Welcome to the first installment of Gonzo Cupboard, a periodic nonfiction-themed edition of Mr. Wink’s Cabinet of Wonders. Due to a dangerous lack of supervision (says Wink via e-mail: “I am not going to play interfering dictator, do whatever you please”), I’ll be posting bits of irresponsible journalism, oddball humor, and an occasional work of tasteless fiction whenever the Gonzo inbox once again starts to overflow with words I like. Coming soon to my other tiny corner of Mr. Wink’s house: “Gonzo: A Sort of Manifesto.” (G. Oguss)
Le Musee C’Est Moi
When I was in school, Wednesday was Museum Day. Each Wednesday at noon, I would meet up with my boss, the Chairman of the Classics Department, and we would drive up to the Metropolitan Museum on Fifth Avenue. The chairman discouraged conversation in the car. Outside of class, he was not talkative, at least until the first drink of the afternoon. After that, there was not stopping him.
At the museum, I would unload about forty trays of slides from the car, then hand-truck them to the Met’s research library in the basement of the building. This was in the days before digital media and the Metropolitan had a huge amount of physical research material. They claimed to have a slide of every major work of art and architecture in the world. I must have lugged every single one of them over my years in school. The chairman had spent every Wednesday afternoon for more than twenty years right there in the library, pulling projectables for his next week’s lectures.
Once I had the old boy installed in the library, I was free to wander the museum for hours, until the time came to carry the new trays of slides out to the car. This meandering provided a very good education. I spent many weeks in the Egyptian wing, even more in Greek and Roman sculpture. I was very fond of the illuminated Persian books in the Islamic Collection and spent much time in the Lehman Wing (where the late financier’s collection was displayed in a detailed reconstruction of his own house). The Met’s exhausting collection of paintings on the second floor took many months to go through. I recall spending whole afternoons gazing at a two-sided Van Gogh, which was displayed in an acrylic box mounted on a plinth. I had patience in those days.
If I was tired or bored, I’d find a spot to sit and read, usually in the atrium in front of the American Wing (which had a fine casting of Rodin’s Gates of Hell) or in the Egyptian atrium by the little recreation of the Nile that ran past the tidy Temple of Dendour. I liked this spot best. It was always like the Nile Valley there, only cool, quiet and clean–and no Egyptians. Outside, the Central Park snow would fall against the glass walls in the gathering dark. But in here, it was forever bright, warm and safe.
The Met was impressive and educational. It was also stuffy, snobbish and not especially fun (in the way I find, say, Ed Kienholz or Jonathan Borofsky fun). It was elegant, tomb-like and silent—a bit too haunted by the spirit of Stanford White and the nineteenth-century notion of what art ought to be. After a time, I began to privately refer to the museum as the art cemetery.
I suppose I’d grown tired of art that was created for museums and the art done by people I knew at school in imitation of what they’d seen in museums. Still, I was grateful for the many days I roamed the halls of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
At five o’clock, I would go downstairs to collect the chairman and the new batch of slides. Once I had the car packed up, the chairman would invariably insist we go over to the bar at The Stanhope for an hour or two of serious drinking. The Chairman, in his late forties, seemed to subsist solely on Italian Art, Gordon’s Gin and unfiltered Pall Malls. He was the product of illiterate Irish immigrant parents, had been a Fulbright Scholar, and had a PhD in archeology from Princeton and Bologna (where he was the first non-Italian since Erasmus to get a doctorate in Italian Literature). The old boy avoided going home as much as he could; his wife was a socialite and a notorious bitch. Their only child was a profoundly retarded girl with epilepsy. The Chairman told wonderful stories, sang opera superbly when drunk and seemed on intimate terms with every bartender and maitre’d from The Battery to Yorkville.
On this particular night in November, after a particularly boozy session at the Stanhope, I parted company with the Chairman on Fifth Avenue. My habit at these times was to cut east over to Lex or Madison, then walk south for a ways. I’d turn west in the East Fifties, then catch the subway downtown at Sixth Avenue. Gin seemed always to require exercise. I’d never ride the subway just after gin; that was only asking for trouble.
