April 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
Not like this.
It wasn’t supposed to happen so soon.
I’ve seen the tape a hundred times, backwards and forwards, and everything is still wrong. She’s supposed to be there in the end, when everything falls apart, but now…
Fuck. She’s dead on the floor, and her silence is our downfall. Not like this, someone is messing around with things, Sarah’s room has never been wrong but here in the dark as the TV laughs at us, as the freeze-frame negates our last stand, I hold my growing stomach and pray that I’m wrong, that things are right.
But they’re not. Not like this.
I promised myself that I would go over it one more time, that maybe there was something that we missed, but Pyr couldn’t stand my fixation – he still can’t watch the tape to the end without storming out of the apartment – and even Jenny thinks that I’m nuts. A-Bell…
Not like this. It’s rewinding, and I still don’t know where she is. She didn’t talk to anyone for a week, and then yesterday she was gone.
It wasn’t supposed to happen so soon.
I’ve been recording my voice incessantly, since it happened, hoping for the truth to jump out between my words. But there’s nothing. Our new place is already old, ruined, and I want to leave to run away but I can’t, not while she’s still dead on the floor in my dreams. There has to be a fucking answer…
Sorry. I had to take a break, the whole situation’s just out of control – I haven’t been outside in three days, I won’t let the sun touch my skin because it doesn’t seem right.
O.K. The tape’s ready to go again. I still don’t understand what possessed Jenny to take along her camera, how she knew that it was needed. But she did, and now the biggest and last Suspender show ever will live on, as will…
I can’t even think about her name without crying.
Not like this! Not on the floor, not dead, and A-Bell’s not screaming, I’m not listening…
On the TV, everything is O.K. Here we are, driving up to the warehouse, and already there’s a line of Suspects, covering everything with sidewalk chalk, trading bootlegs from the tour. The street is cracked and still buckled from the last earthquake, but the building doesn’t look that bad. No one was looking for safety anyway, just for free space to tear apart, and Jenny discovered it on one of her walking photo-tours of town. It used to be a cannery or something, but after a fire it was just left to collect trash and dust. As we driveway to the back, Jenny lingers on the layers of spraypaint, coating the outer wall with pure anarchart and foolishness. Sometimes I pause and try to pick out individual messages, but they’re co-mingled and overlapped to the point that nothing is left but chaotic color and the essence of communication. That I can understand.
In the back we pull up next to the Ice Cream Truck, which is what Caroline calls the Suspender van because everywhere they went there was some punk kids trailing behind, money in hand. Plus, the P.A. on the roof added to the general phenomenon; when we came it was chanting The white zone is for loading and unloading only, which was a sly reference to the Airport Incident. But now is not the time to get into that, because as we got out of the car…
I’m going to hold it together, this is too important, but whenever I see her…
We got out of the car, and Sasha runs up to me and Jenny, grabbing us by the arms and yelling Fuck Traffic! Are you with me? I just about fell apart as we ran inside laughing and screaming, because it had been almost 3 years since we last performed. A-Bell pounced on us when we approached the makeshift stage. I brought all of the old instruments! She was wearing her Fuck Traffic uniform, the butt-ugly orange shirt and hard-hat that the highway-hacks endured, and I could only hope that she had ours. She did, and as Jenny gave the room a once-over, you could hear our plan-babble in the background.
It was truly amazing what Phone did to the place; it took him almost a whole week but the results were more than worth the effort. First, he covered everything except the floors with a cheap white, making a clean canvas, and then he called in his crew and the 12th St. one to kill all of the walls. When they were done it was like a subway car was turned inside out, so you were floating in burners and tags. The general theme was electronics, so besides the twisted corporate logos and consumerist imagery, Sasha supervised a massive mural which was this terribly complicated Circle X thing (as fits her general obsession with the chain). I asked her about it and she said to the camera: The logo is a warning, a target we need to aim at. Jenny lingered on her computer-memory earrings that dangled to her bare shoulders. Our music is the gun, and we are the bullets. She had on a green tank-top, and knee-length, black, Circle X cut-offs. Dear, is everything all set up? Jenny swiveled to A-Bell on the stage, who was fiddling with the amps. Yep. Sasha stepped up, and motioned for us to follow.
I don’t know why, it just makes me feel better when I talk it out, when I remember how great things were then. How everything shined when Sasha called us into a huddle, pulled out a red marking pen, and drew big numbers on our right hands. I was “1”, A-Bell was “2” and Jenny was “3”. She drew a big “O” on hers. We are the inseparable 4. Together, we can accomplish anything. Put her hand in the middle of the circle. Now swear your allegiance to yourself and the group. Commit to change. This was a new variation on the standard antizine chant, so it was second-nature to give our hands. As we held each other, and as the other bands started to arrive, I remember distinctly that Sasha gave me this look, a glance of complete understanding, and we held it until Jo bounded up on stage, Caroline in tow.
I’m going closer to the TV, so you can hear what’s being said.
Can we join in? That’s Jo, and she had on her white painter’s uniform, and Caroline was still in her maximalist ball-gown stage. This one was yellow.
Give me your hands. Sasha took out her pen, and made Jo “4” and Caroline “5”.
Sash! Wouldn’t it be cool to do a Jumpster reunion? Just for tonight.
Fuck yeah! I was already excited – this close to the screen I can almost see my ears twitch in anticipation. Photocop is here, and I’m sure Susan will be game.
Bell, can you go get her? I think they’re in the storeroom.
Anything for you, Pixie. They kiss….
I can’t do this. I can’t….
I hate this bathroom.
My voice echoes too much, like it doesn’t even belong to me, like it never left my mouth in the first place, like that woman in the mirror said it, the one that looks past the tears.
She’s starting to show now. But when I look down, when I feel myself, it all seems wrong. That’s our future inside me. Inside her.
I hate this bathroom, I hate the toilet I just threw up in, I hate her dead on the floor twitching silent twitching…
She’s looking at me, I’m looking at me, and there’s something beyond the silver.
I want to reach out to her, to me, but there’s the hard, smooth inbetween.
Fuck the inbetween!
I shouldn’t be doing this Shit! my hand’s still bleeding on the carpet on Pyr’s shirt and there’s little silver pieces of her, of me, everywhere, but the TV yells silently as they kiss.
It’s good that I’m in pain as I watch this. I deserve it. I wish these hands would just fall off, because when they touched her…..
She wasn’t moving.
She isn’t moving.
Next to A-Bell, dead on the floor, it’s the same now as the red hardens around my fingers, on the tape-recorder. My fingers can’t do shit.
I’m not O.K.
The pause broke and everything’s static in the dark and I still feel sick. My daughter’s trying to say something in there. Aren’t you? You’re telling Mommy to fuck off, to get a life, to end it all now before I’m dead on the floor, too.
I’m not. I won’t.
She’s gone for a reason.
I can’t be gone yet. Can you hear me in there? Do you even have ears yet?
Sarah’s room said that you’re important. That you’d make things better in the end.
Make things better now. Please, for Mommy.
I’ve started again, and I close my eyes through the kiss, until A-Bell skips off the stage.
Jo sits down and hangs her legs over the edge. I figure we start at sundown, and if Jumpster can get back together then well go on first. Then…
Dust Lag needs to go second, because they have to hit the road before 10.
Cool. At that moment A-Bell walks in, dragging April, Susan and Susanna behind her.
Trick or treat! Jo gives April and Susan big hugs, and Susanna a firm handshake.
It’s been a while. Susanna looked just like A-Bell had described, even though Masking Tape was like 10 years ago.
Wait, wait. I have an idea! A-Bell grabs Susanna by the shoulders. Is all of Dust Lag here yet?
Yeah, in the van.
A-Bell whispers something in Sasha’s ear. She nods, and then A-Bell ran out the back door.
I think we have a situation here. Sasha walks to the far left side of the stage and then turns around. We were planning to have a Fuck Traffic reunion…
No way! April always liked us, the sweetie.
Which turned into a Jumpster reunion…
I’m all for that, it’s been such a long time. Everyone knows that Susan was at her prime then.
But then A-Bell figured out that there could be a Fire Escape reunion, too.
That would totally rule! I was already planning the concert review, and then Sasha blew us all away.
But I have something more in mind. She reached into her pocket, and pulled out the pen again. Let’s make a new band. Tonight only. Went around to each person, and gave them a number.
April was “6”
Susan was “7”
Susanna was “8”
Look who I found! A-Bell bounced in with the rest of Dust Lag in toe. She corralled the girls to the stage, and let Sasha mark them.
Rebecca was “9”
Elizabeth was “10”
Isabel was “11”
Don’t tell me you’ve playing games without us again… 8-Track waltzed in carrying baby Joey. He’s so cute lately.
Sasha walked over, kissed the both of them, and then marked 8-Track “12”.
We are the 13, and together we can do anything.
We need a name! Jenny was obsessive that way.
Fuck Slow Power Escape Jumpster Dust! I couldn’t resist.
I got it. Jo started to gather her forces, walked over to her cousin, and kissed her on the cheek. I started to get a tingle, and I still get it now whenever I see this part.
Slide Rule School.
Sasha looked at Jo for a second, and then gave the biggest smile I ever saw her possess. Yes.
No. No. No. This is all wrong, she’s not dead on the floor, the mirror’s not broken, it’s not like this.
I hate this fucking life!
I don’t want it. I don’t….
Look at her. Sasha didn’t want it, but I forced it on her.
She’s was so beautiful then, with that smile…
I want to reach past the screen and snatch it away, save it for the bad times.
I want it to shine upon my daughter’s birth.
I want her back, not dead, not smiling, not anything but back.
In this stupid apartment, in this stupid darkness, in my useless arms.
No. That’s wrong. She should be with A-Bell. I don’t deserve her smile, her shine, her love that lapped against us all. No one does, except for A-Bell. And now she’s gone too.
Not like this.
You don’t want to know what happens, do you?
You don’t care, you’ve already heard on the streets or on the nightly news or in the fucking daily newspaper how there’s an unidentified dead woman dead Sasha who shook and shook and grew still…
You were there in the corner, staring as Jo leapt off the stage.
You walked over the message that someone painted on the sidewalk, you stepped on her name and didn’t even notice. You didn’t know any better.
Kiss the fucking ground. Lick her mark from the earth. Taste her absence, and be afraid.
I’m know I am.
There’s this part when Slide Rule School is playing and I’m holding up numbers and everyone’s freaking out Music! Music! and Sasha’s just smiling at Pyr holding the camera, smirking even as she strokes her keyboard, making things come out of nothing and everyone knows it’s right. Pause at that part and you can see the bottle sitting by her feet.
It has the mark. I didn’t see it until yesterday pressing my face against the pixel glass but it’s there.
She was thirsty, we all were, and when she asked someone threw, and I can watch the water fly to the stage in slow-mo a thousand times but I can never see where it’s coming from, only where it’s going.
At the part where she’s smiling, when the bottle’s nearly empty, I know she knows – I can feel it.
But she drank anyway. She’d asked for it.
I didn’t ask for it. For this.
Not like this.
Slide Rule School.
Everyone else was kind of confused, but Sasha and Jo soon got us into line. None of us had ever played with so many people before, and A-Bell suggested that we’d better form an orchestra or something. That sounded cool, and since I didn’t play anything I was appointed maestro-gal.
The guys continued to set up the show – Phone was manning the doors along with Velcro and Circle X, and Pyr was helping out/getting in the way as only he could – basically standing around doing absolutely nothing except frowning.
Of course, he had other things on his mind, like planning the ceremony behind my back. That’s about the only part that I can watch and still smile at, when the School convened and every single post-punk in the audience was stunned. Then up comes Pyr on the stage, holding a bridal veil in one hand, a bouquet in the other.
All I could was think was Not now, not ever, we’re already married where it counts and all that shit but he took the mic and was
Cough. Can you hear me?
Someone goes Marry her already! and so he picks up a roll of duck tape and throws it at them. Rip on a chunk and shut up the easy way, O.K.?
Then he turns to me and there’s this strange look in his eye, like when he talks back to the commercials knowing far too well that really he is wrong, and that no one cares if the acting is bad or the print’s too small, and then he turns to you and goes Well? Am I right? and kneeling on the carpet, glowing, he never isn’t.
Keeping those eyes on me, he put the veil on me and handed over the bouquet. The rest of the 13 started up the appropriate music, only with more hooks and clarinet parts than usual, and I blushed like a sweet apple because.
Because we weren’t really married yet.
Because everyone was here and then some.
Because I could still say no and mean it.
Holding his hands as the School reached the high point, I meant yes.
My I do was a sniff behind his ear, and his was a gentle brush against my cheek. And the kiss was a ripple through my life’s ocean, starting small but building into a big wave that was coming for the shore. There was nothing else but us, and everything along with us, and when my eyes opened to meet his, I knew there was no turning back.
Throw it! That was some plink in the front, and everyone knew what was meant so I did. Some baby’s breath fell to the floor as it floated over the stage, and all A-Bell needed to do was to stick her hand in the air, and it swerved about 10 feet and rushed right towards her. Or maybe it just seemed that way, because she was the tallest thing going as usual. In any case, she cradled the flowers, put down her clarinet, walked past Elizabeth and April, and grabbed Sasha by the hand.
