In the modern world, the internet is king. While other modern media methods fall, fail and die by the wayside, the internet moves on strongly, forcing all competitors aside and making headway into the world of reality. The strength of the internet; a recognised destroyer of grammar, expression and socialisation, is now almost entirely beyond question. The world’s largest and most established religion has a member count that is, at current, competing to defeat the member count of Facebook.
While most media businesses are forced to evolve and develop to fit the needs of the future, the evolution of the internet is simply more of the same. Growth is constant and unceasing, since websites are more likely to be abandoned and forgotten about than removed. Internet marketing is stronger than ever, and, for many companies, has become their sole target for financial success. Put simply, the internet is the future of media.
With all of the potential range available for internet users, the life expectancy of the average website has been rapidly decreasing. The amount of options available is simply too great to breed anything other than a fickle society, and the older websites, in a way, damage their own user base simply by holding to the niche that they were designed to uphold. While the desires and requirements of the users change, websites find themselves quickly running out of target audience interested in being drawn in. It is a sad fact that, once people have what they want from a place, they tend not to return there. In a way, the internet grows up in it’s own way, as do the people that use it.
All growth online is measured by the emergence of new and exciting websites. The growth and evolution of people being difficult to predict, this is the only real way to gauge activity. Some websites die, and others spring forth to fill the void. Survival doesn’t just depend on having a strong community, it depends even more on having the loyalty of contributing members. These are the people who work tirelessly, often for no pay, in order to give something back to the websites that they love.
Hugh Gee was not one of these people. In fact, by the rules of comparison, Hugh Gee came oddly close to the first sign of the apocalypse for Ultimate-Guitar.com.
In many ways, Hugh had grown over the months since our last story was told. In other ways, he had failed to grow, or in some way shrunk. This was made especially clear when he used his favourite website. He still insulted people, moderators and management, as well as making enemy after enemy due to his arrogance and utter absence of comic timing. It was these very things that made him unceasingly popular on the forums of Ultimate-Guitar.
Outside though, things were very different.
The first feelings of sweat were starting to tickle Hugh’s chin, but there was enough adrenaline in his blood to stop that from mattering. There was also plenty of alcohol rushing through him, which greatly added to the euphoria of his performance. Hugh Gee was a musician now. Over the last few months of ironing out the kinks at practice sessions, the stage had been calling out for him. Tonight, all of the hard work came together. The experience was intoxicating.
At the same time, it was also quite comical. Though it was thrilling to see people enjoying themselves, the off-time claps, vocal mistakes and scattered cheers when they started each cover brought quite a smile to his face. Despite all of this, Hugh’s favourite thing about being up on stage was that, up here, he was perfectly permitted to look down on everybody else. Usually, people told him off for that.
When their set had finished, and the band had dispersed, Hugh packed away his equipment quickly before heading off in search of praise. To other people, it might look as though he was seeking out his friends. In his own head, George and Jimmy were just the short, fat one and the lanky ginger one. With those characteristics guiding him, no pub, no matter how busy, could stop him from finding them.
Due to monetary constraints and age restrictions, neither of them were even slightly drunk when he joined them. They did not look happy about this.
"So how much did I rock your world, bitches?" asked Hugh, before either of them could open their mouths to say anything.
Jimmy glared at his over the rim of a glass of lemonade. "You said there would be girls here."
"There are girls here," Hugh countered quickly.
"No, there are women here," Jimmy spat back. "I’m talking serious cougar types here, man. It’s nothing like you said it would be. You’ve let both of us down and worse; you let yourself down. Sort your s--t out, Hugh. Sort your life out."
"Cool story, overdramatic bro," said Hugh, shaking his head. "They’re mostly Martin and Rich’s crowd anyway," he continued, thinking of his bassist and drummer, who were both nearing twenty. "They’ll all be nineteen maybe - early twenties tops."
"Yeah, and that might be good for Martin and Rich, but I’m still sixteen. Where’s my ripe young pussy?"
"Sounds like you’ve already got one the way you’re whining about it," Hugh said with a laugh. This earned him the glare again, but he ignored it in favour of turning to include George. "What did you think?" he asked, optimistically, of the chubby member of his entourage.
"I liked it," announced George with an encouraging smile. "There were some bits where you sounded a bit unsteady, but for most of it you guys sounded really-"
"You’re so desperate for compliments you’re trying to convince this guy his opinion matters?" interrupted Jimmy. George, having long since accepted that those he considered friends didn’t care about him in the slightest, stopped talking so that Jimmy could continue. "Shame on you, giving him false hope like that. Best be careful of you’ll give him ideas and nobody wants that, especially George. Anyway, that doesn’t matter. Here’s what you should do: keep thinking you were useless and that you were dragging everybody else down. That way, you’ll make yourself work harder for it. Trust me, it’s handy being able to trick yourself like this. I’ll tell you what else you should do too: get me a beer."
