Author's Notes: A Hard Core Logo story. No, I can't explain it either. Thanks to the usual suspects, Julad and Mia. This story is for Shrift and Basingstoke, whose HCL I admire so much. (Yes, even the skullfucking. Actually especially the skullfucking.)
Anytime i want i got a right to move
No matter what they say
I got a right, I got a right to move
anytime i want, anytime
—Iggy Pop, I Got A Right
Joe closed his eyes and let his head fall back against the pitted black wall, which was vibrating to the sounds of the Suicide Mechanics. It was the waiting that killed you. You could swear on the book, sign it in blood—no smack, no booze, stay away from the skanks and the tranks, be a good boy—but the waiting around got you every time.
He beat his idle hands against the amp case he was sitting on, humming along to the Mechanics' speed-metal Iggy covers. Pants so tight, pants so tight, baby wanna take a bite—fuck, those assholes were ruining it. Crap metal was the devil's work, just like the fundamentalists always said.
Joe sighed and tried to block out the tune, letting the beat jerk his heart and cock around instead. Nowadays, it almost sucked to be the headliner—on at ten, off at eleven, and then bricked in by your own crowd while all the local parasites—the Suicide Mechanics, the Scum Buckets, the Chickslits—slowly drove them away. And it wasn't like this was the Commodore, or anyplace with a decent sized dressing room, because then it'd also be a place with a back door for loading out. Not that he himself had any equipment, oh fucking no. These weren't his fucking guitars or his fucking flight case or his fucking drum kit. Singer brought only his voice and a couple of smokes to keep it fresh, but being top dog had its responsibilities as well as its glory.
"Well, I'm just a modern guy. Of course, I've had it in the ear before—"
Blindly, Joe fished behind his ear for a cigarette and, not finding one, patted his front shirt pocket till he found the crumpled pack. They'd have to wait until at least two before the crowd thinned enough for him and Billy to drag the equipment out through the club and into the van outside. Pipe would be useless by that point, fourteen sheets to the wind and they'd be lucky if he could carry himself, let alone anything valuable. Pipe had a way of making friends with all the idiot locals, the less they had in common the better. Ox would have long since disappeared; they'd maybe find him—maybe—at the town's most desolate spot, staring up at the steeple or down into the gulch or sitting on a park bench across from the elementary school's abandoned playground at four in the morning. Or else, if he'd taken his fucking meds, he'd be already tucked up in his bed at the band house, because he would have remembered that eight hours of sleep and a regular bedtime was the best fucking way to stave off one of his whacko attacks.
So that left Billy, and this coffin of a greenroom, and three hours to kill. Joe smoked and considered his options. He could drag Billy out for a late night burger, or maybe an early breakfast, at the truck stop down the road—but the last time they'd done that in a dive like this, someone had stolen Pipe's parka and Billy's best amp, the loss of which it had taken them four gigs to recoup. Joe gritted his teeth around the cigarette and hissed out a stream of smoke. Fuck that noise; there was no one here he trusted. He supposed he could go out and schmooze Nicky, who booked this dive as well as the Trigger in Regina and Kenny's Barn—except who the fuck wanted to play the Trigger, with its postage-stamp sized stage? or Kenny's, which attracted every lame Vince Neil wannabe from four counties around?
It wasn't worth the effort, and so probably his best bet was to go bang one of the Chickslits, two of which were not bad looking for girl musicians, and maybe not even dykes. If he was really lucky he could do both of them, maybe even together. Or else he could be generous and save one for—
Joe let his head fall forward and squinted through the stinging blue cigarette smoke. Billiam was hunched in a battered metal folding chair, scrawling something in a ragged spiral notebook, working the pen's plastic cap between his lips.
But writing what? Writing was Ox's thing, with his fucking therapy journal. He couldn't see Billy keeping a journal; Billy was the man of no memory, a guy who razed every town that he passed through, the human reset button. Not a guy to leave traces, tracks, or evidence around if he could help it. So what, then? Lyrics?—but that was Joe's area. Billy couldn't be bothered with self-expression, because to put yourself down in words was to commit to something, even if for only the space of three minutes.