Understand this. No one moved for the next minute, while the two of them stood before each other, filling the room with something altogether different from mere love. It was power undistilled, like a battery meeting both contacts, and the buzz filled our hearts and ears and encircled our necks, growling necessity. There was no way in earth or heaven or any place else that they were to be apart, and when the minute of revelation ended I walked over to A-Bell.
Can I give you away? and she smiled Yes, but I need to do something first. So she took off her Fuck Traffic helmet and switched it with my veil.
Sasha seemed so vulnerable then, so human, that for once I really felt I could see her, that the invisible barrier had lifted and she was ready to join the world. But as soon as they walked to the front of the stage, that opening ended before I could even enjoy it, and A-Bell was sucked inside. They were one then, and no ceremony or stupid pretence was necessary. No ring would suffice, no kiss full enough, no vow doing justice to their bond.
No I do. Just We are.
I didn’t cry then. But I’m crying now, and I’ll never really stop.
Not like this.
On the floor her back arched and arms legs shaking, Jo was growling for help, A-Bell was grasping for air, for life, for her. All I did was watch the wall crumble, her face constrict, her earrings dance like caught fish against her face. I was there, yet I wasn’t.
I’m here, and she isn’t.
I’m nothing, and what is she?
Caught on my tape, forwarded and rewound, in an endless cycle of pain.
Why can’t I let her rest?
My hand is hurting again, I don’t think I got all of the pieces out of it, and the tape has long since reached the end.
The end is when Pyr drops the camera and rushes to Sasha, screaming.
Not like this! Not like this!
I don’t know where that came from, it was like the whole room was channeled through his teeth, but as he shoved past the 5 as the screen went blank, he looked in her closed eyes and wet her face with his salty fingers.
This is not right this is my fault this is Fuck! Someone dial 911! you can’t be dead yet!
He kept yelling life into her mouth Breathe! but she gave a final shudder Fuck! and finally I had to pull him away. A-Bell turned inside out revealing the essence of a scream, the kind you can only hear at birth and death. She knew.
It’s too late.
She pressed herself against Sasha, warming her for the coming cold, and if you didn’t look carefully, if you didn’t know better, you would have sworn that she was lying there alone on the floor, cuddling against shadows.
You could barely see her green chest past A-Bell’s arms and back, and their hair seemed to mingle into one sweaty fabric, smoky and dark. Jo seemed to be paying more attention to her than to her cousin, stroking her shoulders between the tears.
Fuck You! Get out of here! Jenny took it like a punch to the stomach, and was throwing around the crash worshipers. I tried to hold her back, to stop her from passing that point, but she just reached around and slapped me, scratching her nails into my face.
Not like this.
I fell to the floor laughing, laughing until I puked.
I was back in Thomason, in the quiet room, and the cement floor licked at my cheek.
I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t think – I couldn’t.I still can’t.
Jenny can’t calm me down now. Pyr can’t make things better.
This is the beginning of the end, and it’s not supposed to be like this.
We’re all dead on the floor, and who’s going to mourn our passing?
We’re Slide Rule School. Take your seats.
Everyone listened to Jo, and promptly met the floor. There was at least 1000 people milling around that night, from all 50 states and then some. At first I tried to account for them all, going back and forth over the faces until the tape started to groan from the abuse, but I’ve narrowed it down to the prime suspects.
That’s what this is about. What we learned at Slide Rule School. Sasha knew that it was going to happen, she had to have. Why else the numbers, and the mural, and the bottle? Why even bother, unless there was something we could do.
I started off the lessons with a simple song, holding up each numbered card carefully and deliberately, calling forth the awkward silence of anticipation before the teacher speaks to the assembled class. Isabel started with a easy flute, constructing the playground outside the window, Jo and Elizabeth countered by sketching the classroom with broad violin strokes, and April’s cello became the desks and seats. Sasha assembled the teacher’s notes on the keyboard while 8-Track drummed the slow clock into existence, Jenny providing the hearts of the students, and Susan that of the teacher. A-Bell and Caroline then started a sly duel of the woodwinds, the sax barking out the curriculum while the clarinet gave rote responses tinged with boredom and disgust. Rebecca brought in her bass, providing the first right answer, and then Susanna and Jo countered with loaming guitar lines, the racing thoughts of all parties involved. When was class over?
I took the opportunity to add the first vocals, a wordless sweeping of the clouds over land, and then Susanna and Elizabeth chimed in with the sun and earth, respectively. Jo’s guitar then broke out of the classroom, followed by her voice screaming for release, for reality. Susan countered by barking for order in the chaos, and a chorus of disapproval slowly came, as I called for more life rhythm, more constructive strings. Everyone had effectively reached their moment, and then Sasha started to lead with stirrings of the other, of the subject matter being taught. It was of the electron, the basis of matter and the space inbetween, and everything was an oscillating pulse of information, of difference, of approximation. At first, the class and teacher tried to comprehend the material, to keep up, but then Sasha changed the key, and everything was transitory, obscure, unseen. She sung of the invisible machine, a lament to the wired air and the body as antenna, and no one understood, no one could answer, save for A-Bell, who gave a strong, low affirmation. The soon struck up a duet – the machine was becoming known – and Jo and Caroline quickly sketched in the details. It was as large as the universe, and as small as the space between something and nothing, and it was working. It was building something, doing something, and the class raised it hands with drums, guitars and questioning voices. What is it? Who are we? Where is the product? Then I ran the first bell, and the song ended.
No one clapped, because no one could move. Their ears were sitting on their hands, forcing them to wait for resolution. I wasn’t about to give them any, so I lifted the cards clearly calling for Fire Escape, and the School responded. April started out with the most Photocopian hook she could muster, and Joan countered with a testy Eskimo Guy growl-thing. Susan was about up to speed at this point, slapping her drum kit around like it really did something bad this time, and Caroline gave up the bass as A-Bell started to sing. It was the theme to Fire Escape, and as soon as the audience started to perk up in recognition I shuffled the deck and reunited Jumpster. Susan quickly switched over to a slower, more halting beat and Sasha crawled in with her trademark wail. Jo sputtered and crooned to her as she picked out unwholesome chords, strumming them gleefully. It was Sloppy from Mine!, and I couldn’t have been happier. So happy that I let it go on a bit longer than I should of, but long enough to come up with an idea. That’s when I rang the second bell.
I gave a quick flash to Jenny, who joined Susan with a complementary beat. Then Susanna got hooked in, and she met Jo’s guitar with more structure, while still maintaining the tension. Finally, I got Sasha and A-Bell back into the action, letting them work off of each other as the whole thing got even sloppier. Seeing the opening I wanted, I quickly called for the violins and flute and tore the roof off of the school building, grasping for the chalkboard scrape, the death of education. It was time to grow up, to move out, to shine back at the sky, and so we did, and the audience came to its feet. More drums! More guitar! Rip through the blue, into the white.
And we did.
The crowd fell against itself like bowling pins, as multiple holes poked through the floor and pockets of people swirled around in circles, spinning faster by the second. This was the power of the inbetween, this was what it all really meant, this was what all songs referred to, what your ears longed to hear.
Everything and nothing, together.
Noise not noise.
I wanted the world to hear it, to feel it. I wanted to take us all there.
But I couldn’t maintain it, it wasn’t the time, and the 4 sensed my apprehension and quickly plugged the holes with forceful silence.
I didn’t hold up any more cards after that, because they weren’t necessary. Slide Rule School had already graduated, and the whole room was a complex dance of wet leaves in the wind, swaying in the flux yet holding fast. That storm lasted for the next half hour, until strings started to break and Sasha got thirsty.
Then school ended, and the bottle flew.
I know she saw the mark, it was her life.
Even dead on the floor, she sang of Circle X.
This is what we’ve become, to the tune of the catchy jingle.
Not like this.
After A-Bell and Sasha made it official, the four of us left the stage and Dust Lag took their places. It was the first time I saw them live and they did a really fine job, bringing the best of Masking Tape and Potato Power to the table. The team supreme didn’t stay for the set, and went out back for an impromptu honeymoon. Pyr and I hovered around the stage, and then we got a tap on the shoulder.
What the fuck was Steve doing there? It wasn’t like it was N.U. night or anything, and so we hardly gave him the time of day, but that was enough for him to rant on and on about how he liked Suspender, and how great Slide Rule School was, and other insincere shit that made me want to slap him right there. But I didn’t, and after what Pyr told me about New York it’s probably best that I didn’t. Still, when worse came to worse he was there for us, helping to clear space when Sasha…
It doesn’t even sound right.
Fuck Traffic was forever, right?
antizine will never die, that’s what she always said to us.
Well, antizine died with her, O.K.? Fuck Traffic is gone, O.K.?
Everything’s going to fall apart and it’s all my fault. I accept this, but that doesn’t make it any easier, that doesn’t make the pain go away, that doesn’t bring Sasha back, and she’s supposed to be there when I die, she’s supposed to take care of my daughter, she’s supposed to grow old with A-Bell, and everything’s supposed to be perfect. My dreams have never been wrong, Sarah’s room has never lied to me, so why now?
Why now, when everything was right for once?
I can’t play my Suspender records anymore without seeing her dead on the floor, twitching as the pit swarms about her. I can’t look at Jo without watching her go limp as Sasha does, dropping her mic as the crowd consumes her.
I can’t do anything anymore, except sit here in this fucking apartment watching this fucking tape and when I wipe away the tears that won’t stop this blood gets in my eyes, and it’s her blood on my hands, not mine.
She saved us. Died for us. For our daughter.
And I all I can think about is killing myself, about joining her.
I should join her.
I can’t do it. I have to go on.
Something held back the knife, held back the white, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
But you know that, right baby? This whole tape’s for you, because no one else can really understand it. I want you to know the price we all paid to see you into this world, and how important you’ll become.
Can you feel me feel you against my belly? Are your nerves even turned on yet? I hope not, because there’s no reason for two of us to go through this.
A few months ago, when I first told Sasha about you, she was so excited you just wouldn’t believe it. You see, she knew exactly what was going on, and where you were headed. The very first time we met, when Jo introduced us, she looked me straight in the eye and said
You’re going to make a fine mother.
I didn’t know how to take that, because I was barely a teenager and wasn’t about to get pregnant, but now I really hope she’s right.
Anyway, when I told her that you were coming, she gave me a big hug and asked me what I was going to call you, boy or girl. I hadn’t even thought about it, and said so. While A-Bell was messing with Pyr, telling her adventures to this very tape recorder, Sasha simply replied
Ai. Name her Ai.
She had been studying up on her Japanese just for this occasion. Ai means love, and so I guess she wanted to make sure that you started off on the right foot.
I like that name. It reminds me of home.
Ai, as soon as we can, I want to take you back to Japan, so you can grow up the right way, like I did before I was stolen from it. I’m sure that Sasha would like that.
No. I’m sure that she will like it.
The tape is rewinding now, and I don’t need to watch it again.
The police say unsolved, the doctors say natural causes but it’s murder in the worst way, it’s everything hitting the fan and then some.
My hand is still throbbing, but she’s not dead on the floor anymore.
She’s gone into the white, and Pyr and I will be there soon enough to join her.
When you come out of me and know the world, you have to understand this moment, you have to realize what we’re fighting for. It’s us against them, and they have to win before the fight really begins. Before your fight starts, without me.
Lying on our new carpet in our new apartment in the ancient dark, I unwrap my hand and write revolution red with my fingers. I know the sign, and I’m afraid.
I mark my fists, my forehead, to load the final gun.
Circle X may be everywhere.
But so are we.
April 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
“I love ice cubes”
“They taste good. Better than water.”
“Water doesn’t taste like anything.”
“Yeah, well, still, I like the crunchy cold.”
“Don’t look at me like that!”
“I never look like that. At least, not at you.”
“I thought you didn’t like it.”
“I don’t. It makes me feel all hot and sticky.”
“What’s wrong with hot and sticky?”
“Stop it!” You’re making me warm.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, and when I’m warm I start to sweat.”
“Sounds good to me.”
“It’s not! I get all smelly…”
“Stop! And my clothes get all wet.”
“Is that all? Well I can fix that.”
“No clothes, no problem.”
“I don’t like the sound of that.”
“Why not? With less clothes you’ll be colder.”
“Not with you around I won’t”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means I’m irresistible”
“Go on.””I’m resisting!”
“What’s that under the blankets?”
“I don’t feel anything.”
“Where are we going?”
“East, west, I don’t know.”
“Good answer….I love wind!”
“What! I can’t hear you?”
“Aren’t you cold?”
“Yes! It’s wonderful!”
“I don’t know how you do that. My eyes always water.”
“Oooh, poor baby!”
“You want some music?”
“Nothing like some good ‘this’ to liven things up.”
“This is great!”
“It’s O.K., but I like Suspender better.”
“No silly! I mean this trip. I love it!”
“Oh. Yeah, it’s been pretty cool so far.”
“The motel! Ice buckets!”
“Yeah….I’m gonna pass this slow ass. On the right.”
“No, on the left. I want to wave.”
“All right, but just this once.”
“Hi! We think you’re sexy!”
“What is he driving?”
