Marv all but tanked in his performance following Clarence. He knew, going up onto the stage, after watching the young prodigy, that the entire act was elaborately orchestrated by the impeccable hands of Lady Lucy, the maestro of the maelstrom. It was bad enough that he was already enslaved by his crapulous nature, barely able to count the steps properly on his way up, but the nervousness of having to follow such a profound performance was daunting to the point of near paralysis. When he looked out over the crowd, still abuzz, he felt like he did over twenty years ago when he first stood in front of a large audience as an opening act. They looked at him like they didn’t know him, didn’t want him. They knew he couldn’t follow the young man who had just taken them to a whole other dimension. They lost faith in him. They no longer cared. Everybody just wanted to go home–and some did, not just at the beginning, but mid-way through the first song. Marv was hitting the wrong keys on his piano, both from the nerves and the inebriation. He slurred his speech, stumbled on his words, and missed many dance steps. Some people were jeering, others were silent. There were still some who would support him no matter what, and they clapped and yelled for him. But, they were in the vast minority.

His performing only got worse. He wasn’t in-sync with his band, and he began singing a different song than they were playing. He was off-key, out of step, and just plain embarrassing himself. As people panned out, the back of the audience crushed in. Soon, the last ten rows were empty. The upper rows were thinning out about an hour into it. No one was into him. When he came into a medley of three of his most well-known songs, he actually picked it up, some. Since the songs had always been so popular for him (the biggest hit off each of his three top albums), he had performed them at every concert. They were as familiar to him as his own hands. The crowd started to get back into it. So, Lucy decided to step in.

After the medley, people were becoming more hopeful that Marv would pull it off. His next song was one of his minor hits from his early days, and he was on it pretty solid. Lucy sent out three plants to stir things up. It wasn’t difficult to sneak them in since there were so many empty seats, now. They started chanting for Clarence, telling Marv he sucked, he was through, and that his old songs were tired. The more they asked for Clarence, the more those around them were reminded of Clarence, and the more they began to once again lose interest.

By the time Marv started to move into a few of his new songs that were to be released on his upcoming album, the crowd was bored. They were not receiving these unknown songs, and more people left. After the new songs, he had five more songs on the list to perform. He only did two, and then left, to weak applause.

As he waded through the pain of his body and emotions backstage, slowly stalking the halls, he thought of Clarence and Lucy. The boy was just an innocent bystander in that woman’s devilish schemes. He was nothing more than a pawn, the marionette at the end of the razor wire dangling from her talons. But, he was good–damn good, better than anyone Marv had ever seen Lucy sink her fangs into. Clarence seemed like a goodhearted kid; but, in Lucy’s clutches, he was dangerous. With her at the helm of his vessel, he would unknowingly infect the minds of the weak with her twisted ideas and hypnotic evil. He would propagate her agenda to its highest peak. He was the dark angel she had been waiting for. In him, Lucy saw the gateway to her dominion, the steps that lead to the top of the temple that overlooked the land. But, what Marv saw was young lust: just a boy with a dream and a whole lot of talent that could fulfill it for him. He was a fool–a blind, overzealous fool who had made a pact with destruction. He wasn’t much different that Marv had once been–only he was a greater menace.

As much as it would pain him to do so, Marv had no other choice: Clarence had to be stopped. Lucy could not be allowed to win. Marv had killed to get where he was. He would kill to get away from it, too. The moral implications mattered not. He had already sold himself long ago. The man he had killed had sold himself long before that. The boy he would now dispose of had just recently done the same. They were all followers of evil; and, therefore, not subject to the same moral code or the same justice–not deserving of the mercy or rights those who remained in the light were. They had given that up. Clarence was no better spiritually than he. So, there truly was no other viable option.

Before leaving the arena, Marv turned a corner and headed for Clarence’s room. He had no doubt that, if he was even there, Lucy would be by his side, doting over him, stroking his ego, grooming him for her takeover. It didn’t matter. She could be there.


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