Torn Inch to Freedom

One's tale of perseverance and creative struggle.

Everything seemed like a torn inch to freedom during that time in my life.

“How’s life?” You ask?

“Torn inch.” 

“Dude, you were fucked up last night!”

“Torn inch”

“Why did you do that?”

“Oh, I was torn inch.”

Few would nod, exchange a high five, and understand. Others would make a facial feature as if I was speaking a new dialect. Avoid those individuals. They are vampires.

dlt Playing torn inch to freedom - Redhook Brewery -Portsmouth NH- Just Words - The Lyrics and Shenanigans of the dirty lil trollops - Ran Kime
dirty lil trollops playing Torn Inch to Freedom Redhook Brewery Portsmouth NH Circa 01ish

I had been playing bass in a hardcore band, and we played this night at a house party. We were called Last Day Alive. In the band, they were all united, close, but I felt excluded. Wah, poor me, right?

This was one hundred percent confirmed one night when I unexpectedly stopped by the singer’s apartment to say hey and have some beers. The place buzzed with music and chatter. I knocked on the door, two fingers spread the venetian blinds in the door window and a set of eyes peeked out at me for a half second.

The music shut off and the singer’s wife’s voice yelled, “SSSHHHHH…Ranny’s owsiide” -hiccup-.

They were amateur level shit faced.

Oh, no way”, the singer’s voice said. “Shoooould we, uuhh, let him in?

SHHHHHH, quiet. quiet. He might go away….” It was one of those comedic sketches where everyone inside the apartment felt they were being quiet, but they were wasted and loud as fuck. The lights turned off, leading to what sounded like them falling over each other.

They continued to shoosh each other in their drunken quietness.

“Maybe he’ll go away”

Ouch, you’re on my hair.

Is he still there

Hey, Who shut off the lights?

“SHHHH, shut the fuck up. maybe he’ll go away.”

Unwanted, I left and never came back. I slowly faded myself from that band. To be honest. Some of them were posers. They were overly concerned with appearances, mannerisms, matching tattoos, and lacked authenticity in both their behavior and music. Sheep.

We made it a few verses into the song, when he kept repeating the same lyrics and began to cry.

The Sound

Anyhow, we arrived at this house party early to set up and sound check. We planned to play in the back living room near the French doors on the first floor. There was no deck off the door, (Soon to be ironic). The ground was three to four feet below. Ideal for a show, band on stage, audience in the backyard.

We hung out after the sound check having beers when we heard an enormous sound. A sound that you knew instantly was bad, I mean, really bad. A sound you don’t hear often, if ever, in your life.

I ran into the street listening for any sounds to find the source, since we heard the initial crash sound echo off the back houses and fence. No more sounds, nothing.

There were a lot of cars parked outside a house just down the street. I walked that way. The rest followed. Standing out front, still no noises. I could see people standing in the living room through the front bay window. All seemed normal. A voice urged me to explore down the steep driveway off to the right and around the back.

Once I turned the corner, I saw a woman sitting on a built in deck bench. She was not crying, but holding her belly. She appeared pregnant, big time. Perhaps seven to eight months pregnant. I asked her what was that sound. She didn’t reply. Didn’t react at all. She continued to hold her belly and stared at the ground with a blank look.

I stepped up on to the deck and noticed a man lying on the deck floor as if resting or meditating. OK, weird, but I couldn’t figure out the problem.

The sounds of a party in full tilt came to my ears from the opened double-hung windows above. I looked up, trying to understand the source of the terrible noise. Perhaps it was from another house or a truck crash on the main road just blocks away.

And then I saw it. An entry door to nowhere.

I was a carpenter. I built countless decks. The house still had the deck floor ledger attached. The joist hangers stuck out mangled, and I quickly understood that this deck had just fallen straight down to the walk-out basement level making it look as if it were always there as a basement, ground-level walkout deck, but it was in fact, a first floor deck that had fallen fifteen to twenty feet down, sheared from the house.

I took the pregnant woman’s hand and talked to her, asking her questions. She continued to stare into space. I yelled up for someone in the kitchen to dial 911 when I heard sirens in the distance. This had to be for us. I remained with her until the paramedics arrived. Before I left her, I wished her luck. I never went inside. I walked back to the party house, cracked a beer and reflected in silence.