“I can’t tell. The sun is right behind it.”
“Put on your shades.”
“Where are they?”
“In the glove compartment, I think.”
“I’ll check….Nope. Nothing but maps.”
“They’re my Dad’s. We used to always take trips.”
“Yeah? Where to?”
“Flat, hot places. Arizona, New Mex.”
“I liked it. He always got lost, and our car would overheat. It was pretty cool.”
“I don’t think I could stand it.”
“It’s not so bad. You would like the nights.”
“They’re darker than at home, and a lot colder.”
“Yeah? Well, still, I need it like that all the time. None of that 100 degree shit.”
“O.K. Loose the maps.”
“We’re not going to use them, so rip ’em up and throw them out the window.”
“What about your dad?”
“I think he’ll have other things on his mind.”
“No shit….I hate states with corners.”
“Then fix it.”
“Good. Turn up the music.”
“Hey! Not now, I’m busy….This is delicate work.”
“You’re such a perfectionist.”
“You got it.”
“I thought you were busy.”
“Can I help?”
“I don’t know…”
“Is the next move clearer now?”
“How about now?”
“You’re getting warmer.”
“You got that right.”
“Wham-O! Pull over!”
“What about the maps?”
“They can wait!”
“Pyr! Watch out for that bunny!”
“Did you hear that?”
“I don’t see it….”
“Go on, get out and look for it. Damn.”
“No good looking at it now.”
“It was the brown kind….”
“Move it off to the side or something.”
“We can’t just leave it here!”
“It’s the cycle of life and shit. Distance between the cradle and the grave one busy highway.”
“If we leave it the ants…and everything’ll be picking at it!”
“Take it then.”
“We should bury it. Right over there.”
“Come on, that’ll be a real waste. Mr. Rabbit….O.K., Mrs. Rabbit, cut down in the prime in her life, and all we’re going to do is dirt her? Frisbee…”
“I wonder what it felt like to get hit.”
“Throw over your knife.”
“You’re not going to eat it….are you?”
“No, I’m just going to skin it.”
“Nature’s going to take it back anyway, so we might as well make some good outta this mess…”
“I don’t know…”
“It’s still warm….”
“Don’t say that!”
“But it is….all its life, radiating off into space”
“Ewwww, it’s all pink!”
“No pinker than you….there.”
“Who you calling pink?”
“Hell no! I’m not touching that knife again.”
“Don’t put it over there. At least lay it in the grass or something.”
“Whatever you want. Sorry rabbit, next time look both ways.”
“There isn’t gonna be a next time, Pyr. And stop talking to rabbits, let alone ones you murder.”
“So now I’m a murderer.”
“No….just the scourge of wildlife everywhere.”
“O.K. I can live with that.”
“So what are you going to do with the fur?”
“Well, the way I figure it, that rabbit died for a reason. I got this skin for a reason, and we’re going to needing it sometime, somewhere, all according to the plan of the universe.”
“If any one’s listening to this, I’m married to a lunatic.”
“Hey! At least I reuse.”
“How long is this fucking train!”
“I knew we should have turned right.”
“Then turn around and go back.”
“O.K. then….Relax. I’ll help you pass the time.”
“Thanks….I’m sorry, I just wanted everything to go perfect.”
“No, it hasn’t.”
“What about New York?”
“Sasha took care of that. Not me.”
“Come off it, you’re doing great. We’re here, aren’t we.”
“Yeah….if it wasn’t for this train!”
“It’ll pass. Things usually do.”
“Hey, where’s the camera?”
“Why? We don’t have any film left.”
“How about your e-book?”
“Batteries died yesterday.”
“Then where’s the gum?”
“I would be fucking mad at you right now, but I love you to much to scream.”
“Do it. The train will kill it anyway.”
“That’s alright, I’ll save it for after the honeymoon.”
“Thanks Friz, you’re a real pal.”
“Flattery will get you a ten-second head start.”
“I’ll remember that….Finally! Let’s get out of here.”
“I wonder where it’s going?”
“The train? Who cares?”
“I don’t know. Sometimes I just wonder about things like that.”
“God Friz, you’re so intellectual.”
“Stop! Let’s go already!”
“Huh? Oh, yeah.”
“So, where to?”
“I don’t know, look for signs or something.”
“You’re a fucking genius.”
“Hey, there’s some town up ahead.”
“Town? Looks like a dump!”
“I guess it’s one of those farming towns. They don’t know any better.”
“Yeah, there’s a barn.”
“When I was little I wanted a farm.”
“Not a regular farm. A snow farm.”
“What the hell is that?”
“They grow big fields of snow, by planting snow flakes.”
“You’re a bit offsides, honey.”
“When I was young that’s how I thought snow was made.”
“Well, not really really, but I still believed it.”
“No. I just said that to make you feel better.”
“When I was young you know what I wanted?”
“You’re brother off a bridge?”
“No, besides that. A flashlight.”
“Why didn’t you just go buy one? They’re cheap.”
“Not the regular kind. I wanted one that would suck up darkness.”
“Don’t they all do that?”
“Yeah, but when you turn them off the dark comes back. The one I wanted would store it.”
“Like a vacuum?”
“Yeah, a darkness vacuum. That’s what I wanted.”
“I don’t know if I would like that.”
“Why not? You could save the dark for later, when you really needed it.”
“I never thought of that. Cool.”
“You know what?”
“You were right. This place is a dump.”
“They all are. A big country full of garbage, stacked into stupid little piles people call home.”
“Yeah. What you said.”
“High, middle or low America, it all stinks.”
“The parts inbetween are O.K.”
“There’s no inbetween left! It’s all corrupted, chocked to death by the hand of progress.”
“I guess I hit a nerve.”
“Yeah, I guess. I don’t know. I just want something that doesn’t exist anymore.”
“I’m not sure. I haven’t found it yet.”
“Maybe it’s out there. We’ll find it.”
“I hope so.”
“I’ll find it for you.”
“We’ll find it together.”
“So. What now?”
“There’s a sign up ahead.”
“What does it say?”
“5 miles to what?”
“I can’t tell. It’s all shot up. Something City.”
“Something City. My kind of place.”
“Oh, I almost forgot. We’re out of blank tapes, too.”
“You fucking shit! What are we going to do when this….”
“O.K., here we are in the biggest mall in all the land, and I’ve just swiped a brick of tapes, one of which I’m using now.”
“Actually, she left a 5 back in the bin, so it doesn’t really count as a swipe.”
“Hey, dear, let me tell our story my fucking way, and no one will get hurt.”
“Fine. But let me just say off the bat that I’m in no way to be held responsible for the validity of this recording.”
“Shit! When have you ever been valid?”
“Ouch! I’ll shut up now.”
“Our audience thanks you. I’ve been trying not to address you folks up until now, so that all of our talk could just come across all shiny, but I’ve been listening over the tapes, thinking about what would work in the next antizine, and most of it pretty much slobbers.”
“So what’s she’s trying to say is that I’m not entertaining.”
“Well, that’s besides the point. What I’m getting at is that I’m sure I’ll eventually edit the stuff, cause if I don’t everyone except Jenny’ll be up in Alaska.”
“O.K. Friz, stop hogging the mike.”
“Hey! I remember specifically asking for some Fruit Stripe, and I expect it, pronto.”
“Don’t electric chair on me dear. I’ll head to the Circle X Jr and do a little foraging.”
“O.K. So now that’s he’s gone, let me offer a little context. For the sake of prosperity, or if we die before this sees print, I’m Laura Watson, otherwise known as Frisbee, and the annoying presence that just left is the love of my life, my brand new husband, John Carver, who I can’t help but call Pyramid, although no one else does. We were hitched about…..4 weeks ago or so, in New York, where we stayed for about a month scamming off his brother Abe and getting into a shit load of trouble. Seems Pyr has enemies he doesn’t even know about, but Sasha took out the trash and all is now well. Oh, did I mention that Sasha is this cool e-punk who’s girl is A-Bell, the team supreme that’s touring with Suspender and are gonna meet us in a week or so? Don’t think so, and such important shit needs to….”
“Are you a reporter?”
“Nope, just a porter.”
“Then what’s that…”
“Well, you see, even though I look really neato I’m actually a cataloger of fine individuals like yourself. Your name…”
“First name only, we’re all friends here. So, Ira, why did you come up to me?”
“Well, we don’t see that many punks around here, and so I thought you must be talking about stuff, like, you know, our mall.”
“Our mall? Interesting article there Ira, do you consider this piece of shit yours?”
“Uh, well, not really, it’s just that it’s the biggest and all, so we all call it that. Everyone comes to see it.”
“I’m sure they do. Now, Ira, what would you say if I was to make you famous.”
“Cool, do you know someone?”
“You could say that. You see that guy coming over here, the one with the black fuzz?”
“Good. He’s been following me for days, trying to give me gum and shit, why I don’t know, and it’s really starting to freak me out. You’re a good fighter, right Ira?”
“From what I hear he’s really weak, but I can’t fuck with him because he has connections. You, on the other hand….”
“Hey, jump back and all, I just came over to flirt.”
“Ira, you poor dear, I’m a married woman, with no time for hormonal geeks, let alone ones who use a mall as the locus point of their existence.”
“Hey Friz, you want some gum?”
“Go on Ira, before he reaches for his knife.”
“Hey, am I on Asshole Video or something? Where’s the camera?”
“Frisbee. Didn’t I tell you not to fuck with the natives?”
“Stay away from her! How’s that?”
“Great. Work with it, the camera’s rolling.”
“Awww, come on, I don’t feel like this now.”
“Stop following her, man.”
“Do you know what?”
“Yeah, what. It’s a word people use to formulate questions, and to point out things. For example, what the fuck are you doing with my wife, that would be a what statement. Do you understand?”
“No, not really…Is this part of the show.”
“Yes, Ira dear. Give it to him!”
“Son, I think you’ve been watching a bit too much static. What I’m trying to say, and this is a what statement too, is that I think it’s best that you just walk away from this, go back to your minimum wage job, and forget that you ever met this girl, before you regret it for the rest of your life.”
“Uh, what should I do? Is there a script I could see?”
“Tell you what Ira. Give me your address and I’ll mail it to you.”
“O.K. Cool. Are you sure you’ll be O.K. though, with him following you and all?”
“What do you think?”
“That’s a what statement, right. You see, I’m catching on.”
“Damn he’s dense. Hit stop already, I’m starting to get an air-conditioner headache.”
“Wait. Ira, now where did you say you live…”
“You know. Hey. Aaarrrrrrnhhhn…”
“You want something to drink?”
“You know what?”
“Sometimes, when I watch the sun set, my eyes start to hurt and I have to look away.”
“That happens to a lot of people.”
“No, I mean it. They hurt all night, even in my dreams.”
“Cool. Maybe that means something.”
“I don’t know. Something.”
“Anyway, even though I know it will happen, I still look anyway. I like to watch the dark come.”
“Wait a minute, is this still good?”
“I guess. It’s just water. If you’re worried I’ll try it first.”
“I didn’t die.”
“Not yet. But don’t worry, if you do I’ll bury you.”
“Yeah, I would cremate you …”
“…and put you under that tree.”
“The one with the white berries.”
“Why that one?”
“I don’t know, it just looks nice and shady.”
“What would you do then?”
“Well, after I cried a bit, I would take the car, and all the junk, and keep on going.”
“That’s so sweet.”
“Wait! And then when I got old and was about to die, I would come back with our daughter and sit under it, in the shade, until I passed away. Then she would burn and bury me, so I could be with you always.”
“Daughter? But I thought I was dead?”
“Are you hiding something? Friz?”
“At the mall I swiped a baby stick, because I missed last month…”
“I can already feel it’s a girl, I know she’ll be something special.”
“Hey! Not so close, I’m expecting.”
“But I guess I have to get a job again….oh well, it was fun while it lasted.”
“What do you mean while it lasted? Pyr dear, we’ve only just begun.”
“Give me that water back, I don’t want our baby drinking that shit.”
“So what are we going to do now?”
“A-Bell and Sasha are going to meet up with us tomorrow, if we make it in time. I figured we could follow Suspender back to the coast, and settle down in holy matrimony and all that shit.”
“Sounds cool. But what about money? I don’t want to raise a child if we can’t provide for it.”
“Don’t worry. Sasha’s working on it as we speak.”
“Wait a sec….”
“Watch out, he’s going for the tape!”
“Uhhhuhhuhhhmmm! O.K., just for the sake of prosperity and all, I want to take this moment to say that I love Laura Elizabeth Watson-Carver, my wife and best buddy, with all of my heart and soul. And I pledge, standing here next to her on the side of some road in the middle of nowhere, that I’ll die before I see her go wrong.”
“Yuck! Don’t spit on the ground!”
“But that’s to seal the promise. Come on, work with me here!”
“Are you laughing at me?”
“Well then, I guess I’ll just kind of have to sorta kiss you.”
“For God sake, chuck the tape already. A couple’s gotta have some semblance of privacy.”
“I was just waiting for the word.”
“No! Not towards the road…..”
“We just bought a new cassette recorder….”
“Seems that someone missed the car by about….oh…100 feet or so.”
“Hey, it’s not my fault that the earth was turning so quick that night.”
