see you sharpening your knives as I say it. No mercy for the wicked! No mercy for the wicked! He must pay for his sin!" At this point, he began to weep bitterly and leaned on to the lectern with his face buried in his arm.
The band's manager came forward and escorted Jason off the stage and Ken stood to leave. He had seen enough. Rachel went the opposite direction. It was the last time he would see her until their court date where that would be the last time he would see his children.