Stargirl

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Chapter 19: Show

‘Morning,’ Ziggy said, nudging TM’s head with her foot.

‘Hi,’ TM said, eyes firmly shut. ‘Please say it’s not actually the morning.’

‘Naw,’ Ziggy tooted. ‘It’s, like, three in the afternoon.’

‘Oh, thank God,’ TM said. ‘I thought for a moment that you were actually trying to wake me up before noon.’

‘I wouldn’t do that to ya, bud.’

‘Appreciate it.’ TM sat up slowly, rubbing his eyes. Slowly, they peeled open. ‘Where’d everybody go?’ he asked, peering around the flat. Ziggy stood in the doorway of the bathroom, the filing cabinet pushed aside; other than the two of them, nobody was left in the flat (excepting Michel Furcoat, who appeared to still be fully asleep).

‘Er…’ Ziggy held up four fingers, counting them off. ‘Derrida went to some science convention, Marty’s got a gig, Dominika had to go to work or something weird like that, and Veggie is… at Marty’s gig. Well, helping prepare, anyway - I think he said it doesn’t start until later.’

‘Oh, dude,’ TM said, sitting bolt upright. ‘You’ve never been to one of Marty’s gigs, have you?’

She shook her head.

’Oh, we have to go,’ TM told her, getting quickly to his feet and grabbing her hand.

‘Um,’ she said, looking down.

‘Oh, right,’ TM said with realisation, pulling his blanket-stroke-dressing gown on to cover his completely naked body. ‘Sorry.’

‘Eh,’ she said dismissively. ‘I’ve seen both of you now, it’s only fair.’

TM grinned, picking up the pile of clothes he had left on the floor, and strode quickly to the bedroom. He grabbed some fresh clothes, pulling his own Inciting Incident T-shirt over his head and sliding his legs through a pair of jeans with very deliberately ripped knees, then paused.

‘Give me a sec,’ he said, and went back into the bathroom.

When he had used the bathroom to its fullest ability, he emerged a cleaner and emptier man. Ziggy leaned on the table, smirking.

‘What?’ he said, heading to the door.

‘I heard,’ she said.

‘Shouldn’t have been listening,’ TM retorted, pulling the door open and meandering out to street level.

He led Ziggy towards the city centre, practically skipping as they got closer; as they passed a supermarket, she slowed and looked in.

‘Hungry?’ TM asked, realising that he too was pretty much famished. She nodded, looking as if it was an effort to keep from actually licking her lips at the sight of rows of sandwiches and packets of crisps. TM checked his watch, then immediately remembered that he hadn’t put it on. ‘We’ve got time,’ he decided.

Moments later, they re-emerged, Ziggy noshing on a triple-decker BLT sandwich while TM did his best to stuff an entire baguette packed with southern fried chicken into his mouth.

‘Right,’ TM said around mouthfuls of chicken and soft bread. ‘Gig!’

Ziggy followed earnestly as TM made his speedy way into a side street packed mostly with pubs. He stared up at the signs outside each, stopping at the one declaring tonight to be ‘THE NIGHT OF THE INCITING INCIDENT’.

‘Whoa,’ said Ziggy, gazing up at the sign. ‘Marty’s band is really successful, huh?’

‘They’re doing pretty good,’ TM agreed, leading her in.

The interior of the pub was darker than the street outside, as the inside of buildings almost invariably tend to be during the day. Veggie stood, leaning against the bar and watching the band tune up; TM hopped up behind him, slapping him on the shoulder.

‘Oh, hey, Sleeping Beauty,’ said Veggie, eyebrows raising in mild surprise. ‘Didn’t realise you were coming. Or doing anything today.’

‘Dude,’ said TM seriously. ‘Ziggy’s never seen them play.’

Veggie gave an enormous gasp. ’Shit, yeah! Omigosh. You’re gonna fucking love this.’

‘Are you actually squeeing over the band of a guy we hang out with, like, every day?’ TM said.

‘I’m a fanboy,’ Veggie said. ‘It’s what we do.’

‘Er, hey,’ said Marty, tapping his microphone, his other arm draped over the neck of his guitar. Behind him, the rest of the band - another guitarist with interesting hair, a heavily tattooed bassist and a drummer wearing absolutely nothing on his visible top half - looked poised and ready. ’So, uh, I know the sign says we’re playing… tonight, but the owners have actually only given us the pre-teatime slot. Thanks, Gary.’

‘Welcome,’ said the barman.

‘So we’re gonna wait for like two minutes. Then it’ll be half an hour after our advertised start time, so that seems like a reasonable time to wait for the usual fashionably late crowd.’

There was a murmur of appreciation as Marty removed his lips from the microphone and turned back to his bandmates.

‘Does it get busier than this?’ Ziggy asked disappointedly, looking around at the mostly empty space.