“So is there anything else you have to say before we wrap it up?”
“Oh, you mean to them. Nope, all done.”
“Good? What the fuck do you mean?”
“Well, if I’m not mistaken that’s A-Bell standing over there, which means Sasha can’t be far behind. If we keep talking then A-Bell’s bound to hog the tape and it would be a real mess to transcribe.”
“Fuck off and go play with a flashlight or something, I’ve got work to do.”
“Ah, I can already taste the domestic bliss.”
“And that’s all you’re going to taste unless you learn to cook for yourself.”
“Ouch! I guess the honeymoon really is over….”
April 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
July 7th, 1994
Heat. The bus broke down. “I thought this was charged. Fuck!” That was me when my e-book started to blink out. Fortunately I brought the photovals. Sasha already has rejoined the Suspender tornado – I didn’t know that Jo was her cousin, but it makes sense considering what Friz just told me about… whatever that band was. Ask, and Frisbee tells me it was Jumpster; actually, “Jumpster, what, you mean you really don’t remember ‘Mine!’? Get out of my shade!”. “Mine!” was their first album, and “my shade” was the tree by the road which half the bus has gathered under, while the driver and designated mechanics ratchet and grease away. We’re literally out in the middle of somewhere, all 35 of us, including the baby that likes to throw up when the windows are rolled down. Well, throw away, brat. I’m too fucking hot to complain.
Frisbee just peaked over at what I wrote. Apparently I didn’t do “Mine!” justice, and she won’t let me back into the shade unless I recant. O.K. Looking at the notes she wrote on my left palm, Jumpster started in the middle of 1986, right after the Intruder Alert! double album. Oops, I’ve already lost you, but that’s the price you pay for reading someone else’s journal. Anyway, as you already know (insert snicker), Intruder Alert! was Suspender’s pre-cursor, Jo and Caroline bouncing around a bit before they settled in on the now tried and true formula. So, between Intruder and Suspender Jo was in two side-projects (I consulted Frisbee from across the field, and she says that’s accurate enough for this forum), one of which was Jumpster, which involved Sasha (who we know now to be her cousin “on her mother’s brother’s side”) as an unnamed participant. Their first 7″ was…… you know, this is growing really tired (and the notes are starting to track my wrist black), so why don’t I just throw this over to her, and let her give you the absolutely complete tale.
This is me. Don’t listen to John (he hates it when I call him that). Jumpster was a really cool band, with Sasha and Jo and Susan from Slow Cone (who also really rocked but that’s another thing altogether). “Jumpster Diving” was their first 7″, and you probably would recognize “This is Not a Drill” off of it if I played the first 10 seconds. Anyway, after that came the absolutely amazing “Mine!”, which was probably the best record Jo was involved in – pre Fire Escape, that is. When I first heard it I just about slapped Sasha silly, because she never told any of us how utterly grand she was, like one of those little whistles you get in a box of breakfast sugarcubes, that are so small and cheap and plastic yet make this sound that jumps up your nose and pokes tiny holes in your eyeballs, so that all the white stuff runs out and you can’t see anything but you can smell the music. Yep. That’s Sasha.
At this point I got to mention Fire Escape because A) It was another Jo project from the same time period, and B) A-Bell, her luckiness, found her way into the beautiful mess. April from Potato Power. Joan and Caroline from Intruder Alert!. Susan from Slow Cone. A-Bell from…. well, let’s just say she has connections (Sasha can be sly….). I would talk about it here, but I’ve talked it to death in antizines – it happens to be the best record of the 80’s, but you already know that. Everyone knows this. Fuck, it’s was on Flake. Do you need more?
O.K. So we were talking about Jumpster and Sasha
No, actually we were talking about me, John, because this is my e-book. Give her any sort of recording instrument for a minute and it’ll come back not only filled, but whining. At this point we’ve already established that Frisbee is just a little bit musically obsessed (well, “Jo” obsessed is more like it), but for that matter so is Annabelle, I gather. I’m not about to hazard a guess as to why; there’s so much I don’t know about not just Frisbee, but Laura. It’s been a couple of years, and I still don’t know what makes her shine so, I don’t know where her breath comes from. I suppose her record collection whispers of her essence, but I need something more blatant, more concrete. I’m hoping that this road trip will be not just a period of growth for us as individuals, but that we will grow closer as well.
Did I mention it’s hot? Frisbee let me back in the shade, “but on one condition – foot massage!” At this point I’m not about to argue.
July 8th, I994
I have to apologize for yesterday’s entry; at all of the banks the bus passed by (yeah, it finally became operational again, but not before the sun set and that baby was all thrown out) said 91 degrees in big, blinking lightbulbs between the time. To me that’s akin to talking a barefoot stroll on the surface of the sun, but Frisbee – Laura, for the rest of this entry I want to use proper names – well, she kept yelling “Higher! Higher!” everytime we shot past an N.U., like she was on a game show or something. Which reminds me of the dream I had last night, in which I was still working at the bank – big surprise there – and Tanya was late coming back from her break. Not that this wasn’t common, but today was the big inspection by our district offices, and our boss was shitting in his pants because he wanted as many windows open as humanly possible, so when the official contingent finally walked through the doors, past the lazy guard, the only person in line would be some homeless guy asking for bills for coins, an act which would be demonstratively shunned by some hack-teller, who would be forced to “escort” the drag on our economy out of the door as everyone applauded. Well, that’s how it was supposed to work, but today there was a line out of the door and then some, and the vault was completely out of ones and twenties, effectively causing severe money rationing at the windows. Wanted to cash your paycheck? How about 5’s, because that Lincoln guy sure is honest, no? Change for the subway? Fuck, I’ll buy those ones at $10 dollars a pop, because the merchants are about to come in and that girl from Love Affair – the “adult accessories” shop that just opened up – will do just about anything for crisp Washingtons. But the customers were really being difficult, asking for odd-amount cash advances and trading in pennies for quarters. Plus, when the Love Affair gal finally got to the head of the line Steve called her over, waving and smiling up a storm, and I could see a big wad of ones and twenties sticking out of her deposit bag, so I left the old man at my window with his machine-washed paycheck, grabbed the nearest stapler, unfolded it, and snuck behind the desks over to Steve’s lair. Just as I was about to pounce Tanya came running up the stairs, obviously freaked out, screaming “They’re here!” Everyone in the bank turned around to the front door, even the lazy guard and his best friend, Clarence – who came by twice a week to play chess – and in walked Laura in this red power suit, flanked by two bank goons with dark glasses and red ties. Behind them were 5 Circle X workers – 3 girls, 2 guys – decked out not only in the official red shirts but the official red aprons and the official red baseball caps with the official black logo. Plus, they had the black pants made in a fabric known not to nature that just wouldn’t crease or wrinkle, but the official red tennis shoes with black laces were missing, so all 5 slipped into the door with official red socks on. And I do mean slipped, because as Laura’s henchmen escorted her into the backshop, the Circle Xians were gliding around the lobby like professional ice skaters, doing triple-axle-flips and shit while one of the girls – the one that looked just like my sister Esther, only with all of her hair shaved off and far more piercings – was wheeling around a freezie machine, setting up the customers as they oooh!ed and aaah!ed the floor show. Finally, as one of the guys jumped in the air with a official red blur and landed on the glass table where all the deposit and withdrawal slips are kept, Steve, Tanya and the other tellers held up these numbered signs – you know 10, 9.9, etc – and the guard came up to the triumphant Circle X jerk and handed him a bouquet of flowers, easily provoking tears. Everyone was cheering and jumping up and down, until Laura turned on the emergency loud speakers – “Use only in case of Nuclear Attack!” said the instruction manual we all had to read – stood on the nearest desk, and said “Thank you! You’re too kind! Now hit the floor, punks! This is a take over!” Suddenly all of the official red aprons revealed official black fully automatic weapons (perfectly legal ones, mind you – the Convenience Store Protection act of ’93 saw to that), and the red gang of 5 secured the lobby. The two sunglassed bodyguards took strategic points at either end of the teller area, and Laura started to disrobe. I was terribly embarrassed, because I didn’t want anyone except me to see her naked, but she stopped at what looked to be a white, cotton nightgown, which I don’t think could have fit underneath that short skirt. But there she was, almost angelic, and she continued by saying “Alright! This is to officially announce the National United/Circle X merger.” (Reality check – I was hearing rumors before I quit about this, didn’t believe a word, but when the bus was broken down yesterday I got e-mail from a source that told me it actually went through.) At which point she put down the microphone, took off the nightgown from foot to head, revealing nothing but empty space. She had disappeared. The bodyguards started to freak out, and picked off Steve and Tanya without flinching. Mary, who went on break 15 minutes later than Tanya, chose that point to walk in the bank, carrying a small baby in her arms. I thought that it looked familiar, so I came out from the ATM room – yeah, I was hiding, so sue me – and crawled over to the buzz-door. “Get out of here!” I yell-whispered to her, but she just smiled and handed down the baby to me. A Circle X guard saw this and shot her so many times that her head was severed at the neck. I shielded the baby from the blood and held back my vomit as I crawled back to the ATMs, all the while dodging the bullets that were knocking down N.U. workers left and right. As soon as I rolled into the room I shut the door, knowing far too well that it locks from the outside, and I didn’t have the key. I looked down at the child, and it seemed like a girl – make that a woman, she looked at me with Laura’s eyes. Someone was fussing with the lock so I started to panic, looking for a place to hide her. There was an open machine that needed a twenty refill (and remained empty due to the bill embargo) so I placed her in the deposit-envelope box, which was more than baby-sized. She smiled at me knowingly as I locked her in, spinning the dials and pushing the buttons as security mandated. Not wanting to give her away, I sat down at the cash-counting table just before the two bodyguards and the 5 Circle X agents rushed in. “Where’s the child?” the winning sock-skater demanded, and I just shrugged my shoulders as two girls in official red aprons stuck their gun-barrels (without flash suppressants, as demanded by law) in my ears. “O.K. I was hungry. I ate her.” I just about threw up saying that, but then everyone started to crack up, even the two protecting my ears lest they escape. “So the comedian wants to play games… Fine.” Then the fucking chairman of Circle X walks into the room, looking just like he did on the commercials, and sings “If you’re hungry, then we’re there/Circle X is everywhere.” Picks up this foot long hot dog and stuffs it in my mouth, effectively calling forth the gag I wanted to suppress. The nasty, wrinkly official red sausage dropped on the table, and the chairman patted me on the shoulder, going “It’s O.K. son, your files have already been changed to record this unfortunate reaction.” I was like What the fuck? as I cleared my mouth of my breakfast, and he just smiled as he handed me a black metal squarish box with three official red buttons on one side, blinking. “I know and you know that the girl is in one of the machines. What I know that you don’t are all of the access codes. Membership does have it’s privileges.” (O.K. There’s no way that I could have remembered the dream this clearly, so I’m just accentuating the positives and all that. Anyway….) Still What the fuck? and he saw it in my face, so he was “One button will set you free. One button will set her free. One button will open all of the machine doors. Press none, and we kill you, and open the doors anyway. Choose.” I stared down at the dead imitation dog, and noticed that a piece of metal was sticking out one end. Grabbed for it, ripped off the official red meat, and out came a letter opener. Weighed my choices one last time, turned my salvation towards my chest, and plunged it in as far as I could. I woke up sweating as we passed a N.U. 89. 2:45. 89.
Please, can you tell me what’s wrong with me? Every night I’m shot down, blown up, burnt to death or cut open, and every single time Laura either gets out of jail free, or oversees the dirty deed. I mean, she’s not even close to being that bad – actually, she’s quite wonderful and lovable, and I would literally do anything for her. Maybe the ring is starting to burn a hole in my pants, and the whole idea of…
Wait. I haven’t mentioned this before, and I’m not sure if I should now, because Laura’s been sneaking a peak at my e-book as of late. Like last night, when I woke up from that bad-ass dream, it was totally missing from my side. So I tap her on the shoulder about 100 times until she wakes up, and before she strangles me I whisper “O.K. What did you do with it?” She was “What?” only it came out more like “WHAT!!!!!!” and half of the bus snapped to attention. “E-book….” I said while I tried to shrink down in my seat. “Ididn’ttouchyourFUCKINGe-bookletmesleep!” I thought she was just being coy, but I let it rest, went back to sleep, and it turned back up right where I left it at 8 in the morning, when we stopped for breakfast. That was a couple of hours ago, and some of my tripwires were broken, so I know that she was reading it. Or at least that someone was…. but who else? She’s been after me ever since we left on this trip – we all know what’s going to happen, now it’s only a matter of when. Fuck, I have to talk about this, so I’ll just throw some extra encryption over this entry so prying eyes won’t.
