The alarm clock started screaming; the sound piercing through Pickles' drug induced slumber.
Groaning, Pickles reached out and started to slam his fist on the night table randomly before finally getting the offending device to be silent.
"Fuckin' douche bag…" he mumbled as he hugged his pillow tightly, burying his face into it in a vain attempt to go back to sleep.
Strong arms were wrapped around his bare middle and a warm body with slight body hair was pressed against his back.
"What time is it, Red?" Bullets murmured, his auburn hair covering his face as he kept his eyes closed.
"Who cares?" Pickles answered, his voice muffled by the pillow.
"Red…" Bullets warned.
Growling; Pickles opened his eyes and brushed his mane away from his face as he glared at the clock; blaming it for his early awakening.
"Fuck…" Bullets muttered, slowly sitting up and moving towards the edge of the bed.
"S'cold!" Pickles protested, hugging him tightly and burying his face into the small of his back.
"Gotta go to temple, Red." Bullets said, fighting the urge to get aroused at the warm breath on his bare skin.
"Bullshit! You never go to temple!" Pickles protested. "You barely even observe all of those damn holidays you people got!"
He was silent then, remembering what Bullets had told him about the ceremony he was obligated to perform every year.
Pickles slowly got on his knees and he kissed the back of Bullet's neck tenderly, his arms wrapped around his middle as his voice softened.
"It's been a year all ready?"
"Come back here when you're done." Pickles said before flopping onto his back.
"You got it, Red."
Pickles was snoring again when Bullets finally got up and he smiled down at him, resting his hands on his hips.
"Fuckin' stoner." He laughed, covering him with a blanket and giving him a tender kiss on the cheek.
He walked around the trashed hotel room stark naked, stepping over empty bottles of alcohol, passed out groupies, and used needles as he looked for his clothes.
Smiling to himself, the rhythm guitarist of Snakes N' Barrels dug through the pile of clothes that had been dumped into a corner and pulled out a loose baby blue shirt and a tight pair of gray jeans. After performing a sniff test, he found that they were clean enough to go into a synagogue with and not be glared at.
Well…not glared at too much anyway.
Resting his clothes over one shoulder, he then went over to his duffel bag and he began to dig through the drugs inside of it. There were various prescription bottles, a few dozen bags of heroin, some ecstasy pills, a few sheets of LSD blotter paper, some foxy methoxy pills, and a set of needles that he kept cleaned and ready for use inside; as well as copious amounts of loose pills without names and mushrooms that he had collected on his travels around the world.
Once he reached the bottom of the bag, he found a white candle inside of a clear glass jar wrapped in a pale blue cloth.
Cocking an eyebrow, Bullets looked up and chuckled at the sight of Candynose sprawled out on the table; his suspenders hanging off of his shoulders and his tongue hanging out of his mouth like a dog.
Candynose had shot heroin into his own tongue last night on a dare from Tony.
"Off the table, Candy." Bullets ordered, nudging him off with a gentle kick to the side.
The drummer fell to the ground with a faint yelp, curling up on his side and falling back to sleep.
"Crack head." Bullets muttered with a smile, rubbing a recent track mark on his arm that had begun to itch.
The table was cleared of all drugs and empty beer cans and the cloth was set in the middle with the candle on top of it.
Bending down, Bullets took a box of matches out of Candynose's pocket and lit the candle; standing back up and watching the small flame dance on the wicker for a moment in deep thought.
"I need to hurry." He said to himself after glancing over at a clock that had somehow escaped being broken from the night's partying.
"Gram would kick my ass if I showed up late to something about her." He muttered with a fond smile.
Tony was lying in the doorway of the bathroom; his top hat covering his eyes as he held a bottle of vodka in one hand tightly, a cigarette still vaguely burning and threatening to burn his lips if it was allowed to keep going any longer.
"Drunkard." Bullets laughed as he took the cigarette and flicked it into the sink before stepping over the bass player and gently shutting the door behind him.
The shower lasted for half an hour; the warm water making the track marks on his arms and the inside of his thighs feel much better.
Closing his eyes, Snizzy titled his head back and smiled up into the water; thinking back to his childhood and the visits to his great-grandmother's house out in the country.
She had been a tough old bird and had not been one to dance around the truth when it came to the numbers tattooed on her wrist or why he didn't have a great-grandfather and certain aunts and uncles.
She was a holocaust survivor; narrowly escaping the gas chamber by squeezing through the wired fences around the death camp.
She had taught him the truth about the world around him and had been the one to introduce him to the wonders of drug use; letting him share a joint with her whenever his parents were not around to catch them and scold her for corrupting their son.
His Gram would just laugh whenever she was scolded, telling them that she was worried about Snizzy coming down with a case of kiddie glaucoma; a disease that Pickles had found hilarious when he had been told about it one night after sex.
Last year she had died in her sleep; a smile on her lips and a joint between them.
It was most likely the way she would have wanted to go anyway.
With a satisfied sigh, he stepped out and dried off as best as he could before getting dressed; deciding to just let his hair dry on its own since it would come out wavy anyway.
Stepping over the still sleeping Tony; he put his boots and necklaces on before he then went back over to the candle, lightly tracing the tips of his fingers along the hot sides.
Amongst the empty bottles of booze, empty syringes, and passed out and drugged up band mates mixed with floozies; Bullets whispered the mourner's version of the Kaddish prayer before leaving, his hands in his pockets as he went.
