When Julia had showered and dressed, she walked Click through her plan for the revival of Dim Screw, offering no end of her patronising attitude. It was as though anger, arrogance and sarcasm were her parents, and she their bastard child. Nevertheless, her plan was considerably better than anything that he had managed to throw together. This, as he realised, was more than likely his problem. There was neither foresight nor forethought to his ideas. By comparison, this woman was an absolute genius, and he would ride this train of thought until only genius things were said about him.
There was no apology for having stamped on his groin. Julia continued down the same path that she had set upon walking in. Instead of thinking about that apology or some sort of revenge, Click decided to let it go. He would get nothing out of this one.
She instructed him to clean himself and get dressed up while she made some phone calls through his phone. This would normally have taken a lot of trust, but Julia could easily have completely screwed him over, so he simply had to take it. He left his kitchen, knowing that she now had a key to his home, his mobile phone and seemed to have already overtaken his flat. Next, due to the plan she'd laid out, Julia was planning to take over his job. Click was more scared than he would gladly admit.
Once he was shaved and dressed, he invited her out to his car, but she first sat him down and, against his wishes, put some foundation on his face to mask the rings under his eyes. This was emasculating, but, strangely enough, he could see the logic behind it. Every morning, when he would wake up and look in his mirror, a weak, nervous and exhausted man looked back at him. After she had insisted that he brush his hair, shave his stubble and applied her make-up, he actually looked like somebody worth talking to. Julia left the foundation container on his kitchen table, but it quickly found its way into his pocket.
After that, the adventure of the day began. Julia had been on the phone to her first charge of the day, which would be Jerry. Supposedly he was still conscious, at home and performing for an audience of himself. Instructing him to drive her to his house, Julia slipped into the passenger seat and began to sort out her own make-up, despite the bouncing of the vehicle on the knackered old roads that they had to traverse. If nothing else, the woman had a very steady hand, and a very steady plan. As much as an annoyance as she was, he had been right to contact her.
Jerry was expecting them. Having cleaned himself up a little, the purple bruises he had been given now stood out against his pale complexion. He was sitting outside of his garage, guitar still strapped to him, playing something inherently violent through the amplifiers and speakers that were still in the room behind him. Limited by the long and winding wire that he was plugged into, he had made himself a seat out of a couple of cardboard boxes for old games consoles that were also kept in the garage. His shirt had come off, likely to have Dim's blood washed out of it, and Click heard a certain sigh come out of Julia's mouth as they drew up Jerry's driveway into view of the lone guitarist.
A greeting was shouted to Click as he came out of the car, but it quickly turned into a laugh when he ran quickly around to open the door for Julia. She wouldn't have bothered getting out of the car unless he treat her like a lady. This was her instruction, not his. This seemed to be more than enough reason for Jerry to laugh himself stupid.
Well, you look like you've been bounced off a truck, announced Julia. You pick a lot of fights with people you can't beat or are you more used to beating things that can't fight back?
Jerry first offered her a grizzly smile. It looked as though he'd lost a teeth or two. I pick plenty of fights with people I can't beat. I'm still here, that twat's in hospital. Haven't lost yet. The slur to his words showed Click that Jerry had kept drinking after he had ended up alone. Close up, he could hear what Jerry was playing. It was an odd sort of song. Catchy, repetitive and ideal for somebody who's entire thought process was based on being unable to sit up entirely straight. That slouch of his would be horrible for his technique.
So, other than the fact that you're so drunk you'd collapse without that box under your arse, why do you feel that this practice session went badly? Julia accused. Her arms were crossed and she was looking down at him through her glasses.
Again, he gave her a drunken smile. He didn't know who she was, and he certainly wasn't taking her seriously. Because our band's a joke, he told her, quite honestly. Click couldn't disagree. We've got a lead singer who's the most desperate and bigoted pain in the arse anybody's ever met and, after that, we've got a pair of dopey, sleepy, grouchy little right-size dwarves who aren't going anywhere in their lives because they'll never stand out over anybody. So this is what we've got to work from. Might as well forget every getting anywhere. Ignore the backing and then you're left with a twat and a drunk.
Which would make you the drunk.
Oh yeah, responded Jerry, quite happy with the title. It's the best part to be about it. Everything flies by in a cool Technicolor, and you don't really have to pay attention to people. They don't even expect you too. As long as I play the right notes and come out with the right sounds when I'm expected to, nobody even notices.
