a Hard Core Logo story for Serial Karma

by Speranza

For some reason, Joe always attracts the skanky goth chick in the ripped Ramones t-shirt and the skinny Japanese girl who speaks no English at all. He stands there, black jeans clammy with sweat, leaning across the bar and snapping his fingers for a beer, a beer, maestro, fucking please!—while the goth chick bitches about how HCL never got the fuckin' respect they deserved (okay, yeah, but that's his fucking song, ain't it?) and the Jap girl stares at him in silent fucking awe.

Master William, on the other hand, draws from two entirely different and opposite types: virgin teenyboppers (straight from whatever fucking high school, all dressed up and no one to blow), and older women—tall, slinky, often 'with the organization'; patrons of the arts wearing gold watches against their magnificently bronzed skin. They tuck their carefully manicured fingers into the belt loop of Billy's dirt-crusted jeans, and Billy shows them a million dollar smile—though Joe would bet that nobody's ever given the Billiam more than a hundred bucks, if even that much. Still, there's no chance that he's gonna get in on any of that action; the slinky chicks take Billiam back to their fancy hotel rooms, where Billy steals the towels, the coffee, and those little bottles of shampoo.

Still, he can usually horn in on the teenyboppers, who come in your two basic varieties: nearly-or-almost-virgins, who, despite their mamma's clothes and makeup, are in it totally over their heads; or your do-anythings, who sometimes manage to shock even him. Either way, the teenyboppers are fertile ground for a threesome, either because they're too naïve to complain when Joe crawls onto the mattress with them, or because they're wearing that "bring it on" smile.

Ironically, Joe likes the slutty ones less, even though he's often inspired by their cleverness and flexibility: the girl who sucked him off while Billy fucked her, the girl who sat on his face while she made out with our Billiam. They're good girls, these girls—they're the ones willing to put on a show for him and Billy by making out with their perfectly straight girlfriends—but they know too much, they've seen too much, and so when they're that kind, he has to keep his hands off Billy.

But not with your gen-u-ine almost-virgins, who've never had anything but vanilla sex with their pathetic, pimply boyfriends. The fun here is in pushing them past where they've been, and sometimes that’s as easy as Joe sitting behind them and holding their slim, smooth thighs open for Billy's tongue, or tag-teaming them, muttering dirty words of encouragement to each other ("Oh yeah, Billy. Give it to her. Fuck her inside out,") or having Billy lick their tits and say, with that shit-eating grin of his, "Hey, this is Joe. Suck him off for me, willya?" They're not used to being passed around, these girls, but then again they're not used to any of this, and so what does it matter if Joe reaches out with a thick, clumsy hand to turn Billy's head toward his? So what if he kisses Billy with more passion than he's ever had for any girl: goth, Jap, slut or virgin? It's all rock'n'roll, and they don't know the difference between Billy fingerfucking them in the van and Joe humping Billy's leg. It's all perverse to them, it's all dirty, and Billy seems to take it in that spirit, too, with his long-standing and committed Billy-position of "Yeah, whatever."

The girl in Vancouver changes it all.

He probably wouldn't even have noticed her, except they're on home turf and so when he sees Billy talking to the girl he does a doubletake, thinking it's maybe one of Billy's sisters or someone they both knew from high school. The girl has that vibe to her, like she might be somebody's cousin—preppy blonde haircut that must have cost real cash, and she's wearing khakis for God's sake, though her tight-sleeveless t-shirt reveals an elegant scribble of a tattoo on her upper arm. He veers past and sizes her up just long enough to determine that she's nobody he knows or needs to pay attention to, and then he shoots Billy a "sorry, chump!" look before going to fuck a goth girl in the back of the van.

He doesn't think any more about it—except she's at the next gig, wearing a white mini-dress with purple flowers on it, and oh-my-fucking-God there is Billy talking to her, all smiles and let-me-get-you-a-beer. He squints to see if she's maybe industry after all, because they're only getting older and the fuckheads in power are getting younger all the time—but not that young. Because the girl can't be more than twenty-two or twenty-three, so even if she is with a label she's probably the Junior Assistant's assistant's intern, which means she isn't even worth fucking over, let alone fucking. But Billy's talking to her anyway—really talking to her, because he's using his hands, those long elegant fingers painting pictures in the air, illustrating whatever-the-fuck passes for thought in Billy's head these days. He debates whether to go over there and fuck it up. Pros and cons: Billy can be fucking stubborn if he senses a contest, so maybe better to just let it be. On the other hand—

Twenty seconds later he hears her suppressed little scream as he flings one sweaty arm around her neck, and another across Billiam's shoulders. "Hey! Billy! Whatcha doin', who's your girlfriend?" and that's a joke, because guys like them, they don't have girlfriends—well, except maybe Ox, and he's nuts.

