Just like every other night. Playing bass in a run down bar, part of the house band. You’re not bad, not bad at all, but you’re also not good. Passable work, but that’s all you’re paid for. You’ve seen it all. By this point nothing could surprise you. The night’s vocalist could cough up a lung and proceed to beat himself to death with it and it wouldn’t phase you in the slightest — just continuing to pick out the line to “Ring of Fire” for the 1 millionth time in your career. Just like you have every night for the past ten years. After you get done here, drive home where the wife bitches at you because you never spend any time with her, go get a bottle of Jack and fall asleep in front of the TV just like you have every single night for the past nine years. In the beginning, you were happy, you felt “hey, I can finally make a living by playing music”, but soon you realized. You realized this wasn’t music you were playing, but each note plucked out on your second hand Gibson sucks at your soul until there’s no feeling left. As if you’re playing chess with death, like in a foreign film that you’ve never even seen. You don’t even know how to play chess. That could be why you’re doing so badly. The first year was happy. You’d put your heart into the songs you played, you didn’t mind that they were the same things you’d played the night before, and the night before that, and the week before that and the month before that — you were making your living with your music and that was all that mattered. Sure, it’d have been nice if you had been able to follow your dreams and form a band that would get signed to a record contract and have a string of hit singles, but this was the next best thing. The next best thing, that’s what you told yourself. But later, it sunk in, and you stopped caring completely. The only thing you’d ever do other than merely playing would be to occasionally smile at the audience for one brief second, but that would soon prove too much for your smoke-withered face and eventually you’d stop doing that all together. You never talked with the rest of the band anymore, because all of you knew the setlist by rote memorization. Even though the vocalist would change, the songs never would — always the same old crap that you never really cared for anyway, but played without any grudges because it was a paycheck, and it was easy. On the off chance the vocalist would throw in a curveball, all that was needed to line things up was a sub-human grunt to your bandmates to set everything in line before the song would begin. Churning out passable covers of songs from an era long gone by. One that didn’t even involve you. One that doesn’t interest you in the slightest — just a bunch of old, filthy cowboys whining about poor relationships or longing for a long past era that didn’t involve them. You’re just perpetuating the cycle. You know it, too, but you really don’t care. It doesn’t matter at all. Finish the setlist, make small talk with the bartender as he serves up your usual, do another set and go home and sit there in your recliner holding the bottle of memories and things that could have, no, should have been, thinking with the television on, showing reruns of a show that you don’t particularly like, but tolerate because there’s nothing better on at this time of night. Really, did you ever think you’d end up like this you ask yourself. You lie, lie and tell yourself no, but after a few minutes of self-reflection, you tell yourself yes. You knew that you’d end up wasting your life away in a run-down bar. Admittedly, you thought you’d be on the customer side rather than as an employee. But in the end, does it really matter?