“This is the jungle mama, you’re gonna die.”
He sat up tucking his hair back under his cap. Stretching slightly he looked around the vacant bus squinting from the harsh fluorescent light. Peering out the window he was met with the forbidden darkness of an unexplored jungle. The jungle he had watched on TV when he was in town at the local electronics shop. He scanned the dim hazed streets for signs of the luxurious golden party life, but seeing nothing except a few figments and shells of human forms. Most looked shriveled and curled up corpses others were strung out, he sat back puzzled. He glanced down at his watch. It was around four in the morning. That must be why no one’s out he reasoned.
The bus screeched to a halt with a terrible groan as the doors opened. The boy fell forward easily slipping between the seats. He groaned rubbing his backside as he ventured to climb his way out, but the bus just picked up again, trapping him. A heavy guitar case clanked to the floor with a brutal thud.
“Shit!” A worried and tired sounding voice cursed softly. A mop of blonde hair followed by a long arm came into his vision as the figure bent forward to retrieve the case. Soft hazel eyes met his green ones. “Oh, hi. I didn’t think anyone was on here.” He grinned wide, friendly. “Need a hand?”
The long arm decorated with a black wrist cuff and small metal chains extended to the small red head. The boy accepted it slightly resentfully. Hoisted into the air the red head slipped back onto the worn leather seat, tucking his legs underneath him.
“Just moved here?” The blonde asked pointing to the large suitcase by the window.
“Yeah.” The red head replied and was immediately freaked out that he spoke. He turned away.
“Cool.” The blonde smiled happily again as he lay against his guitar case in the adjacent seat. He wore long torn up jeans and a tight black shirt that was frayed at the collar and sleeves, with Sex Pistols spray painted across the chest. It clung to his slim torso. Around his neck lay a padlock on what looked to be an old bike chain. He placed a large booted foot against the back of the red head’s seat as he stretched his other leg out to its full length. “I’ve been here about two months. Not a bad place once you get to know where shit is.”
The red head glared.
“Where ya living? Got family here?”
“What’s it to you?” The red head snapped. The blonde looked wounded, but tried to shrug it off.
“Just asking. I didn’t know anyone when I moved here, but I wanted to get away from the drug scene back home, you know?” The blonde moved forward. “That’s a really nice necklace.”
The red head glared as he enveloped the religious charm in the palm of his hand.
“I’m looking for a new roommate.” The blonde folded his arms behind his head. “The one I had is heading to New York. Dunno why, but if you need a place to stay the rent’s dirt cheap.”
“I’ll be fine.” The red head hissed.
“Okay.” The blonde bit his lip as he turned his body around throwing his long legs over the seat in front of him. His chest doubled over at an odd angle moaning softly as his back stretched into the luxurious curled angle easing the tension from the night’s work.
The red head continued to watch out the window, as the acidic neon lights extinguished as the hours ticked by. Glancing back at the seemingly kind hearted musician he found him to have fallen asleep. His sweet face sunk into his chest with his eyes closed and his mouth hung open a bit. Faint exhales could be heard over the groaning bus engine. The red head had to smile a little. He didn’t hate the guy, but he wasn’t of a trusting nature.
A smirking wraith beckoned his eyes toward the window. A slender man in a long leather coat cackled silently back at him as he walked along the steaming pavement. A single orange flame from his mouth lit the way as a lantern would. His boots trampled out his path without a care in the world.
Spying the gawking red head he shot him a laconic sneer that sent a paralyzing stake through the red head’s body. He forgot how to breathe as his limbs fell numb and hesitant. The sensations remained as the black-coated specter was swallowed into the untamed darkness.
“Hey boy ain’t this where ya getin off?” The bus driver yelled rousing the blonde who in turn nudged the red head who jumped into the seat in front of him.
“Chill man. I think he’s talking to you.” He jerked a thumb in the driver’s direction.
“This where you wanna ge’ off?”
The red head mumbled thanks as he grabbed his suitcase.
“I live over on Crystal Street apartment 9 if you ever want to hang out sometime.” The blonde said with a parting smile.
