so the mental universe is unwinding, something’s moving backwards, and some say it’s perverse, but there’s no denying, the oldsters got a hold of their power. or was it the children who found it? is it us who symbiotically discovered, empowered the fermented and demented minds of the fifty, sixty, seventy somethings, dived for fecund thoughts, the intellectual fuck like the progressive rock masterpiece notated in hexadecimal grids with color-coded counterpoint? did we re-supply fort knox? the economy is in the rotted fruitcore, james’ giant peach.
“well, we kind of got back together, me and her,” i tell him, my mid-life crisis friend. “but hey, don’t let me harsh your buzz, carry out those carnal desires.” i like how that rolls off my tongue, over-enunciated, sarcastic-sounding but sincere.
“hey is this chair taken?” a young one says.
“no, have a seat,” i say, keeping the brittle tone, cutting joviality. i will be a gentlemen and refrain from offering cocain. instead i will buy her a shot.
“how are you tonight?” she asks, sitting beside me. barely sounds inquisitive, i can tell from my peripherals her eyes are darting, she’s looking for someone else, better company. i will strive to suffice. i can’t look yet, the ritual hasn’t progressed to that stage. the ritual? what ritual am i performing? i’m making it up as i go along. in peripheral, she appears slim, small, blond, one of those rag dolls i used to love, the climax would be quick and meaningless.
“this is mallory, we’re going to jam tonight,” i say. yes, get mid-life crisis connected. this isn’t for me, i’m on vitamins now. “can i buy you a drink?”
“yeah, okay,” she says, a little taken aback, sensing the trap, the ritual i haven’t finished inventing yet.
“a shot of humidor for the lady!” i call to the servant girl. i’m allowed to call her that, albeit to myself, because i gave her a ten dollar tip last night, although i’m not sure she remembers.
“what’s that?” our new table-mate asks, dry, almost as brittle as my boisterous and distancing tone. “sounds operatic.” still, it’s a good question, she can play, riff.
“yeah, i think it was carmen’s suicide elixir,” i say. i can tell mallory is straining for a monty python reference, since that is what he’s best at. now it’s my duty to give him some sort of set-up.
“one last shot and salut,” she says.
ah. i love it when i don’t have to hold the universe together at the corner of the smoking-room table.
“she’s joined the bleedin’ choir invisible,” mallory says with a grin. i allow a look and she is smiling. “what’s your name?” mallory asks.
“molly,” she says. “what are you guys doing on stage tonight?”
“we’ll just see what happens i guess,” mallory says. “hopefully get some kinda groove goin’.”
“he plays bass. did you see that huge-ass keyboard propped up against the amps?”
“mmm… i don’t think so.”
“yeah, well that’s mine.”
“when i have to be, yeah. we’re just gonna improvise, hopefully it will be cool, maybe it will be crap. hopefully we won’t bore you.”
“yeah, well, i just came here to smoke anyway, unless you need a drummer.”
“you play drums, eh?” mallory says. “well for sure, come jam with us. looks like you need a smoke too.”
molly reaches into her purse for some change, but mallory has a canadian classic filter in her face before she gets far.
the humidor arrives on a tray, it’s so easy easy when everybody’s trying to please me, sharing the wealth, your typical tequila puddle and loose change cup runneth over. she picks up the shot and slams it down, workmanlike. emerges, nearly choking but hiding the nausea admirably.
“forgot lime,” she croaks.
“yeah, that’s sipping tequila, you shouldn’t shoot it. but hey… does it help you play drums better?”
“no.” more darting eyes. it comforts me, i was getting weirded out thinking she had latched onto us, pathetic me and mallory, having to live up to being some sort of menschen. being transitory company is more comfortable. she is latching onto mallory’s cig though, like it’s her own.
“so…” somebody says, or was that in my head?
“you guys are musicians, huh?”
“well i call myself a musician when i can,” mallory says. “wanking is pretty much the highlight of my day.”
“and mine,” i chime in.
“are you guys talking still about music?”
“well let me put it this way, molly,” i say. “if my ratio of sex to masturbation was expressed as a percentage, there would be at least four decimal places.”
“one in a thousand?” molly says. “my god.”
“you know, that doesn’t sound all that bad to me,” mallory says. “or at least it didn’t while i was married.”
“oh, i have lots of sex. it’s just that i jerk off like a fiend. no pussy can keep pace!”
mallory cracks up, then gives me an odd look. he’s wondering what’s with me tonight. it’s freaking everyone out. i guess it’s the vitamins. i look over at molly and she is smiling, but it’s sort of a grimace. but sort of a smile. she’s hanging around, because we have managed to be entertaining, even though i’ve barely looked at her. mallory has looked, a lot. go mallory. close the generation gap!
“what do you do for fun, drummer girl?” he says.
“i hit things.”
there should be more. the humidor is revealing this to me, even though i didn’t drink it myself. this is crossing a line, but i lean over to her, finally looking her in the eye for the first time.