But maybe now Billy wanted his own material. Joe reached up and instinctively straightened his baseball cap. That was possible. Guitarists had been known to get uppity before now, but they could work something out. He wouldn't mind letting Mr. Boisy sing lead now and then, if that's what he wanted. Could give the act a little more dazzle, and it wasn't like Keith Richards hadn't done it, or Billy Townsend, or—
Pete. Pete Townsend. Steve Perry. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones both sang lead.
Joe sat and watched the pen cap work in Billy's mouth, up and down, flip around, the blue plastic tip glistening with Billy's spit. His red flannel shirt was faded almost to pink, which should have looked faggy but Billy just looked tough and worn-out.
Ox also wrote long desperate love-letters to that girlfriend of his.
Billy absently reached out with his free hand, grabbed a beer bottle off the top of an amp, and brought it to his lips. Billy couldn't be writing letters to anybody—he didn't know anybody. Billy'd never tie himself to a girl, and he hated his fuckwit of a father even more than Joe could bring himself to hate Dr. Mike and Lois, the Amazing Human Absence, for their complete and total failure of imagination. He could picture them now, smugly sitting in the house on Millet Street, popping Dr. Mike's endless supply of pills and thinking they were nothing like their poor, wasted loser of a son, tsk.
Personally Joe agreed with them. He was nothing like his fucked-up parents, with their genteel addictions and faux superiority and total insularity from anything alive. That house was waterproof, airproof, people-proof, whereas he—and grinning, Joe flipped the lit cigarette around in his mouth, feeling the lit end heating his throat for a second before flipping it back out— was what you might call a fuckin' people person.
Still, Dr. Mike had never laid a hand on him, and he'd seen the cigarette burns on Billy's arms, the suspicious bruises anywhere that made a good target, or anywhere you'd grab a person. But Billy never complained; instead, he sat on the old mattress Joe'd dragged down to the cellar and listened to Joe's endless carping about Dr. Mike and Lois and their small-mindedness, their lack of vision, their inability to see that a three-bedroom house —in fucking Harrison Mills for fuck's sake!—was not the be-all and end-all of a person's existence. Mostly Billy just nodded in grim understanding, like Joe was giving voice to everything he'd ever felt. A couple of times, though—real special times—Billy'd dragged himself across the mattress and whispered wetly into Joe's ear: "So why don't we get out of here? Let's get out of here," and fuck, Billy knew what he was doing when he did that, whisper-kissing him with those soft lips. They both knew what it meant, what Billy was offering him—and it was only afterwards, with Billy dozing on the mattress with his pants open and his t-shirt rucked up and both their come (fuckin' buckets of it, because in those days they came lots and came often) splattered over him, that Joe sometimes wondered where the hell Billy had learned how to do that. Not the kind of thing you learned at Dr. Mike's. The Amazing Lois would probably be shocked at the thought. She'd fuckin' laid him like an egg.
But Joe wasn't sure where they'd go, though, or what they'd do when they got there, so he covered his ass by making like he had a plan. "Free your mind first," he said, whacking Billy to the side of the head with a beat-up copy of The Stranger. "You're an ignorant piece of shit."
Billy barely flinched at the wallop; he was looking around distractedly for his cigarettes. "Yeah, I know," he said, finding the crushed red and white pack and pulling a cigarette to his lips. "Still, I'd rather just get the fuck out of here," he said. "If it's all the same to you."
