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Rhoda

Rennie Codgers

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Rhoda

 

user posted image

 

Hello. I'm no good at introductions. Let me say that I am called Ronald and I have been the primary composer of music for the outfit of Rennie Codgers for over 40 years. From primitive beginnings, I have strived to evolve and fight the stigma against the elderly creating something worthwhile. Most of the time, citizens pushing octogenarian levels leave little but a feast for their cats after choking on their TV dinners, so it's nice to give something back to an underground community every once in a while. I am labeled as "musician" and have been for as long as this pancake batter brain will serve me, but I prefer to label myself as a "magician". A bunch of kids at the train station snorted into their f*cking coffee cups as I corrected them one day, and they were only too quick to mock, thinking I picked a word that sounded similar to be "cool". In truth, the word "young" carries enough of a negative connotation so I need not elaborate on why they're the problem. I prefer "magician" because there's very little magic left in the world anymore, not in the era of revealing tricks, buying kits online and even those plastic f*cking wands that wilt when you hold them a certain way. It's harmless fun, and doesn't detract from the enjoyment of a trick, but how weird does it feel to watch a trick and have absolutely no clue? That's how I feel with music. I love sound I can't explain. I don't even know what sound is, let alone what it's for. It certainly isn't to make money. A magician likes to appear as though he is doing nothing. There is no such thing as magic, only the amazing skill of the humans who make it appear they are doing nothing, while actually doing everything. If you have ever seen the cup and ball trick, you'll know what I mean. Chances are you'll have a vague idea of how it's done, but that's fine - after all, anyone can learn an instrument and even how to get a decent sound out of it, but will you ever master it?

 

Let me first say I didn't intend to make a new album on my own. I didn't have much of a choice but my partner in fashion crime (the Rennie to my Codger, so to speak) took to the hills in a fleeting moment of insanity I like to brand "starting a family". He chased riches and women of every ethnicity, so to me it was borderline ridiculous that he chose a whore as bland as a boiled pebble and a home that was less "gangster" and more "gin star". This woman worked at a bar for as long as I had known her, which goes back about 25 years. She's always been on the scene, and I could see in his tired eyes that getting his genitals lost in her jowls was more important than chasing a dream. I did think he was right at first, but I realised just in time that sex is a waste of time. There isn't nothing a bit of self abuse can't solve. In that time, an orgasm clears the mind and gives fresh inspiration, but more on that later. My point is I didn't think I could make it as a storyteller, or indeed as a musician, on my own. It took a strange journey in which I'm glad to have arrive. My body was bread crumbs, and they have long been eaten by the crows by now.

 

MORE REAL SOON, YEAH?

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Tyler

I just love the way you can ramble on and still have it work, Craig. But I don't love that creepy f*cking picture, at all. Something about the whiskers on this guy just rubs me the wrong way. Anyway, I'm surprised this didn't get more comments, the writing is enjoyable and I need more now. You best not go inactive for two months and forget about this. I'm warning you.

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Eminence

Something that's really great about this in my view is how you push everything to sell the character. It's all tremendously consistent, keeping in the tone of this guy's voice. You forget you're reading a story and just take in the character, it all becomes one perfect, flowing stream of consciousness. Nice work.

 

So the question is, how soon is soon? Real soon?

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Rhoda

 

user posted image

 

Of course, we were all young once. That's me, there. I did reach the point that I just couldn't support the beard anymore though, and that was probably the saddest part of growing old. Inside this old shell, a young man still dwells, and every so often my battered heart swells. The last time I heard something that excited me, I can feel that glint in my eyes that you can see.

 

I remember my path into music very well. I'd always been interested in sound. As a young child I'd sit and watch my mother working the mangle. Each squeak seemed to accompany percussion. I don't know if it was the lazy trundle of the wheels, or even her joints giving way slowly to industrial pollution. Soon enough I discovered, like all children do, that hitting things made a particularly satisfying sound. I don't mean to brag, but at the time I thought I was the only one to understand hitting things differently produced different resonance. Hard, soft, quickly or with a little flick, I became the focus at Christmas when my uncle seemed enthralled by my pan playing. My parents hated it, but maybe that's because my uncle was a strange man. I won't say what ultimately happened to him, but let's just say he was watching my wrists for completely different reasons. Christmas was always a great time, because I'd find other uses for menial gifts brought hoping to bridge the gap between estranged families. I'll never forget the look on my father's face when he had found I'd taken my bicycle apart, using the spokes and frame as a rudimentary percussion rig. I'd salvaged what looked like a battered cello bow from a local tipping yard and found that if I angled the tool in such a way, I'd get the most beautiful, haunting hum, like it was something out-of-this-world trying to sing loud enough for me to hear, but daren't as it's voice would give away the most terrifying secrets. To see his face, you'd have probably laughed. It was as if he'd caught me watching something I shouldn't, or smoking those special plants found behind the greengrocer's.