“you know you’re not real right? you’re just a topical manifestation of my short term memory, the neurons that still fire up the limbic system a little, a contrived, ad-hoc array of jumbled emotional stimuli – psychologists could glean much data from it, but as literature, it’s junk.”
“so you’re giving up on me?” molly asks me, looking back with eyes that change color every few seconds. “like i don’t have a character anywhere? you cared enough to give me some lines.”
“and you cared enough to come by. it doesn’t quite add up. things rarely do, here. maybe i’ll figure out who you are later. i haven’t really figured out who i am yet, even. all i know is, i’m on vitamins. let’s play some music.”
i continue that thought on the keys after i’m set up, saying: “this is what i’m thinking right now”, thinking it can flow, should flow, why not? kicking it off. then mallory interlopes with something that i’m not sure is a riff, and i scramble to play around it, losing confidence, and fucking everything up. is this my line, or his?
i realize i am continuing my thought, expressing my feeling, with utmost integrity, in sonic nausea. yes, a triumph of vertigo. might as well play it up. i play some arbitrary arpeggios while looking at the bar crowd. no one looks back.
i realize molly is playing, hitting the cymbals, an array of cymbals, a pattern that uses nearly every part of the kit, sounds like to me. so i lose awareness of what mallory is playing on his bass and try to match that beat, something that feels comfortable between those symbols, but the arpeggios take me away again, astray with augmented chords, so i justify it all by saying syn-copay-shin!
i return to my keys, reflecting odd-angled house lights. it’s always so different playing here. and i shouldn’t have to look up, i should be able to direct this trio with my ears, but who is the leader now, am i comping or leading? take charge! better to take charge than be uncertain, half-assed… but shouldn’t i let the rhythm section… is this chord allowed? oh, is he playing a whole tone scale? no, that’s me being desperately analytical when there’s no time to feel.
martial snare rolls in the midst of this, and sure, i’ll march with you, i’ll follow you into hell, i’ll try, anyway, i’ll do it for you, molly. let’s call this: death march, i’ll quote the dies irae, like anyone will notice, certainly not when i fuck up the melody, but you can’t really fuck up that melody cause it’s already fucked up, stuttering measures of notated meandering, so really, i’m just channeling.
of course there is no end but i pound a fermata chord between the wisps of dying drum and bass anyway, it’s not my fault, sounded good in a warped sort of context, hopefully the audience is all stoned or not listening, either would be nice, it’s over, so without missing a beat, i grab my keyboard, forgetting the patch cord which hooks on a mic stand, nearly sends me sprawling, the sound guy moves to catch me but i’m alright, another beer and i would have tumbled, but i’m alright, just keep your distance people, i’m getting my shit out of here as quick as i can.
thankfully, no one meets my eye, until
there is someone to greet me, white-haired woman without the glaze of the younger ones, but a laser-like gaze burning into me, beaming gargoyle from the bar, and when she leans into me and looks into me, i can tell she’s one of those parched and pursed gateways to incredible exponential edible mentality, eventual sexual ecstasy via the arabesque weave, the glass bead gang-bang. i’ve seen her around, on the arms of the potent, advertising her unattainability to the plebs, legendary for her mind and its flexibility in states far beyond intimacy, leaving the yoga hall where the rip-off artists conned mystic hippies, and the health club where the failing bodies would compete for the best meat. the legendary mind is looking well, carrying a sixty-five year old avatar with dignity, and if you think that for every fold in the skin are a thousand in the cortex, and the vortex that leads to is telepathic consummation of a non-local free-range rogue-star binary system in energy times the speed of light squared being an equitable metaphor for the implications of hyper-evolved dendritic entanglement and catalytic fulfillment of desire, even if you’re still stuck on the cock-gobbling chemical level, and especially if your cells are still controlling you, it can lead you pretty far. on.
she says: “it sounded like you were deconstructing keith emerson in a jazz context but a proper presentation of entropy requires coherency.”
nodding, i say: “i hadn’t thought the premise through nearly enough.” i hope this is an adequate response. maybe she’ll buy me a drink.
i think about what she looks like in her mind. her attentive eyes allow me this connection, she is splayed open and lubricated. it’s a trick i’ve acquired since my vitamins kicked in. layers peel away. colors change, it’s a seasonal kaleidoscope. her lineage does, of course, go back all the way to aphrodite, that much i can see, and she sees that i see, but no further, and let’s leave gaia out of this, wouldn’t want to get incestuous, i’m not that far into this reversal. i’ll keep it greco-roman, maybe establish a nomadic euroromp in our shared hallucination, that jet-black witch bitch, starved through anorexic aesthetics, fleshy when necessary, voluptuous at the summit of let-them-eat-cake, does she like that dress? because i do, in spite of myself, i’d put my head in the guillotine for her.
“what do you know about belladonna?” i ask, falling into the vortex, streaming through.
“i know it was useful at the opera house,” she says. “they thought our eyes were beautiful dilated, though the rogues had no need for that, they had less natural, more human methods of dilation, i could pretend you are one of them…”