from “So Fucking Metal,” by Dave Housley

Dad and Rash are awake, finally, grumbling and telling each other stories they already know. I hear variations on Ronnie and James and Dio and RJD and Holy Diver and all kinds of towns in England that I picture, all of them, as that place where Bridget Jones lived with the narrow, homey houses and the rain and the handsome men fighting outside in the street and the friends who loved her just as she was. I try to put that image out of my mind—really, really not metal—but when they start talking about the tour, it’s all I have. The other people on the bus stare and then look away fast, which is a thing people do, and I wonder if that will happen in New York City, too, and I think it probably won’t. For the first time since Dad came into my room with his shirt off, smelling like pot and whiskey and
cheeseburger Hot Pockets, crying and insisting that I come outside with him and Rash to say goodbye to Ronnie James in the Right Way, which involved Jim Beam and fireworks and a reading from the liner notes of Mob Rules, I get a little excited about where we’re going, what it’s going to be like to be in a place where everybody is metal, where I’m normal and Dad isn’t so edgy and scared of everything and Rash is probably some kind
of fucking Lord of the Rings sorcerer king or something.

The bus stops and people gather their things. Dad and Rash both have unlit cigarettes in their mouths so I put one in, too, then I take it out, tuck it behind my ear. Then we’re out in the street and the bus is pulling away and the rest of the passengers evaporate into the crowd faster than I ever thought possible and the three of us are just standing there, smoking and looking up at the skyscrapers, looking at the crazy storefronts that have every single kind of meat you could possibly eat, every kind of noodle, every kind of thing I don’t even know what it is, sitting right there for you to try if you wanted.

“Well?” Dad says.

I know he means are we okay for time, so I nod, quickly, before he can lose it. I don’t know if we’d even be able to pull him to his feet or if he’d just sit there beating his head against the concrete while a million normal people hurried on past.

“Let’s giddy-up,” Rash says, and he starts down the sidewalk. Dad hurries after him and I take one more look around before I step off, feeling like I’m dropping over the side of something I can’t even see the bottom of.

At the very first intersection, Rash does his looking-at-the-sky thing and almost gets run over by an old lady in a Jeep. He barks and she does it right back at him, then yells, “Asshole!” Rash stumbles backwards, falls on his ass and stays there for a few seconds. Nobody notices at all. The crowd just expands and then falls back together, like a river’s current moving over some rapids. Rash sits on his knees and rubs his eyes, shakes his head like he’s trying to wake up.

“Not very metal,” I say, under my breath.

***

Dave Housley’s second collection of short fiction, If I Knew the Way, I Would Take You Home, is forthcoming from Dark Sky Books. His work has appeared in The Collagist, Hobart, Mid-American Review, PANK, among other places. He’s one of the editors of Barrelhouse.

Read more of his work and others’ in HFR 1.2, now available on Kindle and Nook! Or, please consider subscribing.

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