"lol," uttered Hugh, to the disappointment of everybody who heard him. Jimmy found his face contorting in an evil cringe.
They passed the rest of the night with subtle jokes, belligerent mockery of George and general insults towards the headlining musicians that replaced Hugh and his band. Somewhere, along the course of the evening, Hugh’s singer and second guitarist, David, wandered over to join them. He brought his girlfriend, Heather, with him, who had always been something of an object of desire for Jimmy. Since she was no longer single, he had taken on the task of acting as though he hated her. For Hugh, he was just extremely happy to have a female nearby who wasn’t trying to kill him. It was good for his image.
Since learning the guitar, Hugh had expected to become a lot more popular, especially with the females. Sadly, he now spent so much time locked in a practice room with three sweaty older men, which was not doing wonders for his reputation. Practice sessions were often spent focussing on something else that he would rather be doing, but he was home alone enough to ensure that he knew his lines through and through. He hadn’t written a song yet, but with such overpowering presences as Martin, Rich and David in the band, he would likely never have to. This was a good thing, since his last song had been largely stolen from the mp3 section of Ultimate-Guitar.
He was drawn away from his thoughts only when David was passing him a beer. Martin had booked the gig, and so the owner and the landlord suspected that they were all as old as he was. Beer at sixteen was a wonderful thing.
"I don’t know what the future plans are really," David was saying, "but I’m working on coming up with something. I mean, Martin keeps talking about some great fantastic plan he’s got in his head for everything we could do in future, but we have to be really careful not to pay attention to anything he says. He’s a talkative person. He loves saying things about his songs or his instrument or some other such relative crap. I don’t get the point though."
"You have to have some plan," said Jimmy. "You’ve got to keep pushing forwards and stuff - never stop learning. I don’t play, so I’m just talking from a general standpoint."
"You think we’re going to go far?" asked David.
Jimmy started his reply with a laugh, which was obviously an unpopular move. "You’ll forgive me for staying sceptical. It’s healthy in the long run, you know? You’ve got to consider all the parts, not just the band itself. You’re four people; not one thing. If we start with Hugh then you’ve got a major problem right there. From all the times I’ve met Martin all I’ve heard about is Martin, Martin and Martin. Rich is new from like two months ago, yeah? I don’t think he looks all that happy to be here. You’ve got him now, but that might mean that you’ve just got him for now. I know you’re hungry for this and all that, but it’s you who’s on the inside looking out. Personally, I’m the other way around."
"It’s not bad to be a bit more optimistic, is it?" Heather asked him.
Women, Heather especially, had a certain talent when it came to Jimmy. "Yeah, sure, there’s nothing wrong with being optimistic. There’s a good chance on you guys," he told her, completely changing the opinion that he had just been preaching about.
"Dude," Hugh began, "we’re going to be awesome. We’ll be smacking up bitches, the god that gives rock ‘n’ roll and the spirit in the f---ing sky. You can be as mean as you want, but it’ll just get all ackward between us. I’m going to keep rockin’ my arse off down to paradise city, where the smoke on the water hides the stairway to heaven. Once we’re down with the sickness we’ll be rollin’ through the summer of sixty-nine."
"Jesus christ, man, have you been practicing that for weeks or something?" asked David incredulously.
"I remember when you didn’t even do homework," laughed Jimmy. "You’ve changed, man. You’re all old and alcohol fuelled now."
"Yeah, screw that. I’m just as awesome now as I’ve ever been. You’re just jealous."
Another hour passed, largely comprised of small talk and small penis jokes. As the headline band reached their break, Martin and Rich moved on to a club downtown. David ran out of money soon after from buying drinks for himself and Heather, which meant the end of their company as well. With less people there, Jimmy began to let George talk a little more. For Hugh’s part, he simply continued to drink, getting more and more drunken and difficult to be around. Though he was naturally a loud boy, Hugh seemed to become more and more boisterous with those around him, making less and less sense as the minutes passed.
Eventually, the entertainment for the evening ending, the task of making sure that Hugh got home safely fell into Jimmy and George’s hands, so they promptly finished their empty of alcohol drinks and began to abandon Hugh completely. Unfortunately, he emptied his bladder much faster than either of them had anticipated. It was also faster than he’d anticipated, judging by the darker spots of colour on the front of his jeans. They didn’t manage to escape.
