Ep. 03 A Desperate Caress

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[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is the continuation of “Love Me Tomorrow”, the morning after Randy and Rachel made love. To get the full story, read “Tramps Like Us” and “Love Me Tomorrow”. I sincerely hope you enjoy this one too!

Italicized dialog preceded with an asterisk denotes subtitled speech as, again; I know only a smattering of words in Korean.]

It was the fourteenth day of September 2003.


Randy sat, with his head in his hands, on the edge of his bed. He had spent the past week crying almost non-stop. His mind replayed the email that he had gotten from Rachel telling him that it was not only over, but that it never really began.

All lies.

Turns out she had been pining for Scott for the past few months and that she was only using Randy to ease her pain from Scott’s rejection. It was bad enough to learn that she was only using him, but to learn it via email cut him deep inside. What was worse: she ended it with the line “we can still be friends”. Randy had heard about that dreaded line, but never understood how much it hurt, and just how hypocritical it was.

It was all lies.

It was no wonder he could never reach her. She’d put a call-block on his cell number and the house phone number, the moment she left for Maine. All of the emails he tried sending to her were bounced back as being blocked, as well. He’d tried calling her house a couple times, until her mother threatened to call the police and report him as a ‘stalker’ if he tried reaching Rachel again. He never would have imagined that Rachel could be capable of such cowardice. Or such callousness and deceit.

It was all a fucking lie!!

He took a couple of weeks off from school, to move out of the dorm and back to the family home, and get his head together. He was unable to cry anymore; he felt numbed to the core.

His mother understood exactly what he was going through, since she went through much the same thing when his father left her. She told him that she and his grandparents were there for him, if he needed to talk, then gave him his space so he could get all the hurt out. The thing was, he had no idea what to say. Words were useless. He hated the fact that he was worrying his family, and only served to make him feel even worse – if such a thing was possible.

He didn’t even respond to the knock on his bedroom door, when it came. He heard muffled voices outside, but he didn’t hear them leave. Instead, after a moment, he heard the door open.

“Yo, Randy,” Mark Sinclair, the band’s bassist, called to him, “Me and the guys have been really worried about ya, bro. We decided that what you need is a night of fun to take your mind off your troubles.”

“Not tonight, man,” Randy said. “I’m not much in the mood.”

Mark entered the room, followed by the rest of the band. Mark stood an inch or two above six feet tall, and weighed just shy of two hundred pounds. He had long brown hair and his face seemed perpetually covered in stubble. Standing behind him was Rick Perry, the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist. Although he was the shortest member of the band, he was easily the most intimidating. His head was shaved bald and a long red goatee hung from his chin. His build reflected his long years as a wrestler; he was stocky and well-muscled. Jon and Krista Castillo, the drummer and keyboardist, respectively – also the band’s resident “couple”, stayed just outside the doorway. Jon’s long black hair hung between his shoulder blades, obscuring the bulk of the extensive, intricate skin-ink that completely covered his back. His wife, Krista, also had black hair, but with pink streaks dyed in.

It was Krista who had the most piercings and tattoos of any of the band’s members. Seven of her reputed thirteen piercings were on her face and ears, with another going through her navel. Only Jon knew exactly where – or what – the five remaining piercings were. Though, she’d forgotten to remove a piece of fine silver chain one day, before donning a low-cut tank-top and heading for practice. The chain appeared to cross her chest in a lateral manner, so the guys were guessing at least two of the “undisclosed” adornments were nipple-rings.

Rick sat down next to Randy and firmly clasped his shoulder with a meaty hand.

“You misunderstand, man. That wasn’t a request. You need to get out, man. You don’t look so good, and we don’t wanna lose ya just because some bitch dumped you.”

Randy glared at him menacingly. Although he didn’t disagree with Rick’s assessment of Rachel, for some vague reason it still pissed him off to hear someone other than himself say it. Rick’s expression softened, as he gauged Randy’s look and realized that he’d somehow stepped over a boundary that shouldn’t have been crossed. Rather than pursue the dangerous course, he did his best to back out of the mine-field.

“What I’m trying to say, bro, is that chapter in your life’s over. Her choice, not yours. You need to get beyond it all. What you need is some alcohol, good friends, and a hot Goth chick, to snap you out of your misery.”

“Yeah, bahis firmaları Guevara,” Jon said, using his nickname for Randy. “We figured that we’d all take a ride down to Providence, grab a couple hot dogs, and hit Emergence to have some fun.”

Randy’s shoulders slumped even more as he gave in. He sighed and said, “Okay, I’ll go. So Emergence’s a Goth club?”

