A Cold Christmas In Hell
By Luisa Black
London. What a pit. By 2022 garage rock was dead and the last of the underground clubs had closed their doors. Everyone was back to half-hearted bedroom recording projects but no one could remember how to play. Rich Girls limped along with the rest of the indie ghosts. At least we knew we were dead already.
We scraped a living together from old licensing deals and temp jobs. August kept it simple as a shipboard cook. Sipe was a bitcoin burnout, trolling 4chan for marks. Me, I kept my hands clean for the most part and my one good eye on the prize.
There were a few lifer holdouts in backwater outposts—Nottingham, Glasgow—but the major cities were musical wastelands. Once the neutral net went down the pitiful Spotify revenue streams dried up for good and we were all ass out of luck. You know what comes next. Even a rock and roll band’s gotta eat.
We drove the van through the plate glass window of the Harry Winston on Bond Street. Two minutes, in and out, we were clear before the doppler sirens swelled into focus. The trophy was the Aragon Ruby, a blood red gemstone the size of a human heart. Which may sound like a prize but we were a rock band not the goddam queen of England. What the hell did we want with diamonds. We needed currency of a different sort.
I’d heard about a guy, old no-waver from the 20th century, who fenced in exchange for tour booking. But he was holed up in some ice hotel in the alps and word was he didn’t like surprises. I ditched the band and took the next flight to the continent.
By the time I arrived at the ice hotel, a whiteout was in full effect. I stumbled around half blind and freezing until I slammed into a signpost, barely visible in the roaring snow: DANGER AVALAN — click.
Cold steel at my temple. Extra cold. I turned around, slow like.
“Richard Hell. Big fan.”
“Who the fuck are you?”
I tell him. Like he gives a shit.
Hell was a handsome bastard but I stayed cool. Once I’d talked him down from blowing my brains out we did the deal quick: 30 shows in 31 days in exchange for the Aragon Ruby. Rich Girls would be main support for a decent band in the Scandinavian market. Dead of winter, sure, but beggars/choosers, etcetera.
The last I saw Hell, he’d hopped a snowmobile, flipped me the bird and dropped down a black diamond run. As he disappeared down the piste I heard a rumbling behind me and turned to see a giant wave of powdered ice charging down the mountain. I took my last deep breath just before everything went BLACK.
When I came to my head was ringing and I was face first in snowpack. I dug myself out and checked the damage. No broken bones. Fished my phone out of my jacket and checked the time. December 25. Shit. Then I remembered the tour deal. Which, avalanche or not, was a goddam Christmas miracle. So there was that.