An Invincible Necessity
One: 6:15AM Wake Up Call
On the morning of April 7th, James had two things on his mind: quitting his job and breaking up with Mandy, both of which made him want to ram his head through a wall. Needless to say, these having been the two main things on his mind when he awoke made it difficult for him to want to crawl out of bed.
The incessant banging on the wall outside of his bedroom, however, made it difficult for him to stay in bed. Groaning, he rolled onto his side, squinting at the green digital numbers on his alarm clock.
"Oi! D'you think it would be a possible for a person to get some fuckin' sleep in this house?" he shouted and the banging stopped. When it began again, it was accompanied by drunken singing. James squeezed one eye shut, the other one staring at the orange wall across from his bed as he imagined what it would look like if he were to shove his head through the wall, only his shoulders evident, both arms hanging limp at his sides (he imagined putting one's head through a wall, any wall, would send one into a state of unconsciousness, particularly if they had only recently woken up with a ridiculously bad hangover). He rolled over onto his back, settling his hands over his stomach and sighing. Somewhere outside, the thunder had triggered a car alarm. Some woman had begun screaming out of her window to have it shut off, while another woman screamed back at her to shut up. James snorted, bringing one hand up to his forehead and shutting his eyes.
These were the typical, early morning London sounds, along with cars honking, tires squealing, dogs barking and the occasional neighbour participating in what can only be described as loud, ritual sex. Sex actually didn't sound too terrible to him at the moment. It had been a bit since Mandy had felt well enough to endure his clumsy movements.
James cracked an eye open, letting his gaze center on the area of the blanket positioned just over his crotch, apparently awakened by a car alarm and two elderly women screeching at one another. He reached down, patting it, affectionately. "Sorry, mate. I've got a feelin' we won't be getting' much action for a very, very long time."
Despite what one might think, based on an initial overview of London's streets, many of her citisens do not, in fact, drive. Because, after all, only maniacs and criminals actually took on the ridiculously crowded streets, especially when, most of the time, it was quicker to get around by taxi or on foot.
James found it easier to walk. He had a feeling that, had he not started walking when he first moved to London, he would be close to 300 lb and very lonely. Not that he minded walking. It gave him time to think and he always did love the American tourists who seemed to think all Englishmen must be honest and trustworthy. After all, they are in the movies.
"Excuse me, sir, could you tell me where the subway station is in Lie-keh-ster Square?"
"Uh, yeah. You just take that bus over there until it stops. It should stop right in…er…Lie-keh-ster Square."
It was always easier being on the inside looking out. On the inside, you're safe in your routine. Like you're in a fish bowl. On the outside, you're like a bunch of fucking goldfish in a feeder tank, running into each other in the dirty water, trying to figure out which way's up and which way's down. On the inside, it's easier to laugh because you don't have the bollocks to do it yourself.
It's easy to pretend you're better than people. It's harder to pretend you're not. Which is why he's decided to end it with Mandy. After four consecutive years of a very dull relationship with little to nothing new or special or even memorable attached to it, he's found that there's no need to endure her constant berating and her incessant insults. It's not that he doesn't enjoy Mandy's company on a rare occasion, he does. It's simply a matter of esteem and wanting badly not to be bored to a painful death when around someone who should be the light of his life.
Mm. Yes. Wouldn't that be lovely?
His routine itself has become a bit boring as of late.
Maybe he should shake things up one of these days.
One of these days.
Mm. Yes. Wouldn't that be lovely?
James had a feeling the receptionist fancied him. He'd thought so since his first day at work when he had shown up in an over-size sweatshirt and a pair of khaki trousers to which she'd complimented him on his brilliant fashion sense. When he smiled and thanked her, she's spilled her tea all over her very important-looking folder. Ever since then, it seems she's had a difficult time holding any of her beverages around him.
It wasn't that he was not flattered; he most certainly was. But Carol Anderson was not, what one might call, "attractive." While she did not stand out in a crowd, it was also rather difficult for her to blend in as well. At thirty-something, it seems she still had a bit of an acne problem. She had a bright red face, making it look as though she was somehow either always embarrassed or extremely hot. She wore the same clothes his grandmother wore when she was alive (he believed they were called moo-moo's by some) and filled them out rather well.
