The problem with iPods is there’s no variety. You can cram the entire twenty gb with music, but it’s all of your music. Mikey sort of misses the days of mixtapes and cds, of making people listen to entire hours worth of random music. He downloads random cds but it’s not the same. There’s something that makes clicking the forward circle easy and guilt free whereas he’s got an aversion to pressing the next track button on a discman. So whenever they have time he’ll stop in a music store. Not a fucking Walmart. Not only do they only stock things he’s already heard, but it would be suicidally dangerous. Before they come into town he’ll Google and find a place that has music worth listening to.
It’s easy to tell when they stop in front of the store that it’ll be a good place. It’s got themed windows, posters for Chicago and the Bay City Rollers and America and Valencia. Mikey tells everyone he’ll meet them later and double-checks for his wallet and cell before leaving. Sometimes he takes longer than he means to, and everyone’s finished having lunch by the time he meets up with them. If he can’t find them in a restaurant somewhere on the street, he needs to be able to text a location.
He likes talking to the other customers. In a indie music store, there seems to be less that separates him. Not all of them recognise him. When he strikes up a conversation with a woman picking through 1970’s vinyl, all he has to talk about is Queen, not about what touring is ‘really like’ for the hundredth time. When he sees someone digging through experimental, he can ask them if they’ve ever heard of Tiny Tim. It’s nice to be just another person, to be treated normally. Mikey relishes the few times he’s been glared at. Of course, it’s better when he can say ‘I’m in a band’ and they’ll ask what his influences are or who do they sound like rather than ‘what is Gerard really like’.
He glances around and has to smile. He likes the way this store is laid out. There’s nothing by genre, all of which is always bullshit anyway. Mikey can’t remember how many times he’s heard people at clubs get into labelling genre arguments, it always makes him want to bash his head against a wall. Nor is it alphabetical, at least not primarily. Instead it’s just by country of origin.
Mikey automatically goes to the British section. It’s larger than most, which makes sense. They are in London. There’s a guy standing there already. He’s as short as Frank, red hair gelled into spikes. The guy looks up at Mikey as he moves closer. “You need me to move?”
Mikey shakes his head. He can see the titles just fine, scrawled out on the brown cardboard. And it’s not what he’s here for, not really. Not entirely, at least. He’d love to come out of this with a handful of cds, but he’ll consider it success if he can have a conversation with this guy. And hell, if he can get a kiss out of it, all the better.
The truth of the matter is, it’s hard to hook up when half the nation recognises your face. Mikey doesn’t like having sex with his friends, so it lets the bands and the techs on all the tours out. None of them can go to bars. Mikey’s left with trying to find connections where he can, and if he’s checking out the redhead’s ass, well, he’s not going to feel guilty about it. The best options he has right now is quick sex in strangers cars, or jerking off.
From the five words said, Mikey can tell he’s a fellow American. He doesn’t have an accent, not even an obviously American one, like New York or the south. Mikey’s sort of forgotten what it sounds like to hear Americans other than his band. He wants to ask him where he’s from, but figures it’s as bad as asking if he’s enjoying the weather or anything sports related. So instead he watches, figuring something music related will inspire him eventually.
It comes as the short man flips past Placebo. Mikey’s first words to him are “You better have all their albums.”
“Who doesn’t? Oz.”
Mikey figures it for his name, as they’re not talking television or books. “Mikey.”
Mikey doesn’t notice the time slip away as they start debating best Placebo album, which Oz oddly enough thinks is Sleeping with Ghosts, when it’s clearly Meds. That translates into Brian Molko’s stance on drug use, which Oz is all for, but Mikey thinks of Bert and meth and Gerard and coke and Pete and prescriptions and can’t quite agree. Which melds into a larger argument of bands that flourished or shrank under the weight of drug use, and while Mikey really can’t argue against Come Together and the importance of acid in lyrics, he’s got an ace with Nirvana that he’s about to start when Oz darts his head up like he’s having a seizure.
“I’m sorry. I’ve gotta go.”
“What? Why?” Oz isn’t even putting his cds away, and they’ve already had the conversation about dicks that can’t manage to reshelf when they realise they can only afford three of the seventeen cds they’ve picked out, leading to later customers being unable to find the one copy that the computer assures everyone is in the store.
“I smell something weird.” Oz mutters, rushing out the door.
Mikey doesn’t get it. He and Gerard are much better about showering these days, and if he stinks that badly it should have taken less than an hour for Oz to decide he was disgusted. Mikey follows Oz out just to demand he clarify, saying a silent apology to the owner and the music gods for leaving his potentials scattered out.
Things take a turn when Oz pulls out a switchblade from his pocket. Before Mikey has a chance to think more than ‘lunatic with a weapon’ Oz is going around the corner of the building. Mikey has to go, just to make sure he’s not actually about to stab someone. After the thing with Brian and a gun they all vowed not to be heroes, but Mikey knows there’s not a single person in the band that would follow through with the promise. He’s got 911 keyed into his cell, thumb hovering above send. Just in case.
