The nights were getting colder and colder as the days grew shorter. It was almost September. The regulars would be knocking on the door, or mother would bring the new customers there herself. Either way, the colder it got, the more customers she had. It wasn’t a big deal, except that when it was cold, waiting outside on her dirty lawn chair was considerably more difficult than when it was in the summertime.
The worst part was that she knew the men. It was a small town, so seeing someone new was rare. She’d usually at least seen all of the men on occasion. Men who would pull their kids away from her at the playground, men who didn’t mind driving fast into muddy puddles she was walking right next to on rainy days. And then they’d tell their sons to wait a few years so they’d understand what she was for. What she would inevitably end up doing because of her mother. Her trailer trash prostitute of a mother.
Sure, some of the men took pity in her. They’d give her a few dollars when leaving her mother’s trailer. Mother didn’t like that. Mother got angry when a man would give her money or candy, no matter how much, and then not tell her. The candy she had to eat right away, and the money she hid to the best of ability, to spend later after school on a muffin from the convenience store up the road.
“You’ll end up like me!” her mother would often say. “Working for it! And you better! All the money I’ve wasted on you, I want it back! The second you turn thirteen, you better start paying back your debts, you little shit!” But she wasn’t worried. She doubted she'd ever get to age ten, let alone thirteen.
Gerard was in his natural habitat. This is what he was meant to do. Up there on the stage, he felt more like himself than ever before. Sure, it was just a small gig in a dirty bar that smelled like urine and rotten eggs, but it was Friday night so it was packed with people who, at least so it seemed, loved the band.
“Wow,” a sweet voice said when the band came down from the stage. She had four pints of beer, and she handed one to each of the guys who gulped them down eagerly. “You guys were awesome.”
“I know,” Gerard replied, feeling pretty proud of himself. He couldn’t wipe the grin off of his face. It was moments like this that made the endless practicing seem worthwhile. They hadn’t played many gigs, but each time that they did, they were in high spirits for weeks after it.
“Look at Mikey,” Penina said, nodding towards the young man who was rubbing his neck and looking embarrassed by being approached by a group of girls.
“Ah, groupies,” Gerard laughed. “The bassists get all the attention. Why is that?”
“You’re just jealous, aren’t you?”
Gerard chuckled. “Why are you here, anyway? I thought you said you couldn’t come,” he asked her when they made their way to the bar.
“I slipped a sleeping pill into Wes’ drink,” Penina admitted, blushing slightly. “He had no idea. And I’ll be back before he wakes up, so... It’s cool. You should be flattered, though. I drugged my boyfriend so that I could come watch you grind your crotch against Frank, which by the way was very disturbing.”
They reached the bar, and Gerard immediately caught the attention of the bartender. “Well, what did I tell you? Business is blooming and it’s all because you let us play here. We’re awesome. Just admit it.”
The bartender laughed. “Actually, it’s buy one drink, get one free night, which kind of explains the crowd. You’re lucky I let you guys play here tonight.”
“Whatever,” Gerard said, frowning. “Now give me the payment.”
The amount the bar paid performing bands usually depended on the band itself, as well as how many people showed up. And while Gerard didn’t really have his hopes up too high, he still expected to have at least something.
And the bartender did give him something. A brown envelope, which Gerard opened eagerly. But when he counted the money inside, the grin on his face disappeared. It was hardly enough to pay for two week’s rent. Of course he hadn’t expected to get paid millions, but at least a little bit more than this would’ve been nice. Gerard didn’t know where his and Mikey’s father had gotten the money, but he did know that he’d have to pay back soon. And this wasn’t going to cover it.
Don padded Gerard on the back, laughing cheerfully. His face was red, more from the drinking than the heat in the place, and to Gerard’s recollection, the man hadn’t looked so happy since his and Mikey’s mom was still alive. “There’s my boy!” Don shouted. “Man, that was one gig! And I’m not just saying that because I’m related to two of the members! How are you not signed yet? Am I right? Ah, is that the money? How many millions did you get?”
Gerard handed his father the envelope, and watched the smile fade from his face as well. “Well, it’s fine,” Don shrugged. “A couple of more gigs... It’s no big deal.”
“Dad... What happens if we don’t get enough money to pay back?” Gerard asked, but Don simply shook his head. It worried Gerard that he refused to tell them where he got the money from.
“Don’t worry about it,” Don said with a forced smile. “We’re celebrating tonight.”
Don obviously tried to stay positive, but Gerard knew it was just an act. He also noticed Don slip the envelope into his own pocket, which made him even more worried. That loan was going to be a problem.
A scrawny man dressed in a black leather jacket and ridiculous cowboy boots leaned on the white van. Don inspected the man as he stood a few feet away from him, and as always, he felt very nervous around this man. Sure, Don could easily take him in a fight, as long as it was a fair fight. But this man was anything but fair, and the gun on his hip shattered every last piece of the faith that Don had about getting out of that warehouse alive if something went wrong. At least a dozen other men were scattered around the warehouse, but Don knew that it only took one word from this man in cowboy boots and they’d be pointing their shotguns to Don’s direction.
“So what brings you here, Don?” the man asked. He wasn’t even looking at Don, and instead kept his eyes on the knife he was using to clean under his fingernails. Ike was his name, ironically short for Isaac, which means laughter. There was nothing about this man that inspired laughter in any form, sans maybe the cowboy boots. And he was the man Don had borrowed money from. Of course, even with the cowboy boots that made him look ridiculous, he was scary. And he wasn’t the kind of man one would wish to be associated with, if one also wished to not die a horribly painful death.
“I need to talk to you about the money,” Don said, trying hard to hide how nervous he was.
“Ah, you’re here to pay me back?” Ike asked, finally looking up from the knife.
“Uh... Not exactly. I need a bit more time.”
“We had a contract.”
“I know, I just need a few more weeks.”
Ike had a strange smile on his face. “And why would I give you that?” When Don didn’t reply, he continued: “I’ll make you another deal. I’ll give you a month. But the 15% interest will be raised to 50%. How’s that?”
Don’s eyes widened in shock. “50%?!”
“Those are the conditions. Do you accept?”
“That’s too much,” Don argued. He was very aware that the men around them started to pay attention, and when Don heard the click of a gun, he started sweating.
“Hey, I don’t make the rules,” Ike said, spreading his arms and shrugging. “No wait, yes I do. A month. 50%. Yeah?” He laughed when Don thought it over. “Hey, if you can’t do 50%, then we go back to our original contract. What is it? Five days left?”
Ike started to walk away, but stopped after just a few steps and grinned. “You know, Don, if I don’t get my money back, I have other ways to collect it. I believe you have a daughter. What’s her name? Olivia? Sweet girl.”
Don stood still, breath caught up in his throat. It was one thing if Ike would’ve threatened Don, but threatening Don’s kids was another.
“Five days,” Ike reminded, clearly enjoying the affect he had on Don.
A/N: Sorry I haven't been updating, like, anything lately. I went through a pretty bad break up recently and since mostly I'm just wallowing in self-loathing, I don't really feel like writing that much. But hey, managed this much :D