"You can get the monkey off your back, but the circus never leaves town."
nicknamesDar (rhymes with air, not car), DJ Spotify
dob & ageOctober 10, 1983 | 35
Darren Everhart was born in the middle of the eighties on the last day of October. Though it's impossible to say that he noticed the cheerful pumpkin cutouts and friendly ghost decorations that cheered up the drabby halls of the hospital when he was only a few hours old, it should be noted that he always loved autumn, especially Halloween. And not just because it was his birthday, but because of that strange tingle of excitement that came when he would glance outside and see the flickering light of Jack-o-lanterns, and smell the smokey scent of the air. Plus, it was fun never having to wonder what kind of party he was going to have for his birthday. He never tired of costumes and scary movies and, later, Jell-o shots that looked like they were bleeding and a cloud of smoke from seemingly endless joints.
Darren grew up in the shadow of his older brother. Lucas was smarter than him, stronger than him, better than him at almost everything. He was faster, he never struggled to make the football team or to place when he ran track. He made better grades in school, something his parents were never shy about bragging to everyone about, and they would always point out to Darren that if only he applied himself, maybe he would have the myriad of successes that Lucas had. Maybe if he just worked a little harder at... everything, he would be deserving of their praise and adulation. And at first, Darren wanted that. He wanted their undivided attention for a day. For an hour even. But it seemed that anything he tried, Lucas had not only done it already, but he had done it better. And soon, Darren was so bitter toward his brother, and their doting parents, that he didn't care anymore.
When he was sixteen, Darren discovered that there was indeed one thing that he managed to surpass his perfect brother at. One single thing that he had that couldn't be touched by Lucas. And that was music. He had an ear for it, the uncanny ability to pick up an instrument and play it by ear. He could sing, while Lucas - and their parents, for that matter - couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. Darren sang in the school's show choir (it was glee club, if one were to call a spade a spade) and when his parents begrudgingly attended a performance, there was a sudden light in their eyes after the show. After his solo, where he'd stood in the middle of the stage and sang in a clear voice that they hadn't heard (or noticed, more likely) that had brought tears to the eyes of a few of the parents in the audience, they looked at him differently. And suddenly, it was all about his potential musical career. And they bragged to their friends about their son, who had always been so gifted. Because that really was what it all came down to. Impressing their friends. Having the most talented kid on the block. Being the best, even if they weren't the ones who were actually good at... well, anything. And Darren, in a moment of weakness, allowed them to direct him to singing lessons and guitar lessons and this class and that open mic night. Because for once his parents noticed him, and apparently he wasn't quite as over wanting their approval as he thought he was.
The music scene for Darren was wild and a little terrifying. Barely eighteen when he got signed by a lable that promised to make him a household name before he was twenty, he was suddenly thrust into a world of recording booths and photo shoots and PR. He had someone handle his PR, and he hadn't even been fully aware of what PR was. And there were many times that he wanted to just stop, to quit and say 'that's enough, I would like to go home now'. But seeing the expressions of pride (with a splash of greed in their eyes here and there) on his parents' faces, and seeing how Lucas struggled to recapture their attention, made him keep at it. He recorded one more song that had nothing to do with his own views, he pouted at another camera - pouting was sexy, he was told - and when the matter of a tour came up, he agreed without thinking much about it. And that tour was when his life changed, and not at all for the better. That tour was when he was offered a drink at an after party. And the drink calmed his nerves, made him laugh at jokes that weren't especially funny, and while it didn't go down especially smoothly, the second one was easier to swallow. The third, even easier. And by the end of the tour, when his manager returned him to his parents with a huff of how he needed to rest up before they got into the studio again, he was drinking more than a kid of almost nineteen had any right to drink. And he was doing so with a surprising ease. And an increasingly worrying frequency. It got to the point, when his second album dropped at the ripe old age of twenty-two, that he couldn't go a day without sipping from the vodka bottle he hid in his sock drawer. Or the Scotch he kept in his linin closet. Or one of the many beers that his father kept in the fridge, that he would replace each and every night like clockwork.
And then the pain pills started.
