This is the first scene I wrote for In Your Honor. It wasn't until several months later that I saw/heard this video and it became the title track to chapter 1. I think it paints a pretty accurate description of Blake. This is the final teaser. Release is one week away!
“You want another?” The bartender's gruff voice broke through Blake's melancholy study of his empty glass.
He licked his dry lips, chewing on the bottom one briefly before nodding and pushing the glass towards the barkeep. His eyes glazed over as he stared at the warm, brown liquid refilling the glass. He couldn't remember how many he'd had at this point. Probably too many. His thoughts were still too clear for his own comfort. He swirled the cheap whiskey once before downing it.
“Mmm, I see you went for the good stuff, must be a party.” Sway's sarcastic quip from Blake's left caused him to roll his eyes.
“Piss off, Sway,” Blake slurred as he nodded at the bartender again.
Sway made himself comfortable on the stool, resting his elbow on the bar and his chin in his hand, and looked at Blake.
“You saw the schedule, I take it?” Sway stated the obvious.
“Oh, yeah.” Blake threw another shot back and relished the burn as it traveled down his nearly numb throat.
“I bet I could get it switched if you want me to,” Sway offered, but they both knew how absurd that sounded.
“Don't bother. It was bound to happen eventually.” Blake rubbed his forehead with his right hand, feeling himself break out into a sweat. He slammed his palm back on the bar. “I have to grow up someday, right?” He chuckled cynically as he tried to stand.
“Whoa,” Sway cautioned him as he grabbed Blake's arm, keeping him from toppling over. Yep, he'd almost had enough.
“I gotta take a piss,” Blake mumbled and he staggered to the bathroom at the back of the dimly lit and mostly empty bar.
He liked this bar. It wasn't his favorite, but it was out of the way enough that most of his friends wouldn't find him here. Also, it wasn't a very successful establishment, so he never had to worry about being recognized. It was the closest thing to a hick bar he had been able to find in Boston. He didn't need it often, just when he thought about stupid shit.
He leaned against the wall for support as he made his poorly aimed deposit in the urinal.
It really wasn't anyone's fault that he had felt the strong need to get hammered. He had seen the touring schedule and had immediately hailed a cab. He needed a drink. He was going to need a lot more before he hit the road too. He had no idea how he was going to cope with being on another friggin' dry tour.
He washed his hands in the grimy sink and looked at his red, watery eyes in the mirror. His normally stylishly messy black hair wasn't stylish at all, and his shoulders sagged like a man defeated. Maybe he could stay away this time. Maybe he wouldn't have to stop at that godforsaken diner and order a frickin' piece of frickin' apple pie. It's not like she'd be there anyway. She was married by now, or so he'd heard. Living her happily frickin' ever after.
Blake pushed away from his reflection and made his way back to the bar. He ignored Sway's disapproving head shake as he ordered another shot. If she was still creeping into his thoughts, he hadn't had enough.
Sway made an obvious show of wiping off the rim of the glass with a napkin before taking a drink of the water he'd ordered while waiting for Blake. He hated this place. It was gross and not up to the standards that Sway felt a reputable musician should frequent. He looked over at Blake, who was back from the bathroom and already downing another shot, and grimaced. It was going to be a long night. Again.
“How about we head home early tonight,” he tried to suggest casually, knowing it would fall on deaf ears.
“Go ahead.” Blake dismissed him with a sloppy wave of his hand.
No, Sway couldn't leave him. Not like this.
“Maybe we could try a different bar at least.” Sway ignored the glare from the bartender.
“I like it here,” Blake declared a little too loudly.
“Whatever you say, man,” Sway relented. He wished he knew how to better handle one of Blake's 'episodes.' One tiny insinuation about his hometown or state, and he went straight to the nearest bottle of Jim. Sway wasn't even sure of the last time Blake had even been home. They usually avoided traveling anywhere near his triggers, Virginia Beach being the exception. He wasn't even clear on why that place had caused Blake to go ape shit last year, it just had.
But the band always knew when he was thinking about home. Thinking about her. He was pretty easy to read in that regard. That's why Sway knew right where to look when he saw the schedule and Blake wouldn't answer his phone. Two dates this year had been booked in Oklahoma.
“I have a great idea,” Blake announced, cutting into Sway's thoughts. “Let's work on the tattoo.”
Sway was already shaking his head. “No, no, no, we don't do that drunk anymore, remember?” Blake was already pulling his coat on and walking a little sideways towards the door.
“Fine, ya big girl, you stay here.” Blake laughed at his own insult and pushed outside.
Sway was close behind him. “C'mon, we talked about this like a hundred times. You made me promise not to let you do this again.”
Blake chuckled and put an arm around Sway's shoulders more for support than for a hug. “Yeah, but you always give in.”
Sway sighed. That he did. Fighting Blake when he was like this was never the best option. He was going to do what he set out to do, with or without approval. At least Sway would be sure that he got home safe tonight.
The tattoo parlor that Blake had been going to since he'd moved to Boston was only a couple of blocks away. They wouldn't care that he was drunk. It wouldn't be the first time.
The particular tattoo that Blake was referring to had been years in the making. It was mostly dark clouds and lightning that covered the left side of his chest and wrapped around his shoulder and most of his left arm. Two wild horses, their manes made of lightning and water, were screaming out of the center of the storm. A small section of the clouds broke apart high on his chest to reveal a star-filled sky. The colors and shading were exquisite, and Sway knew that Zeke loved the work he had put into it.