The others slowly staggered back as I watched the first responders going to work. I told them about the pregnant woman I sat with on the bench. A brief silence ensued until someone spoke up, revealing that they were inside on the first floor, talking to people who were confused about why these tattooed, out-of-place dudes were inside the house. Few noticed anything was wrong amidst the music.

Whomever the pregnant woman was, I hope your child is OK and you can still walk out on a second-floor deck without PTSD. 

I also wonder who called the paramedics since they showed so quickly.

The German

Our show had a great turnout that night. We played three and a half songs that night until the cops shut it down. It was fucking loud. We waited a half an hour after the poh-poh left and picked it back up. The cops came again and threatened to arrest all the band members if we played again. After the police departed for the second time, I urged, “Let’s do it!” The other band members were fucking pussies and declined.

Enter the German dude Rick. Out of nowhere, this guy jumps up into the slider opening and hits the drums without asking and kills it. I jumped up, plugged in my bass, and we did an improv thing until the police were back. We jumped into the crowd and mingled in before they could arrest us.

Whenever things got messy, the other bandmates were quick to run away, leaving me behind looking for an adventure. But in their minds, they were as tough as the street. Please. Their matching tattoos stood for Down For Life. Whatever that means.

Rick was many years older than me. I dug his style for antiauthority and he was a decent drummer. I invited him as our drummer for this hardcore band without consulting the others, but the others didn’t argue or say shit. They didn’t want to hurt the feelings of the current drummer, so I did the deed and Rick was in. Yup, I brought the cancer into the clubhouse.

Right from the start, Rick and the others clashed, so we broke up.

At first, they acted threatened and intimidated by him, but we all soon realized Rick was dick. He was cool at first, but became a fucking asshole. He wanted the spotlight on him for everything, as if he was Phil Collins playing drums and singing for his life and the cameras.

One time we opened up for Brutal Truth and I was doing backup vocals on parts of songs when I heard another voice accompany me. It baffled me where this extra voice was coming from, since I was the only backup vocal.

After the song, Rick’s voice thanked the crowd for the applause and invited them to get autographs from him post-show at the bar. He was legit, bent over his drums, singing into the drum mics, and serious about giving autographs.

I now regret bringing him in because the signs were all on the wall. I didn’t learn, but we really needed a drummer, so I invited Rick into a side music project I was working on with a friend. He jumped on the opportunity immediately and quickly became a dictator, ruining all things fun and any creativity in the air.

I have myself to blame for all of it.

Rick didn’t get along with anyone. He always knew best, tried to run our lives, our sound, our style, our band. He even demanded we paint our faces like Kiss and wear costumes like Gwar. 

We practiced in my mom’s basement, but it was time to move out so we could accommodate everyone’s schedules. We tried our best to incorporate and blend in what he had in mind, to a degree.

Even now, I’m unsure of his thoughts or motives. There was no coherence in his thoughts. We slowly grew to know this guy was a fucking psycho.

Unbeknownst to us, through a chain of connections, Rick rented a room at a marina warehouse. The guy who owned the marina had an old, unused storage building and made separate rooms for people to rent for storage. He convinced him and us to use it for practice.

Rick moved his kit in and told us we all needed to kick in cash for monthly rent. UGGHH. We had to leave mom’s place, so we obliged.

Rick walked in a huge full-length mirror with a smile and then a small folding table he unfolded in front of the mirror, the kind that is used for eating a TV dinner at your recliner. He laid out all this shit that looked like makeup and brushes and eyelash crimpers.

He had the typical neanderthal brow, perhaps Cro magnum. He was a hate tank and a tough guy. His eyes shot laser beams and his tone was scary. I gave zero fucks.

“What the fuck is this?” I asked. 

“This, Ran. is where we get ready with our costumes and character personas” 

“Come again, dude?”

He expressed his aspirations to resemble bands such as Gwar and KISS, who gained fame through their use of face paint and costumes. I was immediately put off and now I’m looking for a way out. Rick pushed and pushed for weeks on this topic. All three of us held strong. Let the music speak for itself, we don’t need face paint or costumes. 

