Los Angeles, CA
“So. You’re telling me you scheduled a fucking promo tour to Australia without asking me how I felt about it? You know what’s doing down there.”
Pierre was fuming. Absolutely furious. He’d arrived at Chuck’s LA flat not half an hour ago, and the first thing his friend had said to him just as he was settling in for a drinking session was that the band was headed to Australia at the end of the month. Normally the announcement for some shows, or whatever, wouldn’t have even registered on Pierre’s radar other than the ‘oh cool’ type. However, this was much too close to home and he wasn’t pleased about it.
Chuck, who was leaning over his laptop, going over what looked like about a million emails, just shook his head and murmured, “I know, man. But management says we need to do this.”
Pierre grunted, going over to the bar. “What the fuck for?”
His friend looked over at him. “Promotion. Sales were down on the last album.”
“Yeah. So? I’m sure that’s the case in other countries.” Pierre grabbed a beer, cracking the lid, but not drinking from it. Instead he braced his elbows against the top of the bar and glared at Chuck.
When the drummer didn’t respond to his statement, Pierre added, roughly, “Why Australia, man…? I don’t want to go there.”
Chuck tilted his head toward the singer. If he hadn’t known Pierre so well he would’ve brushed the question aside as an unimportant one. But he heard the pain that was buried deep beneath the nonchalance. He made no mention of it, though. Pierre was not one for airing his emotions. And Chuck was not going to be the one to dredge them out.
Instead, he said, “Because it makes sense. Last time we went all out and did Brazil. And, apparently Australia is a little low on big music acts in the winter months, so… it’ll be cool.”
Pierre gave Chuck a weird look. “I’m gonna chalk that comment up to the fact that you’re clearly insane.”
His friend just sniffed, closing his laptop and looking at him. Pierre raised his eyebrows back at him. Then he took a long pull at the bottle.
Chuck rolled his eyes. “What’re you doing here, anyway?”
Pierre paused, mid swig, and looked hard at his friend.
Chuck sighed, folding his arms and shaking his head. “You don’t need to be here.”
There was a heavy pause after Chuck’s statement. He was right. There was no real reason for Pierre being there. It wasn’t like they had any songs to write, they were practically finished that part of the process. The band just had to book some time in the studio, and that was all Pierre was really worried about. But now, here was his best friend telling him he had made extra plans. Still, Chuck was right.
A little miffed, Pierre said, scathingly, “So? You gonna kick me out?”
Chuck stood, joining him at the bar. He didn’t answer straight away. Instead, going around the other side of the bench, he sorted through the empty bottles that were filling up the surface. They clinked together as he moved them to one side. Then, bracing his palms against the cleared space, he looked at his friend. Pierre raised his eyebrows, a challenge in his gaze.
“No,” Chuck finally stated. “You can stay. I know how it is.”
“Oh, do you?” That edge was still in his voice. But, at the same time a hint of gratitude was there as well. Pierre and Chuck had been friends for too long to prevaricate. Explanation wasn’t ever really necessary.
Chuck just nodded, crossing his arms over his chest. Pierre groaned, walking back over to flop down on the couch. Tilting the bottle in his hand, he gazed down into the golden liquid, swirling it gently. His thoughts followed the same pattern of flow, spinning in a slow, steady motion, not really solidifying into anything coherent. He just stared into his beer, not moving, just attempting to relax.
Meanwhile, Chuck observed his friend in silence, wondering, not for the first time, what was going through his mind. Ever since she had left to go home to Australia, Pierre had changed. On the public side of things, he was still the same charming, personable lead singer, but on the private side…well it wasn’t really worth even thinking about how he’d become.
He drank more, for one, and he was extremely short with everyone, all the time. In fact, today was the first time he’d really spoken at any length to Chuck. Usually, he resorted to mere grunts and gestures.
It was aggravating at the best of times, but it could get downright unpleasant if Pierre had been getting plastered the night before. It was sheer luck that prevented the singer from completely bottoming out on them. It was either that or maybe just the fact he still had some sense.
“Pierre.” Chuck finally broke the quiet, unable to handle the singer’s brooding anymore than he already had.
Pierre forced his gaze from the beer he hadn’t drunk from since his first swig. “Yeah?”
“I’m sorry,” Chuck said, simply.
Pierre blinked then hefted his shoulders, shaking his head. “It’s no big fucking deal. We’ll go to Australia. Have a ball. Come back and go into the studio.”
There was no enthusiasm in his voice, but that was to be expected. Nothing really excited him anymore. At least not as much as it used to. It wasn’t as if he’d become majorly depressed. Not to the point where people were suggesting he needed to see someone about it. He just moped about. And went on with doing the things he needed to do. Chuck wasn’t going to start worrying too much unless Pierre started to go into some deep decline. Until, or if, that ever eventuated then he would speak up. But for now, he wouldn’t let his friend’s attitude get to him.
“Yes. About that,” Chuck said, rubbing at the back of his neck. Pierre lifted an eyebrow, prompting the drummer with a sharp look. “I’ve been trying to book time in the studio for when we get back, and it’s looking pretty tight.”
Pierre shifted his body so he was facing his friend directly. Propping his bottle against his left knee, and bouncing his foot absently, he frowned.
“Tight as in?”
“As in there’s only a small window of opportunity for us.”
“Meaning we won’t get as much time as we did for the last one.” Chuck sighed. “At least that’s the way it looks if we stick with the studio we usually use.”
