KILL’EM ALL: 1982
Max popped the new cassette tape into his boom box and pressed down the PLAY button. There came a moment where nothing happened, and then, oh, and then, the fastest, most radical music lashed out of the speakers at him.
He sat there on the floor of his bed room, rapt, absolutely absorbed in what hammered out of those speakers. He couldn’t move and his temples pulsed with blood to the beat of frantic drums. His breathing paused as the heavy, gritty and insanely fast guitar riffs licked and screamed at the air and into his teen ears. The air around him felt thick in itself, sweaty almost. A ghostly smile lengthened on his pimply face.
If he’d known the music was going to be this intense, this intoxicating, then maybe he should’ve bought the tape when all his friends did. Man this was totally kickin shit! This-
“Max!” At first he didn’t even really hear his father scream. Then-
“Max! Turn that shit off! Open this door! Now!”
But Max found he still couldn’t move. He was digging the music, oh yeah, digging it baby. His head throbbed wondrously. Christ it was like being high or something, even though he had no idea what that felt like yet. But if had gotten high he imagined this was what it felt like. Beautiful. Absolutely-
Max came back to himself with a start. The door to his bedroom trembled on its hinges. He reached over. Hit the STOP button, and sighed. He already longed to hear that thunderous music again. He reached out to hit the PLAY button again, but-
“Max, you open this door right now so help me, or I’ll bust it in.” His dad’s voice was low, and ominous.
He got up off the floor and unlocked his door.
His dad, a tall, thin man with a bushy mustache, stormed in.
“What in Christ’s name was that crap I heard?”
Max cleared his throat, opened his mouth and-
“Tell me! What the fuck was that crap I heard?”
Max’s dad strode to the boom box without warning, and ejected the new cassette tape. He held it in his hands and scowled down at it as if was some rotten slab of meat. His broad forehead furrowed.
“Met-all-ica? Who’s that supposed to be? Metallica? Sounds like a bunch a coke heads makin a bunch a noise to me. Why the hell you go’n get something like this for, huh? Why waste your money?”
He brandished the tape at Max as he spoke.
“This is crap, Maxi. Why can’t you listen to some good ole Johnny Cash, or, I don’t know, Bruce Springsteen? Why this shit?”
Max could only shrug. All he knew was that he liked the music he heard from that defenseless tape in his dad’s large hands. He loathed Johnny Cash and hated The Boss. All that country and pop music made him want to gag. But this, this, why, this music was different. It was revitalizing, energizing.
His dad rolled his eyes, pulled up a loop of tape from the cassette, slipped one callused finger through the loop, and yanked. Foot upon foot spun out and on to the floor.
“Dad no!” Max rushed forward.
His dad gave him a rough shove backward.
“Get back max! This is for your own good!”
His dad snapped the plastic cassette in two. Shards of plastic rained to the carpet. Max froze in a state bordering horror. His dad gave Max a somber look, sighed and dropped the ruined cassette on the floor amongst the rest of the ruin. HE then left the room without speaking.
Once his father was gone, Max hurried over and knelt before the mess that used to be his brand new cassette tape by a new band called Metallica. Ten bucks down the drain. He mowed all those lawns, for what? This? To sit here looking at a broken tape?
“Shouldn’t have played it so loud.” He murmured to himself without being aware of it.
This probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway. His dad had ears like a dog and could possibly even hear if Max let loose a fart.
Max gathered up the remains of the cassette tape and tossed it in the small trash can by his night stand. As he stood there looking down at the mess rage bubbled up inside of him. Who was his dad to tell him what he could and could not listen too? IT wasn’t like the old man had bought the tape for him.
He looked in his wallet. All he found was a five dollar bill. Not enough to by another copy. It was enough, though, to buy a used David Bowie tape. But Max didn’t much care for David Bowie. The guy was good, sure, but just not something he liked to listen too all the time. Might as well just save the five and mow a few more lawns to make another five dollars and then re-buy the new cassette from the music store down town; a new band called Metallica. What a cool name too: Metallica. And the title of the tape he liked too: Kill’em All. Good stuff.
So, Max went out to mow some lawns.
By six that evening he came home, sweaty, hot and with two extra dollars to his name. His dad had gone off somewhere. His mom was finishing up dinner. No one had really needed their lawns to be mowed today. He went straight his room, turned on the fan and sat in front of it. As the sweat cooled on his skin, giving him goose bumps, he heard a faint click! sound. He ignored it and let the fan continue to cool him down. That’s when the strangest thing happened.
Music began to rumble out of his boom box on the night stand. Startled, Max whirled on the end of his bed. The boom box continued to hammer out music. Heavy music. Metal music. But…
No, that couldn’t be. The cassette was broken, the tape ruined, how-
“Scanning the scene in the city tonight! Lookin for you to start up a fight! There’s an evil feeling in our brains, it’s nothing new, you know it drives us insane!” Screamed the vocalist for that new band Metallica.
Max’s heart trip-hammered in his chest. He moved off the end of his bed and looked in the trash can. The ruined tape was gone. His eyes fixed on the boom box.
Five minutes later Max sat, one ear tilted to the closest speaker of the boom box. Silvery saliva drooled out from one corner of his mouth. His eyes stared off into nothingness, wide and vacant. His mouth stood agape and what looked like blood spattered the side of his face nearest the boom box. This reddish liquid also poured and sprayed out in pulses to the heavy metal music still pounding the air. The claret dripped from the edge of the night stand to the floor. Most of what used to be Max was nothing more than a husk now.
An hour later his mother was calling him down for dinner. He heard his father screaming for him to shut the shit off, damn it, shut it off right now! Ah, but he couldn’t shut it off. He loved the music. The music was the world. The music gave him true life!
After a few minutes, Max finally stood from the floor and shuffled toward the door of his bedroom. He knew what to do. The music told him what to do. The music was God, and he must always obey God.
He paused. Some of the real Max tried to push itself back in. He realized that he was carrying a mini sledge hammer in his right hand. He noted the blood all over the night stand. Then he was pushed back again and the music took over for good.
Max opened the door, and went to join his family for supper. He knew what to do. The music told him. He’d Kill’em All!