And did your interviewer know about how wonderful you find being drunk? Julia asked him.
Click was an unwilling witness to this, but the reaction to this question was far from what he had expected to see. Jerry's head drooped submissively on his shoulders and his eyes were abruptly downcast. No, he said. There was no follow up.
Was it because she was female and she was offering you a lot of free attention for you to complain about your fellow musicians? came the next question.
Fellows? began Jerry. F--- off. They're not my fellows. They're all c---s to me, and to everybody else. They don't think of me as an equal, and I don't think it about them either. They're a waste of space. Why would I even want to be around them longer than I have to? There's a ton of better people I would rather talk about and work with. The most talent less piece of scum dripping from the ceiling of a sewer would be better to work with then Dim.
So what's the major complaint exactly? Julia requested next, wandering off topic slightly in Click's mind, but there was surely something going on.
Well, he's a thoughtless twat, replied Jerry.
There was a pause while Julia raised an eyebrow at Jerry, but no further information was forthcoming. For a man who was constantly vocal in his hatred of everyone that he worked with, it was odd to think of Jerry as running out of insults to give.
Fine, Julia conceded. Tell me how you're a better man when you can't stand out and earn yourself a better deal amongst two people entirely worthy of complete neglect and a man who can't share a single thought with his brain, even if all he wants to do is take a single step forwards, there was a moment in which Jerry inhaled to cut her off, but Julia didn't allow this. Could it be that you were placed here because you never get along with anybody? she continued. Could it be the amount of times you've been arrested after shows for drunk and disorderly, violent behaviour and spitting at women while you're performing because you think you're a camel and it's supposed to turn them on? I might not have met you before, but I've read your file, and I think that knowledge alone is enough to guarantee that you, Jerry Broughton, are still here because you've wasted your talent everywhere else by complaining about the people you worked with.
Click had never heard of any of this. Seeing Jerry's confidence being shattered in front of him didn't make him feel like a particular talented manager. He felt compelled to defend his guitarist. That's a lot of personal information that didn't really need to come out. I think we should-
Shut up, Josh, let the idiot stew in his little pot of filth, he earned.
For this particular insult, there was an immediate reaction on Jerry's face, and it was not an attractive one. An ugly, aggressive snarl was the first sign of trouble, but the glare given was the most obvious. The music stopped. Forgetting he was even holding a guitar, Jerry rose from his boxes and walked, still growling, towards Julia.
I think you should learn some respect for your betters, he spat at her through clenched teeth. I don't know who the f--- you think you are, but if you've come here just to point your fingers and call me the thing that's making this a failure, you can get out of my garden and my drive and go back wherever you came from.
You're all failures, said Julia, not backing up as much as an inch. You need to start realising that you're as useless as the rest of them and then maybe we can get started on fixing you all up so that you can make this work.
I don't want it to work! Jerry shouted suddenly. Why would I want to work with any of these pricks?
A twisted, sadistic little smirk appeared on Julia's face. Because if you don't manage it this time, Matthew Cooper will make sure that you are signed off of the Fire Brand books and, after he makes Jim Thatcher apologise for ever signing you, you will never work for any major record company again. Maybe that will make you listen.
There was a horrible moment when Jerry ran out of cord, halting his advance, but that just made him remove his guitar and step back to lean it against the wall of his garage. While his back was turned, Click hoped that the anger would abate a little.
Julia chose this moment to turn the knife. And, just so you know, if you ever look at me with that expression again, I will come here and personally set fire to every piece of musical equipment that you own, especially that guitar, whether you're on the books for Fire Brand or not.
Jerry froze in position. There was a terrible silence while he was standing stock still, making no reaction. Click was expecting an explosion of some sort, but after nearly a minute, it hadn't come.
Since we know that it's your last chance, you might well be able to manage making something out of this, but, for once, you have to do as you're told. Are you going to be a good boy for your pay check or would you rather be unemployed?
Again, there was a silence, but Julia was not happy with that.
Are you going to be a good boy? she pressed. Yes or no?
Good, I'll be back later. Josh, arse in car, now.
Confused, Click lingered a moment too long, but the jab in the arm that Julia gave him was a good reminder that he had a door to open. A lady must, after all, be treated with the respect that she deserved.