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How It All Got Started 017: Carson

Tuesday, June 19, 1984

Carson Meunetti loaded his bass and little Fender practice amp into the back seat of his Bug and made for the address Don Zensaulstein had provided, which turned out to be a house at the south end of town.

The garage door had a regular-sized door cut into it; this opened before Car was halfway out of the car.

A tall guy, a shock of loose curls above his dark-complexioned, narrow face, walked down the driveway. He wore a white tank top and big surfer’s swim trunks. His flip-flops slapped against the cement.

“Carson?”

“Hi—you’re Don?”

They shook hands. “Yeah. Glad you could make it.”

“Totally,” Car said. “Thanks for giving me a shot.”

Two others emerged from the darkness of the open door. Don indicated a pale guy with waist-length blond hair and slightly darker muttonchops.

“This is Zane; he’s the drummer.”

Carson and Zane exchanged nods. Don put his hand on the shoulder of the diminutive, buff guy with the shaved head next to him. “Cary plays guitar. This is Carson.”

Cary stepped forward and shook Carson’s hand. “S’up.”

“S’up,” Carson replied.

Don started back up the driveway and motioned to the others. “C’mon in; we’ll talk for a little bit.”

Carson followed Zane and Cary through the door-within-the-door and into the garage. Inside, the space was completely given over to practice and recording space for the Donny Zombie Murder Show. Carpet covered the floor, walls and ceiling. In the corners, egg-crate foam hung suspended in wooden frames.

Against one wall was a short riser for Zane’s twelve-piece drum kit. A stack of speaker cabinets tall as a man and topped with softly glowing electronics loomed to the left of the drums. In front of everything, Don’s microphone, an old-fashioned thing that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the Ed Sullivan Show, perched atop a black stand. A wedge-shaped monitor sat just in front of that.

Opposite the band’s set-up, PA speakers hung from the ceiling. Wires and cables, carefully contained by well-worn duct tape, snaked from all the speakers and amps and into a tiny, glass-enclosed room in the far corner.

Jesus, these guys were totally pro. Car tried to hide how impressed he was.

Don indicated an old couch and a couple of folding chairs near the sound booth. He and his band mates took the couch; Car sat in one of the chairs.

“So,” Don said. “Tell us about yourself. How long have you been playing bass?”

“Uh, not that long, honestly.” Car’s leg bounced with nerves. His put his hand on his knee and locked the impulse down. “A few months.”

Don shrugged. “That’s not that bad. It’s what you’ve learned in that time, right?”

“Hope so,” Car laughed. He glanced at the others; Cary was picking at his nails, and Zane, who regarded Car directly, wore a nearly blank expression.

“I… uh… I’m self-taught.”

Cary looked up. “How?”

“Playing along with the radio, mostly.”

Cary grunted and nodded.

Don smiled and carried on with his officiating. “How old are you, Car?”

“I’ll be eighteen in a couple weeks.”

Don frowned lightly. “Hm. that might be a little bit of an issue, since we play a lot of twenty-one-and-over places.” He shrugged. “Whatever. Too early to worry about that. You’re out of school, though, right?”

“Yeah, I am.”

Zane spoke up. “Why us? Have you ever seen us play?”

“I haven’t, no. Sorry.”

“So why us?”

“I know what kind of music you guys do,” Car said. “I’m into it.”

Zane looked at Don. “He’s into it.”

Don gave Zane a sideways grin that Carson thought carried a hint of warning. “Whatever. We’re all into it.” He stood up. “Let’s get to it. We’ll get set up; Car, you want to bring in your rig? I didn’t see your amp…”

“Oh, it’s in the car.” Car stood up. “I’ll be right back.”

Zane’s flat, “Cool,” revealed just how much he seemed to be looking forward to that.

Car went from the dim light of the garage to the full light of day, blinking as his eyes adjusted. He retrieved his bass case and amp and tried to suppress growing nervousness in his gut.

