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Members of the Dead Girls and others have gathered at the farmhouse for an unofficial "dress rehearsal" and critique session.
"Different shoes, buddy," Melin says coolly, showing off his new Chuck Taylors. His pants fit, and a Kiss belt keeps them in place. The Mean Melin shirt looks wicked, with a screen print of his maniacal scowl.
Just three weeks before the competition, there's a lot of work to be done and not a lot of time. If his bandmates don't understand his act, then the D.C. judges won't, either. Being a newbie, he'll be one of the first onstage. He'll have to impress them early. He'll have one advantage: He has played the 9:30 Club before, on a couple of tours with Ultimate Fakebook.
Everyone is here to tell him what works — and what doesn't.
"Wake Up Dead" pounds from his stereo system — he has upgraded from the boombox to his basement stereo system, which is turned up loud so everyone can hear it outside.
Melin breaks into his act and throws the guitar in the air and catches it at the end.
"Yes!" screams Dead Girl JoJo Longbottom (aka Longbottom Leaf).
"What if you catch it on your knees, and you're Chuck Berrying it?" Longbottom asks and then demonstrates. Longbottom and Colby know that the ending needs more oomph. They run through ideas. Should he hump it? Catch it in his mouth like a sword swallower and puke it up?
"I don't like this swallowing bit at all," Melin says. "Getting impaled in the chest is cooler. I just haven't found a way to make it work yet."
Gentry loves the impaling end. She thinks it's just what he needs to put the act over. But how does he pull out the guitar? Or does he play it through his back?
Colby shows him how to play the guitar while pulling it out.
Should he die? Or should he end by triumphantly surviving? Melin practices his death roll. Does it work? It still needs something extra. Someone suggests blood. He had thought about it but didn't know how to make it work.
"In theory, it's awesome. But how is the blood going to go everywhere?" Melin asks.
They talk about stitching a blood packet into his shirt. But he doesn't want to look like he has one giant man boob. Warnock, his fellow Scene-Stealers movie reviewer, leaves and comes back a minute later with a plastic baggie filled with water and slaps it on his chest. It splatters everywhere.
Everyone loves it.
"That'd be fucking hot," someone says.
Melin is skeptical.
Colby fills up a handful of baggies with water. Melin starts from the beginning, covertly pulling the baggies out of his back pocket while swinging his imaginary guitar around his neck. He tosses the guitar and lets it impale him. On impact, he smashes the baggie on his chest. Water sprays everywhere.
"The guy in the front row just got a face load of blood," Colby says. Everyone is loving it.
They show him how to make the blood spray and how to make sure it covers the print of his face on his T-shirt.
Then he switches to the other move. The swing-and-catch-and-kick. Colby tells him that he's kicking with the wrong leg. But Melin has the step wired into his brain.
It's going to take reprogramming. He runs through it several times. He nails the kick. He misses it. It's a mix. There's still a lot of work to do.
He's been practicing for more than an hour. It's getting dark. He's soaked in sweat.