At first, it was legit. He was on stage one day, doing a sound check, and he twisted when he shouldn't have and something in his knee gave a very unpleasant crunch. When his manager took him to the hospital, they gave him a prescription for narcotic painkillers with the instructions to only take them when needed, and not to mix them with alcohol. Instructions that Darren very quickly disobeyed when he discovered that two or three of the little white pills swallowed with a healthy glug of whiskey not only took his pain away, but it took his pain away. The pain that he felt knowing that his parents loved the face that adorned posters, and not the smiling little boy that he had once been. He took that bottle of pills far faster than he should have, and once they ran out he went back to his doctor and claimed that he'd seen one of the crew members at the venue he'd played at the night before rummaging through his bag, and when he'd gone to get his phone he'd found the empty bottle. He got a refill, because he was a clean cut kid with an easy smile and a limp. The next time he ran out, he went to the hospital with a claim of a sore back from sleeping in a tour bus. And then, it was a hand that had been slammed in a door. And he went on like this for too long. Almost an entire year, sometimes getting meds on his own, sometimes buying them off other people. He never resorted to theft, but it was a very near thing once or twice. He was never so far gone that he crossed that line.
When he was twenty-three, Darren hit the bottom. His second album hadn't done as well as the first, because some of the life that had been in him for the first was gone. His concerts didn't sell as many tickets as they had once, and things just... weren't going well. He still partied like he was at the top of the charts, while his singles moved further and further down. Finally, that day that everyone with some kind of substance abuse problem dreads. He walked into his family home, exhausted and strung out and wondering where he was going to get his next hit once he took the last three pills he had rattling around in his jacket pocket, and his entire family and the few friends he'd managed to hold onto were gathered there. Sitting in a circle, nervously sipping coffee and staring at him. An intervention. And to say it was hard would be a gross understatement. It was one of the hardest things that Darren ever had to sit through. But he did, and he heard all the pleas, and he let them read their letters, and he cried when his mother took his hand and called him baby. And in the end, he agreed to go to treatment.
And treatment? It sucked. It sucked hard. But slowly, steadily, and sometimes agonizingly, he began to reemerge. The Darren he'd been before he'd taken that first drink. The quirky kid who would hang upsidedown off the end of his bed with a book, whose favorite scent in the entire world was walking into the musty old used record shop that he'd always stop at after school because the bus stop was right outside it. He laughed again. Not the overly raucous laughter of a man who was always intoxicated, but soft and genuine. He went to therapy, and told the story of how he had always been in Lucas' shadow, and once his parents had discovered he had a talent for music they finally paid attention to him. And he didn't want to lose that attention, so he did everything he could to make them proud. And in the end, while trying to be the best he could be, he had become the worst. He had breakdowns. He cried. He got angry. He stared morosely out the window and smoked cigarettes until they were so far down the filters burned his lips. And he got better. Not completely, because you can never come back from addiction entirely. But he felt as close to healed as he thought it was possible. And then, at the second stage recovery house, he met Hudson. A beautiful man with swishy hair and a crooked smile that always seemed to hold a bit of sadness to it. And Darren was drawn to him, like the clicheéd moth to a flame. Their relationship was purely physical at first, all wandering hands and breathless laughter and fingertips digging into shoulders. But it grew from that and become something more. And it was intense, and it was beautiful, but they were both so strong-willed - especially coming right out of recovery, and having their feet on the ground again - that they fought as often as they didn't. Nothing physical, because it never went that far, but arguments that sprouted into shouting matches in the blink of an eye. And when Darren got a job offer in the music industry - not on stage, but behind the scenes - in Montreal, he asked Hudson to go with him. Hudson told him no, and they fought again. And this one was worse than all others, because Darren desperately wanted his boyfriend with him, and Hudson desperately wanted to not go. That particular fight wound up with Darren slamming Hudson's bedroom door so hard it actually broke, and storming out of the second stage house with his meagre possessions in a ratty backpack. And that was the last time he saw him.
Life in Quebec was not exactly what Darren was expecting. And as much as he hated to admit it, Hudson had been right. Living in a city where you could barely speak to your neighbours? Not fun. Darren had learned how to be social again, without needing a drink in his hand and a pill bottle in his pocket. And he liked talking to people. He liked having coffee and chatting about everything and anything. And it was hard to do that when you didn't speak more than elementary school level French. And while he picked up a little more while living there - it would be impossible not to - languages were never his strong suit in school, and it was kind of embarrassing how little he absorbed. There was one light spot in the fogginess that was Montreal, however, and that was making a friend at work who introduced him to the third thing he became hopelessly addicted to. This one, however, was not something to be worried about. DJing. It was simple at first, running playlists through a laptop hooked up to a truly impressive speaker system. He learned how to work the soundmixer to adjust the bass and treble and vocals of songs that he was suddenly hearing in a brand new way. And when his job in Quebec came to an end, and the crew moved on, his friend left him with three things that would prove to shape the rest of his life. An old turntable, a set of nauseatingly expensive headphones, and the name of a business contact in the States. Someone who could help him further, teach him how to mix tracks and give him a leg up in the industry. And Darren, who had been looking for an excuse to get out of Canada - the place where his original hurt had been born - took these things and he ran with them. All the way to Michigan, which seemed a strange place to go to follow your musical dreams, but who was he to judge.
