Chapter 3


Black Converse laced up—check.

Black skinny jeans on—check.

Hangover . . . oh well.

Nine Inch Nails “Star Fucker” shirt on—check.

Leather wrist cuffs and wallet chain—check, check.

That headache hits.

Joint one and two tucked into socks—check.

The requirements of any well-organized goth. Incorrect. A rivethead with a dash of punk. Seth embraces his subcultures well. He thrives in it, even in this dead-end town of one type of culture: misery. Goths are gloomier. Now, depending on who you ask, Seth is well on his way to one’s depressiveness.

Not today. Today, his soul flies free. The gentle liquor-faith saint has hung up his gown. His weekend is here, where he can ravish wildly at the big night of the rave. After a week of suffering, he’s able to be free once more. His friends will be there. The boy will be there.

God, Seth thinks. He really shouldn’t have spent last night drinking with April. The headache is killer. But it should go away by the time they make it to the rave. His tolerance level is high, but every once in a while, a bottle gets you. He remembers most of the night, so he thinks. Flashes keep coming back of them downing the vodka. They killed the whole bottle! No chasers, no nothing.

Seth continues his party-time checklist, trying to keep focused. The essentials are smokes (only a few, it seems), lighter, keys, and wallet (cash, debit, I.D., and a condom). Maybe he’ll need it. He’s not sure. His chat with April made him want to step up the game, go all out.

The checklist is looking good, with only a few more things to do. He tugs on the jeans’ waistline, pulling his boxers up to get a good whiff of his junk. Passable.

The kiss.

Right, another flashback to April. Shit. April and Seth shared a kiss. The memory floods his mind. It was . . . it was . . . wholesome. There is no other word for it. They were so harmless in their actions. Does April feel the same? Would Joel care?

Seth gets up from his bed, taking a plastic pop can with him. The unholy dope chest, containing his devil’s lettuce—perhaps Seth isn’t a saint but a spiritual explorer. The sacred plant offers insight and clarity . . . Nah. Keep searching, Seth.

He puts the faux pop on his bookshelf behind the CD collection—another thing Aunt Frances doesn’t need to know about. She won’t look behind the Ministry and Marilyn Manson albums. She despises this music.

Seth takes a deep breath. He kissed April, another layer smeared onto his nervousness about the long-awaited rave weekend. He needs to get his game on. Seth! This is the big night, going away with friends all weekend to the mountains, drowning in music and drugs. He shouldn’t worry about what happened last night.

The guy has problems dealing with his emotions. Seth is fully aware of it, too. He stuttered and acted shy when making a move on Dimitri last week. Hell, he was all coked up then. His kiss with April was— No, no, no, that wasn’t just a kiss. It was a make-out session. Yes, the night is coming back to him. Seth and April had tongue and all. He may have gotten her bra off at one point.

Either way, imagine trying to make a move on someone sober? No way. It’s the same reason why Seth bottles up his emotions. It’s far easier expressing them through extreme fashion and angry music. The scene doesn’t judge him on his insecurities. Maybe Seth is more goth than he realizes.

One last section on the checklist and Seth is good to go. He heads to the bathroom, looking at his gelled pompadour haircut in the mirror. The black hair is so long it slopes to the side of his face. Wait, there’s a strand sticking out. Damn it. Seth needs to fix it with a dash of water. His goatee looks good, nice and sharp. The sideburns are slick. Check.

To be sure, he slaps some extra gel into his hair. He needs to look sharp, smell good, and, most importantly, have confidence. The trickiest characteristic of them all, and easily disguised through substances. He’s seen real nasty-smelling pieces of shit catching tail. Dumpy lards have pulled in three times the number of partners in one year than Seth has in his whole life. Confidence, Seth, confidence. See what coked-up, liquor-drowned Seth is capable of? He’s gotten some decent action in the past week.

Seth isn’t paying too much attention to the screamingly obvious. Instead, he’s rubbing the gel deep into his roots, brushing it through, making sure he looks good. He’s so obsessed with looking like a scene kid.

After a deep exhale, Seth says to himself, “You got this.” Sure, Seth, sure. The statement finalizes the checklist. He’s now complete for a night of dancing. Bravo.

On his way out, wiping the remaining gel on his jeans, he eyes his Nine Inch Nails tour poster while he’s going for the light switch. It was for the 1996 tour with Marilyn Manson and Meat Beat Manifesto.

Man, Seth would have killed to go. Unfortunately, it only had three dates in the USA, and he was seventeen at the time. There is also the fact he didn’t have a job then. If only the tour had happened two years later, now in 1999, he could have saved some cash for it. Or maybe Seth is fooling himself, and he still isn’t confident enough to take the risk, get a passport, fake ID, fly down to the States, and see one of his favourite bands. Oh well. That’s confident, Seth, for you.