He went back in, bass case handle in his right hand and amp handle in his left. “Where should I plug in?”

Zane, now shirtless, stared from behind his drum kit. Cary looked up from fiddling with the knobs on his guitar and shook his head slowly. Don, a perplexed smile playing on his lips, scratched the side of his head.

“Dude,” Zane said, “are you fucking joking with us?”

Car wondered if Zane was the reason the last bass player left. “What?”

Cary laughed. “Next!”

Don said, “Carson… do you have… ah… hmm. Is that just the amp you use to practice with?”

“Well, yeah.”

“So… you have another rig, right?”

“A real one?” Zane added.

Car looked at the massive stack of speaker cabinets behind Cary. He flexed his grip on the little boxy amp hanging from his left hand.

Oh, shit.

I’m an idiot.

“No. I mean, this is it.” He tried to sound sure of himself. “This is what I have.”

Zane got out from behind his drums and put his shirt back on. “When’s the next guy coming in, Don? Do I have time to take a shit?”

Don looked at Car. “Yeah. You do.”

Zane walked out as if Car was already gone. Cary turned off his amp and effects rack and unstrapped his guitar. He placed it carefully on a guitar stand and followed Zane.

Don looked at the floor and shook his head slightly. “Dude, this is totally my fault.”

Car hoped the interior of the practice space was dim enough to hide his burning face. “No, no… I should have, um… anyway, it’s cool. Thanks for having me down.”

Car whirled and went out, back down the driveway and to his car. Thankfully, Cary and Zane were nowhere to be found.

Stupid!

He put the bass case and practice amp back on the back seat of the Bug and walked around to the driver’s side door. He looked up to see Don coming down the driveway.

“Hey, Carson.”

“I’m sorry for wasting you guys’s time…”

Don laughed gently. “Yeah, well… whatever. Now you know, I guess.”

Carson’s own laugh was bitter. “Yeah, right.”

“Dude, it’s cool.” Don looked at Carson over the roof of the Bug. “You want to play bass, play bass. Everybody fucks up, especially when you’re really into something, right?”

Don laughed again. “Shit, you do not even want to know about my first band… we were fucking corndogs, no kidding.” He shook his head. “Anyway, you showed balls to come down here.”

“Thanks.” Car opened the car door. “Better luck with the next guy.”

“That shouldn’t be too hard.” Don flashed a mouthful of white teeth.

Car had to laugh as well.

“Tell the other guys I’m sorry for wasting their time.”

“Fuck ’em,” Don said. “But, hey… check it out: this is a pretty small scene. You probably haven’t heard the last of this, if you know what I mean.”

Car did.

“Awesome.”

Don started walking backwards up the driveway. “Hey, it’s a character builder. Keep in touch, dude. Good luck.”

“Thanks.”

Car drove home in the blackest of moods. He hadn’t even been playing long enough to really built up his callouses yet; he barely knew how to play. Who was he kidding?

He should have auditioned for that cover band down on Mariposa… they sucked enough to be more on his level than Donny fucking Zombie.

Stupid. Fucking stupid.

He got home to an empty house. His parents would be putting in some long hours before they left for Costa Rica on Friday. That suited Car just fine.

He needed room to brood.

The answering machine blinked at him. He pressed the play button.

“Hey, um, Carson. Preston,” the machine’s ancient micro-cassette warbled. “I think I told you about the party at my place. Friday night, bring your own whatever, etcetera, blah-da-blah. See you there. Later.”

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Copyright 2003 ~ 2018 Matthew Wayne Selznick.
The Sovereign Era, The Shaper's World, Daikaiju Universe, Protector Universe, Hazy Days and Cloudy Nights, How It All Got Started, Thing, Carson Meunetti, Lina Porter, Alex Kent, Crystal Dubois, Abbeque Valley, Dana Cove, Pinnacle Records, Hagar's and related characters, institutions, situations, and representative depictions in media are trade marks of Matthew Wayne Selznick.
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