The four bandmates laughed at a private joke on the couch. One of the mop topped boys reached forward and grabbed the bottle of Jaeger. He offered it to the interviewer.
“No. No thanks.”
The interviewer scratched his pen on his pad of paper, scribbled some of the nonsense they just finished correcting each other over, and then asked an old standby.
“How did you come up with the band name ‘LazrFrg?”
He pronounced it awkwardly, like he didn’t understand the words the letters suggested. The lead guitarist spoke up.
“Just say Laser Frog, mate. Don’t twist your tongue over it.”
The interviewer wrote that down.
“You wanna answer this one, Joe?”
“It’s your story, Tom.”
“I just feel like I’ve already talked a lot today.”
The interviewer interrupted them to say, “None of you have said much of anything.”
“Cool your jets, Rolling Stone. Here’s why we’re Lazrfrg.”
Joe stood up to tell the story, like he needed full circulation through his body.
“Back when Tom and I were just lads, fresh out of grade school and enjoying the Summer, we had spent the day running around the park. It was one of those summer evenings that seem like it’s just not going to ever become night, like the dark blue sky was going to stay that shade forever.”
Poetic, the interviewer wrote down.
“Don’t scribble while Joe tells you a story, Rolling Stone.”
The interviewer put his pad down on the table and looked up at Joe.
“Well, we were horsing around with a ball or something, when Tom notices a frog jumping around near the street. We followed the little bugger, trying to catch him, talking all the time about maybe keeping him as a pet or something, when we get further into a small thicket on the edge of the park and Tom decides not to follow.”
“I’m a coward.”
“Tom’s a coward. Not me, though. I followed the little froggy even further, like he was leading me somewhere, like if I caught him he would lead me to Narnia or something like that.”
The interviewer made a mental note. C.S. Lewis fans.
“Eventually he hopped into a little cove that I’d never been to before, and when I hopped down I was in the middle of hundreds and hundreds of frogs. The little one I was chasing was only about three inches or so, but the other ones… there were some as big as your head, croaking and ribbiting away, like I had just crashed their dinner party and they all wanted to know who I was. I was literally surrounded, and I can still remember how it smelt – like rotting wood and decay and everything wrong with the world. The croaking of a thousand frogs is deafening.”
Joe was pacing now, and the bandmates, who obviously heard this story before, were snickering on the couch, watching Joe walk back and forth, looking down at his feet, lost in his memory.
“Well, you can imagine how it felt for all of them to suddenly go silent. The only sound I could here was my own breathing, because I was trying to breathe through my mouth, but only in short bursts because I didn’t want to catch some sort of frog or toad death. All the frogs turned and looked and this little tiny one jumped down, right into the center of everything, right in the middle of this large flat stone. It sort of skittered around slowly, looking at all these frogs that were in this little cove, then looking at me. All the frogs turned to look at me, but it was still soundless. I remember that specifically. Not a single sound when they all moved to follow that tiny frog’s gaze. And then, like someone had switched on a light, the little creature turned a glowing reddish pink and croaked.”
Joe sat down on the couch, took a sip of Jaeger, then got back up. The interviewer had totally forgotten he was supposed to be at least taking mental notes. Tom had his hand over his mouth to hide his laughter.
“I still don’t know why I did this, Mr. Rolling Stone, but right away, I snatched that little pink frog up and bolted out of the forest. I ran and imagined those little creatures chasing me through the forest, hopping like mad, croaking louder than the wind whistles through the trees in a storm. Tom says I was imagining it to this day, but when I came out of the forest, he was there waiting for me. He saw the brightly glowing frog in my hand and said the only thing an 11-year-old lad would say.”
Joe looked to Tom.
Tom obliged. “I said, I dare you to eat it.”
“I did. I ate that frog right away. It felt strange, sliding down my throat, like it wanted to get further down into me, like it was pushing against the sides of my stomach to lodge itself inside of me. And then, I felt a change come over me. A tingling.”
Joe looked to Tom again.
Tom said: “His eyes glowed with that same pink and red.”
“I spent the rest of the night hopping like mad around the park, Tom chasing me, worried, asking if I was all right, asking how it felt. I ripped off my shirt and he could see the glow of the frog in my stomach, bright and unmistakable. But I felt fantastic. I felt like my legs had an elasticity to them, I felt like I could fly. Little hops, big hops, I was possessed by that little laser frog.”
Joe sat down again, poured a shot of Jaeger for everyone. Silently, all of them, even the interviewer, downed a shot.
“And I still feel like that frog is inside of me, Mister Interviewer. Sometimes, when I play, I can feel his glow.”
The interviewer didn’t say a word. What bullshit, he thought.