Claimer: Mine. All mine. Steal and DIE. Oh, and inspired by The Killers.
A/N: I'm not really sure where this is headed. My characters lead stories, not me. Anyhow, knowing common tendencies, there will probably be usage of any or all of the following: alcohol, sex, drugs, godlessness, gays, and other heathenistic things. Enjoy.
The year is 1986, and he is everything she wants. Wearing acid washed jeans and band shirts; he can't bring himself to admit that he has a drinking problem. Not that it matters anyway - he isn't going to efface himself from the social scene, he's addicted and he has far too much to lose. Much to the chagrin of his parents he's growing out his dark hair, but they don't notice anything he does anymore. His father is getting horizontal with the secretary and his mother is finding herself, so Rick doesn't have anyone to bother him about the hours he keeps or the school he's missed.
He's picked up a job at the record shop downtown to fund his habit. Using the only knowledge he has to tell the kids what's cool to buy, he deals on his off hours and has finally saved up enough to buy that Datsun 280Z he's had his eye on. Kathy thinks it's sexy when he races through the desert, and Rick is wondering why they changed the name to Nissan, anyway, and when he'll be able to afford one of those new 'aerodynamic' 300zxs.
They're headed to a New Year's party in Tucson that's supposed to be wicked, with a real rock band, 'cause everyone knows that disco has long since died. That night they'll do the nasty in the bathroom, and they'll both be too far-gone to notice when the condom breaks. Eighteen-year-old parents with broken dreams of rock stardom make one mistake too many, and he never can stop drinking. Welcome in 1987 with the new generation.
The year was 2004, and Vince wasn't quite sure what he wanted as he felt his life counting down. The sun rose on the New Year and he watched it with a wish on his lips, for the moment content to ignore that it would never come true. Rick was asleep on the couch with an empty bottle beside him, looking so much older than his 35 years; the teenager on the veranda could only sigh. He had given up on his dad's drinking problem long ago, leaving him alone with his whiskey to ruminate over lost opportunities. He didn't hope for his mother back, because he knew that Kathy probably blamed him for ruining her life – and her figure. Besides, he rather liked imagining her as someone famous and perfect rather than the overweight hostess she probably was by now.
He brought a cigarette to his lips and wondered what she had been like, before deciding for not the first time that he didn't want to know. Most of his classmates were out at parties tonight, but Vince never was one for the social scene and he didn't feel like he could leave Rick alone without a heavy conscience. This time of year was always hard on him, as the memories came back. He would spend the night telling his son stories of the great nights he had experienced before everything went wrong, of how he had chosen to be the bigger man and stay beside his girl when it became apparent that he was going to be a father. Of how she ran out on him 3 months after their son's birth.
He would drink himself into some kind of apathetic contentment and pass out with his teenage favorites playing through the speakers in the corner of the room. His boy would stay up watching him, wondering about everything he had been told and turning over and over whatever new bit might have slipped out before tucking it away. In his own sadness he would sit on the overhang and smoke until the new day began, trying to discover some secret of the universe that would fix everything. It wasn't Vince's fault, he knew, but he couldn't help wanting to make things right.
He was graduating in the spring and didn't know where he was going from there. Nothing was ever concrete in his head, and maybe a part of him hadn't expected to make it this far intact. Having slept with a few girls throughout the last four years, his subconscious thoughts had convinced him that it wouldn't be long before everything fell apart, so he had never wasted the time trying to keep it all together. And yet here he was, no binds holding him back like those that had tied down Rick. However there was nothing leading him forward either, and he was lost, running out of time.
The pink streaks in the sky faded to yellow and the darkness slipped away, but Vince knew he wouldn't be able to sleep. He crushed out his cigarette and stepped inside, pausing only to pull a worn blanket over the similarly tested figure on the couch. A key on the counter was pocketed and he left the locked apartment in his wake, facing the uninhabited morning in all of his dark-eyed, sleepless glory.
It always intrigued him to see the city so dead in the morning, as if abandoned in the early light. Perhaps he should have been a bit worried, as there was no one left to hear his scream should something happen, but he wasn't. The local rapists didn't make a habit of jumping lanky, not-so-teen boys as it were, and he didn't carry much cash on him to begin with - mayhaps five dollars if he could count the lint in his pockets. And so he found himself stepping along the crackled road that perhaps would have been dangerous at another hour, but for now was silent.
There was a coffee shop down the road, one of the few left that hadn't been swallowed up or chased out of business by the corporate firms. He preferred it there to the others, as it wasn't ransacked with the out-of-towners or bottle blondes, as every other shop seemed to be no matter the time of year nor day. The tinkling of a bell overhead alerted the keeper who was click clacking on a keyboard in the corner, under a handwritten sign stating "'Net Booth." A glance up met his gaze and Vince smiled before taking a seat in the back, his own little way of letting the man know that he didn't mind waiting.
The early crowd was always the most interesting, he mused, particularly on such a day. Not that there was much of a crowd to speak of, between the few stumbling in to sober up a bit. Every now and again he would catch glimpse of an obvious surfer either headed out for a wave or in from a bonfire bash. Eventually he grew bored of watching the figurines trot back and forth in his brainwaves. Crossing his arms, he placed his head down and contemplated the table through closed eyelids.
"Regular?" The voice was directed at the boy who at the moment seemed barely conscious, but he didn't look up as he lifted his head and mumbled agreement, fishing for his wallet in the worn pants with one too many pockets. "Don't worry about it, kid." The server walked off, only to return a moment later with a steaming cup of liquid crass that was disguised as much as it could be by caramel and whipped cream. "I don't understand how you can stand it with all of that crap marring the poor drink."
"Don't understand how you can't," Vince mumbled in response. He took a sip that scathed his tongue, and then another. Coherence wasn't his strong point in the least, but the molten bitterness would soon enough rouse him. "I'm going t' run you out of business, Nate."
