2 – Does It Matter [The Byzantine Souls Saga]

End of 3 Month Tour, 7 Years Ago

The alarm clock on her cell went off, and blared the best tune from her all time favorite band. Rachel snorted as she took a deep breath in, suddenly waking from her slumber. She was startled to be completely naked under the covers. Her head felt like she parked a rock on top of it all night, and the world spun into a blur around her. She was definitely hungover and her whole body felt exhausted… the type of physical fatigue that only occurred after a particular event… It rhymes with “ex” and started with an “s”.

Hesitantly, with one eye closed, the other barely open, Rachel looked beside her to see who lied next to her. SHE DID IT…

She did the very thing she promised herself NOT to do on this tour. She hooked up with Skeeter again! Hurrying out of bed, Rachel grabbed her clothes off the ground to rewear what she wore last night, at the last gig, here in Seattle.

The road was electric. Hopping from city to city, living out of suitcases, and long hours on the road… Rachel was made for this type of life. After tasting the sweet satisfaction of performing in front of large audiences and the touring life, Rachel was willing to sell her soul to the devil to live life making music and being adorned by millions of people. She couldn’t describe how it made her feel, but it was better than how she felt 99.99% of the rest of the time in her life.

It was 10:30 am… Check out of the hotel was 11 am. Rachel realized she was in Skeeter’s hotel room… which confused her because Heidi came and joined the last leg of the tour on keys… how could she cheat with Skeeter if Heidi was around?

The toilet flushed and with Rachel standing by the hotel room door, the door to the bathroom on the left opened wide and Heidi came out in her robe.

She just smiled and winked at Rachel.

Flashes from their night abruptly came back to Rachel. They had a threesome. Feeling utterly sick to her stomach, Rachel rushed passed Heidi and collapsed to her knees in just enough time to puke into the toilet. As she purged the contents of her belly, Rachel felt as filthy and as vile as the vomit leaving her body. Not because she was disgusted by her actions, but the guilt and the shame she felt for doing the very act (from last night) brought to her mother… WHO WOULD NEVER KNOW WHAT RACHEL DID LAST NIGHT… EVER!

To recover from the yack fest, Rachel leaned back against the tub and drew her knees to her chest. Tears leaked from eyes as sadness quickened every fiber of her being. The reality hit she wasn’t getting back together with Skeeter… He was still with voiceless Heidi, who just had vocal cord surgery three months ago and very well may never sing again…

A fresh ping alerted Rachel she got a new text message. From all people… it was Keith…

Keith’s Text Message: Let me know when you’re back in town. Watched the show last night on the band’s live stream. You were incredible!!! Praying you hear back from that record label. Miss you.

For once, he wasn’t being prophetic or calling Rachel to repentance, he was just being a good friend.

7 Years Later, 3 Weeks After the Mega Music Awards

“Forgiveness is the other side of love. We read in John 3:16-17… that God so loved the world He sent His one and only Son, that whosoever believe in Jesus Christ, will have eternal life. Jesus did not come to condemn the world but He came to save the world.” Keith said, dressed in his Sunday’s Best T-Shirt, Joggers, and $300 Sneakers with an athlete’s initials on them, standing behind the pulpit.

He continued, “Believers know this already, but for anyone listening who doesn’t know, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice on the cross to forgive the sins of all of humanity. How have we missed this church? The Word makes it clear, God sent Jesus because He loves us. Jesus died forgiving our sins so we could reconnect with God. In order to love right, we must be willing to fully forgive. Not just ‘say we forgive’ those who hurt us, but be like Christ, and forgive people and not hold a record of wrongs, like Paul said love ought to do, and build a new relationship with the people who have wronged us…”

Sweating profusely like he was a basketball player, running up and down the court, Keith wiped his brow and his face with a black handkerchief. He went on to preach, “My wife and I, had a really hard first few years of marriage. We’ve only been married for four and it is just starting to get good… but I really had to practice what Jesus told Peter, when Peter asked… how many times should he forgive someone, even if what they did was wrong… now, I’m trying to throw shade at my wife…” pausing from his message, he made eye contact with Rachel sitting on the front row by the Floor Director on her right, and Security on her left, and he told Rachel, “love you, baby girl,” followed by a quick wink.

