Chapter 3:

A Night on the Town

Purple Prose

All good things must come to an end as they say. Luckily for The Montauk, all good things return every week. The raw energy vanished as people took pictures, shook hands with band members, and grabbed one last drink before Monday’s call. Technicians shut down equipment, causing the giant speakers to pop. One had forgotten to wear headphones while on stage and cried out as she clapped her hands to her ears.

After a moment’s rest, Issei grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and nearly chugged it all.

“We don’t know each other’s names, do we? I’m Issei Haramoto, and that’s Takao Kana and Kanka Hirobuchi.”

“Really? It feels like we already do! I’m Murasaki Tategoto.”

Issei held out a hand and, smiling, she shook it. They let go after a second, yet it was one of the longest seconds Issei ever felt.

“Tategoto? Like the instrument?”

She nodded. “And yours must be for ‘voice’! Looks like we’re both born for music.”

Issei pivoted. “Takao, speaking of,” he said, “our song needs work.”

Takao sluggishly lifted his head off the seat cushion. “You’re saying that, huh? You’re saying that? You think this is funny?”

He slapped the top of the leather sofa. “Come on,” he wheedled, “we got all week to buffer out the kinks. Let’s pick a day and we can grind it out.”

“Unlike you, Issei,” Takao snapped, “I have college! I can’t just be a rockstar every day like you can.”

“Same,” Kanka added. “I got work. Company keeps me ‘til ten, so the weekend is pretty much all the free time I can get.”

“Work!” Murasaki grabbed her head and pouted. “Oh, why does it have to be tomorrow…I was having so much fun.”

“Doesn’t mean the day has to be over, does it?”


Issei didn’t know why he said it–the words just came out. Maybe he didn’t want the day to end. The night was more fun than all the others, and he couldn’t figure out why.

Was it that simple? To finally get recognized by someone? No other band gave him the time of day, then Murasaki suddenly showed up and called his voice “badass”.

Issei stared at the floor. “I was just thinking, maybe we can unwind. I know Takao needs it more than us. Maybe we can go to a restaurant or something?”

Then Murasaki leaned on Issei’s shoulder with her elbow. “Good idea! I’m new to this city, so it would be great to learn where all the fun places to hang out are.”

She was getting a bit close for having just met, but Issei didn’t mind.

“In that case, let’s hit up Proteinium Records, it’s a few blocks from the venue.”

“Oh, Proteinium!” Kanka said, rubbing his belly. “I’m down for that.”

“Is your band coming with, Murasaki?” Issei asked.

She looked away. “Well, Ichiriki left after getting paid, and our drummer ran off after your gig, so I’m by myself.”

So they just left her in a city she doesn’t know? Some band they are.

Issei waved a hand and grinned. “Their loss. Let’s get outta here!”

Excitement within him shot off like fireworks.

Proteinium Records was a restaurant and bar which had pictures of famous bands hanging on the walls and replica gold and platinum records dangling from the ceiling. It was packed: rows upon rows of hungry patrons chatted away, and metal cookware clinked and chimed from the kitchen as chefs barked orders. Waitresses in classic striped dresses carried sizzling meat and roasted vegetables on trays, the raw umami coursing through the air causing Issei’s stomach to growl.

Noticing Murasaki’s head swinging like a kid in a candy store, Issei said “this place gets its draw from The Montauk. Everyone comes here on weekends to catch a glimpse of the bands they saw on stage.”

Right on cue, as they were taken to a booth, people stared at them, some whispering to each other, others even pointing.

“Look! It’s Purple Lotus Lady!”

Okay, so they were only staring at Murasaki.

“Is it because I’m still in my corset?” she asked.

“Maybe, but it’s more because you’re special.”

Her head snapped forward, eyes wide in surprise, and Issei quickly added “you guys brought the house down, and it was only your first gig–I haven’t seen anyone do that before!”

