Determined to get their band out there, Jon, his lover Pete, and their bandmates decide to try taking gigs in other towns. Their first attempt, however, is a complete and total disaster, leaving them all leery of a second attempt.
“Fuck!” Jon gasped as he stepped back from the wall. Pete stood there leaning against it, his shoulders heaving as he panted, his jeans still down around his ankles. Jon grinned and lightly slapped his lover’s bare ass, which made Pete yelp in surprise and shoot him a dark look over his shoulder.
“What?” Jon feigned an expression of innocence and was rewarded with an eye-roll from Pete. He laughed, tugged up his jeans, and looked down the alley. “Hurry up and get dressed. We’re on stage soon.”
“I’m moving, I’m moving,” Pete huffed, finally pushing himself off the wall and pulling up his own jeans. He reached over and ruffled Jon’s mussed hair, an affectionate habit he’d developed years ago. “You sure no one saw us?”
Jon batted Pete’s hand away even as he shook his head. “Positive. I made fucking sure. No way I want to get into a fight because some drunk wanker thinks that just because I’m gay, I’m an easy target.”
“Yeah, same.” Pete sighed. “Sometimes I hate this town.”
“Bloody crap lot of good that does,” Jon retorted. “Seeing as this attitude is everywhere. They got rid of Adelaide’s Sodomy Laws, but it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, even though being gay isn’t illegal anymore.”
Pete shrugged. “Whatever. I don’t need a history lesson right now. Come on then, let’s go inside.”
“Come in five minutes after me,” Jon instructed as he started down the alley towards the street. He didn’t wait for Pete’s answer; he was already straining to hear or see anyone who might have noticed what they had been doing.
Jon hated the public sneaking around, stealing a moment here and there for a quick kiss or grope or frantic sex against the wall of some stinking alley. However, he was finding that the prejudices of the eighties were leading more to violence than towards any sort of acceptance of anything considered different. Pete already had a target on his back for being Chinese—the skinheads who frequented the pub the band was playing at had not stopped staring at him and fingering their Swiss Army knives. Jon knew what they were thinking; get the guy alone and cut the motherfucker.
That wasn’t going to happen, not on his watch. Not as far as Jon was concerned. Even if Pete wasn’t his lover, he was Jon’s best friend from their days back in high school when they’d snuck out of class and hidden down the back of the grassy school oval. They had hidden behind a tree, ignoring the shouts of other kids playing football, as they’d talked about music. Pete had been into Joy Division and Jon had been into the Sex Pistols; their arguments about music had been conducted in hushed, indignant tones. Each of them had tried to overwhelm the other and not get caught by any of the teachers patrolling the grounds looking for kids playing hooky.
Now in their mid-twenties, Jon and Pete had the rather dubious privilege of being guitarist and drummer, respectively, of hardcore punk rock band, Capsicum Head. The rest of the band—Adam, the singer; Danny, the bassist; and Greg, the rhythm guitarist—were all aware of Pete and Jon’s relationship. None of them were particularly concerned about it; Danny had admitted to Jon on one quiet night of binge drinking that he himself was bi. It was a sad fact that acceptance within the band didn’t necessarily translate to acceptance within the community, and Jon was always alert for trouble.
He entered the pub, wrinkling his nose in distaste as the stench of stale beer and urine assaulted his nose. There were nicer places to play, but those places tended to be managed by individuals who’d clutch their pearls in horror at the idea of a band who didn’t play Top 40 Pop—cover bands were all the rage. Jon refused to play that music, not for any amount of money or fame. It wasn’t just that he didn’t like it; no, it would feel like an insult to his friends and his own integrity to play music like that – music that Jon considered dull, repetitive, and lacking in passion.
Jon made his way to the bar and leaned against it, ignoring the stickiness he could feel against his leather jacket and the way his Doc Marten booted feet seemed to squelch in the garish brown and orange carpet. He kept one eye on the door and one on the group of skinheads who were loitering not far away. A few moments later, Pete entered the pub and made a beeline for the bar.
The skinheads followed suit, hard on Pete’s heels. Jon stiffened, his eyes narrowing. Pete shot him a confused look, obviously not realizing he was being followed, but Jon didn’t react, too focused on the skinheads. Pete came to stand beside Jon at the bar, his back to the skinheads, and Jon felt a shiver of worry crawl up his spine.
Then Angie, the band’s best friend, was there, all five foot nothing of her, with her short black and purple streaked hair. Adam’s nineteen-year-old girlfriend Ellie was with her. She moved to stand beside Pete, lounging against the bar with all the innocence of a hunting tiger. Angie wasn’t just the band’s best friend; she was their mother figure too, cooking meals for them, bandaging their cuts when they got into fights, and often deflecting a great many potential brawls. How such a woman had come to be involved in the punk rock scene was a mystery to Jon.
“Trouble, huh?” Angie jerked her head in the direction of the skinheads milling around a few feet away.
“Possibly,” Jon said. “Probably,” he amended.
Angie shook her head. “Wankers. I’ll go talk to the bouncer and have him chuck them out. They can go and fall into a bottomless pit.”
Jon looked at her in relief. “Thanks, Ange.”