Xavier was afraid to hear the news. He considered walking out the room before the reading of the will, or, as the other band members called it, “The reading of the common moron,” known to most people as Billboard’s Top 40. Xavier feared his band was on it. Their manager, Janice, had told them that they’d made it, but, Xavier trusted Janice as much as he could throw her and Xavier couldn’t even throw a football, so…
The band stayed up all night after their gig to wait for one of the four members to go to the closest 7-11 and get the freshest copy of this week’s Rolling Stone magazine. They had a round robin of rock-paper-scissors to determine that Gary, the bassist, would fetch the magazine. The deal was for him to pick it up, not look at it, bring it straight back to the the house the band shared with a cat named Beatles, where they would learn their fate together.
The door opened, in walked Gary with the magazine. It could say anything. Xavier knew the very mention of their band’s name anywhere on, in or around the Top 40 chart would be the death of the band. Xavier loved the group and the music too much to let them become popular. He hadn’t started writing songs to get famous, Xavier had started writing songs to scream at how shallow and hypocritical fame is. To become famous on the back of such lyrics, such sentiments, would be the worst hypocrisy of all.
“You guys ready?” Gary, always following, asked his band mates, who lay in various positions strewn about the living room floor. Xavier sat up. Fred and Jason kept laying on their backs, all eyes on Gary.
“Go for it!” Rocked Jason.
“Let er rip!” Rolled Fred.
Gary ripped open the magazine, slicing through pages finding the index, before his fingers made a bee-line for page 98, housing the list of the week’s top 40 most popular songs.
“We’re number 39!” Gary sung, smiling ear to ear. Xavier shot up. Jason rolled over and high fived Fred.
“Dude!” Duded Jason.
“Dude!” Fred duded back.
“Holy shit! We made it!” A second wave of euphoria washed over Gary, splashing his eyes with tears.
“I quit. I’m outta the band, see ya,” Xavier said heading for the door.
“Wait! Where you going? You kidding? Xav? What’s wrong with you?” Fred, the guitar player was sitting up, rubbing his eyes.
“It’s what’s wrong with you. You’re not punk. We’re a punk band, and it’s not punk to be mainstream; punk is the polar opposite of mainstream, and that list is a death list for punk bands. And you guys celebrate it like we’ve achieved something making it on the list. We’ve achieved nothing but our death, killed by the mainstream we were fighting against. Guys, how can you not see that?”
“We’re popular cause we’re good,” said Fred, yawning; it’d been a long night.
“We’re popular cause we suck,” Xavier spat back.
“Your favorite band is The Beatles, you named your cat, Beatles. What the hell is wrong being popular?” Justin had known Xavier since summer camp, where they met as campers, knew Xavier well enough to know when he was serious, but he also knew that as a kid, Xavier had wished to be famous. He reminded Xavier of that now.
“You used to dress up and lip sync like Mick Jagger every summer at Cedar Brook.”
“I grew up. See ya, man. Fellas,” Xavier walked out and didn’t look back. Not even to go back upstairs and get his clothes, money or even his guitar.
‘Fuck it,’ he thought, stepping out to sun the peaking over the horizon, ‘I’ll show them punk.’