So tired that he had been practically falling asleep behind the wheel of his car, Click had been almost furious when he had received a phone call from Dim while still half an hour out of town. Dim had practically ordered him into a run down little caf near the town centre. Of course, Click had been so incensed by this that he had attempted to give Dim a firm refusal, and yet here he was about to walk in the door. Dim had laughed at him.
He fought through the blurring of his eyes to read the sign some nine feet above him. The name, hanging there in the shine of electric blue, was Orton's. Everything about the place proved it's misuse, or lack thereof. The corners of the windows were thick with grime, the single disabled parking space of the row available had been painted on, and was now far from solid due to the rain that was even now falling thick upon it. The view inside offered little solace of warmth and dry air. There was no sign of Dim, or the rest of the band members that he had claimed were there with him. There was no sign of life from where Click was looking.
The steady drip of water, dragging the gel from his hair straight into his eyes, convinced him to go inside anyway. Ending up completely alone in the shambles of this little caf would about match up to the rest of his day after all, and it wouldn't be the first time that he'd passed out from exhaustion in a public place.
The moment that he opened the door however, it became inescapably clear that Dim was somewhere inside, and with an audience. I bet the skinny little bastard still thinks we give a f--- about what Fire Brand wants us to do and shit, Click heard coming from behind a wooden palisade near the back of the caf. With a sigh and a rub of his eyes, he forced himself over to where he knew that Dim would be waiting to berate him for something or other.
On his approach, Click immediately noted the gravelled face of Rock and the set jaw and watery eyes of Hard Plaice. They were of a similar look, had played together for a long time, and their chosen instruments had developed their muscles in much the same way that Dim's penchant for punching people had developed his. Neither of them did much to agree with Dim, but nor did they ever go out of their way to disagree with him.
An unexpected face, though not much of a surprise, was that of Harmony. She was hanging on Dim's arm, batting her eyelids at him whenever she had the chance, and laughing well above the comedy value of his words. She had donned her usual stlye of attire, which meant that Click had already spotted at least one of her nipples on entry, but he was unsure of the second. He wondered briefly if she was on the clock.
Well if it isn't our old pal Click, Dim announced with a broad grin on his arrival. We've been waiting for you so we can order dinner. Where've you been with our money?
Click spent a moment considering how to answer, but the slow transformation of Dim's mocking smile into Dim's unhappy stare, then further into his pissed off glare broke him in seconds. I've been to see Matthew Cooper, he said quickly. This wasn't a lie, nor did it require inventive thinking. Facts were Click's friend; perhaps they could help him. He's been threatening my job if you guys don't stop spending as much.
The dreaded expression switched back to the mocking smile in an instant. Got caught stealing money again, did you? was the first response, accompanied by a bountiful laugh. Every time they tell you that I laugh. Like any of us spend even close to that budget, but as long as you don't get caught, we don't care what you do with the extras, right? That's the unspoken deal, Click. You have to stop getting caught of they'll send somebody else down and then we'll have to seriously start spending.
The traitorous facts had evidently betrayed him. It was either that or Dim really was ignorant enough to believe that he didn't spend much money. Again, Click wondered if Harmony was being paid for her presence here. Rock and hard Plaice were doing little more than watching the exchange politely. Click could almost feel the world rocking as it was about to be pulled out from under him.
Actually, I haven't taken a penny, said Click, directly to Dim. In fact, I've been losing a ton of my personal money because our six grand Fire Brand card wasn't being accepted anymore. They ran the numbers back at the office. You've spent more than five grand yourself.
Yeah, but it rolls over every month, right? asked Dim, still showing no signs of responsibility. You'll just have to cover us for the rest of this month to make up for the f--- up there. I mean, it's your job to make sure we don't overspend, and you've been skimping on the funds and the drugs, so I've had to go out and spend some money from my own pocket because of you being a little bitch. It's no wonder I've spent so much of it. You should stop denying me that credit card and I might be able to keep from losing five big ones. It just goes to show you, doesn't it? You're a shit manager because you don't let us do what we need to do. Now cough up and get us some bloody food; Im hungry.
Pausing to rail against the injustices of the world, but only in his own head, Click folded completely. Pulling his wallet from his back pocket, he scanned the little collection of notes that called it home. It was far from the practical solution, but he pulled forty pounds out and dropped the two ragged little notes on to the table. He followed this by reaching for a menu, but before he could even read his options Dim had sent Harmony to order, excluding Click completely. He considered chasing after her, but the burn in his eyes and the fact that he could have happily fallen asleep where he was standing defeated him. With a sigh, he sat down on the edge of the table.
Where's Jerry, Click? Dim asked, working with the mutinous hair gel to keep Click from passing out as he so wished.
For reasons that he could not explain, Click began his answer by looking around the caf, as though Jerry might be hiding behind the back of a table, burger in one hand and hip-flask of whiskey in the other. It was a stock memory; he'd seen it many times. Thought he was here, he answered, moving his mouth as little as possible. He was slumped so far that he was being practically swallowed by his jacket. Why do you think he'd go to Fire Brand with me? He's probably just at home or out on the pull or something. You know he likes to go fun hunting.
Well we've been trying to call him and we don't know where he is, came the response. Likely nothing that Click had said would have changed it. I wanted the whole band here so we could talk about a new direction for a bit. You know, re-invent so people keep buying into our shit.
Concern for his livelihood kept Click from outright walking away. Why do you need a new direction now? What's wrong with the current one? It took you almost a year to come up with The Thing Screams' so why can't you just stick with the style of that song and maybe try and write some more while you're at it.
I've been thinking about getting a new leather jacket, continued Dim, once again proving to be blissfully unaware of anything that was coming out of Click's mouth. It's only four hundred, and it's so worth it. So, when I get it, I don't think how I look on stage is going to match up to the sort of thing we're doing. What we're doing right know, you know, the hard rock thing, just isn't working out too great. It's all been done before, so why are we doing it too? I think we should dress up a bit more punk and just move around a bit.
Since when do you even like punk music? asked Click. As usual, Rock and hard Plaice seemed to have their heads down so that they could converse amongst themselves and thus avoid any debate that might come up. You think the Ramones are murderers and you've told people, out loud, that you want to cage the Sex Pistols in your basement and piss on them.
Don't be such a liar, they're both great bands, Dim barked back.
I suppose you're a big fan of The Carpenters now too? Click said next with a jacket masked smirk. They're really pushed the punk scene forwards.
Oh yeah, they're awesome, answered Dim, without even a moment of breath. Those are the sort of bands we should be trying to be more like. We can just inject a bit more punk in and live the punk lifestyle some. People love someone who doesn't care.
They also love a successful band who keeps doing what they love to see happening, Click offered. His voice was becoming distinctly less acute as the debate wore on. He knew that he had virtually no chance of winning, but the only thing that kept him going was his desperate hope that one day he might not give in.
What do you know about playing in a band, Click? inquired Dim with the sort of laugh usually reserved for Santa Claus and the clinically evil. Your little effort was just three stoners and a dickhead trying to make it big with crap music. You're lucky you even got the job - you don't know shit.
The attempt to come up with a counter argument ended before it even started since, in practically everything mentioned, Dim was exactly right. Coming in for the manager's interview, Click had been counting on the experience, but complete lack of success that his own former band had given him. Unable to even summon the energy to think of something that would likely be mumbled stuttering anyway, Click sank further into his jacket and into the chair beneath him, closing his eyes in the vain hope that it would just all go away.
Click, Harmony called from across at the cafs untidy little counter, I need more money. Dim ordered the ribs and they're expensive.
Verging on tears, Click wished with all of his might that he had stayed outside in the rain.