Tomorrow I’m going to ask Laura to marry me. I wanted to wait until things had stabilized again, but when we stopped by Jenny’s before we left – bless her loyalty to Laura, she gave up a third of her apartment to stow away our stuff until we swing back – after she had a long talk with Friz (complete with yelling on both sides that filled the whole building even past closed doors) she pulled me aside while Laura took a quick victory shower. “You love her, right?” and I nodded because I could never speak to Jenny when she got like this. “Then do it. Do it soon.” She reached in her pocket and pulled out a beautiful gold ring. “When I was 9, my grandmother gave this to me from her deathbed. She made me promise that I would only give it to the person I loved most in the world.” Put the ring in my hand, and glared at me. “I’m giving this to Frisbee through you. Grandma would approve.” I almost couldn’t hold back my tears as I pocketed it, and Jenny quickly composed herself and fussed with our bags. When Frisbee came back in the living room, toweling off her hair, Jenny walked over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Have fun.” Until we left, she didn’t say another word to either of us, and then it was only a whispered “bye” that almost got lost in the emotional vacuum. Jenny knows what she’s doing, and just hope I can live up to her sacrifice. So I have it all planned out. When we hit the outskirts of New York tomorrow morning, I’m going to propose just before the driver lets us out to stretch. That way, if she goes after me teeth bared I can just run out of the bus as fast as my feet can carry me, and hopefully hitchhike my way to Abe’s. Of course, my fear is pretty unfounded, because when it counts she’s nothing but a big sweetie – one that I want to spend the rest of my life with.
That said, I’m going to triple-key this and get back to the business at hand; namely, revving up my right hand’s courage so I can demonstrate my heart’s sole wish. Watching Laura watch the passing show, cheering along the temperature as she sweats, I can’t help but yell along with her. “Higher! Higher!”
Everyone stares. Just wait until tomorrow….
July 9th, 1994
“Yes,” she whispers as the bus slows to a halt.
“Yes,” she tells the barf-baby’s mother as we head for the door.
“Yes,” she smiles at the bus driver, distracting him from the TV listings.
“YES!!!!!!!!!!” Everyone in a 500 foot radius now shares in my bliss.
Jenny’s ring sits on her right “medicine finger”, as she likes to call it, which rests in turn intertwined in my fingers. Puffy clouds dot the sky above; the restaurant is half-empty since we always stop at dumps; Laura is glowing and everyone’s getting the tan of the summer. I love the clouds; I love the sickly bacon smell; I love Laura, most of all. That was 6 hours ago, but it’s ever present.
Her hand has not left mine; as I write this I feel her warmth in my palm. Nothing can bother me, not even the fact that my photovals are missing, and that I think someone swiped them last night. I just want to hug her forever, but I have to finish this entry before my batteries run out; we’ll reach Abe’s by 10 tonight, so I can recharge then.
Quickly then, because I have more important things to do:
1) The Circle X/National United merger is all too real, and the media has all but ignored it. I got some mail last night that confirms all of my suspicions as to what this specifies. I can’t talk about it now, but sufficed to say that we’re all in some serious shit.
2) I’m scared about staying with Abe. We really haven’t been getting along all that well, and I know Esther is going to be stopping by (someone told her that we’d be visiting…) which will only make things worse.
3) Someone’s been fucking with my e-book. I need to do a complete dioscan when we get to Abe’s; at this point I have my doubts that Laura was digging through it. But if not her, then who?
4) Take all of our money out of N.U. as soon as possible, for obvious reasons.
5) Give Laura more attention, because she deserves it – now more than ever.
O.K. What else….
Oh yeah, the dream. Yipes, and I thought that the game-show one was wicked. I was back in school – 1991, my sophomore year – and Yael (my then girlfriend) was giving me a hard time because I had forgotten our 1-year anniversary. Now, I would never forget a thing like that (actually, it was yesterday, which shows you how truthful I am), and so I tried to make it up to her by taking her to the movies. It was the one she wanted to see, by that director she really liked (dreams can be vague that way), and so we went to see the 7:30 show, which was an extravagance for me because I barely could afford matinee. Anyway, I let her pick the seats and she headed straight for the front row (she was very nearsighted, and even after she started to wear glasses she never broke the neck-bending-back habit). I was in love with her and it was our night so I couldn’t care less, as long as she was happy. The lights dimmed, and the first preview was totally crazy – it started out at some punk concert, where everyone was jumping around until this woman started to sing, at which time everyone fell to the floor with an audible thud and exploded. When the light cleared then the band left the stage, leaving the woman standing in spotlight. The camera slowly zoomed in to her face while she sung, and even though I couldn’t remember most of the lyrics the last line stuck with me – “If your hurried, then I’m there….” at which time the screen went black and “CIRCLE X – SUMMER, 2000” appeared across the screen in big, red letters. Yael turned to me and said “Don’t you just love these movie commercials?” and I just grinned and nodded yes although I wanted to leave. The second preview was even worse – A woman in silhouette was running down your typical, rain-kissed, dark alley as if someone or something was chasing her. Suddenly, Frisbee jumps out of the shadows in this scuba get-up, complete with airtank and mask sitting on her head. The mystery woman moves towards her, but then Friz pulls off her mouth-piece and hands it to her. The connecting tube seemed awfully long, so that after she gave it to her Frisbee started to run away from the camera, the tube lengthening as she ran. Close-up off the woman breathing noisily, still in shadow, and suddenly a dramatic light reveals her face as the camera frames it. It was Annabelle, with overalls and everything, and she was crying. Fade to black, and then an official sounding male voice over: “Breathe deeply. This too shall pass.” It ends, and as the movie studio logo came on the screen Yael turned and said “Oh, I really want to see that! She’s my favorite star!” I was completely confused, so I just smiled and pointed to the screen to distract her attention. It was lucky that I did so, for just at that moment Annabelle, Frisbee and the “Circle X” girl were talking around a round, wooden table, with a fourth woman with her back to the camera. The credits are coming and going as they go about their business, and I notice that the music’s being done by Joan Gordon, who even I know is in Suspender. So I lean forward once the movie really begins, and then Frisbee turns to Annabelle and says “They know. Fuck!” “Fuck them! You know?” – Annabelle. “No fucking way!” adds the Circle X girl. “this is so profound” Yael whispers to me, but I shhhhhhh her. “Wait.” This was the 4th woman, who stood up from her chair. “I know what they’re doing.” She slowly turns around to the camera, and points her finger at me. It was Sasha. “He’s one of them!” The screen goes white, the lights raise, and Yael gets this look in her eye. “I knew it all along! It was that tie!” And suddenly I’m dressed for work, and the audience is filled with Circle X workers in full regalia. She turns to them and rips off her dress; she’s wearing a uniform, too. “He’s got a tie!” she yells to her comrades, and the nearest one goes “Freezie this, you teller!” and smacks me up along side the head with one of those long plastic tubes that you swing around and make whistling noises with. I start to run for the exits, but Tanya and Steve are guarding them. They’re both Circle X’d. “We traded in our ties,” Tanya smirks as she reaches in her pocket, “For this.” It’s Jenny’s ring, and it starts to glow. “Don’t let him have it!” Yael bellows, and everyone starts to bolt for me and Tanya. “Oh well, better luck next time…” and she throws the ring at me as she escapes into the alley. I try the door, but it’s locked, and before I’m swarmed in red synthetics I pop the ring in my mouth, and swallow. “No!!!!!” Yael and everyone else suddenly freezes in place, and the theater workers come in, dressed like N.U. workers, and start to sweep up small change from around their feet. I sneak out into the lobby while this is going on, and suddenly this TV Crew runs over to me, the well-preserved anchorwoman (the stench of hairspray met me before she did). “Reactions?” The lights are in my face, the “LIVE” light is on, and I don’t know what to say. The sound man pulls out a large gun and points it in my direction. I start to feel really sick, fall down to the floor, and up comes the ring onto the carpet. “Wrong answer!” she screams, and the grip puts me out of my misery.
I’m not even about to go there, but sufficed to say that I held back the ring long enough to be in the wonderful position I am now. Which happens to be next to the woman I love, headed to stay with family I can’t wait to get away from, and I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else in the world.
Thanks Jenny, for everything.
July 10th, 1994
Fuck. Our money’s gone. All of it.
Got to Abe’s with little trouble, and the spare bed was already made. Annie was really sweet about it even though you could tell she didn’t want us there, and Abe – well, he’s exactly the same. But who cares. My account’s been closed, and the money is nowhere to be found.
As soon as I recharged the batteries I finally remembered that card that Sasha gave me, and so I gave it a look this morning. Basically it said that I was fucked, that as soon as I quit someone inside N.U. transferred all of my money in minuscule amounts all over the country, effectively taking away any hopes of retrieval. Sasha knew that it was coming and so she slipped me some excess dollars, converted from the yen-trash she had stashed away for a rainy day. I could use them on the net, or make them physical with the appropriate hack. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that whoever arranged for this dispersal was seriously pissed off at me. So much so that he or she – the e-punk Sasha was warning me about, I should have stayed awake! – had destroyed my credit rating, maxed out both of my cards (and my limits were astronomical because of my N.U. clout), and fucked up my DMV just for the heck of it. At first I thought it was Steve, but this is way out of his league. I mean, when I went to the nearest N.U. and asked to close my account, I peaked over at the teller’s screen and her code 79 had a screen full of warnings on it, plus some hazards I’d only read about in books. So when she went to her supervisor to get “approval” (that is, to call the guard over), I was already well down the street, looking for the nearest subway entrance.
Fuck. My life is ruined. I’m nobody.
I can’t bear to tell Laura what’s up, especially not after yesterday. When I got back from N.U. a couple of hours ago she was still showing off the ring to Annie, already planning the wedding. Shit.
Sasha’s bound to know what to do, and probably’s already working on it. I hate to depend on her like this, but she’s all I – we, have to get used to it – have right now.
This is too much. I can’t write anymore. I wish I didn’t exist anymore.
Wait. That’s it!
I’ll continue this later, I have to contact Sasha.
July 14th, 1994
I haven’t been able to communicate because Sasha wouldn’t let me. In fact, this is the last entry before we wipe my e-book clean. I never though that I would have to resort to this, but desperate times and all that.
“You mean I’m not me anymore? Cool!” I thought she was going to freak when I told her about Sasha’s pseudogen, but it only seems to add to her path of negation. I, on the other hand, like my name and my life, and it’s going to take me a while to adjust. Still, we’re only taking on different electronic identities, and even though that means we have to start our official lives anew, we’re still us – Pyramid and Frisbee, waiting for the end and loving every minute.
The only thing that seems strange is the marriage part. I only proposed a few days ago and starting tomorrow we’re going to officially be husband and wife, without even the slightest of ceremonies. True, it does save us the trouble of constructing totally disconnected virtual identities and merging them in the future, but still, I for one wanted the occasion to be a little more special. But I love her, would marry her a million different ways if necessary, and we can always have a proper wedding when we get back home.
Anyway, Sasha’s going to appear in one hour to collect our new names; she’s already prepared the most elaborate histories imaginable. Laura has a list of about 20 possibilities, and I frankly don’t know where to start. I’ve always considered myself a Carver, latest in a long line of troubled, principled, and all-around difficult Carvers, and even though Abe and his talk of “sustained economic revolution” makes me want to throw up, and Esther’s ER gossip reason enough not to get sick, I love them because they’re such pains. We’re all pains, but that’s our lot in life, that’s what our father instilled in us when he wasn’t off doing “secret government research” (read: military computer design). Be quiet, get the job done, and don’t give a shit about the people you love. That’s what he taught us by example, that’s why Mom left when she did, dragging us along.
In one hour, I’m no longer my mother’s child. This scares me. She was who defined me when I grew up, she was the one that made sure I focused my talents on school and not the street. I promised her, the year she died, that I would follow my dreams no matter what, and make her proud that I was her son. More than anyone else, I wish that she could have met Laura; I know that they would have gotten along perfectly. Neither puts up with any shit, and neither can love too much. Fuck. I thought I was over the loss, that I could carry her in my heart and move on, but now I have to lose her again. Now I’m killing her and myself, for the sake of survival. I hope someday, when we meet again, she will be able to forgive me.
This is so weird. It’s like I’m waiting for my birth, and I’m going to be delivered by my own hand. To Laura this is second nature, because the hospital forced her to start over as many times as it took to survive. I’m too attached to myself to understand that process, and no matter how many times I listen to her try to describe what it’s like to become nothing and yet still exist, no matter how completely she lets me share in the pain and anger, slowly leading to renewal, I want to close my eyes and shake away the ambiguity. I’m supposed to be me. No one else. Until death do us part, you know?
I look at my brown-red fingers as they type, my soft hands as they hide my face from the choice. Who am I? Who will I become?
The cursor blinks patiently. It could care less.
