I really do like Avenged Sevenfold.
Okay, fine, it’s an evil, bad, wrong song that no one should listen to if they want to lead good, wholesome lives. But it is incredibly catchy. There should be about 5. Enjoy!
A bright Saturday morning in a peaceful Suburban neighbourhood. Moms and dads push prams of giggling pre-humans through the streets, tree branches sway in the light breeze sending autumn leaves fluttering to the ground and the sun shines in a cloudless sky. A perfect depiction of peace.
And then there’s my house.
I’m panicking. It’s 11:38, I’m meeting Samantha at half 12 at the cinema and I have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO WEAR. It’s a catastrophe; all my clothes are either too Gothic, too emo, too creepy, too rockstar obsessed or smell like last week’s chicken tika. And I just realised that the pair of jeans I was going to wear were bought at a pro-homosexuality rally and have a rainbow embroidered across the ass. Why the hell did no one point that out to me when I bought them?
“How about this?” I hold up a red and white striped shirt.
Mikey raises an eyebrow. “Will your date be at a mime show?”
A black button-down. “A funeral?”
A bright pink hoody. “Gay Pride?”
I throw the hoody at him and he sniggers. “You are being no help whatsoever.”
“You knew I wouldn’t be when you asked me up,” he retorts smarmily.
“I have a little something you may have heard of. It’s called faith. Believing in the good inside all people.” I snatch up another pair of black skinnies, thankfully vacant in the butt area. I start to pull them on but they get stuck halfway and won’t budge. “Mikes,” I say, yanking aggressively. “I can’t...get it...up.”
Mikey sniggers. “Poor Samantha.”
Wisecracking little shit. “Help me!”
He sighs as if it’s the biggest thing in the world to help out his own brother and walks over to where I’m wrestling with the jeans. “Jesus Gerard, how much weight have you put on?”
“Shut up, I’m not fat,” I snap. “They must have shrunk in the wash or something.”
Mikey rolls his eyes. “Right.”
At long last the jeans are on. I’m also wearing a long-sleeved grey shirt, my Doc Martens are on my feet and my hair is flatter than the sidewalk outside. I decide to go minimal on the eyeliner even though it does make my eyes feel weird and naked and Mikey congratulates me for looking more like a man than I have in years. So I threw the pencil at him which missed and left his poster of Pete Wenz with a massive Hitler moustache.
“Sonofabitch!” Mikey yelps, trying desperately to wipe the make up off, causing it to spread further across the paper like a disease. “Look what you did! You motherfucking piece of shit!”
Which is the perfect queue for mom to come in. “Michael!” she cries, aghast. “Your language is terrible! Where did you learn to speak like that?”
And of course he automatically points at me. Which is a complete lie. Mikey’s been swearing since he was about five years old. Sometimes he’ll yell a word I haven’t even heard of. Mom shakes her head in exasperation. “You kids. Anyways, keep it down, okay? Mrs Irwin can hear you from across the road.”
“Yeah, but Mrs Irwin has the powers of super-hearing and peering through binoculars which she puts to use every time people in the area are having sex,” Mikey mumbles and I stifle a giggle. It’s true. Whenever a couple are getting jiggy with it Mrs Irwin is there with her binoculars and an ear pressed to the wall.
I’ve still got time before I have to go so I collapse onto the couch downstairs and flick through the channels, thinking with exasperation about the conversation I had with the guys yesterday.
“So I guess we’ll see you at around 10 past 12?
“Erm, you do know that I’ve got a date at half 12, right?”
“Sure we know that. We’re coming too.”
“No, you’re not!”
“Aw come on, Gee! You won’t even notice we’re there!”
“Frank, how do you think I feel knowing that you’re of eyeing distance of Samantha?”
“...I’m into guys.”
“You say that but we all know that if she gets the chance a chick will be on top of you before you can say omnisexual. It doesn’t matter whether you like guys or goats; if you start talking to Samantha she will fall in love with you. That is NOT happening on my date.”
“You flatter me.”
“Just keep your hands to yourself.”
