In the modern world, a laptop can be bought one day and it will, without a shadow of a doubt, become outdated the next. Life online moves faster than ever before due to the instantaneous transmission of e-mails, links, images, forum posts and the aptly named instant message'. With the popularity of chat rooms, instant messaging programs and forums, people from anywhere in the world can meet, convince each other to meet up, and then realise that the internet is one of the most dishonest tools in the known world. It's also possible that said people could actually be honest about themselves and their feelings and start new lives together, but such an event is rare enough to be virtually negligible.
The fact is that, over a screen, people can be heroes, so, without a degree in psychology, nobody can work out who is what and who is not. Due to this, trust becomes ever strained in reality in the same way that people begin to use phrases such as lol' and rofl' in every day conversation. Most interesting is that some actually believe such phrases to be perfectly acceptable grammar and diction. These people are, of course, complete and total idiots.
Nevertheless, honesty is not dead; even on the internet. Some particularly few actually do give out their real names, their actual date of birth and, if people ask, their a, s and l. Of course, the fifty year old, balding, fat and still surprisingly hairy men, do not announce themselves before preying on young women. However, since the young women are actually other fifty year old, balding, fat and still surprisingly hair men, they tend to get what they deserve really. In many ways, the internet does maintain the karmic balance, but, alas, not always.
The reason that people choose to hide behind masks of illusion when talking to people varies from person to person. Some simply wish to make themselves look better, while some wish to make other people look worse. Some are trying to flirt with people under one username and facet of personality simply because they failed under another. The occasional one or two are police, on the look out for old men pretending to be young girls and young girls pretending to be old men. Ever a dangerous place, the internet is prowled by as much authority as possible looking for people who lie so well as to commit online fraud, hack paypal accounts and online banking passwords and then use the money to fund online gaming habits. Overall, the ability to get out of a chair is becoming less and less necessary in the modern world.
Thankfully, all is not lost just yet. On the website of Ultimate-Guitar.com, amongst the legions of children pretending not to be virgins, men pretending to be women, women pretending to be FBI agents, white men pretending to be black and black men pretending to be blacker by claiming to come from Detroit, there was a shy and honest little man posting in his own thread about making a living. His thread, helpfully entitled Get Me The Hell Out Of This Hell Hole!!' was not a popular one in comparison to the relationship or sex thread, but it had it's own little following. He felt that, for the first time in his life, he had friends. Of course, in reality, it was the usual gaggle of people pretending to be friends in the hopes that they could score a quick laugh at his expense, but Henry Jones was an optimistic fellow.
His honesty had earned him a reward by the name of Jane Moon, somebody he cherished very much. It had also earned him a little band named Moonlight'. His musical talents were improving very slowly, but, since they were improving nonetheless, he was quite happy with himself. Things had certainly taken an upward turn of late, but he couldn't believe that things would be that way for long. He still felt nervous about the days to come and the nights ahead, but, as sternly as he could, he would tell himself to keep his head down and just get on with it, as he had done all of his life.
Such is the nature of dishonesty; you never see it coming, you can only see it afterwards.
The morning sun was beginning to peek through the curtains of Henry's bedroom, casting a dim light over his cluttered belongings and the general mess that the night had rewarded him with. Having only recently clambered out of the tangled sheets himself, there was still something of the morning mist clouding his eyes as he buttoned up his shirt, but the view that he could see was nothing short of spectacular. Jane was curled up into a little ball in his bed. Strands of her hair had come loose from her ponytail and had now fallen across her face. Every now and then they would tickle her nose, so one of her hands would emerge from the covers to tickle herself and then scrunch back up into her ball.
Her clothes were strewn all across the bedroom. Her dress was over the chair by his window, her underwear was hanging over the door and the rest were beside the bed on what had quickly become her side. It had been a good night. She had played an acoustic solo set for an open mic night at a downtown bar and he had been there purely as moral support. Nowadays, he was usually there, enthusiastic during the good times and sympathetic during the bad. Thankfully, it had gone well and, after a quite colossal amount of alcohol had been poured down his throat, they had decided to head back to Henry's and, as Jane had put it, hump'.
He left her there to rest and, almost as soon as he had stepped outside of the room, he felt the fur of his new black cat rubbing against his feet. Her name was Maxie, and she had been Jane's suggestion. Henry had never really been much of a pet person, but it was actually quite fulfilling having an animal to look after. At first he had tried to talk her down to a dog, but she had been quite determined until he caved in. Maxie was definitely a cat that loved women more than men; she especially liked to perch herself on Jane's breasts and await a fuss and a stroke. As cute as it was, that was typically Henry's job.
