Dark Pupils - Chapter 5
Posted: 08 June 2006
Word Count: 1988
Summary: EXPANSION OF THE ONEIRIC POTENTIAL
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.
Amongst paint cans, broken amps and old promotional beer boxes that never quite took off, Eric was pacing and fussing in a fussy and paceful way. They weren't coming, that was that. It was obvious, they'd all decided to play some sick joke on him and embarrass him in front of all the girls he'd invited.
Parking his rear on a case of Clausthauler Extra dry, the beer that the Danes were quite willing to export, Eric contemplated the realities of music, i.e. women. He was a lead singer in a band. A new band at that, and it was his first chance to get the real snotty bitches to take notice of him. Girls like Lisa Smeddly and Marie were going to be there. The type of chicks that were all "oh sure, real cool" and "what a sap!" to all the guys in Uni, and all it did was make them more popular. That type of girl was only interested in a guy they could brag about, Eric felt. Not too good-looking though, they were still supposed to be the pretty ones. Well that was all right with Eric. He was crazy about those snobs, and the only reason he was in a band at all was so he could score one of them and treat her like shit. Eric didn't just want to be with one of those girls, he wanted to own one.
Now everything was ruined. No band, no cool indifferent attitude, or minor, if slightly unattractive celebrity. No snobbish women. And, without a bass player, guitarist and drummer: No band.
Eric stared around the room and bassists there were none. He'd called but the drummer was a no show either. That left his brother Al. And where was he? Well, Eric didn't know, but he wasn't here either.
"Bastards!" Eric shouted and, "fuckers!" he screamed. He really wanted those women. He had a thought then, a sprig of sage into his disaster casserole. He could go out there and play on his own. Then he rejoined Braintown. Yeah sure and play what songs, on which instrument? The Gazoo?
Oh there would be females aplenty then.
"Bastards," he muttered, sitting back on a box of promotional Green Hill Cider hats, the ones with the foam front and the stylish plastic netting. The box buckled and Eric ended up absolutely in it. He didn't even try to get out. Maybe he could get inside and live there until those caps came back in fashion?
"Fuckers," he muttered. He really wanted those chicks. Extremely badly in fact, if he'd known where his giblets were he would have been feeling a little down in them.
There are people everywhere who are all sorts, this Eric knew. Every type of person possible existed under the sun, or around the back of it waiting in daylight, and as such, they're not a bad bunch really. Eric's sort was a loud and obvious breed. They wanted what they wanted and they got all uptight and freaked out if they didn't get it. A decent sort but prone to fits of impudence, would be a good description of himself.
It was partly because of Eric's being the former of these but most especially due to the later that at that very moment the rest of 'The Gonads' were waiting outside in the hall tittering and enjoying snickers, as all good-natured practical jokers are prone to do.
And, with the good sense of timing of a decent Rock and Roll quartet, which 'The Gonads' were, they picked exactly the right moment to burst in to the tiny backstage room and begin to slag off their troubled front man.
"Aha, ya fucker," roared Stevie the bassist, or as he liked to be known 'The one loan from a real band.' "Al did ya see his face?" Al, Eric's brother and slipper of many a Mickey laughed and slapped his little bro on the back when he saw how far their singer had sunken into despair.
"Come on Er, it's all right we're here."
"We might be here," said Dean the drummer, "but it's not alright!" He added. He said this because drummers are 'funny' as in, not very much. Actually, the better the drummer the 'funnier' they are, it's a made up fact.
Meanwhile, Eric's relief was large and reprieving.
"You bastards, I swear to god, phew! Here Tony," Eric called, seeing what was in the guitar player's hand, "give me some of your snickers."
Below the backstage room, the old man had stopped his pacing and was looking up at the ceiling. He could hear faintly the voices of the band in the room above but he could not make out what they were saying, or even if they were real. A lot of things were not real. He couldn't remember a time when anything was, and when he did remember things, they seemed too fantastic and he forced them away lest they open in his mind another period of pain and torture. Better to keep thinking about the words, concentrate on the words. They never hurt him. They never changed. They were words.
"He speaks," said the old man, "when he speaks, I speak what he speaks."
A Grey Tramp…
Outside in the street the skies had opened up, or let loose and it had begun to rain down hard. Peter stood as close to the wall as he could but he was basically soaked through and feeling fairly pathetic. He wondered why he'd bothered to come, weighing the reasons and the circumstances in his very calculating and over analysing way.