April 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
July 3, 1994 –
Frisbee’s asleep but I can’t join her; the dream came again this morning, and it scares me. It was payday – the universal payday that scrapes off my fingerprints, counting, counting, counting – and I was working for Mary because she wanted to spend the weekend with her family. Customers were running in so they could be first to wait in line, because National United was having a promotion where if people waited more than 7 minutes to be helped they would get a free automatic rifle, the Chinese kind they were talking about on TV. So all of these homeless people were camped outside even before we opened at 8, cups full of change in hand, hoping to be the lucky recipient of instant power. There were a few lawyers, too; Mr. Snarly showed me his stopwatch and made me throw in a free clip, which we were supposed to charge customers $5 for. My boss gave us a memo from the NRA which said that since the sale of firearms was being increasingly regulated, they were testing new markets by giving away “premiums”. This made sense to me somehow, and as the line snaked around the block, into the subway even, I felt a peculiar glee at the transference of strength. Everyone that the bank fucked over now had the means to pop off a few rounds whenever they couldn’t cash their checks, or there was going to be a hold on their funds. One lady told be that she came from 137 miles away just to pick up a piece, because her husband was an ass and he had it coming. None of the looks on their faces – homicidal grins fused to dentist-chair stress-lines – nor the elevated tone of their voices fazed me, but when I saw Friz in line, letting other people pass her, I knew something was up. She was carrying her Empire Strikes Back lunch box, which she only whipped out for special occasions, and kept waving at me, smiling her “I’m eating carrots” smile. I had a feeling she was going to fuck things up, and when she finally arrived at Tanya’s window, the one next to me, she swung open the box and pulled out a thermos full of coin. “I hit it big at the subway, bitch, selling tickets to the stars.” Tanya just grimaced and said “you need to roll those and write your social on the wrapper.” Friz was pissed and she dug out her whistle and started to blow it, drawing stares from all around the bank. “Give me your fucking manager, bank slut, I want to complain!” Tanya ran away from the window while I closed up mine, because I was scheduled to close at 3:33, per the new policy. Friz leaned over and said “Pyr, can you make two copies of this for me?” and she pulled off her right, middle finger, placing it on the counter. Unfazed, I carried it over to the Dubox while the boss sauntered over to the window, followed by Tanya. “I’ve been waiting for 24 minutes and this assholette wouldn’t give me my gun.” “Is that true, Tanya?” he asked her, and she shook her head no. Friz then whipped out one of those videocameras with the large, color screen on the back and played a tape, on which Tanya looked straight into the camera and said “go get your own gun and stick it up your snatch!” Tanya started to cry while my boss apologized and tore the shrink rap off of a gun, handing it to Frisbee. “Ms. Watson, to make up for this horrible transgression, I will give you 3 tellers to do with as you wish.” So Friz closed up the lunchbox, hopped the counter, and yelled “all right, I’ll take stupid-ass Steve, Tanya of course, and him over there” pointing right at me. Cocking the gun she waived us over to the windows, and had us line up facing outward, with me in the middle. “Did you make that copy for me?” she smiled, and I nodded while handing over the finger and its two duplicates. She took them and stuck them in my ears, fingernails inward, and blind folded all of us with the paper tape the adding machines used. “I’m doing this for your own good,” she said, shooting off a few rounds into Steve, who fell to the floor at my left. “If I didn’t take care of everything for you then nothing would get done,” and Tanya slumped down, bleeding on my right leg. “What’s my social security number, Pyr?” she whispered as she approached, “I need to cash in everything I earned.” I tried to remember but all that came to me was the bank code for travelers checks, and as the tip of the gun met the back of my head, I said “wait a second, let me look it up for you.” She simply laughed, took out the finger in my left ear, and whispered: “even if I shoot you, I’m still your hostage.” Gave me a kiss on the ear lobe, put the finger back in, and pulled the trigger. Then I woke up.
Sometimes Frisbee makes Tanya rape Steve before she kills them both, other times she forces everyone to wrap and unwrap coin, while the customers get target practice with flying brochures. In any case, it always ends with the same whispered message, “even if I shoot you, I’m still your hostage,” and then everything goes blood-red and I open my eyes to the crack on the ceiling. Of course, this time there was no crack, only the track lighting on the roof of the bus, dim enough to fuck up your eyes if you try to read or write, bright enough to peek in through your eyelids while you try to call forth calm. It must be around 6 now since the sun is peeking over the horizon; I’ve been waiting and waiting for the light, so I could write down the dream before I forgot it again, and it took long enough that some things slipped away back into my brain. But all I want to know is what Frisbee means by that, and how it fits in to the mess we’re in. The dream started the night I quit the bank, almost a week ago, and every night it comes back stronger than before. I’m not afraid of Frisbee actually hurting me or something like that, just of that little phrase, a warning, promise and lament all in one. Watching her breathe in the stale air that others tasted minutes before, flowing with the hum of the engine that spins the tires which imperceptibly flatten the interstate a little more every mile, I want to nuzzle against her, reaching up short sleeves to rub her cool, smooth shoulders, preparing them for future burden. I don’t know what’s going to happen when we make it to Abe’s; when I called and asked if we could crash all he yawned was “if you’re gonna be in the neighborhood and you wanna, I guess so.” He’s always been an “I guess so” kind of guy, slipping by through the sheer force of ambivalence, but in that non-commitance is a real power which I have yet to truly understand. He has the money, the wife and the “life” – all through well placed shoulder-shrugs – while I have the bills, Frisbee and only what we can carry, worrying every second. I guess that’s O.K. and all, as long as I’m happy, but sitting here in the bus to New York, wanting to give Frisbee a kiss but scared she’ll give me back the finger or something, all I can do is wait. Worry about being happy, and wait for the sun to rise a little higher.
“Even if I shoot you, I’ll still be your hostage.” Damn, why can’t I just dream about flying around and shit?
July 5, 1994 –
Last night as we watched the “fireworks” – A Treesol can that Friz found in a dumpster behind the Circle X, which she rubber-banded to a constant on, lit, and threw in the air like a shooting starlet set against the Arizona sky venetian-blinded shut, the hissing flames ending with the inevitable gravity-regulated thud – for some reason I was reminded of the little push-locks on the signature card drawers at work. Fuck that, the bank’s not my work, not any more, and I can’t understand why I keep thinking about it, when I’m free to do whatever I want, whatever I should do. Still, the sensation of kicking-snapping the doors shut at the end of the day, imagining all of the irate non-customers or snippy higher-ups in place of the fire-resistant cabinets, punting them into submission, stuffing them inside and locking up the keys, was pleasure enough that I dreaded the eventual lock-opening the next morning. Every card was its own Pandora’s info-byte, which when held to the light could and would determine the right everyone had to their own money – the potential worth they lease from the powers-that-are. Digging in those misfiled reflections of everyone’s pocketbook key, I wanted to set fire to them all, releasing with the ashes the essence that window-chained bank pens sucked from unknowing customers, blackening the signatures that are, and yet are not, the builders of capital. However, as soon as the first flame lapped against the “A’s”, I knew that 10 fire-extinguishers would come running up to right the obvious wrong, to protect that which should be held sacred, the basis of the world as we know it: verification, validity. Money-lighting would no doubt provoke the same response, as would microwaving a bundle of twenties to oblivion in the cafeteria, but the idea of reducing the pretense down to its undeniable essence – misplaced trust – and blackening everyone hands with the truth, the same way that my fingers darkened from the never ending counting, checking, calculating digitalness of it all – on, now off, now on again, lather, wash and repeat ad infinitum – was attractive enough that every bill dealt out became potential for subversion. I started initialling the backs of every 10 I could get my hands on, and sometimes would tear a 50 right in two, condemning it to the “malconditioned” envelope we all keep – kept! – in our drawers. Whether I simply hate money, the people that handle or covet it, or both, is frankly beside the point; when the air-freshener was spewing forth fire, cleansing the air of bus-stop ozone and tourist-skin dust, all I knew was that every canned convenience carries along its own negation, and just as Frisbee’s “pine bomb” ended in a brilliant flourish contained within its own warning label, so too would ATM machines some day spit up green ashes along with a blank receipt.
Guess I make too much out of not much at all, but a simple finger-wiggle by Frisbee has been known to spawn bungee-surfing suicides. Which brings me to last night’s dream, in which Friz and I were taking a subway trip down south. Since she always like to sit backwards, we were – in the last car, no less – and as she stared out of the window, watching the passing condos, I noticed this woman at the other end of the car, fiddling with the sliding doors. She would open them about a foot, stick her head through, and let the slack be automatically taken up, her purple-green hair hanging into the inbetween, and every so often, when someone wanted to pass between cars, she would scream at the top of her lungs “I’m trying to understand the connection here, so back off!” and then open the doors, sit back down, and smile as the person passed. After we left 17th street she started using her whole body, letting the industrial-strength rubber-bordered glass press against her forehead and nose, cleaving her breasts and pelvis in two. Whenever people got on the train she would rub up and down, obviously getting off on it, and read the emergency instructions located at the car-end into the red emergency phone, connected to the train-operator’s booth. Strangely, no one seemed to notice all of this except me, and when we were one station from ours the doors suddenly started to crush her, the light above them flashing “Emergency Seal Activated”. Concerned, I jumped up and ran to the end of the car, trying to find some sort of switch that would make the doors open again. The only thing I could find was a fire extinguisher recessed into the wall, and as the doors imprinted a trough into her chest and stomach I fumbled with the nozzle-switch, trying to make it work. Then the lights started to flicker, all the side doors opened, and the driver announced over the speakers for everyone to “please exit the train immediately, the North Korean army has attacked substation #1! You will find levitation devices directly underneath your seats; follow the instructions printed on them and fly to safety.” As if on cue the passengers crawled underneath the seats and pulled out these orange cushions with two backpack-straps, which they put on like miniature parachutes before they jumped out of the car, falling to their deaths off the elevated skyway. “If anyone cannot read Japanese, translators are available to assist with the devices’ operation.” The driver’s warning was obviously too late, and as I continued to struggle with the doors, Frisbee walked over and pointed out a panel in the wall. Opening it, she told me to “enter my death-date, or else the doors will snap her in two.” Perplexed, I tried to remember when she was going to die, but we were still alive, and I wasn’t about to guess when there was a life at stake. “Here Pyramid,” she said, picking up a paper off of a seat while she put on her orange pack, “look at the headline.” I took it from her as the doors continued to close in on the woman, who was now yelling “I think I understand the essential dichotomy, but I need more time!” The headline read “Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”and the date wasn’t today, but November 17, 1972. “Enter it, before she’s torn apart!” Frisbee yelled, before jumping out of the train and flying off into the clouds. Looking for the first time at the woman’s face, I could see that she was Frisbee, only older. “I need to see I!” she screamed, but I couldn’t understand what she was talking about. Then something flew in one of the doors and the other end of the train caught on fire, so I ran down to try to put it out, but when I turned the extinguisher on nothing came out but a blue light. I looked in the nozzle and there was a little CRT with a picture of a small girl on it, the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, and she told me to “give this to Laura, and never leave her side.” I knew she meant Frisbee so I ran back to the doors and handed her the extinguisher. Immediately she held up the nozzle to her eye and began to smile, nodding and whispering to the girl although I couldn’t understand what she was saying. The doors continued to close and so I went back to the keypad but now it was like an ATM machine flashing at me to enter my right hand in a slot on the wall. I did, and then it told me to enter a date and so I entered the one on the newspaper Frisbee gave me. The machine started to click and whir and behind me the fire was racing closer to the end of the car, and the older Frisbee was still staring into the extinguisher, mumbling something. Then the machine spit out a ID card with Frisbee’s picture on it, looking exactly like she did between the doors, down to the purple and green hair, and it said to “Enter Card into Retrieval Slot,” which appeared right next to the door. I did, and Frisbee looked right at me, eyes filled with tears and said “I told me that she forgives us” and then the door cut her clean in two. The extinguisher dropped with her half inside the car, and when it hit the floor it broke into two pieces. Inside it was a picture of the little girl and her parents, and as I reached down to look closer at it the fire leaped to the end of the car, burning me alive.
At this point I don’t know what the fuck’s going on with me, maybe it’s just the stress of traveling and all, but I’ve been having the weirdest ass dreams. This one wasn’t like the rest, though, although I don’t understand it any better. I guess dreams aren’t meant to be understood that way, it’s like they’re TV programs flying off into space that someone picks up millions of light years away, and as they watch these little fleshy figures run and yelp about, I bet they’ll be as confused as I am. Still, there seems to be something in common with all of these dreams, like they’re selected episodes of a larger story, that I have to watch all out of order and piece together at the end. Or I could just be that nasty-ass pizza we ate yesterday talking, my stomach cursing out my brain for putting it through such shit.
Anyway, today we’re heading out of this shit town we spent our 4th in, only because Friz though that it was “quaintly fucked up in a Southwestern sort of way.” True, there were lots of people BBQing and playing football and shit, and there was really nice weather, especially for laying down in a field of tall, dry grass and just hugging and kissing each other, like we did as the sun set. Plus, there was the obligatory Circle X, with the Freezies that no one in their right, thirsty mind hates (“and Circle X’s,” Friz told me, “always have a wide junk-food bar for dumpster dining”) and the general atmosphere of holidayness, which helps to distract from funky-looking strangers like ourselves. But we have to leave, have to get back on the road, because dreams or no dreams, something is up and the sooner we face it, the better.
The bus doesn’t come fore another hour, so maybe we’ll have some time to hit the Post Office and…oh, here comes Friz with breakfast from behind the Circle X, so excuse me while I dig into some stale powdered donuts. She swears up and down by them so you know they got to be good.
