That was Indiana rain in the summer. He remembered the rain in winter the best, cold and unforgiving showers that destroyed the radiance of spring and summer.
Duff threw his shoulder one last time into the door breaking it open. Splinters flew from the chipped wood throughout the room as it shuddered open with trepidation. The blonde stumbled forward almost landing on his knees if not for Axl quickly grabbing his arm.
“Thanks,” Duff turned to him smiling sheepishly. “Door always sticks so don’t be afraid to manhandle it a bit. Just watch your step.”
Axl nodded as they walked into the room. Duff’s apartment was a one-room studio with a pile of blankets stacked in the corner amongst two homemade pillows of rags. A small sink sat idly in the corner with a tiny mirror that had been ripped off a car door above it. On the far side of the room a chair rescued from someone’s back alley lay exhausted against the one small window. Several old t-shirts dangled across the dust-glazed panes serving as a curtain.
The walls were tarnished and beginning to yellow from cigarette ash. A few sparse punk rock concert posters adorned various corners. Clothes, jewelry and other items littered the floor. Duff quickly shuffled the affects to one side with his boot clearing a path on the brown liquor stained hard floor.
“My roommate hasn’t left just yet, but he’s staying with his girlfriend until he heads out to New York.” Duff explained motioning to the clear spot for Axl to sit and unpack. “The bathroom’s down the hall. It’s a community shower, but it has stalls. Not many use it really and sometimes they turn off the water, but that’s not often. Oh, and you’re welcome to the closet.”
He pulled back a tall door that had a huge crack running down the center. It creaked and swayed outward as he drew it to the side revealing a bare cavern.
“Careful when you open it. The hinges were broken when I started renting this place.” Duff said kicking an odd shaped piece of wood on the floor. “I’ve finally gotten enough dough to do laundry which is why my clothes aren’t in here. I just haven’t had a chance to get down to the laundry mat.” Duff explained. Axl nodded.
“So you’re a musician?” Axl asked as he began to unpack. His movements were stiff and rigid, watching the still foreign guy warily.
“Yeah! Well at least I want to be. Right now I’ve got a part time job as an appetizer server downtown. I had a gig last night at a club. The house band needed a bass player and I knew one of the waitresses so I got the gig.”
“You play bass?”
“And drums and guitar. I want to get in a band and become a rock star one day.”
“Cool.” Axl said almost dropping his shirt. His voice had broken just slightly to a higher pitch.
“Do you play an instrument?” Duff smiled lying against his frayed leather guitar case.
“No.” Axl said voice harsh, but then his hands softened. “Well I can play piano and I sing a little or at least I did when I was in the choir back home.”
“Hey cool. We should get some guys together and start a band. You’re probably a kick ass singer if you’re voice can crack that high.” Duff beamed as Axl blushed. The red head tried to scowl to cover up his embarrassment at allowing his voice to squeak. “Uh, no offense man.”
“Sure we should.” Duff said snapping off his fourth beer from the six-pack they had bought draining most of Duff’s paycheck and slamming back half the can. “We’ll start first thing tomorrow.” He yawned slumping over on the mattress as he polished off his beer.
“It is tomorrow.” Axl pointed out turning to find the blonde snoozing against the wall. Begrudgingly a slight smile spread over Axl’s sun illuminated face as at the sleeping blonde began to snore softly. He cuddled his empty beer can like a security blanket against his chest.
Something still bothered Axl, the man in the leather trench. His face was gaunt almost hallow like a skeleton drawn from the depths of that hellish night. Yet there was a familiarity that he couldn’t get over. That stupid fucking feeling was the only thing that stopped him from decking the drug-dealing bastard, that and Duff intervening.
Looking down Axl realized he had taken his cross off and was now rubbing it between his thumb and forefinger. The tiny gold glittered like the irises of the impish man. Axl’s lips moved silently resting the religious trinket against his chin. Sighing to himself he placed a chaste kiss to the necklace before refastening it around his neck.
Duff snorted, shifting in his sleep. Axl’s critical eyes ran over the elongated body searching for signs of consciousness. The blonde seemed dead to the world as his bare torso rose and fell. Lying down next to him Axl closed his eyes trying to block out the haunting apparition that loomed in his brain.
