Even the most simple excuse to get away from Dim was an act of God as far as Click was concerned. A hooker, whether she had a heart of gold or a heart of lead, was ideal. It was a perfect system. Harmony would effectively lock Dim in the back room with her, where he couldn't drink, make outrageous musical promises or molest the random people on the dance floor, for the rest of the night. The most beautiful thing about it all was that it had only cost him a weeks worth of wages.
He slipped out into the main club area once Jerry's nose had finally decided to stop causing him problems. They hit the bar together, both as eager to drown their sorrows as they usually were after each show. The Dim Screw bassist and drummer, generally referred to as Rock and hard Plaice due to the drummer's surname, were out in the club somewhere. However, Jerry was Click's usual companion of a working evening.
I'm so sick of working under that bastard, Jerry was complaining, his whiskey sloshing back and forth as he waved his glass to accentuate his point. Loud, vocalised annoyance was the typical accompaniment to Jerry's alcohol. I was told I'd have creative input but he just takes everything I write and puts his own name on it. I can't even take a dump without being told I'm doing it wrong. It's no way to be, I tell you. If not for Fire Brand behind us I'd be out of here in a heartbeat.
The sounds of Jerry's unhappiness were not new sounds at all. Every now and then, his depression would become more acute, but alcohol numbed his perceptions just enough that he would stop caring. Click just had to keep the glass as full as possible and his job was easy.
You know I can offer a sympathetic ear all day, every day, he began calmly, but I have to offer him the same treatment or I'm not exactly doing my job. They keep telling me I'm supposed to be handling everybody equally and stuff.
That's bollocks, Jerry threw back with a slight slur. We might get some of the time, but Dim gets all the money spent on his fancy lifestyle. Come on, man; I saw how much money you gave Harmony back there, and that's just for a couple of hours of sex. You pay so he'll be easy and you won't have to bother looking after him like a child. You make so many allowances you know he's just going to keep acting like a prick. You make it too easy for him.
Well what exactly do you want me to do? asked Click sharply. Cooper says to keep everyone happy - Dim's the moodiest git I've ever known, so he takes a bit of special attention to make sure nothing explodes. If anyone's going to explode it'll be Dim, right?
Yeah, I guess, Jerry conceded with a slow sigh. Hey, get me another drink, yeah?
Conversation continued with very little pause over the course of the night. Click continued to top up Jerry's glass, while the barman became more and more concerned by the exaggerative motions and increasing volume that was coming from the two of them. Click, of course, was only acting drunk in order to match Jerry. It made things much easier when people thought that you were in the same state as they were.
There were several times, over the course of the many months that they had known each other, that Jerry had expressed disappointment at the lack of fan attention that he received. His previous band, The Babylonians, had been staggeringly unpopular, but even them he had been more well known. People, women particularly, had made a point of approaching him with a smile, a free drink and, rarely, a phone number and a promise of free sex. Jerry told these stories when he was drunk or upset by things as they were now. In Dim Screw, nobody bothered to approach him at all. He was too completely overshadowed by the vanity and narcissism of Dim.
Due to this, both of them were very surprised when a young woman, who looked to be in her early twenties, tapped him on the shoulder from behind. Click caught the motion out of the corner of his eye and tilted his head ever so slightly so that he could watch what happened next.
Jerry spun around on the stool that he was sitting on with an expression of mild bewilderment, but he made no sign of greeting beyond that. Click found himself quite curious. She was a fairly plain woman, with everything from her hair to her choice in clothing failing to stand out or catch the eye. Her features were natural, and that was easily the best thing that Click could say about her. She had dark hair that came down to her shoulders, and a warm and professional smile. Professional was the word that Click eventually decided on, which immediately made him feel threatened, since he was so far from professional himself. After a nervous moment while both of them said nothing, the woman eventually leapt in to take the lead.