July 6th, 1994 –
I don’t remember my dream at all, except for the last few seconds, which involved this little computer-book thing that you would hold and control by thinking. I was thinking it to show a picture of Frisbee but instead there was a picture of that little girl from last night, and she was yelling “mama, E tie” or some shit, crying her head off. The more I thought of Friz the more she would cry, and I started to cry too as a vicious pot-hole woke me up. The bus has grown really tired, really quickly, but Frisbee seems to be having a real ball, talking it up with the other passengers – like right now she’s trading road stories with Annabelle, this punk girl who’s following Suspender all across the country on their first real tour. I think Friz is trying to trade a ‘zine for their tape, because she likes to collect that sort of indie-shit – not that it sucks or anything, it’s just that she’s very clingy when it comes to cool junk, and has to tell the whole world about it. She won’t tell me what this month’s book is on yet, but I snuck a peek at a few pages while she was asleep and it seems to be about when she was 15, along with some collage of bank stuff that I have no idea how she snatched. Annabelle seems to be exactly Frisbee’s type, fire red hair cut into a little bob, blue-tank top 2 sizes too big, beat-up walkman in her Osh-Kosh short’s chest-pocket, laugh that could stop a truck, smile that could start one. She introduced us last night, and as I tried to come up with something cooler than “nice to meet you” she squatted down in the aisle and whispered in my ear “if you two aren’t, like, together or anything it would be fucking keen if I could borrow her for a month.” All I could bring myself to do was lean over and kiss Frisbee smack on the lips, which brought forth a playful “kiss your own fucking lips, I’m busy,” which she was, digging through her bag for a picture she wanted to show A-Bell (that’s what she likes to be called). “Here it is, look at that stupid motherfucker!” and as she handed the snap over to her, I could see it was of Spazz, who I never had the displeasure of meeting but know far too well through Frisbee. To put it short and sweet, he was her second boyfriend. “Yeah, I know this prick!” A-Bell boomed, as everyone on the bus turned to face us, “but the last time I saw him he was in Minneapolis, crashing at my sister’s.” “Your sister? The slut!” and the conversation went on, as I gave A-Bell my seat and walked up front to her’s.
It was my supreme luck that A-Bell’s travelling partner was a hardcore e-punk, her dynabook riding on the bus’ carrier wave for uninterrupted net access. When I came up to her, around 10:30, she was dumpstering Japanese bank trash, piecing together discarded signatures for some quick Yen. “That’s not your seat,” she mumbled as she flew over the keypad. “That’s not your password,” I said, whipping out my e-book and hooking up to her signal. “Whatever,” she smirked, going back to business, as I continued to check her out. Far from Annabellesque, she was dressed in a plain green T-shirt and faded jeans, her long black hair tied back into two pony-tails, held by twist-ties. A little bit of hacking and a unlocked door on her side got me her name – Sasha – along with a brief bio she’d prepared for just such an occasion. “I’m a junk-byte dealer, an info-scavenger that will dig up just about anything, if the price is right. I only take clean credits – account to account transfers are ideal – and have little respect for anyone who doesn’t know where there trash is. Presently my specialty is reverse information engineering, with an emphasis upon mass subversion. Leave any inquiries at SW.3472c?. I take no responsibility for unencripted crap.” Impressed yet a bit skeptical, I backdoored and tapped her on the shoulder. “What are you doing touring with Suspender?” She frowned, put her dyna to sleep and replied “I’m not, I’m touring with A-Bell, but you already know that, don’t you?” “Not necessarily,” I smiled as I put away my e-book, “but I just thought I’d inquire because she’s been hitting on Frisbee,” and I pointed over to the two, who were huddling together trading dirt. “You’re a lucky jerk, and you haven’t the slightest idea why,” she said as she reached in her bag, “but since Frisbee chose you I’ll cut you some slack.” She handed me a card, which I was smart enough to put away for later, and told me to “watch out in New York. There’s an e after you who’s pissed because of 1992, and if you don’t lock your doors he’ll take it all.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I half-lied, “then I’ll cover your ass for you, for Frisbee’s sake,” she half-truthed. “Until then, heed the net and all that crap, and stay out of my shit. I’m going to sleep.” With that she leaned towards the window and shut her eyes, clutching her dyna as she drifted off.
Sun’s well up there and it’s about time to kick A-Bell out of my seat, but I think I’ll wait until I give that card Sasha gave me a little look. I have an idea who she was talking about, but you never can know; 1992 was one hell of a year. Not that this year isn’t. It’s just that ’92 was the year I met Frisbee, and a guy can only be that lucky once. I take that back. It would be even more lucky if I can keep her.
I just looked over my shoulder and was surprised to find Frisbee staring right back at me, sucking on her finger. I think I actually might have a chance after all.
April 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
“Fill the pit!” The mic dropped screaming kick kick and I floated. Hands were grass blowing waves licking and I tried to remember the words (they yelled them for me). A scuffle growled from the amps and as they lifted I swam for the floor. Grope up my shirt so I punched as Velcro ate his guitar and the screech poked through my plugs there it is! can’t miss my mark. “Electronic faucet I drink from the socket” wrapped the cord around my wrist.
“Pull the plug!” Sasha smirked as she walked on heads.
“Throw the switch!” They lofted me by my legs, made a wish, and pulled.
“Fuck the microphone…” Shirt over face upside-down.
“….YOU BITCH!” 8-track pounded, Caroline dived in with me, and I kissed that cute girl that had been looking at me all night asking for it – licking from pierced lip to ear, following the invisible chain. She smiled from underneath her smoky green hair and gave me the finger as they dragged me back to the stage.
“Where the fuck is Jo!” this gutterpunk yelled between punches, as I tore the duck tape from my cheeks. The mic was somewhere down my shirt so I fished for it.
“Jo’s not home right now.” I choked up on the nearest guitar.
“Can I take a message?” Caroline jumped up on his shoulders, jammed fingers in his ears, and leaned back. He jerked forward and she flipped over onto the stage, knocking over the water bottles. I gave her the guitar.
“Alright, enough with the sound check.” Sasha flew up towards the ceiling, grabbed the tire-swing, and hung herself by the knees.
“We’re Suspender. Prepare to die.”
All this time Velcro was laying down his patented Nagasaki-buzz/drone, while 8-track shifted from a bouncy box-car to a helicopter lopping off tree-tops. Caroline joined in with this thing she stole from a laxative commercial the night before, and I looked for a hole in the noise to rip through, but I couldn’t see it, not like Jo could.
This is the story of the week I took her place. Of a dream come true.
I’m tempted to start at the very beginning, when Intruder Alert! ruled and I was a medium-sized snot, dreaming of sticking my tongue up Frisbee. Of course, she wouldn’t have me – too busy with Jenny and fucking antizine (sorry, Friz, that’s how I felt then) – but that didn’t stop me from fantasizing big time. The first time I heard Joan was on an Intruder tape that Jenny sent me, I guess it was a bootleg of one of their shows on the coast, and I didn’t take it out of my walkthing for a month, drowning in the buzz and her voice from I don’t know where. She must have been only 15, but to me she was fucking Athena or something, running through the woods bow drawn shooting all the boy bands in their crotches and loving it. Sure, Intruder was half guy, but Jo made them shine, gave them her smell.
Anyway, so whenever the newest anti came out I would read it in the bathroom, Jo singing in my ears while Frisbee ranted at me, and I would lock the door so no one walked in with my hand between my legs, lost in afterschool extra-special daydreams of a little queer girl getting what she wanted and then some. I always came but they never did – so abstract, so far away – and the constant rubbing, like I was calling up my own personal genie, kept me sane but alienated me from the “real” world. My first wish was always to fuck them both, the second was to make them fall in love with me, and the third to have them fight for my attention, to the death. Of course, nothing ever came forth but an indescribable longing. That, and the realization that I was alone.
The first time I saw Jo was at an Intruder show when I was 14, and although I didn’t realize it then, that was also the first time I saw Sasha. Intruder wasn’t actually on a tour, they just happened to be back east for a few days getting into trouble. I had no idea that they were around, but it’s true that I was extra-hyper that weekend, almost going so far as to tell Patricia – my then best friend and partner in grime – that I had this monster-sized crush on her. But I regained my sanity and only asked her out to the Treehouse, because I wouldn’t dare go alone, especially on kinda-new band night. So we gave our hair Kool-Aid dye jobs and borrowed her father’s leather jackets (he was that way in the 60’s), tried our best to look rough and experienced, and took the bus to 3rd street. As soon as we got there I knew that something was up, because there were about 500 pre-punks roaming around outside, shitting in their pants in anticipation, breaking the bottles they swiped from home before they even got drunk. Lucky for me Phone was working the door that night, and when he waived us to the front of the line he slipped a note into my right butt pocket with one hand, tagging that night’s icon our cheeks with the other. It was a upside down “T”, kind of like one of those perpendicular signs in Geometry, and the deal was that if he let us in penny-minus he could mark us wherever he wanted. Plus, he was a really good artist, and the note made up for any temp-hate from face adjustments (it took us hours just to get that punker-than-thou-without-even-trying look). What did it say? Well, as me and Pat passed through the living room (where the girls hung) and the kitchen (guys and band members), finally taking up space by the tetherball pole, I gave a look and….
INTRUDER ALERT! YOU OWE ME BIG TIME! (in quick, felt-tip black on the back of the next week’s flier – Slow Cone was playing)
“Uh….Anna…isn’t that…” Over by the bowling pin sculpture of God….
“Is my spit fawcet running? Do I have a straight jacket?”
“We’re both going to die!”
“Not quite. Watch my shadow, I’m gonna attack….”
I gave her the pointy “stay” finger and started to circle the room. No wonder the pre-punks were restless, fucking Joan of Arc was getting ready to burn us all at the stake.
“Where are you sneaking off to?” Arm on my wrist, and I didn’t have to turn around to know I’d been robbed.
“I’m busy, Slinky……come back later.” There she was, past the Trouble Twins – I could almost taste her aura of sweat…
“Where’s my Eskimo Guy tape? I want to get it signed.” Did I mention why we call him that? Had this slinky hooked in one earlobe, and it stretched around the back of his peanutty shaved head to the other side. Worse than it sounds.
“Fuck, I ate it, O.K.? Let me go.” Jo! Don’t talk to that don’t-know-how-to-be! I’m coming…
“Man! When I loant it to ya I told ya that the deal was up when I said it was up. It’s up!” Plus, when he got mad his head bobbed up and down like those wobbly-top toy people.
“O.K. You got me. Go and talk to Pat, she’ll set you up.” Hated to do that, but I had to get away.
“Yeah, I’m a winner….” Bobbed in joy across the room, and I watched Pat start to freak. Gave her the open-fist “bathroom time” sign. She got the hint, and hopped in the girl closet before Slinky caught her.
“Pixie dust?” Some strange (yet cute) slurpette wagged a stick at me. I paused, weighed my options, and took a sly drag, all the while keeping an eye on my target. It was the green kind, and it was good.
“Thanks.” Yeah, she really was cute. One of those half-headed hair jobs, with the back missing and the front really long, so she could brush it back and barely reach her neck.
“There’s a lot more where that came from.” She must have been about 14, and you could tell that she was smooth yet firm just by glancing at her shoulders, that peaked out past her official Circle X uniform, a short-sleeved, polyester, red shirt with the Intruder Alert! logo stenciled on her right breast, “Hack” stitched in cursive on the left. Her shoes were plastic, translucent hi-tops with purple yarn laces, so you could tell she was going sockless. It looked like she had overalls on, but her shirt was buttoned, concealing the straps. Absolutely adorable.
“Maybe we’re coming from the same place…” Always wanted to say that.
“Come here.” She patted the spray-painted cement floor next to her.
“I will. But I have to do something real quick.” Gave her that “I think I really want you” hand-waive/smile combo, and I fully intended to follow through. She smirked, and went back to her Pixie stick.
So. Gathered myself, stepped over who I soon determined to be Circle X – it seemed that he had the flu or something, because he kept throwing up but it didn’t stink that much. Besides, he always drank after the shows, never before – in that way he was terribly straight edge. Yeah, right. As I hopped over his fetal-ball – more like a bunch of lint because he had a nasty brown wool sweater on – the lights suddenly dimmed and Masking Tape took the stage. Sure, Susanna was a real babe, with a voice like a baby bird, but I wasn’t about to fixate on a band I saw every week when Joan was around. She was about 10 feet away, over by the equipment corner, talking to Caroline about their set I guess, when out of nowhere 50 pre-punks summoned a hurricane, a smuggled in boom-box playing Flexidick at the eye of their storm. Unfortunately I was sucked into the body-winds before I could prepare my elbows and fists, and then it was breast-thigh-drumstick, everyone trying to bucket the good pieces. Of course, no one but Pat noticed my torment – the girls too busy tagging the walls, the guys too busy watching. And she wasn’t about to do anything direct, because they would have torn her to pieces and used her teeth as guitar picks. So when I swung around her way I gave her the locked-hands-overhead “tetherball chain!” yell, and she shimmied up the pole, unhooked my salvation, and approached the pseudo-pit close enough that she could throw it to me as I spun uncontrollably past, when some jerk had his face up my ass. Well, as soon as I wrapped my wrist with power, I turned to the nearest offender – Ronald, the guy who was fired from Circle X because he kept stealing quarters from the videogames and using them to order pizzas from nasty-ass Peppies’ of all places – gave him 3 seconds to desist, and then made him a steel necklace, sized personally for a snug fit. Choking, he put me down long enough for me to get a good whack at the radio, killing Tom’s whiny voice before I really got pissed off. At this point the storm started to die down a bit, and everyone soon realized that I was not only holding a chain, but on the average was 2 inches taller than them. All it took was a few cautionary swings for the junior high scabs to scamper off, leaving a hand-picked bunch of nothings that I didn’t even consider giving my attention to. Draped the chain around the back of my neck, gave Pat the “Fuck yeah!” finger, and headed over to Jo.