His statement was met with silence from Pierre, which was filled with a whole lot of ‘so what?’ The expression on the singer’s face spoke volumes.
Chuck began rubbing at his left leg as he tried to qualify what he had just said.
But, Pierre got there first. “There’s always other studios.” His tone was scathing. “You can find another one. You’re good with shit like that.”
“That sounds more like an insult than a compliment.” Chuck grimaced.
Pierre snorted. “I wasn’t complimenting you.”
“Well, there you go,” the drummer muttered, while looking anywhere but at his friend.
An uncomfortable silence settled between them, broken by nothing except their quiet breaths and the occasional slosh of the beer in Pierre’s bottle.
After awhile, Pierre got up and wandered into the next room where Chuck had his drum kit and a keyboard set up. Chuck frowned, tilting his head back to peer into the room.
Pierre set his bottle on top of the keyboard and, switching it on, began to play. He ran his fingers up and down the keys, lips pressing together in concentration. Random notes became a tentative melody as he considered each key he touched. Playing light runs he began to hum under his breath as the tune wandered from the lower register and into the mid-range.
Chuck appeared in the doorway, leaning against the doorframe. Pierre noticed him from the corner of his eye, but made no comment. He continued to play, mouth thinning into a hard line.
His friend sighed, shaking his head. “How long’re you gonna keep this up?”
Pierre rolled his eyes, but didn’t bother to answer. Instead, he intensified his performance, bringing his fingers down harder against the keys. Attacking each note, he was basically attempting to drown out the disapproving presence of his best friend. His visits to Chuck always seemed to end the same way. They’d have some banal argument about the band and then Pierre would escape to the keyboard and immerse himself in his music.
“Pierre, you can’t stay here…” Chuck started, but the phone rang, and the singer gave an inward groan of relief as the other man ducked out to answer it.
Pierre was about to start playing again when he heard Chuck mention a name, which caught his ear. Softening his touch on the keys, he listened into his friend’s side of the phone conversation, wondering who it was on the other end of the line.
“Carls, it’s great to hear from you…no it’s been almost four years. I know, too damn long.” Chuck’s voice paused for a moment, the only sound several ‘mhms’. Then he went on. “No, he hasn’t. No. What? For real? Good on her. So? She’s still with her parents?” Another pause. “That’s good; she needs the support, right? Have you seen her in awhile…what? Wow, congratulations. I bet you make a great mom…so, no travelling for you, then? Right…”
Pierre’s jaw tightened, and something deep within stirred, making his stomach clench. And his heart to ache. An uncomfortable sensation sank to the pit of his stomach as he tasted bile in the back of his mouth. He shut his eyes and returned his focus to the keyboard, forcing his mind to shut out the rest of the conversation going on in the other room.
Chuck’s voice droned on in the background for awhile; Pierre started to play a series of scales, blocking out the surrounding sounds.
Several moments later, Chuck re-entered the room, a small smile on his lips.
“Hey, guess who that was?”
Pierre looked up at him, not pausing in his playing, but allowing his eyes to narrow. “Do I look like I give a shit?”
Chuck didn’t seem fazed by his terse response. “It was Carly. You know? We met her when we were in Brisbane, 2005.”
“Yeah,” Pierre retorted, “like I’m going to remember someone we met five years ago, Charles.” Grabbing his beer he took another swig, savouring the bitter aftertaste as it slid down his throat.
Chuck sighed. “Well, considering her name rhymes with-”
“Do not say her fucking name,” Pierre interrupted, his voice rough, his expression darkening. The drummer held up his hands in a placating gesture. Pierre just glared at him then shook his head angrily, looking back down at the keys, trailing a thumb over them.
“You don’t talk about her…just…” Pierre gritted his teeth and practically breathed the words out. “I don’t want to hear her name.”
“Alright,” Chuck said. “I get it.” He leaned in the doorway again, observing his friend in silence.
The singer went back to his playing, shrugging him off.
After a short time, Chuck left him alone, knowing that in the end the best option was to give him some space. Getting on Pierre’s nerves was never a good plan. Especially when he’d had a few drinks. He knew that when Pierre was ready he’d drag himself away from the keyboard and mooch around for another drink. Until then Chuck would keep out of his hair; he had things he needed to take care of at any rate.
Before a tour there was so much to sort out that he hardly had time to think straight. Having to deal with Pierre’s moods was not part of his official agenda. Of course, he didn’t really mind, after all that was what friends were for. Anyway, if he couldn’t support Pierre, who would?
Out of the guys he was the only one who was able to tolerate Pierre’s mood swings at any length. Even David who himself was a little mad at times couldn’t handle him.
Though, to be honest, Chuck wouldn’t change that fact for the world. He and Pierre had been friends too long for that to ever be an issue. Still it was, admittedly, a tad stressful. He would prefer that his friend wasn’t living the situation he was.
Chuck wished that he could make things better for Pierre, inject a bit of joy back into his life. Short of that, he at least wanted to make things easier for the singer. Give him something else to think about than the fact that he was living alone.
Hopefully, once all the plans were in place and the band got together to start rehearsing for the tour Pierre would come out of his funk, at least temporarily. Even if it were just so they could manage to get along while they were touring. And perhaps getting back into the music and performing would help Pierre take his mind off her.
Chuck could only hope that would be the case.