“No one will see it in the recording anyhow”, he countered.

Oh, boy, ya mean we paint and dress up just for practice?

A big yup was his answer.

He explained this would be a perfect for embedding videos into our CDs, inspired by the bands of that time. He focused only on the image, everything except the music. 

We began jamming in this space and everything that we came up with was garbage to him. He consistently aimed to incorporate a Gwar influence in everything. He had such a case of scatterbrain that he would instantly flip to wanting to play a random song out of the blue. One day during a song he stopped and began a new beat and started singing the song Seagull by Bad Company. Hell No.

We really tried to learn it right then and there to shut him the fuck up. We made it a few verses into the song, when he kept repeating the same lyrics over and over and then began to cry.

Baggage or drama?

That song dug something sensitive out in him, it seemed, but it still wasn’t good enough without paint on our faces.

None of it resonated with us three. After he would leave early in a hissy fit, we would huddle up and work through new shit. Wes would jump on Ricks “Precious, don’t touch” drums and we worked out some cool new shit. We always waited him out until he had a meltdown so he would storm out. Perhaps we even instigated it a bit, just to get him out even earlier than usual or sometimes, we snuck in at odd hours when we knew he would not be there.

I don’t remember who started what, but I had a bass line that I riffed and TB came in with his riff and Wes put a beat over it. I grabbed the mic and started spitting lyrics like a stream of consciousness.

“Crazy cuz, I can be. We just bought a van…….If ya wanna take a ride ya betta hop inside…….Torn inch to freedom.”

We worked it out to a suitable spot. The next time Rick showed up for scheduled practice, he started in on his soap opera makeup department pitch. We all rolled our eyes, and he felt it. Rick got nasty. He looked up at the wall (the walls were at the least 15 feet tall). I had written in spray paint “Crazy cuz I can”. Rick lost his shit, spit and foam came out of his mouth in anger, veins came from his neck. He was a fucking crazy nut job German Nazi. 

Relax, a quart of paint makes that gone in five minutes.

The three of us ended up back at my mom’s house and left Rick at the marina alone with his makeup studio and drums. I finally told him we were done with him and thanked him for his drum time.

He did not take it well and started some petty, fucked up shit to revenge us. 

The Aftermath

Rick claimed Wes was fucking his girlfriend; he claimed we trashed the jam space at the marina cuz we all still had keys. He claimed I stole his cymbals, so he went to my mom’s house in a rage while I was at work, wanting to ransack our jam space.

Luckily, my dad stood hard in his way. Rick backed down, and I never heard from him again, well almost, until he sent ten pizzas to my mom’s house when my dad died.

Years later, a friend of a friend told me his ill intentions were to send a “glad he is dead” message. The pizzas were good and hit the spot during that rough time in life, so thanks Rick.

I did not retaliate, I just wanted him gone, but it filled me with a fire and added drive to make dirty lil’ trollops more than him and all his dreams.

The after, aftermath

I assumed it was all over until we made a band website. A contact inquiry arrived from the site. We were stoked to have a new site and receive our first message. The spelling and anger in the message immediately revealed it was, without a doubt, Rick and his jealousy. He may have used another’s email or created a fake one.

The message said something like “U musik sux, you sond lick the red hot cili peppars”. 

I looked up at the guys and, being first concerned with his horrendous spelling, but then smiled and said, “Just like with pizzas, he is trying to shit on us, can never not compliment us. If we sound like the chili peppers, then that is an enormous compliment.”

I replied to the email with a big, over the top, thank you. heartfelt and gushing with mad love to a huge fan.

That was that. I never heard from him again. 

Years later, news came that he had passed away. Who knows how or why? It is sad to see anyone die young, but man, we had to tear our inch of freedom from him.

Fuck him. I hope he can rest in peace.

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Ran Kime Writer
Ran Kime, a writer, poet, musician and recluse from New Hampshire, crafts abstract stories, flash fiction & poetry that probe the psyche. His collections include “Spectre of the Brocken: Halo for the observer” and “Way Past Tipsy & Other Silent Cries for Help”.