Chapter 1 - Saturday Boy
Boy Stu-Pot, a keyboard obsessive and nice kid dullard, is the star
employee at Uncle Norm's Organ Emporium, on course to make regional
manager. But then comes a Saturday to end all weeks (just like a
Sunday, but with shopping).
- Gorillaz Biography
later we all discover that the big moments in life are not the
advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings,
not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less
prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray
dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave.
- Murdoc's Birthday message 7th June 2002
Give us a light mate will you?
OS Guy: You can't smoke in here.
Murdoc: Yes I can, watch! Heheh! (Cigarette lighter is heard)
- From We Are The Dury interview
"Stu-Pot? What's the matter? You seem miles away."
Stu-Pot blinked and realised he had been wiping the same spot on the front window of Uncle Norm's Organ Emporium for over a minute. He stared at the reflection in the glass. Standing behind him was a short, plump man with the fat, kind face that had led to the nickname 'Uncle' Norm, although he wasn't an uncle to anyone, as far as Stu-Pot knew. Stu-Pot turned around. "I'm OK, I guess," he said.
"I suppose your latest audition didn't go the way you planed?" said Uncle Norm. He looked sympathetic.
Stu-Pot sighed again and nodded. "They said I sang OK and played the keyboards well, but I don't have the right look to be a lead singer. I'm just trying to figure out what I can change, but I just don't know." He stared back at his own reflection in the clean glass, taking in his long black mullet hair, the scraggly black beard, the eyebrows that met in the middle, the cheap black trousers that showed his ankles, the grey slip on shoes, and the short-sleeved shirt. What could he possibly change?
Behind him, Uncle Norm gave a hearty laugh. "You don't need to change a thing, Stu-Pot. I keep telling you, give up on the auditions. You don't need to join a band now you've got this job. Why, you're my star employee!"
Stu-Pot looked sad. "It's just that I spent all those years studying singing and the keyboard, Uncle Norm. I love this job but..." he paused and went on, "Working in retail isn't quite what I had in mind."
"You're not missing out on anything," said Uncle Norm encouragingly. "Bands are all about egos, fighting and endless gigs. You're good at selling keyboards, Stu-Pot. If you keep it up, you could be regional manager of Uncle Norm's Organ Emporiums in only ten or twenty years."
Somehow this didn't cheer Stu-Pot up, but he tried to grin anyway, "Thanks Uncle Norm," he said.
"Cheer up, lad. Good heavens, is that the time?" Uncle Norm had caught sight of his watch. "It's nearly closing time. I've got to go to the bank. Mind the shop, please Stu-Pot."
"Sure, Uncle Norm."
It was quiet in the shop after Uncle Norm had left. Stu-Pot was giving the glass a last, vigorous rub when he felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise up. He had the eerie feeling he was being watched. Suddenly, a large, long-fingered hand pressed onto the glass outside. Stu-Pot could see the olive skin of the hand growing white from the pressure. He looked up, and almost jumped out of his shoes.
A demon stood outside Uncle Norm's Organ Emporium, pressing one hand to the glass as if trying to ascertain how thick it was, and staring at him with burning, mismatched eyes, one black, one red, both nearly hidden under a thick, black fringe of hair. He wore black jeans, and a black, long sleeved 'Black Sabbath' t-shirt over his slim, taut body. A large, gold, inverted cross hung around his neck. His lips were drawn back in a gleeful grin, as if he knew a secret joke, revealing teeth that were sharp, pointed, and green. An obscenely long tongue slid out from between those sharp, green teeth, grasped the toothpick dangling from his bottom lip and flipped it over.
Stu-Pot's jaw dropped. The demon was human. Surely? A far from beautiful human, who looked battered and tired, with dark bags under his eyes as if he had been out for 5 days in a row and still hadn't caught up on sleep. But there was something otherworldly about him, a sort of unidentifiable, unquantifiable animal magnetism. Stu-Pot could see scorn in the demon's grin, but he couldn't look away. The demon was staring as intensely back at Stu-Pot as Stu-Pot was staring at him.
