Before the invention of typical modern technology, the word boredom' was not one uttered often. Now, with the newest generation constantly being assailed by television programmes, games consoles and media players, a child's ability to entertain themselves has become severely hindered. With the very world of digital entertainment at their very fingertips, what do people need with the outside world?
With television programmes, the addiction is a fairly obvious ones. The integral story plot lines inherent in all typical television is similar, in many ways, to novels of either fact of fiction. However, the difference is that television is broadcast through the eyes and ears directly into the brain. With books, people actually have to put in the effort to read. Due to this, enormous literary talents such as Lloyd Alexander and Robin Hobb prove to be largely ignored. The addiction comes in the extra time that it takes to display something which, in a novel, can take as little as a page. With only a time slot of perhaps an hour, most television programmes don't actually have much happening in them.
In addition, television has adopted things such as soap operas, which contain unending plot lines that, while the characters shift and change, the relationships develop in mostly similar ways. These repetitive shows, showing across multiple different channels, keep people interested purely by the most extreme storylines that they can come up with. Human interest' now encompasses murder, rape and mental degradation. Such is the state of the soap opera culture' that is the modern, television influenced, generation.
For video games, the addition is different. With a basis in escapism, game addiction can hit the same sort of addictive personalities that drug and gambling addictions can hit. Being able to place yourself into the role of whatever heroic or outright demonic character lies on the computer screen is one of the easiest ways to get away from the less than favourable aspects of life itself. Escapism is rife in the world of modern entertainment, with people becoming so addicted to video games that they can forget to sleep, eat, or at all socialise.
Music players however, are of a different design. While most television programmes and video games consoles require the user to be at home or in some other dedicated area, a music player is mobile and can thus be used wherever the owner wishes. This means that, between point A and point B, the world can be blocked out completely using a music player and a set of headphones. Anybody who talks, shouts, screams or in any other ways tried to attract attention audibly is simply ignored because they can not be heard. With music players, the owner can ignore the entire world without effort, while still being out amongst them rather than being hidden away watching television and playing games.
Some people, whether by nature or by nurture, do not need devices in their ears in order to ignore the world at large, but any distraction in the world is satisfying enough for them. Since first picking up the guitar, Hugh Gee had been through a range of different situations concerning it. At first, he had realised his own incapability, then given up. Then, convinced to try again by his favourite website, he pushed himself to try harder, but his own inadequacies led to his father outright ordering him to take lessons from a classical instructor friend. However, throughout all of this, other things had began to fall behind and, considering many things much less important, had fallen out of touch with his favourite pastime: The Pit.
Returning for the first time in a while, he discovered an update on the story of user HinJo'. Opening it eagerly to see the carnage that typically was the said user's life, Hugh was almost annoyed to see a story being told by one Martin Richardson. The mention of a particular bar made him realise that HinJo' lived more than a little nearby and still had an opening for band members. Hugh's plan was quite simple.
There was a music store nearby that Hugh had first noticed when he ran out of plectrums. As wonderful as the little devices were when it came to time spent practicing, they seemingly had a talent for evaporating into thin air, no matter where he put them.
The need to purchase more had become far too great a need by this point. Once school had finished, Hugh was determined to go down and get some, and Jimmy had followed him for lack of anything better to do. Lately, there had not been much to keep Hugh and his friends entertained. The party season was over and cold weather was coming, leaving Hugh to spend a large amount of time focussed on his new toy, the guitar. Jimmy had heard him play a couple of times; he hadn't proven to be the best of listeners.
They arrived at the cramped little music store just as the outside world began to rain lightly down on the streets outside. The fact that they had made it this far without getting wet was quite lucky it seemed.
Inside, the natural clutter seemed to assail them from all sides. The wall mounted guitars, the solitary drum kit in the window, it all came together in an odd way. Hugh didn't really feel at home here, but he could appreciate that many of the guitars looked very impressive. Some looked so mean that he could almost feel a character about them. The 'V' shaped ones in particular had a certain charisma.
"Right, so what are we here for again?" Jimmy asked him. Obviously, he had only come along for the ride, but their conversations along the way had not been musically relative.
"I'm here to get some new picks," Hugh answered. "They're little pointy things that you use to play guitar with."
"You know, I might not play guitar like you supposedly do, but I'm not a complete and total idiot," Jimmy announced with a tidy glare. "I do listen to music and I have seen people playing guitar before. Don't be a prick, Hugh."
"I'm not a prick, you're the prick," responded Hugh defensively. He glanced around the room, but there was very little activity going on. Other than the owner, who was standing, looking quite mean, behind the counter, there were only two people in the store. At the counter, Hugh recognised a boy and a girl from his school. The boy was waving a sheet of paper in front of the owner for one reason or another. The girl was closer to them, fiddling with a bass guitar idly. He watched her for a moment. She was cute, but he felt quite confident that he was much better than she was.
