It is a common misconception that one person can not change the world. Over time, people seem to realise that every second of every day, the world is changing, and, more often than not, singular people are to blame for it. Whether through birth, death or the miracle of life itself, humanity always perseveres and the world develops to match.
Since the beginning of humanity, man has strived to be better than his fellow men. Women, though just as guilty, are typically more subtle in their methods. Even in the modern day, this fact remains. The constant and eternal competition remains, particular when it comes to impressing attractive women. However, the modern world presents new tools with which to compete. Gone are the days when the most desirable females flock to the man who speared the wild boar first.
Instead, a new range of options is open to the modern man. This includes sport, which ranges from hitting a ball in football, through hitting a ball in cricket and up to hitting a ball in tennis. If you're not in the mood for balls, there's always the chance to put on a pair of exaggerative gloves and pummel your partner into a bloody pulp for the amusement of thousands. Failing that, there is the world of big business, where your worth for the sake of impressing people is based entirely on the amount of minions under your command. Finally, for those who do not have the innate desire to both have money and throw it around, there is the world of art, expressionism, and music. This is the least competitive, and most creative, of the three options.
Music, unlike sport and business, are not part of the competitive human nature. In fact, it is not recognised as being part of human nature at all. Music is about entertaining, sharing feelings and making a statement about yourself to the people around you and, eventually, anybody capable of hearing it. Fortunately, people are inherently different, which is why the world is changed whenever one joins it, parts it or simply exists within it. As such, people make music for very different reasons, which comes across in the music.
So, knowing that humanity is, by nature, competitive, and that people make music for different reasons, it makes sense that somebody, somewhere, would make music in the attempt to show off. Perhaps in competition with other people, or perhaps in the hope of impressing some female somewhere in order to attract a few choice, kind words, a smile, or some stupidly rampant sex on the stage that they had just performed on.
Many people say that there is a right reason and a wrong reason to get involved in music. Unfortunately, most of these people can't actually put there finger on the exact specifications of the wrong reason. Phrases like selling out' are used more and more often, but people who play music purely for their own satisfaction and their own ability to show off do not have derogatory phrases attached to them.
In an unused classroom, in the lower recesses of a school that he had spent most of his life trying to get out of, Hugh Gee was sitting in front of two people that he barely knew, trying to impress the female of the two with what he thought was an unbelievable amount of musical talent.
Nobody had come with him. Jimmy and George had both told him that they had better things to do, but Hugh didn't believe that for a second. Neither of them ever did anything interesting, they just wandered up to the canteen and George got even fatter. Down here, though his audience wasn't exactly what he was hoping for, Hugh at least felt as though he was doing something for the sake of life.
Unfortunately, Hugh found himself having great difficulty concentrating while there was a female in the room, watching his every move and seemingly quite impressed by his nimble fingers. He couldn't keep the smile away from his face at the idea that his play might be making her think of some very rude things, but, with his talent, how could any woman keep her mind straight and level?
He finished the song that he had been running through with one last little flourish that his teacher had shown him. It had been done to death, and he was in every way sick of it, but it was one of the more impressive tools in his arsenal. David and Heather, the musician and his accomplice who was performing for, seemed to soak it up like a sponge that was cleaning a bathroom floor.
"Well that was quite impressive," said David, though the wideness of his smile wasn't quite as exaggerated as Hugh would have liked it. He glanced over towards Heather, but the look that she gave him was also not entirely to Hugh's ideal specifications. "Is there anything else that you do? Like bass or singing or anything?"
"No," Hugh answered, quite honestly. "I wasn't really all that into music before I got this thing. Didn't think I'd be any good."
"I know what you mean," announced David with a short laugh. "I only really got into the idea of playing guitar because of all of those famous rock stars on Guitar Hero. You can only play the game so long before you can feel music dragging you in, you know?"
There was a pause while Hugh sat stock still, considering the interesting little nugget of information that he had been handed. "You play Guitar Hero?" he asked finally, breaking the silence.
"Yeah," David replied with a vehement nod. "I don't think you'd really see it in my playing or anything, but I think it pushed me to use my pinky a lot more than if I hadn't been playing around on there first. There's a lot of different things that sneak in a bit of influence and you don't even notice it, but I'm sure you know what I mean."
In actuality, Hugh had stopped listening. All of his focus, absolutely all of it, was dedicated to not mocking David for even the slightest mention of Guitar Hero. A million and one different potential insults were flying through his head, but he was fighting hard not to use them. Instead, he concentrated on the words that did actually manage to break through his reverie, which were in reference to using the pinky. In this, Hugh felt quite smug. His teacher had been not only insistent, but determined to the point of necessity that Hugh should learn proper use of all of the fingers on his left hand. He had used his pinky for the entirety of the time that he had been playing.
The fact that Hugh was keeping his mouth shut, as rare as it was, led to another moment of hesitant silence. This time however, it was David who broke it. "To be completely honest, you do show quite a bit of potential, so I would like to work with you. You came down to see us before, didn't you? What did you think?"