That attitude must change. Seth must become better. He checks his watch; it’s about four in the afternoon. Tanis will be here at any moment. Finally. The thought of leaving makes his heart thump.

Seth hurries up the stairs to the main floor, leaving his 1996 Nine Inch Nails dream-tour. The heavy footsteps are loud, catching the attention of his aunt. Great.

“Seth!” comes her croaky smoker voice. The whole upstairs smells of cigarettes. You can even see the yellowy tinge seeping into the walls from years of drags. “Seth, did you take out the trash?” she nags.

“No!” Seth calls out. God, what a pain. He’s not twelve anymore. His friends should get together and rent a party house. Aunt Frances can take care of the funk-smelling garbage instead of watching rerun episodes of Jerry Springer all day.

“Can you please do that?” Aunt Frances asks. “I told you yesterday and the day before.”

“Okay!” Seth gives in to defeat. No confidence—the gentle giver.

She keeps yelling from the living room. “You were out late last night. Why were you out so late?”

“I’m taking the garbage out!” Seth says, snagging the bag. He should be kinder to his aunt. Hell, she’s letting him stay here post-graduation. Oh, and the fact that she raised him for half his life.

“I asked you a question!” Aunt Frances says.

Time to act fast. She’ll get up from that damn recliner to interrogate him. Her methods are fierce—all bad cop. She may even pull out some unorthodox practices with jabbing fingers and pushing if her breath smells of whiskey. No law enforcement would do such a thing! Then again, this is the law of Aunt Frances Hazen’s house, not the province of British Columbia.

A meow complements a gentle brush of something soft and furry—little Oliver.

“Move,” Seth whispers, nudging the black cat with his leg. The cat meows again, brushing against Seth’s calves. Great, a balancing act. He delicately avoids trampling the cat and makes it to the back door with the heavy bag-o-funk. He flings the door open and escapes outside. He’s free. Little Oliver watches from the closing door, still meowing.

Seth makes it through the backyard and past the fence, chucking the garbage into the can. Done. He checks his watch. Tanis will be here any minute.

“You forgot yourself!” shouts a macho voice from afar.

Several masculine laughs erupt from the fence across the alleyway. Three guys are visible above the chipped paint of the fence. They’re sitting on old metal lounge chairs on a raised porch, beers in hand, shades on. They’re looking right at Seth.

One of the guys flicks his pink polo shirt, raising his can. “It’s because you’re trash!”

The other two laugh. One in a tie-dyed tank top slaps his knee. “Nice one, Don!”

“Good one,” Seth says.

“Call it as I see it. Not my fault you’re a rope-sucker,” Don says.

“You ever bang your cousin before they locked him up? Ya hick,” one says. Seth didn’t see who, for he doesn’t care.

“Whatever,” Seth mumbles, turning back to the house. He’d rather deal with the law-bringer Aunt Frances instead of these assholes.

A loud car engine rumbles. Not the cool, slick kind of engine—it’s more like the muffler is toast. The sound booms as a red Mercury Sable rolls down the alleyway and towards Seth’s house. Finally, Tanis is here.

The car pulls up, stopping in front of Seth, windows down, with Korn blaring through the speakers. Tanis’s hand sits at twelve o’clock on the wheel, aviators on, her bangs resting a millimetre above the frames. She’s a bit OCD with her looks, too. Oh, wicked, she’s got her spiked collar on. It always looks adorable on her.

She nudges her shades down, eyeing up Seth. “Homeslice! Get in,” she says, taking a puff of her smoke.

“Yo! Let’s ride,” Seth says, opening the car door.

“Hey!” Don says. “Cock-breath, you planning to cut her up?”

The other two boys cackle maniacally at the derogatory comment. They always get reckless when drinking.

Tanis shakes her head. “Fuck those guys.”

“Eat my shorts,” Seth shouts, hopping into the car. “Yeah, fuck those guys.”

Don shouts through the blaring metal music, “Chickie, come over here and get a taste of a man,” Don says, caressing his crotch.

“Eat my ass!” Tanis shouts, cigarette still in her mouth.

“Gladly,” Don says.

Tanis flips him off and steps on the gas, causing the car to screech.

Don shouts again, “Hazens chop heads, you know that! Don’t take him to the reserve! He’ll kill your cousins!” That prick, getting one last remark in.

The car accelerates down the alleyway, making it impossible for Seth or Tanis to take a shot back. Everyone has to bring up Seth’s cousin. Everyone. Especially Don, the neighbour, who was there a decade ago when that shit went down. Not many people like to talk to Seth or his aunt after the incident. They’re Hazens—marked for life. Seth is so tired of it. It doesn’t help that Prince George is a small town. Plus, the ten-year mark tends to remind people of the tragedy. People talk. Also, the news loves to do pointless follow-up stories, fueling the fire. The news is shit, like people.