‘Oh, yeah,’ Veggie said, swigging from a glass bottle of fruit juice. ‘He wasn’t kidding about people turning up late.’

As if on cue, the doors swung open and a flood of people in assorted punk and ironic pop culture T-shirts made their entrance, swarming the seats and bar area.

‘Hey, guys,’ said Marty, ‘glad you could make it.’

An enormous cheer rose up from the assembly, and the drummer started to tap on his hi-hat rhythmically. Of course it was rhythmic, TM thought: why would a drummer not be rhythmic?

‘This one,’ Marty said, his stance and tone dripping with the mostly-justified cockiness of a rich boy in a mildly well-known local rock band, ’is called Wrestler With Dyslexia (Get Sexy, Yeah). Some of you might know it.’

Ziggy bit her lip, apparently trying not to laugh, and glanced at TM, who mouthed ‘They’re fucking awesome’ at her. She nodded, apparently reassured, and turned back to watch.

‘Alright - one two three fo -’

Before ‘four’ had fully left his mouth, Marty and the Inciting Incident launched into a heavy, juddering, bassy riff. The crowd went, it was fair to say, wild, including Ziggy, who leapt up and down in time and banged her head around so that her hair trailed out behind, floating around her head in waves as if she were underwater.

‘OH!’ yelled Marty into the mic. His audience duly yelled back.

Oh, he’s never held a champion’s belt

At least not one that was correctly spelt

He’ll never do a chokeslam, no

Cos what’s an echok lams is what he wants to know, wa-uh-oh

Wrestl-aaaaaah

with dylexi-aaaaaaaah

So woah uh-uh-oh, now get sexy-aaaaaaah

The building shook with the bounding of the masses.

*

Nine songs later, the Inciting Incident slowed the pace a little.

‘This one,’ said Marty, ‘is a new one, that we’ve never played before ever.’

The crowd went wild.

‘Well,’ Marty corrected, holding a hand up to quiet them, ‘we obviously did, like, in practice and stuff. But not in front of a crowd.’

The wildness intensified.

’This one is called I Got My Buster Sword and it is full of tons of references to, like, video games and anime and stuff, and if you get them all you’re a nerd.’

A girl near the back of the room screamed and lifted her top up, to which the crowd yelled ecstatically and Marty calmly winked. ‘Thanks,’ he said politely. ‘Appreciate it.’

Who the hell do you think we are?

How do you think I got my lightning scar?

‘That’s not a video game or anime reference,’ Ziggy yelled over the noise to TM, her tone sounding almost cheated.

It’s time to tighten the outer walls

Titan, tighten, homophones are cool

‘Chorus!’ Marty yelled.

I got my Buster Sword

And I got my Keyblade

I got dragon’s balls

And they’re here to stay

Marty held the microphone out to his bandmates, who yelled in unison:

Now, Morrigan, put your tits away!

Then Marty lifted his head to the sky and screamed, a piercing vibrato that somehow seemed higher than any noise TM had ever heard yet simultaneously reverberated with booming bass, vibrating the entire building.

‘Marty is so fucking cool,’ Ziggy mouthed at TM, who misunderstood what she was trying to say but nodded anyway.

*

It was the dead of night by the time they left. The barman-cum-owner had finally managed to get the Inciting Incident to stop playing their apparently endless repertoire, almost the entirety of which seemed to have been faithfully memorised by everyone in attendance. Ziggy held her arms skyward, twirling about in the cold night air in breathless ecstasy.

‘That was the best thing ever,’ she said joyously.

TM watched her for a few moments, unable to stop smiling.

‘What?’ she said, stopping mid-revolution to look at him.

‘I’m glad you’re happy,’ he said sincerely.

‘Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaa,’ Veggie yelled, tumbling out onto the street. ‘That was pretty tiptop, yeah?’

‘Yeah!’ Ziggy agreed, grabbing him by the hands and spinning him around.

‘What took you, anyway?’ TM asked.

‘Oh,’ said Veggie, wiping his lips with the back of his hand. ‘I might have decided that Marty is really, incredibly attractive.’

‘Fair play,’ said TM and Ziggy at the same time.

‘Hey,’ Veggie said, ‘this might be because I’m slightly drunk off the pure amazingness of that gig, but why don’t we do the heist now?’

‘Er,’ said TM.

‘No, I’m serious,’ Veggie said, all apparent tipsiness suddenly gone. ‘It’s the dead of night, we’re fully trained up on video games and Hero’s Adventure… I think we’re ready for this.’

‘Um,’ TM said, in addendum to his previous comment.

‘I think you might be right,’ Ziggy said, her eyes very wide. ‘Let’s do this.’

‘You guys are serious?’ TM said helplessly.

‘Fuck, yeah!’ Veggie exclaimed. ‘We’re doing this, so why not do it now?’

TM sighed. ‘Fine,’ he said.

Thus began the heist.

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