The air inside the dingy bar was thick with smoke, so thick you could almost it with a knife. It was a spider's web, pulling the lonely people inside like puppets on strings, dragging them around and keeping them from what they truly wanted. It was the air around him that was leading Curt Wild away from the only thing that could save him from himself, the young lad from London he had met so long ago. Memories of that night on the rooftop reappeared as they had so many times before, as fresh as if they had happened just yesterday…
Lightheaded from the intensely draining performance he had just put on, Curt wandered off the stage in a dream. He couldn't stand the pain any longer. He couldn't keep telling himself that he didn't want to go back. Maybe the only way out was to end it all. Poison, perhaps? Possibly slitting his wrist…yes, with a record, for effect. He'd lay in the bath, the water flowing crimson from his blood, and maybe Brian would come back to him—even if it were only for his funeral, because unlike Maxwell Demon he, Curt Wild, really would be a glam rock casualty.
That's when a pair of hands grabbed his arm and pulled him into a desperate embrace. It was Mandy, who needed him as much as he needed her. They had never really known each other, but both were left behind in Maxwell Demon's dust and ashes. If they couldn't have him, at least they could still have each other. But would that be enough?
"That was really beautiful," Mandy choked out.
"Yeah." Tears flooded down her painted cheeks, tears of happiness, tears of remorse. Curt hung on to her, as if he might fall down into nothingness if he let go.
"Did you see, uh—?"
"No, I didn't see him." Mandy bit her lip. Brian was there, they both knew it, a shadow if nothing else. But they didn't need to say a thing. They simply smiled and hugged each other again.
Someone was watching them, but trying hard not to. Curt turned his head towards the young man in the corner, one who he recognized from earlier that night. The kid was probably no older than seventeen, and his flustered innocence was endearing. Mandy glanced over at the groupie and turned away, but something about the lad held Curt's gaze. He gave Mandy one last smile, then broke away, brushed past the boyo, flashing a smile, and made his way up to the roof. He knew he was being followed.
When he reached his destination, Curt settled onto a box in a corner. The city looked spectacular, his acid trip exaggerating the colours around him so that the scene became a splendid illusion. And then he came, the kid from the concert, badly tarted up with spray-on blue hair dye and the most horribly applied eyeliner Curt had ever seen. But the crude attempts were endearing, and Curt forgot all about them within moments. There was just something about this guy, he didn't know what.
"Come closer," he whispered. "Don't be frightened. What's your name? Favourite colour? Song? Movie?" He wanted to make the kid feel comfortable, not scare him away like Brian had said he always managed to do. "Don't be nervous. Are you high?"
The kid swallowed and replied, "I'm on a button."
And then they were sitting there, inches from each other, Curt on his throne and the mysterious boy at his feet. He pulled the tab on a can of beer, sending foam splashing every which way, making them both giggle. The sky above glittered with shooting stars. "Hey," Curt cried playfully. He took a swig of his liquor and said, "Make a wish."
Before they knew it, they were leaning over the edge of the roof, staring up at a shimmering starship, glitter falling all around them like a gentle rain. Curt wrapped his arms around his paramour and closed his eyes, wallowing in the warmth of holding another man once again, after so long. He thought of Brian, a point in his life that was now mere reverie. That was over, and this new bliss was just beginning. Would this really be nothing more than a one-night stand? Something inside of him told him otherwise.
Something about this felt so right. With Brian, he had always felt second best. But now he felt he had so much to offer this boy, so much love to give. He could rip his heart out with his bare hands and hold it out to the boy, who would accept it as a glorious gift, unlike Brian who would laugh mirthlessly and drive it into the dirt. Curt was speechless, thoughts of a blissful future running through his head. This lad had no idea what it was like to be a rock star, all the pain that went into each performance. And Curt would make sure that his knowledge of it all would be nothing more than a sugarcoated fantasy. "Make a wish," he breathed, "and see yourself on a stage, inside out, tangled garlands in your hair. Of course you were pleasantly surprised…" Softly, he said, "I will mangle your mind."
So, once again, the kid was helping him. This young man knew—knew who he was, knew what had become of Brian Slade. It felt good to share this secret with someone, after holding it in for so long. What was the use of trying to forget? It only made everything more difficult.
Arthur. Was that his name? Had he ever found out—that whole night ten years before, that night that seemed like a lifetime away now—had he ever even asked the kid's name? Arthur. Arthur was the answer he had been searching for all these years. It was Arthur who had unknowingly saved him from insanity, and Arthur was the only thing now that could bring him back to life. Throwing his newly lit cigarette to the ground, Curt rushed back into the bar.
But Arthur was gone.
Curt wandered back out to the street, so confused that his head was beginning to ache as much as the rest of him. He leaned against a wall and watched people pass by, off to live another chapter of their lives. It was time to let go.
And just then, a tall figure drifted from the shadows. "Make a wish," the man whispered, a smile breaking across his lips.
"It's already come true," Curt replied, wrapping his arms around Arthur's shoulders in a long-awaited embrace. The kid had grown up; it was now the idol who needed the fan. And, as Curt pressed his lips against Arthur's, it was a breath of life, of their new life together, two glam rock casualties alive again.