He was halfway through making breakfast when she wandered gracefully out of his bedroom, wearing one of the larger shirts from his wardrobe. Her cheeks were still red, and she was rubbing her eyes much like the cat did when she was cleaning herself. She gave him a wave that was more like a stretch when she first seen him, but it wasn't long before she had disappeared again in search of wherever they had left her guitar. In a morning, she always liked to wake up to the sound of music, and his computer was his only source of any, so she supplied it for herself.
Their plan today was to put together their first recordings using an actual studio that a friend of hers worked at. It was going to cost Henry a fair amount, but it was worth it for the chance to give Jane what she was after. So, as he was putting brown sauce onto their bacon, his mind went over each finger movement that would be required, while another part of his brain tried to keep from going over the finger movements from the night before.
When he joined her in the living room, she was sitting on his faded red couch, her acoustic on her lap, playing Stairway To Heaven. The shirt that she was wearing had been pulled upwards by the material, so that, when sitting down in the armchair opposite her, he caught a glimpse of her most tantalising flesh.
What's the plan then? he requested, placing their breakfasts on the weak wooden coffee table between them. I've got the whole day off in case this takes a lot of time, but I don't actually know when we're expected to go down and get started.
I told him we'll be there for around three, Jane replied smoothly, her fingers still plucking at the strings meticulously. It's just downtown, so you can drive us down any time around then and we'll still get there. What time is it?
Henry made to check the watch that she had gifted him with, but found that it had somehow removed itself during the course of the previous night, so he looked over at the old VCR that he kept beneath his television. Nine forty-two, he told her with a smile. Plenty of time to wander into town at about mid day and get some lunch before we have to go somewhere. Where haven't we been recently? I know we go out for lunch a lot, but I'm sure there are still plenty of little cafs for us to check out.
Before he had finished speaking, she stopped playing the guitar and glared at him with a cute and far from angry glare. The moment that he had stopped speaking, she leapt in. You got out of bed and woke me up and it's not even ten yet? Jane stated. Are you sadistic or something? Let me enjoy my day off you evil man. I'm going back to bed.
But you haven't even had your breakfast yet, said Henry, pointing to her almost disappointed looking food.
She didn't care. Jane moved her instrument, giving Henry another eyeful, then stood up so that the cuffs of the shirt fell to completely consume her hands. Eat up, she told him, and reheat mine for about eleven. I let you have sex last night; you can make me breakfast in bed. Just make sure to eat your own. When I wake up, you're going to need your energy.
Jane offered him a wink in recompense before turning away and striding out of the room. Before she actually left, she lifted the shirt just enough to show him absolutely nothing, but to still tease him to no end. Hearing Maxie's meow somewhere outside of the room, Henry pulled Jane's plate over to beside his, picked which bit to start on and got stuck in.
In the end, there hadn't been anywhere near enough time to stop for lunch. After rehearsing for just over an hour, he had prepared a full breakfast in bed for Jane, which she had been very appreciative of. After waking her up again when he returned to the room afterwards, they had spent the little remaining time that they had sharing a shower and relaxing as best they could. By the point that they had finished enjoying the running water it was one o' clock, leaving them just over an hour to kill before they had to be off to start recording. The decision was to get some practice in before they had to actually get it perfect.
The song itself was called Clear Skies'. It was one of the first ones that Jane had written some time beforehand. It was mostly quite relaxed and gentle but for the rather energetic final chorus, but that wasn't something that Henry had to worry about. Variations to his lines were small and rare; he just played the same thing with only minor changes for the entire song, but he had to make sure that he was working perfectly in sync with Jane's chords and arpeggios. Unfortunately for him, she was now fully dressed again, so he actually had to concentrate.
Together, they went through the motions again and again, correcting any small mistakes as and when they occurred. All in all, Henry was quite pleased with how smoothly everything went, though Jane was picking apart every little detail that she could. She was that sort of woman though; idyllic and craving of perfection.
They packed up at twenty past two, just after Henry refused a call from work. He had booked the day off and he wasn't going to let them take that away again. Lately, a lot of the less capable or less punctual of the staff were being fired for it because of the economy, but Henry felt more than a little safe. He was more than capable and perfectly punctual. All was well and his boss actually adored him. As he was driving, with Jane talking about something or other from the passenger seat, he considered all that had happened with him lately and how everything had improved in some way or another. He even had a creature in the house begging him not to go every morning; all was well.
