During the drive home, Click must have head butted his steering wheel at least twenty times.
His first feeling upon Julia's decision, and the one that stuck with him all the way home, was one of frustration. How he could have allowed such a situation was beyond him; his tiny brain just could not fathom the depths of stupidity that it took to get himself so deep into trouble.
The motorway did not serve to relax him. Driving, when surrounded by other, less capable drivers, was never a pleasant experience. Coach and lorry drivers earned the brunt of his road rage - the flailing fists and the furious profanities. In return, he received theirs, which were much more terrifying due to the size of both driver and vehicle. By the time that he left the motorway, Click was feeling much more meek and subdued. Another factor in this was undoubtedly the knowledge that he was nearly home. The closer he came to his flat and his job, the more drained he would always become; it was one of the more annoying facts of life.
Driving down the high street, desperate to get home so that he could clean all of the crap out of his bedroom, Click received a phone call from Jerry. It was the usual expected demand for a meet up for the sake of band rehearsal. This, oddly enough, was something that Click both loved and hated. The first two hours or so, since they usually rehearsed in the mornings, would be spent with no Dim to be seen. This was the highlight of Click's week. Jerry would have brought a few cans of beer, and Click would sit back and listen to whatever new sounds that the three actual musicians of the band had put together. Jerry's guitar work, layered over the perfectly solid rhythm of Rock and hard Plaice, was a perfect example of the real talent that was constantly forced behind Dim on stage.
At about midday, or sometimes afterwards, Dim would practically roll into the room. He would be hung over or drunk, one of the two. The final period, between Dim's arrival and two in the afternoon, was the exact opposite of the first part. Dim would attack the leftover beer voraciously, and this would lead to ramblings, mutterings and shouting when there should be singing. For anybody else, it would be embarrassing. For Dim, it was life.
By this point in his life, Jerry had earned a lot of money working as a sessions musician. He also had nobody to be looking after, so he had enough money to afford a decent house in the suburbs for himself. Click drove up and parked on his driveway, where he could hear the music already seeping through the bricks. A door on the left side of the garage provided the external entrance.
When he walked into the garage, the wave of sound hit him like a wall quite suddenly striking hard against his senses. It was painful for a second, and then his ears adapted to the general increase of awesome in his life.
Jerry gave him a nod and a smile. He was fairly busy, running through some strange and exotic solo that he would have picked up somewhere. Rock and hard Plaice were holding their usual positions at the back of the musical package, leaving Jerry to shine.
They wrapped up the piece of music that they had managed to come up with quickly at Click's arrival.
"Where've you been, Click?" Jerry asked in the silence that two amplifiers could offer the room. "I called you like four times to see where you were. You want a beer or something? We've got plenty."
"Yeah, I'll get some down me before it all disappears," replied Click, taking one of the cans that were sitting on the side and getting stuck in. "What are you guys working on?"
"Just pissing about," Jerry told him.
The rhythm section, seemingly ignoring the new entrant to the room, had already began to put out a new beat to work from. There were no signs of any punk influences creeping in, as Dim had suggested. Instead, the sounds were practically the same ones that they had been using previously. Very little had been changed between this piece of music and the last. It was Jerry that gave the flavour. He experimented up and down the neck of his Gibson guitar until he had something that he liked.
The practice session followed that trend, like it did each and every time. Click would sit, quite relaxed, in a comfortable leather chair. In one hand, he had a can of beer and, when that ran down, he got another one. His other hand was home to his mobile phone. At some point, either Dim, Julia or Emily would call him. It was quite important for him to get home quickly and get the smell out of his flat, but that would be a break in habit that he simply wasn't comfortable with. When he got home, he would work harder than ever before. Julia was a very intense woman.
It took a little while for the break to come, which Click had been looking forward to a lot less than he had expected. Rock took his bass over towards his companions drum kit, and the two of them sat talking about something or other. Jerry, knowing what was coming, came to sit next to Click with two more beers in tow.
They opened them, and had a sip before they began to talk.
"How did it go then?" Click asked, knowing that he would have to no matter how much he put it off. "Did it live up to the expectations you attached to it?"
