The Underground Soda Box – Xperience Fiction

Written by on April 15, 2024

The Underground Soda Box – Xperience Fiction – by Liam Sweeny.

The following is the first installment of a story about love, junk, artists, punk, homeless savants and the death and resurrection of the creative soul. 100% organic fiction; prepare for an occasional typo.


The flare of the flash bashed her cheek, sought the angel’s angle and struck purgatory over her overwrought blush. The cigarette he dropped in his coffee cup twelve minutes ago rose high in the onyx, dancing along his lower lip upon an absent sip. His finger had fat knuckles; that finger, the only finger laid out as gift to the paparazzi, a cheap green-skin ring slung low on the fuck you flicker, a prybar only could remove it if he hadn’t seen in it a perfect metaphor for their love. She pulled her sweater sleeve over the wrong side of her tracks, on her forearm, between her toes. Thirty days healed and a golden coin that, should she run it through her fingers like a worry stone, might turn her palms as green as his carpal tunnel.

Never underestimate the circus pulse of two dozen Grand Slam breakfast plates shoveled into hungry maws, a two a.m. Taco Bell, but with class. He’s on the table now, shirt off and plaid shorts to follow. No; not that guy, the other guy. He’s in a band, and he’s ticking boxes for the interview, under the bright lines in Los Angeles when he says his peace to it over a Zoom call. He shouts to laughs and brows furrowed, two waitresses resigned to nod toward the phone that won’t call the cops because in all honesty, it was a show and they could use the tips.

She won’t eat her eggs, just sculpts them into that cloud she saw, the pink one when the junk was out and the sick was out and they told her she had the keys to her future and she only needed to drive under the speed limit. But the world moved so fast. And that fucker keeps snapping pictures, like they were anything but local celebrities whom you’d know if you knew, and this asshole clearly knew. Flash and a snap sound synthesized by a liar phone.

“Fuck outta here,” he said to his photographer. “No press.”

Laughter and chipmunk chatters. Three girls with bedtimes hanging on three guys who couldn’t wait for them to seek strange new beds. Scum. She squirms in her seat and he clutches her forearm because it was ink-numb and it was the only place he could touch her in public and she didn’t flinch. One time he got a love letter from a cop, call-collect from a concerned citizen with a hunch that he beat her because she flinched and he had a tattoo on his neck and his hair was greasy. The part that wasn’t shaved; if they looked close enough to see the tattoo on the side of his head, they would’ve suggested murder and necromancy.

She looked down and stopped squirming. He got up and found the press corp. Full plates and vape pens and his fist pounding the space in between. Jumps, three. Two freeze, including the cameraman. He leaned in and matched faces and a tincture of cotton candy weed passed between the confluence of their breaths.

“Don’t ever come to one of our shows, you piece of shit.” He pulled a napkin and wiped the shooter’s face with syrup, sausage grease and pancake crumbs. He walked back and a hushed what an asshole followed him, and he wondered if they truly thought that, or had read the tattoo on his head and was calling him by name.

Shine, diamonds; crystal cascades traverse the globe of the sodium lights and their Doc Martens push it down, compact it in industrial footprints less the patterns, only stars and bars. He held her through the jerks and the bracing for the rough hand he didn’t have for her. The love for her, the passion for her touch and the sad gleam in her eye that squeezed his ducts to tears that oiled his heart to slide.

“Do you think we’ll make it?” She drew her sight to his stiff jaw and he had no words but he gave them in absentia.

“Fuck that guy,” he said. “We’re gonna blow after tomorrow night. Everybody gotta go through shit to get big, Sarah, it’s all built on shit. You take peoples’ garbage and you build a fucking mountain with it.”

She smiled in silhouette. “We gonna play a show on a garbage patch?”

“Very top.”

Sarah, aware of the sounds of the sirens and of the oceans of city fires squeezed his hand, found in it a maelstrom to guard against a night that would see the sadness of distant death. He matched pressure and his intent was twin, for only they knew what it was like on the floor of the trap house where they met, sharing a can of paint huffed, depleted, left only to a trickle scrawl, and they joined forces between highs and lows to paint pictures of puppies with posies dressed as farmers upon a Krylon harvest.

Sarah pulled a Plexiglas pick from her coat pocket. She made it from an abandoned panel on the side of the road. She sanded and shaved and ran a lighter over it to melt the surface, and it was the greatest pick she’d ever used. Her bass was parts incorporated into an LLC, a miracle in logistics. Its pickups came from a smashed guitar, from the show the fall before when Zack Brody from Pickle threw his axe at the wooden wall of the stage, but it didn’t sink in. She bought the wreck for an album cover sketch and a concert poster.

He had a name that sounded like Ollie so he claimed it and bought the website. He was the lucky one, the singer, the one unassisted melody in the practice room. He would be the one to get the girls except the one girl he could never get was the only one that got him. The two of them together could make any sound a song and any triumph a wrong and they used this odd effect to gather the rejects to the empty warehouses and the landfills and tunnels anywhere that held electrical outlets for their emotional outlets, their artistic outlets.




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