When they finally reached the little upstairs studio near the middle of the town, after navigating tight alleys and back streets to get to it, they were ten minutes early. They pulled their instruments out of the back seats and marched up the shaky wooden stairs that led up to the door. A sign had been mounted just to the side of the door, above the parking space below. The entire place seemed rather dilapidated, especially the stairway that felt far from safe. It was a strange choice to put a recording studio here, but surely there would be reasoning behind it.
There was an intercom on the other side. Pressing her finger against the button, Jane spoke slowly into it. Chris, she shouted down the microphone, It's Jane. We're booked in to record a song at three. Are you there? We need you to come and let us in.
There was a pause while the two of them waited. Henry moved ever so slightly and the entire structure rocked quite violently. Jane turned back to look at him balefully. Against his better judgement, he looked down as everything was shaking. It made him feel quite questionable.
Jane spent a few more minutes holding down the intercom button and speaking into it, trying to get the aforementioned Chris' to get off his arse and open the door. Not once did any response come out of it. Before anything had actually happened, they had gone from being early to being late. After they had been there for twenty minutes without a single sound coming out of the place, Henry stepped up behind Jane and put an arm around her waist to draw her attention.
We're wasting our time, aren't we? Henry asked of her. She sighed, but did not answer, so he continued. I guess we'll have to come back to recordings later. There's no point hanging around. We'll go and find somewhere to sit down and you can try and call him.
I'll call him from the car, she said in response and evaded his grip straight away. She led the way down the stairs, moving quickly so that the entire thing made Henry feel extremely queasy. As she did, she pulled her mobile phone out of the pocket of her dress and started keying in a number. She seemed more than a little angry. Henry waited for the staircase to still before he began to walk, as slowly as possible, down each step after her. Along the way, his own phone began to vibrate again, but he slipped his hand into his pocket and refused the call. His only friend out of work had just marched off towards his car, he was in no mood to even talk to anybody else.
By the time he had clambered in to the driver's seat and closed the door behind him, she was already having a rather heated argument with the little device in her hand. There didn't seem to be anybody on the other end, that or she simply wasn't giving him any chance to talk at all. She was being rather loud, forceful and constant. In fact, Jane only paused in her ruthless tirade so that she might shush him when he started the engine. Of course, that made him laugh, which made her considerably more angry with him.
Jane finished up just as he was pulling away and wandering back into the sub-streets of the city. Apparently he forgot about it, she told him sharply. He's gone for a concert somewhere. He's lying of course. He didn't forget, he's just still avoiding me. Ever since we broke up he's been refusing to do anything to help out. All I need is a little help as well. He's a spiteful little man.
Henry frowned, but kept his eyes on the road. You never told me that he was your ex, he said slowly.
I'm sure I did, Jane returned flippantly. Before he could counter she moved on with a wave of her hand. He made it big not long after we broke up, which is a bloody shame. I could have used him like he was now, but he was boring when I knew him. I think it was something like a year ago now.
So now that you've broken up, you thought it would be a good idea to pull your current boyfriend along and use your far more successful ex and his numerous talents? inquired Henry, trying to sound as casual and relaxed as she did.
She paused to shift in her seat before answering. The rustling movement caught Henry's eye because it dragged the hem of her dress up a little. Why shouldn't I? I had to put up with having him sleeping with me for nearly a year. Now he has a chance to actually do something for me he's gone. It's so typical of him. Besides, I wouldn't have even told him you were my boyfriend. I told him I was bringing my band mate along, not my f*** puppet. Where are we going now anyway? Theres no point going back there if hes going to be a little bitch about all of this. Still hungry to get some lunch somewhere?
Yeah, I guess so, he answered. Everything else hurt him more than a little, but he let it fly by rather than turn it into an argument. There were numerous things that he could think to say, but he held each and every one of them back. So what are you looking for?
Anything that isn't going to make me fatter, she told him. He sighed.
It was five o' clock when Henry made it home. Jane was back at the corner shop getting snacks, while Henry had come ahead in order to get the instruments back safely. When his phone rang this time, he looked down at it to check the clock. It couldn't be work anymore, the office could be completely empty. The number was no longer recognised as being from his boss anyway, so, with his bass guitar still on his back, he pressed accept and pulled the mobile to his ear.
Hello? he offered with the tone to show the question.
As it turned out, it was his boss. Why haven't you been answering my calls? the man asked. His voice alone told of the fancy suit and the long hours that he put in to the direction and management of his work force. I must have called you nearly ten times today.