Needless to say, while he was flattered by her attention, that was as far as it would go.
A mug of tea committed suicide, inadvertently taking an innocent file down with it.
"Oh. Morning, James," she smiled as she hurriedly wiped the tea up with tissues. "You, em…you look nice today."
"Me? Really?" James was unable to stop the snort of laughter. He couldn't remember a time when a t-shirt with a cartoon character on the front, a pair of jeans and scuffed-up sneakers constituted looking "nice." "Well, thanks, Carol."
Her face reddened. Or maybe it stayed the same. He couldn't tell.
"Mr Jakob's in a meeting, if you're looking for him," she announced as he made his way towards the elevator.
"Thanks, I'll remember that," he called over his shoulder, holding a hand up in a half-wave.
When one says they are a technical support person, they're mocked for living in a cubicle day-to-day and taking orders from a horrible boss who sits in his window office shouting orders to the gofers down below. This is James's occupation during the day.
When one says they are a musician, they're mocked for having larger-than-life dreams and never taking orders from anyone, which results in a significantly smaller amount of money, particularly when one is living in a house with their bandmates. This is James's occupation at night.
It's difficult to figure out which response is best around which type of people. Yet he's learned how to distinguish the office crowd from the rock crowd.
It's much more difficult than one might think and he feels rather proud that he's mastered this technique.
In truth, he had become a bit of a joke around the office. Not only was he a musician in a band with a proper record and contract, he also took full advantage of their loose dress code. After all, it wasn't his fault they hadn't thought to enforce suits and ties. Naturally, the more esteemed employees thought it imperative that they try and tear him down at every chance (and rather inconspicuously, they couldn't be caught acting like children).
He didn't mind. He wouldn't give up his time onstage for the world.
Well, maybe for a very sexy, half-naked woman. But he wasn't holding his breath.
"Hey, man, you've got messages up the arse," Andrew poked his head up from his cube as James reached his own.
"Everyone wants a bit o' James," he announced, plopping back into his desk chair, pulling his phone towards him, slipping his headset on and switching on his small radio.
PLEASE ENTER YOUR PASSWORD.
"You have…seventeen…new messages. To listen to new messages, please press 'one.' To-Message One: Friday…January 17th…7:04PM."
"Hullo, Mr Burke, my name is Melissa and I recently ordered some of your company's software and a brand new computer. The other day, I asked my daughter to bring me a drink while I was watching telly. She brought it to me and I continued watching. One minute or so later, she came back to me and handed me something. 'Look, Mommy, I brought you a cup holder.' 'That's nice, sweetie, but where did you get it?' 'I pushed the button on that thing over there and it came out.' The piece I held in my hand was from the CD-Rom. Now, knowing this, is this covered under my warranty?"
"Message deleted. Message Two: Friday…January 17th…7:27PM."
"Hello, sir. I work for a company that uses your computers and I had a very important question that I would like answered. I work with quite a bit of financial and personal information that requires user logins, IDs and the like. Now what I need to know is that you have no access to this information from your computers."
James snorted, rubbing his forehead. "Bitch, we check your e-mail."
He glanced at the small digital clock beside the radio.
By the time James got off of work, some divine being had seen fit to flood the streets of London. And Andrew had taken his umbrella and smashed it before he left.
Sometimes he wondered if it was worth it, living and working with a bandmate. Maybe he should fire Andy from the band. They could always find someone else to hit a couple of sticks against things. Against the walls in the morning. Against James's head when he had a hangover. Against the car. Against the television. Against the toilet. Against the computer.
James blinked, catching sight of a red head before stumbling backwards, the owner of the voice tumbling onto the very wet, very shiny sidewalk. He hurried forwards, bending down and offering a hand to the owner, mumbling apologies and running his other hand through his soaked hair. When the owner finally stood and looked at him, he felt his face turn the same shade as her hair and all thought fled his mind.
He always thought he had a thing for redheads.
