I hadn’t even known them at the start. Blake was just some prat in my French Lit class, and Chris was the tattooed guy he caused trouble with. Tyler was the stray they’d quite literally picked up at the side of the road, and Eric was the smart-arse in the bowler hat that gate crashed ESM’s practice sessions.
They were just caricatures, superficial, defined by their most obvious features. I even named them like that on my blog. Blake, due to his love of holey jumpers, his lip ring and shaggy hair, was Indie Boy. With his ever-changing hair colour and impressive tattoo collection, Chris became Captain Colour. I was the most unimaginative with Tyler who was simply The Drummer, but as he couldn’t focus on anything for more than five seconds and was allergic to shirts, he didn’t exactly give me much to work with. Eric became The Enigma because Goth Boy just didn’t cut it, despite his love of black clothes, The Sandman and Nine Inch Nails.
People judged, and boxed, and labelled. It was just instinct. I came to realise that the more time passed, the messier definitions became. Snap decisions were easy enough. It was getting to know them that made things complicated.
And it was complicated. The thing with Eric. The thing with Phoebe. Chris bouncing off the walls half the time, and Blake quietly trying to move in on my sister. And of course Tyler with the harpy girlfriend. I just wasn’t sure how it happened, or how I became personally responsible for making sure they emerged from all of this whole, and unscathed. Every day that passed made that feel like a greater impossibility.
‘Oli was in rehab, you know,’ I said, eyes fixed on the van’s stained roof. I hoped to never find out what could leave marks like that. ‘Record company paid for it. He lasted maybe two months when he got out.’ I pulled myself up again and glanced over at Eric. He was still down for the count. ‘I don’t get it. You’re a bloody genius and he’s The Badger Cult’s own Sid Vicious. What do you get out of it?’
He remained completely still. I sighed again and made my way to the door. We had four hours before we needed to head for the venue. If he couldn’t drag himself up by then, I’d just have to do it for him.
Movement stilled me just as I reached the front. Eric sat up on his elbows and looked at me from under his hair. ‘I like Oli,’ he said. ‘He makes me feel healthy.’
I slammed the door behind me as a reply. It bothered me that he said it so easily. Some people had an inherent darkness, a shadow they couldn’t quite shake. That was fine. I had no overwhelming urge to fix him. I just wanted to keep him alive. I was beginning to doubt whether he actually wanted that.
Music: My number - Foals