But Billy doesn't act like it's a joke; he just shrugs and tosses a cigarette from his pack up to his mouth and says, the cancer stick bobbing, "This is Kelly. Kelly, this is Joe." "Hi," Kelly says with a smile. "It's nice to meet you; you were amazing up there," —and she looks straight at him with her blue eyes and—what the fuck?—offers him her hand—for what, shaking? He's seriously tempted to unzip and say, "Okay, if you want: I like a good, solid grip," but Billy's looking bored at his parlor tricks and she's probably a champion dyke anyway.

So he says, "Why, thank you kindly," in his most fluting voice. "I'm delighted you enjoyed our humble entertainments," and she's still smiling, but she's glancing nervously at Billy. Meanwhile, Billy's looking at him, and he knows that look well: "Anytime you're ready, please shove the fuck off." This only makes him smile wider. "And you? What's your contribution to Canadian culture?"

"I'm a student, actually. UBC. Pharmacology," and wow, there's just nothing to do but lean in to ask, "So, uh, can you hook me up with some quality speed?"

"C'mon," Billy says, lacing his fingers in hers, "I'll buy you a coffee. I know a place—"

"Caffeine's a killer fucking drug," he says sanctimoniously, "almost as bad as that damn devil weed," but Billy's already tugging Kelly toward the exit, Billy and Kelly, Kelly and Billy, so he gives them a giant, double-middle finger and yells: "Have fun, Billy and Kelly! And Bobby and Suzy and Cathy and Sneezy and Dopey and gee whiz, assholes, can I go to the fuckin' hop?" but the door to the club is slamming behind them, and mother of God, he hopes Billy's in it for the speed.

Billy goes missing for a couple of days, though that's nothing unusual. He convinces himself that it's just one of Billy's stray cat things until Ox says something about having run into Billy at the fucking UBC art cinema, which, okay, what the fuck? When he wants Billy to see a movie he slaps him upside the head and takes him down to the Forum, because Billy knows even fucking less about cinema than he does about anything else, which is saying something. Billy wants to look like a hipster but he doesn't know Jarmusch from Scorsese, and while Ox might obliviously wander onto a University campus to go to some meeting of psychotics or a late night writers' group, he always figured Billy'd just go up in smoke, like a vampire in the sun.

He grits his teeth and focuses on the next gig, like he always does; they're booked for a couple nights in Calgary, a couple nights in Edmonton. He changes the oil in the van, checks the tires. A couple of days on the road, Billy will snap back to normal. Billy can be an A-1-Champion-Flake in a lot of ways, but if there's a gig, he'll show up: he's reliable like that, anyway.

Sunday night Billy does show up, wearing a long leather duster, guitar in one hand. Relief isn't the beginning of what he feels, and so he slaps Billy hard, too hard, on the back and says, "Get in the fucking van." Billy shoves his guitar at him, nearly pushing him onto his ass, but that's good, that's just fine, and he tilts his head back, spits his gum ten feet into the air, and grins like a lunatic.

It takes fucking fore ver to drive to Calgary, and then there isn't even a band house, just two small rooms and a bathroom above the club. He and Billy take the back room and leave Pipe and Ox to make camp in the outer area with its threadbare rug and cigarette-scarred couch. The house is packed, though, which boosts up everyone's mood, and he sees his own cocky smile mirrored on Pretty Billy's face. The crowd fuckin' freaks when they take the stage, and the feeling is better than speed, purer. He's flying, high on oxygen and heat. Sweat comes flying off the ends of Billy's hair when he flings his head back. The feeling lasts well past the fwannng! of Billy's last chord, well past the cheers and the hands grabbing at his soaking wet shirt as he makes a beeline for the bar, the dizzying chorus of "Killer show!" and "You rock!" and "Fuckin' A!" A healthy array of goth girls and leggy putanas are waiting for him—and one in particular, a heavily-eyelined Japanese girl wearing a tiny leather miniskirt and boots, implacably latches onto his arm. She's pretty enough, and he admires her determination, so he decides that, yeah, okay, he'll lay her—maybe even suggest a foursome with whatever teenybopper Billy's hooked himself up with.

He finds Billy in the back room, locking the equipment in the club's storage room. His pale skin is shiny with sweat, and there are dark circles under his eyes, but he looks oddly satisfied with himself.