He wiped his face again, as he stepped out from behind the pulpit, and we went out to the edge of the stage, in the center.

“But Jesus told Peter, you forgive 70×7… Basically, Jesus was saying every time… Forget about your pride, your ego, your feels, and forgive them. I am a firm believer we don’t forget what people do to us… We need some sort of meter to test that person is repentant. That when they came and apologized and promised not to hurt us like that again… we can test the wrong that they did the past, against what they do to us in the future… and if it’s even a little bit better than before, we know the person really is trying to value you and to esteem you higher than themselves. But if nothing has changed, if they don’t treat you better… then they’re still too much like the enemy… they still care too much about themselves more than they care about you and other people… THAT’S A WHOLE OTHER SERMON THERE…”

Keith crossed one arm under the other, of which the hand held the microphone. He looked sideways with an expression on his face that people ought to know better.

“What am I saying here, church? When we forgive, we love, as we love we remember to forgive, and like the Bible says iron sharpens iron, rocks rubs against rock until both smooth out and as we forgive others we change too… You’re all quiet… I wonder if any of you are getting it…? Let me give you this example… My wife blares music super loud all the time… When we first got married, it got on my nerves… I was always arguing with her about it, I never listened to her share why the music was loud. I just thought she was going deaf from all her concerts and stuff… I told her that I couldn’t study, I couldn’t think, I got headaches… I was so good at my tantrums, I got her to only blasting music in the house when either— a) I wasn’t there, or— b) for only like an hour after she asked my permission. Then one day I walk into a meeting she was having with her sound engineer guy… no music on, because Rachel had him turn it off when I walked into the room, and he made a comment ‘How can we hear if anything is right without the music up, now you expect me to do it with the music off…’ I thought was interesting what he said.

“So later, after he left, and Rachel’s helping me cook… I asked her what the sound guy meant by his comment when I came into the room… She went into great detail what it takes to mix a track, to get all the levels right, to bring out the right tones and sounds at the right moment… Y’all, as she explained this and I fell deeper in love with her as she spoke about her craft and her passion. Right there, I apologized to her. I thanked her for being so good to me. Now… I have a pair of noise canceling headphones and she blasts her music whenever she wants… but she always asks before she does, and she is respectful, when I’m not up for the whole house vibrating…

“That is a little example church… but if we can’t forgive each other over little things… we can’t tackle big hurts… and huge betrayals!”

Rachel looked at her phone and a text from Skeeter popped up.

Skeeter’s Text Message: Can we meet up tonight?

6 1/2 Years Ago

As the sun set, Rachel and Skeeter lied on his living room floor, both of them tired from moving Rachel’s things into his house. A few weeks after the tour, Heidi broke up with Skeeter, claiming he wasn’t over Rachel. Another week later, Skeeter was outside the cafe, waiting for Rachel after her shift, down on his knees, begging Rachel to take him back. Heidi was wise to dump him… because Rachel and Skeeter were sneaking around, behind her back anyway.

On the verge of turning 20, Rachel didn’t picture herself being so domestic. She was inĀ  a committed relationship, living in a house with that partner, and thinking about her future with another human being she wasn’t related to by blood.

A video chat call came in from Danny. She answered.

“She said yes! Rachel, I’m getting married!” Danny said enthusiastically.

Not the Asian girl from the online pics, but a beautiful tall blonde, fierce looking, and that JLaw-resembling woman kissed Danny on the cheek. Then pressing the side of her cheek to his, she said, “Hi, Danny’s sister,” her voice even resembled JLAW… Eery… The only reason Rachel knew JLaw was not engaged to her brother was because she just got married to someone else no one has heard of until he proposed to JLaw… Facts.

“Congratulations?” Rachel was confused but she did her best to be excited for him.

“I’ll explain everything when we come for Christmas. Who she is, how we met, and why I can’t live without her…” Danny said not taking his eyes off the mystery woman as she gazed back into his eyes.

“Okay,” Rachel said. “I moved.” She shared.

“Great. I got to go. See you soon sis.” Danny said and then he ended the video chat.

“I didn’t know your brother had a girlfriend?” Skeeter questioned.

“Neither did I.”

“Well… I feel bad for them. Marriage is a death trap.” Skeeter snarled.

“Yeah…” Rachel agreed.