“Yeah,” Krista said. “As long as you’re dressed the part, they won’t bother carding you. Don’t worry; I’ll doll ya up real good.”

“All right, I’ll go. Just give me some time to shower and shave, okay?”

“No problem,” Rick said. “We’re here for ya, bro.”

Randy managed a slight smile as he thanked him.

* * * * * * *

Randy sat in the back of Jon’s van and stared out the window as it sped down Interstate 95 towards Rhode Island. He was wearing a long sleeved black mesh shirt and a white-ruffled poets’ shirt that Jon lent him, black leather pants, a trench coat, and combat boots. His black hair was teased with copious amounts of mousse, his fingernails were painted black, and his face was almost chalk white. His almond-shaped eyes were coated in black eyeliner and eye shadow, and his lips were painted black, as well. Mark commented that Randy resembled a more masculine version of Mana, the guitarist for Malice Mizer, a Japanese Goth rock band.

Randy had to admit that his mood was improving, somewhat. He enjoyed the company of his band mates, and the camaraderie they shared, and he genuinely appreciated that they were trying to make him feel better. He also realized that – other than a few gigs in the greater Boston area – he had seldom left the Miskatonic region, and he had never been out of Massachusetts.

‘Maybe a change of scenery is what I need,’ Randy thought to himself.

“Yo, Jong,” Mark said, snapping Randy out of his thoughts.

“Yeah?” he replied.

“Are you okay, man? You’ve hardly said a word since we left Jon’s house.”

“I’m all right, man,” Randy said. “I’m just taking in the scenery. I’ve never been to Rhode Island before.”

“Really? Man, you do need to get out more,” Mark said, clapping Randy’s shoulder. Turning serious, he said, “Randy, you don’t need to be looking for Miss Right tonight, or even Miss Right Now. Don’t listen to Rick; you know how much of a man-whore he is.”

“Hey, I represent that remark!” Rick said.

Everyone laughed at Rick’s joke, and it eased the tension a bit.

“That shit doesn’t matter. We just want our friend back.” Mark sighed. “And I want the old Jonger back.”

Randy smiled, genuinely touched by his friend’s concern.

“I really do appreciate you guys trying to help,” he said, clasping Mark’s shoulder. “I’ll try not to be too much of a stick in the mud.”

“That’s all we want, bro,” Rick chimed in. “The best advice I can give for tonight is to drink . . . heavily!”

“Yeah, Guevara,” Jon said, “but if you yuke, YOU clean it up.”

“I’ll try not to get to that point,” Randy promised.

It was a promise he planned on keeping. He remembered the first party he attended, just after he joined the band. The alcohol flowed freely, and no one cared that he was only seventeen. To say he drank too much was a gross understatement. He could honestly only remember patches of that night; he had to depend on his band mates to fill in the blanks. All he did remember was hanging over the railing of the frat house’s front porch, fertilizing the lawn with everything he had eaten in the previous three hours. That, and feeling worse than he ever had, the following morning. After that, he vowed never to overdo it like he did that night. That and to never touch whiskey ever again.

Soon, the van pulled off the freeway directly into downtown Providence, which turned out to be not at all unlike downtown Boston. Like Boston, Providence featured many old buildings from the Colonial Era, sitting next to modern skyscrapers. It wasn’t long after, that Jon pulled the van into a parking lot across the street from a row of unremarkable buildings. Only one section caught his eye. At the corner of Richmond and Thayer streets was a section painted white, with a neon sign proclaiming, ‘Spike’s Junkyard Dogs’.

“C’mon, Randy,” Rick said. “We’re gonna get a bite before the club opens.”

As Mark opened the door to the place for him, and the smell of food assailed his nostrils, Randy realized that he hadn’t really eaten much in days. A few hot dogs would really hit the spot. The quintet walked into the small, crowded establishment. Street signs and chain link fence sections decorated the place, and the sounds of blaring pop music came from speakers mounted in the ceiling tiles. This night’s clientele was predominantly dressed in either black or S&M gear, so Randy assumed that they would also be going to the same club as he. Looking at the menu, he made his decision and greeted the bored cashier.

“Can I help you?” the cashier droned.

“I’d like three hot dogs with cheese, ketchup, raw onions, and jalapeños,” Randy replied. “And kaçak iddaa a Diet Coke . . . gotta watch my figure, you know.”

Randy waited patiently for his order. When it arrived, he paid the cashier and rejoined his band mates. Rick took one look at Randy’s food and raised an eyebrow in alarm.