The contact information that Darren had been given led him to a funny man named Drew. And Drew was not what he had expected to find when he pulled up in front of a converted warehouse. He'd expected someone young, hip, someone who looked the part. What he'd found was a tallish man who was half bald and wore thick sweaters over his solid dad-bod. But when he showed Darren the ropes of his small-but-popular company (Do It All Entertainment) he realized that this was the epitome of judging a book by its cover. Drew knew the ins and outs of being a DJ. He had done everything from weddings to proms to disco nights in clubs. He taught him how to run the terrifying looking karaoke program on his brand new work laptop, and gave him tips on mixing playlists that would keep crowds dancing until the overhead lights came on and cabs were called to escort people home. Drew let him shadow him on gigs, showed him the best way to set up the equipment, and allowed Darren to run things when he had to step away from the DJ booth at events now and then. Sure, sometimes he treated him like he was a child, but in a lot of ways that was the best way to do things with him. Because while he spoke slowly to Darren sometimes, pointing out the almost obvious and guiding his hand on the turntable when he taught him to scratch, he would also praise him. And it was that praise, that innocent pleasure that came when Darren did something perfectly, that made Darren know that this was his calling. He fell into the role so easily it was almost hard to believe. Soon, he was working for Drew, instead of shadowing him. He would run Karaoke once a week at a little dive bar. He took an occasional event, school dances and bar mitzvahs, even a wedding here and there. And between those events, when Drew didn't need the additional help, he would work on mixing tracks for different scenes. He would apply to work at clubs, small ones that didn't have a dedicated DJ already. Clubs where the lights would flicker in ways they weren't supposed to, where there was no cover charge just because the owners wanted to pack as many bodies into the places that they could. And he would lay out those tracks that he had spent sleepless nights mixing, and he would watch the patrons dance to the music that he spun, and he felt more alive than he ever had. Standing in an elevated DJ booth beat performing on stage by a landslide.
He finally had a real career, one that still revolved around the thing he loved more than anything. He worked hard at it, taking on additional Karaoke nights and sniping weddings right out from under Drew's nose. His mentor groused good naturedly about how his so-called loyal customers were requesting Darren instead of him. And then, on Darren's birthday - his thirty-fifth, which had at one point in his life felt would make him almost impossibly old - Drew made him an offer. Get the fuck out, and he wouldn't lock him in the basement. He was joking, of course, but the message was clear; Darren had outgrown Do It All, and the little bird was ready to leave the nest. And to be honest, a change of scenery wasn't the worst thing that he could think of. That was the one part about being a touring musician he missed. Never staying in one place too long. So he packed up his equipment into a couple of hard-shelled suitcases that cost more than some people were willing to spend on a car, and made the jump from one state to the next. From Michigan to Illinois. And he bummed around Chicago for a bit, staying in hotels here and there and looking for work before he made a second, smaller jump to a little town that reminded him of the suburban part of Vancouver that he had grown up in. Even the name of it was idyllic. Greenville. He found himself a nice little house, adopted a ridiculous poodle that he named Id (short for Idiot Dog, because he was sweet as anything, but painfully simple) and spent a couple weeks painting wood trim and retiling the kitchen floor. Once settled, he hit the pavement and advertised himself as a DJ in local business directories. He picked up a couple of karaoke nights at local bars, and offered his services to the local high school at a reduced cost, and sent his information to local event planning companies. And he settled into a life that was exciting, but comforting, without any more real 'adventures'.
Or so he thought.
this or that
likes music. horror movies. cold nights. quiet rivers and noisy cities. good food. good company. dogs. card games. magic shows. the little marketplaces that are put on by elementary schools, filled with pine cone christmas ornaments and pet rocks.
dislikes the smell of bleach. shrill voices. enclosed spaces. the colour yellow. the feeling of courderoy and velvet. the simpsons. bugs.