Tanis takes the smoke from her mouth, saying, “Jesus, those guys are such pieces of shit. Racist, homophobic ass-nuts!”

“Yeah, I know,” Seth says.

“Why do you let them bully you around like that? You don’t deserve it.”

“I know,” Seth says. “I don’t see a point in saying anything. They don’t give a shit. They’re assholes.”

“Put them in their place,” Tanis says.

“That’ll look real good, with my cousin? It’s seriously better for me to not do anything.”

“No, dude. You need to take some action.” Tanis takes the last puff of her smoke before flicking it out the window.

“It’s not worth the energy,” Seth says.

“Whatever,” Tanis says, turning off onto the main road. “So, you ready?”

Seth slaps the vehicle’s window frame. “Yes!” He’s glad they’re changing the subject. Don has ripped on him for years. Even after the incident with Seth’s cousin, the guy saw him make out with a boy once. Since then, the homophobic jokes have been endless, even though Seth has brought girls over. Not to mention Seth’s choice in attire. It’s old news. Tanis knows it too. On to bigger and better things—the rave.

“I still can’t believe you got your dad to give you the ride,” Seth says.

“He doesn’t know where we’re going,” Tanis says.

 “You didn’t tell him?”

“No, of course not! There is no way he’d give it to me if he knew.”

“But he’s straight-edge. He’s gonna be pissed.”

“Of course. Raves are underground, so normies don’t find out, duh.”

“True that.”

“Does your aunt know you have a joint in your sock all the time or a shit ton of weed in her house?” Tanis asks.

“No,” Seth says.

“Exactly. Some things our folks don’t need to know, especially if it doesn’t harm them.”

“Word,” Seth says.

“Truth is all I speak. Let’s grab the other two and get out of here.”

“Damn right. It’s a good six hours from Prince George, eh?”

“That’s what the phone call said, north of Hinton,” Tanis says.

“Nice, and they gave you the tickets?”

“It’s a real workaround, but yeah, they’re in the CD binder. Yours, mine, April’s, and Joel’s. That Justin guy was kind of a scrub in a sketch house; I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there.”

“At least you got the tickets,” Seth says, reaching into his back pocket to pull out the pack of smokes and lighter. Flashback—that kiss. “Shit—April and Joel cool to hang out still?” he asks, lighting his smoke.

“Sure?” Tanis asks.

“I saw her at the store last night. She was pretty glad Joel wasn’t there.”

“Joel would try and hit on her again. I don’t blame her. He can be a shit sometimes.”

“I know, he dragged her heart around,” Seth says, inhaling his smoke.Her taste.

“They were never that serious. They’re cool now.”

Seth raises his brow. “Again, I saw her last night. I don’t think so.” Her ass.

“That’s their problem,” Tanis says.

The unbuttoning and pulling of panties . . .

I finger-blasted her, Seth thinks, holding his breath. That’s right. The whole night floods his mind, and he remembers everything. The innocent kiss led to the topless make-out and some junior high-level second base. They had fun—at least Seth did. He certainly had no plans of getting jiggy with the girl, though. He only wanted to hang out. Drinking can take you to some unexpected places.

The evening had been full of heartfelt connections and Seth enjoyed himself. April seemed to enjoy herself as well. She was smiling and moaning before they decided to go home. The night was getting icy, the vodka was empty, and they had nowhere else to go. So, nothing escalated further. He’ll ask her when they pick her up.

Seth eyes the back seat. Joel is going to be there, sitting beside April. She won’t like that. “You know, I’ll give shotgun to her. She always complains,” Seth says.

“Such a gentleman.” Tanis brushes her hair behind her ear.

Seth smirks. He knows Tanis is pulling his chain. He is always too nice. That’s his problem. It’s far easier to not intervene with things. The Don situation is a perfect example. Seth has practically grown up next to the prick, and his aunt doesn’t need any trouble. Her son caused enough of that. Let’s not forget the other altercation with Fuckin’ Buddy. Seth got a little hotheaded, but that was a warm-up session to get the inner hunter ready. And those are two recent examples.

Sober boner-killer Seth has been passive most of his life. It’s why he is living in his aunt’s basement and working at a dead-end job. This raises a prominent question for Seth: is he scared to take action, or is he a wise spiritual explorer who doesn’t see the need to intervene at every altercation?

That’s a tough question, Seth.

He’s unsure. The hunter persona isn’t him, but he’ll need that for the rave. By day, he is the liquor saint. When he is free from the shackles of conformity, what is he then? Who is the real Seth? It’s time to find out. The rave getaway is the perfect opportunity.


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Konn Lavery

About Konn Lavery

Konn Lavery is a Canadian author whose work has been recognized by Edmonton’s top five bestseller charts and by reviewers such as Readers’ Favorite, and Literary Titan.

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