It was past seven p.m., quite dark and too cold for that time of year. The streets were always empty in early November; they would fill up with shoppers and tourists after Thanksgiving and through the holidays; they’d empty out again in January (always the grimmest, snowiest month) and come back to life by March. I recall I often sang when I walked the empty streets after drinking (I was a very musical drunk in my youth) and I did so on this night. I believe I did a rendition of the aria “O Mio Babbino Caro,” as if performed by Jerry Lewis. It was filled with ear-splitting key changes and spurious Yiddish. (“Oyyyy—mio babbeeeeeno caro—niiiiice laaaaydee!”) As I hit a particularly acidic high note, the driver of a passing cab leaned out his window and shouted:
“SHUT UP! JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP!”
I turned down 58th Street and began to walk west.
58th Street was a chic, well-lit promenade with a wide sidewalk to accommodate shoppers, though there were none in sight this night. I did see a small dark figure, slowly strolling, nearly a block ahead of me. I was walking at a faster pace than the figure; soon, I was about ten feet behind.
As I approached, it seemed clear it was a homeless person–man or woman I could not tell. From behind, I could see that this person was wrapped up in a black cloth. He (or she) was wearing a black hat like an old Homburg, pulled down low on his (or her) head. As I drew closer, I could see the odd hair—mostly gray, brilliantine-ed curls that hung below the brim of the hat. The figure shuffled along with a cane and began to speak.
Perhaps a yard behind the dark stroller, I could make out a word or two of what he (definitely a he) was saying. It was in Spanish—Catalan actually—though some S’s were lisped like in Castillian. The voice said: “Entre lossss mariiposss-assssss de desssss-tinooo-ah–ah ha Yo-ho-ho-HAH! PERFECTA!” The speaker produced these words as if for the benefit of their pretty sounds—slowly and with enough odd stress that you’d need subtitles to know exactly what was being said.
By this point, I had a fair notion of with what I was dealing.
I walked a foot or so ahead of the man. The enormous, waxed mustache (more like bits of punctuation than growths of human hair) confirmed my suspicion. It was he—Salvador Dali—in the flesh. He was all decked out for a night at the La Scala circa 1930.
The old man wore an old-fashioned tuxedo, with round silk lapels and a black satin stripe down the pant leg, below which he sported patent leather opera pumps. What I’d thought was a black blanket was an antique opera cape, tied loosely at his throat. He had a white silk scarf draped over his shoulders and carried a black lacquered stick with an ivory knob for a handle (much like what Fred Astaire wielded when he was “Putting on The Ritz”). Dali paid me no mind whatsoever, though his mumbling (still in Catalonian Spanglish) had now increased in volume to a conversational level.
Of course I knew who Salvador Dali was. It was hard not to. My drawing teacher, the Cuban Surrealist Daniel Serra Badue, had been his friend and contemporary in Barcelona in the thirties. Serra had a few pen and ink Dali originals hung in the office corner of his studio. Painting students at school still dutifully churned out Dali pastiches—innumerable renderings of phallic driftwood melting on Death Valley dreamscapes, drippy profiles like cracked eggs frying on matrix horizons suspended in starry space—entirely derivative stuff. I’d studied Dali-as-mathematician in my Survey of World Mathematics course; the open-minded Jesuits at school had even hung a large reproduction of his Christ Crucified on an Extended Hypercube (Corpus Hypercubus) in the school chapel.
Dali had long been a semi-scandalous social figure in New York. He’d prowl the streets with a foul-smelling pet ocelot on a leash; the raucous scenes he created when a bar or restaurant refused to admit the animal were notorious. On one occasion, Dali flung himself through a plate-glass display window at Bonwitt Teller; he later claimed the beautiful, glamorous world depicted in the window was so convincing he assumed he could just enter into it. I recall one critic described Dali as having “the brush of an angel and the vanity of a drag queen.”
The old man continued strolling along, paying me no deliberate mind, though he did grow more animated now that he had company. I knew better than to approach him. Dali was known to react violently when accosted by strangers; he claimed that he was compelled to create an original work dedicated to every person whom he ever touched. With strangers grabbing his arm or shaking his hand, it would certainly make for a heavy workload.
I should point out that, though shopworn, the old boy looked pretty good. He must have been into his eighties by then. But here he was walking around on a cold night, unattended, all dolled up like a waxworks Dracula. He was walking at a good speed by this time and swinging his cane with his pace to indicate that he really didn’t need it.
By this time I was certain that it was he who was engaging me. I slowed down a little; he slowed down a little. I walked faster; he walked faster. I stopped; he stopped. I spun in a circle; he spun in a circle. It was a bit like the I Love Lucy episode where Harpo Marx and Lucille Ball played mirror. The shuffling gait the old man affected when I’d first come upon him had been just another pose.
