"Yo Gabe! We still need the bass amp packed up on stage!" Ryan called.
Gabe grunted as he shoved the heavy amplifier into the van. "I'm coming, calm your dick."
Ryan chortled in response as Gabe picked up the amp from the designated spot on the stage.
"This should be the last one," Gabe said, turning to face Ryan.
Casting a glance over his shoulder, Ryan nodded. "Looks like it, but we have to be out of here and on the truck again by tomorrow morning if we're going to make it to Seattle for the next show. Just need to do inventory and then we're done for the night."
Gabe nodded, comfortable with the routine they had fallen into over the past year. It was nearly eleven o'clock at night; a considerably early night compared to most work days that carried out into early morning.
Still, that was the job. As a roadie, it was Gabe's responsibility to ensure the set and equipment was where it needed to be at all times. At least, that was the job's professional description.
A year ago Gabe had been approached by a man at a pub while listening to a house band. His attire was too formal to just be there for the second-hand smoke, beaten-down acoustic and cheap liquor store kept in the building's basement.
He took one look at Gabe's grungy attire and said, "You look like you could use a job."
Introducing himself as Mark Sterling, band manager and talent coordinator for the top names in the music industry, he proceeded to take a seat on the crooked-legged bar stool and rattle off about his new opportunity.
He was good. Enticing and seductive, the man certainly knew how to play his cards to have the game falling in his hands.
"A roadie?" Gabe had scoffed and pulled his hood down to hide his messy hair. "Thanks, but I'll pass."
"It's more than that," Mark had said and proceeded to speak of the sweet nothings that came with a spotlight's shadow.
"You could earn big bucks doing this," he seduced. "Full-time contract. Great benefits. One year, that's all I'm asking. The Seventh Affliction could use someone like you."
"And if I don't?"
He grinned. "What have you got to lose, kid?"
The end of that conversation had landed Gabe in the position he was now, working for one of the hottest names in the music industry. With two platinum albums under their belt at only twenty five, The Seventh Affliction was a growing powerhouse of success.
The Seventh Affliction was not a boy band, nor were they men either. Somewhere under the masked scent of cheap cologne, stale liquor and synthetic rock beats, this group was different.
They were not an overnight success but their fortune certainly testified against that fact.
Young, driven and talented in hopeless ways, the group had risen from the ashes of a low-life neighbourhood and written sacrilegious gospels from their own broken philosophies.
The truth was, they had worked hard to get to where they are now and would only keep climbing with their quality music and hardcore management. The charts shook under the weight of their success, as did each venue they sold out.
The Seventh Affliction was a four-piece rock band mixed in with the perfect interpretation of electronic and house.
The lead singer, Tyler Saunders, captured the audience's hearts and souls with his grungy tenor; an asset to the band as his semblance attracted numerous crowds where his other talents also lay in the sheets.
Nate Evans, the band's full-time cocky lead guitarist and partial douche-bag. Much like Tyler, his charming looks and seductive personality worked to atone for his larger-than-life ego and hence, captured the hearts of fans with a sweep of his hair and the flash of a Class A smile.
The quieter of the band was Austin Gaze. With chocolate curls and gentle eyes hidden behind black-rimmed glasses, one would never know that Austin is the eldest in the band.
As Gabe had come to learn, Austin is America's darling and the main songwriter and bassist for the band. He is incredibly polite and mature, making Gabe wonder how he put up with the rowdiness of the other two for so long.
Out of the four members of the band, Gabe had only slept with three of them in his time being a member of the crew. It was easy to distinguish who was who as they had their own individual styles; Tyler liked it hot, Nate liked it rough and heavy whilst Austin favoured tender gentleness and passion.
Gabe had lost track of how many times he had repeated the act with them after three months. He'd learnt pretty quickly that sex would be a regular part of the job.
Gabe had once asked Mark of the boys' sexual orientation to which he replied, "It doesn't matter to 'em. They'll bang a desk if they think it's attractive."
From then on, Gabe had learnt to keep his mouth shut and head down, simply doing his job.
Those three aside, there was the fourth and final member of The Seventh Affliction. Harley Stone.
It was near impossible to describe Harley Stone given that virtually no one had the slightest clue what he was like. As drummer of the band, he kept himself hidden away most of the time. It was rare to see him lounging around set unless he was rehearsing or on press duty.
Any other time Gabe may have seen him in person was when he was wearing a hood or his face was shielded by sunglasses. 'The discreet rockstar' or 'the prodigy that despised fame' was often the tabloids favourite headlines.
TSA's drummer was a whole different story in himself. Set apart from the rest of the band, rumours and theories had circulated from day one about Harley's character.
From what Gabe had heard from the other roadies, the drummer selected his 'toys' very carefully and seems to be the mysterious one in the band without trying.
He didn't kiss and tell, rarely spoke in interviews and simply sat at the back of the stage banging on his drums. The other members liked to joke that he's asexual or not very wild in bed. Not that anyone would know.
That being said, only the best roadies ever sleep with Harley Stone. If someone ever tried to ask the roadies anything about it or what Harley's like, they'd simply turn and walk away with their heads held high; a mixture of boastfulness and the choice to remain silent as Gabe had heard Harley liked to keep his private life on the down-low.
Gabe had once overheard one of the boys asking Mark why Harley came across as strange, to which Mark responded, "he likes it that way" or joked that "would take a hell of a person to handle that kid."
Between all the rumours, theories and gossip, Gabe didn't think even Mark really knew why Harley was the way he was.
An hour later Gabe was finishing inventory. Ryan came to lean against the side of the van Gabe was packing, a smirk playing on his face. "So, who do you think will be the lucky man tonight?"
Gabe rolled his eyes moodily and slammed the back door of the van closed. "Kevin told me they were heading to a bar tonight. They'll probably find a fuck there."
"Shame," Ryan looked away. "I could've gone for Nate or Tyler tonight."
Gabe slanted him an impatient look and began coiling an XLR cable around his hand.
"At least we'll have them tomorrow." Ryan continued, oblivious to Gabe's lack of enthusiasm in conversation. "Think we'll get a chance then? It's been nearly four days for me."
"I don't know." Gabe replied, showing no indication of caring. "You have other ways of amusing yourself."
"Who shoved a stick up your ass?" Ryan questioned. "You ought to loosen up."
"I'm tired," Gabe scowled back. "Take a hint."
"Woah, Princess didn't get enough of her beauty sleep, huh?" Ryan laughed. "Maybe you need to get laid more than I do."
Gabe scoffed loudly, hoping to convey his impatience and frustration to the Ryan. Couldn't he tell that Gabe wasn't in the mood to be provoked?
Ryan checked the time on his phone. "We're off the clock. Need a hand taking that box back to the storage room?"
"No." Gabe scowled and tossed the cable into said box.
It was a nearly twelve o'clock and they'd been making adjustments to the setup for four hours. To accomodate for six new CO2 jets, Mark had called the crew in to set up a new stage plan to be ready for the next show in two days.
"Alright alright, I'm just asking. Well, as soon as you're done here you can go."
"Thanks for your permission."
Ryan only smirked. "Goodnight Gabe, can't wait to see your cheery ass in the morning."
"Whatever." Gabe proceeded to ignore him and pick up the box of cables, signalling an end to their conversation.
Getting the hint, Ryan sighed and began walking away. "See you tomorrow."
Gabe didn't reply to him and instead wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. He was dirty from moving the equipment and couldn't wait to take a shower. Just one more task and he was done.