It turned out that for all that Billy was an ignorant piece of shit, he had more of a plan than Joe did. "I know a guy who'll rent us a place for like nothing, for like a hundred bucks a month." Billy struck a match and Joe watched the tiny orange flame burst into life, watched Billy cup it in his hand and pull it to the tip of his smoke. "Downtown Vancouver, right near all the clubs. Meanwhile, those places always need someone to sweep up, carry stuff, and they don't give a shit who you are if you're cheap. We lay low, Dr. Mike won't find us." It didn't need to be said that Edward Boisy wouldn't even be looking. "Plus we can scope out the scene, figure out who does bookings—"
Joe had feigned disinterest—"Yeah, okay, if that's what you want,"—except his heart had been pounding. Fuckin' A!—Billy was serious—he wanted them to quit school and move out and make the band happen. No more Millet Drive, no more putting up with Dr. Mike and his bullshit, no more Streathcome High School, no more chance at university, no more waffle room, no safety net.
He took a deep breath and looked at a smear of grime on Billy's neck. "Let's do it."
Within 48 hours, he'd cashed out his college fund and the savings account Grandmother Mulgrew had set up for him, and he and Billy were heading for Vancouver in a second hand Chevy pickup that Joe'd bought for four hundred dollars. In the back, under a tarp, was everything they had of any value—their guitars and mikes, a second-hand base drum and toms, two black plastic garbage bags full of clothes, some of his mother's jewelry which she'd never miss, his tin can of weed. And the stained old mattress, which Joe claimed would protect their instruments from breaking against the metal flatbed, but which was really more for sentimental value.
But they'd needed a bed, because it turned out that the place Billy'd arranged for them had no furniture, no stove, and no heat. Still, though, it was big enough and right in the middle of the scene, plus it had a toilet and a sink and an old claw-foot tub right in the middle of the non-functioning kitchen. And their landlord, an older guy named Robert Philbrick—except, shit, older was probably thirty, thirty-five, which looked like death from sixteen—charged them only a hundred bucks a month. Or at least, only a hundred bucks in cash, because Billy smiled real sweet and called him "Mr. Philbrick"—"yes, sir, Mr. Philbrick," and Joe could see exactly how much Philbrick liked that, and if Billy was maybe gone for longer than he should have been whenever he went to bring Philbrick their rent, well, he didn't want to think about that. Billy always came back to him, to the band, to the flat, to their grubby, stained mattress. And when they finally made enough money to move to a place that had heat, Billy had stood up in the back of the truck and screamed, "Fuck you, Philbrick, you fuckwad!" and Joe hadn't thought that it mattered that Philbrick wasn't actually there to hear it.
Except how did Billy ever meet the guy, that fuckwad, The Fantastic Pedophilic Philbrick of the cheap rent and the wandering hands? How the fuck did a fifteen year old from Skokie know that there was a guy in Vancouver who'd rent them a room for a hundred bucks and a grope of Billy Boisy's tiny, plug-ignorant dick? Billy didn't know anybody, except it was always Billy who found the deal, the steal, the dope, the chicks, the angle, the in. And now it was Mr. William Tallent nee Boisy with four-thousand three hundred and twenty-eight dollars stamped into the little red passbook that he thought Joe didn't know about, the one he kept behind the satin lining of his guitar case. Joe's nest egg had kept them afloat until they could command enough at gigs to stay afloat, and then there was that cash advance from the record company, back in the days before they'd figured out they weren't a record company kind of band. But that was Billy, hoarding his pennies just in case the monsoons were coming, as if Joe wouldn't always be there for him.
Billy didn't know anybody, but Billy'd found Philbrick, and most of their gigs, and even the record company. Motherfucker—who the fuck was Mr. Tallent writing to?
In a flash, Joe was up, off the amp, and had snatched the spiral notebook out from Billy's hand. "Hey!" Billy shouted with outrage; he tried to grab it back, but Joe raised the pages high over Billy's head and loomed over Billy's chair so that he couldn't stand up.
"You're not paying attention to me." Joe half straddled the battered folding chair Billy was sitting on, then knocked his black-denim-clad hip annoyingly into Billy's face a couple of times.
Billy twisted his face out of the direct line of fire, his expression sliding from outrage to resignation. "Yeah, I know. You could just have said. Gimme my notebook."
