Hugh MacDiarmid was brooding. He was good at it. He practiced a lot.
He squinted through the smoke at his “band”. He could tell that he was losing respect.
Hugh thought of it as “his” band because they practiced in his dad’s garage. Actually, even Hugh admitted they spent a lot more time smoking pot than practicing. But the garage was a good place to do that, too.
The other thing was that Hugh supplied the pot. He pretended to buy it on-the-street to build up cred with the other three band members. Actually, he took money from his mom and bought it at the State store just like everybody else. Then he stripped off the packaging and stuck it in plain, brown paper bags and sold it to his friends for twenty cents on the callor.
The band had performed dismally at last weekend’s battle of the bands. Hugh thought they had performed well. They had only toked up half what they usually did before going on stage.
The reviews had been devastating.
“Voices that would strip paint.”
“Rich kids playing at angst.”
and so on. Hugh was going to have to step up his game if he did not want to lose his band.
In turn, Hugh looked them over.
To his immediate left was Alice Chalmers; twenty-five kilos overweight, acne and the personality of a badger. Every so often he tried to get into her pants. It was not so much that he wanted to but because everybody assumed that he was. She snarled at him and about bit his finger off when he tried to massage her shoulder. Bitch.
She was talking to Missy Ferguson. Alice was big all over but Missy carried it all in her ass. And she giggled. And he had not been able to tap her, either. Missy was big on equality of the sexes and chafed under Hugh’s leadership.
The other boy was John Dare. Hugh pretended to be bisexual because it was cool and he suspected that John was hoping to slide him in the sack, like that was ever going to happen.
Hugh had known them since pre-school. Both he and John had been “given another year”, a polite term for being flunked. They were one year ahead of the girls and two years older. Alice made frequent, snide remarks about who was the most mature.
Hugh’s dad was a big cheese at one of the factories and wanted him to get a job. Hugh said that he was exploring his options. Then he said he was picking up some programming skills. In fact, he was smoking a lot of pot, a fact that his dad pretended to not pick up on.
“I can’t believe you had us playing Emo-Screamo-Grunge.” Alice carped at him.
“What would you have us play? Its not like any of us can sing.” John jumped to his rescue.
Hugh shook his head. Leaders don’t need rescuing. “I have a plan, something better than the band.” Hugh said.
Missy scoffed. “What are you going to have us do? Get jobs?” she asked, thinking of the most outlandish thing she could.
“Exactly!” Hugh exclaimed, triumphantly.
Alice’s head came up. “Hughie, are you out of your mind? What, us sell-out to the capitalist pigs?”
Like many affluent young people in Cali’s richest suburbs they were pure Socialists. Every imperfection in society was due to the last, lingering traces of the carcinoma called Capitalism. That they were unhappy and unfulfilled, they were sure, was because they were closest to the tumor.
“The only way to root it out is to get close to it.” Hugh said with a wicked grin. “And you can’t get any closer than to be in the beast. We will slay the beast from the inside!”