Misery when affected was unhappy when not in company. Horse was never unhappy, but he had seen a very good opportunity to be miserable. Everyone else on the estate had tried it, often frequently. Nearly a week before Livvy had told him that no true poet was as constantly happy as he. That had worried at him greatly, for he considered himself a very great poet. He told Curious every time they pretended to rehearse how great a poet he was. Curious sat on the sofa they had rescued from Harper Road. Without any electricity they rehearsed. At least they sat with guitars in lap whilst Horse explained how very miserable he intended to be.
“We could go to the Hart?” said Curious. Much slighter than Horse’s muscular frame only his sister still called him George. Two blocks over and Curious had electricity. He knew how to trick the wires from the big box where it fed all the flats across that floor. Curious had never told anyone else how to do it. He claimed his squat had been overlooked. With power and hot water his flat was always occupied by grateful women. The television was always on. Night or day people that would otherwise speak at great lengths about the evils of the box would sit and bathe in its glow. They watched a lot of childrens television. Curious looked nothing like a monkey but he did have a cowboy hat.
“Livvy doesn’t drink there,” said Horse.
Curious looked puzzled, “No, but everyone else does. Mostly. Sort of, and in this weather, with the girls playing pool?”
“I am not interested in girls,” said Horse.
This was news to Curious. In a world where the boys were alike ill-fed, dark-eyed and hollow Horse was athletic, tanned, and took a pride in his appearance. If the girls liked the boys to be ill-fed, dark-eyed and hollow then what they liked better still was Horse. The boys had called him that because he left the girls like addicts in his wake. Two at least, Curious knew, would come to the flat to get their fix of his friend when the mood took them - and both had boyfriends. Horse never locked the door. He was extremely likeable, though not everyone liked him; one of those boyfriends for a start. Curious said, “Since when?”
The door that was never locked opened. Both men looked up. Carrying Red-Stripe Val found them with a face delighted with her day. She did not offer to share. Curious liked Val. She was just the right side of crusty from goth. All that stored up delight and laughter still washing over her from too many years of Alien Sex Fiend. She didn’t look at Curious; Curious was used to that. She kissed Horse briefly before looking out the open half of the sash window. Twenty years of paint on the frame and it had taken Horse and Curious an hour to chip it open.
Impatient, Horse said, “Well?”
“She’s not interested.”
Horse sighed. He had expected that. “See?” he said to Curious. “I feel miserable already. Livvy doesn’t want me. I’m appalled.”
Val finished her beer and found another from a calico bag. She still didn’t share. “Her father died recently you know. She’s upset.”
“We’re all upset,” said Horse. But he nodded. “I am especially upset. I was just telling Curious how upset I am. But I understand. She must be very miserable. I understand that,” then, “how long do you think she will stay upset?”
“Honestly?” said Val. Horse nodded. If he was going to be unhappy then he would have to plan it all out carefully. “I suspect she’ll find herself less upset come Glastonbury. It has that effect on people.”
Curious knew Val spoke from experience. Only last year she had herself been very miserable, in black and purple. The sun and her fishnets had left a white mesh upon her legs a day into the hot sun. Horse had helped her recover from that. They had recovered loudly and often. Curious knew that because he had been in the next tent over. “Let’s go to the Hart,” he said again.
But Horse would not. He had decided to be unhappy, and almost certainly to be in love.