Hi, I hope you have a great week. 🥰
I’ve included a bit of Joe’s part too – most of this was written today – so it’s very much a WIP. I’ll update it asap…
Mac was left gaping in Joe’s wake, but the door was not. It began to swing shut again, so Badass McCafferty scrambled his wits together sharpish and corrected the expression on his face to its customary countenance. After following Joe into the studio, Mac nodded a general greeting to all present: now numbering three thirty-something musicians, Stu the technician…and, of course, Adam.
“Hiya, sorry! I wasn’t late, I was a smidge early, so we pottered off for a bit. Shurrup, O’Donnell,” Joe sniffed, shooting ‘O’Donnell’ a devilish smirk before he could pass comment on the miracle that was Joe Fitzgerald, in the flesh, before five p.m. Or seven. His blue bass guitar, suspended by a blue/purple/pink strap, seemed to proclaim both O’Donnell’s role in the band and sexuality…which begged a question that was no business of Mac’s and did not make him feel bilious. Let alone murderous. Even if the bastard was a twinkly-eyed Irishman with inky curls and an impish grin.
His name didnae guarantee his birthplace, but the “Spoilsport” he shot back was pure Dublin…and if ever a pair of Irish eyes had smiled more disarmingly, Mac hadnae encountered them. As wiry as he was compact, he could probably pass as Georgie Best’s cousin after a couple of pints.
The dude standing beside Adam had the lean, lithe form of a man who lived hard and loved every minute of it. The long fingers of his left hand were poised on the frets of a six-string guitar; a white Les Paul, to be precise. While Mac couldnae claim to be a buff, he sure as Spiders-from-Mars recognised the guitar Bowie had spent the seventies ‘fellating’. It’s owner, however, didnae look a thing like a reincarnated Mick Ronson, by virtue of resembling a younger, taller, Lenny Kravitz. Shoulder-length dreads framing fabulous bone-structure, beautiful almond eyes…and as gorgeous as he was gay. The platinum band that graced the third finger of the chord he’d formed on the Gibson’s frets was—by far—his finest feature.
The only member of Joe’s band who could be taken for a bloke you might meet down the pub was the drummer, who was a dead ringer for James Dean Bradfield. Only one of the Manics was reputed to have departed this mortal coil, thus quashing Vince’s claim, once and for all. Although, it must be admitted, Mac did retain a particularly soft spot for Richey Edwards. A lost soul so similar to a certain miscreant’s it made Mac’s ‘type’ abruptly obvious. In retrospect. A fact as ominous as a freight train hurtling Mac’s way with failed brakes.
“I ‘spect Adam’s filled you in lads, but this is Mac, my Bad-ass. Mac…that’s…Luke.” Joe wafted an arm towards the drum kit, behind which sat Bradders’ brother, who nodded with a grin so amiable it suggested he was the least likely person in the room to be pissed off by a Joe-no-show. Not least, if that meant he could head off for a pint and game of pool before closing time. “Mac, meet your fellow mad-axe murderer, Jez…” The monster waved a hand toward his handsome Riff Ripper (when in Rome…) with a wink at Mac. “And that scamp…” Joe indicated the impish ‘O’Donnell’ “is Connor.”
“Good to meet you,” Mac had nodded to each of the men in turn when they’d been introduced, so he directed his next words to Joe’s manager. “Adam, where should I park my arse, so I won’t be in the way?”
“Anywhere that suits, they’re just gonna run through the set list…”
“About that…” Joe bit down on his bottom lip while sweeping that beguiling gaze around the studio, blindsiding them all with beseeching brown.
Connor rolled Irish eyes with rueful sweet-Mary–mother-of-God resignation, Jez’s smirk was that of a man accustomed to going into battle armed with a loaded C8 carbine, no additional ammo, and the balls to clean up. And Luke? Looked like a bloke who’d do whatever the hell it took to make the pub before last orders.
“Oh fuck. If you’re about to cut it in half, then don—”
“I’m not.” Joe cut Adam short with a look that all-but screamed nanananana. F’fucksakes. Mac had actually thought that. While sober. “If I said I wanted to add three songs, should I hide behind Mac? Um, you only need learn two?” Joe amended when jaws dropped and eyeballs plopped to the floor. Except Jez’s umber gaze, which glittered with the anticipation of a man who’d just caught a live grenade and sent it winging its way to victory. “What!?” Joe demanded when Connor’s smirk exploded in a splutter of mirth. “I often add songs!”