In the middle of the night Duff awoke to a heavy warmth on top of him. Opening one eye his vision was blocked by a sea of coppery red that blazed in the sunlight. It was Axl from the bus. Duff smiled happily that the guy hadn’t left or tried to mug him for that matter. Duff nestled farther down against the wall closing his eyes, as he was lulled to sleep by another’s breathing.
Across town on the other side of Sunset Boulevard lived a house of what seemed to be of quiet proportions. A ranch style house serenely set in the dewy morning light. The kind old porch swing, glided back and forth in the benign morning wind as the neighbor’s wind chimes clanged together in a rich harmony of melancholy peace.
“Fuck those chimes.” Slash grumbled clutching his head. Fingers tugging hard at his hair, trying to drown out the sound with pain. With a dull thud he rolled off the couch to crawl underneath, but he bumped into a large blonde dust ball. No, it was just Steven’s fluffy blonde head. “Steven, what the hell are you doing here?”
“Sleeping, dumbass.” Steven mumbled burying his head deeper into his arms.
“Well move over fucker. I’m trying to escape those fucking wind chimes,” Slash whined pushing Steven’s shoulder.
“Turn off the light first asshole.” Steven hissed back kicking Slash out of the safety of the couch. Slash growled. Catching the drummer’s ankle he hauled him out into the burning sun. “What the hell man. I made money last night leave me alone!”
“Oh, good you’re both up.” Izzy said tossing a leg over the sofa then the other to perch on the back. Arms resting on his tight black jeans he peered down at the squabbling twosome.
“I’m not going shopping right now fucker it’s too early.” Slash whined.
“You should go to school. You haven’t been for two weeks.” Steven reprimanded pointing a finger at Slash. “And they keep assigning me to bring your homework home. Those books are damn heavy”
“Mom! When did you die your hair blonde? Is this a mid life crisis?” Slash asked swaying a bit as Steven tried to crawl back under the couch.
“You went to school?” Izzy asked dragging Steven out from under the couch by the waistband of his pants.
“Wait, I have homework?” Slash asked the concept foreign to him.
“Where are the textbooks?” Izzy probed further as Slash prevented the sleepy Steven from hiding under the couch again.
“Oh yeah.” Steven said beaming. Jumping to his feet he immediately groaned as his head pounded harder from the sudden rise in elevation. He fell backwards onto the couch sprawled between Izzy’s legs. Holding his head Steven squinted pointing at Slash. “I sold your textbooks last night.”
“How much?” Izzy asked his brain already beginning to calculate money.
“I have textbooks?” Slash asked still completely bewildered, his mouth hung slightly agape.
“Not anymore. Made myself twenty bucks off your history book alone. They’re almost as good as selling drugs.”
“Look we need to go window shopping for some new gear if we’re going to try this again.” Izzy informed the toxic twins.
“I better go to school before they call my other Mom.” Slash dismissed padding lazily to the mirror. He tugged at his hair once before embarking on a quest to find his shoes.
“She still dating Bowie?”
“Shut the fuck up Stevie,” Slash hissed softly.
“Fuck school man,” Izzy growled spinning around the back of the couch and onto his feet. Crossing the room in swift pointed strides he glared hard at Slash. “We need to get serious about this.”
“Damn fucker I don’t always go to class. I’m usually playing my guitar in the bathroom. I just gotta go to keep up appearances and shit.” Slash wafted silently to the door. He could feel Izzy’s determined gaze burning through the back of his skull. “Why don’t you go lift our stuff and we’ll jam later? Stevie you coming?”
The blonde moaned but dragged himself off the couch.
“Fucking kids.” Izzy spat pushing past the smaller man. His boots clicked against the asphalt ignoring the moaning cries from behind him. Continuing down the L.A. suburb road ignoring the awkward stares he received from more acceptable members of the human race who lived on Slash’s street.
He knew they could make it big. They could be amazing, but he wished those two had more ambition. Slash had it in him when he wasn’t stoned. Izzy couldn’t be too hard on him really. He did more than his share of drugs and he supplied them to those two.
Turning a corner he found himself in a completely new part of town. One cast in a shadow of red and delirium. The sunlight allowed into this neck of the woods was burnt and haggard as if happiness had been sucked out of its soul. Ghoulish lies and secrets whispered in the wind taunting, tempting. The rancid underbelly looked as though it were painted with a cheap layer of white paint trying to mask the inevitable darkness.