"No," Joe said, and raised it higher.
"Give it to me, fuckwad."
"Cunt. I didn't know you could even write."
Billy's blue eyes flashed with good humor. "I can't write, I'm writing in crayon. Message in the bottle—"
Having Billy's face at cock-level was giving him all sorts of ideas. Screw the Chickslits. "Suck my dick," Joe said, and nudged his dick forward, happy to see that it looked fucking huge in his pants.
"-help me, stop. Trapped with an asshole, stop. Stupid cunt wants to fuck me, stop—"
Joe grabbed a handful of Billy's hair, dragged Billy's head to his cock, and dragged his erection across Billy's cheek. "Aw, c'mon. You know you want to."
"You know I don't," Billy tilted his head back to look at him, lips twisting into a smile. "I'm not sucking your nasty-ass dick—"
"Hey, it's your nasty ass," Joe said blandly.
"—which is all sweaty and shit; your fucking pants are wet, you wet yourself—"
"Hey, I'm a star, baby."
"—from jumping around like an asshole—'
Joe stared down at Billy's face and saw that he was flushed and breathing hard. "Eat me, cunt," he growled, and tightened his fist in Billy's hair. Billy groaned and closed his eyes, nostrils flaring. "C'mon. C'mon—"
Billy leaned forward and began to mouth Joe's cock hungrily through his jeans. Joe felt like moaning and letting his head fall back—but that wasn't his role in this. Instead, he locked his legs at the knees and roughly egged Billy on with hand and voice, roughly grabbing Billy's face and pulling his hair and keeping up a stream of encouraging obscenity: "Suck me, suck me now, you obscene little douchebag, you cunt, you cocksucking bitch, Billy—"
Billy grabbed him hard by the hips, tilted his head and opened his mouth wide—and fuck! fuck! Billy sucking his balls though the denim. That dragged a low, dark sound of him, and for the first time, he was glad for the Mechanics' endless shitty sets. He clamped a hand on Billy's flannel-covered shoulder, like he was dying to fuck Billy's face but really to keep himself steady, especially when Billy started using his teeth. Motherfucker.
"F-fuck. F-fuck." He could hardly breathe, and he didn't realize until he suddenly saw the cracked pipes on the dressing room ceiling that he'd let his head fall back after all. With a grunt, he jerked his head up and shoved Billy's face away from his crotch with his open hand. Billy was panting, and his mouth and chin were glistening—and fuck, Joe's pants were damp at the crotch from Billy's saliva and his own leaky cock. "Stop. Stop, you asshole—" and then he was yanking down his zipper and pulling his cock out. He wrapped his fist around his dick and gave it a couple of quick tugs. Christ, that felt good.
Billy's pale-lashed eyes fluttered closed. Joe's cock was right in his face, and Joe suddenly wanted to come all over him, jerk off right in his face. Helplessly, gritting his teeth, he jerked himself harder—the lizard pulse in his brain whispering billybillybilly—and just when he thought that one more breath, one more stroke would make him shoot off, Billy opened his mouth and leaned forward, sucking his cockhead in.
The world blazed white behind his eyes as Billy's wide, flat tongue worked him, throwing off his rhythm, sending him to new heights. They were back on Billy's turf, and Joe gasped for air now, afraid of losing consciousness as well as control. Billy was expertly sucking him, tongue-tip poking almost painfully into his slit. Joe grabbed for his dick and pulled Billy's hair hard at the roots, but when Billy opened his eyes and looked up at him with his mouth full of cock—that was all she wrote, game over. Joe's hips were jerking forward, and he was coming into Billy's mouth.
When Joe finally opened his fist and let go of Billy's hair, he found blond strands sticking to his palm, roots still attached. But Billy'd never even flinched—Billy'd just stared mutely up at him with his pale blue eyes, swallowing, swallowing. And suddenly, Joe felt almost overwhelmed with feeling for the fucked-up hustling bastard—hell, even in his whoredom, Billy'd out-punked him. He hauled Billy up out of his chair by his flannel shirt—pantywaist faggot didn't weigh hardly nothing—and kissed him roughly. Billy's mouth tasted of come and cigarette smoke.