“Ye do indeed…but I’ll be blowed if I can rightly remember being warned beforehand…” he snickered.
“Damn cheek…you know as soon as I do. I’d have to be psychic to tell you before that.”
“I could kill for a cuppa…” Mac heard himself mutter, with no warning whatsoever. He wasnae sure that was true, whisky would be preferable, but he was gasping for a post coital smoke.
“Y’could kill for far less…just sayin.” Joe tossed over his shoulder before turning his attention back to Connor. “On that note? I want to cover Psycho Killer…oh, and My Way…à la Sid. That’s why I need a white tux, Adam, so don’t forget. A padlock would be better than a dog collar, if you can get your mitts on one…oh, and will you remind me to mention a couple more items of clobber? The third song is a new one, so I’ll play that solo, on a semi-acoustic cos I only have the melody down at the mo. You’re more than welcome to chip in, if you want tho’.” Joe lifted a hand to scratch his tufty head after rattling off said ream of requests.
Connor…chuckled. Jez grinned. Luke looked…ready for a pint. “Is that okay?” Joe glanced around the room, bewilderment furrowing his brow when no one threw a fit—or a guitar at him—in the wake of his rapid-fire impromptu plans.
Not even Mac, most especially Mac. My Way, you monster…? Psycho Killer? F’fucksakes. Mac wasnae sure whether he wanted to slaughter him, or shag him senseless. More. Knowing why might clarify matters. To wind him up? The reappearance of that tongue x two…fucking thousand? Further proof that even when Joe appeared to stay on script, he was plotting its subversion? If so, didn’t that beg another ‘why’?
One that really should worry Mac? Was Joe still pissed off that his feathers had been clipped, despite…every single thing they’d said, and done, since? Had it all been some elaborate ruse, and Mac had, in fact, been played like a bloody fiddle? Had Joe just sucked up the bad-ass babysitter (albeit in every way) until such time he could shred Mac’s…ego? In the most audacious—public—way possible? Other than a bloody press conference—which could still be stashed up his sleeve, of course—waiting to be whipped out with a bloody flourish at the most opportune moment. Why the hell else? Mac sure as shit couldnae think of another reason why he might merit a twin ‘tribute’.
“Is that okay? Hell, yeah…” Connor nodded. In much the manner he might agree with a lunatic who’d just announced his intention of tightrope walking from the dome of St. Paul’s to the top of Big Ben. About three nines before calling the white coats in.
The addition of two classic songs any musician worth their salt could pick up in half- hour couldnae have caused such reactions. Might it just be the fact Joe had expressed a wish to do…anything above and beyond the cursory run through of the set list between smack fixes? Or, the scattergun list of plans he’d peppered them with?
“Mac? Am I sporting a marshmallow-pie hat I’ve forgotten to remember?”
“Assuredly not.” Mac couldn’t help but smirk. Shag him first. Then—Christ. I’ll never be able to think that word again without springing a bloody boner—Slaughter him. Sorted. My Way…à la Sid. In a white tux. Bare chested. With a padlock. On a chain. Oh good grief. Give me strength. Thank fuck he doesnae intend to do it à la Frank. Mac didnae fancy his chances of focussing on sod all, should Joe take to the stage in a sharp suit and fedora. Strewth. Mac needed a smoke. The aforementioned boner felt about fit to bust his flies.
“Connor? Are you good with those?” Joe asked, with a knowing twinkle that soon proved itself astute.
“Y’kidding…Psycho Killer? I’m bloody great with it, it’s a cracking bassline,” Connor obliged with an ear-licking grin. “Luke?” he called.
“I’m in…we’ll nail it in half-hour, no problem. Y’coming over?”
“Sure. Anyone need us?” Connor tossed over his shoulder, en route to the drum kit.
“No…y’good. Thanks Connor…” Joe’s beam was as bright as the brilliance of those eyes. “Cheers, Luke!” he called, craning his head around to include the other half of his rhythm section.
“Jez, d’you mind?” Joe asked, with a visible wince.
“Fuck no…” His lead guitarist had no sooner produced a pick from the coin pocket of his black skinny jeans, than rustled up the riff Mac recognised all-too well. “G…Am..open E…G. Piece o’cake,” he winked. “One of the first songs I taught myself…Foxy Lady, Jean Genie, Psycho Killer. As for My Way? It’ll be a riot, Engel played a blinder. A minor, yeah?”
