Usually when Gabe’s got an interview he can remember some detail about it, even if he’s fucked off his head. Sometimes it’s what his band or Pete or his family has begged him not to say. Sometimes it’s what person, place, or thing he promised to pimp out. Sometimes it’s whether he’s chatting for a magazine, newspaper, or internet article. This time Gabe’s got nothing. He can take an educated guess; it’s not for some website because there’s no camera. It’s not MTV, there are no screaming fans, or teenagers that have no idea what the fuck band he’s in but that have been told to scream. It’s for a magazine, most likely.
Shit, he doesn’t even really remember how he got here. Whatever form of travel got him from the bus to this room is completely lost in the ether of his brain.
“So you talk to snakes,” the guy starts. Gabe’s done a ton of interviews over the years, and this guy looks low on the one to ten scale of douchebag interviewers. The British accent is a bit grating, but then Cobra’s in London, so it’s not like he could expect to hear Jersey.
“Yeah.” Because he does, even if everyone thinks he’s full of crap.
“What do they say to you?”
Gabe nearly sighs. It feels like this is his question, just like Vicky-T always gets the how’s it feel to be the only girl bullshit. Still, he wouldn’t be here if not for that snake so he starts the story once again. “Well it told me that the world was going to end and-”
“No, what else do they say. Was that the only time?”
“Are you a fucking shrink? Because there’s a difference between me hearing shit while fucked on peyote and hearing shit because I’m schizophrenic.” And usually Gabe suspects it’s the latter, not that he’d ever tell anyone. But he self-medicates pretty well, even if Travis doesn’t join him anymore. He takes care of his shit, he’s not like Pete or Mikey, completely melting down. He doesn’t have the freakin’ time to be committed. There are CDs to make and concerts to play. If someone in the band has set this up, like some sort of bullshit intervention, he’s going to pull the classic move and storm the fuck out.
“I’m not a shrink. I just want to know, was that the only time you talked to a snake or were there others?”
Gabe shrugs. He just wants this fucking interview to be over with already, and if he can scare off the interviewer with the truth all the better. At least for a few days, until whatever it is goes to print and calls him out for being an asshole. But he can deal with pissed off people later, for now he just wants to go back to the bus. “Dude, whenever I see a snake they say shit. Asking if I’ve got mice they could borrow, telling me what the grass feels like.”
“I’ll be right back,” the man says, not giving Gabe a chance to protest before he leaves the room. It’s pretty much bullshit that he’s the rockstar and yet the interviewer is the diva. He could be refusing this conversation unless he has dried mango slices and some very specific brand of water. Instead he’s sitting on a sagging couch as some guy with messy hair poorly covering a big scar on his forehead leaves him hanging.
When he comes back Gabe wonders for a second if this is a photoshoot of some kind. The rest of the guys should be here if it is, and his phone hasn’t gotten any texts about Nate getting them completely lost, so it doesn’t look like they’re going to show up late. But it’s really the only explanation for why the man would have a snake in hand.
“Say hi,” the interviewer instructs.
“Hi?” Seriously, as soon as he gets onto the sidewalk he’s phoning Pete to bitch. This is worse than an interview with an actual Guy Ripley would be.
“No. Say hi,” he repeats. Except the words don’t sound exactly the same. They seem to distort around the edges, like rubbing velvet the wrong way and seeing a different colour.
“You heard the man. Don’t be rude.” It’s an entirely different voice, and it only takes him a second to place it as the snake.
“You wouldn’t want to give Americans a reputation as rude, would you?” The interviewer smiles, and Gabe doesn’t like this at all. He doesn’t know what’s going on, but he doesn’t think it’s funny.
“Sorry,” he says, and this time the words sound like proper English. “I reckon you only have a sense of humor for this sort of thing when it’s not new and shocking. Still, it’s pretty clear you’re a parselmouth. Hermione’d thought, but she wanted me to make sure.”
“What the hell is a parselmouth, and who the hell is Hermione?”
“Hermione’s my best friend since we were eleven. One of them, anyway. She works for the International Affairs branch of the Ministry of Magic.”
Gabe snorts. “Yeah, so I’m gonna go now. I’ll see you on Youtube, I guess.”
“This isn’t anything I’m going to upload from a hidden camera. Shite, half the wizard world wouldn’t know a computer if it fell into their lap. Parselmouth means you speak parseltongue. It means you can speak to snakes. It happens sometimes when you’re a wizard. You really didn’t know?”