The nerve of those losers. Asking to come on my date to make sure I don’t screw anything up. I already told them “no” like, fifty fucking times. I can’t believe it! I glance at the time and give a little start. “Man! I gotta go. Wish me luck, Mikey.”
“Fine. Good luck. Use condoms. You do know that if you knock her up on the first date you have to stick with her for the rest of your life, right? It’s like...the law.”
“What law is that?”
“It’s an unwritten law. So be careful.”
“Right. Because we’re so likely to do it in the front seat of a cinema.”
Mikey shrugs and his attention is already diverted to Amy Lee from Evanescence. I shake my head in frustration and leave quickly, my heart fluttering like a trapped baby bird inside my chest.
My feet feel heavier than usual as a trudge my way down the street and I’m also feeling extremely self-conscious. I keep slipping my fringe behind my ears because it looks stupid and then shaking it out again because it looks sexy and I can’t make up my mind. I’m nervous. What if she doesn’t like me? What if she only agreed to go out with me as a sort of pity date? What if I scare her off with my macabre views on life and death or say something stupid like “You smell like my mom” which completely freaks her out and she runs away to live with the Amish?
‘Cos God knows it’s happened before.
As I approach town I start to wish, bizarrely, that my best friend was here. But he’s not here. Instead there’s an incredible, amazing, stunning girl standing just outside the cinema dressed in a pale blue turtle-neck sweater, denim skirt and heeled boots, her mahogany-brown hair cascading down her back in tight little curls. My stomach does a back flip at the sight of her and I mentally start yelling at my palms for sweating.
“Hi,” she smiles when she sees me.
“Hi,” I reply, somewhat unimaginatively. “You look...amazing.”
“Really?” she glances down at her outfit as if surprised to be in it. “Thanks. And I love your hair. It’s so sexy.”
Fringe out, for the win. We stand there for a moment in awkward silence. After complimenting each other on our amazing sexiness neither of us can think of anything to say so I break the silence with: “Erm, shall we go in then?”
Samantha nods and heads inside. I follow, the coolness of the cinema inviting to my warming skin. I gesture towards the screen listing movie titles in bright red. “So what did you want to see?”
“Oh, well there’s this one that’s just come out, I dunno if you’ve heard of it, “A Little Piece of Heaven”? I think Jennifer Anniston’s in it...”
A Little Piece of Heaven? There doesn’t sound anything creepy or morbid about that so there’s no chance of me enjoying it. Ah well, Samantha’s the chick and I gotta do what she wants if I ever want to get laid. We manage to get pretty good seats not too near the back or the front. Samantha immediately starts chattering about how nice this is which is something I really hate. But I smile and nod because she looks really, really good in that sweater.
I turn around to see a guy in a trench coat with a grey handlebar moustache, sunglasses and a cowboy hat rubbing at his nose with a tissue. N’aaaw. A poor senior citizen has the sniffles! I flash him a sympathetic smile to give him a reason to thank the younger generation and turn my attention back to the screen as the lights go out.
After about a century of pointless commercials the movie finally starts and with a sinking feeling I realise that I am about to sit through two hours of romantic comedy. I guess I really should have got that from the fact that Jennifer Anniston’s the main character. Samantha’s already really into it but then she would be. She’s a girl.
Bless you! I have a soft spot for old people since my grandma died. They’re so cute, if you ignore the smell. I HATE this film. I wish something would just blow up. Maybe if she goes out with me again I get to pick the movie next time? I’m not sure how she’ll feel about a back-to-back day of the Terminator films, one after the other. That would be my “little piece of heaven”, I tell you that.
Okay dude, I understand that you are slightly vintage in age and have a very low immune system but seriously? Control yourself, man! I give him a warning glance, implying that if he doesn’t shut the hell up I might have to review my policy on cutting old people slack.
Suddenly a phone goes off. And it’s the Mario Kart theme tune.
I look around for the source of annoyance and I spot the sniffly guy with a cell phone to his ear. He starts talking in quiet, hushed tones.
And he sounds exactly like Young Nile.
