Jam-Pocalypse Now

Phil was already at Funk’s Pub on Sunday night when I came in lugging my bass guitar and the equipment for the Internet live broadcast. Since my hands were full, I nodded at him by way of greeting as I passed by to plunk my gear down against the far wall of the sports bar, near the sound board. The house band, Mudroom, was on stage setting up the sound system in preparation for the open jam hosted there every Sunday. Some jam band music was playing over the speakers via someone’s iPod that was lying on the sound board table.

The aroma of bar food reminded me that I had not eaten dinner and needed to remedy that.

Phil was sitting at a low table close to stage left.

“What’s up, baller?” Phil greeted me with one of his standard lines when I came over.

“Not much, good sir,” I replied. “How’s life with you?”

“Yeah, really good,” Phil said. He wore a wide-eyed deer-in-headlights expression, like he wasn’t quite sure what was going on. This was his second time to the jam, often a rather impromptu affair. “You want a drink or something, dude?” Phil put his hand on my bicep and pushed gently in the direction of the bar.

“Sure,” I said. I didn’t tell Phil that I usually drank for free at the Sunday open jams, on the tab of Mudroom’s band leader, Tyler, who was also the jam organizer. Tyler liked to reward me for hosting the Internet live stream of the jam that I ran on my laptop most weeks. “I might get a burger or something though too. I’m kinda hungry.”

We started toward the bar.

The zombies attacked with almost no warning. We were about half way across the room. I had just noticed my friend Ruby sitting at the bar waving to get my attention when I saw her smile dissolve into abject terror. Simultaneously, the large glass windows that lined the exterior of Funk’s Pub all seemed to explode inwards at the same time, and dozens of undead began spilling through the window frames, moaning as they got their bearings and began targeting their human victims.

Instinctively, I placed my right hand to my lower back. Though I knew my Colt revolver was there, the familiar lump under my shirt was reassuring as I sprang into action.

“Over the bar!” I yelled at Phil. Ruby was already scrambling over. She seemed to know the drill.

I looked at Mitch the bartender and he gave me the nod as he reached under the bar and pulled out an aluminum baseball bat and a couple of ice picks. Phil and I ran up to the bar and hurdled it, landing beside Ruby and Mitch on the far side. Zombies were poor at navigating barriers and usually too weak to climb over, depending on how fresh they were. Eyeballing the room, it looked like a couple dozen walkers at least.

Luckily, the Sunday night jam was not a particularly well attended event. A man and a woman who had been sitting at a table near one of the windows when the hoarde crashed through had fallen to the floor and were scrambling away on hands and knees as the zombies surrounded them. One of the zombies grabbed the man by an ankle and was chomping on his shoe. It looked like a decent quality leather shoe, so I didn’t think he had been bitten, but the zombie was working its way up toward his exposed ankle. His girlfriend, if that’s what she was, still on hands and knees, was frantically pulling on the man’s forearm, trying to get him away from the beast.

As compelled as I was to see how that scene unfolded, I had to pay attention to my own surroundings and the task at hand.

Most of the zombies were drawn to the bright stage lights at the far end of the room where the members of Mudroom were putting down their instruments and scrambling to pull out weapons of their own from their gig bags. Tyler withdrew a machete from his and twirled it fancily, which seemed a bit excessive at the moment, but he was always a showman.

Matty, the bass player, had pulled a shotgun from his bag. I flailed my arms trying to get his attention, but he didn’t see me.

“No guns, Matty!” I yelled across the room. He looked over, eyebrows raised. “We don’t know how big the hoarde is outside yet.” Zombies were attracted to loud noises.

Unfortunately, my yelling was a loud noise, and this attracted six or seven of the zombies in the direction of the bar, their moans transitioning to growls as they spied prey through their grey, cloudy and lifeless eyes.

“Everyone prepped?” I inquired, taking an ice pick from Mitch and handing it to Ruby. Phil took the other one and Mitch used the aluminum baseball bat. I cracked a broom stick in half and wielded its jagged edge toward the approaching corpses.

As the zombies impacted the outside edge of the bar and extended their clutching, putrid hands toward us in hunger driven desperation, we relieved them of their brains with our handheld tools fairly expediently. Mudroom handled the dozen or so that had been stopped by the edge of the elevated stage.

Once the first wave had been taken down, we cleared the rest of the room. The man whose shoe had been the target of a zombie had managed to escape getting bitten, but unfortunately, his girlfriend had been taken by three zombies as she tried to ward off additional ones from eating her man. He was using the leg of a chair to brain the zombies devouring his girlfriend’s intestines, but his effort was half-hearted, for he knew she was dead already and would soon join the cadaverous ranks of ghouls.

We divided and conquered on the remaining ghouls.

It was one of the smelliest jams we ever had at Funk’s, with gore splattered just about everywhere and corpses all over the floor. But no apocalypse can stop rock-n-roll. The show must go on.

"What song do you want to play?" I asked Phil when it was our turn to take the stage.

"I learned Dr. Love," Phil said, referring to the song by the rock band Kiss.

"Alright, let's hit it," I said. I looked back at MG on the drums. "You all good on Dr. Love?"

MG nodded.

The song was a disastrous train wreck. Biff central.

After we got off stage, Phil said, "Yeah man, I don't know what happened there. I thought I had that shit down, bro'!"

"Oh, no, Phil, that's cool," I said, smiling at him. "It was my fault. Because when you said you had learned the song...I thought that meant...you had actually learned the song. Haha."

I gave Phil a joshing punch in the shoulder. It was an open jam and biffs were par for the course. One might even consider the disastrous performances as part of the entertainment.

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