“Dude, you eat jalapeños on your hot dogs? Man, how can you eat that?”

“Like so,” Randy said and downed half a hot dog in one bite. After swallowing he said, “Damn, these are the best hot dogs I’ve ever had.”

“Shit, onions too?” Krista said. “I pity the chick you get with.”

“I have no plans to ‘get with’ anyone tonight,” Randy said, turning serious. “But just in case, I have some gum in my coat pocket.”

“What about the inevitable anal explosions?” Jon asked.

Randy reached into his coat and pulled out a packet of Gas-X.

“That’s Cho for ya, prepared for everything!” Mark laughed, then paused and lowered his voice as he leaned closer to his friend. “You ARE prepared for everything, aren’t you?”

“If I meet a chick, and it comes to that, I’ll get some rubbers at Stop & Shop,” Randy said. “I’ll probably need to get more smokes, anyway.”

Krista handed Randy half a pack of Djarum Specials. He sniffed the pack diffidently, then cocked his head and looked her in the eye.

“Damn, Krista; these smell sweet, kinda like a baked ham. What are they?”

“Kreteks,” Krista replied. “Clove cigarettes. The first drag can be somewhat harsh, but the ones after that go down nice and easy.”

“Thanks, Krista,” Randy said with a smile.

“Don’t mention it. I’m really still thinking of whatever babe you meet up with, tonight. They might help cover up your onion breath.”

“*Eh, bite me,” Randy said in Korean with a laugh, which was joined in by his other band mates. He had taught them a few select Korean curse words and phrases, so they all understood him.

The five friends finished their meals and stepped outside. Randy popped a Gas-X right away to prevent the inevitable gas and heartburn that usually followed his consumption of jalapeños. He pulled out a Djarum, put it to his lips, and lit it. It burned the back of his throat when he inhaled the first drag but, miraculously, he didn’t cough.

“You’re good,” Krista said. “Usually first timers hack up a lung on the first drag.”

“Man, it burns,” Randy rasped, then licked his lips. “Tastes good and sweet, though,” he said, after clearing his throat.

Randy could hear a slight crackling noise as the cloves exploded from the heat. He took another drag, more confidently this time.

“I could get used to these very easily,” he said.

“They’re not cheap,” Jon said. “They’re about $10 a pack. You’re better off going to New Hampshire where they don’t charge sales tax. You can find ’em for five to six dollars a pack there.”

“Thank you very much,” Randy said earnestly. “I really appreciate this.”

“Just try to have fun tonight,” Krista said, putting her hand on his arm with a smile.

Randy scanned the crowd. He could spot several clusters of black-clad club goers, ranging from those dressed simply in black t-shirts and pants to those dressed more outlandishly than even he. A couple even had horns surgically implanted on their heads. He noticed one woman of nearly Amazonian proportions whose large hourglass figure was harshly accentuated by a black leather corset. She was looking at him, smiling, when he caught her gaze. He looked her over with as much subtlety as he could, which – he had to admit – wasn’t that much. Other than her caked-on black eyeliner and lipstick, the clown-white base of face-paint, her leather and spikes, and her hair – dyed fire-engine red – she looked as though she could have stepped out of a Victorian fashion plate.

“She’s hot, isn’t she?” Mark said, snapping Randy out of his thoughts.

Randy had to admit that the woman was quite attractive, saying as much to Mark.

“You know, my friend,” Mark said, “when a woman looks at you like that way, there’s only one thing on her mind . . .”

“Yep,” Randy said with a smirk. “Usually, it’s ‘I wonder if he also watches Star Trek’.”

“Smart-ass,” Mark said with a laugh, slapping his friend’s shoulder.

Out of all his band mates, Randy was closest to Mark, even though the bassist was ten years his senior. Like Randy, he was home schooled and was also an incorrigible geek. Mark had started out as Bloody Solstice’s rhythm guitarist, but switched to bass when the band’s original lead guitarist and bassist were fired for showing up once too often at gigs, too stoned to play. Rick, a capable guitarist in his own right, took up the vacant guitarist slot and settled into the rhythm guitarist’s slot once Randy joined. Mark was also, second to Randy, the most socially awkward member of the group. Thus, the two had bonded rather quickly.

The doors to the club opened and people began shuffling in, paying the doorman and showing IDs when requested. Rick shushed Randy when it looked like he was going to say something. kaçak bahis The doorman recognized Rick and greeted him with a hug.

“So how’s the biz treating you guys?” he asked

“Pretty good, Jared,” Rick said.