"Fine," Jimmy began. He also had his eyes on the girl playing the instrument. "You go and get yourself some picks and I'll see about entertaining myself."
To Hugh's complete surprise, Jimmy left him there to stride over towards the black haired and bass playing girl. Hugh frowned. First, he looked towards the counter, where the owner continued to debate with the short boy there. Next, he looked towards the girl again. Jimmy was walking towards her with a smile, though she didn't seem all that eager to see this strange, ginger man walking towards her. With one last glance in the direction of the counter, Hugh went off to see what Jimmy was up to.
"Who's your favourite bassist?" Jimmy inquired by way of an opener. Hugh slipped in nearby, quietly, but not unnoticed by the female. Thankfully, Jimmy didn't seem to notice.
She hesitated for a moment, examining the plain black instrument in her hands before she offered an answer. "I don't really know that many," she mumbled. "I guess I like guitar more than bass really, but I just wanted to give one of these a try. The strings look really thick and it's not easy to play though. I was going to give up."
"No, don't give up, I was enjoying listening to it," Jimmy continued simply. Hugh quite literally had no idea what she had been playing, but, if Jimmy seemed to know then there was no reason to worry. "I didn't really listen to enough of it to work it what it was though. What's your name?"
"I'm Heather," she stated succinctly. "I wasn't playing anything that good. I don't even know anything and I can't push down these two strings all the way. I'm just playing. Do you play?"
"Me, no," Jimmy said. "I love good music though. I'm a listener, not a player. My friend plays guitar, but he only started a while ago. My name's Jimmy, by the way."
Behind Jimmy, Hugh found himself laughing at his friend's attempts to flirt. Heather hadn't even asked for his name and, of course, Jimmy still wasn't too aware that he was even there. Eager to ruin the fun of his friend, Hugh decided to jump in.
"Jimmy, if you like music so much then maybe you could tell me who your favourite musicians are?" he asked with a wide smile on his face. Jimmy jumped ever so slightly at the sound of his voice, but Heather, who had already spotted him, simply moved her eyes slightly in order to bring him into clearer focus.
"Well," Jimmy began, stuttering ever so slightly. "I like a lot of bands. I like The Killers, and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers."
"Yeah, but they're not actual musicians, are they?" Hugh returned, his smirk overtaking his features. "They're just some bands that you know. Can you name as much as one actual professional musician?"
"I can name a ton," announced Jimmy almost out of pure reflex. "Just because people don't come right to my mind when you put me on the spot that doesn't mean that I have no idea."
Hugh could see the worry present on Jimmy's face as he felt his nonexistent chances with Heather slipping away. "I'm a fan of Kurt Cobain," Hugh told her quite happily. This made her smile, which was much more than Jimmy had managed thus far.
"I know Kurt Cobain," Heather said. "I really like him too. Did you know that he's going to be a playable character for the next Guitar Hero game?"
As it was, Hugh didn't know, but neither did he care. He considered doing the usual and announcing that Guitar Hero was for fags, queers and emos, but, for some reason, he held himself back. It might have been because he was talking to a female, but it also might easily not have been.
"Hugh," Jimmy began confidently, "What band does Kurt Cobain play in?"
"He plays in Nirvana of course, everybody knows that," Hugh answered with a nod. Jimmy was trying to embarrass him in front of the girl now, even though Heather was looking at Hugh with a puzzled expression.
"I think you're wrong Hugh," stated Jimmy, amusement evident in his voice. "Didn't you know that Kurt Cobain is dead. Fact is, everybody knows that."
"Don't be stupid, you're just trying to trick me," he said, feeling quite smug that he had not fallen fowl of Jimmy's trick. It was still rather confusing to see Heather looking at him as though he was charging her grandfather with grand treason. To his surprise, she followed these words with laughter. Hugh joined in, feeling quite confident that she was laughing at Jimmy, then hesitated when Jimmy started laughing as well.
"If we can prioritise," Heather said loudly, drawing their attention back to her. "If you guys both like music that much then you can come down to the show that's being put on. My friend's over by the counter getting an ad put in the window. His name's David. Him and his friend are both guitarists and they're booked to play a gig in a couple of days. You guys should come down and help us get our numbers up."
"Cool," Hugh said.
"Rad," added Jimmy, causing Hugh to bring out a little burst of laughter in response.
"I'd best get going anyway, he's done," Heather continued, lifting the instrument over her head so that she could get the strap off. "I wasn't supposed to be here for long, just long enough to get this gig in the window and then it's off for David to keep learning songs. I'll probably just mess around and play some Guitar Hero or something. It was nice meeting you guys anyway. Bye Johnny."