The nervous laugh that came out first was a very distinct hint that much more might have happened than Click really wanted to know. "It was a lot better than I thought it would be really. You know how you get interviewed and, no matter how many times it's happened, you always get asked the same questions?"
"Yes, this happens every month when I get interviewed by my Mother's cat."
"Don't be a dick, Click," Jerry sent back, laughing at his own quip. "I'm just trying to give you a clue about your own question, and I'm going to do it no matter what you say, so just drink your beer and fake happy and then I'll do exactly the same. Anyway, we went to some little bar somewhere and talked about all sorts of different shit. I don't even remember actually being interviewed - barely even remember the questions. I was trying near the end too, but by then she was walking rings around me. I don't know what the hell she's going to put, but I had a great time, and I actually got to talk."
"No awkward silences?" Click asked. In the few times that he had been taken into interviews with Dim Screw, Dim had done all the talking. This had left the rest of the band with very little to say, and even less time to say it should Dim after bother to take a breath.
"Couple at the beginning, but once I got into the flow of it, it was easy enough," came the smooth answer. He wasn't usually a man for nerves, but that was mostly because of the alcohol content that constantly wandered through his blood. "She was good at it; drew me out of my shell, you know? We had a few drinks, and got some dinner there too. She was welcoming, and asking me about my life and how I got involved with Fire Brand. Only asked a bit about Dim, but I worked around that. Told her he was an arse and I didn't want to talk about him."
This was what Click had been afraid of, and he groaned obviously to express it. Jerry, following his train of thought, simply shrugged and emptied his can of beer. His eager hands sought the next quickly. "Listen, Jerry, do you actually hear yourself when you talk?" Click inquired incredulously. "You told a journalist, on the record, that your lead singer is an arse. Now, Matthew Cooper is going to read that, or somebody else is and they're going to tell him about it. That's the first thing that's going to f--k up your career from here on in. Then, chances are Dim's going to here about it, and then he's going to be pissed off at you, which is probably going to completely ruin that relation and rip your band to pieces-"
"But he already knows I think he's a complete cock," Jerry interrupted, "just being in print doesn't make it any different. I don't like him, and if not for the money I would have refused to ever work with him. This isn't my idea of fun."
"Not all work is fun," countered Click. His morning so far was more than enough evidence of this fact, and he was in no mood to be flippant about duties and responsibilities. "We all have to do our part to earn a living, or we end up with nothing, now and at the end."
"Wow, that's about as deep as toilet water. Why are you even talking if you just come out with that crap? You want another beer?"
"How many have you had?"
"Only five. I've barely started. Want to get as much down me as possible before I have to deal with this bastard."
Again, this made Click groan. By the sounds of it, Jerry would be borderline drunk before noon, and certainly before Dim arrived. "You do understand that you're supposed to be limiting yourselves, right? You especially. I don't want alcohol becoming such a friend to you that you end up being incapable of playing without it."
"Oh, so you suddenly care about my music now, do you? Usually all you care about is keeping the singer happy."
"I am still your manager you know," said Click. He tried to add some authority into his voice, but that didn't work. His tone was not as interchangeable as he would have liked. "It's my job to make sure all of that insurance on your hands is well spent."
"That always makes me laugh," Jerry replied with a guilty chuckle. "If I cut my dick off I get less money than I get for a paper cut on my fingertip. I love all of this guitarist insurance bollocks. Should we get back to it or do you want some more beer?"
"I'm more worried you're going to end up too drunk to really get into it."
"Seriously, man, it takes a lot to get me drunk," defended Jerry. "Just chill out a bit. A couple of beers won't hurt me."
"You've already had a couple," Click told him. "In fact, you've had a couple of couple. You're coming damned close to a couple of couple of couple. Do you not think it might be a good idea to just not drink for a bit? Maybe just drink less overall for a couple of days or something?"
"Don't start calling me an alcoholic or anything, Click, I'll drink whatever the hell I want. Now stop complaining about this and we can get back to work. Drink up. It's on me."