Sin with a Grin

By Jess Leather

I’m only here for Iron Maiden. My favourite band of all time, playing at my local heavy metal festival: an opportunity I was never going to miss. Sarah and I were through the gates as soon as they opened, setting up camp on the front row and getting in enough beers to last us through the four bands onstage before our favourite metal legends.

It started out as a laugh, we were having some good tipsy fun - until Sarah met a Slipknot fan who could barely stand up under the weight of his own facial piercings. She appears to have decided to spend the rest of the time before Iron Maiden glued to his mouth. I hope she doesn’t cut her tongue on his snakebites.

I sigh and drain my last beer, realising that Band Number Four is about to come on and I should probably pay attention. A sparky quintet called Sin With A Grin, I vaguely know of them and I suppose they’re OK. Not quite heavy enough for me, but fun - melodic vocals, long guitar solos and a bit too much tinkly keyboard action, all mixed up with the traditionally metallic pounding bass and enthusiastic drum riffs.

They’ll at least provide a welcome distraction from the slurping sounds now issuing from Sarah and her Slipknot fan.

I lean on the barrier and give some lacklustre applause as Sin With A Grin bound onto the stage. The lead singer is leaping around so maniacally I can’t quite see what he looks like beyond a halo of hair, riling up the crowd. Once he calms down, all five take their positions and begin to play.

It’s almost as though I’m yanked upright by a bungee cord attached to a guitar. Who is this? I’ve never seen Sin With A Grin’s bassist before, and here he is, suddenly standing just a few feet in front of me - and I like what I’m seeing.

I’m twenty-one years old, I’ supposed to be fantasising about young, clean-cut men with gym-honed bodies and chiselled faces. I’m not supposed to go into a sudden hot sweat over a man in his late thirties at least, sunlight catching the grey hairs in his dark ponytail, lines crinkling at the corners of his eyes as he grins at the crowd at his feet.

But I am.

I ignore the wedding ring I see on his left hand and give myself entirely over to lust. What is it about this man? Is it the way his lithe body sways and twists around his heavy black bass as he moves with his own music? Is it the smattering of stubble on his cheeks, the tiny goatee covering his chin that I’d quite like to bite? The little drops of sweat coursing down his arms that I wouldn’t mind licking?

Maybe it’s the glint in his eyes. I can’t even see what colour they are: I couldn’t care less. But there’s something in there that hints at mischief; at a life enjoyed, wedding ring or no wedding ring.

Maybe it’s just the music; the rolling bass that threatens to knock me right off my feet, the whole crowd moving as one hot, sweaty mess, headbanging and punching the air in exhilaration. It’s the kind of music that can transport you to a state of Nirvana - if you’d only pay attention.

Instead I stare at the bassist for the length of the set, watching his every move, his every step, his every note. I like to think he keeps catching my eye too - the dumbstruck girl in the front row clearly eyeing him up. But of course that’s impossible, a jelly-legged fantasy: he’s high up on the stage, I’m just a face in the crowd.

At the end of the set, he leans down, almost falling off the stage. With a wink, he presses a guitar pick into my hand.

This must be the zenith of my desire, I think, feeling almost faint as he saunters back to his bandmates for the final bow. This is what metal fans dream of, to be singled out, to be noticed. This is the climax of my imaginary love-affair.

As the band leaves, I flop against the barrier, exhausted by the depth of my lust for this one long-haired musician. I hardly care about Iron Maiden finally coming up next: I feel like I’ve experienced an entire week’s worth of emotions in half an hour.

Then a tubby man in a cap and a bomber jacket inches up the other side of the barrier, peering into the crowd until he catches my eye. He hurries forward and I see the word ‘crew’ embroidered on his jacket. Without a word, he presses a laminated card into my hand, winks, and sidles away.

I look at the card. ‘Sin With A Grin: AAA’. Access All Areas.

I have a backstage pass.

If you enjoyed Sin with a Grin you can buy the e-book of Flash Fiction Fest 2013 "Deadly Sins" for Kindle, iBooks or Google Play.

Other Stories from Saturday 23rd November

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