At length, the demon broke the gaze, lifted his hand from the glass, leaving a handprint, and walked lazily towards the sliding doors. Stu-Pot blinked, as if a spell had been broken and looked at the handprint in dismay.
The demon entered, carelessly shaking the raindrops off himself like a dog. He stood by the doors, looking at Stu-Pot with his blazing eyes and Stu-Pot suddenly didn't care about the window.
"Can I help you, sir?" said Stu-Pot, breathlessly.
"I doubt it," the demon drawled lazily. The demon's voice was deep, raspy, and like the rest of him, was both hideous and attractive at the same time. His mismatched eyes were roaming around the room, not just looking at the keyboards, Stu-Pot noticed with curiosity, but at the ceiling and walls as well.
"Is there any particular kind of keyboard you're looking for, sir, or would you like to browse?"
The demon gave a shrug and peered at the nametag on Stu-Pot's shirt. "I'll browse, Stuarrrrt," he growled. He sauntered off among the keyboards, still flipping the toothpick over and over in his mouth.
Uncle Norm walked back in, shaking his umbrella. He glanced at the demon and frowned, sidled up to Stu-Pot and whispered, "Doubt you'll get a sale out of him."
"I'll try, sir," Stu-Pot whispered back.
"I saw him putting his hand on the window," said Uncle Norm.
"He was looking at me," said Stu-Pot. Uncle Norm looked at him in surprise and Stu-Pot, to his horror, felt himself blushing but he didn't know why. He covered up his embarrassment by saying "I'll stay back and clean the window, sir."
"Good lad. Why don't you demonstrate a keyboard for him?"
"Yes, sir," Stu-Pot said. He took a deep breath and approached the demon, who was poking at a turned off keyboard as if wondering why it made no sound. The demon pulled a silver cigarette lighter and a packet of 666 brand cigarettes out of the back pocket of his jeans and lit a cigarette in one motion, then, catching sight of Stu-Pot, showed his green teeth in a sneer and offered him a cigarette.
"No thank you, sir. I don't smoke. Is there any particular keyboard you have in mind?" asked Stu-Pot.
"I should have guessed you don't smoke," the demon growled. He pushed the cigarettes and lighter back into his pocket. The warmth of the shop was beginning to penetrate his wet clothes and hair and steam was rising.
Uncle Norm appeared at their side. "You can't smoke in here, sir."
"Yes I can. Watch me," said the steaming demon, exhaling a cloud of smoke and laughing deep in his throat as Uncle Norm frowned.
"Is there any particular kind of keyboard you're looking for, sir?" Uncle Norm repeated Stu-Pot's question in a cold voice.
The demon's eyes stopped roaming and focused on Uncle Norm. "I'm starting a band," he said.
"Are you a keyboard player, sir?" asked Uncle Norm.
The demon gave a casual shrug. "I don't play the keyboard, I play bass. It's my band. MY band," he repeated emphatically, his voice trailing off into a wicked chuckle.
"What does your keyboard player want?" Uncle Norm persisted.
"I don't have a keyboard player in my band, yet," the demon admitted. He blew out a cloud and smoke and added, "Well, I've got one guy. He's learning."
Uncle Norm sighed and looked at Stu-Pot. "My Saturday Boy, Stu-Pot, should be able to help you."
The demon looked at Uncle Norm, "Saturday Boy?"
"He works Saturdays," said Uncle Norm. "He's studying keyboard and voice at the Conservatorium on weekdays. He's good," Uncle Norm added, "So good the rest of my staff are jealous of him. You should ask him to give you a demonstration."
"They're jealous, eh?" the demon looked at Stu-Pot with a smirk, as if only an idiot could ever be jealous of someone like him. Stu-Pot found himself blushing again. The demon seemed to find that amusing. "So Saturday Boy, show me what you've got," said the demon after a pause, blowing out smoke. He stuck out his tongue until it dangled down to his shoulder and wriggled it, making a wet, distracting sound.
Stu-Pot struggled to concentrate. Why was this hideous creature having such an effect on him? "Please call me Stu-Pot. What's your name, sir?"
There was a long pause before the demon said, "Sandy. Sandy...Beach."
