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SERIALIZED FICTION: “When We All Went Away” Pt. 3

This is a work of serialized fiction by local author Michael Ferrence. Follow these links for Part 1 and Part 2.

  After we finished school, rather than getting day jobs, Max, the other guys, and I decided to focus on The Bumblebees. We moved into a house a few blocks away from The Fender, our home base for in-town shows. The owner, a former gold medal Olympic rower turned urban developer, helped us build a recording studio upstairs. We released 3 albums in just over a year, one or two songs at a time every few weeks, with somewhere between 250,000 and 350,000 downloads combined. Our songs got better and better, Max started designing these really cool, interactive video backdrops, and we began livestreaming our shows. We still played small-to-midsize clubs, but they sold-out out every time.

Illustration by Luke Cloran

Illustration by Luke Cloran

   The Rhinos last attack was knocking the hands off the Rocky statue and draping the Square Starred Banner over his shoulders. Just about everyone thought this was a sign of weakness, evidence they were slowing down, that they’d lost focus, “hokey as shit” as Maxwell put it. Aside from a recent city-wide barrage of flyers promising, ‘SOON’, for months they had been relatively quiet.

   They’re done, I said. They’ve tried to erode trust in the process, in our way of life, and they’ve failed. We’re stronger now than we were before they began. Yeah, there are definitely things that need to change in this country – inequality, environmental stuff, education, healthcare, crime, violence – but the United States, even with our flaws, is still one of the greatest places to be.

   The crowd erupted, and we jumped right into our 35th and final song of the night, our last Philly show before heading out West for a month.

   ‘SOON’ followed us to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Sacramento, LA, San Diego, Vegas, Dallas, Houston, Austin, Denver, back to LA, and back home.

   We’re trying to silence these maniacs and instead we’ve given them a microphone, I said. Maybe we should just play music and shut our mouths.

   “No way man. Not now.” Said Max. “Why? Because they dropped off some flyers on our tour?”

   Yeah man. Exactly. They’re following us! We’ve become  the focus. It isn’t what we wanted. They’re dangerous. This isn’t a goddamn joke.

   “What did you expect?”

   Not this. This is outta control. We’re in over our heads.

   “Too late now.” He said.

   We took some time off from recording and playing shows, but kept a strong presence by streaming our practices and songwriting sessions. I moved in with Elizabeth over on 26th and Brown, not far from The Fender and the guys. Three weeks later she told me she was pregnant. Four months after that, in front of a few friends, our parents, and our brothers and sisters, we got married on Lemon Hill in Fairmount Park. We honeymooned in Honduras for a week, then I left with The Bumblebees for our first European tour.

Part Four of “When We All Went Away” will be published in next week’s edition of The Spirit of Penn’s Garden.

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