And then, well, at least Oz isn’t stabbing someone. He’s stabbing something. Something that looks like it shouldn’t exist, unless it’s from a movie set nearby. The thing goes straight for Oz, and no matter where Mikey looks, he can’t see a zipper or a button. When he looks back at Oz, he looks distinctly bigger, distinctly hairier.
Oz finally succeeds in stabbing it. Unfortunately it’s nowhere decent, it’s just in what looks like the worst set of cankles Mikey’s ever seen. The thing splutters at Oz, it would be a roar if it wasn’t puking at the same time. Oz dodges the bright blue chunks and stabs it in another cankle. Mikey wants to shout at him to go for the eyes, or the heart, he’s watched enough horror movies to know that cutting the villain’s ankles so they can’t walk never works, they’re always too determined. He’s betting that something this ferocious looking would have no problem dragging itself by the arms towards Oz to eat him.
Oz makes for the third leg, and slices it, getting a kick to the face for his troubles. All of a sudden the thing lightens until it’s the same colour as the vomit it had spewed, and collapses onto the gritty road. Mikey wants to look at it, but is in no way stupid enough to go near something evil. Lesson number one from every horror movie ever; if you have to check to see if it’s dead, it’s going to fucking kill you.
“Don’t touch it. It’ll melt in the sun. But you don’t want to touch it before it melts.”
Mikey wasn’t planning on touching it at all, but he nods at the advice. He watches Oz toss the blade beside the monster and then he sort of quakes, and all of a sudden he’s the smaller, normally haired man he met in the music store.
They look at each other for a second, and Mikey fiddles with his hand in his pocket until the cell is closed. “So, you wanna tell me anything about that?” he asks tilting his head towards the creature.
“Lemme get this straight. You can smell demons.”
“And you used to kill them in your spare time.”
For the first time Mikey understands how what others describe as his monotone and lack of intense expression could get to the interviewers. Oz had explained thing succintly, and while Mikey understands the urge to only speak when necessary, there are definitely points where things should be as elaborate as possible. If he and Gerard had been the demon hunters in their youth, you can bet there’d already be a hundred comics made from the experience.
Mikey sits on the sidewalk for a minute pondering the existence of demons. Then he looks at Oz. “You want a handjob?”
Oz handles the non-sequitor serenely. “Yes.”
Mikey stands with no location in mind, only determined to not get off while staring at a slowly liquefying blue raspberry jello coloured monster. Oz quickly takes the lead, bringing Mikey to a van. Oz’s van is remarkably like their old one, complete with massive scratches and bumper stickers blazoning things he’s never heard of, presumably music. “You in a band?”
“Used to be. I had to bail. Couldn’t control my issues.” Fuck does Mikey know what that’s like. “Mostly I have a shitty girlfriend rock. Sounded like Four Star Mary, if you’ve heard them.” Mikey hasn’t, and will probably pick up the cd later, but right now he wants his hand on Oz’s dick more that he wants cd titles.
“Front or back?”
“Back has a mattress.” Oz opens the door and sure enough, there is a twin mattress on the floor of the car, with a Spiderman comforter on top. Mikey climbs in and unbuckles his belt and pushes his pants to his knees before sitting on an expanse of webbing. Oz sits beside him and they take each other in hand at the same time. Mikey has no idea if Oz is actually left handed, he didn’t watch him close enough in the store to notice, but he’s doing really fucking well if he’s not. He bites down on his lip and keeps jerking his hand as rhythmically as he can. He doesn’t want to be a bad fuck, it’s cliche enough that all the sex he’s had in the last year have been in cars and alleys, he doesn’t want to be remembered as a bad decision on top of it.
Oz comes first, a raised ‘ahhHHH’ the only clue before Mikey’s hand is wet. He keeps his grip light but doesn’t let go until Oz slumps back. Mikey raises an eyebrow but mentally shrugs, it’s not the first time the guy hasn’t helped finish him off. He strokes himself with his wet hand, biting his lip to keep the moan in out of tourbus conditioning. When he finally comes he wipes his hand on Peter Parker’s costumed face.
It’s harder to pull his tight jeans back up than it was to shove them down. Post orgasm his thighs always feel over-warm, over-sensitive. He threads his belt through the right notch, then does the awkward walk/kneel that’s required in the back of a van like this. Almost to the door he twists and looks behind himself. Oz is watching him, so Mikey pulls his phone from his pocket and opens up the contact screen before thrusting it at him.
“You don’t have to put your real number in it. It just gets boring when we’re touring. I like to text people. Your choice.”
Oz takes the phone, and Mikey won’t know for certain if he actually keys in a real number until the first time he wants to talk new wave with someone, but he’d like to think it’s real. He accepts the cell back and opens the door. He needs to text Gerard and figure out where they are, and where he is in relation to where they are. Different city, same problems as ever.