Tony Beat the Rock and Roll Debt Collector
by Chris Quinlan

z 1st June 2001 (based on a true story)

"My name is Tony Beat, its 2am and I'm standing outside a flat in Brunswick st Fitzroy, the door has a nice ring to it as I pound three times on it, a sort of deep bass drum like thud with a bit of gate reverb, although I might be wrong ...... I was after a hundred and forty bucks.

"Who the f--k is is that?" I hear from inside, the door has one of those peepholes in it, the kind that gives a fish-eye look to what you see, so I put my nose up against it, the sunglasses at 2am is also a nice menacing touch, sometimes I get bored with my nose up against the fish-eye peephole, so I fold my arms and give the guy on the other side a profile shot of myself, a nice artistic touch in a world of mediocrity.

"My name is Tony Beat from Rob First Pay Later Productions" I say with authority; The door slowly opens and the lead-singer of the Nirvana cover-band dressed in his psychadelic jim-jams looks extremely pissed off .... "Who the f--k are you, man? Whadya want?"

"Listen, I left three messages on your message machine, you owe "Paylater Productions" a hundred and forty bucks for your ad in Beatpress, you don't return my calls, so rather than working something reasonable out, I have to come hear and play my favorite drum fill on your door at 2am!, I need to know you're a reasonable guy, so I'm not leaving without some kind of arrangement for a hundred and forty bucks."

"You can stick a hundred and forty bucks up your arse!" Mr Jim-Jam steps back and telegraphs a left hook at me, I sees it and duck, the force of the swing sends Jim-Jam staggering forward, I grab his other arm and force it behind him and he falls to the ground with the weight of my knee in his back.

"Now, things like that get a Rock and Roll Debt Collector angry Jim- Jam! Now I have to come in and have a chat!" With that I bitch-slap Jim-Jam to sleep and leave him there cuddling the welcome mat. I go inside and look for a hundred and forty bucks.

As I walk inside there's some change on the table, I scoop it into my pocket and proceed with the inventory, I walk into the bedroom where a gorgeous blonde was asleep in the bed, I could tell she was asleep because the snoring was making her three good teeth rattle .... more change on the sideboard, another scoop into my pocket.

"Hey man, that's my stash for some gash tomorrow!" I turned and the bass player was leaning in the doorway; I knew he was a bass player because they lean on everything, especially drummers.

I looked at him and said "Man, you book an ad, you have to pay a hundred and forty bucks, that's called free enterprise in a land of democracy!" .... "But man, that's my lap dance money for tomorrow!" the bass player cried out as he was tearing up.

"I'm sorry man, that's show business, its not my fault you advertise a door-take in Beatpress for a hundred and forty bucks and nobody shows up." I said as I made my way to the front door where Jim-Jam was having his shut-eye.

As I was driving back to my pad, I couldn't help but think that a hundred and forty bucks of lessons on tuning guitars and basic reading skills would serve this bunch of door-takers better than trying to fake it at a gig then squib on their rock and roll debts.

The next day, I walked into "Paylater Productions" and dropped a hundred and forty bucks worth of nights takings on the boss' desk; "There you go, chief, that's all they had in the pad." ... Robbie Paylater had a phone attached to his ear and a cigar attached to his mouth, sometimes you couldn't tell which one he was attached to more, he wore them like Gucci fashion accesories.

"I gotta job for ya' Beat, a band called Times Butchery has been advertising their new CD with us, they owes us a hundred and forty bucks and its time to pay! They're having their twenty-seventh CD launch at The Royal Darrbbee tonight .... be there!"

"That's a lot of launching boss!" I says to Paylater and saunter over to the editor's desk, he'd been there two minutes; not at the desk .... in the job. His name was Freddie Borg, his nickname was "Seven of Nine" not because of StarTrek but because he was the ninth editor in seven years!

"Hey Freddie, how's it hanging?" I asks .... "Long and loose and full of juice!" he smiles back, he was a poet and didn't even know it I thinks to myself! "I got another door-take ad for a hundred and forty bucks." "Good for you!" I says and amble out the door to my date with destiny at the Royal Darrbee.

The set was ok, Times Butchery had two Kate Bush lookalikes trying to out Babooshka each other with a Tori Amos attitude, I liked it and so did the five punters that read the hundred and forty buck ad in Beatpress and bothered to turn up.

It was a singles bar, a Tuesday night, the moon was dim and the band was tight, what a splendid sight , they're teeth were white, I was glad that I went there! ....

At the end of the second set, I went to work, I put on my sunglasses and made my way backstage, Babooshka one was telling Babooshka two to stay the hell out of her key change range, the drummer was listening to the footy scores on a little radio and the lead guitarist was busy counting the band wages, approximately totalling what a schoolboy would normally call pocket-money. The bass player was leaning on something.

"Hey, loved the set, you have a real sound there!" I meant it, they were good, they were also starving. The lead guitarist looked up "Hey, thanks man, wanna buy a CD?" "Sure", I said." I fished a red-back from my wallet and handed it to him "Can I have a quick word?" I asked.

We made our way to the other side of the band-room, "Listen man" I whispered "I don't wanna rain on your parade but I'm from "Paylater Productions" ... there's a small matter of a hundred and forty bucks."

His face dropped a little but he wasn't the squibbing kind "Yeah, man, I know about that, I can give a part of it, but we didn't get our crowd, all our mates who said they'd come didn't show and we're doing another party for nothing tonight, here's what we got, but I need to drive the band home so I need ten bucks for petrol"

"That's ok, buddie" I said "All I need for now is part payment and you fix the balance next gig, ok?" "Ok Mr Beat, no worries."

As I was driving home with half of a hundred and forty bucks I thought to myself "The last thing the Rock and Roll Debt Collecting Industry needs is a guy going soft!" "Do I really need this?" As I turned into my street, I saw what looked like a cigarette glow in a parked car outside my pad. I circled around, parked my car a ways down the street and tiptoed back towards my pad, I could see two figures in the parked excuse for a car, I crept up and with a knock as soft as a Mike Tyson uppercut, tapped on the roof of the shit-box.

Mr Jim-Jam near shat himself as he turned and saw my now familiar look, I gave him the eyeball as Jim-Jam tried to open the door, I could see something in his hand, as he was half out of the car I gave the door an almighty kick squeezing Jim-Jam's crown jewels.

"You wanna play tough, Big-Boy?" I whispered as he slouched down into his normal position of gutter-sleep, as I looked up the bass-player was giving his blue jeans a khaki-glow, "Nothing to lean on now, prick!" I smiled "It wasn't my idea, Beat!" Bass-player moaned, "I just wanted a lap-dance!"

I took off my sunglasses and gave the four-string plooker the steel eye "Better you buy a metronome and learn to stick closer to the Beat man!" "Ok, Ok" Bass plooker replied "Pick this pile of crap up and take him home to mama" Plooker picked up the moaning Jim-Jam, threw him back into their shit-box and made off into the Brunswick St. night.

As I walked into my funky pad, I threw my suit on the purple couch, my sunglasses on the sidetable and fed my new orange, black and white kitten, As i scooped a spoon of pussettes into her bowl i said "Geez, kitty, you've got a crazy color scheme, you must have been put together by a committee!"

I suppose if a cat could smile she would have, she purred instead, I figured a mans gotta make a livin', a hundred and forty bucks worth of livin', always a hundred and forty bucks ...... I was too tired to figure it out .... I started thinking about seven twenty-dollar notes and what it could buy, as I was nodding off to sleep, I'm sure my cat said the answer ..... "ROB FIRST, PAY LATER!" ......... the end. .