Hand Over Mouth
Six years since Joe went out in a blaze of gory and the world's fucking
changed. Maybe Joe's the lucky one. No need to sit back and take stock of
your life when you're dead. All Billy's got is the bitter aftertaste of what
seemed like a sweet deal.
Not many gigs out there for a middle-aged (and he'd be kidding himself if he
claimed to be anything but--hell, in this town it seems like 25 is over the
hill) guitar player who spent most of his career pissed to the gills and
pissing his talent to the wind while his best friend pissed away their
chances--literally. Doesn't matter what the t-shirts say: Joey Ramone's as
dead as Joe Dick and Billy Tallent is just another dinosaur in the tarpit
shithole they call Los Angeles.
People recognize him sometimes, but they always think he's someone else.
Someone with something to lose. Well, he had something to lose once; lost it
on a sidewalk in a puddle of blood and booze and bits of brain. Way to be a
dick, Joe. When he hears the whispers, he just puts his head in his arms to
get them to shut up, because he doesn't want to remember what he had once,
and, more importantly, what he doesn't have any more.
He goes to the fucking Anglophile theme pubs now. There's less of a chance
of being noticed. Every once in a while, some Brit ex-pat or another will
glance over with a quizzical look, but nine times out of ten they shrug and
turn back to the rugby or football or whatever game's coming through the
He tries to blend in by not talking. Pretends he belongs, even though he
doesn't belong anywhere. He drinks the beer, wishes it was whisky or blow,
and tries to get used to the taste. Nods at the bartender, looks around. He
likes to look at the dartboard and pretend there's a picture of Joe's head
plastered to it. When he doesn't want to think about Joe's head and holes,
he just stares at the wall.
He found a bar he likes. He's there every other day; he'd go every day if he
didn't think he'd look even more pathetic. He sits on the third stool from
the left, and the bartender doesn't know his name but he knows his drink.
It's near clockwork: he stumbles in around four in the afternoon, wincing
from the sun even behind his sunglasses, and his drink is there before he
is. He'd like that, the consistency of it all, if he weren't too distracted
by the beer and his hangover.
The whole situation is lame and desperate and he knows he's staggeringly
close to becoming a professional drunk. It makes it easier to not care,
though, when he sees that same guy wander in at the same time and sit in the
same place, looking as fucked up as he feels.
It's like looking in a mirror. Guy must be a washed-up something, just like
him. Washed-up what would be the question if he gave enough of a shit to ask
it. He doesn't. Instead he just watches as the guy drops bomb after bomb of
whisky into pint after pint of beer.
He counted one time. His double managed four drinks an hour for two hours.
Best thing about this bar is they won't cut you off. Hell, even with
California's fucking smoke Nazis all around, they'll turn a blind eye when
you go to the washroom for a cigarette. California dreamin' is mostly a
shit-colored PC nightmare. Joe would have hated it, but Joe's not here.
Which was the point of the whole exercise. Joe's not here, the fucking
bastard left him alone, fucked in every way imaginable. So now he's got a
nicotine habit he can't afford, barfly status, and his twin sitting four
He doesn't talk; the other guy doesn't talk. They don't look at each other,
they don't nod hello, they don't order the same beer. The bartender shies
away from their end of the room, and when Billy happens to catch the guy's
gaze in the bar mirror, he holds it for a recognizing second before setting
his sights back in dark, translucent liquid.
Which is why it blows his fucking mind when the guy says in a weirdly raspy
voice: "Did she send you?"
Billy just looks at him for a second, startled by the voice more than the
question. He's drunk enough that "would you like pretzels?" seems like
Greek, so maybe "did she send you?" is supposed to make sense. And then he's
laughing like a hyena, a strained, sick giggle that just makes him think of
Joe, and when the guy's hand closes around his throat, he can't stop
laughing even though he can't breathe.
The hand drops, and there's that voice again. "Well, did she?"
"I don't know what the fuck you're talking about," and he's still laughing,
tears streaming down his face. He should get a grip on himself before he
strips naked and starts chanting like John, or grabs a gun and a bottle of
rye like Joe.
The man turns to go back to his stool, and Billy raises his glass. "To
betrayal and fuck-ups." Tears are still streaming down his face, but he's
not laughing anymore.
He hears a soft snort from the guy, and the laughter returns: the absurdity
of the situation hits him like a Mack truck. He's an out-of-work musician
sitting in a bar drunk as fuck and this guy is straight out of some trippy
noir movie saying shit like "Did she send you?"