“Dondeeee esssstAAAHHH el grasssss-eeeee-osssssso?” he asked of no one.
He turned in my direction, pointed his stick ahead and said curtly (as if to an unseen person walking between us): “El Museo Dali es aqui…”
Is that where he was headed, all slicked up, I wondered? As far as I knew, the Dali Museum (in Spain) was still under construction. He’d have an awfully long walk, though they’d probably be finished building it by the time he got there.
We came to an intersection. The crossing was marked with stripes at right angles, forming a grid of white-bordered boxes on the asphalt. The old man dutifully waited by my side for the light to turn green. When it did, he dashed across the grid, his stick held high like a sword. At the mid-point of the crossing, he planted the tip of the cane in the center of a manhole cover. He then neatly paced in a clockwise circle around the cover, counting off the hours of the day (in Spanish) like a timepiece. At the count of Twelve, he dashed back to my side and resumed walking.
Everything on this street seemed closed for the night. Where was Dali really going anyway? The opera was north, the theaters were south and we were headed west. About halfway down this next block was a brightly-lit storefront. I knew the place. It was an Italian shoe boutique; over the past two weeks a crew had been shooting a commercial for European TV therein. I could see the commotion as we approached the shop-front. Within the premises was a score of dancers attired in the workout clothing of the day (ridiculous knee-warmers in fruit-stand colors); this chorus line executed a series of intricately arranged moves to a music track one could not hear from outside the store. I could hear the thump, thump of the bass tones though.
Dali found this all irresistible; “Oooohhhh—ahhhhhhh-haaaaah!” he cried as he trundled over to the shop window, twirling his walking stick like a jaunty Chaplin. I stopped to watch his performance. By now, I was also feeling a little responsible for the old loon; if he fell, got mugged or hit by a fucking bus it would be my fault. The old man pressed his face and hands to the glass. Was he going to dash thorough it, I wondered, or was he getting too old for that sort of thing? Dali then deftly leaped up onto the ledge in front of the window; it must have been about a foot off the ground and a foot-and-a-half wide.
He raised his cane and began to swing his arms in time to the beat as though he were a conductor. “Aaaa-haa!” he cried, “Si, siiiii, siiiiii!”
The old lunatic continued for a couple of minutes, complimenting his own performance while delivering it. If any inside the shop were at all aware of him, they made no sign of it. Dali then spun around on the window ledge and cried loudly “Ayyyyeeeee! El fin! Es fan-TASSSSS-tique!” The old man neatly hopped from the ledge and rejoined me on the sidewalk. For the first (and only) time in our stroll, he turned his head and addressed himself (now in French) directly to me.
“Le musee…” he said with a laugh, “C’est moi.”
A bit further down the street was the old boy’s destination. It was Regine’s. A pair of figures loitered in a pool of light near the entrance. I knew about the place—not as literary as Elaine’s or as gay as Studio 54. But more exclusive than either. If you weren’t a regular, Regine had to personally invite you. As we drew closer I could see Regine herself at the door— notable for her helmet of lacquered red hair. She wore a bronze-colored metallic evening gown and a matching wrap to stem the November chill. By her side stood a beefy doorman draped in about twenty yards of Armani suiting.
Without a goodbye or a glance back, the old man then left my side and strode purposefully toward the doorway; it flooded the pavement with a warm, butter-colored brightness. Throwing her arms wide (most theatrical) Regine advanced on old Dali and embraced him: he was definitely expected. It really was something, seeing these two characters arm-in-arm: the man who claimed he’d invented art (he really didn’t) and the woman who claimed she’d invented the disco (she probably did).
I watched as they turned to go inside. Wrapping her arm about Dali’s shoulder as though he were an errant son come home at last, she led the old man through the doorway, toward the source of the warm light.