Takao raised an eyebrow from over his menu, but didn’t say anything.

“I’m just surprised we did so well,” Murasaki said, her cheeks turning pink. “I thought we would crash and burn.”

Issei squinted as he pretended to read a record on the ceiling. Lady, that should be my line, he thought.

The waitress came with two trays of their food, crackling and sizzling, begging to be eaten. Murasaki couldn’t help but laugh. “Katsudon in the shape of the venue, with broccoli trees and bacon roads!”

“Perfect meal for a first-timer,” Issei said. “Look at my steak guitar.”

Kanka went right to work on his drum-shaped pot pie. Takao had a plate full of record-shaped sushi, who then proceeded to mold his food into people before dismembering them with chopsticks. “Yeah, you like that you little bastards? Want to boo at me some more?”

Before eating, Murasaki reached for the back of her head. Issei thought she was going to tie her hair, but instead she pulled a flower out of her ear. It had wide petals that were painted purple.

“Did you always have that flower on?” Issei asked.

She laid the flower on the table, dumbfounded. “Are you for real? This is a purple lotus–the name of my band?”

“Oh, so that’s what that was,” he said. “I hadn’t noticed.”

“We just met,” she said, smirking, “and you’re already flirting. You work fast.”

“I really had no idea!” Issei stammered. His hand swept over his plate, knocking his fork on the floor and causing him to hit the underside of his table with his knee.

“You’re also crap at saving face,” Takao said, his mouth full of people sushi.

Thankfully, the waitress arrived with drinks before Issei found another way to embarrass himself, and the table went silent as he poured their cups full of ice cold sake. Kanka was first to down his. “Ahh! Nothing like a drink after good work!”

Murasaki took a cup, then pointed at one of the records. “That one looks like Space Spiral! I love the female vocalist.”

“Oh yeah,” Issei said, spotting it, “I can see some of them in the song you played. They’re Alternative, while you went with that sort of hard groove style, right?”

“Yeah–we do have a couple moodier, down-tuned songs, though. How about you, where does Secret Project get their magic from?”

Issei craned his head. “I don’t think they’d be up there. Have you heard of Catalot or Eight Marvels? They’re Symphonic and Progressive. They’re huge in Europe, but the genres don’t get much attention here.”

“Symphonic? So with classical music or something?”

“Sort of; that’s all synth played on keyboard. But their songs are so rich and colorful. It’s a crime they aren’t world-famous! That’s why I founded Secret Prose with Takao. I wanted to take those themes and force Japan to admit it’s good.”

Issei found himself smiling.

He had no one that would listen to him gush this much about music before and seem interested, not even Kanka or Takao. But when he went back to his plate, Issei caught Murasaki gazing at him with a soft smile, one hand resting on her chin.

Issei felt his cheeks tingle as heat rose in his head. No, it must be the sake. Yeah, that was it. Not meeting her gaze, Issei reached across the table to pour himself another cup.

The sake was gone.

He jerked his head up and, for some reason, Kanka and Takao were sitting at the table across from them.

“What the hell are you two doing over there?” He asked, thankful for a distraction.

“Oh don’t mind us,” Takao said as he cracked a grin. “Pretend we aren’t here.”

“You took the sake!”

With everyone fed and the bottle of sake drained (Kanka drinking half), they stumbled to the front counter to pay.

Issei put up a hand. “Don’t worry–I’ll take care of it.”

“Damn man, are you sure?” Kanka said, red-faced and wobbling. “That’s four people you’re paying for.”

“It’s thanks for putting up with my stunt back there. Oh, and celebrating Murasaki’s first success.”

“Woah, thanks!” Murasaki said. “But if you’re a ‘rockstar every day’ like Takao said, are you a millionaire or something?”

“I just…”

Issei’s mind flashed. Like a snapshot, a massive tree groaned as it collapsed mere feet in front of him.

“I have a lot of money saved up.”

Pope Evaristus
Kya Hon