An hour later, the others woke up and promptly threw out the groupies before they then began to get as high as possible without dying.
"Dude…have you seen where my matches are?" Candynose asked, looking around with blurry eyes.
"You probably used them all up." Tony answered with a shrug.
"Shit…Do you have a lighter?"
"Fuck! What am I gonna use now?" the drummer asked, looking at his spoon sadly.
"Why don't you just use that candle?"
"Candle? Why the fuck is there a candle in here?"
Tony just shrugged as he laid down on the couch, flipping on the television set.
"I don't know."
"Whatever…it's a fire right?" Candynose laughed.
Tony just shrugged and tipped his hat forward to cover his eyes again.
"Whatever you say, honey."
When Bullets came back from the synagogue; he found Candynose cooking crack in a spoon with the flame coming from his Yahrtzeit candle.
Looking up, the drummer smiled and waved at him with his free hand.
"I'm almost done, dude!" he said before turning back to his work, unaware that Bullets' hands were slowly balling into tight fists.
Pickles was in the middle of snorting a line of coke with a rolled up fifty when he heard Bullets' enraged screaming and he coughed and groaned as he got up and staggered into the main room.
Bullets was currently on top of Candynose; his hands around the blonde's throat as he started to throttle him and slam his head on the floor.
"YOU SON OF A BITCH!" he raged.
"Snizzy? What are you..?"
"Candy was using that candle to cook some crack." Tony explained, his face looking bored as he merely flipped through the channels; stopping at a cartoon about a redheaded kid who made home movies with two of his best friends.
"Fuck!" Pickles muttered, running over to try and tear the rhythm guitarist off of his drummer.
"Help…" Candynose gagged, holding onto Bullets' wrists and trying to tear them away from his throat.
"That's the Yahrtzeit candle for my great-grandmother!" Bullets shouted down at him. "You don't fucking cook crack with that!"
"Bullets, he didn't know!" Pickles tried, reaching out and grabbing his arms tightly. "Dude, let 'im go!"
"Seriously, Snizzy." Tony sighed from the couch. "We need him to play drums for the show tonight."
"Snizz…sorry…" Candynose wheezed, his face starting to lose color.
Thinking for a moment, Pickles hugged his lover instead of trying to fight him, kissing his temple before pressing his lips close to his ear.
"I know that ya miss her, but ya can't kill Candynose because of it." He whispered.
"Her candle, Red! My Gram's fuckin' candle!"
"Let him go, Snizz."
Shutting his eyes tightly, a few tears slid down his cheeks before he then finally let Candynose go, choking back sobs as he covered his face with his hands.
Wincing, Candynose sat up and he rubbed his neck as he looked at Bullets in surprise and faint fear.
"Snizz?" he asked softly.
"M'sorry…" he mumbled, lowering his hands slowly to show watery and reddened eyes.
"So am I." Candynose said after a moment, giving him a small lopsided smile. "Should've known that the candle was there for a real reason and not just for drugs."
"I should've told you." Bullets murmured, leaning into Pickles' arms.
"Oh my God…somebody call Hallmark and tell 'em we got a new card design and slogan for them to use!" Tony snorted with a laugh and a shake of his head.
"It could be called the 'I'm sorry for cooking crack with your dead granny's candle' card!"
This caused the three to laugh and everything went back to normal.
The next day, Bullets cleaned out the clear glass jar and wrapped it in the blue cloth again before putting it back into his duffel bag.
"Why don't you just throw it out?" Pickles asked, cocking an eyebrow as he watched this.
"Because all I have to do is buy the white candle next time and use the same jar." Bullets explained with a smile.
Shaking his head, Pickles wrapped his arms around his lover's neck and kissed his lips tenderly.
"Come to bed, Snizz?"
"You know it, Red."
Toki chewed on his thumb as he watched Pickles clear away all of the beer bottles on his night table, placing an old blue cloth on top of it before then taking out a glass jar with a white candle inside of it.
The candle in the jar was then joined by two others and they were each lit in complete silence.
"Pickle?" Toki ventured.
"What are those candles for?"
"Do ya remember what happened last year on this day?"
"Uh…not reallys." He admitted softly.
"My old band Snakes N' Barrels had a reunion concert and the guys all died from some new drug?" Pickles offered, sitting down beside him and placing an arm around his slender middle.
"Oh ja! That was really brutal! Most brutal album evers!" Toki nodded with a smile.
The smile faded a moment later and he looked back at the candles curiously.
"So what the candles for?"
"They're for them."
"Oh." Looking over at Pickles, Toki tilted his head to one side.
"Yous miss him don't yous?" he asked softly.
"Who?" Pickles asked, thinking that he had been doing pretty well at hiding his relationship with Bullets from Toki.
"The one with the weird face…Bullets!"
"What makes you think..?"
"He a rhythm guitarist…I a rhythm guitarist…" Toki said with a smile.
Pickles looked at him helplessly and couldn't help but smile weakly as Toki looked at him smugly.
"I not so stupids like Skwisgaar says I is."
"I do miss him." Pickles admitted.
Smiling, Toki hugged him tightly and dragged him back down to lay in his bed.
"Is here for yous, Pickle." He said. "And my daddy used to beat into mes that peoples that yous care for is always with yous too."
"You think it's true?"
"I don't got nothing else to believes and is a goods idea, ja?"
Pickles glanced over at the burning candles and he nodded as he hugged Toki tightly, kissing the top of his head.