They found him behind a Ford Focus with his head in a cloud. He was slumped at the base of a wall smoking a stupendously large spliff, watching as a ribbon of smoke rippled from its tip and faded into the cool night air.
Bas — as he was known to everyone in Coppleton, his full name long forgotten — was a man untainted by the vanities of ambition. Locals admired that about him. From an early age he had had the good sense to keep any big ideas to himself. He was content with them in his head. Indeed, his imagination had been quite audacious in his youth, galavanting in exotic, faraway lands where the people were beautiful and every day needed saving.
His dreams had rather lost their zest since those early days. Right now he was imagining himself railing the girl in the supermarket who had sold him tobacco.
The voice, a sickly nasal drawl, sounded like it was miles away. Sadly for Bas, it was in fact only a couple of yards. Alan Hazard nudged the crumpled mass of plaid clothing with his foot and frowned.
‘Bas?’ he repeated.
‘Greghighr,’ Bas said.
Peering over Hazard’s shoulder, Ray Sunshine regarded their potential recruit with cheerful curiosity.
‘He seems rather out of it, Al.’
With sublime slowness, Bas took another toke and slid a couple of inches further down the wall.
‘Is he always like this?’ asked Sunshine.
‘Not exactly,’ Hazard said. ‘Sometimes he’s holding a guitar in the corner at house parties. He’s really quite good.’
‘Better than me?’ A touch of anxiety crept into Sunshine’s voice. ‘I mean, we are after a second guitarist remember.’
Hazard knelt in front of Bas, whose cloudy grey eyes, after a few seconds’ delay, drifted towards him.
‘Bas, it’s Alan.’ Hazard gestured over his shoulder. ‘And this is Ray. We’re forming a band, the greatest band that has ever been and is ever likely to be. We need a second guitarist. Would you like to join us?’
The agreeable visions of the supermarket girl had begun to fade from Bas’ mind. He was increasingly aware of the coldness and hardness of the concrete floor he was lying on, as well as his lack of further plans for the evening. It wasn’t clear to him who this man was or what he wanted, but on balance the change of scene he was promising seemed a good idea.
‘Argjjiesw,’ Bas said.
‘What did he say?’ Sunshine asked.
‘I think,’ Hazard said, ‘he’s in.’