In the colony city of Paxton, also known as Punktown, the current number one rock group was Sphitt, and the number one rock song this summer was their hit In Your Face. This song now played on Kid Belfast's music system-the third time he had heard it this morning. It had been background music previously but now he focused on it, listened to it.
As it was for millions of other young men right now, In Your Face was his song. It wasn't that he especially emulated the group physically, or their nearly indistinguishable kindred groups Flemm, Mhukas and Sputum (several of which had the same manager), as many of their other fans did. Sphitt's hair was snowy white fluffy lion manes overwhelming their tiny faces with their little chins and chiseled cheekbones and seemingly ceaselessly distended puckered pouts. Kid had short bristled hair, a nondescript light brown, and his lips were thin, their compressed lack of expression hardly sultry. When the members of Flemm and Sphitt did smile for the stills, their smiles were lazy insolent smirks worn like jackets tossed over their shoulders, and this was the unified smirk of most of their fans, as much a distinguishing badge as the explosive manes. When Kid smiled it was a shy, embarrassed grin like a fissure in his usual composure.
Also, Kid didn't spit much. Many boys now frequently punctuated their speech and activities with spitting, spit over each other's shoulders in greeting, at each other's boots in farewell, and at each other's bodies in hostility. Naturally he had done this to some obligatory extent, but he had seldom joined in the frequent contests of mucus launching of milling boys, and had only tried chewing tobacco once. He had almost vomited. It was, almost inconceivably, simply the music itself which appealed to him-its bombastic, melodramatic chest-beating, every song an overwrought epic of operatic emotion. Only their thundering exultant anthems seemed to rouse him from his near constant sullenness, but it was naturally their passionately unhappy, venom-spitting opuses that gripped him most. More than manes and kissable pouts with saliva loaded behind them, Kid Belfast embraced the lyrics of the songs by Sphitt, Mhukas and the rest.
He lay on his back in Noelle's bed, the sheet a stilled tide against the beach of his naked hairless chest, fingers laced under his head. It was his music system but it was here in Noelle's dorm room, a guest like he was, though it stayed while he came and went.
Noelle giggled with Bonnie Gross at the window, their bottoms presented to Kid, Bonnie's tiny bottom bare, tanned a darker color than Noelle's skin, although Noelle was partly black in extraction and predominately so in appearance. Bonnie was nude, as usual, Noelle wore an oversized men's white undershirt as a nightshirt. Somebody in a car, a male fellow student, was yelling back and forth with the young women. Kid was not a student; he had just slept over.
"Yeahhh, I'll be there!" Noelle shouted huskily. "I'll be there! I will be there!" The male yelled something back. "I don't know-I'll be there." His turn. Then Noelle. "I don't know where I'll be-everywhere!" Him. Then her. "All day!"
"Just be there!" Bonnie giggle-yelled down. Goodbyes were called. Noelle and Bonnie turned away from the window, Bonnie strutting past Kid on the bed, her back arched and shoulders so thrust back that her small tanned breasts aimed up at the ceiling. Kid might have been excited by her nakedness if he hadn't hated the idea of items as soft as bottoms and breasts being burnt to a leathery darkness. Noelle, on the other hand, was natural in her light darkness ... soft ... and Bonnie was always naked, always open, but Noelle had that shirt on, the points of her breasts teasingly nosing out the material, the hem falling just below her thighs. Noelle better understood her visual effect.
It took Kid a great effort to ask Noelle from the bed, as she bustled about with groggy animation, "Where is it you're going today?"
"The fair," she said, stopping at the cooking unit her mother had bought her to heat a mug of water from the jug in the mini fridge Bonnie's mother had bought her, so as to make tea.
"Oh, I'll be there with thousands of people."
"Including the person who was yelling up at you just now?"
"Yeah-including him-he'll be there. With thousands of people."
"And you'll be meeting him. Right?"
"Maybe. Maybe not." She gave him a look. Not a long one, but long enough.
Bonnie laughed at Kid, sipped her glass of cough syrup-thick, apricot-scented breakfast wine. "The Green Monster," she said in a horror movie voice, wriggling the fingers of her free hand.
"That should be a ride at the fair," Noelle Buda joked. Both women giggled heartily.
The bones of Kid's face worked under the skin. His eyes screwed themselves into the ceiling. Angry replies, counterattacks ground themselves against each other in his mind like his teeth, but couldn't pry their way out of his jaws. Bonnie had to be in his way, as always, throwing his strength off balance, an obstacle, one of Noelle's "buddies," a cancerous growth that Kid would have liked to slice off Noelle and ground under his heel.
"In your face," sang Chauncy Carnal, of Sphitt, "I want to shoot my gun,
Blow your brains out, now ain't that fun?
Seize you by your tresses, slam home my sperm
Rip off all your dresses until your lessons are all learned
If that's what it takes for you to look in my eyes
If I have to deafen you so you'll hear my cries
If I have to tear into your dreams to make myself real
Do I have to spit in your face to make you feel?
To make you feel, make you feel that I'm real?
Oh, oh, oh, in your face, you sorry little bitch