Lucas had been so very happy the day that Gaile Decartes agreed to be his girlfriend. They had kissed and when he walked home he felt like he was dancing on the rooftops like in that story Jack Of Ash. He knew his happiness wouldn’t last so he cradled it in his heart like the most precious thing in the world for as long as he could.
It hadn’t taken long to realize that not only was he not Gaile’s only romantic interest, he wasn’t even at the top of the list. He knew his mates would make horrible fun of him for not breaking up with her immediately, what kind of little pussy doesn’t slag off a slag at the first sign, but it wasn’t like he had any other prospects and he really did like her and he got to spend a little time with her and even, you know, fool around a bit, and if he was being really, really, honest, something you would never EVER be with the mates, a little time was better than none. So he just took what he could get and made sure his mates didn’t catch wind that he was the kind of pussy who put up with little whores.
His weeks weren’t all that exciting. He stocked groceries at Al Porsen’s grocery over on Stephenson street, and Al was nice enough. A little gruff but all right. Lucas had finished school but not gone on to uni, even though his best friend, the only friend he could be truly honest with, Nero, had gone off to uni in Arcadia, which was a really big deal. He knew Nero was going to be important one day and factor into stories people told down the line, unlike Lucas, who was just going to exist and go through the motions of life and one day do all the stupid boring stuff every single person ever did: keep working, get married (and let’s face it, not to Gaile), have a kid, and live out a life that was boring and purposeless and some mornings, honestly, not even worth the effort.
Not even death was exciting. At least, if that nut who stood every day on the soapbox on Noon Street could be believed, which he couldn’t. It was like, two weeks ago this complete loon had started standing on Noon Street yelling half the day about how he could bring your dead relatives back in the bodies of… wooden dolls? Mannequins? It was really ridiculous and almost no one actually believed him, but imagine if that was true and all that waited for you after death was sitting around as wooden doll. First life is dreary shit than death is dreary shit. It made Lucas want to cry. Sometimes he almost did, but only when he was really, really alone. The mates would… shit, he’d never hear the end of it. He got enough shit from them when he wouldn’t beat up the dandies. He tried, he wanted to be one of the boys, but when they started in on some poor bloke for just… being in their way and looking like easy prey, Lucas just didn’t have the stomach for it, although he tried to yell along and pretend he wasn’t weak.
If having faggish thoughts was bad then… stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it. Those thoughts only come if you let them and if you never let them they’ll never come and no one will ever know the things you think sometime. He really did like Gaile. He really did get turned on by girls. It’s just… sometimes also…
ANYWAY changing the subject cause we should really change the subject now, Lucas had two things he liked. He liked drawing and if things had worked out differently he would have done that for a living. When he was in grade school he had been known as the kid who could draw. It was his one little claim to fame for awhile and he enjoyed it. But now that school was over he faced the problem that while growing up he had been better than everybody who had sucked, he wasn’t actually good enough to do it professionally. Maybe if he had been taught or gone to school for it, but maybe not, and uni wasn’t possible for him. Drawing was just going to end up being something he had enjoyed doing as a kid and would remember fondly as he stocked shelves and maybe one day actually ran a grocery store where he could work 12 hours a day doing utterly mind numbing chores, be tired all the time, drained of any enthusiasm for anything and growing old and bald.
The other thing he liked was saturday nights going to the music hall. He knew his mates were a bunch of assholes. They were, he knew it. There were the kids fate had dealt him the cards to grow up around and the world was probably better off if someone came along one day and knocked the shit out of them the way they knocked the shit out of so many poor bastards who hadn’t deserved it. But they took him to the music hall on saturday nights and that one thing was glorious. Glorious.
The lights would dim and the band would come out on stage: fiddle and guitar and accordion and hurdy gurdy and drums and horns… and there would be this moment of perfect anticipation in the silence before they began that made him happy just thinking about… and then bam, the music would hit him like a wave of pure pleasure and finally, for one of the only times in his shitty, pointless week, he would break into a wide smile and feel… alive and full like a blazing fire instead of sad and endlessly lost in a grey haze. He’d hop up and down and cry out to the music like he was in the throes of passion, and for one brief window, life was a thing of happiness and excitement.
His shitty mates would always do something to ruin it afterwards. They be all jacked up on adrenaline from the show and they’d try to pick a fight with someone, usually someone who couldn’t threaten them back or looked like they might.. you know… be THAT way, and Lucas would have to watch as some poor kid got kicked around and just be glad it wasn’t him like it used to be back in the old days.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t sure if things would ever change, he figured one day, eventually, they would. Things would stop being shitty and just be bland. He’d lose all the weight and hurt in his heart, but even the occasional good feelings, and it all would be replaced with endless blandness and weariness. This was what seemed to happen to everyone who got older that he saw around him. And if this mad dolt on the soapbox got his way, death wouldn’t even cure that. It would just keep going on and on. Which was as good a reason an any not to just…. you know… fucking end it.
This is what was in his mind as he walked home from work. It was Thursday night. Things were lively, but not weekend lively. Folks were out and about, sounds and smells drifting through the streets, and then, off to the side, from down an alley that had entrances to pubs and such, he heard this music. It wasn’t upbeat, it was entrancing. Like an organist warming the crowd up before a performance. But… beautiful and creepy at the same time. He couldn’t resist. He went down the alley.
There was an entrance door, one he was sure hadn’t been here before, like a whole room, or place had just… suddenly emerged there over night. It was some weird little theater. He glanced around to make sure none of the mates were around to see him go in anything weird. They weren’t. He entered.
There were two girls in strange outfits and they smiled and didn’t ask him for any money, just showed him to a seat. The theater was small but packed and a velvet red curtain hung on the stage in front of them. The organist stopped.
A man walked on stage and bid them good evening. The man was dressed impeccably and spoke in a refined accent. He seemed about to introduce someone and Lucas glanced to the side of the stage and saw this… this freak of a man. Tall, dark, dressed in outlandish clothing, dreadlocks, a wide almost sinister smile on his face and.. dear god that bulge in his pants. It was horrifying. It was disgusting and scandalous and Lucas knew it was wrong but he couldn’t look away even though he knew he should feel shame.
The dark, freakish, sinister beast of a man walked on the stage and spoke and it was hypnotic and somewhere in his banter he asked for volunteers from the audience and before Lucas even had a chance to think about it, he raised his hand and the next thing he knew he was walking up to the stage and the man was smiling at him and Lucas knew he would see things beyond his wildest dreams and that nothing was ever going to be the same again.