DJ Jesus Christ
Random Suicide Letter to a 22 Year-Old in China
————————— Original Message ————————–
From: Klaus Dexter
Date: Feb 10, 2009 3:29 AM
Subject: greetings from the darkness
it’s a cold rainy night and i feel like reaching out to a friend in a far-away land…
i know it sounds strange but there was a huge thunderclap outside in the rain and it seemed to be urging me to write something. please forgive my randomness; I’m not usually so random. that’s really the reason i decided to send you an email. you’re someone i don’t know at all…and you don’t know me. isn’t it crazy?? isn’t it crazy that i can send a letter to someone i don’t even know halfway around the world?
i could even tell you me deepest and darkest secrets. now if i met someone on the street and tried to have a conversation like this they would just wrinkle their forehead and walk away thinking, “that guy is INSANE.” but am i? i don’t feel insane…just a little out of place.
to tell you the truth, i really want to ask you if you think that dreams are as real as reality itself. what do you think? do you even have dreams? some people say they can’t remember their dreams; then are their dreams wasted?
but here’s the biggest unanswered question of all: what the heck is the point of life??
usually the question is worded like this: ‘what is the meaning of life?’
and i always like to answer with: ‘the meaning of life IS meaning.’ it sounds silly and full of empty rhetoric doesn’t it? but really, people need meaning in life to continue, no matter how illogical or crazy their beliefs. i think you understand what i’m talking about. why? because the thunder and rain outside told me so. i know it seems ridiculous, but that’s just the way i feel. to me, life is an endless poem in which color battles against the absence of color: a war between passion and logic.
and usually, when i can’t find meaning i write or make music. what do you do? it seems you’re an artist. you said you liked poetry, drawing, designing, and film. That’s something i can relate to.
what’s it like in china?
if you have no answers that’s ok too. Actually, I don’t have many friends. i just wanted to spend some time talking with you. your picture inspired me. the thunder, rain, and lightning pushed me to be brave and to trust in someone i don’t know. in fact, i totally trust you but i still don’t know why.
After a run-in with some Klonopins and Scotch whiskey earlier this year, Klaus Dexter is currently under house arrest and forbidden from using the internet.
[06:50] 天地同根: sup hottie
[06:50] 天地同根: i’m a communist
[06:51] 天地同根: really
[06:51] kathykittens: hello
[06:51] 天地同根: i’m like che guevara
[06:51] 天地同根: but less guevara, more che
[06:51] kathykittens: i like sexxxxxxx
[06:51] 天地同根: che likes sex
[06:51] kathykittens: u like it to
[06:51] 天地同根: sex is healthy but only with communist girl
[06:52] 天地同根: are you communist girl?
[06:52] kathykittens: yea
[06:52] kathykittens: wanna hav chat sex
[06:52] 天地同根: really?
[06:52] kathykittens: yea
[06:52] 天地同根: do you have picture of chairman mao?
[06:53] 天地同根: or lenin?
[06:53] kathykittens: noe
[06:53] 天地同根: hmm, this may be problem
[06:53] 天地同根: i cannot sex without picture
[06:53] kathykittens: why
[06:53] 天地同根: we need picture
[06:53] kathykittens: noe u dont jst think it
[06:53] 天地同根: you should understand what i’m talking about….hey! are you communist? you sed you’re communist!
[06:57] kathykittens: so u want to or not
[06:57] kathykittens: do u wanr 2 av sex
[06:58] 天地同根: bwaahahaaaaa…you mean, with no picture of mao??!
[06:58] kathykittens: yea
[06:58] 天地同根: are you crazy??!
[06:58] kathykittens: does it really matter
[06:59] kathykittens: yes im a female
[07:00] 天地同根: ok
[07:01] 天地同根: do you like communist sex?
[07:01] kathykittens: yea
[07:02] 天地同根: do you like these pictures of chairman mao? stalin? who is the sexiest?
[07:03] kathykittens: all of them
[07:04] 天地同根: hmm, what’s ur communist country of origin?
[07:05] kathykittens: i 4got bt r we goin 2 do it or not
[07:06] kathykittens: r we gion 2 hav sex or wut cuz im really turned on
[07:07] 天地同根: oh wow! oh. oh, O
[07:07] kathykittens: yea
[07:08] 天地同根: you like che huh?
[07:08] 天地同根: che makes you feel good right?
[07:08] kathykittens: yuh
[07:08] 天地同根: che gonna it give to the commune!
[07:08] 天地同根: everybody gonna get it! oh, baby, take a piece!
[07:09] kathykittens: get it babii please
[07:09] 天地同根: oh oh oh
[07:09] 天地同根: che guevara!
[07:09] 天地同根: say it!
[07:09] 天地同根: guevara!
[07:09] 天地同根: nao1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[07:12] kathykittens: guevara nal 1
[07:12] 天地同根: alright!
[07:12] 天地同根: was it good for you?
[07:12] 天地同根: wait, did we already finish?
[07:13] kathykittens: oh you totally freeking ruind it,
[07:13] 天地同根: wait, lets have a smoke…wait, where’d you go?