“Are you okay?” Samantha asks me concernedly. “You keep turning round.”
“I’m fine,” I assure her. “Sorry. Just thought I saw someone I know.”
“Oh look, it’s Ashton Kutcher!” Samantha squeals, all anxiety lost in seconds. “I love him!”
“Oh yeah, Ashton, great,” I deadpan, craning my neck to glance back up at the guy. I must have been imagining things. There’s no way Young Nile would disguise himself in a trench coat and moustache just to make sure I don’t screw my date up. He’s not that weird. “Listen, does that old guy look familiar to you?”
But Samantha isn’t listening. “He’s so cool. And funny. And I heard that he’s a really nice guy as well.”
“Sounds like an angel. But Sam, hey-“
“-Not to mention that he’s TOTALLY gorgeous.”
“Yeah, totally gorgeous. What wouldn’t I give to have his cock.”
Which snaps her attention back to me. “What did you just say?”
“I’m going to go empty my bladder,” I reply.
“Oh, cool,” she shrugs, returning back to the screen.
As I get up to go, so does the old guy. As I leave the screen room, so does the old guy. And as I make my way across the landing and over to the restroom, so does the old guy and excitement flushes me when the realisation kicks in that I’m being stalked. Fun! I’ve never had a stalker before. True, it’s Ray’s mom’s friend’s weird kid and not an angry spirit from beyond the grave but the theory’s the same. And I’ve watched enough 18 rated movies to know what to do in times such as these. I dart behind a large cardboard cut out of a monkey in a mankini before he can spot me and wait for him to approach. Finally he does and as he walks past I leap onto his back, releasing a warlike cry and pinning him to the ground. Young Nile screams.
“Rape!” he cries. “Rape in the cinema! Raaaape!”
“Shut the fuck up, douche bag, it’s me,” I snap, crawling off him and helping him to his feet. “You wanna explain what the hell you’re doing here dressed up like the redneck in Deliverance?”
And he replies with the one sentence I’d been expecting, the sentence I’ve heard so many times before and repeated on many various occasions: “Frank made me do it.”
“Where is he?” I ask. Young Nile points towards the boys toilets. I push the door open and sure enough Frank, Ray and Mikey are huddled in a corner, cell phones held to their mouths like walky-talkies with very sheepish expressions on their faces.
And I don’t know what to say. I just stand there, shaking my head at them. “Guys...why?”
“Because we care,” Frank replies. “And if you mess up this one the entire A-List will hate you...and us...more than it already does. And thank God we did because you sir, fucking fail at everything.”
It’s true. I fucking fail at everything.
“Look at this,” Mikey beckons me over to show me a laptop which is apparently connected to Nile’s phone and has been recording since we entered the cinema. Whoa. We sure need to get Tech Boy a mask and a cape to go with the image. “What is every single couple in that room doing except you and Samantha?”
“Dreaming about the biggest, most cheesily delicious lasagne in the world?”
“No. See this guy? His arm is wrapped around his girlfriend there. And over here, see how her hand is resting on his thigh? And these guys in the front seat are screwing like rabbits. All these couples have at least some element of romantic interaction whilst Samantha would prefer to be on a date with Ashton Kutcher and you’re dreaming about lasagne.”
“I never said that I was, I just said the other people could be.”
“Focus Gerard,” Frank snaps his fingers under my nose. “We don’t want all our efforts going to waste. You gotta act fast or Samantha is going to get bored and Lindsey will refer to you as “the dickhead who looks like a dead guy on cocaine” forever more.”
My heart sinks. I’m so pathetically unromantic it’s depressing. If I try putting my arm around her I’ll end up whacking her in the face and breaking her nose. If I try holding her hand they’ll get sweaty and I’ll feel really self-conscious and gross. If I suggest we start screwing like rabbits she’ll beat me up and leave me as a bloody pulp on the popcorn sprinkled floor.
It’s official. Our relationship is doomed. “I can’t do it,” I tell them. “I’m practically weak with fear that something will go wrong and she’ll get up and leave me standing alone in a world so cold.”
