Music Night in America

13 Dec

Hey, sorry I’ve been gone so long. I’ve been working on a novel and that takes up pretty much all the strength in my fingers/brain/writing muscles. I need to start multi-tasking, though, pushing myself a little more creatively, so here this is.

I park my car outside of Hailey’s. I turn my hazzies on. I open my door and look up and down the street. I see a girl. She looks just like one of the musicians we are set to play with. I accost her.

“Will you help me load my stuff in?” I ask her, my hazzies poppin’ like flash bulbs.

She looks hesitant, afraid, reluctantly aroused.

“I just need you to please hold the door for me.”

“Oh, all right,” she says. She opens the bar’s side door and holds it open with her back.

“Tremendous!” I shout, trying to sound like a southern gentleman, but instead sounding like Shredder. “Tremendous,” I try again, this time sounding instead like a gay Australian.

She seems confused and now a little put out. She smiles with no teeth and puts her hands in her jacket pockets.

I heft my amp and my guitar and waddle up to the door she is now holding. I pause in front of her–do a squat. This is something I do alot. Squat for people. Squat at people. It seems to put them at ease.

“Thanks for the help,” I say, once everything is loaded in. I’m standing inside while she still stands with the door to her back. “Here’s something for your trouble.” I reach into my pocket, smile wryly, and flip a quarter to her. It’s trajectory is a little too straight, though, and it beans her right in the eye. She turns away from the door, and it shuts in my face as I step forward to see if she’s okay. “My car’s out there!” I cry. I push the door open. When I get outside, she is walking around to the front of the bar, holding her eye, saying a cuss. My car is there, though. I park it.

“So do you play with Savage now?” A young white man asks me once I make my way back to the bar. He has that unmistakable look of someone who watched a lot of Seventh Heaven even after it went off of the WB.

“I do,” I say.

“What do you play?” he asks.

“I play guitar,” I tell him, doing an air guitar. He doesn’t seem very impressed, so I do a squat. He seems startled. I do another one to calm him down. He tells me he needs to go see his friends.

He walks about ten or fifteen paces away and starts messing with his phone.

My musician bud, Roy Robertson, shows up. He brushes my ear with a moist finger. It scares the shit out of me.

royblog

“Please don’t do that,” I tell him.

“Please don’t do that,” Roy says, snarling, leaning in very close to my face.

“Do what?”  I ask.

“Fear what you don’t understand.” Then he reaches out and tries to touch my ear again. I duck away from it. He smacks his lips and gives me a dismissive look. “Listen, when are you guys going on?” he asks.

“In like an hour. We’re the second band.”

“Is that pretty accurate? Are you really sure you’ll be starting then?”

“Yeah, why?”

“I’m going to be reading my poetry from a tree outside, wanted to make sure our sets didn’t collide.”

“Afraid of a little competition?” I say, giving him a playful elbow. He yelps like a child who has hit its head.

 “I don’t compete!” he says, his voice suddenly very high. “I don’t compete! I perform.” He does a spin, smacks the ground, stands and blows me a kiss. “See you in an hour.” He smacks his ass and walks away.

I go to the bar and get a drink. Double Wild Turkey and Diet Coke. While I’m sipping it, the first band starts. They sound a lot like a first band always seems to sound like. I see the girl who I struck with the quarter. She is eyeing me in a way that appears to be pretty unfriendly, but I can’t be sure that it’s not her eye still freaking out from having a quarter in it, so I decide to play it safe and leave her alone.

A lot of my friends show up to this show. They will love it. We are a good live band, and I’m a fairly adept stage performer, like Neil Diamond if he didn’t act like such a fucking fairy all the time and had some fucking talent to speak of, my god. (Neil, if you’re reading this, I’m just kidding. I love Sweet Caroline.)

Derek, one of said friends, approaches me. We talk for a while.

“When’re you guys going on?” He asks.

“Soon,” I say. I decide to head outside to check on Roy, to see if he’s done. He is hanging upside down from a tree, meowing long, painful meows then screaming different women’s names. This is his closer, if I remember correctly.

We go on stage and rock out. Max, my singer, sings and bounces on his keyboard with the rhythmic frenzy of a Charlie Brown character. Ryan beats his drums with the raw energy of Animal from the Muppets. I play my guitar like a guy masturbating in his Halloween costume.

The music is powerful and dripping with positive energy. Between songs, guys keep trying to come on stage and propose to their girlfriends. From behind my mic, I see a father and son reconnecting after years of conflict. A North Korean and a South Korean embrace, realizing finally that they are not so different after all. A young black man offers his seat to an old white woman. Two neighbors, locked in a competition over who has the best Christmas lights on the street, realize their folly, that it’s really about the spirit, and shake hands. Stephen King winks at me and raises a pint. I squint, trying to see more clearly past the stage lights, not believing my eyes. Stephen laughs, takes a sip of his beer, then fades into nothing. I miss him still.

The show ends well, and we all go straight to bed afterward.

Happy Holidays.

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