ampersands and sarcasm wrists

The band van was backed into an alley outside the night’s venue. Most of the guys were inside doing sound checks and arguing with the other acts’ roadies about who got to put what shit where and which cables belonged to who. Wren was outside in the yellow afternoon light, perched on the hood of the van with a borrowed reader and a copy of tonight’s show flyer, painstakingly copying the text from the one onto the other. One finger kept his place on the flyer while he worked, double-checking that he had each letter right before moving on, stopping at the end of every word to look back and sound it out aloud from the reader screen. He’d dictated the flyer himself, so he knew what it was supposed to say; half the words didn’t sound right when he tried to read them back, but he had it on good authority that the printed version was spelled just fine, so fuck English. It was for chumps, and it had been invented by chumps in the chumpiest way just to fuck with other chumps when they tried to do it themselves.

He felt The Rat approaching and scowled down at the screen. Guy was pissed off about something. Better just’ve forgotten something in the van and not be anything he’d want Wren for, because setup was the worst time of the fucking day – everybody’s people all over the place feeling stressed out, bitching about trivial bullshit and crowding his head. There was a good reason he spent that time outside copying the flyer to post to the free net instead of having one of the other guys type it up and have it over with in five minutes, and it wasn’t just that he wanted to improve himself by learning.

The door to the place opened and The Rat beelined into the back of the van, thank God. Just paused long enough to look up the alley and ask: “You still workin’ on that?”

“Nope,” said Wren. “Finished that shit fuckin’ hours ago. Now I’m just sittin’ up here jerkin’ off on the porn net. You want something or you just feel like runnin’ your mouth at me?”

The Rat disappeared back into the building with a flash of the barely-tolerant annoyance that was the mental accompaniment to rolled eyes. Standard – Wren was used to getting that; it was old and familiar and when they needed to replace somebody, feeling that come off a guy during a trial jam session was a pretty good sign that they’d fit right in with the Fledglings. (After all, if they actually got pissed with him, there was gonna be band drama, and if they didn’t get annoyed at all, they were probably broken or some shit.)

Back to the reader, to puzzle out where the squiggly thing that meant “and” was. He was calling shenanigans on all these fucking bands with and-squiggles in their names. There were too fucking many of them, and that stupid squiggle wasn’t even a goddamn letter. Come up with something new for once, you losers, the world’s got enough guys calling themselves Asshole & The Dipshits and that’s it, Wren was putting his foot down, no more fucking and-squiggles were allowed to open for them, that’d be getting announced at the pre-show huddle. Seriously, where the fuck was the and-squiggle?

He gave up and typed an N. Close enough, you say it the same when you read it back out loud.

With the openers listed and the time and place repeated at the bottom for emphasis, the post was finally done, and he tapped the little button that made it send with a sense of triumph. Fuck you, English, he’d just beaten you at your own game again. He was getting pretty good at it with all this practice posting flyers. Already had it memorized how to type up the name of the band without checking every letter. Shit, he was practically literate. Who needs fuckin’ housing school?

The corner of the screen said 1837 and the yellow in the sky was darkening to red. Wren took a second to tap the reload arrow on the front page of the net, make sure it was updated and his flyer was up. There it was, the easily-recognizable FLEDGLINGS standing out in the middle of the words, so he was done here. He rolled the reader’s screen back up and shoved the plastic cylinder into a pocket, folded the flyer up and shoved it into another, and clambered down the front of the van. Time to go to work.

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