“Is that Prince?”
“Gerard, it’s simple,” Frank shrugs. “All you gotta do is kiss. And you’re a great kisser.”
Ray eyes us suspiciously. “How would you know that?”
“Spin The Bottle?” Frank rolls his eyes as if it were obvious. “Remember at Dean’s?”
HELL do I remember at Deans’! That was some night. I got so drunk my ancestors woke up in the morning with a headache. “You enjoyed that?” I ask incredulously. Frank just smiles. I shiver.
“I think I’m gonna wait till the end,” I tell them. “You know. Work up to it slowly. Now excuse me but I gotta get back to my date.”
Frank rolls his eyes. “Whatever. Just keep your cell phone on.”
Samantha doesn’t seem to notice my sudden reappearance by her side but she does notice my ever so suave arm slinking around her shoulder. She glances at me, smiles and slides comfortably into the crook of my arm. Score!
I turn around to glance behind me. “Could you move your arm, please? You’re kinda blocking the screen.”
And it goes on and on and on. The movie is just so terrible, I honestly don’t know how my brain is still intact. Finally it ends and we’re free. Samantha beams at me as we get up to go.
“That was so sweet,” she says. I resist the urge to ask “In what universe?” and instead content myself with a non-committal gesture which she appears to take as a yes.
Afterwards we go down to the nearest Starbucks and sit there, sipping coffee and making small-talk. We talk about the musical, our friends, our families, just casual stuff. If I wasn’t trying desperately to grab her hand under the table and couldn’t still see Frank, Mikey, Ray and Young Nile sitting on a bench staring in outside I’d be feeling happy and relaxed. On the contrary I’m just desperate to make some kind of contact.
At about 2 o’clock she has to catch a bus for her recital so I walk with her to the stop, my heart beating frantically inside my chest and the little voices in my head screaming for attention.
Do it now!
Why the hell not?
Because there’s a trash can and if she trips she’ll fall into it.
How old are you, fourteen?
Have you even kissed a girl before?
You know I have.
How do I know that?
Because you’re the frontal cortex of my own brain, stupid!
And there’s the bus stop. It’s now or never. Samantha is looking the other way, how do I get her to turn her head? “Hey, Sam-”
Shut up, brain!
“Do it now!”
Shut up! Wait a sec. Why is the voice of my brain coming from my pocket? I reach into my jeans and feel my cell phone vibrating. The fuck?! Frank is calling me now?! I flail around looking for him and spot the guys cramped into a tiny phone box, all staring at me expectantly. The bus is coming. Samantha is waiting for me to say something. Oh God. My palms are sweating. What is wrong with me? I’m sixteen, for God’s sake!
Fuck off, Frank.
The bus is coming closer.
And completely without celebration I press my lips to hers just as the bus stops in front of us. At first she stiffens but then I feel her relax against me and she sighs into my mouth. I slide my lips against hers, my hands resting on the small of her back and hoping against hope that Frank wasn’t lying when he said that I was a good kisser. But I don’t think he was because when we finally break apart Samantha’s beaming even more widely.
“You’re a great kisser,” she tells me.
But then the bus driver starts honking at us and Samantha has to go. So with a flutter of her dainty little fingers she waves me goodbye and I watch her go with an almost overwhelming sense of achievement which only intensifies as my friends race across the street to congratulate me, accompanied by some new guy I’ve never seen before.
“Well done, loser,” Frank claps me on the back. “She’s still into you.”
I smile half-heartedly and gesture to the newbie. “Who’s this?”
“Huh?” Frank glances at him as though surprised to see him standing there. “Oh, this is Will. My new boyfriend.”
“What the hell happened to Justin?”
“He was always doing that weird Apparating thing,” Frank shrugs. “Got so annoying. We fell apart. So I made a new start with Will.”
Feedback! I need feedback! Do you know how suckish it is when you get 4 reviews and half of them are from your little sister and best friend who you have to force into commenting anyway because she’s a cold-hearted cannibal? Please don’t make me go through that again.