“Regardless of any sort of puss filled argument you may present to me, I still think it’s absolute cockshit that you only kind of like Black Flag,” every word I choose, I’ve chosen before. If I could only tell you how many times Chris and I have had this conversation. I don’t even care any more honestly, I just enjoy the normalcy and the loose routine we fumble through each day. It’s a dance we both know ninety percent of the steps to, the song on the juke box that we can actually agree on and sing along with, it’s a math equation we are both so lucky to actually understand. It’s our friendship. We are an act unlike any other; come see the wild, drunken asshole and his monkey of a sidekick- it’s the Nick and Chris show.

“All I’m saying is that they aren’t my favorite, Nicholas,” he always wore the same shit eating grin through our Black Flag debates. Well, conversations. I made them debates. He just knew how to get under my skin and the further into our little number that we got, the wider his grin became. That’s when about I would know I was losing. When I saw thirty two off white, straight as can be teeth staring me in my tired face, I knew I wasn’t claiming a victory that day. That’s all it ever came down to was who was going to win. Chris would take a win silently but he would wear that stretched lipped smile all day, customer after customer, just grinning like mad. Sometimes I’d catch him chuckling to himself and it was almost enough to push me over that invisible threshold that kept me from backhanding his stupid head.

“Whatever, man. We both know you’re jerking it between your vinyl sleeves every night to Rollins on your record player,” I think I’m clever is what the problem is. Or I used to before I met Chris. Studies show that 95% of drunk nights spent at home have proven Chris clever and I nothing more than a depraved manboy who still finds sarcasm and apathy the perfect tools to make a point. Oh and stabs at a persons sexuality, I use those often as well.

The current babbling fuss is taking place at the record store we both managed to wiggle our way into positions at. Like foxes into the tiniest of boroughs, I’m still clueless as to how we managed it. I suppose that’s what being loyal to a store will land you if you’re lucky though. A job beside your roommate who doubles as your best and only friend. I bet Chris wishes I enjoyed spending time with anyone else… The store is just on the edge of that piss guzzling artsy fartsy neighborhood in the triangle district. You know the ones, the kids with those stupid fucking painters pants and big black boots. The ones that think they’re saving the world one fucking painting that no one else understands at a time. It’s just far enough away from that bullshit that those kids aren’t the only ones we get rolling through. Thankfully.

For the Records is the ooey gooey cheese filled name that this place was given, but for the most part everyone including myself calls it Records. And we have anything you could possibly want. I think that’s one of the main reasons I enjoy working here so much- I never have to disappoint people. I’ve never had to say “sorry dude, better check another shop”. It isn’t necessary. We have it. Buried under other compilations and lp’s, under at least seven months of dust, we have it. For the most part Chris and I have a system that works; a search is never that long unless we have to look through the pile of vinyl we continuously work at categorizing and placing. I’d say about eighty five percent of the time we can find something before having to sift through the mess. 

“That’s inappropriate,” he muttered and continued picking through his notebook, scratching things down. He loved those extremely fine point pens that always scraped harshly against the cheap paper Mead used. It made my skin crawl but I knew that same variable was what he enjoyed. Our bickering died out whenever his nose became so close to the pages that he could probably smell last nights alcohol and vomit on his own breath. Just a violent game of catch between his deep in thought, slack jaw and his poor, innocent, lined tree pulp. My stomach turned.

Chris continued to scratch away, silently. Suddenly enthralled with whatever had rolled, tumbleweed style through his mind. He never allowed me to read what he was coming up with, but I imagined it soft and gentle, but however, not happy. When I try to picture chris writing music it’s smart and well thought out, brilliantly detailed and painfully good. 

the bell above the stores heavy wooden door chimed to welcome a tall neon blue mohawk. My eyes followed the tall spikes right down to his scalp as I tried to make an educated guess on just how tall the gunk covered hair was when stood on end. It would then lead to an educated guess on how much cooler he surely thought he was than anyone in the building. Obviously the more inches your hair gives you the closer you are to the spirit of black flag who is floating in the fucking ether. I hate haircuts. I hate everyone and it blows. It’s exhausting disliking three quarters of everything, ever.

“hello,” his voice is quiet and demands no attention. He doesn’t ask for anything, doesn’t say anymore, just smiles and immediately begins carefully delving into a box of vinyl simply marked ‘A’. Like the over protective asswipe I am, I watched closely. His fingers grazed edges lightly and with respect. He flicked through gently and made sure that nothing was moved quickly. I watched him until he reached ‘C’ and then decided I could trust him. I tried not to stare as I got back to doing something productive instead of sitting around like a lazy jackass, but he was intriguing and he had made it to ‘J’ before he was impressed.

“I thoroughly enjoy jawbox,” he mentioned aloud, looking directly at me. Our eyes locked and he smiled again, there wasn’t an ounce of cool flooding from it and he felt like the furthest thing from pretentious. I arched an eyebrow and scratched at my buzzed scalp, “wha?”

“oh,” he laughed lightly and adjusted the frames on the bridge of his nose. “i just noticed you have an extensive amount of jawbox and that’s exciting as I haven’t found much of them elsewhere.”

I nodded and my lips slowly began to pull back into that stiff smile that runs away from me at times. “yeah they’re decent, let me know if you want to hear something.”

At this Chris mimics me, his head bobbing back and forth and a rotten tone to his voice before he breaks it with a laugh. He looks up from the pages of his notebook and closes them nearly simultaneously. “Try not to shit bricks, there are other people in the world that know good music,” he pats my head. “if you continue to act like that this poor dude is going to think you beat off between the sleeves of Black Flag albums.”

That stupid fucking grin appears yet again, thirty two teeth just laughing and taunting me. I didn’t feel like I had lost though. People were starting to show interest in music Chris had shown me months ago which meant there would be more bands, more music. I felt like I was winning.

But just to be safe- “Fuck you, Chris.”

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