It was deadly quiet in the van. The only sound was from the swish of the tires on the wet tarmac. Every so often, the van would hit a pothole, and Josh would jerk in his seat. The other lads in the band, sensing the atmosphere up front, spoke quietly which was unusual for them.

‘Look, I didn’t know that you was interested in her did I?’ Josh was looking at the side view of Jazz, who had barely taken his eye off the road ahead.

‘Whatever.’ Jazz grumbled, and Josh was taken aback by his subdued tone. Was this a good sign? Or should he be worried? It was hard to tell by his profile; the set line of his jaw, the large hairy arms gripping the wheel, or the trickle of sweat running down the corner of his face.

Jazz took his grip off the wheel and wiped his brow with the back of his hand, then turned to look at Josh.

‘No need to look so worried, Josh boy. I want a good lead singer, and your ‘it.’ The ladies love you that’s for sure.’

Suddenly, Jazz pulled the van into the kerbside. Straight ahead lay the road to Edinburgh, and Glasgow beyond that. Jazz turned off the engine and lent over to grab a cigarette. He sat there quietly smoking.

‘We’ll leave you boys to it. I need a pee and some fresh air anyway.’  One of the lads spoke up from behind. Josh heard the van doors being pulled open, and then silence. He watched as his band mates walked over to a gate and disappear behind some bushes. Luke, ever the loyal friend, stood next to the van, a worried look on his face. Josh could see his pained expression through the dusty streaks on the window.

Not speaking a word, Jazz lent into the glove compartment in front of where Josh sat. Josh got a whiff of the rancid smell of cigarettes and beer. He turned away, but not before Jazz grabbed his chin and forced him to look straight in his eyes. He had a torch in his right hand and with a smooth movement that belied his size, he swung it at Josh’s knee.

The pain was sharp and immediate.

‘I won’t touch the pretty boy face; we need that for the fans.’ he growled quietly into his ear. ‘I’m warning you – don’t ever show me up in front of the ladies, or the other lads, is that clear enough for you?’

Josh nodded, sweat pouring down his face. Moments later, the van slid open and the other lads piled in.

Jazz switched on the ignition, and they were on their way.

Copyright Suzanne Bowditch, 2016