 

To be honest with you, my interest soon petered out. I don't know if it was lack of faith in a bland scene, or the amount of beatings I received from the business end of my father's leather belt. If he thought that he'd quash the spirit that easily, well... actually, he'd be right, but only for about fifteen years or so. I had grown up and found work in a bakery, where my colleague, Carl, had been beavering away for months prior. Carl was the Codger. I was the Rennie. We got on famously. We'd first met in school, but never really clicked until nostalgia took us both. We'd often play cards in the basement of the bakery, inviting people we trusted over, and some we didn't. I remember one particular night, we'd both timed cupid's intervention quite well, and found ourselves with young girls hanging on our arms that weren't interested in the building full of confectionery and pies. It made a change. Because Carl's parents were strictly religious, they forbade music of any kind. Don't ask me what kind of religions forbids sounds that make you feel alive, because I thought that was the whole point of prayer and choir. Regardless, I was glad, because that meant we could keep it downstairs and play records when custom was slow, or even during our card nights. I was always quite jealous of Carl, because he always attracted the prettier fish. Maybe it was his bait, but I'm putting money on it being his angling technique.

 

However, I weren't too fussed because his girl was a little dim. I don't mean to be rude, but she couldn't pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel. She'd go along with anything, which he felt pretty smug about because he couldn't wait to tell me what the inside of an anus felt like around his pecker. I didn't mind him sharing things, I still don't, but I do wish he'd pick his times. I nearly dropped the mixing bowl. My girl was clever. Naturally clever. She had an ear for things, and I don't just mean music. If she heard a word she liked, she'd look it up in the library. We used to stay up until dawn relaying sentences to each other, appreciating how things sounded. I'll always remember one she said and it just hit me; "protect me from what I want". She was the same with music. One night she brought a Bob Dylan LP, I don't remember which one, and it was just so refreshing. We must have felt particularly amorous because around three quarters of the way in she couldn't wait any longer and took me in her mouth. I'm not ashamed to say that my first real sexual experience was coupled with the rasp of Bob Dylan singing about Nashville. It was from then on that music took on a sexual edge, and I could hear horns with every release. I owe that girl my career, because sound suddenly meant more, and I knew from then I'd want to make music until the day I died. If I only made one album before I kicked the bucket, I'd hold it close to my chest in an open casket so people could read the liner notes.

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Rhoda

 

user posted image

 

This is Carl. I feel like I should somehow rope him into this to bypass the self indulgence. I don't mean to sound egotistical about the whole thing, but I know more about myself than any other subject, so it's only natural. Carl was an odd human being. I say "was", he most likely still is. I often say he's the Rennie to the Codger, but in truth it's interchangeable. We've never had dedicated roles. Often, we'd pick up something we had never used and ran with it. I will say that our best material is where I'm left with production and he takes the realm on vocals. He would argue otherwise, but that's only because he's frankly terrifying. In my photo album there's a shot of him with the microphone. He was a man possessed. Years of cigarette intimacy left him with this wretched rasp that would curdle milk into an aggressive Greek yoghurt.

 

Doo-wop was his thing. I don't know. I could never get past the ridiculousness. Despite his straight edge, Carl always said the strangest things. Even recently, I remember one of his last phone calls well. We met on a beach down in the south of England where the sands were as coarse as his gaze. Until alcohol loosened his tongue, you weren't quite sure if he loved you or wanted to strangle you. I couldn't fault his spirit - I've often felt the same, but lacked the aesthetic conviction to pull it off. I often got hassle on the street by people wanting something for nothing. I remember a charity case actually giving Carl a cigarette, refusing to accept a donation simply because "he looked like he needed it more than they did". Terrifying.

 

We were perched on a rock overlooking a particularly shallow patch of sea that seemed reluctant to join the rest of the zenith. As he drained the last of his first bottle of beer, he turned to me with a look like cellophane.

 

"Do you ever wonder what it would be like to have a vagina?"

I met his look with one of ambivalence. There wasn't a chance he was spooking me this easily.

