The doors to The Dine-N-Belt Diner opened and two rough fellows strode through. The two men swept derby hats from their heads and found seats at the bar. Their stares cut into the proprietor, Brandon Flowers, who is also the lead vocalist and keyboardist of The Killers, a small-time band. But they’re hoping to make it big.
“What’s yours?” Brandon asked and then performed some annoying but impressive vocal warm-ups.
“What’ll we have, Al?” parroted one of the men.
“I wonder what’s good, hmm?” Al said, perusing the menu. “I don’t know what I want to eat.” This senseless banter about food annoyed Brandon, but he kept quiet.
Al smacked his menu down. “I’ll have the steak.”
“No steak,” said Brandon. “That’s dinner — it’s lunchtime now.”
Al grunted. The other man, who we won’t name until much later when it feels less relevant, said, “Screw dinnertime. We’re here to kill someone who frequents this diner.”
“Whoa, really burying the lede there,” Brandon said, sweating. Just then, The Killers’ lead guitarist, Dave Keuning, exited from the back, sporting an apron and spatula — he’s also the chef, an accomplished multi-hyphenate.
“Did someone say ‘killers’?” Dave asked, also sweating.
“Sorry, Dave,” said Brandon, “he’s not referring to us: The Killers.”
“The opposite,” said the still nameless man, “I’m referring to actual killing! Is there anyone else in the back? I really don’t want to explain this again. But I will sooner do that than say my name.”
“Oh piss,” Dave replied to the short man. “Are we in trouble? Where’s Ronnie?”
As if on cue, Ronnie Vannucci Jr., the drummer for The Killers and all-around errand boy, strolled in through the front, a bag slung over his shoulder. “Got some fresh spuds if we wanna make more fries. We can start dinner soon!”
“Huzzah!” Brandon and Dave cheered.
“Cut the joy! We’re here to kill someone!” said Al, threateningly.
“Oh shit. Who? One of us? That would really mess with the band dynamics,” said Ronnie, taking a pause. “And… they’re my friends.”
“Al,” said the unnamed would-be-killer, “take Ronnie and Dave into the back and tie them up all good-like.”
“Got it,” said Al, rising from his chair and producing some hemp. “We’re after a man named Mark Stoermer.” Al watched them closely as he said this. “You know him, eh?”
“We do,” said brave Brandon, “that’s our bassist. For The Killers. Our band. I was hoping you were undercover music producers here to sign us, but instead, you’re here to kill us, and we’re invested in that narrative, too.”
“I knew Stoermer, the bassist for our band The Killers, was getting into some bad business in Chi-Town!” railed the normally sweet Dave. He squeezed his spatula super hard, so hard Brandon secretly worried he’d hurt his guitar-fingering hand, which would ruin their band, The Killers, and screw their chances of getting signed with a major record label.
“As the saying goes: big dreams, small gambling skills,” recited the unnamed guy. The Killers shared a look. No-name continued, “He did us dirty. We’re a competing band: The Blues Brothers.” The three Killers members’ jaws hit the filthy linoleum. They thought those guys were fictional.
“Stoermer’s out on an errand,” Brandon said. “Please don’t tie us up. We have a gig tonight and also don’t want to be tied up.”
Al cracked his knuckles. “I think we’re the ones with the power.”
“What if… maybe we could…” Ronnie started but trailed off — he was afraid.
“What? He’s a bright boy, ain’t he?” said the unnamed man. “Strong drummer arms and hair. Ain’t he, Al?”
“Honestly,” Al said, “he’s not.” And that was that. Al rubbed his chin. “What could you possibly give us to save your sweet Matt—”
“Mark,” corrected Dave.
“I’ll call him Tom, Dick, and Larry if I wanna!” Al snapped. “What could you offer us to save your boy’s life? He’s in deep.” The Killers huddled up and discussed what they might give these Killers killers.
After a moment, Brandon emerged. “We could sing you a song we’ve been working on for a long time. It’s going to be our big hit. It’s called ‘Mr. Brightside.’”
Al nodded. “And if your bassist walks in, we fire upon him. Got it?”
“Do we have another choice?” cried sweet Dave. The Killers — sans Mark — went over to the stage in the corner of their diner, tuned, warmed up, and prepared to melt faces with “Mr. Brightside.”
“Hey, San Diego,” Brandon said into the mic, “we’re the Killers… minus Mark. Here’s ‘Mr. Brightside.’” The Killers shredded and shredded — so much so that Al and the shorter guy, who we’ll call Max, joined in on the second chorus!
But it’s just the price I pay, destiny is calling me,
Open up my eager eyes, ‘cause I’m Mr. Brightside!
At the end of the song, with tears in their eyes, The Blues Brothers applauded just as Mark Stoermer shot them; he’d been in the back room the whole time.
The Killers killed the The Killers’ killers.
Ole Anderson walked through the door and saw the crimson mess. “Oh, oh…” he stammered. “… Is it dinnertime?”
“Huzzah!” cheered The Killers, as they called the coroner, cut the potatoes, and made it big.