"Erm...well I actually missed most of it because Richard Meyers was attacking me with a couple of his goons in the toilet, but from what I did hear you were alright," Hugh told them both, trying his best to fix a confident little smile on to his face. Judging by their matching looks of concern, neither of them bought it. "I'm guessing what you want to do is your own stuff then? That works fine for me; I'm not exactly a writer. Just sort me out a couple of tabs and I'll be fine. Do you have more people lined up?"
The quick series of statements and questions did the job. One of the questions caught David's attention, completely distracting the people in the room away from the frank admission that had escaped Hugh's lips. "I think I've got everything but a singer now to be honest," David said, his head alternating between facing Hugh and facing Heather. He seemed very proud of himself for this fact.
"So what," Hugh began, "is it like me, you, an American tranny and a Dragonforce fan who thinks triplets come in pairs?"
"Er...no," answered David, looking as thoroughly bewildered as he sounded. "The guys I've got seem quite normal actually. Were you hoping for that?"
"Well, I don't see anything wrong with a Pac Man and a transvestite," Hugh countered. "If you've ever played Ms. Pac Man then you'll know what I mean."
David and Heather's near matching expression of confusion, Heather's polite and David's outright hilarious, held for a moment before Heather spoke up for the first time since Hugh's arrival. "You're a weird guy, aren't you?" she said simply.
There was no need to question the truth of this simple fact.
So you have a band now? George attempted to ask through a mouthful of potato and saliva. The fact that Hugh actually understood his was something of a miracle, but the very sight of such a thing was enough to supply the karmic balance.
Yeah, for as long as it lasts, responded Hugh, trying to fill the words with no end of contempt. George however, seemed not to notice. He was a boy who was most happy when surrounded by several plates of food, and he did actually have three plates in front of him that he was grabbing chunks from, seemingly at random.
Sitting on another of the knackered old canteen chairs beside him, Jimmy turned to share a look of disgust with Hugh. Typically, they were able to ignore George's rather voracious appetite, but this was something entirely new.
Deciding to ignore it, the two friends turned to each other. So, was Heather there again? asked Jimmy.
Hugh had been expecting this question, and he offered Jimmy a smile that made that very point. Yeah, she was there, in the background and watching like always, he explained. You know she kind of follows him around, carries his paperwork and stuff. Got us down to his show and everything, didn't she? I bet they're on UG; I should look them up.
Never mind that man, there's much more important stuff going on than your bloody website, began Jimmy sharply. Do you remember what I asked you to do? Does it look like the two of them areyou knowat it?
Hugh let out a sarcastic laugh before he bothered with a reply. So, what you're saying is that this girl that you just met but still kind of like is way more important than a website that's given me a ton of friends, helped me learn guitar and now got me a band? Are you trying to steal my crown as biggest c--t in the school or what? You're not having it. Even if I have to start setting fire to people or dressing up as a clown and hiding in Mr. Reese's cupboards: you're not having it.
Let's not even pretend that I care about any of that, continued Jimmy as though there had been no interruption. What I do care about is the cute girl. You said you would help me out with this one. I don't really have any chances to try and pull her, do I? I don't even know enough about her to stalk her.
I could probably stalk her, mentioned Hugh happily.
Yeah, that's part of the point here, Jimmy said, as though Hugh was obviously paying attention to the wrong bits. Isn't that why you went to this interview thing? You have to go and find out as much as you can about her so that I can use it against her at every given opportunity and beat her into submission so that she feels so badly about herself that she might actually date me. I need to know if she's with the guitar guy first though.
Hugh held back the words that he wished to say again. It had been an interesting day for choosing not to say anything. He had arrived at school with his guitar cased on his back, but Jimmy and George had seemingly not figured out that it was purely for the sake of applying for David's little band. His teacher had told him of the potential benefits to a guitarist of playing in a band. Playing with any other musician was always an educational experience and, if they were anywhere near as good as he himself was then Hugh's talent would be continuing to skyrocket.
Instead of the entrance that he had expected, Jimmy had immediately started to tell him about the interview that Hugh had every intention of attending. Hugh had nodded vacantly, an eager smile attached to his face as though it had been stuck there with glue. Jimmy had fallen for Heather, and not just slightly. He had fallen so intensely that his face bore the scars of it, and they were in no hurry to heal. Of course, Hugh had mocked him for it, calling him strange and gay for finding a girl attractive, as any man would do, but this was part of who Hugh was. He always added a little sting to things.
I don't know if they're together or not, Hugh said, though his mind was still with the instrument that was currently resting against the canteen table, the case being occasionally splattered by the edible debris that was generally flying from the other side of the table. It's not something you can just ask outright, is it? I was trying to make a good impression, not pull a girl for you.
Of course, Hugh would have liked to have pulled Heather for himself, there and then, but he wasn't about to tell Jimmy that. He could tell from his friend's face, and his keen sense of intuition, that Jimmy would have very much liked to have heard that she was single. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the end of their conversation as, with a fearful gaze, Jimmy leant forward and muttered: Sammy alert.
In what had become almost traditional whenever her name was mentioned, Hugh grabbed his guitar and fled from the canteen by the far door as quickly as possible, hoping desperately that the crowd would swallow him up and keep her from spotting him. It had been a rough couple of weeks for Hugh Gee.
