Brad had been working the bars and clubs on the Nashville scene for almost 20 years, he’d had himself a few close calls and had been listened to by some of the most successful music producers in the business but here he was still playing the same old Thursday night slot in his regular haunt, desperately trying to catch one last chance break.

The sad truth is that Brad knew he wasn’t the best guitar player, he knew his writing was far from perfect and his voice although solid and able to hold a decent tune was never going to gain him the acclaim of legends such as Willie Nelson and his hero the late Johnny Cash. Still Brad had a dream, and it was one he’d held on to tightly, so hard in fact he’d almost strangled the very life out of it, ever since he was 5 years old sitting on the porch, listening to his Grandpa play. He just had to make it.

Three songs into his latest set, the incessant audible mumble of disrespectful chatter finally pushed Brad too far. Yes there was regulars casually talking through his performance but to Brad it felt at least ten times louder than in reality it actually was. He’d had this for years, he just couldn’t take this no more, screw professionalism. Brad stood up, kicked over the mike stand and with guitar in hand stormed off the stage and raged to the exit, almost taking out a particularly rude denizen in the process with a flailing pre-tensed fist. A savvy regular saw it coming though and bundled Brad away before he had a chance to do something he’d really regret! As he left the bar he could hear the dulcet tones of the manager making it clear in no uncertain terms that his further services would no longer be required. Brad quite frankly didn’t give a shit.

Brad simply too angry to go home, grabbed a bottle of cheap whiskey from a late night convenience store and hit the streets for a long walk to cool off and drown his many sorrows. Several hours passed, he found himself looking out over Shelby Bridge, he had no idea what the time was and he didn’t much care. Ranting his self-pitying thoughts and pent-up anger to the river below was about as productive and therapeutic as he wanted to get right now. Mid rant a man appeared next to him. Brad attempted to look him over but in his inebriated state with heavily blurred vision the best he could do was an old guy in a cowboy hat, not exactly a description that’s going to narrow down a manhunt in Nashville.

‘What you doing son?’ echoed the man in a southern drawl.

‘Fuck off!’

‘Polite fella huh. By the way your singing sucks pretty much too.’

Brad wanted to hit the guy but quite frankly it was taking all his co-ordination and concentration to keep himself upright and from falling on his ass.

‘Look son I can help you be better, if you quit being such a dick that is. Whad’ya say?’

Brad’s uttered an intoxicated response,’If you’ll fuck off and leave me be I’ll say whatever you want!’

‘Sounds like a yes to me.’ Before Brad could muster any kind of response the old dude was gone.

Twelve hours later Brad woke up back in his shitty rented house he’d shared with his malnourished dog and the resident roaches. He’d had no memory of how he’d made it back. Grabbing his head he took the last swig from an almost empty whiskey bottle sat by his bed side. He reached out to pick up his heavily warn guitar and he began to play. It seemed mad but he actually sounded pretty good. Brad totally unconsciously found himself singing along to a song he’d never heard before, to a tune he’d never played. He was so amazed about his new-found musical skill it actually took him a while to consciously hear himself, his voice had got sharper, more powerful, it was full of emotion and soulful. There was no denying it he was better than he’d ever been.

‘I guess I should always drink like that’ he said to himself.

Brad’s next gig was a whirlwind success, full of new material he never even knew he had. His song’s captured everyone’s attention. Word got around and within the space of a few weeks not only had he secured his own record deal but he was also on tour opening for one of Nashville’s hottest talents. He could barely believe it but his dream was coming true, finally he’d made it. Some nights he overheard fans talking about how he’d outperformed the main event. Rumblings were even being heard about how his headliners were wanting to drop his act feeling threatened by his popularity overshadowing their own.

As the nights went on Brad was living his dream, each night a smoking hot show, each night a hot and willing new lady and every night drowned in the finest quality whiskey he could lay his hands on.

Six months later Brad’s ego was out of control, his volatile attitude becoming something of notoriety on the music scene. He’d lost his support slot but it made no difference as he had his own tour now, even bigger and grander than his previous headliners could have ever of hoped to imagine.

Scandalous rumors circulated about the drugs, the alcohol, the numerous women he’d knocked up and laughingly tried to pay off and the shocking violence he’d resorted too if they’d refused to comply. Brad was notorious, an exaggerated interpretation of a country villain, if he’d carried a gun he’d of passed for a timeless, lawless outlaw from the old west. Simply put he was scum, but incredibly successful scum.

Through all his success not once did he stop and ask what had really happened to him, how he’d suddenly developed into such an amazing artist, an old school country genius, he simply believed he’d finally got what he’d deserved.

Brad exited his tour bus and crossed the street, whiskey was low and his spirits were high. As he crossed the street, brakes screeched. Brad was 10 feet in the air before he knew what had hit him. Moments before his skull unceremoniously crashed to the floor with terminal effect he heard a voice echo out in a familiar southern drawl ‘I told you to quit being a dick’. The truck never stopped.

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