Chapter 30:

One of Many

Purple Prose

Issei rushed to the stage, and a strong shock shot through his system as he beheld exactly what he was dealing with. Look at the size of that crowd! There were thousands–perhaps tens of thousands–down below the stage, in the wings, on the second floor, and even in the back. They were all there for him. Well, perhaps they were more waiting for Embryology, who was the headliner of the gig, but there may be a chance some of the crowd were expecting them.

Takao bounced about the stage as he plucked his bass guitar to a dance-like rhythm, Kanka galloping with bass drum and snare as the stage production went crazy, high-quality laser lights flailing up and over the audience as they streamed and scattered with various colors.

Issei inserted the mic into the stand and took his first breath as a professional musician.

Just call my name and I’ll be by your side

Women in the audience shrieked with glee, and he grinned from ear to ear. It was a good sign for his vocals if they seemed to enjoy it–but if there’s anything he knows about male concert goers, they are most interested in how much the band rocks out.

Come hell or high water, I’ll be by your side

All across the world or just across the street we’ll be there

Cause we are here

We are here

Issei jumped to the front of center-stage and extended his arm, watching as the front row gladly reached to glance his hand.

Just hold out your hand and I’ll take it in mine

Disaster falls down around us but we’re still alive

Issei and Takao jumped up towards Kanka and they strummed power chords, Secret Prose together as one for the chorus came to life.

Because we are here

We are your heroes without capes

No tears shall fall from your eyes, you shall have no fear

Stand up on your own two feet and give us a wave

Because we are here

Morioka Stadium seemed to enjoy their brand new song, because after they raked their guitars to an abrupt finish, the whole audience cheered and clapped with joy.

“Secret Prose! Secret Prose! Secret Prose! Secret Prose!”

He couldn’t let the surprise show on his face…Issei had to be confident, he had to show them he was material-enough for them.

Issei turned behind him, watching Takao and Kanka nod their heads with grins on their faces.

Above Kanka was a gigantic TV screen that currently showcased his back turned to the audience. Issei spun back and forth in comedic fashion.

He bellowed “Morioka!” to the return of raucous applause before leaning into the mic.

Issei pointed at the TV and brought his voice low. “Why won’t that damn thing show my face?”

The crowd laughed, while some in the wings hollered.

“I see them, but I don’t see me! What gives?”

“Uhm, Issei,” Takao said, leaning into his own mic. “It’s called a camera. That thing on the top of your phone?”

“But my camera points at my face all the time.”

Takao yelled. “Because that camera isn’t pointing at your face, dumbass!”

The crowd roared with laughter, and Issei couldn’t help chuckling with them.

“Morioka! Unless you haven’t caught up on the news, we are Secret Prose–a brand new band fresh out of the company’s oven. I am Issei Haramoto–my cohort to the right of me is Takao–and the monster behind us who goes to war with the drums is Kanka!”

Takao took a modest bow, while Kanka threw his hands in the air and roared.

“After us is another band you may have heard named Purple Lotus.”

The crowd roared with cheer, Issei noticing the men being extra spirited.

“But we’re not gonna go into that detail, because right now, you’re in here with us, and it’s time to go sailing with Ebisu!”

So far so good. Five more songs and they were off the hook. That’s what Issei felt when he started, the overwhelming stress overtaking his limbs and paralyzing his mind. But as Ebisu progressed, the success of the song reaching its third iteration, Issei slowly but surely felt right at home again–he could let loose with the band he considered his second family and have the time of his life. This, right here, is where he belonged.

“Morioka! Do any of you have loved ones close to you?”

This time very little of the crowd cheered, while most of the audience chuckled awkwardly.

“Too bad! While there may not be a loved one there with you, everyone’s got a loved one out there somewhere, and that person is your Light. Of. Day!”

Issei’s very own light of day, as though answering his call, stood by on the edge of the stage, and when Issei turned to face her, she waved with such a sweet smile before giving him a thumbs-up. The memories of The Montauk flashed through his mind. It seemed like everything good that happened in his life just fell into place in those last two weeks, and it was mostly thanks to Murasaki. Issei had so much to thank her for. How could he ever repay her for coming into his life and giving him the strength to continue when all hope seemed lost? Issei didn’t think he could.

Light of Day was driven to its climactic end, and with a sweep of hi-hat, Issei stuck his arm out and watched the hairs stand on end as the crowd chanted their name with tumultuous joy.

“Secret Prose! Secret Prose! Secret Prose! Secret Prose! Secret Prose!”

Issei sighed, tipping backwards, then fell backwards onto the hard stage flooring.

“Morioka…Morioka… You’re too strong for me!”

The crowd laughed as whistles rang out.

Issei beamed. “I’m gonna need to sit down! Let’s play Silver Moons so I can catch my breath for a bit. What do you think, Morioka!?”

He sat down on a stool with his acoustic guitar hooked up to an amplifier, and the mellow song Silver Moons began.

The crowd leaned to and fro, and soon the arms swayed with phone flashlights, lighters, and even glow sticks. Issei couldn’t help but enjoy the attention, reflexively smiling when he sang the chorus and the women of the audience shrieked out in joy. It was a good feeling, knowing his talent was entertaining his audience–he dreamed the opposite. Issei leaned back with a smile, glad that his nightmares never came to pass.

Issei leaned into the mic. “Morioka…I have one question for you…are you ready for Purple Lotus?”

The crowd cheered and pumped their fists.

“Are you ready to meet the band?”

They bellowed with fierce energy.

“ARE YOU READY FOR–too bad–we got one more song.”

Issei laughed as some of the audience threw their heads back in frustration.

“It’s been a damn fine pleasure meeting you all! Our time together is coming to an end–but before we go, we must leave you with ONE. MORE. DAY!”

Something popped, and the stadium went pitch black.