Jesus, what was this, Casablanca? And then he remembers how the guy got left
at the end of the movie, with only his bar for company, and he sobers up
again. Or at least as sober as he can be considering he's practically
soaking up booze by osmosis.
He almost doesn't catch the guy nodding stiffly to his half-assed toast, but
when he looks up from his mug again after a long, slow gulp, he meets eyes
that are bright with tightly controlled pain, made all the more raw by the
cap the guy puts on it; and he is suddenly freaked by this guy, by this
He'd get up and leave, but it's only seven and his fifth beer is still
three-quarters full, and an unemployed fuck like him can't afford to waste
money like that. So instead he starts humming the melody of "Who The Hell Do
You Think You Are" and tries to remember the days when the guy wouldn't look
at him, let alone say something to him.
Of course, then the guy's gotta ruin the moment by speaking again.
He's raised his glass in return, and it looks like his hands are shaking.
"To fate, failure, and forgetting, assuming there's enough alcohol here for
the both of us to achieve the last of those."
Billy takes a long swallow from his glass, gets it down to half-empty.
"A-fuckin'-men." He takes another swig and decides to pretend he gives a
rat's ass. "What are you in here for?" Makes it sound like prison. Which it
"Intoxication, noise, solitude, the off chance that I might find someone or
thing of interest. The usual, universal reasons for seeking out such
"Who the fuck are you?" So maybe the song's still in his head, or else he'd
be asking something that made sense like "got a name?"
"No one of any importance."
Okay, now he's going to ask it the easy way. "Got a name?"
At that Wesley bursts out laughing at some sort of joke only he gets.
"Billy. Well, it's almost a full circle, isn't it?"
Billy really doesn't know what to say to that, because he never thought his
name was that damned funny, but hey--now it's a party of two, so he starts
to laugh, out of sync with Wesley's depressingly controlled snorts. So now
they're two drunks exhibiting pure drunkard behavior, and Billy starts to
wonder when he became so goddamned definite about everything. He figures it
was right around the time when Joe fucked him in the ass--the metaphorical
ass, not the literal one, because that's just a whole other barrel of
carrots--and left him hanging on the edge of greatness. This whole line of
inquiry just sobers him up, like it always does, quicker than a curse word
shuts up a nun.
Billy notices that Wes--Wes, it's always gotta be a nickname with him,
doesn't it?--has gotten pretty quiet too, breathing into his beer glass like
it's the only way he can stay alive. Billy knows the feeling.
He takes a sweeping look around the bar, taking in the unfortunate dark
paneling, the faded green vinyl, the crooked pictures that mask the wall; he
turns back to Wes, catches his gaze.
He can see the words failing to process in the poor guy's head, and he feels
for a minute like Joe's with him in spirit, speaking through his mouth.
"Wanna fuck?" That's pure Dick talking. Thing is, he means it, wants to
raise his ass in a toast to absent friends. Shit. Billy smiles at the guy,
the best quiet I've-got-a-secret-you're-dying-to-know smile he can muster.
Wesley returns it with one of his own, only his is more of a grim
seen-it-all-twice-but-what-the-hell kind of twist to the lips. When he
finally says something, he doesn't really answer. "There is, I suppose,
something to be said for postlapsarian excesses." Then he gets up and heads
to the washroom.
Well, what the fuck. Billy downs the rest of his beer, checks his pockets to
make sure he's got enough change for the condom dispenser, and follows
The washroom is half-lit, with the old fluorescent lights flickering
irregularly; it makes the deep shadows on Wes's face take on an eerie glow,
and for a second Billy wonders about his decision to be in a room, alone,
with this guy. He thinks this a split second before Wes fists his shirt and
yanks him into a stall, pushing him up against the squeaky metal with a
punishing kiss. Billy takes it for a second, until the Ghost of Joe that
keeps fucking with his mind takes over, and he meets Wes's brutality with
some of his own.
Their cocks are squashed together through layers of fabric, but the pressure
only adds to the intensity of the fucked-up scenario. If they were to take
the time to properly undress, it'd lose the mood, and all Billy really wants
is a quick fuck in the washroom of a shitty bar with a stranger who's been
there, done that.
Hey, they say you get what you wish for.
Wes's mouth is as harsh as the fluorescents--jittery, too, like some fucking
8mm amateur porn film. Christ knows Billy's seen his fair share of those.
Good thing his fame was fleeting, or else it might have come out that he'd
made a couple, too. Still, it's not bad; you don't look for subtle in a
washroom, not unless you're as crazy as John, so Billy drops to his knees in
a parody of submission and yanks Wes's fly open. Guy goes commando--who'd
have thunk it?