"I…I'm sorry, I just…I mean, I'm really sorry," he was babbling. He hated it when people babbled. Why was it so hard to simply think of the words you want to say and say them without letting other fleeting thoughts interrupt you?
"S'Alright. I'll survive," she muttered, running both hands through her own wet hair and glancing down at her attire. Not that the fall had done anything. She'd been wandering about with no umbrella and seemed to have been soaked to the bone already.
Then she was looking at him and he fumbled for words, his fingers absently toying with the hem of his t-shirt before he finally blurted out:
"You look like me mum."
And thoughts of suicide overwhelmed him.
The girl stared up at him for a long moment, her face unreadable (though he swore he could see confusion and a bit of disgust lingering there somewhere).
"Your mum," she said the words slowly, as though they were a statement. James smiled, knowing it looked very lopsided and goofy, and nodded, shoving his hands into his trouser pockets.
"I mean…I mean not now. You don't look like my mum the way she is now. I mean when she was…when she was younger, you see. When she was younger, she was…erm…she was really quite pretty. Beautiful, even. I mean, not that I…uh…I uh think about my mum that way, but I've been told she was very…very, um, beautiful," he heard his voice falter and began mentally jotting down the ways he could off himself the minute she left. But the girl simply stared at him for a long moment before her face softened.
"You wanna go get a drink? It's on me," she announced. James felt his mouth hang open and he furrowed his brow. "You look like you need a few drinks in you."
"You going to drug me?" he squinted at her and she shook her head, her expression deadly serious. "Alright, then. Long as you're not plannin' on takin' advantage of me."
"Wouldn't dream of it."
"And it's, like…the worst fucking job ever, ya know? I just…I sit there and I talk to a bunch of complete fucking prats about machines that they shouldn't even be allowed to fuckin' use. There should be a license. There should be a license for people to use computers. A fucking license. And you have to have the intel…inteluh…IQ higher 'an a twelve-year-old, ya know?"
Across from him, the girl smiled and nodded, despite the fact that, even in his inebriated state, he could hear how badly he was slurring and she most likely could not understand a single word he was saying. He frowned, setting his chin on his arm and staring at the mug of beer before him, making patterns in the condensation.
"What about your girlfriend?" she questioned after a moment. James glanced up, finding that, for a moment, he had forgotten someone was sitting there.
"Eh?" he crinkled his nose, cocking his head to the side and the girl smiled, pointing to the ring on his left hand.
"S'not a wedding ring, but I'm guessing it's something important," she answered. James lifted his head, bringing his hand up and inspecting the ring.
"Oh. Yeah. Mandy," he felt a look of disgust involuntarily make its way onto his face. "She was supposed to be this rebound, ya know? Just…just a bird I could have fun with after I broke up with my girlfriend. But I really liked her for awhile. She was…she was nice and-and soft and…she has great skin, I mean pffft. I ain't never seen a bird with skin like hers. No…no freckles or…or nothin'. And she was nice. She has nice hair. S'blond. I like blond on a girl. I do. And redheads. I like your hair. You've got pretty hair."
James stared at the tabletop for a long moment, his mouth and nose twitching with the effort of keeping the disgusted look on his face. And something inside him told him it would be a brilliant idea to jump onto the table. He never found out why.
"And now she's this total…this total cunt, ya know?" he shouted from atop the table, beer mug somehow in his hand now, alcohol spilling over the sides as he gestured. "Won't let me stay out at night with my mates, gets fucked off if I talk to some girl after a show. Like I'll go 'n' fuck some other girl. I may not like her, but I would never…never fuck around on 'er. Never."
"'Scuse me, but I'm gonna have to have the two o' you leave," a voice announced from somewhere behind him. James spun around, nearly toppling off of the table, to see the pub owner (or so he assumed) standing beside the table, hands on hips, glaring up at him. The redhead stood up, setting a hand on the man's chest.
"Listen, he's just letting off some steam, he isn't hurting anyone," she answered, pulling her wallet from her pocket and handing what James saw as a twenty pound note.
And he knew he'd fallen in love.
He glanced up at the clock.