“That I’m a wizard? I’m guessing someone would have told me if I said Kazaam and I turned someone into a basketball.”
“Er, it doesn’t work like that. Not usually, at least. I did make my Aunt expand once. Hermione says this happens in international cases sometimes. Salem probably though you’d return to Uruguay for schooling, and whatever school it was in Uruguay obviously thought Salem would take care of you.”
“So I was supposed to go to a magic school and district planning fucked me over?” Not that he actually believes this guy, but it probably would have been better than the shitty schools he actually went to.
“Well, it was more like immigration. But yes.” Then the guy pulls a stick out of his pocket and mutters something and all of a sudden water is pouring out of the stick. Gabe grabs the guy’s hand, not caring that the sudden movement gets his shirt spattered. He checks everywhere he can for a hidden catheter of water, but it seems unlikely considering the man is wearing a short sleeved shirt.
Gabe doesn’t like to think he’s an easy sell. But between the talking to snakes and the pool of water on the floor it’s not that hard to believe he’s telling the truth. “So is there adult ed. or something? So I could still learn it?”
“Honestly? If you’ve gone so long untaught it should popping up all over. That’s why everyone goes to school when they turn eleven, so they can manage their magic. I don’t know a lot about the American Ministry, but there really should be some sort of Misuse department contacting you.”
“Well, I don’t really stay in one place too long.”
“And you haven’t noticed anything weird?”
“Oh, you mean besides talking to snakes? Including a prophet snake informing me of the end of the world?” Gabe rolls his eyes. “I spend a lot of my time stoned or drunk. And on tour with like fifty other stoned or drunk people. At some point you stop thinking and just do.”
“Er. I don’t want to ruin your career, but I’m pretty sure the snake was fucking with you. We have a department that deals in prophecy, and there’s nothing about an apocalypse.”
“Good to know.” Not having a deadline gives them more time to work on making emo kids relax.
“I don’t know what to suggest, really. Hermione brought me in because I’m a parselmouth, I don’t know rubbish about the rest of it. I reckon at the very least you should get a wand and an owl. You could learn by correspondence, maybe?”
“An owl to do what.”
“Run your mail?”
It’s said like it’s the most obvious thing in the world, and screw the speaking to animals and making liquids appear, Gabe is suddenly not impressed. “Doesn’t that seem cruel to you, to force an animal to do your bidding?”
The man frowns. “I loved Hedwig, she was my owl for six years. Ron still takes care of Pig. Until you’ve met a wizard bred owl you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I’m not getting an owl. Even if I did believe you, how the fuck would I explain having an owl on my tour bus?” Okay, so it’s likely beyond a few stares no one would say anything. But that doesn’t mean he has to say that to this guy. He’s not forcing slavery on any animal, even if every wizard in the world does.
“Do you have an email then? So we can contact with you without having to figure out where you are? For as long as you’re in Europe Hermione will be handling your case. She’s mug- er, born to non magic people, so she knows how to use it. Beyond that she’ll figure out how to make things work. She’s sort of amazing with that sort of thing.”
Gabe writes it down, not autograph writing, a scrawl that doesn’t make his fingers cramp so he can do it a thousand times, but in actually legible writing. He’s itching to leave. He’s not sure what time it is, but unless it took him hours to get here he should be fine. Still, there has to be better things to do than stand around and talk about how much some woman he’s never met is going to teach him. A water fight, for example. Next tour’s gonna kick ass, if he has a stick that shoots never ending water. “So can I leave here now, wait for her to contact me? Do you know where here is, to call a cab? I sort of spaced.”
He shakes his head, looking mildly embarrassed. “No you didn’t. I Apparated than Obliviated you. It was Ministry sanctioned.”
Gabe thinks whatever he did is probably something he could be offended about. Being experimented on without permission is probably bad, especially if the wizard government had to agree to it first. But he doesn’t want an explanation of what the fuck his words mean, he just wants to get back. It’s not like it’s the first time he can’t remember something that happened. “Well do it again, so I’m back at the bus.”
“I only need to do the one.” the man says before he pulls him into a hug. Either Apparating or Obliviating feels like crowd surfing then being pulled down by the fans. He can’t complain too much though, considering it works. He recognises the gleaming paint of the buses, the grass trampled by wheels and an unfathomable amount of footprints. The guy disappears before he can say bye, or more likely thanks for dropping a whole pile of new shit into my lap.
Gabe sticks all of it into the back of his mind and decides to conscript the first person he can find for tag. He’s back, he can worry about all the other shit later.