The red head didn’t respond, but stepped off the bus.
“Hey mama.” A warm, collected voice cooed. The man he had seen outside his window stood right in front of him. He wasn’t much taller than him with hair slicked back revealing dark hooded eyes that seemed capable of sucking out souls. An easy taunting smile slipped onto his face as long white fingers beckoned him forward.
“I’m a guy dickhead!” Axl roared. The shady fiend chuckled thickly.
“Don’t make much difference to me. I’ve got some good stuff.” His hands moved from his pockets to inside his long leather coat. “I can cut you a deal. New customer special.”
“What?” The boy asked naively. Curiosity peeked; he leaned forward to see what the hell spawn man was offering him. A small plastic bag filled with white powder flashed into his field of vision. The red head jerked back slightly stunned holding up a hand.
“Um, no. No thanks man.”
“Come on mama. It’s pure you can trust me.” The man laid a hand on his shoulder gently tugging him backward. The red head stumbled as he tried to wiggle free.
“I don’t do drugs. I don’t want any.”
“That’s not all I sell, honey.” The man hissed, clasping the smaller boy’s faded plaid shirt pulling him closer. “Just name whatever you need and I can find it for you.”
“I said I’m fine,” the red head yelled trying to shove the man off him. His suitcase fell to the pavement as his hat went flying. The darkness seemed to swallow his plea.
“Hey!” A voice cut through the obscure midnight as a hand wrenched the two a part knocking both of them to the cold concrete. The tall lanky blonde from the bus stood in front of the smaller boy shielding him from the man in the black trench coat. “He said he’s not interested.” The blonde growled his eyes narrowing. He kicked the smaller man in the side. “Now get the hell out of here!”
“All right, calm down there, man.” The man slithered onto his feet giving a nonchalant smile as if he were parting ways with good friends. He looked past the menacing blonde at the red head with a cruel snicker. “I’ll find you again. This is the jungle mama, you’re gonna die.”
The skeletal shade of the man passed through into the lurid gates into the condemned abyss of L.A. streets.
“You okay?” The blonde turned extending the same long arm to the red head. Axl took it less begrudgingly this time. His foot tangled with the other causing him to fall forward into the blonde. “Whoops.” The red head bolted from the blonde’s touch. The blonde just smiled broadly behind his flaxen blonde tresses.
“Sorry.” The boy mumbled putting more distance between them. The blonde cocked his head.
“You didn’t do anything.” He looked down at the pavement. “Oh, let me help you.” Immediately he dropped to his knees and began gathering up the scattered clothes that had been spilt. The boy made a grab for a shirt the taller boy held.
“You don’t have to.” The boy said defensively.
“I just want to make sure you’re okay. I don’t use or deal.”
“You don’t?” The boy exclaimed his eyes shooting up searching out the friendly hazel gems. They smiled genuinely without any hint of reprimand.
“Nope. I’m clean.” He informed him as the red head latched the suitcase shut. “Oh.” The blonde crawled over to the gutter bending down to pick up a thin shiny object. He held up a long, thin gold chain, a tiny cross, dangled at the end with a small sculpture of Jesus. “Is this yours too?”
The boy’s hand went to his throat searching. All he found was naked skin. He stiffened as he watched the blonde’s fingers curled around the thin strand of gold.
“That’s mine.” He gasped his hand still at his throat. The blonde beamed.
“Good!” He placed it in the red head’s outstretched palm. “That’s too pretty and sacred to loose.”
“Mm,” The blonde stuck out his lower lip almost pouting as he thought. “Well I was raised Catholic although I haven’t been to church that much lately. I do have a tremendous respect for anyone of any faith.”
“Thanks,” the red head said as the blonde nodded helping the red head to his feet picking up his suitcase.
“Well I guess good luck to you, whoever you are.” The blonde turned and began strolling down the street with his guitar case in hand.
“Wait.” The red head called after him. The blonde turned, curiously. The red head froze. “I, uh, well is that offer for a place still open?”