Stu-Pot froze for a moment, thought about it, took in the demon's intimidating appearance, decided not to comment on the name and went on, "Very well, Mr Beach. I need to know what kind of band you have before I can demonstrate a keyboard."
The pupil in the demon's black eye flickered, "Death metal. We'll also be doing some dub, punk, maybe some hip hop, jazz, and gospel." He stared at Stu-Pot as if daring him to comment.
"That's quite a range for one band," said Stu-Pot, intrigued.
"You got a problem with that?" the demon glared.
"No, no. I think it's great. I sang a jazz song when I auditioned for a hip-hop band last week." Stu-Pot's face fell, "It didn't go down too well."
The demon chuckled and flicked his cigarette ash onto the carpet, "Rrrrrreally?"
Stu-Pot brightened, "You need a keyboard player for your band, don't you?"
"I've got a keyboard player," said the demon, in a carefully guarded tone.
"But he can't play yet," Stu-Pot pointed out.
The demon gave a shrug and for the first time looked uncomfortable.
Stu-Pot felt a rush of hope. Maybe he could sell a keyboard and join a band at the same time? "I can play, and sing. Step this way, Mr Beach. I'll show you what I can do."
Stu-Pot hurried along the lines of keyboards, with the demon trailing behind, until he reached his favourite and tapped the power button. He played the intro to his favourite dub song and started singing. The demon listened, rubbing his chin, smoking and staring at Stu-Pot. Perhaps it was the central heating in the shop, but Stu-Pot thought he looked a little hot under the collar.
Stu-Pot finished. "What do you think?" he asked.
The demon considered. "I like the keyboard," he said.
"What about me? Do you think I could join your band?" Stu-Pot said, trying to keep the hope out of his voice.
"You've got the voice and the keyboards skills," the demon admitted. "But the looks? No way in Hell."
Stu-Pot wilted in front of him. "I keep hearing that. I auditioned for ten bands in the last two weeks and that's what they all said."
"Maybe you should do something about the way you look?" said the demon carelessly, grinding his ashes into the carpet.
Stu-Pot looked crestfallen, "I wouldn't even know where to start." He brightened as a thought struck him, "Can you help me?"
"What? Help you? You want me to give you a makeoverrrr?" the demon growled incredulously.
"Why not? You need a keyboard player, I need to change the way I look. Maybe we can help each other?" said Stu-Pot.
The demon looked him up and down with an unreadable expression on his face. Then he gave a raspy laugh, "No way. Too much work. It would take a yearrrr to whip you into shape." His tongue flicked. "I haven't got time to makeover guys who look like their mother dressed them this morning. Nothing less than a sharp blow to the head would make YOU cool."
On the other side of the shop, Uncle Norm, folded his arms and glared.
Stu-Pot slumped. "Well, I was only asking, sir. Are you still interested in the keyboard?"
The demon looked at the keyboard and grinned. "It's perfect. I'll take it. Although," he added, looking at the price tag, "I know a way...a place," he corrected quickly, "I can get it for less." The look of private, silent glee was back on his face.
Stu-Pot looked puzzled, "Where can you get it for less? This is the only keyboard store in Nottingham."
The look of silent glee didn't change, "I know people who can help me get a better price."
Stu-Pot gave up on more than the keyboard sale, "Very well, sir."
Walking back to the door, the demon stopped by the big front window and once again appeared to be looking at the glass. He placed his hand against it and peered out intently. Then he took his hand away, leaving another handprint in addition to the handprint he had left on the outside, gave Stu-Pot that gleeful look again and left. The doors hissed shut behind him.
Stu-Pot stared after him, feeling a strange sense of disappointment that had nothing to do with his lost sale.
Uncle Norm came up behind Stu-Pot. "It's closing time."
Stu-Pot dragged his eyes away from the window. "I'll lock up if you like, Uncle Norm. I've got to stay back and clean the window again, anyway. Maybe I'll do some keyboard practise as well. Seems like I need it," he said sadly, picking up the bottle of glass cleaner and the cloth.
Uncle Norm didn't wait for another invitation. He grabbed his coat and headed for the door, pausing at the door to say goodbye. "Thanks, Stu-Pot and don't worry about that idiot. I bet you'll never see him again."