21-year old Duff McKagan walked along Sunset Boulevard with his leather jacket draped casually over his shoulders, handing out small pink flyers for tonight’s show. ‘$2 off admission with a flyer,’ he shouted waving them in his hand.
Today was sweltering and unfortunately for him hardly anybody was accepting the flyers. His hair had started to go flat in the heat and he was sure if he stood still too long he’d burst into flames.
‘Maybe if I went into bars and handed them out,’ he decided walking towards the local dives.
It was no use though, nearly every place he entered he got thrown out of just as quick. Bars around here really didn’t appreciate advertising other places for their regular punters to get shit-faced at, especially at a cheaper price.
If he went back and told the boys he hadn’t handed all of them out they’d be disappointed and angry, especially seeing as every other day this week they had walked the worst streets in the city and shifted their fair share.
He walked into the deli for one last try and hoped that with the owner, Earl, being a friend of the band, he wouldn’t get chucked out.
‘Sure, Duff, go ahead. Just try not to annoy my customers.’
Luckily for him it was a Thursday, which meant half off everything on the menu. The place was packed and he left with empty hands. The boys would be glad if all of those people showed up, which in reality was fairly unlikely. Most of the diners would take the flyers, wait until they got home and then throw them in the trash. But at least he could return saying he’d managed to shift them all.
Tonight would be the first time he and the four boys he’d become fond of over the past 2 days would play live. They’d been working their asses off rehearsing and they really were hoping for a large crowd. Secretly though, Duff, wasn’t all that bothered about the size of the crowd they pulled in, he was just happy to be onstage. He’d finally found a band he enjoyed and loved, and could see a long future with them, unlike the numerous failed bands he’d been a part of throughout his adolescence.
A man of many talents, he could play guitar, drums, bass, and even sang on occasions, so finding bands to take him on was never difficult. But with the amount of incredible guitarists and drummers on the strip he found his own niche and style on bass and had stuck with it.
‘How many did you hand out?’ Izzy asked as the bassist flopped on the couch and sighed heavily.
‘All of them.’
The rhythm guitarist looked at his friend in disbelief and handed him a cold beer. ‘You look like you need it.’
‘Please tell me the AC is on?’
He looked over to where the air con unit used to sit on the wall and saw a new hole. With only one explanation the two friends turned to each and mouthed, ‘Axl.’
Their lead singer was a hot-headed tyrant and even the slightest thing could send him on a war path, usually resulting in destroyed furniture, a bloody nose and busted lip, or in this case, a broken air conditioner. His ferocity and unpredictability made him a great front man, but a bastard roommate. But as long as the others stayed out of his way, everything was fine.
‘Where is he?’ Duff asked.
Barbi was a notorious girl on the strip, and a popular lady with the boys. But since Axl had been introduced to her they knew to stay well away. To avoid problems arising in the household they let the singer have his pick of women first, and they had second best.
‘How did you shift the lot?’ Izzy asked. He’d only managed to get rid of a quarter of his pile earlier in the week.
‘The deli was full and Earl let me hand out some in there.’
Duff pealed his sweaty body away from the couch and wandered to the bathroom. It wasn’t much of a bathroom, as more of a small room with a toilet and a dirty sink which they all bathed at and washed their hair in. He noticed the syringe lying on the floor and cringed, then kicked it behind the toilet with his foot so it was out of sight. ‘How can they pump that shit into their bodies?’
It wasn’t like he was in a position to judge, but he’d convinced himself over and over that cocaine was harmless compared to the brown substance his band mates injected into their veins on a daily basis.
‘Izz?’ He shouted. ‘Izz?’
He zipped up and wandered back to his friend, who was now docile and looked at the bass player with pin prick pupils. And the case of the used syringe was solved.
Being around a heroin addict was a strange thing, and not something Duff enjoyed. There were two types of addicts, the submissive and quiet, and the loud and hyper. But heroin addicts happened to be lazy, strung out, and relaxed.
Not wanting to be around his friend whilst he was like this, after all, having a conversation with high Izzy was like having a conversation with a wall, he left and decided to go score some puff. That’s the thing with drug users, they are all too quick to cast judgements on fellow addicts but somehow manage to convince themselves they are ok. It was a vicious circle.
Meanwhile, in a shit-hole apartment over the other side of town was Saul Hudson, picking the leather off of a scabby armchair with one hand and taking swigs of JD with the other. He’d managed to escape the hell hole of his own place whilst his band mate wreaked havoc, and had hid out at the home of a former flame. Her name was Michelle, and with a troubled past and childhood he found her easy and they had a relationship based on sex, and drugs, the most perfect relationship ever to young Saul.
On the Strip, everyone knew Saul, or as they called him, ‘Slash.’ A cute nickname he’d received as a child from a friend’s dad. He was a fast mover, always zipping off here and there, which resulted in people asking, ‘Hey? Slash? Where ya going? Where ya going, Slash? Huh?’ The nickname stuck.
He dragged the bottle to his lips and to his dismay it was empty. This meant only one thing; he needed to pick up some more. Pick up more booze, or more puff, it didn’t bother him which, just as long as he could get high or rat-arsed.
Turning his pockets inside out he managed to find a few quarters and a button. So he did what any low life would. He tipped his former girlfriend’s apartment upside down until he found notes, and took a stroll down to the local liquor store. He could practically smell it as he got closer, but then again it could’ve been coming from his clothes; they reeked of alcohol…and cigarettes…and sweat.
Michelle would be pissed returning home from work to the mess he’d made, so he meandered home. On the route home however was a shop that caught his eye, Retail Slut. Being the right amount of drunk, and poor, he entered the shop with no cash, and left with a plain black top hat, and a belt.
He’d been looking for an accessory to wear for shows, something that would make him memorable to audiences, but also something the shy guitarist could hide behind. This hat would do just that.
As soon as he returned home, he made a bee line straight for the bathroom, ignoring his strung out pal on the couch, and began customising his newest purchase. He attached the buckled belt round the base and placed it on his head. ‘Perfect,’ he thought, as it sat just below his eyebrows and pushed his frizzy afro over his eyes. He wasn’t exactly a public speaker or much of a comfortable socialiser, so this was great. He could see his audience, yet they couldn’t see him. Whether or not it would take off and become his thing, his trademark, he didn’t know. But for now it did the job.