“Of course!” He smiled wide running back to the smaller boy looping a long arm around his shoulders and tugging him along. The boy stiffened. “Oh, sorry.” He slid his arm off and extended his right hand. “I’m Michael McKagan.”
“Bi-Uh no. Call me Axl.”
“Not you’re real name?” Michael teased. Axl growled softly. Michael laughed. “Doesn’t matter. Feel like a beer?”
“Yeah, beer would be good.”
“Great I could suck down at least a six pack. I’m a thirsty motherfucker.”
“I should call you Duff, man, because you’re the king of beers!”
“Ha! I like it.” The tall blonde laughed grinning wide linking his arm with Axl’s dragging him along.
“Okay Duff. Now we both don’t have to use our actual names.” Duff laughed again.
Slash lazed in front of the electronics store. It was closed and the TV’s had long since been turned off and left black. All that remained on the barren shells were passing reflections of a dying night. One leg was drawn into his chest, as the other lay sprawled in front of him. Raising a crinkled brown paper bag he slurped loudly watching the wind casually blow through the barren hollow streets.
“You look like a fucking blind beggar.” A sarcastic drawl informed him. A black shadow draped in a black leather trench glided toward him stealthily. Slash shook slightly, as he believed the human to be a black apparition floating towards him. The thick boots of the figure somehow found the ground and his old drug buddy appeared before his eyes. He smiled, happily drunk again.
“Got a dollar?” Slash asked in a crotchety old man’s voice. Grinning like a sheepish fool before downing more of the paper bag.
“And an unsuccessful beggar at that. Wonderful.” The leather-coated man seized the bottle taking a swig despite the protests of the drunk.
“Damn it, can’t you for once buy something other than Jack?” His voice was only mildly perturbed. The man wiped his mouth on his sleeve. Slash snatched the bottle back like an upset child and giddy like one when he cradled it back into it’s proper place between his thighs.
“If you don’t like it don’t drink, Izz.” Slash retorted holding up a long cigarette. “Got a light?” Izzy grumbled fishing in his pocket he drew out a small cylinder flicking it to life. He let Slash puff a few times then snapped it shut with a sharp click, spooking the curly haired youth slightly.
“Upset that red head gave you some trouble?”
“You mean you actually moved from this spot tonight?” Izzy teased. Slash shrugged.
“I was in the neighborhood trick or treating.” Slash peered up from behind his shades with mischievous eyes that waggled. “You like him don’t you.”
“Reminds me of someone.” Izzy dismissed the question. “You still have a thing for blondes or is Steven enough for you?”
“Life’s too short not to have more blondes.”
“Well fire head has a little blonde protector you’d like. He’s got this sweet innocent angel face, fluffy hair, but he doesn’t look like those drag queens from Poison.”
“So you do want the red head.” Slash laughed scratching his chin. “Think he’s a natural?”
“Only one way to find out.” Izzy smirked.
“You always did go for the hick type.”
“I’ve noticed from time to time.” Slash sighed. “Steven said he’s going to get a lot of business tonight. Not sure what he’s up to though.”
“At least one of us is. We need a new profession.”
“We need drugs.” Slash chewed his cheek.
“Which means we need money, I think I might have an idea.” Izzy said flicking his own cigarette into the receding shadows that still licked at their heels. “But we need a few more people and need to go shopping for a few large items.”
“I’m in.” Slash trumpeted in a drunken singsong voice as he raised his hand like an enthusiastic student. He paused clutching his head. “Hmmm, but can we do it tomorrow?”
“It is tomorrow.” Izzy stated nodding to the thin line of yellow ocher peering between the alleys of the concrete jungle gym. The dark shadows crawled away giving way to eerie blue and white hues of light. Rats sniffed at the fresh morning air laced with dew. In fright they scurried to the safety of their overcast gutters. With the roaches they retreated back into the hollow L.A. underground from where they had crawled.
[*Thank you for reading and rating my fic. Ah, you've made me so happy =) I'm thinking of changing the title again. Please let me know which title you like best 1.Concrete Jungle Jim 2. Concrete Jungle Gym 3.Concrete Jungle Jym. Very eager and nervous about what you'll think of this fic