That was one thing that kept them coming back together… they both didn’t trust the institution of marriage and were never going to get married… especially to each other.

6 1/2 Years Later

Rachel’s sound guy, and former bandmate (the Ed Sheeren looking dude), Fitz, blasted the final cut of the new single…

“I love it.” Rachel said.

“Okay, I’ll send it to the label.” He smirked.

Fitz got married, and became a dad after the three month tour. He also left the band because he didn’t like how Heidi was pushed out since Rachel and Skeeter got back together. Instead of finding new bandmates, they stuck to the four remaining… but in time, after Rachel and Skeeter broke up for the final time, he was replaced by Isabelle, who was like the offspring of Skeeter, Fitz, and Heidi… the perfect addition, and who was still with the band to this day.

Anyhow, Fitz got into sound mixing for a studio he started in his spare room at his house. The band worked with him for their online releases until they got signed. With the success of the first album under the current label, they’re letting Rachel make more creative choices and she fought hard to get Fitz on the band’s sophomore album as the sound mixer. She won. Well, she won’t be a winner until the next album was more successful than the first.

Rachel’s cell received a text from Skeeter.

Skeeter’s Text Message: Indigo Lounge @ 10 pm. Can’t wait to see you.

A knock on the door sounded as the door to the studio mixing room creaked open. Keith carried a sleepy Storm on his torso. Storm rested his head on the man’s shoulder.

“Someone wanted to come say goodnight to mommy.” Keith said.

Slowing, Storm perked up his head and looked back over his shoulder. His poofy, dark black curls needed a trim, and his olive tan skin looked a little darker than usual. He must have spent all day in the sun, by the pool, darkening his complexion.

He reached one arm out for Rachel. She stood up and took the boy into her arms, and hoisted him on her waist. She swayed side to side and started singing to him his favorite song… “Jesus Loves Me”…

She walked out of the mixing area and headed for Storm’s room, climbing the staircase to leave the basement level of the house.

To break up the awkward silence, Keith commented to Fitz, “The baseline sounds incredible! Great work!” Then he left.

A Few Days Later

In 90 degree weather, Rachel buried her head under the hood of her sweatshirt. She wore thick, clunky, shades, and stood in between both of her security guards as she left the label’s main entrance. Paparazzi swarmed worse than killer bees with their stingy flashes and the snaps of their camera shutters.

They shouted out various questions wanting to know mainly one thing…

“Are you having an affair with your ex, Skeeter Goodrich, lead man for the Mook Makers?”

“Is it true you’re having Skeeter’s baby?”

“When are your filing for divorce?”

“Is your preacher husband slut shaming you for adultery?”

“Do you feel guilty for cheating on your husband?”

“Are the rumors true that your husband is gay? Doesn’t he frequently preach homosexuality is wrong?”

6 Years Ago

“If you can’t respect how I want things [bleep]ing done in my [bleep]ing house then get the [bleep] out you [bleep]ing [bleep]!” Skeeter yelled glass shatteringly loud. His face furiously red as the veins in his neck bugled and madness glossed over his eyes. He cornered Rachel into a literal corner, where the end of the foyer met the living room archway.

This argument was dumb. Rachel lit the fuse by criticizing how he stacked the dishwasher and the type of dishwasher soap he used.

Rachel released a slur of curse words at him, widening the scope of scrutiny. It got to the point where she said thing to deliberately hurt his feelings.

“Shut the [bleep] up!” Skeeter snapped.

“Or what?” Rachel egged.

And instantly he swung for her face, as she flenched, covering her face with her arms, he purposely punched the wall instead of her head, leaving hole in the drywall next Rachel. Quickly, Rachel slid out from the corner and hurried to the middle of the living room. Skeeter turned around, rubbing the knuckles of the fist that made a hole in the wall.

Tears pooled in his eyes, “I could never hurt you… I hope you know that…”

“Like [bleep] I don’t know that?!” Rachel hollered with her heart pounding her chest cavity from fear overloading her system. “What if you missed the wall?” She questioned.

She understood he hit the wall instead of her.

“I swear on everything, I’d rather take my own life than hurt you…” Skeeter huffed as his tears streamed down his cheeks. His weeping led Rachel to cautiously approach him. She took him in her arms, and she let him cry on her shoulder.

Next week on 12.08.2019




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