She waved to them both and, with a smile, she rushed off to follow the retreating figure of her friend out of the door. They watched her go, with Hugh laughing away at how Heather had so easily forgotten Jimmy's name.
"I liked her too, man," Jimmy said. "You can't get anywhere with girls these days. It sucks. Oh, and by the way, Kurt Cobain really is dead. He killed himself years ago. She probably thinks you're a complete psycho."
"Psycho is nice," Hugh admitted. "I am a bit crazy. Rad."
As it turned out, nobody at school had any clue who Heather was, who David was or that there was any sort of performance upcoming. Then again, Hugh only asked Jimmy, who had been there at the time, and George. He didn't really know anybody else that wasn't likely to laugh, or worse, spit, in his face over the very question.
The day came quickly. Hugh had eventually returned to the music store and looked in the window just to get details of what was coming up. It was a local bar giving a night to young musicians, so this would be the only time that under eighteens would be able to get in and, hopefully, score some booze. The music was not even remotely important to Hugh, but the chance of getting pissed out of his skull was too good to miss.
As such, Hugh, Jimmy and George, all dressed in shirts, had decided that it was more than slightly worth the trip. Alcohol was foremost on their minds, and women was next. Somewhere down at the bottom, music took a space on the ladder of their priorities, but it was not one that any of them mentioned to each other.
The bar was relatively small and empty when they got there, so much so that they wondered if they had actually found the right place. Heather wasn't there, or at least she wasn't at the time. In fact, there was nobody that Hugh knew, even from school. The three of them explored the place inside and out, looking for somebody somewhere that they could talk to, but eventually they could not. Instead, they simply found the nearest available table and gathered themselves around it, waiting for somebody to show up.
"I guess we're early," Jimmy said, clearly stating the obvious, though he didn't seem to care.
"The poster said that there's an opening duo and a closing band," Hugh pointed out, still glancing around at the fresh surroundings. He had not been in many bars in his life. "Heather's boy if one of the openers and they're due at about eight 'o' clock, so they haven't got long."
"I can't stay too long," George told them. "My mum says I need to be home by ten or else I'll be grounded."
"George, you suck," Hugh returned. "You should have just snuck away like any good son would have done. Your mum would be proud of you. You should try being a rebel once in a while; it's what everybody else is doing."
While George frowned and tried to wrap his head around Hugh's words of wisdom, Jimmy twisted nervously in his seat. "This David guy," he said slowly, "do you think he's just a friend who's a boy or might he actually be a boyfriend."
"I'm sure they're at it all day, every day, Jimmy," laughed Hugh. "It came across so clearly in the way that she wasn't even standing near him for all of the time in that music store. I think the best bit was when he walked out without even asking if she was around. Honestly man, they radiated f*** buddies to me, didn't you get that?"
"Stop being a prick, Hugh," Jimmy responded. "Do you think she's coming or not?"
"Well it's her friend's gig, of course she's going to come," pointed out George.
They went through the usual small talk for a while, talking about girls mostly. Every one of them dared the others to go up and try to buy drinks, but nobody actually had the guts to get up and do it. This Hugh had not expected. He had thought that Jimmy would have gone up, or George. He had not even considered the chance that he might have had to go up and make the order himself.
Eventually, much to Jimmy's delight, Heather did turn up. Unfortunately, to his chagrin, she was arm in arm with the David boy. Jimmy visibly withered over this, even to the point that Hugh and George did not mock him for it. However, Heather was not the only one to turn up from their school. As eight 'o' clock drew closer and closer, a number of faces from the upper years turned up. Not all of them were popular named, but all of them were named that Hugh had known for a while. These students all marched right up to the bar confidently, ordering beers or alcopops depending on their gender.
With only ten minutes until the band was due to perform, Hugh caught sight of Richard Meyers, who would quite literally pick each of the three of them up by the neck and throw them out of the place if they were seen. With him was his girlfriend Sammy, wearing a short skirt and looking utterly delicious. Unfortunately, knowing that their last meeting had been less than fruitful, and that the boyfriend on her arm would fly into a murderous rage at the sight of them, all that Hugh ended up feeling was fear.
"Well this is turning out to be a waste of a good night, isn't it?" George asked of his companions. "The music hasn't even started yet and the place is already filling up with bad news. I'm sorry Jimmy, but it doesn't look like you're going to pull tonight."
"That's alright, I think we've got bigger problems really," Jimmy replied tensely. "What are we going to do now? Meyers is here between us and the door. We can't exactly just walk past him, can we?"
"Can't we just move somewhere out of the way?" Hugh suggested briskly. "I know this place is small but there are a good few places we can go and just not be somewhere he's going to see us."