“Uh, can someone remove their radio from the floor?” That was Not Ian, the unofficial announcer-guy that took the stage before each set. He had on a Potato Power shirt, the light blue one with the stapler. “And has anyone seen Isabel?”
“Who?” That was half the audience, or all the out-of-towners – take your pick.
“You know, Masking Tape’s drummer?” We called him Not Ian because one time, at this particularly horrible show, just after he made his stupid announcements, the lead singer for the next band took the mic and said “Who was that boring jerk?”, to which the drummer replied “I don’t know, but he’s sure not Ian.” To this day no one knows who Ian is.
“Never mind.” She was hanging out by the door. Did I mention that she and Phone were going out then? Or that he was cheating behind her back left and right? The night she found out is one I’ll never forget – but I’ll save that story for another time.
Anyway. Not Ian awkwardly jumped off the stage and I was this close to Jo when Masking Tape started to play – Isabel dived behind her drum set just in time. Caroline took the opportunity to whisper something in Jo’s ear, take her by the hand, and drag her out to the back porch. Shit.
I wasn’t about to go out there, because that was the de-facto dressing room/ rehearsal space/ kickball field. So I turned around and started back to Pat, when I saw that she was busy with Isaac, the boy that she had the hots for since 5th grade. I hated to see her look at him that way instead of me, but I wasn’t about to get in the way of her happiness. Besides, if you went for boys he was the cutest one around, with chin-length brown hair, the best band-T’s you could think of, and a sly way of smiling and frowning at the same time that drove everyone wild. Everyone, that is, except me, and as I was scanning the room, I suddenly remembered the Pixie stick girl. She wasn’t in her previous spot – over by the ice chest, which had “One Handful Please” written on it – and just before I got totally bummed there was a tap on my shoulder. It was her.
“I hate Flexidick too.” She slid the chain from around my neck, and then held out her hand. “Come with me.” I took it, and it was very warm, yet harder than it looked.”What’s your name?” I tried to be cool about it, but my glow was obvious.
“All in due time. This way.” I was too focused on her to realize that she was leading me out to the back porch. I started to tense up.
“Don’t worry.” She squeezed my hand. “I just want you to meet someone.”
We passed by Ariel – who always worked the back, was as tall as I am, and had arms to die for – and it took a second for my eyes to adjust to the bright light above the steps. At the foot, concentrating on their guitars, were Jo and Caroline. Over by the garbage can was 69rpm, practicing some riffs because he wasn’t about to set up before the show only to tear down again. Pixie (I’ll call her that for brevity’s sake) yanked my arm and dragged me down the stairs. Then, she tapped Jo on the shoulder, and I just about died.
“Oh, hey. You having fun?” Jo smiled at the two of us. “Meet someone cool?”
“God, Joan. Don’t even start.” She turned to me, giving a little wink. “This is my friend, Annabelle Spencer. She knows Frisbee.”
I stood there and grinned like a stupid fuck, because I was totally shocked. How did Pixie know my name, and Frisbee for that matter?
“Is that right? Sit down, girl. Don’t be shy.” I wasn’t about to resist a direct order, especially coming for Jo. So I sat behind Caroline, and Pixie snuggled up to Jo, giving her a neck massage.
“So. Are you from around here?” That was Caroline, the other real half of Intruder. She’s around 5′ 9″ now, but then she was an inch or two shorter (18 but still growing, I guess). Her hair was completely shaved off, except for a long, purple stripe about an inch in width, which split her between the eyes. She had on a floral dress that went up to her knees.
“…yeah.” I couldn’t speak. It was like a dream.
“Actually, Annabelle’s a real fan of Intruder Alert!” Pixie tapped her foot against mine; I could see that her toes were painted Circle X red. I had to say something.
“Yeah. Frisbee gave me your first tape, and ever since then I’ve been totally hooked. You are so amazing!” God, I sounded like a total sponge.
“What’s your favorite song?” Caroline again. Jo whispered something to Pixie, and both were smiling. Pixie handed her the chain.
“‘Loop’ is really cool, but ‘Half Open Window’ is awesome.”
“You are a real fan. Everyone seems to hate the B to ‘Usual'”
“No way! I mean…” Pixie squeezed Jo on the neck, smiled, and got up to leave. “…I mean it’s a really good song.” I had no idea what was going on, but I knew that an opportunity like this only happened once, and I wasn’t about to waste it.
“Annabelle….” Jo frowned. “God, that name is too long for me. Help me out Caroline. She needs a new name.”
“I don’t know. I kinda like Annabelle.” Caroline smiled at me. “It has an old-world charm.” At that point 69rpm started up this revolutionary drum-march thing, and everyone started to crack up.
“How about Oceana?” He stopped drumming for a second. I could barely see him in the dark, but it looked like he had a harmonica hanging around his neck. “I always thought that was a cool name.”
“No, no. All she needs is a good contraction, something that shows her essence…”
“I don’t know, Caroline. Everyone calls me that now.”
“I got it.” Jo put down her guitar, and stood up. Out of the cone of light, her face was half in shadow, and her brown hair – pulled back – dissolved into the night. Her white, pin-striped shirt and really loud tie took on an orange hue, and her dark, ankle-length skirt shifted in the wind. “A-Bell.”
Everyone was silent. Even 69rpm stopped with the garbage. I could hear Masking Tape play through the door; Susanna was just starting “Drinking Utensils,” the part when she sits down on her knees, closes her eyes, and whispers “I need a glass/so I can break it.” There was no doubt in my mind that it was perfect.
“Cool?” I smiled.
“O.K. then. A-Bell, come with me. Time for stage two.” Jo reached towards me, and I gladly took her hand. As she lifted me from the stairs, I could feel the callous on her fingers, I could sense the songs that flowed out of them continuously. We walked around the Treehouse to the left, towards the dirt parking lot and the tall, wide trees beyond. She swung the chain slightly as we walked; it seemed to clank in time with 69’s drumming, slowly fading in the distance.
“My cousin was telling me how impressed she was with you.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say it. I just stared at her tie – yellow, with green turtles crawling upwards.
“She’s the mysterious type. Never telling you what she thinks.” She kicked a rock. “Or knows.”
“I’ve just met her, yet….” I looked up at the stars, coming out past the clouds.
“I know. She has that effect on people.” She stopped. “Far enough. Now listen.”
And I did. Of course, all of the quotes that I’ve included so far are semi-manufactured, because I didn’t have a tape recorder with me or anything. What’s been said was said, more or less. But when we stopped in the back of the parking lot – right by Slinky’s station wagon, which still had windows at that time – and Jo looked me straight in the eye, I can never, will never, forget what she said to me:
“Frisbee wanted us to find you. She’s worried.”
I was confused. Sure, I knew Laura pretty well, having written to her since antizine 1, but we had never met, and I hadn’t told her that much about my problems.
“I don’t understand.”
Jo frowned, and then turned towards the Treehouse. The air pulsated slightly with Susanna’s voice. I could tell she was rolling on the stage about then. “It’s not a mistake that we’re here tonight. It’s not a mistake that you met my cousin.” She closed her eyes for a second, and then put her hand on my shoulder and opened them. “You’re so special, A-Bell. You can’t possibly know how much.”
I was about to die. Jo was saying all of this wonderful stuff, and she couldn’t possibly mean it. She didn’t even know me. But still….
“O.K. What’s going on!” I shook her hand off.
“Fair enough. We’ll talk.” She smiled. “We need to go to our van, though. I need to show you something.”
Part of me felt like I was going to get molested or jumped or something, but the other – A-Bell, my newly named essence – knew that it was right. So we went, and talked for about an hour. I can’t discuss the conversation, but sufficed to say that I finally understood what my purpose in life was. I understood my attraction to Frisbee and Joan, and I understood that Sasha was the one for me.
You see, Pixie was Sasha, only I didn’t find that out until later that year, when she started working with Joan in Jumpster, and by then she had changed so much that I almost didn’t recognize her. Of course, all it took was a second of hand-holding to fix that. I could never forget her warmth.
So anyway, when I went back into the Treehouse that night, desperately looking for her, all that was left was that Pixie stick, now empty, duck taped to the side of the ice chest, along with a note. It read:
Sorry about the runaround, but I promised Frisbee that I’d get you in contact with Jo. If you’re reading this then I assume you forgive me. At first, I was just playing along with the plan, but… I don’t know how to say this. It’s strange. I really do feel something for you, something that I’ve never really felt before. I need to think about it.
I know we’ll meet again, sooner than you imagine. Please don’t forget me, or this night. Take care of yourself.
Your Secret Admirer
As Intruder started to take the stage (the pre-punks tearing themselves apart in anticipation), and as Pat snuggled up to Issac in the living room – under the painting Phone did for the Treehouse-warming, “Yard Stick Vs. Tape Measure” – I slumped down by the ice chest, held the note to my heart, and cried. Cried while Jo sang “Half Open Window” just for me, cried while Caroline, 69rpm, and even Circle X (who recovered in time for the set, but didn’t bother to take off the sweater) made the most beautiful music in the world. I didn’t stop crying until well after the show was over, after I had said goodbye to Jo and made plans for our next meeting. Pat went home with Issac, Susanna biked along side Phone, and little male pre-punks snagged unlucky girls for their adolescent, temporary bliss. I took the bus, and the clouds were now far away – I could see some constellations that I recognized through the window. I didn’t want to cry under those stars, the same ones that shine upon us all at our respective births and deaths, so I wiped my face on Pat’s father’s jacket, made the chain into an quick belt, and prepared myself for the big mess.
Home was the big mess, of course. “What the fuck were you doing out so late?” That’s my dad. “Weren’t you supposed to be at Patricia’s house?” Mom. “How was the show? Any cute boys?” Mary, my “sister”. I was all cried out, so I just remained silent until the questions subsided, went up to my room, and put on my tape of the first Intruder show. It was loud, and I had headphones on, but I fell asleep pretty quickly.
I had a strange dream, one that I made sure to write down the next morning. Sasha, Frisbee and Joan were in it, along with a number of other women that I didn’t recognize, and everyone was older – in their mid-to-late twenties, I guess. Anyway, we were all at this show, some group we didn’t know was playing, and suddenly everyone in the band disappeared. Jo jumped on stage first and grabbed the guitar, and then Frisbee and Sasha followed. I hesitated a bit, but all the rest of the women pushed me onto the stage. Then someone helped a little girl up to join us, and she ran to Frisbee, who raised her into a hug and kiss. She put her down, and then the little girl grew older really quickly. Frisbee ran off the stage, yelling about something, and then there was a tremendous explosion. The only person missing, though, was Frisbee – all of the other women were still in the audience. Then, Sasha started to draw strange markings on herself, which reminded me of what Phone did at the door to the Treehouse. Soon she took off her clothes, covered her whole body with shapes and symbols, and then gave me a pen, telling me to do the same. I tried, but the marks kept disappearing right after I made them. I told Sasha this, but she just smiled. The little girl was now a full woman, and she started to play the drums, so Jo followed her lead. Then, Sasha started to touch the markings on her body, and each spot produced a different sound. I tried to touch myself, but nothing happened. So I walked over to Sasha, and asked her to show me how it worked. She put my hand against her face, and then I heard the most beautiful noise in the world. It was so wonderful that I couldn’t tolerate hearing it, so I pulled away and immediately woke up. My walkthing, which had auto-reverse, was still playing the tape from the night before. And the upside down “T” was transferred to my pillow.
Ever since that day I studied that tape, hoping that the perfect noise was somehow included within it, and just happened to enter my dream. I haven’t found it yet, but when I touch Sasha’s face I get the same feeling, that this-close-to-exploding mass of wonderfulness. Fuck, I even get it when I look at her, like when I was playing with Suspender that night, when Jo was off recording another one of her secret projects.
During our first encore, when John and Frisbee finally showed up (they said they got lost coming to the club, but I knew better – ask her to tell you the story), Sasha had migrated to the front of the stage, staring at me with those knowing eyes of hers, the ones that look straight into your brain and heart and caress them. Well, I was sweating up a storm, and the crowd was not even close to being tired, so I made a call and Caroline seconded it. Fortunately, 8-Track and Velcro were versed enough to know what I was going after, so once we regrouped and dug back in our brains to 1986, I took the mike off the stand, and gave Frisbee the secret sign, the only one I can’t discuss.
“This is a song that most of you don’t know, but it’s really dear to my heart.”
“Get on with it, you fuck!” Yeah, it was the “Where the fuck is Jo!” guy.
“It’s called “Drinking Utensils”, and fuck you if you don’t like it. It’s not for you anyway.” 8-Track started us off slowly, as Caroline and Velcro stood back and watched.
Staring at Sasha, I slowly dropped to my knees.
And I sang.