Jeff Tremaine said "There's this kid you have to meet. He's a little shithead. I think you'd totally like him."
"Oh?" Johnny drawled, taking a long pull on his beer and draining half the bottle. "What does he do, get your coffee at Big Brother?"
"Fuck you, Knoxville," scowled Tremaine. "A street skater out of West Chester. Hot shit. He's done a video already. Have you ever seen size 62 pants?"
That deserved an eyebrow at least. "You got me."
"Bubble wrap." Tremaine looked liked the fox in the henhouse. "I knew you'd be interested."
"Wait, he stuffs his pants?"
"Better than that, he does fuckin' tricks in 'em. It's too bad you can't skate."
Johnny shrugged. "I always felt it was easier to be funny than actually be good at something," he said. "It gives the air of superiority to the audience."
Tremaine rolled his eyes. "Sometimes I don't even know what fucking planet you're from. Just show up tomorrow, okay? They're doing the shoot at the Lincoln skate park at noon. Just be there."
Johnny flashed a couple of fangs and bought Tremaine a round just because he was the boss and hey, he was always good for a little entertainment.
Noon brought a bunch of teenagers to the skate park at Lincoln and Seventh because apparently they knew what was going on. Johnny stumbled up after paying for the cab to see a couple of kids goofing off with duct tape and a big pile of bubble wrap. A pile of old clothes was nearby.
"Hey, any of you guys seen Tremaine?" The hangover was just starting to lift but Johnny didn't dare pull off his sunglasses quite yet. The guys with the duct tape stopped goofing and looked over at him.
"Oh, you must be that guy Jeff said was gonna watch today," the first kid said. He was a little pudgy, just growing out of his teenaged layer of fat, with wavy blonde hair and a goatee. "I'm Ryan. Nice to see ya."
"Hey." Johnny found himself shaking hands with Ryan, and then with the second kid, who was wearing a bizarre black tuque pulled way too far down over his ears. He looked like a goth who'd just escaped from a mental institution, and he wasn't paying any attention to the new visitor. Johnny watched in bemusement as the mental kid started rolling the sheets of bubble wrap around Ryan's legs and securing them with long strips of duct tape.
"You wanna grab that roll of tape? I need a hand here."
"No problem." Johnny ripped off a long strip and tore it with his sharp incisor. When he passed it to the mental kid, his eyes were wide.
"Shit, man, those real?"
Johnny just looked at him with a wrinkled forehead. "Uh. Yeah." Wasn't that why Tremaine liked showing him off to people?
"Man, Tremaine didn't say you were a fuckin' vampire! You ever bit anyone with those?"
Johnny laughed, "Not that I'm gonna admit to you in broad daylight. You gotta buy me a drink or two first. Or at least introduce yourself."
"Ah, shit, I'm sorry, dude. I'm Bam." Wearing the duct tape roll like a bracelet, Bam offered a handshake. His fingernails were painted black and chipped, and there was a weird bruise around his wrist.
"Come on, dude, It's fucking hot in this stuff," Ryan moaned. He was halfway bubble-wrapped, with huge calves and thighs, trying to secure the start of a new strip around his middle.
Bam giggled and ripped at the duct tape around his wrist. Where the roll pressed, it left little purple lines in a band above his hand, but he didn't seem to notice. By the time he'd finished taping Ryan into the wrap, the marks had faded.
"You know why exactly Tremaine wanted me to meet you guys?" Johnny asked as Ryan started wiggling into the size 62 pants. "He doesn't seem to be around."
"He's a sick fuck." Ryan said, wiggling his new giant ass. The bubble wrap creaked and twisted under the trouser fabric. "He gets a kick out of powers. Fucking creepy."
"Wait, what?" Johnny scowled behind his sunglasses. "If this is some kinda stupid party trick, I'm leaving."
"No, no," Bam said with an idiotic grin. "There's me and Dunn, and Tremaine said he knew some guy with fucked-up teeth. Is it true you got two hearts?"
Johnny was taken aback. Now there was some little-publicized knowledge. "Yeah," he said suspiciously, "Is that a problem?"
"No way!" Bam giggled. "I just heard you were, like, mad well-hung too, but I'm not gonna ask you about your cock in front of all these teenagers, right?"
Johnny glanced over his shoulder at the amateur cameramen and the skater kids standing around bored, toting skateboards under their arms. "No, of course not. Ryan? What do you do?"
"I can set shit on fire if I try hard enough. But it's tough and last time I burned Tremaine's favourite sweater and he kicked my ass," Ryan said. He flipped his skateboard down and hopped onto it, light as a feather despite his size. He skated off for the first of the ramps, totally surreal.
"Fuck, man, that's hilarious," Bam marvelled, grabbing handfulls of the bubble wrap. "Come on, help me get into this."
"Now, hold on," Johnny grabbed Bam's wrist and held him up a minute. "What the hell is even going on? I trust Tremaine alright. He's a dick, but he's a friend of mine. But I don't even know you!"
"Nah," Bam said, glancing down at his wrist where Johnny's fingers were pressing into the flesh. "Not so hard, you're leaving marks."
Johnny looked down and saw his handprint coloured purple on Bam's pale skin. "You better not be a bleeder," he scowled. Bam grinned.
"Chameleon. It's way cooler." He dragged up the bottom of his shirt to display an elaborate tattoo covering most of his chest. "Drew this on this morning. Like this." He traced a new curlicue onto the design with a chipped fingernail and softly, a black line flushed out from his touch. "Cool, huh?"
"This have anything to do with the pants?" Johnny asked him. Bam shook his head.
"Not really. That's just some shit I'm doing for a video. I think it'll be really cool. Dunn and me jumping off a roof on BMX bikes, that sort of shit." As he talked, Johnny helped Bam into the massive suit of bubble wrap and the second pair of pants. "I mean, if you can't be famous, right?"
"Infamy suits you," Johnny grinned. Bam looked ridiculous in the suit, his little-boy face peeking out from under the tuque, and the rest of his body swathed in plaid shirting and yards of plastic wrap. He grabbed his board from the side of the park and watched Ryan skate for a minute.
"Well, I don't know. I guess we should think up shit to do or something. I heard there's some kinda project Tremaine wanted to do." Bam shrugged. "Can you skate?"
"Nah, I'm lousy at it," Johnny admitted. "And I can't draw shit on my skin, either. I got nothing."
"That's not what I heard," Bam grinned fiendishly and stepped on his skateboard to move away. "Dog dick?"
"Oh, fuck you!" Johnny cackled, grabbing at Bam. He squealed like a little kid, falling over backwards, trapped in the mess of bubble wrap. Johnny got one hand on his forehead, the other on the tuque. There was a flail of limbs and laughter as the skateboard trickled away down the ramp.
"Don't touch me!" Bam shrieked, trying to get away from Johnny's sharp fingernails. "You scratch me and it'll be there for like an hour!"
Johnny sat on his chest and held him down while he carefully inscribed "fat fuck" on his forehead. After Bam stopped laughing hysterically, he got up.
One of the cameramen started laughing, and then Dunn came over, and after a couple of minutes the whole skate park was full of people grinning and trying to write on Bam with their fingers. Little shit, Johnny knew he was just an attention whore, but goddamn, that was fucking funny.
It turned out to be one of the best segments from the very first episode. Who would have known?