A splash of water hit Izzy’s ankle. Peering down he noticed he was standing almost ankle deep in a pothole filled with rainwater. Numerous puddles flooded the street turning it into a swamp. He had been awake all night and yet never saw or heard a single drop of rain, but it looked as though it had been a downpour.
He saw his reflection in the puddle as he squatted down. Harsh lines lined his eyes and mouth. Drugs did not treat him well unless he was high then he was perfect. It was the only time he felt perfect.
A random bitter wind swept through his bones as he started scratching his arms. The remnants of a rainstorm and promise of more held it the hollow echo of the breeze.
L.A. rain wasn’t like Indiana rain. It was hotter almost steamy like the heart of a rainforest jungle. Like thick underbrush you had to fight your way through or allow yourself to be consumed by the painful heat that filled your lungs until there was nowhere left to breath except death’s kiss.
That was Indiana rain in the summer. He remembered the rain in winter the best, cold and unforgiving showers that destroyed the radiance of spring and summer. It was either torrential downpours or long lasting droughts of heavy humid air that made your skin weep and crawl from desperation.
As he looked at himself a night of Indiana rain in late November came back to him. One he hadn’t thought of in a while. Either it was Thanksgiving or a couple days after, he didn’t want to remember. It was late or early in the night depending what time you went to bed or woke up. A slim body pressed against him on his bed, seeking refuge even in his dreams.
Leaked tears had striped William’s pale cheeks his slender hand curled into the collar of Jeff’s t-shirt. A thumb gently pressed against Jeff’s collarbone. Jeff kissed it. William snuggled harder, drawing closer to his side.
Jeff shushed him telling him about the sun that would soon shine above them. It would only be brighter if he were to smile. Despite the roaring thunder the tension was fading in the frail body as it became one with Jeff. He smiled his fingers brushing softly against William’s shoulder.
Now Izzy shook his head aggressively trying to free himself from the imprisonment of the happy memory. Kicking the puddle hard in an attempt to bring him back into his present abyss. It was two fucking years ago, Izzy thought. Spying a familiar apartment he spryly climbed the twisting vines. Somersaulting through the open fifth floor window he strolled along the corridor until finding room number old number seven.
He rang the doorbell five times in succession, knocked three times, rang it once again and waited. Foot tapping crossing his arms he waited. Soft thuds, a scuffle and a few choice heated words droned from behind the rickety wooden door. It swung open with a mild shuddering vibration sending flecks of cheap paint to all sides. A short blonde smiled up at him.
“Hi there.” Her voice had a trace of an accent and a radiant smile. Izzy gave a curt nod, his eyes looking around her to find a slim man stalking her.
“Aw, you have to leave so soon?” The man wrapped an arm around the clothed girl’s waist. His torso was lean with soft ripples of muscle along his flat belly. Izzy’s eyes followed his happy trail to the button of his black pants barely able to hold onto those slim cut hips. A cowboy hat mashed his untamable dirty coal black hair down. She moaned softly, but pushed him away.
“Got to get to work.” She kissed him. “Help yourself to anything in the fridge while I’m gone.” Her heels clicked as she pranced softly down the hall in long determined strides, head held high. The man propped himself against the jagged edges of the doorframe eyes glued to the fading blonde.
“Since when do you drool over women, cowboy?” The cowboy snapped his head to Izzy. His eyes bugged out as if he had just realized the guitarist was standing there, cowboy hat almost falling off his head as he jerked against the door.
“Since you fucking quit coming over Stradlin.” The cowboy sneered pushing the hat down atop Izzy’s head. Izzy quickly worked to remove it. “You want to join my band. You don’t want to join my band. You want to sell your drugs, so I buy your drugs. We do your drugs and finally get to fuck again. You whisper to me I’m one hot piece of shit. Then you don’t want to talk to me. You stop answering my phone calls.”
Izzy stepped forward seizing the man’s wrists in his hand pulling them above his head. Slamming the bewildered cowboy into the rickety door grinding his lean hips into the other’s naked flesh that peaked over his low-slung pants.
“Shut that pretty little mouth of yours Tracii.” Izzy growled lustfully. Swiftly he drew Tracii onto his chest. Fastening the other guitarist’s long sinewy arms around his waist Izzy kissed him hard. Tracii pushed back breaking their lips apart.
“Are you still high?”
“I wish.” Izzy sighed. Tracii grinned impishly as he shoved the cowboy hat back down on Izzy’s head.
“Then get your ass in here, Izzy-bell.”
