“It’s not much, son, but happy birthday.”
“Thanks, papa.” Luc looked in the L’Equipe bag. There was a copy of June’s Kerrang! magazine in it. It was now October.
“How’s the band going?”
“What are you called these days?”
“Bring the Pain.”
“Bring the bread?”
“No, it’s the English… means pain.” Luc didn’t tell his father they’d lost their guitars three weeks earlier.
“Well, you’re 23. Where has the time gone, huh? So we need to talk about our deal.”
“I’ve been thinking. The plan was for you to take over the stand, yes?”
“When I turned 23.”
“Why? You’re young. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Why would I want you stuck behind this counter? You could do so much. You could really make it with your music. You could be anything. Make films! Write poetry! Why not let you go? To follow your dreams? It’s not like I can do much, not with my hands.” They both looked at his hands.
Papa’s hands were badly mashed together when a stack of Charlie Hebdos fell on them. That week Charlie Hebdo was popular.
“But you always said.”
“I know I said, but I’ve just had the stand done up. It looks swish. I’ve got flowers. There’s no point you wasting your life here. Go out and just be the best you can be. That’s a legacy I’d like to leave. Not having a son run a magazine stand, pah!”
Luc placed his hands on his hips, blew out his cheeks and gazed down. It was a lot to take in. “Are you serious?”
“I am,” replied papa. “I’ve thought a lot about this.” Papa was gazing straight ahead. His eyes flicked sideways and he saw Luc was becoming emotional.
“I love you pap-”
“The fuck is wrong with you?”
“As if I’d let you fuck about with your shitty music! You’re working here from tomorrow and you start at 5am. Jesus fucking Christ! I’m going on a sexy tour around Italy. Did you believe me? Are you so thick that you actually believed me? Oh shit, son, you really were starved of oxygen. Sacre bleu! Your mother really did a number on you, huh?”
“And get a haircut. You look like a Jihadi.”