He heard it before the elevator reached the basement. As he walked toward the studio, the trembling of the walls and floor made Ricky wonder if he should turn back. His ears didn't deserve this kind of assault. Neither did anyone else's, though, and there were noise ordinances to consider.
He pushed open the door and the sound hit him like a body blow. Even his skin seemed to vibrate, and his heart felt like it was about to go into fibrillation. He waved his arms for the band’s attention, and mercifully, they stopped playing. “I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but you need to turn it down.”
“Would you rather go in the other room and make a different kind of noise?” Bo teased. He made an obscene gesture with hips and guitar. "Rock bands are loud. If you can't handle it, maybe you're in the wrong line of work."
“That wasn't music, and you know it.” Ricky looked at Kalila. “So what’s this all about? Even the elevator was shaking.”
Kalila grinned in satisfaction. “The guy at the store said these were good amps, but we wanted to be sure.”
Vic nodded agreement. “If they couldn't generate the kind of volume he promised, we were going to take them back.”
“And eat his brain,” Lazaro added, with a thump of his bass pedal.
“I see.” Ricky glanced around the room. “I don't think you have to worry that you were sold a bill of goods. You’ll be lucky not to get a citation."
Nevin clapped his hands. "You mean like a prize?"
"No, like a ticket from a police officer."
"Oh. Human laws." Kalila shrugged and hit a few chords on her Stratocaster. "We got cited once before, I think. What was it for?"
"So-called indecency," Bo reminded her.
"No, it was public intoxication," Vic said. "As if it was my fault the girl's blood alcohol level was that high. She didn't look drunk when I bit her."
Lazaro grunted in disapproval and leaned over to adjust a cymbal. "They haven't caught me. I guess that's because I'm smart."
"I'd call it skill rather than smarts," Kalila said in frosty tones. She turned to Ricky. "As you can see, getting ticketed for noise is the least of our worries."
Ricky admitted to himself that she had a point. Besides, what could he accomplish with his meager words of human wisdom? "So we won't worry about the noise ordinances, then," he said. "But as a favor to my ears, and to everyone else who uses this building, would you turn down your amps anyway?"
Kalila moved to adjust her amp, and Bo followed suit.
"You can't deny it," Vic said, "these babies really do the job."
"If you mean make humans go deaf, I suppose they do." Ricky turned to go, but Kalila called him back.
"Did you come here for a reason, Ricky?"
He stopped, hand on the door. Why had he come to the studio? It wasn't the noise. Something about a gig? Advertising? He didn't even remember any more.
"Poor pathetic human," Vic said. "A little bit of noise makes your brain go all to pieces."
Kalila flashed a conspiratorial grin. "These amps just might've been our best buy ever."