Jared glanced at Randy, then said to Rick, “That the new guy?”

“Yep!” Rick said proudly. “Randy, this is Jared Thompson. Jared, this is Randy Cho, the best damned guitarist I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”

“You don’t say!” Jared said. “He’s 21, right?”

“That’s right!” Rick winked at Jared as he lied.

“Come on in, then,” Jared said, extending his hand to Randy. “Any friend of Rick’s is a friend of mine.”

Randy took the offered hand and shook it.

“Likewise, man.”

Once inside the club, Randy left the rest of the band for a bit.

“I wanna take a look around,” he told them. “I’ll catch you in a bit, okay?”

They nodded and waved him on, and so he meandered through the place, dodging clientele and wait-staff every few feet. As he had expected, the club was painted in dark colors and dimly lit. Here and there, gargoyles and elaborate wall sconces protruded from the walls, in an attempt to enhance the ‘ambience’ of the place for the Goth set who made it their regular hang-out. The air was already thick with the scent of sweat and smoke, while the club’s patrons danced to the bass-heavy, synth-driven music. Sofas and chairs were tucked in a corner in the far back as if to give club goers comfortable seats to sit in while they watched people dance in a medium sized cage. On the right-hand side of the club were more sofas, chairs, and tables, one of which had been claimed by the Bloody Solstice crew. Mark spotted Randy and beckoned him to join them.

“So whaddaya think?” Jon asked Randy, when he arrived at the table.

“I like it here,” Randy said. “The music’s pretty good, too, if a bit depressing.”

“Dude, it’s gothic synth pop, what do you expect?” Jon asked, laughing.

Randy let the question pass without an answer. Knowing Jon, he assumed it was rhetorical, anyway. He turned to Mark and met his eyes, and Mark nodded knowingly.

“I know,” Mark said.

The music reminded Randy of some of Rachel’s creations that he had been listening to steadily for the past three months. At one point, Randy had obtained disc copies of some of them, and had given Mark a private ‘listen’. Mark was simply letting him know that he knew what Randy was thinking, and agreed.

Randy was interrupted from his melancholy reverie when Rick came to the table bearing five shot glasses filled with a clear liquid. “I propose a toast,” Rick said as he sat down. “To friends, to metal, and to living life to its fullest. You never know when it’s gonna end!”

“Hear, hear!” the rest of the band mates said in unison, each downing their shots in one gulp.

Randy recognized the taste as it burned down his throat and esophagus: vodka, one of the few varieties of hard liquor he’d still touch. He slammed the shot glass onto the table upside-down, and then lit one of his Turkish Royals. He found that smoking a cigarette helped ease the buzz into his head. He smiled and lay back as he exhaled.

“You know what this occasion calls for?” he asked.

Rick looked at him with a cocked eyebrow.

Randy grinned and said, “Te-qui-la!”, trying to toss a little Mexican accent into his voice, but winding up sounding more like the cartoon character, ‘Speedy Gonzales’.

“Now you’re talking my language, mi amigo!” Jon said.

Jon was quite proud of his Mexican heritage, and was the only member of the band that could down several shots of Cuervo and still stand up straight for longer than a few seconds. Randy handed Jon a twenty so he could pay for that particular round. Jon left, and promptly returned with five shot glasses filled to the rim with the yellow liquor. On a three-count, they each downed their shot simultaneously and slammed the glass rim-down on the table.

“Okay guys,” Krista said, already slurring her words, “you all know how to get to the hotel, right? ‘Cause, as of now, none of us is in any shape to drive!”

Krista, like Randy, was what people call a ‘cheap date’; it didn’t take many drinks for her to feel the effects. Randy started to raise his hand, but Mark stopped him.

“Don’t worry, bro,” he said. “We’ll get ya there, provided you leave with us.” He winked to emphasize his point.

Randy nodded and sat back. Then the opening notes of a song he recognized began playing, namely “2econd Skin” by Moonspell. “I don’t know about you fuck-heads,” Krista said, “but I’m gonna go dance.”

Krista stood up and left the seating area, with Jon in tow. Randy shrugged and walked toward the dance floor. Unlike his band mates, Randy actually had some dance training in the form of traditional Korean dance. He easily improvised to allow for the slithery beat of the song, impeded only by the slight haze of the alcohol. The song ended and immediately, the pounding bass drum of the next song began. A thick, heavily distorted guitar chord followed. It was one of Randy’s favorite songs, and a favorite of his band mates as well. It was a rare occasion that Prong’s “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” didn’t find its way onto Bloody Solstice’s set list.

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