There are several outlined desires that all men and women are supposedly required to have in order to be valid and valuable members of society, or so the older people of the world attempt to instruct in their children. The phrase 'Lies My Parents Told Me' has entered into the modern vocabulary as a vocalisation of all things that, whenever told, no child should actually attempt to listen to. While some parenting is of the highest quality; providing clear and unquestionably honest education, some people learn the facts of life from TV and some people have no choice but to do the best they can with what they have.
Amongst this pivotal selection of life necessities that the world enjoys foisting upon people, there are many things. Money is supposed to be had, but never wanted, which is oxymoronic in the extreme. All relationships are meant to be fulfilling, unchanging and in no way life-altering. The collections of lies also categorically states that if you do not get married to the same person that you lose your virginity to, you are truly a maniacal, evil individual.
Obviously, many of these stem from the times when religion made any and all rules, since the original meaning of evil very much meant 'anything against the will of God', whatever the priests of the time decided that the will of God was. Not all of these have though.
In those times, employment was a little different to current standards. Instead of working for a wage, people simply worked to survive, so the survival instinct itself was more than enough to keep people in work. Nowadays, with such a high population, systems of government and unemployment benefits, simply having a job is now considered necessary. Not only that, but going to College or University and spending thousands and years in the process of earning that is also considered one of those things required to have people think you a valuable member of society.
Hugh Gee was not suited to a job. That is not to say that he was simply not suited to College or University, he was suited to no form of employment of any sort. There was, in truth, little to nothing that Hugh Gee was actually suited to, but he was in need of money, and so a job became a part of his life. He had filled out a curriculum vitae, visited a job centre or two, and ever attended the ever exciting first job lecture. Despite his feelings and opinions, he had kept his mouth shut and just gotten on with it.
Unfortunately, the jobs didn't fly into his lap. Even though he continually did absolutely nothing, curiously, nothing happened. Slowly, he began to realise that he might actually have to do something about it.
It was about time for Hugh to stop swallowing alcohol and start swallowing his pride.
It was rare for Hugh to leave the house without Jimmy and George in tow. He was a fan of warmth, indoors, computer games and masturbation. In many ways they were the cornerstones of his life, but today had a certain reason for him to travel. Today, he was running away from his father's angry, annoying and entirely justified whining. Hugh still didn't have a job, and his father's car was off the road until enough had been earned.
Escaping the tirade had been more difficult of late. It was getting cold outside, and ignoring the 'help wanted' signs that people kept pointing him towards was becoming annoying. Everybody had developed a sudden habit for being helpful and friendly as if he wanted them to. In truth, just because he'd told them to do so, he hadn't expected anybody to actually do it.
Today, his feet brought him to a place that he wanted to get to know quite well. A new music store had opened less than a week before, and, despite his insistence, Hugh had been unable to convince either Jimmy or George to go there with him. David had shown an interest, but his attention had been diverted just as quickly by Heather. This left Hugh, alone in the afternoon, looking at the selection on offer in the window of 'Guitar Magic', which was a stupid name if ever Hugh had read one.
It was while he was examining the contrasts and contours of a particularly expensive Les Paul that Hugh's eyes fell on a tiny paper sign in the bottom corner of the window. 'Help Wanted For Able Thinker' was all that it said, though it was an odd enough thing to say. This was a sign that actually drew Hugh's attention. He could work with guitars all day; that sounded like a fantastic job, and a fantastic stroke of luck for it. Feeling strangely optimistic, Hugh wandered inside.
There was nobody at the counter, or on the shop floor. The place was entirely empty but for the instruments themselves. Hugh gave it a minute, enjoying the warmth, the dim lighting and the feel of each different wooden body that he could explore. Choosing to stick around, he plucked strings at random as he waited. When minutes had passed with no sign of service, he looked around for a bell or some sort of buzzer, but there was none.
he shouted towards the open doorway behind the counter, but there was no response. "Hello!"
he tried again, louder. Again, nothing happened.
The obvious, and typical Hugh Gee response, would be to either leave the store or steal something and then leave the store, but the words of his father were still heavy in his mind. If he knew how to open a till, that would have been that. All of his problems would have been magically worked out with the simple act of theft, but life was seemingly cruel today, so he decided to wait a little longer. Choosing an Ibanez from the selection, Hugh took a seat and drew a pick from his pocket to play a few chords.
Just as he was getting into it, somebody finally turned up from the shop. A tall, thin and greasy-haired man with hollow eyes and a wasted frame wandered through the doorway. He had a cigarette poking out from between his lips and a bemused look in his eyes, as though the last thing he had expected to find in his store was another person.
"Hey! Hey! Who said you could touch that? You don't touch the guitars you...you rapscallion!"
the man said, his cigarette still between his lips.
Hugh's first reaction was to simply stare in bewilderment. His mouth hung open for a moment before he realised what he was doing.
"Are you the owner?"
Hugh eventually asked, hoping that the answer would be a quite resounding 'no'.
Instead, the first answer was a glare and a frown. "Are you simple? It's a guitar in a guitar store; it doesn't have an owner,"
the man said next. "Nobody's bought it yet. Technically, I suppose it's still owned by Ibanez."
"That's not what I meant,"
muttered Hugh. "I mean do you own the store?"