Mac left them to their chord progressions and went to park his butt. He hadnae expected Joe’s band members to be so…personable. Christ knows why, but he’d thought they’d be less—no—More ‘professional’. Less…passionate about playing for Joe. Session musicians, rather than bandmates, in the very real sense.
Better yet…while they might get pissed off with Joe for the six-hour no-shows…who wouldnae? Their unadulterated delight in finding Joe as ‘switched on’ as Adam must’ve assured them made Mac feel strangely…grateful. Grateful? That came so far from left field as to be sat, warming the bench. Glad—that they seemed to be good blokes who liked Joe—respected him as a fellow musician, despite all they’d no doubt endured along the way.
Mac hadnae expected the…foundations to be so solid. It seemed that Joe’s fears, the problems he perceived, may well have been born from frustration at being forced to watch a friend, and a damn fine musician, surrendering to his demons. Knowing full well that there was fuck all they could about it. They were employees in much the same way as Mac. Each had a valuable role, but it was Joe’s show. If he was a no show, there wasnae one. No performance. No music. No audience to play for. No fans screaming their names too.
They were all cogs—the band formed the chassis—the base frame of the tour bus keeping the show on the road. They might all be essential parts of the engine, but Joe was the master craftsman of the brand people bought into. They’d signed up as key components of a Jaguar; then watched its inimitable essence corrode. Fall apart before their very eyes, until they’d wound up as lackeys at Joe’s Junkie Yard…and yet, still they’d stayed.
In Adam’s favoured terms? No one had abandoned the Good Ship Joe. No matter how rough the waters they’d sailed, there wasnae mutiny in the ranks. Just a weary crew riddled with scurvy and battered by storms…but not devastated beyond salvage. Nothing that a respite, wind change, and less perilous seas couldnae salve.
Mac really needed a drink. Preferably before he’d loaded the lads on board an Airbus A319 and buggered off to the loo with Joe to renew his Mile High Club membership…
“Magic.” Joe grinned when he and Jez were done rustling up the perfect arrangement for their guitar parts. “Thanks for this, Jez…”
“No need, this”—Jez wafted a finger back and forth between them, before swirling it in the air above his head—”is all the thanks I need. Look at those two, I can’t recall the last time Luke didn’t look as if he’d rather be playing Call of Duty. They’re buzzing. C’mon, ‘fess up…what gives? You look a helluva lot like a Fitz who’s been fucked senseless, might I add, so don’t even think about spinning some seeing-the-light fairy story. I doubt you’ve seen it for three days. I rarely bottom, but Dayum…”
Jez had been married to the love of his life for five years, and never once availed himself of the offers his sublime guitar skills and general sex godliness bombarded him with. Joe flicked his gaze toward the man who made damn the understatement of the century. Unless accompanied by unprecedented access to Jez’s spectacularly lush tush.
When Joe flicked his gaze Mac’s way, he was parking the baddest ass in a plastic chair. A cheap as chips monstrosity he somehow contrived to seat himself on as if it was a gold gilt throne. The majestic glower he directed Joe’s way was possibly intended to wither parts of his person that perked up with appreciative aplomb. But then…Joe’s cock had the instincts of a four year old let loose on a black forest gateau. Reading the room was far from it’s Very Best Thing.
Mac looked an itty bit miffed. In a flinty glinty, foaming at the mouth sort of way. Had his lips not been pressed in too grim a line for a sliver of spittle to escape. Uh-oh. Had Joe done something amiss? Of course he had, Mac sure wasnae aiming a death ray glare at Jez.
“Have you had a tiff? Or, did you zip him up a bit too sharpish, he looked fine till he sat down?” Jez shot Joe a not the least subtle Not today Satan expression Bianca wanted back pronto.
“Oops…you might want to take him off for a smoke break before he combusts. I’ve got this, I’ll go and sort the rest of the arrangements with Connor and Luke. Go on, take five, I’ve got your back.” After giving Joe’s nape a quick squeeze of reassurance, Jez swivelled on his cuban heels to swing his slinky hips over to the drum kit. Where Adam was t’be found bending Luke and Connor’s ear about something or other. His manager did not look miffed, for once, which was a bit of a miracle, it must be admitted.
Ah, well…here goes. Time to pull m’big boy pants up and face the McMusic….