I've been busy, Henry replied. He had always quite liked his boss, so he spoke quite as casually as ever. I was supposed to be recording a song for my girlfriend today. I'm not really that into the music but if it helps her out then I don't see any problem with it. Turned out not working anyway. Seems as though the studio she wanted us to use is owned by her ex and he's being a bit of an arse about it all and making things hard for her. Is there something going on at work you needed me for? I booked the day off.
There was a pause on the other side of the phone before his boss made his return. That's the point Henry, I don't have any log here of you having the day off. I've got the calendar on the wall and the log book open in front of me and there's no evidence anywhere that you talked to anybody about having the day to yourself.
But I asked you for it directly, Henry explained quickly. I saw you write it into the log book. I asked you last week. Phil was right there in the office with you. Come on, its not like I do this often; every time Ive tried in the last few weeks Ive been pulled in an hour or two after my usual shift anyway. This was important. My girlfriend needed my help.
I'm sorry Mr. Jones, but you didn't inform anybody in the company that you would be taking the day off, and you don't sound very ill, began the boss, suddenly beginning to talk in a very official tone. It's against company policy to take time off work that hasn't been requested, and you obviously know this or you wouldn't have been blocking me from calling you.
But I didn't do anything wrong, said Henry, in something of a panicked rush now. This was not sounding as though it was going to be entirely beneficial to him. I told you I was taking the time off. You said it was okay. You wrote it down and everything.
I'm sorry Henry but this just isn't allowed, came the obviously rehearsed speech coming down the phone at him. You'll have to come in and pick up your things, but we'll be terminating your contract as of now. I'm very sorry Mr. Jones but we can't let something like this slide. You've broken the rules and you have to be fired. We'll have to let you go. I'm sure you can see that it's for the best. I'll be needing to get back to work now, so I'll see you for signing off tomorrow. Goodbye.
Henry talked and stuttered for a few moments afterwards, but his former employer had evidently hung up immediately. Still holding his instrument in one hand and his phone to his ear with the other, Henry found himself completely unable to work out what to do next. He had known that people were being fired, but he really put in as much effort as he could do the impossibly boring job of browsing as many different websites as possible for information on layouts, codes and structures. He knew a lot of people who put in no effort whatsoever, but they were all still working. An opportunity had arisen to lie and get somebody else out. The company must really have been in trouble. Nevertheless, he didn't really want to be the one suffering because of it.
He didn't hear Jane come in until she was right behind him, but that didn't make him react. She tapped him on the shoulder and continued past him, carrying a bag through his living room and into the kitchen. So what do you want to do tonight? she called back to him. He could hear the rustle of the plastic bag she had brought with her. I don't have to be home tonight if I can shower here in the morning. You'll have to let me go about an hour before you do, but I can get the bus and still be perfectly on time.
Something about Henry pushed down his growing feelings of sadness and his urge to cry before he answered. He simply couldn't help but control himself. Well, we still have a good few hours, he said slowly. He could hear the change in tone of his own voice, but, once again, he reigned in his issues. I'm not sure what we can do. There's plenty. We can watch some DVDs or play some games or something. There's still books and all that. Okay, maybe there's not that much.
How about the two of us go out tonight, Jane inquired. She walked back into the room with a sway in her walk and with the hem of her dress. We can start off with a dinner somewhere that looks fancy but really isn't and then we'll go for some drinks and get just drunk enough that we'll remember the sex afterwards.
Well, that does sound idyllic, replied Henry. Jane marched up very close to him and began to play with the fabric of his shirt. Her teasing smile was very expectant. He was very sad to have to disappoint. I spent a lot of money last night though, he said. He had actually spent almost everything that he had buying drinks for the two of them. I think it would be best if we just relaxed for a bit now. You can go out if you want; I'm sure everybody would love to spend some time with a woman as beautiful as you, but I just don't think it's really a good idea for me.
Are you trying to pawn me off on somebody else Mr. Jones? asked Jane, the same smile plaguing him that had done so a moment before. Unsure of how best to answer his words, he simply chose to shake his head in submission. Good, because Hannah and Jamie are expecting to see us out tonight; I called them before I went to the counter in the shop. Make sure to get plenty of money out from the cash machine. I want to get very drunk again tonight.
Right, Henry answered simply. He watched her take her usual seat in front of the television and turn it on to some day time television quiz show. His mind was on other things. As it turned out, he had no job again, and his money had a strong chance of not lasting long at all, but at least he had an independent and reliable woman with him. Still standing still, he felt Maxie rubbing against his legs again and, after bending down to pick her up, he went to join Jane.