"Only when I'm not around you".

"Nah nah, I'm serious, man... serious," he said, waving a hand as if brushing foul cigar smoke away from his face, "like, is sex better?"

"How would I know? You're the one with the illustrious past, I took what I could get. You had the pick."

"I hear all this sh*t about nerve endings, you know?"

 

Everything was a question with Carl. Even statements had this upward infliction, as if he wasn't sure what he was saying and needed constantly reaffirmation.

 

"Nerve endings?"

"Yeah, apparently everything is supposed to feel better."

I sat still, looking at the sea intently as if all of a sudden a bottle stuffed with a scroll would leap out and give me a cue card of what to say next. When that failed to happen, I gave the next best thing - an honest opinion.

"Well... I think it's good to have a dick too. Don't go wishing that away."

"Oh f*ck, no," again came a dismissive hand wave, "I wouldn't. I just wonder. Would you swap for a day if you could though?"

"Only if it was somebody else's," I said, "then I'd try and destroy it as much as possible."

Carl roared with laughter and I quickly joined in with a chuckle, taking a swig of what I had left of my now warm bottle before casting it into the ocean.

 

We sat in silence as the laughter died down. I hate that moment. It feels so forced. It was only a few seconds before he carried on however.

 

"Maybe it's already happened. Maybe we have swapped and don't remember."

Okay, now he's got me.

"Wh... What?"

"Yeah, maybe we've swapped with some dame in Ohio a couple of decades back and couldn't remember. Stranger things have happened, right?"

"I... guess. Wouldn't we remember though? I'm sure I'd remember something like that."

Carl simply shrugged before saying "we've forgotten stranger things, haven't we?"

 

He was truly an odd dude.

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Rhoda

 

user posted image

 

At some point during 1988, me and Carl were living together. I don’t know why it took so long. To be honest, I didn’t feel all that like myself. While I remained youthful and full of life, my body had ran ahead of me and I didn’t feel like the two images I had of myself matched. I thought a change of environment would help, so when Carl’s house mate grew weary of his constant wailing and experimentation, I jumped at the chance of living with my muse. I remember the first morning we had moved in, the key nearly fell off the ring thanks to dry rot. Me and Carl shared a knowing glance. We had lived in bad conditions before, at the shame of our parents. On the floor of the bakery, the mattress was solely for sex, so we made do with a sausage roll baking tray.

 

I liked the garden. It was redeeming. Inside, the story was less than affirming. In the corner lay a shovel, which was stained by the vain efforts of previous owners. I should mention at this point that the house was surrounded by miles of countryside and fields. Trees assaulted otherwise flat pockets of land. My bones were old, but it was as if nature itself had blown the dust away from my joints. After a week or so of living there, I felt like I actually had purpose and I found myself getting up before noon increasingly so. As I ambled down the stairs most days, I found Carl with an aged notepad, cigarette perched next to a pen, and a second cigarette smoldering in the ashtray. I suspect he’d forgotten he had already lit one. Carl often did that. With a nod he gestured towards the fresh pot of coffee, and I brought him a cup back with me too. It was just harmony. If we weren’t making music and toying with whatever we could find that made a sound for more than a few seconds, we were upgrading the house and working on our studio. Saying we had a “studio” always helped with the women, despite our advancing age. We still had life and passion in our eyes, which was lucky because we had very little in our loins by the time we had finished seducing them. All I can say is, alcohol doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves.

 

We were about six months in, and already had a few tapes of demos littering the house. I remember the one argument me and Carl had in the entire time we lived together was regarding a guitar he found at a local market. Despite dust and the fact it gave off a hum when placed near anything at all, he loved it. I was less than enthusiastic. I wanted guitars, but only because I had just discovered Roy Orbison and wanted a clean tone for a solo album. I thought leather jackets and sunglasses brought the cash and carry in far more than starving weirdos making noise. It turns out I was forsaking the very reason I got into music, so I turned my attention into making the guitar’s noise work for me. Long story short, I utterly destroyed it when I left it on fire for a little too long, and Carl wasn’t too pleased. For days, he refused to see me and spent most of the time in his bedroom and bathroom, washing his face and muttering to himself. You know that feeling of brief balance you get when you forget something’s wrong and you just live life as normal, until you remember and your stomach sinks? I had that, but my liver couldn’t support the weight of my stomach. I had a bad diet. I was convinced he was sulking because of our rut, but I felt fine tinkering with old demos. Again, we contrasted in style at times. I loved samples. Carl wanted fresh material constantly. The trouble with that is you tend to drown in material. With samples, the magic of the past never goes away. New material never transcends to the level of nostalgia because to do that, you need to let go a little.