As he slipped out through the door, evading the huddled masses as he did so, he crashed into somebody there and fell quickly to the floor. The laughter of the onlookers did not cause the same level of embarrassment as it had done previously though, since his first concern was the one that made him think that he had walked into Sammy. Thankfully, he learned when he opened his eyes again, he had actually walked into a girl from his own year that he didn't know. She had fallen too, and most of the laughter seemed to be aimed at her. This, Hugh could not allow. People were focussing on somebody other than him, so, in typical Hugh Gee distraction methodology, he scrambled to his feet and offered the girl a hand to help her rise.
A moment later he felt hands grabbing hold of the back of his shirt and dragging him away, but not before he heard a familiar female voice saying: Don't you ever learn? Don't try to hide.
They had broken his guitar into three pieces, and this was after they had quite viciously attacked him in the middle of the canteen. Nobody had intervened until the teachers had arrived, but it was far too late then. This was the first time in his life that Hugh could recall caring about any object more than he cared about himself.
He had skipped his last class, gathered the broken pieces of his instrument back into the case, and marched home, dragging his bag on the floor behind him to make room for his damaged pride and joy. He walked slowly; one of his legs was having immensely trouble in moving when it was needed to. There was a little dried blood stuck to his cheek, but, again, nobody was offering him any help.
In one way he felt like the tragic hero. This was happening quite often now, with Richard Meyers, his friends, and occasionally Sammy's high heeled shoes, leaving a hefty mark on him. All of the school could see him - arriving and learning stuff in defiance of them. Of course, nobody could see the time it took in a morning for his father to drag him out of his bed and force him into school, so all was well. On another level though, he felt that, in some way, he might actually have deserved this treatment. In some way, he might have been horribly insulting or insensitive to somebody and this was payback. However, the thought didn't stuck. Such things never did with Hugh.
His arrival home was without fanfare of applause. He let himself in and dropped his bag beside the door. His father would be in the living room watching daytime television quiz shows. He always was at this time, so Hugh could literally just slip up the stairs unnoticed and curl up into a ball on his bed. It was not to be.
What are you doing home at this time? his dad shouted through the rooms in a very menacing voice. Get in here!
Ignoring the obvious wishes of his body, Hugh did as he was told. His father, the tall, well built and imposing figure that he was, started off with an angry march towards his son, undoubtedly furious to have his usual viewing interrupted. Nevertheless, only five steps in, the pace, look and overall feel changed in less than a second.
What happened to you? he asked, his deep voice still echoing around the room, but not in the same way as it had done previously.
I got in a fight, Hugh answered defensively. This girl's pissed off with me because I made a joke about her and now she's got her boyfriend, his brother and all of their mates to kick s--- out of me every time she sees me. They don't even bother when she's not around; they don't even care. They're all a year or two older than me too, and they broke my guitar.
The words came out in a rush. He had been desperate to say them for the entire walk, but not to his father. To his complete surprise, he was actually gifted with a hand on the shoulder, which was the closest that he had ever been to a hug with the man who had raised him. Do you want me to come in with you and smash their faces in?
They're school kids dad, you don't always have to resort to murder and rape, said Hugh with a sigh. The weight of his dad's palm was actually only adding to the agony, but this was another thing that he chose not to say. I'm supposed to be auditioning for a band as well, he continued, letting the words continue as and when they would. I went to see somebody today about it. He's only been playing as long as I have so I wasn't expecting to set fire to things and work out what comes between music and profit, but I was still looking forward to it. I brought it in especially.
We'll get you a new one, okay? his father offered, but Hugh didn't really want that.
But that's giving up, isn't it? This cost a lot of money and they smashed it to bits. The teachers aren't going to replace it, and they won't either, so how do you win with that? I felt sort of attached, you know? Like I did to our dog before he died. It's like a pet, but it always made you feel better no matter what. What am I supposed to tell Mr. Moore? I'm supposed to be practising major scale harmonisation, but I can't, can I? All I wanted to do was show off a bit, maybe play some music and see if anybody cared enough to listen - why did they have to break it?
Together, they pulled the remnants out of the case and laid them out on the sofa. No words were shared during this time, though Hugh's father sent him continual glances of concern. The bits of wood that came out looked even more pathetic now than they had looked when he had dragged them from the floor of the canteen, while a knot of spectators gawped at him. He had missed a few pieces by the look of things, as it was seemingly impossible to complete the set, so to speak.
Look, leave it here and I'll do all I can to get it fixed, alright? Hugh's dad offered him. He actually looked quite concerned. You just go and get some rest. Clean off some of the mess they made of you as well. I'll do your chores and s--- while you do.
Hugh mumbled a few words of gratitude and then abandoned the room, leaving the pieces of his guitar behind. He didn't reach his computer, as he had silently hoped to do. He would tell Ultimate-Guitar all about it in the morning. He would have to talk to David as well, and maybe find out if Jimmy or George had suffered at all because of this.
The real tragedy though, he found as he sank into his bed and allowed sleep to come and wash over him, was that he still thought Sammy was the single most stunningly beautiful female that he had ever seen in his life. Maybe he would still have a chance with her. Maybe.