This, finally, seemed to get through. "Then why didn't you say that, you little whorish vagabond? I can see why you ask though. If there was an owner of this magnificent business venture, I would be the one. I'm Greg. Some of my friends call me loincloth, but you're not one of them. Others call be blue balls, but you're not one of them either. If you're a good boy, I'll let you call me Greg."
responded Hugh. In a way, he was grateful to have an answer, which had been a challenge in itself. He mentally filed away the alternate choices of loincloth or blue balls, but that was all. "I've been here ten minutes, you know,"
he continued. He didn't mention the urge to steal stuff that had been a major part of his thought process. That seemed like something of a rude prospect.
"Congratulations on your exceptional timekeeping skills, manboobs. What's your point?"
asked Greg. As he finished the current cigarette, he was already lighting up a new one. When he switched, the old one ended up on the floor amongst the collections of ash and what smelt like Apple Tango that had ended up there. This owner did not take much care of his business, but that had been obvious for a while.
"Aren't you supposed to keep an eye on the shop floor?"
"Dude, I was trying to get high!"
Greg whined, waving his hands in the air as if this signified the height he had been trying to achieve. He was rolling his eyes as well. "I came back in when I heard you pissing about, didn't I?"
he complained. In Greg's world, this must have justified everything.
"That's not the-"
"Dude, what the f--k do you want? You're putting off custom."
This was an interesting thing to say, especially considering that there was still nobody inside the store. Nobody wanted to look at guitars, which was downright strange because guitars were awesome. Hugh had never encountered an empty music store in his life, but Greg was certainly running an interesting place if this was the sort of thing he said to what was likely the only person to come through his door all day. Perhaps the job would be more suitable than he had expected, since Greg so clearly needed somebody to do the job that he was meant to do.
started Hugh, not sure how to broach the subject with somebody who seemed to be mad at him, but also looked like the sort of person who had no idea that they even had feelings, ...I'm looking for a job."
There was a pause, during which Hugh's only company was Greg's smirk. "...should I laugh now or laugh later?"
"Oh come on,
attempted Hugh. You have a help wanted sign in the window and you obviously have better things to do. I could just keep an eye on the shop floor and tell people about guitars and stuff."
Most of this was a mix of tactful lies and gambling. Getting high wasn't necessarily better things to do, but it was definitely something that Greg seemed to prefer. Also, Hugh was unlikely to keep an eye on anything, and he knew next to nothing about guitars beyond his own, which he knew was made of wood and had six strings which weren't made of wood. There his knowledge ended. This was the first time that more knowledge on the subject could have been potentially helpful.
Greg's reaction was almost instantaneous. Quick thinking was a strong point. "Awww, you're like a desperate little stumpf--ker. I don't need somebody to piss about doing stairway in a tutu,"
he mocked. There was no dance to accompany it, but Greg once again waved his hands around in the air as though this illustrated his point in some way. He was an extremely strange man.
"I'll be good for the store; I swear,"
As little as Hugh believed this, it seemed to actually carry some weight with Greg. Perhaps the store was suffering more than was already evident.
"Well, Jim seems to like you, so that's a point in your favour,"
Greg told him.
Again, this led to a moment of confusion. "Who's Jim?"
Six words into the reply, Hugh began to regret his choice of question. "I christened all the Ibanez guitars Jim. The thermostat broke months ago - I've been a bit sweaty and delirious since. You know how it goes: you get bored, men start to smell like women, women start to look like Zooey Deschanel, or Emily Deschanel. Either would do: I'm not fussed. Maybe both?"
In fact, by this point, he was very unhappy with himself for even walking in here, and even more so for staying when he could simply have grabbed a couple of guitars and become everybody's best friend on eBay until they had sold. Even at a realistic price, they would have earned him a more comfortable summer, and he could easily have just come back for more in future by the look of Greg. The worst people always had the best lives; everybody on UG knew that. Just as confusing as the rest was the fact that Greg hadn't been here weeks ago, let alone months. Perhaps he was quite literally living in his own little subconscious world.
"So what about that job?"
Greg made a show of considering it. A moment later, he abandoned that show to make a show of lighting a fresh cigarette, then returned to the first show while he was stamping ash into the carpet. By now, a little haze of smoke was hanging over both of their heads.
"You work for minimum wage?"
How are you playing guitar when your pick isn't hitting the strings?
Greg asked next.
This confused Hugh for a moment, but when he looked down at the pick in his hand, it made sense. It's a neat trick, isn't it?
he began with a smug smile. See, the piece I'm holding is shaped like a crescent moon, and the rest is completely see through, so it just looks like I'm holding the moon bit and waving it about in front of the strings.
Looks sort of like you're waving a peanut about, but, you know, high,
Greg told him. Which reminds me: I want to get higher. You'll keep an eye. You said so. Good. I'll be in the back room; you sell guitars."
Hugh shouted after Greg's back. The owner stopped for a moment to listen, though he didn't bother to turn around. How do I do that?"
"Improvise, testicleclamps. Improvise."
Tom Colohue is a writer from Blackpool, England. Though he specialises in Fiction, he also writes music theory articles, and new media articles based primarily on the internet. On occasion, these also intermingle. He is well recognised by numerous critics and analysts for his integrative descriptive work and his cynical textual mannerisms. For more information, Tom Colohue keeps a Facebook Fan Page, which contains updates from new articles and his personal blog, Mental Streaming. This page can be found via this link.