 

It was getting on to day four and I was sick of cleaning. I knew the house was a yin and yang situation - downstairs was white and spotless, whereas upstairs was black and smoking with the intensity of a plot of chimneys. I was waiting for my microwave steak to cook when I heard a clatter, the unmistakable sound of headphones hitting the floor above. Either Carl had fallen asleep or had found something fantastic. I was just about to find out which it was. As I watched my grade-D meat turn, I nearly bit my own tongue off in shock as Carl yelled louder than anything I’d heard coming from him. It was like the house was on fire. With a sprint I hit the stairs and found him in his room, surrounded by wires and boxes. His eyes were wide like that of a child that had just learned a magic trick. I waited for his breath to slow before he spoke.

 

“Ron,” he said, “you have to hear this… I’ve found the new sound.”

“New?”

“Just listen.”

 

He pressed a button that had no relation to the action of play I had ever seen. He had to reach over to hit it. As he did, he looked at me in anticipation and the hairs stood to attention on the back of my neck, like broken springs escaping a mattress. His eyebrows flickered, as if to ask me what I thought and a wry grin crossed our faces. This is the sound that would make us famous and propel us to new heights of luxury and sexual frenzy. At that moment, our spat had melted and we immediately began talking about how we could use it. We realised that despite how strong we were together, we were nothing apart. It was going to be an interesting year.

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Mokrie Dela

interesting use of images - something i've thought about often, but never fully explored. The risk is that by showing someone the picture, they'd naturally get an interpretation of it in their mind (look in "one shots" for my writing on Ziggy's signature's face theme for example), , but i think you've avoided that - perhaps its the choice of images, or perhaps it's good writing, or both!

 

I think the quality of writing in this is good - not just the story you're trying to convey, but the character of the text comes accross i think.

 

Good stuff.

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Rhoda

 

user posted image

 

To celebrate, me and Carl decided to toast the sound the only way we truly knew to have a good time - without pants. After some hurried cigarettes and even faster talking, we decided to calm down with some stolen prescription medication and some ludes that had been smuggled into the country in one of those boxes you take cats to the vet in. Through a worrying coincidence, me and Carl both realised it had been a while since we had felt the warm, fearful breath of a woman on our skin so naturally, we decided to find company. Carl remembered a place in town about 30 minutes away on a bus that was called “The Box Office” and was essentially an old four screen cinema that had been converted into a massage parlour. I loved how they dressed it up. I still do.

 

Unfortunately, the prescription medication I took to calm myself down had an adverse affect. I was already pitching tents by the time we got there. After a quick patrol around the building to make sure there wasn’t cheaper custom, we parted the bead curtain and sat on a sofa that felt like it had been tenderised with a sledgehammer. I looked at Carl with a pained expression as my knees rose to my chin and my rear end disappeared. He simply grinned and wiggled to get comfortable as he watched a bald man being led into another room by a woman who was pretty much all legs.

 

“I’ll take that one,” he said.

“Who, legs?”

“Yeah, hopefully they’re as strong as they look.”

“Do you even know her name? How long have you been coming here?”

Carl thought for a moment before answering, “it’s something really common, but with Ann stuck on the end in an attempt to be classy. Needless to say it hasn’t worked.”

I chuckled as I saw the bald man leave, clutching his trousers up. In the doorway, the leg woman let a belt swing freely on the end of her finger.

“Phone call from the wife?” Carl whispered to me.

“I think he bolted early.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” Carl shrugged, “it’s cheaper.”

 

Eventually, after what I presume was a quick wash, Carl was led into the same room by the same woman who had gotten changed startlingly quick. I only had to wait a few seconds for my companion to arrive. She was a Dutch girl with a small boy’s haircut. It was a bowl affair that you’d expect to see in a larger, far more European family, but she wore it well. She was called Emma and had the aroma of strained peaches. I soon learned it was a pretty unique system. You see, in this particular building, you paid a deposit, varying in rates depending on your intention. You’d have to have a pretty distorted intention if you paid your deposit just to remove a girl’s eye and sell it on the black market. I paid my way and took a seat on the bed which was thankfully more solid than the waiting room sofa. I must have only been waiting around ten minutes before Emma’s previous client lurched out of the doorway, bowler hat askew. His money was young but his night was spent.

