Darius insisted that Mitch come over early on band practice day, eager to help out with the demo reel. In exchange for Darius’ generosity, Mitch lent a hand with finishing the soundbooth setup. “Babies, man,” said Darius with a shake of the head, his way of explaining why no further progress had been made. Not that Mitch asked, the answer was fairly obvious.
A mix of old, new, new-old stock high fidelity and recording equipment were arranged, rearranged, and at long last tested out. According to Ingrid’s directions, Mitch only needed to come across as laid back and approachable. Simple enough. Basil gave it a listen when he arrived in the evening, then pulled out his Macbook so that he could tweak the audio file. “You’re lucky we’re friends,” he said. “My services usually don’t come cheap.”
“I’ve given you how many rides?” Mitch teased, taking the headphones from Basil so that he could listen to the adjustments.
“I’m queer, I can’t drive,” snapped Basil. “It’s literally illegal. I can cook and I can do math, those are my two. We don’t get three.”
“I can’t do math,” lamented Mitch.
“You’re both so, so sad,” Darius pity-chuckled, and in return Basil blew a raspberry at him and shouted something about hatecriming.
Finally Basil finished his edits, then handed Mitch a USB drive with the edited reel on it. As he stuffed it into his backpack for safekeeping, his fingers grazed the ancient composition notebook which housed all of his songwriting throughout the last decade. Once thought to be lost forever, it’d been unearthed by Jodie during an argument over Mitch’s reluctance to fully settle in. Apparently, past Mitch was smart enough to entrust her with its stewardship.
Along with lyrics and tabs, there were notes and scribblings. He’d even tucked in a few photographs for safekeeping, which slid out and fell onto the floor as soon as he opened it. And then came the incredulous “Holy shit, is that fucking Dylan?” from Jodie, along with a “Who’s Dylan?” from a curious Avi, who happened to be wandering through the foyer at the exact moment. Face hot and without another word, Mitch gathered everything up and hid away in the attic until his embarrassment subsided.
Sans photographs which were now hidden away from well-meaning but nosy loved ones (not tossed out, that still felt wrong, and he was still too pathetic and too sentimental over this one particular boy all these years later), Mitch pulled out the notebook and presented it to his bandmates.
“Been uh, working on new material,” he said sheepishly while Basil lit up and made grabbyhands, but Darius intercepted and flipped through the pages. “Was hoping to try some of it out tonight, if that’s cool with you guys.”
“How old’s this thing?” asked Darius, careful with the fragile paper.
“Old. I gave him that Lisa Frank unicorn sticker on the front, back when he was in BLOODBLISTER and I was trying to fuck him.” At last, Basil snatched away the notebook while present company stood there and gawked.
“W-wait, what? For real?” Mitch sputtered.
“You never figured that out?” Basil raised an eyebrow at him, then snorted. “Heh. That tracks. You suck at telling when someone’s into you. But yeah, I smartened up real quick about it.”
Darius chimed in with, “Are you still trying to?”, and Mitch found himself torn asunder between wanting to crawl into a hole to die and the most morbid curiosity he’d ever experienced in his life.
“Jesus Christ, no,” Basil laughed. “No offense, Mitch. Too clingy for my tastes. Did you ever even get over what’s-his-name? Shit, you told me about him when we were roommates…” He snapped his finger a few times as he tried to recall the name. It wouldn’t take a wild guess on Mitch’s part about who Basil referred to, and he bristled.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought this was band practice and not a trial over all of my life decisions?”
Darius squeezed his shoulder sympathetically. “It’s never not that, though.”
“Thanks,” deadpanned Mitch, pulling away to ready his guitar and take a second to settle down.
“Dylan!” exclaimed Basil with the glee of a serial killer toying with their quarry, and Mitch considered throwing a drumstick at him. How many times could his teenage crush be brought up in a single week?
And then he remembered that Jodie and Basil talked. Fuckers.