They entered the small establishment and the girl sitting at the counter took one look at the two of them before hollering over her shoulder, “Zeke! The rock stars are here.”
“Thanks, Tab.” Sway nodded to the willowy chick with porcelain skin and traffic cone orange hair that looked more supple than it should for how processed it was. She smiled sweetly as she opened the door next to her, letting Blake stagger through.
“Does Zeke even have an opening?” Sway asked, staring at the gauges in her ears; they were way bigger than the last time he had been in here.
“Yeah, it's been slow today. Besides, he would make time for Blake no matter what.” She leaned across the counter and ran a finger over Sway's bottom lip. “I wish you'd let me pierce that pretty face of yours.”
Sway gave her a sideways smile. “I love it when you flirt with me, Tabitha.”
She flashed a smile and he stepped through the open door to help Blake into his usual chair.
Zeke emerged from the back and chuckled, rubbing his shaved head with an open hand. “I could smell the Jim Beam from the back office. Let me guess, you wanna work on the side piece?” He settled onto his stool as Blake struggled with removing his shirt.
“I wanna add the words today.” Blake leaned back and put his arms over his head.
Zeke raised dark, speculative eyes at Sway in question. Sway shrugged. “I know, I tried to talk him out of it.”
“All right, buddy.” Zeke put on a pair of gloves and started setting up his station.
Sway took a seat nearby and Tabitha swiveled on her stool to face him. His gaze started at her hot pink heels, then moved up her long fishnet legs to her black shorts that were connected to matching hot pink suspenders.
“I always like the view here,” he praised, and she raised a pierced eyebrow.
“I wish you guys would come by more often instead of only during the random bender.” Tabitha tucked a neon orange strand of hair behind her ear.
“You and me both.” Sway rolled his eyes. “So what kind of things do you pierce?”
“We have this conversation every time, Sway,” she chided.
“I know, but I forget. Indulge me.” He gave her a crooked grin and glanced over as the tattoo gun started to whir against Blake's side. The words were the last little bit to be added. Blake had held off for a long time, saying that he wasn't ready to put that nail in the coffin quite yet. Sway had to wonder if this would actually change anything.
The shop remained relatively quiet as Zeke worked. Tabitha helped a few patrons get scheduled for later in the week, and Sway toyed with the idea of texting Luke to tell him what was happening. They had all previously agreed not to let Blake get this carried away again. Pulling him out of the black hole he had the propensity to throw himself down was exhausting. Not to mention depressing. But Sway wasn't feeling like ratting out his brother. Not tonight.
“You know,” Tabitha looked over at Blake as she spoke to Sway, “my friends and I are going out tonight. I have a girl or two that are kinda into the brokenhearted thing. I'm sure they'd make him forget his sorrows. At least for a few hours.”
Sway pursed his lips and thought about it. “What do you say, Blake? You want some female companionship tonight?”
Blake twisted his head to glare at the both of them. “No.”
Sway grimaced apologetically at Tabitha. “Sorry, gorgeous. Not tonight.”
She nodded solemnly. “It's too bad. I hope he gets over her eventually.”
Tabitha and Zeke knew the story well. The whole shop knew. Whiskey made Blake a talker and they'd all been regaled with his tale of lost love and heartache. Although tonight, he was more somber than usual.
“How's it look?” Blake stood up for Sway to inspect after Zeke had finished applying the ointment.
Sway pushed his blonde hair out of his face and squinted at the black ink scrawled across Blake's left side ribs in delicate lines that seemed somehow appropriate within the turbulent, roiling storm. He pursed his lips as he read the words that stood out on the angry, red skin.
this Honored heart bears Lucky scars
Sway blew the air out of his lungs. “Looks good, Blake.” It did look good, but Sway knew Blake would be seriously pissed in the morning. He always did this. Took it too far. Sway would never understand.
“I think I'm ready to go home now.” Blake's eyes sagged at the corners and Sway could see the fight in him had waned considerably. Maybe adding the words had finally settled things in his mind after all.
Sway nodded and helped his friend get a cab. The long ride back across town was silent and Blake leaned his head against the window, staring listlessly at the passing buildings. Sway went to exit the vehicle with Blake but was stopped by his friend.
“It's all right man, I've pretty much sobered up now.” Blake met his eyes briefly and then looked at his feet, shoving his hands in his pockets.
“You feeling okay?” Sway frowned, trying to decide if he should go with his gut or listen to the guitarist.
“No,” Blake answered honestly. “But I'd rather be alone if that's okay.”
Sway looked up at the building, knowing that Harrison and Mike would be nearby if something should arise. He would text them and give a heads-up. “Right. Well, call me if you need me.”
“Thanks, man.” Blake nodded his appreciation, his mouth maintaining a hard line.
Sway stepped out of the cab briefly to give Blake a 'man-hug' before heading to his own apartment. He sent a quick text to his bandmates and tried to let go of the uneasiness that wanted to settle in the pit of his stomach.
Blake leaned back heavily against his door as it closed behind him. Nope, he hadn't gotten nearly drunk enough. He would no doubt dream about her tonight, but he wouldn't have the luxury of not being able to remember it.
He tossed his keys on the coffee table as he took slow steps towards his bed. His empty, unmade bed. He stripped off his coat and t-shirt and collapsed on the thick comforter. He pushed the pillows onto the floor and rolled onto his back. Bringing his hand up, he gingerly touched the gauze that covered his latest marking.
“Please be happy.” He whispered his wish to the ceiling before passing out.