Brian scratched his neck and peered into the corner of the ceiling. Blink. Blink. He swung his feet out of bed and sat up. James sat opposite him on his own bed in the narrow room. Breathing deep, rubbing his face, licking his own teeth and grimacing. How do I look?
Hopeless. James handed him his black-billed hat. They tied their boots on. Brian had lost a sock while he slept.
Did we do alright last night?
Good enough for today.
Brian followed James downstairs and out into the street. It was too early for Brian, for the press of the crowds. He squinted against them, held up his arms as if he faced a wave. At the corner, they asked for spare change while waiting for the light to turn green. An old habit.
Across the street, straight on, James dragged Brian out and away from the center of town. Rush hour was long past, but the suits and skirts still swarmed. The important citizens outpaced them. Brian was aware of the smooth, sticky sole of his boot under his bare foot the whole way.
Finally, up the stairs. Maria, what’s for breakfast? The door behind them muffled the city. The house smelled old and lived-in. Maria answered from deeper inside.
Go to the store, and I’ll cook whatever you bring back.
Have you got any coffee?
Just go get us some eggs.
James grinned at his brother. We can do better than that. Just wait, I’ll go. A hand on Brian’s shoulder, and he sunk into a nearby chair.
Wait. Okay. The door opened again. Brian’s brow furrowed. It closed, and he sighed.
Silence. Black hair, tattoos, and mismatched clothes, she came looking.
Can I borrow a sock?
Just one? A smile. It was what he really wanted. Rough night?
James said we did alright, actually.
I was there. You did better than alright. I got this for you. A white card.
What’s this? An agent? We’ve done that before.
No, a rep. From a record company.
A hungry eye, an eager twitch of the fingers. What did he say?
Wait for James, and we’ll call him.
James wasn’t long, but too long. Breakfast first. Eggs, sausages, and pancakes from a mix. And then a phone call that would change all their lives.