As he did this he noticed an old man walking in his direction on the other side of the road. The old man had a long grey beard and was dressed in the manner of a tramp, with a ripped pocket in full view and battered old hat on his head. He old man didn't walk like a tramp though, no. His homelessness seemed like a disguise, could have been an actor taking a break from shooting and his part as a wino.
The grey tramp confused Peter greatly. For, as much as he seemed to walk too upright for a man of his standing, he also fit into the surrounding street well with a comfortable swagger. Peter couldn't decide whether he was watching a bum or just a man who had recently been mugged and was in need of assistance.
Then the grey tramp got closer and Peter began to hear the drunken mumbling. Oh, he thought, definitely a tramp then.
The old man came to a stop across the road from The Inn and flumped down on the steps of an old Georgian building where he continued to speak to himself in gibbertalk and drink from a bottle that appeared from his tatty Cromby.
Peter continued to watch the bum only half convinced of his authenticity or validity, or indeed any other words of the sort.
"Hey Peter," came a call to his now soaked left. He turned to see who it could be. There was one second during which he had no idea why anyone would be calling his name, and then he was relieved to see that Terry was approaching from up the street with a girl on his arm. It was the girl from the cafeteria. Had it been so long since he'd had a friend or heard a friendly voice?
"Hi," Peter said, as the couple reached him, "ah, how are things?" Terry and the girl from the cafeteria looked at each other.
"To be honest," Terry laughed, "We're a little wet, aren't we Sam?" Sam laughed.
"Bloody right we are. Hi I'm Samantha. I hear you and Peter are great friends?"
"Erm," said Peter, or something like it.
"Well," said Terry, "it's good that we've all met and that, but can we get inside? I'm dying for a pint."
"Yeah let's," said Sam. Peter opened the door to The Inn quite happy to let everyone in before him. That way anyone in the bar that might look towards the door would see Terry and Sam coming in and he could creep in behind. It was the type of thing that he was beginning to do more often these days. He was becoming antisocial he knew, but it was better than being at home.
"Hey dude," Terry said still standing in the street, "Go on ahead." Terry held the door back and motioned for Peter to go inside. Peter shivered slightly and entered the bar.
"Cheers," said Terry, "I prefer to go in last."
As he entered behind Peter Terry caught site of a tramp across the street. The old man seemed to be watching him. Their eyes may have met then, but it was too rainy for either of them to see the whites. It was a moment though, Terry was sure of it. And, not knowing how to break through it he waved across the showery street. After a moment the old man waved back, Terry felt free then to enter the bar, and he did so, with a shiver of his own.
Oscar felt a twinge of guilt as he watched the boy disappear into The Inn but there was no point in it. He simply put his empty bottle back into the inside pocket of his Cromby.
A bit of drunken mumbling, thought Oscar; that was all it took. As soon as someone started looking at him funny like that pale boy had, all Oscar needed to do was take out his empty shoulder of whiskey and take an imaginary swig.
No, of course the old tramp wasn't watching me, they would always quite evidently decide. Oscar the drunken bum was beyond disdain, below suspicion, a smell not an actual person. A lot of times it hurt him to see the wash of pity dismissal and shame cross their faces, but when he really was looking, he was glad of it.
Tonight was one of those times as he was there to watch. The boy was here with that pale chap and Oscar had seed those two girls approaching The Inn earlier. It could be a coincidence but then again, it couldn't be.
They had come to his attention five or six months ago, four students going to the same university, with no connection to each other. Sleepwalkers all four, with the same spaced look, lost as they walked the streets. Oscar didn't know why they stood out amongst the crowds of students that piled in and out of the university every day as he sat and watched from the park across the way, sometimes drinking from his make-believe whiskey bottle to distract attention.
He had thought until recently that his brain had just chosen them to save him from loosing his mind. He had thought until recently that maybe he had already lost his mind and he was seeing things that weren't really there. He had thought, until recently.
But now they were meeting each other, first becoming two pairs of friends the newest of which having been formed that very day in very odd circumstances, Oscar had seen it happen. And tonight all four were under the same roof, within yards of each other, it felt wrong somehow, unnatural even.
In fifteen years Oscar had seen nothing like it. He intended on watching them round the clock from now on, until he satisfied himself that it was all just serendipity and that perhaps he was experiencing fractures in what remained of his creaking brain bones.
Oscar sat there in the shitty weather getter wetter and more sodden, tuning out his discomfort with a set of practised mental exercises, he drifted of into the armchair by the fire in his mind and settled to waiting for as long as it took.
It didn't take long.
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