"C'mon already," he says, as Billy wipes his sweaty hands on his sweaty shirt. "Grab a girl and do-si-do." He tilts his head toward the girl still locked on his arm and waggles his eyebrows. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours."

Billy's grin is huge and amused but he's already shaking his head. "Nah, man; I'm wiped," he says, and rubs at his eyes. "Gonna grab a couple of beers, maybe smoke a little." His eyes drift briefly but appreciatively to the kamikaze girl. "Room's yours if you want it."

But that's not what he wants at all. A hot fury is burning inside him now, but he tamps it down. "Nah." He closes his hand around the girl's tightly crooked arm and hears her soft hiss of pain. "Sounds like you've got the right idea. Gonna grab a bottle of Jack and join you," and then he shoves the girl away. She flees. Billy watches her go, then flicks an indifferent eyebrow. Yeah, whatever.

They steal a bottle from the bar, passing Pipe who's practically beating his chest, he's having so much fun, and head up the back stairs. Billy knocks twice, hard, in case Ox is there, but there's no answer and they step inside. It's fucking hot in here, and they're hot already, so Billy kicks off his boots, skims out of his t-shirt and tight black jeans, and, still smoking, takes his skinny, flat ass off for a cold shower. He watches Billy go, then takes off his t-shirt, towels down his chest, and unscrews the Jack. A couple of swigs later and the fire in his belly is cooling. He sits down on the floor near the mattress, pulls over an ashtray, and starts searching Billy's stuff for drugs.

Billy's got nothing good, just the promised weed and some rolling papers tossed in with his shirts and socks and spare pair of jeans. Sighing, he takes another swig of Jack and rolls up a joint, and by the time Billy's out of the shower, a stolen motel towel wrapped tight around his narrow hips—well, he's not relaxed, but he can see it from here.

Billy slides down the wall without getting dressed and reaches for the joint. He looks like something out of a cave painting, a skinny warrior; he should be covered in war paint. Billy takes the joint from his fingers, inhales deep, and holds the smoke down. When he blows out, he lets his head thunk back against the wall. They sit there for a while, smoking and drinking, not talking until he decides it's time.

"So, you're seeing this girl Kelly?" he asks, and follows the question up with a swig of Jack.

Billy shoots him a quick look, but apparently judges that they're cool. "Yeah, maybe. It's unclear," he says, and takes another long drag of smoke. "Magic 8 Ball says: Try again later."

"What's your other ball called?" he asks, and Billy laughs his clear, pure, stupid laugh up at the ceiling. "Oh, wait, I forgot you only have one—"

"Hey, suck it and I'll let you name it," Billy says, and grabs himself through the towel.

It's a joke, the way Billy having a girlfriend is supposed to be joke, the way "Joe Dick" was a joke that he's still stuck with, all these years later. But right now it's more temptation than he can stand. He grabs Billy's dick—small and still faintly damp from the shower—and plants a big, sloppy kiss on Billy's mouth. Billy laughs and shoves him away and says, "You dick," so he pushes back harder, locking one hand on Billy's neck while the other tightens on his dick, to show that he's serious. Billy struggles a little, and so Joe shoves him down hard and crawls on top of him.

He is serious, he is really fucking serious, and maybe Billy catches it, because after a while he stops struggling and opens his mouth. He always forgets what a lightweight Billy is, because there's usually a girl in bed with them for perspective. But there's no girl now. Billy's built so damn slight, and he's got these pale eyelashes, these high cheekbones. But Billy's cock is thickening in his hand, and his forearms are hard with muscles from years of guitar-playing, and Joe really wants to fuck him, has always wanted to fuck him, and that's the beginning and the end of the truth of it.

Billy fights him every step of the way before giving in, and isn't that just Billy all over? Billy struggles to pull away, and then sucks tongue like a whore. Billy thrashes the first time Joe touches his ass, but after he's jerked Billy off, Billy lets his thighs splay apart. By the time he's got two fingers shoved up Billy's ass, Billy's gasping and panting at the cracked ceiling. Finally, he flips Billy over onto his hands and knees and shoves into him—and Billy gasps violently and convulses hard—god, sweet—around him before shoving back against him, fucking himself with ragged gasps.

But it's way too late to let Billy drive now. "You think you're straight, Billy?" he whispers into the soft shell of Billy's ear. "You think you're ever gonna be straight? You think things are ever gonna be normal, with a house and a kid and a steady job—?" and he barely hears Billy's whispered, "No," before Billy comes again, shuddering and jerking into the palm of Joe's hand.

The End