And then Billy's hands were knotted in the black fabric of his t-shirt and he was shoving Joe back against the flight case, tongue deep in Joe's mouth. Joe put up a bit of a fight, mainly cause he liked fighting Billy—struggling hard enough to cause Billy some bruises, but not hard enough to flip him out, because when Billy felt cornered he could be a real motherfucker. He remembered how Billy'd gone apeshit that time they were ambushed behind the Freakshow, and Joe'd thought they were goners himself. Still, it was Billy'd who'd kept fighting even once they'd laid those guys out, pounding their faces with a fistful of glass. Joe'd cracked two ribs, and Billy'd needed stitches on his cheek and hands, but those guys had been carted away, had lost fingers and eyes, big chunks of their fuckin' faces. Those guys bled like pigs.
So he let Billy shove him off balance, let Billy tonguefuck his mouth. Billy worked his cock out of his pants and began to stroke himself frantically, lifting up onto his toes. Joe could feel Billy's smooth cockhead against his belly, the scrape of Billy's scarred knuckles. He grabbed Billy's hips, half-pushing him away and half holding him in place.
Billy was panting, gasping, a vein throbbing in his forehead when he twisted his mouth away. "You cunt. You cunt, Joe—"
"I'm gonna fuck you inside out tonight," Joe growled, and bit down hard on Billy's lip.
Billy closed his eyes and inhaled sharply, shuddering. "Fuck—" and then he was spilling come all over Joe's pale belly. A couple of deep breaths, and Billy opened his eyes and grinned ferally through the smear of bright red blood.
Joe drew his fingers through the puddle of come on his belly. "You made a fucking mess, Billiam," he said, and flicked the come in Billy's face.
"Ingrate." Billy's grin widened, and his tongue darted out to lick a white pearl from the corner of his mouth. "You'll never fuck me again."
"Says you," Joe snorted
"Says me," Billy agreed.
"Billiam, I'm gonna have your ass in a sandwich," Joe said, and Billy barked out a laugh. "Yeah. You heard me. I'm gonna make an ass-sandwich; I'm gonna have your ass in a fucking sandwich—"
Billy pushed off him, then grabbed the tail of Joe's shirt and wiped off his dick. Joe pushed the heel of his hand against Billy's forehead, shoving him back and away. He couldn't be having this shit.
With a crash of cymbals ("Now I wanna! Be your dog!—Hey!") the music stopped. Joe blew out a breath; thank God. Only so much of this shit a person could take. These guys sucked ass.
"All right, they've probably driven everybody out of here by now," Billy said, zipping up. "Hang out, I'll find Pipe, get the van—
There was a sudden rapid drumroll at the Mechanics kicked into an encore. Oooh, I been dirt. And I don't care.
"Fuck," Billy said, and pulled his cigarettes out of his shirt pocket. "You'd think they'd be tired already," he said, and opened the coffin door. The music blared loud for a second, then dimmed as Billy pulled the door shut behind him.
Joe shoved his dick back into his jeans, found a cigarette and smoked slowly, coming down off his high. He was beat, kind of hungry—maybe load up the van, take the equipment back to the bandhouse, then go out with Billy for pancakes. He could go for a stack of pancakes right about now. He flicked his cigarette away, watched as it arced and landed on the paint-chipped concrete next to Billy's battered spiral notebook. After a moment, he bent to swipe it off the floor. He flipped the cover open, and read: "By the time you read this—"
Fuck! Motherfucking dickhead! Joe lurched for the door, which was locked, fucking locked. He pounded on the door, but nobody was gonna hear him over the Mechanics' cover of Dirt. In his mind, he could hear Billy screaming, "Fuck you, Philbrick, you fuckwad!"
The next time he saw Billy Tallent, he was on the cover of Spin.