"You really want to risk that, Hugh?" inquired George. Pure terror was written in every line of his face and he kept glancing up to see whether Meyers was looking their way or not. "I'm sure we can hide just fine, but not for long. We can't just stay here until he leaves. Come on Hugh, I have to be back by ten or my mum's going to kill me."
"Yeah, you've mentioned your home time already, are you worried we'll forget or something?" asked Hugh, more than a little angry now. "We're kind of screwed either way in case you haven't noticed. Did you think Meyers would just let you walk out if you told him that story. You're a complete noob."
"Look, whatever we're going to do, we have to do it fast," pressed Jimmy. "They're at the bar right now and once they've got their drinks they're going to look around for somewhere to sit nearby. That's where we are. Just pick somewhere and we'll go for it."
"Alright," Hugh said in a quick whisper, "let's go over near the stage."
"Are you completely insane?" asked Jimmy.
"No, seriously," continued Hugh. "I know it sounds stupid, but when we looked around early we could see that there's a big next to the stage that can't be seen that obviously from over here. It's like a little private section. If we can slip in there without being seen then we can pretty much hide out there until Meyers goes to the bathroom or something, then just make a break for it. If it's for your special people we'll just mention David and Heather and they'll probably bring us in. Come on, it's the best plan we've got. Let's go."
They made a rush away from their current table, trying their hardest to be quiet, while at the same time being fast. For the entire time, all three of them were glancing back and forth to see if Meyers was looking, but, thankfully, they managed to make it to their chosen destination close by the stage. There, they encountered the smiling face of Heather and the not so smiling face of David. He actually looked nervous enough to faint at any second. Hugh would have been concerned, but he was not that sort of person.
"I'm glad to see you turned up," Heather said, directly to Jimmy. Hugh noticed that she was no longer linking arms with David, but he continued to look out over the rest of the bar that he could see. Annoyingly, another concern quickly came up.
"Guys," he began slowly, though only George took to paying attention, "I know that going out there is pretty much suicide, but I think I need to pee."
George spent a moment glaring at Hugh before he replied. "You always choose the worst possible moments to do anything, don't you? You can't go out there because of the horrible jokes that you've made to Richard Meyer's girlfriend. You have to hold it, you can't go out there."
"Oh, I'll be fine, just keep an eye on things," instructed Hugh. With that, he rushed away, making for the toilets on the other side of the stage.
Just as he reached the door to the male bathrooms, the one to the female bathrooms next to it swung open and Hugh was forced face to face with Meyers' girlfriend Sammy. She smiled a wicked smile at him.
"Well, Hugh Gee," she said with pure amusement, "still cumming blood your cretinous piece of shit?"
"Okay, so I made a joke that didn't work out," he threw back at her, the urge to urinate still running strong. "You going to sell me out to your boyfriend again and get me thrown out and beaten up?"
"As a matter of fact, yes," she stated calmly, then walked away just as easily. Knowing what was to come, Hugh spent a moment looking at her arse while he could. The moment that she had vanished from his view, Hugh ran into the bathroom as quickly as he could, rushed into a cubicle and locked it behind him. If he was likely to get the crap kicked out of him then he certainly didn't plan to do it with a full bladder.
"Hugh!" came the voice of Jimmy. "Hugh, are you in here?"
Blood was dripping from his nose directly down into the water of the toilet. He felt as though he'd been bludgeoned by some sort of mallet. This was mostly true. The fists of Richard Meyers were tough enough.
"I'm in here," he managed to whimper out. His lip was busted, and his lungs and ribs were aching.
Pushing through the bathroom door that Meyers had knocked off of its hinges to get to him, Jimmy found Hugh lying near to the floor, his body propped up his head. His face was still laying against the toilet seat that it had been smashed against. Sammy had told her partner that Hugh had been trying to grope her.
"This is pretty damned bad man," said Jimmy quietly. He knelt down in front of Hugh, looking over all of the wounds that he could see.
"Do you think she's still mad at me or did she just want to see blood spurting out of me again?" asked Hugh. With that, he started laughing at how funny he was.
You're a prick, Hugh, exclaimed Jimmy, laughing as well. Honest to god, how do you keep making jokes about everything. I mean look at you: you can't stand, your face is busted up and yet you're still taking the piss out of everything that's going on.
Easy, responded Hugh as loudly as he could. He took a deep breath before continuing, even though he had no end of trouble getting his words out. If you're the little guy you always end up being on the bottom of the food chain, and that means that I've been in this situation a lot. You learn to cover it with an attitude. If anybody knew how hurt I am then they'll just feel ever more smug about it. This way it looks like nothing can hurt me.
You're a strange man, added Jimmy after a moment of hesitation. I would assume that I'm carrying you home again then?
Why ruin a good thing?