Hi, she began, directing the easy smile at Jerry, but it didn't relax either of the men at the bar. She took a moment to regroup, her eyes flitting back in forth between the two of them, before continuing. I am talking to Jerry, the guitarist for the band that was just on, right?
Ermyeah, Jerry responded, his expression completely failing to change with his moving lips.
The extremely limited and nervous reply meant that the woman had nothing to work from, and so another few moments of silence passed. Click was almost tempted to laugh at Jerry's complete lack of social skills. Thankfully, she managed to wrap her head around things quickly enough.
I've been doing interviews with a few of the little local bands, she said quickly, as though the words were fighting to get out of her. It's for a new little magazine and we're trying to get a few of the less recognised local guitarists to do a couple for us. Can I give you my card so that maybe we can do a few questions with your band?
She pulled a little piece of laminated card out of her chest, which caught Click's attention straight away, and offered it to Jerry. Before it was snatched up, Click managed to sneak a look at the name on the card. Supposedly, her name was Kate Louro, and she worked for New Music Magazine. Neither of them were names that Click was familiar with, but he saw Jerry take the card and read the information there himself.
So, Kate began again, would you and your friends be interested?
At this point, unfortunately, Click was required to step in in the name of Fire Brand Records. No commitments could be made by anybody, especially members of the band themselves, as to anything involving publicity. As their manager, Click was required to make sure that this contractual agreement was honoured.
Unfortunately, he took a moment too long in considering how to broach this subject, which gave Jerry the time that he needed to say: Yeah, I'm definitely interested; we'll call you about it tomorrow.
Great, answered Kate with a little nod of her head, well I suppose I'll talk to you tomorrow then. Thanks.
She vanished quickly; walking backwards and then being swallowed quickly by the crowd. Jerry turned to look at Click in modest disbelief, but Click was aware that his face had pushed itself into an attempt at anger. He wasn't an angry man by nature, though he also wasn't an angry man by practice either. He did try for the sake of the job however.
You're not supposed to do that, Jerry, he began, forcing a little bit of spite into each word. You're only supposed to give interviews requested through Fire Brand. We want to get your face on the big magazines and websites, and on TV and things, not on whatever little publication this lump of junk town has thrown together. We need to keep you guys aiming high and playing with the big boys, not slowly working backwards and dragging the company name down with you.
Dim's name, came the first response, through an alcohol-fuelled aggression. You don't want to get my name anywhere. We're Dim's crew after all, aren't we? He's the one in the back getting gorgeous girls bought for him and, when we do photo shoots and crap, he's the one standing at the front with his arms out in the way of everybody else. Screw your company; they're not doing shit for me.
Momentarily staggered, and terrified that he might handle this badly, Click let his mouth hang open for a little in a display of mock stun that covered the fact that he was actually stunned. He was desperate not to let it last though. Come on, where's all this come from? he asked, struggling to come up with more.
I read the last interview you guys got for us, said Jerry, as angrily as Click had been trying to be mere moments before. All it was was the same bloody questions every other interview asks us, and who was it who answered every one of them before we even got a chance to say anything? I mean, I'm sitting in the corner between Rock and hard Plaice and Dim's right in front of the interviewer, leant real close and flirting like he's everything and all. Maybe I can get a few questions aimed at me for once. I don't even care if nobody's going to read it. We'll just skip telling Dim and Cooper and I bet it'll all be fine after that. Maybe I can get some people who want to sleep with me for a change.
I thought you had a girlfriend? Click inquired, pointedly ignoring every word previous.
I did, Jerry said. Had problems too. I'm on the road a lot, you know? I don't go home that much. I went home one night and she just wasn't there. She took everything from my vintage Fender to my mother's wedding ring. Bitch.
The conversation stopped briefly. Click had too much to think about, and Jerry was once again burying himself in the glass of whiskey in front of him. He drained it quickly, almost as though he was angry with the very contents in front of him.
Here, Click began, I'll get you another one of those, and this one's on Matthew Cooper.