“Don’t call me that.” Izzy’s eyes narrowed.
Tracii snickered as he walked backwards, towing Izzy by his belt into the apartment. Using Izzy to close the door he dipped his thumb beneath the black denim running a blunt nail over Izzy’s hidden supple skin. Izzy groaned arching forward as the nail toyed with his unexposed flesh. “Like that?”
“Just like, that.” Izzy exhaled cupping the back of Tracii’s head bringing him closer to his mouth, half biting half sucking the other man’s bottom lip and cheek. His breath was a humid hiss against his cheek. “Lower.”
Tracii smirked at the lusty command. With an exaggerated sweep of his head he slunk down Izzy’s chest. Placing gentle kisses and even smaller nips to Izzy’s torso as he worked the buttons of the other man’s shirt one at a time. Izzy groaned as the hot wet lips and pointed teeth grazed his skin leaving a trail of red in their wake. Izzy steadied his back against the door shoving the guitarist’s head down impatiently. Tracii shook Izzy’s greedy hands out of his hair. Cheekily he placed his head against Izzy’s hip nuzzling the undershirt up Izzy’s belly.
“Want it fast today?” Tracii grinned against Izzy’s navel his eyes peeking up to meet Izzy’s hooded eyes.
“What do you think?” Izzy hissed, but it came out a whisper as Tracii’s tongue swirled his navel tickling inside before kissing it. He raised one of his trembling legs as the pleasure rocked through his calf muscles, nudging Tracii’s shoulder. As his hands began to undo his own pants Tracii stopped him.
“Relax, babe. I got you covered.” That voice was the same deep wild purr that made Izzy’s head feel light like the first time they had been together. It reminded him of that deep guttural voice from years ago. Placing a hand over his heart he relented his grip on his pants’ button. Tracii rubbed circles over Izzy’s hipbones as he pulled the button a part with his teeth and continued to peel away the denim with his teeth.
Izzy arched his back slightly against the wood fingernails digging harder into his chest. Using pain to fight off his memories of years ago. The slimmer body, the creamy skin, the fine hands that seemed so eager to explore every inch of him. The closeness of their bodies seeking and finding the other in between the sheets only to…no! Yes! Tracii reached up pushing Izzy’s hands into his hair. Puzzled, Izzy looked down.
“Hold on to me,” he whispered threading Izzy’s hand in his hair. The greasy strands instantly tangled around Izzy’s nimble fingers as they were yanked hard. Tracii hummed teasingly against the flesh beside Izzy’s crotch, enjoying the hard tugs of his hair. The vibrations sent Izzy into a frenzied tailspin as his hips shot forward. His belly hit Tracii’s cold nose, adding new waves of shivers to transcend his spine.
Tracii smirked before coyly wrapping his tongue around Izzy’s hardened flesh. His wet tongue sawed against the underside wiggling it against his balls. He drew away only to lap at the base like an eager puppy while petting Izzy’s thighs drawing gentle circles in his pubic hair.
“Faster, ah fuck.” Izzy cursed between moans of pleasure. Tracii pouted against his skin nuzzling it as he gazed upward.
“Fine. You’re not much fun tonight anyway.” Before Izzy could make a snarky remark, Tracii engulfed his entire length literally pulling every drop of the bitter liquid from his erection. Sucking hard he brought his mouth back up the shaft to the base before humming his way back down the hardened flesh tugging more and more. Izzy pounded the door kicking it with his boot as he moaned and screamed coming hard and fast into Tracii’s mouth.
With a soft pop Tracii pulled back a cackling grin plastered on his face. A thin sheen of sweat covered Izzy’s throbbing chest spasms of aftershock raked his body as he panted for air. Securing Izzy’s thighs in a snug grip Tracii peered up at the breathless guitarist.
“So you going to join my band now, sexy?” Tracii snickered against Izzy’s quivering thigh, kissing it softly.
“Wonderful.” Tracii laughed flicking his lighter open. He lit two cigarettes in his mouth passing one to Izzy once the paper had caught. “Got guitars, drums, a bass now we just need a singer.”
“I have one in mind.”
“Do you?” Tracii beamed from behind his slanted cowboy hat that Izzy had smashed back down on the younger man’s head. A serpentine stream of smoke passing between his lips as his tongue swiped the remaining drops of Izzy’s cum off his still bare penis. “And who is that?”
“An old friend from back home. He just got to the jungle.”