They left the pub, all equipment left to be collected the next day, under a chorus of cheers that quite sadly all came from Hugh himself. It took a few moments for his scattered mutters and mumblings to form into actual cohesive words.
"I’m driving," he managed.
This was not confusing for either George or Jimmy, but it was quite intensely terrifying.
"You are not driving anything, anywhere," commanded Jimmy. He wasn’t a big fan of people in general, but that didn’t mean that he was going to send Hugh, a sixteen year old boy, tearing across the streets running over animals and small children. "You’ll go home and go to sleep like a good boy. It’s dangerous to be outside in your condition."
Hugh was walking ahead of the two of them, turning in circles as he did so. Curiously, due to the amount of people coming out of the pub in the same condition, nobody took the slightest notice of him. Hugh would not stop talking, but he was at least walking them in the right direction.
Things started to go south at about the same time as Hugh started to turn south. He continued to mutter and complain under his breath, but only started to actually make any real movements when George took hold of his upper arm in the attempt to steer him in the right direction.
Hugh pulled himself away. "I’m going to go and get into the car so I can drive home, yeah?"
"You don’t own a car, Hugh?" said George.
"You don’t have a license either," added Jimmy.
"You’re pissed out of your skull," continued George.
"And you’re a complete lunatic," finished Jimmy.
"I borrowed my dad’s car," muttered Hugh. He was swaying as he walked, unsteady on his feet and obviously unsure where he was going.
"Do you really think that’s just solved all of your problems, no questions asked?" Jimmy countered. He shared a shake of his head with George at the stupidity of Hugh’s behaviour before continuing: "Your dad wouldn’t lend you his car. He wouldn’t trust you with a pencil, let alone something as expensive as the car. Can you even hear yourself? You’re rambling on about crap like a nutter. You didn’t borrow anybody’s car."
"Wrong borrow," mumbled Hugh, determinedly moving in the wrong direction.
"Fine. I don’t know what crap you’re on about, but I don’t see why I have to piss about getting you home. You didn’t even buy me one beer, and that’s after all the stuff I’ve done keeping an eye on you. Go home. Come on, George."
George made a small point of appearing to protest, but followed immediately after Jimmy, leaving Hugh drunk, dizzy and alone.
Sadly, and as Jimmy would find out very shortly afterwards, Hugh did have access to his father’s car. He had stolen the vehicle earlier that day, thinking that he had no chance to get even slightly drunk and feeling that he needed something else to make him look and feel much more cool. In his currently alcohol fuelled state, he felt that he could drive just fine, and he felt this with absolute certainty. He turned a corner towards the local supermarket and there, sure enough, was his father’s olive green Ford Escort.
There was nobody around now. Most people had continued down the main road or found a lift on the way, so nobody was stopping Hugh from fumbling in his pockets for his father's keys. In his mind, there was nothing wrong with the situation as he opened up the car, slipped inside and turned on the ignition.
What happened next was largely to be expected, but Hugh Gee was likely the only person in the world who would miss out on the facts ahead of him. Barely a moment after he had stamped on the ignition, there was a horrendous crash.
"Hugh! Hugh, you crazy bint, wake the f--k up."
"You're not supposed to move-"
"Shut up George. You're supposed to be calling an ambulance, so go and do it. Hey, t--tbag. Wake up and open your eyes or I'm going to start poking or punching you."
As greetings went, waking up to find himself looking up at the shaky form of Jimmy's face. A moment later, the rush of vomit had hit him, and Hugh found himself turning over onto his side as quickly as possible so that he could throw up onto the road he had been laying on. With Jimmy's help, he managed to get over onto his hands and knees.
"So yeah, you crashed," Jimmy told him. "It was brutal. Right into a lamp post. You're still on the kerb and everything; must have accelerated just enough to smash the crap out of the front of the car. Your dad's going to be pissed beyond words. You got any money to fix this? No, don't talk, keep throwing up, and don't look at me either, you look disgusting."
"Dude," came George's voice, "they've got people on the way to clear the wreckage and check he doesn't have like a broken skull or anything. You shouldn't have moved him, you know."
"If he dies, feel free to blame me at the funeral he has that nobody goes to. We heard a boom and I had to run for this crazy jackass. I don’t run, remember? At least it’s funny in the end. He got drunk and wrecked his dad’s car, which he stole in the first place, and he doesn’t have even the slightest bit of cash to pay for it, even with this fancy new band. On top of school and all this band stuff, he’ll have to get a job. Oh, and is that sirens I hear in the distance? That’s a brilliant sign, isn’t it? Drunk, underage, car thief, drunk driving. This my friend is better than Star Trek."
Copyright Tom Colohue