Slam. Crash.

Howard turns up at Vince’s gig – it’s been two years since they last spoke. What on EARTH could happen next?


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Slam. Crash. by sherlock

Whump, whump, whump came the driving electro beat, making the club leap. Electricity ran through the crowd. Lights swept across the room. Red, blue, green – and for a moment, Vince Noir felt a nagging doubt, but the moment was gone – and as the lights came down and the crowd roared, he took his position behind the mic and struck a taut, hard rock pose. The spotlight hit him, and he began to move. This was it. Finally – stardom.

Howard Moon waited outside the club, having a sly cigarette with shades on and his hat pulled down over his face. The final night of Vince Noir and the Electro-boys’ tour, and a sell-out. Like every other night. He heard voices from behind the stage door and stepped backwards into an alcove. Vince stumbled out into the alley, laughing, some girl on his arm.

“Yeah, you’re one of the great frontmen – you can pull shapes!” she beamed, fluttering her eyelashes at him.

“Yeah, I think you’re right. I was born to be a rock and roll star!” he replied, grinning and taking her hand.

Howard dropped the cigarette and leaned further back into his shadowy hiding place. Another night, another girl, hey Vince. Is that the way it is now. He turned to leave, but felt a warm hand on the crook of his arm, pulling him round.

“Howard. I thought I spotted you tonight,” Vince seemed happy to see him. Howard stared at his old friend, unbelieving. He wants to talk to me. Vince returned the stare with an open, hopeful expression. The girl, apparently understanding that her presence was no longer required, handed Vince a hastily scribbled number on a napkin and disappeared. Not that Howard noticed.

“Hey, little man.” He said, relishing the feel of the old nickname on his lips.

“How have you been?” said Vince, a little bashful. He looked down at his silver boots, kicking up a piece of cardboard. Howard could make out a sprinkle of glitter on his chiselled cheekbone; he wanted to lick it. He cleared his throat.

“Oh, you know. Working on my sound. I’m fine, really.” He’d practised saying it. It sounded hollow.

“Good, good – listen, you want to come see the tourbus? We could have a beer, catch up?” Vince thrust his hands deep into the back pockets of his jeans, looking not uncomfortable, but uncertain. They both remembered that night.

“FUCK THE BAND!” Vince screamed, his usually pale face contorted and reddening. “Fuck you, Howard, and fuck the band. You’re shit. Fuck jazz funk. I’m leaving. Find a new frontman, you pathetic old gimmer!”

“FINE, Vince! Fuck off! Go ponce around with your skinny little crackhead electro friends!”

Slam. Crash.

Howard blushed at the memory. Look at him. He’s so small – was he always so very slight and vulnerable? He didn’t look that way on stage. The other Electro-boys bustled past in a blur of glitter and hairspray, on their way to a club. Vince didn’t even look their way when they shouted to him to join them, come to the nightclub, celebrate the tour.

“I’ll catch you later, alright?” he said, addressing his bandmates but looking straight at Howard, who coughed.

“Yeah, a beer would be good,” said Howard at length, trying to be casual. It had been two years.

“I’m not carrying your dead weight any more! No more jazz funk for me! Fuck, why did I ever think that was a good idea. It’s SHIT, Howard. It’s OLD and BORING and SHIT. You’re never going to get anywhere.”

“Oh, is that right? What about the 80s, Vince? THEY’RE OVER! The decade that taste forgot! Look at you, with your mullet! Fucking sort it out!”

Slam. Crash.

Howard hung behind Vince, but stepped up into the tour bus first. He looked around for somewhere to sit, every surface seemed to be covered in hair produce and revealing clothing, but Vince was already bumping the fridge door closed with a leopard print-clad hip and motioning for Howard to follow him down the bus, to the living area. He shrugged off his leather jacket and placed it, along with his hat, on top of a Jean-Claude Jaquettie bag full of gels and sprays.

“This is plush,” said Howard, a little jealous.

“It’s alright,” said Vince, cracking open two cans of Kronenberg – Howard’s favourite, “but you don’t get much privacy.” He looked at Howard through his fringe and handed over a beer. Howard’s stomach did a flip as Vince’s fingers touched his own. He coughed again. “Sounds like you’re coming down with something.”

Howard laughed nervously and tried to shrug it off.

“So, how’s the tour been going?” he said, feigning a lighthearted tone.

“Oh, it’s been brilliant – genius. We’re supporting the Human League next year, and…” Vince stopped, catching Howard’s eye, and breathed deeply. “I’m sorry, Howard.”

They both reddened.

“Sorry for what?”

“God, you just do my fucking head in! I HATE you!”

A move, to slap, to pull hair, to –

A larger, stronger hand gripping his own between their faces.

A trickle of sweat, a brief moment of struggle, and then –

“You know what.”

And then, and then –

Howard pushed his hand over his head, where it connected with the wall, and held it there. He leaned in, searching Vince’s face.

“You really hate me?”

“No, Vince – I don’t know what,” said Howard, looking down at his beer and then meeting the apologetic gaze of Vince, his best friend.

Their breathing synchronised, their chests rising and falling, almost touching, and Vince took the step, craned his neck and kissed Howard, hard, on the mouth. Howard dropped his hand, and wrapped his arms around Vince’s torso, gasping and burying his face in his neck. No words – Vince leapt up and wrapped his legs around Howard’s waist, and they span like a four legged pinball, blindly bouncing toward the bedroom.

Slam. Crash.

“For leaving the band. For moving out – I shouldn’t have left you.”

“That’s all you’re sorry for?” said Howard, a rising note of hope in his voice.

“That’s all,” said Vince, putting down his beer can and leaning over towards Howard, “I’m sorry. I thought – I thought you hated me.”

“Oh, Vince. How could I?” Howard brushed a stray lock of black hair from Vince’s cheek. It was all Vince could stand, and he leapt forward onto Howard’s lap.

“I knew you were coming to the gigs!” he said, struggling out of his t-shirt while Howard dug his fingers into his sides and bit him lightly all over his chest.

“Why did you – oh – never talk to me?” said Howard, panting as Vince tugged his t-shirt free from his jeans and got it stuck while trying to pull it over his head.

“I thought – I don’t know, that you – ungh – that you didn’t want to talk to me!”

“God, why were we so stupid?” Howard pushed a load of spangly costumes onto the floor and threw Vince down onto the sofa, finally freeing himself from the t-shirt, which he flung into the corner of the room.

“I don’t know – ah – oh, God – I’ve missed you, Howard!” he cried, fumbling with the buttons on Howard’s fly.

In his best man of action voice, Howard said, “I’ve missed you too, Vince.”

Slam. Crash.

The tourbus rocked.

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