He moves with the rhythm, as though animated solely by it. A lock of hair, normally tucked behind his ear, lay on his face and follows the curve of a high cheek bone. A bass is slung around his neck, and with discerning, indistinct fluidity he plays as if the instrument were an extension of his own hands. He is oblivious to the spilled beer on the floor, the smell of sweat and bodies crammed into the small space, the crescendo of a crowd worked to the point of a frenzy. His eyes are closed, his head low, he is grounded in a way that only the stage has been able to ease him down.
Something changes in the room, changes the air around him, and a cringe sweeps across his brow, crinkling the skin around his eyes.
Concentrate. Don’t look.
He opens his eyes to see his vice before him in full colour. She moves among the crowd, but as a separate entity; her cavort revealing what she is holding for him. She places a smile on his face, but he wipes it clean off again looking for strength to uphold the duodenary promises he made. His heart drums with heavy booming beats in his chest, and the guilt of what he knows he cannot fight plunges deep down in his stomach before the pipe has touched his lips, before he steps off stage, before the song has even ended.
The set ends, and with slow, laboured, methodical movements, he unleashes himself from his instrument and breathes deep. He steps off the stage, through the invisible barrier that separates band from aid and follows her outside, where he trades a bit more of his talent to feed the addiction that forever lurks and laughs in the corners.