"No you're not. I've got plenty to cover it, and it's not as if I don't drink twice that amount myself." He was back 'round the counter again, and for the first time that morning, Vince looked at him through the fringes of unruly bangs. He needed a haircut, and made a mental note of that for his next paycheck.
"At least let me help clean up, once and again."
At that Nate looked up, washrag in hand, laughed and shook his head. "I told you to stop worrying yourself about it. I'm not that old yet, I can still clean up my own shop."
"Whatever, old man," but from then Vince left him be. The coffee still tasted bitter, surrounded as it was by sweetness, but it was liquid oxygen to his system. His body screamed for sleep but his mind was too awake to oblige, and he wanted to visit the bookshop a ways down, in an hour or two, when it opened. The bell tinkled again, but by that point the teen had stopped looking up to examine each face; they all seemed the same tired gray this early in the morning.
"Good morning, sunshine." The dark haired boy looked up through the hair that was quickly growing annoying, but he couldn't be bothered to move it as he mumbled a 'huh?' and went back to his coffee, eyes still upward. "Good morning; Standard English greeting, or so I'm told. Generally reserved for the early hours of the day, particularly godless ones such as this."
"Right." He had only been half listening, and for some reason the words 'early' and 'godless' decided to swim about his mind. Like goldfish, or those canaries one always saw above cartoons that had hit their heads too hard. He never did like those damned canaries. Mm… Coffee, the molten life serum that seeped straight from God's shit hole.
"…night." He hadn't been listening again. It was kind of a defense mechanism from school, where he would often find himself wandering off midway through a lecture, wondering what Alexander the Great had really looked like. He hoped it wasn't like Collin Farrell, and decided to focus instead upon the few scratches of notes on his paper, before fading off into wonderment of what it would be like to fuck a king – avoiding listening once again. He needed to try that sometime. Listening, that was. Not fucking Alexander the Great. Gross.
"What?" He really looked up this time, as if maybe staring down the guy would help him focus on the words tumbling out of his mouth. It didn't of course, and only made him uncomfortable. Vince wondered if that was why girls did it, the staring thing; to wear down one's defenses until one collapsed in a fit of nerves and exhaustion and succumbed to whatever the request was? What a scary thought. He promised himself to never look a girl in the eye again.
"You're not much of a morning person, are you?" He blinked for a moment. Was that a statement, or a question? Maybe it was both. Wow that guy had long eyelashes – he thought only girls had those, and even at that only with application of globs of black goop and pieces of foreign hair. He found himself wondering how they handled such a trick. They somehow managed to balance all of that on a lid and make it look freakishly like it was supposed to be there, and yet one rarely saw a girl walk around with an eye patch covering the damage from a failed attempt. It really was magic; they could make money from that sort of thing. Wait. Question. There was a question.
"Uh… No?" Hopefully it was one requiring a yes or no answer; otherwise he'd be screwed.
"That's what I thought."
A nod, a final swallow of coffee and a yawn commenced before Vince realized that the person who had addressed him was not only not going away, but was now sitting across from him. He pulled out that 'stare' thing again, now not focusing on the freakishly long eyelashes, but shifting to the eyebrows. At least all of this gave the impression that he was looking the other in the eye, or so he hoped. The light brown brows were slender and tamed, almost giving the impression of being plucked were it not for the few strays always found. This guy was a bit too perfect and he was starting to creep Vince out a little bit, to be honest.
"Why are you here?" Take that creepy long-eyelash perfect eyebrow guy! He wasn't being too convincingly scary, and he realized that. It was too early in the fucking morning to bother with intimidation. Instead, he focused on the guy's nose. He had blackheads. So he is human, after all; or a really obsessive imposter. Oh yeah, that listening thing. He needed to work on that.
"…coffee." Vince stared and blinked for a moment, and the guy whom did have blackheads after all rolled his eyes, repeating himself. "You look like you need more coffee."
"No I don't think I do. Actually I was just trying to decide whether or not you were really human, or simply a painstakingly detailed imposter." Eyebrow guy gave him an odd look. Oh shit, he just said that out loud, didn't he? Maybe he did need more coffee. Or maybe he needed less, he couldn't decide. "Note to self: Formulate a new resolution to not make an ass out of self in front of a complete stranger at the coffee shop, even if he does have freakishly tamed eyebrows."
"Uh… Thanks?" Eyebrow guy raised said body part and grinned. Vince could have sworn he was trying to keep from laughing. Damn it.
"I just said that out loud, didn't I?" He pushed his empty paper cup to the side of the table and folded his arms, collapsing face first into them. Now that was a great way to start off the New Year. Bang!
"Yes, actually you did. Don't worry, my eyebrows and I take it as a compliment, I think." Vince momentarily thought of looking up, thought better of it, and then did anyway. He glanced across to the guy and his apparently complimented eyebrows. Said fixtures were wiggling, and the sleep-deprived boy couldn't suppress a snort.
"What the…" Chuckle, chuckle, snort. "…fuck?"
"My eyebrows are glad to have amused you." Eyebrow guy bowed. "I'm Keith." Chuckle, chuckle, choke – the dark haired boy hid his face in his folded arms again until he regained his composure.
"Vince." Wheeze. "Not Vincent, just Vince." Deep breaths, Vince. Deep breaths. "Kathy, I mean my mom, was obsessed with Vince Neil of Motley Crüe, or something." He collapsed into his arms again, still suppressing a chuckle.
"…I wasn't that funny." Keith grinned. "Anyway, nice to meet you, Vince. Cool name."
"Thanks," mumbled the sweatshirt-and-dark-hair beast across the table. And so it came to pass that on the first day of 2005, Vince Murray met Keith Waterhouse.