Paying more a month than you make in child support teaches you a few tricks
about safety. Nobody ever got knocked up from a blowjob, but you can't be
too careful, not in his experience. Besides, this way he never has to worry
about spit or swallow, and he's learned how to unroll a rubber with his
mouth like a high-class hooker. Maybe cause that's where he learned it.
But now's not the time to think about his past. Hell, never's the best time
to think about his past, even though it haunts him like fucking Joe. Right
now he's got a spicy-scented dick inches from his mouth, and as he's already
decided that he wants something hard in his mouth at this very moment, he
decided to seize the day or whateverthefuck and swallow the rest of Wes's
cock after lemon-flavored latex.
Billy's eyes flit upward to take in Wes's face, the harshness muted somewhat
by the concentrated abandonment that contorts his forehead. He decides to
make it his mission to remove the concentrated part of that sentence and
grabs Wes's ass, pushing his cock as far down his throat for as long as he
can. He forgot how fucking great it was to concentrate on something other
than Joe or alcohol for five minutes, and he wants to ride this wave for as
long as he fucking can.
A rattled gasp breaks through Billy's moderate attention and he smiles
around Wes's dick. He really missed this, he really fucking did, and he
celebrates that fact by pulling backwards, scraping his teeth over Wes's
dick, earning a low growl in the process that does nice things to his own
dangly parts. Next thing he knows, he's hauled up by curiously strong arms,
a skilled mouth clamped to his shoulder and a focused hand on his dick, and
he figures Wes knows what he's doing, so why doesn't he just disengage for
awhile here? Which seems like a good idea until Wes, for no fucking reason
at-fucking-all, pulls back. The bastard.
The bastard stares at him. Not the good kind of stare, like groupies and Joe
would give him. Wes's stare is more like the way Bucky looked at Joe before
he kicked them out, or like the substance abuse guys look at Billy any time
he tries to dry out. Then the guy just grins at him and pushes him back down
to his knees. Well, if that's the way he wants to play it...
Billy's got a pretty mouth, or so he's been told. He thinks it's pretty, and
he knows it's pretty good at getting him what he wants. He doesn't even have
to say a word. Just a smile or a suck or a swallow or all three still have
something special. Rest of his life may be floating in the toilet, but not
this. Puts those pretty lips around the hard cock in front of him and sucks.
He's still hard himself from the half a hand job he got, and he uses one
hand to balance himself against the wall of the stall so he can get a grip
on his own damn self with the other.
He holds Wes's cock in his mouth for a couple of long seconds, just reveling
in the heavy, warm feel. He drags his mouth back to the tip and sucks in his
cheeks, and then goes right back down. A few more times, and then Wes gets
with the program, starts thrusting into his mouth and grabbing onto his
head. Billy's glad for the cold metal of the wall against the supporting
hand as he moves the other one up and down his dick in time with Wes's
thrusts. Oh yeah, he missed this.
That's the last thought before Wes begins to move, really move, fingers
locking Billy's head in place, and he's okay being a body, nothing but
something Wes can use, because he's using Wes just the same. In and out, in
and out, making harsh, wet sounds in a slippery rhythm while the thwap of
his hand on his cock forms the backbeat, and it's a nice little piece of
One more strong thrust, and Wes is coming. He knocks his head backward on
the stall and it rattles like a cheap cymbal. He's panting hard, and Billy
doesn't move, just lets him ride it out, enjoying the pulsing feel in his
mouth. It comes to a slow halt, and Billy's itching to move his hand again,
finish himself off, and suddenly he's standing up and there's a hand on his
dick besides his own, which has been pushed away, and Wes is stripping him
hard, hard and fast and just the way Billy needs it.
There's a little maneuvering so that Billy's positioned over the
toilet--easy cleanup, he thinks to himself (which is hard because dear
fucking God, Wes is jacking him so good it's almost painful, which is really
okay in Billy's book). So when he comes, he comes hard, letting out his
frustration and anger and pain in this one shuddering act until he's
practically unconscious, leaning back against Wes who rests against the
stall door, supporting Billy's weight.
They just kind of stay there for a minute, but Billy starts to move before
it gets awkward, pulling up his pants on shaky legs and cleaning up any
trace of their little joyride. He turns around and Wes is tossing the condom
in the bowl and buckling his belt.
They kind of look at each other, and Billy says, "Thanks man," with a nod,
and Wes just nods back and heads out the door. Billy waits five minutes
before doing the same. He thinks he might get his ass back to Canada.