 

I took his place and immediately the smell of cheap cologne and fear hit me in the face like a piece of litter in a gust. Who were these men trying to impress? The fear I can understand, but the aftershave? Emma was hardly going to work on your with her thighs and say “ooh, is that Obsession de heer?”. I don’t think so.

As I sat on the bed and she parading around the room preparing herself, I could see Carl wasn’t lying. Her underwear was simple, subtle and very enticing. Think of a plain cake, fresh out of the oven, though this one had clearly been sat on the cooling shelf for a few days too long. One thing I did notice where her boots, which a tasteful shade of blue, a stark contrast with her blonde hair. They were suede and looked almost new. Before she approached, she took one boot off and cast it aside gingerly, not looking where it landing. She meant business, which is apt when your business happens to be f*cking strangers for money. The right boot stayed right where it was.

 

Before I knew it, I was in there. She was laughing, as was I, and the fear was instantly replaced with cautious optimism. It must feel just as awful to hear this as it does to say it, but she was easily the best woman I’ve had to pay for. Despite the fun I was having, I kept thinking of the boot. Call me easily distracted, but even when I was wearing Emma like a pair of earmuffs, I had to think of the boot. I did find the way she clutched it during points of ecstasy great, but my mind fell on the boot. My time came, as did I, and a tiny bell rang in the distance. A smile flickered on my face as she uttered “come again” and took my payment. I almost wanted to pay a little more just to watch her dress again, but I didn’t have to; in a single stroke, Emma had lit a cigarette and carefully placed the money in her lone boot without even bothering to look for the other.

 

I pulled my jacket and ambled next door where I heard a guttural sounding orgasm. The door was ajar and a simple peek sent me stiffening to new heights all over again. Carl had his hands wrapped around her throat, a smile spread thinly on her face, much like her personality. Carl was enjoying himself, but his eyes were shut so tightly I was surprised he hadn’t given himself a migraine in the process. I left him to it, carrying on towards the waiting room where not even the receptionist was there to greet me with an insincere smile. It was only when I found an in-date magazine that things grew odd. Immediately the screams of pleasure stopped, filled with a deafening silence. A lone thump carried down the corridor and hit me like a piece of stray litter in an updraft. Next thing I saw over the top of my magazine was Carl, half dressed in battered jeans and a look of sheer terror.

 

“Ron… you’re going to have to look at this.”

 

Curiously, I set my magazine down and slowly made my way towards his room where I had been spying just minutes before. As I turned the corner my eyes nearly fell out. She was lying down the side of the bed, leg bent awkwardly and a sickeningly vacant gaze meeting my own. I looked at her, then back to Carl, who had buried his face in his hands.

 

“I just thought she was shaking because she was enjoying it. I think she’s had a fit.” “You were choking her,” I said, more to myself than to him. “Oh my God. Oh my God. What am I going to do?”

 

I looked back at the woman, who probably went by a fake name anyway. This was the 1980s. Sex was less of a lifestyle and more of a business. I ran back to reception to collect any record of us. Thanks to privacy laws, no cameras were allowed in the rooms. Very trusting of them considering of the clientèle. I still didn’t know where the receptionist was. As it happened, she was the prettiest face in the building so it wouldn’t have surprised me if it was being decorated too. I ran back to see both Carl and the woman rooted in the same spot. I gave him what I thought we needed to get rid of and dragged the girl to the en-suite bathroom, which was surprisingly cleaner than the bed she had just expired in. Halfway through pulling, clumps of her hair fell out so I grabbed her wrists instead. It made me sad to see there was already bruising. Carl caught wind of what I was doing and started to the run the tap. Within seconds I had plugged in the hairdryer and let it run to a lukewarm heat. After a quick count, we grabbed the woman like trees would support a hammock and gently lowered her into the bath. I must have judged the water wrong because more seemed to overflow than stay in the bath. Still, it was enough. I closed her eyes and let her fingers find a wayward sex toy that I found under the bed. Carl left, presumably to thank the receptionist and make a run for it while I let the hairdryer fall casually off the sink and into the bath, which sent a flash echoing around her tiled tomb. I cleared my throat to mask the crackle, though down the hall a similar scream to the one I heard moments previously did a good enough job. I prayed she wouldn’t meet the same fate as this one.

 

I strolled past, winking at the receptionist and acting casual, glancing at the opening times on the wall. As soon as her back was turned, I ran so hard I nearly took the beaded curtain with me.

 

We never did find another parlour.

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