The van was cramped, as always. Alex Grimswold lit another cigarette and exhaled into the swirling miasma of smoke that permeated the vehicle. It was in the seats, their hair, their clothes. It didn’t matter. They were supposed to smell like smoke. It was part of the lifestyle. Besides, this was the last tour. No one was going to miss it even if they came out on stage smeared in shit and honey. He’d heard earlier in the week there were actually people selling their blood to afford the exorbitant ticket prices that Roy had insisted on charging. Alex honestly couldn’t give a fuck what they charged anymore. He already had more money than he could possibly spend in a lifetime. He was sure that Roy had made at least three times as much as anyone else in the band.
The cigarette turned sour in his mouth at the thought of the fat little prig, and he stubbed it out on the armrest next to him. Everyone else was asleep, but they wouldn’t have said anything to him even if they’d been watching. This wasn’t the first time someone had put out their cigarette on this particular armrest, as the forest of black pockmarks burned into the faux-leather could attest. Besides, who the hell was going to yell at him? He was Alex fucking Grimswold, lead singer of the most influential band since the Beatles. There were people selling their blood just to see him shaking his aging ass on stage one last time.
Fucking imbeciles, he thought, flicking the butt out the window. Who the fuck sells their blood anyway? Transients and stupid fucking college kids who can’t afford their next baggie of pot, that’s who.
He remembered saying in an interview several years earlier, “Why should I be worried about my health? Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, all of them burned out young and left a beautiful fucking corpse. I’ll be pissed at myself if I don’t do the exact same thing.” In another interview that same year, he was quoted as saying, “Of course I want to die young. You get to bow out of the business before it starts feeling like a job. One way or another, I want to get the hell out of this place before it’s not fun anymore.”
Well, it was too late for any of that. He hadn’t OD’d, although Lord knows he’d taken enough drugs to kill a horse on more than one occasion. In fact, he’d taken enough horse tranquilizers to kill a horse, one night when they were on tour with some rinky-dink trio that had faded into obscurity months later. He’d taken them about an hour before he was set to go onstage and still put on a good enough set that the police came in and broke it up twenty minutes in.
It was no longer fun anymore, Roy had seen to that. Even the shit that they used to do for kicks, like trashing hotel rooms and taking advantage of teenage groupies looking to sleep with fame, had taken on the bland routine of a nine-to-five job.
“I ain’t never had a nine-to-five, and I’ll put a bloody bullet in my brain before I do.”
That was another of his quotes, a few years after his “I want to die young” interview. He’d said the nine-to-five thing just so he could get into the pants of some sexy little reporter, who didn’t look like she was old enough to buy cigarettes yet. The next thing he knew he saw his mean face plastered all over T-shirts, with that quote stuck like a nasty zit on the underside of his chin. After that, he’d had to look out into the crowd and see his face staring back at him on a sea of black T-shirts, emblazoned with the legend “Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, Grimswold” on the front and “All of them burned out young and left a beautiful fucking corpse” on the back. He was tempted to start saying stupid shit intentionally, see how many of the little shits would come to his concerts with one of his T-shirts if he started quoting Mother Goose or something. The only thing that stopped him was an image of row upon row of that same mean face worn proudly on their chests with “Mary Had A Little Lamb” stenciled on the back.
The van shuddered to a wheezing stop, and he looked out the window to see where they were. Not yet at the venue, not unless Roy had finally gone apeshit and had booked a gig at a gas station. Either they were low on gas or the driver had to go drain the vein. Probably both. He lit a joint, coughing as he took his first hit. The high rolled over him like a soft, hazy sea, and he let himself drift away.
“If it wasn’t for the Jesus Complex, I’d never have started my own band.” –Johnny Crash, Johnny Crash and the Thrashers
The spread was absolute shit. Then again, so was the program that had laid it out. He looked disdainfully at what looked like Ritz Crackers and Spam lined up on a tray with something that could have been refried beans, could have been dogshit. Neither would have surprised him. He sat down on one of the couches, pulling the glass coffee table over to him. He pulled a vial out of his pocket and poured out a small mound of cocaine. He put the vial back and pulled out a razor blade, cutting the coke into small, neat lines.
He looked up to see Natasha looking at him with disgust, but he didn’t give a shit. She was now another part of the job, the nine-to-five he swore would make him put a bullet in his brain before he became a victim to it. He remembered that she had been a lot of fun in the beginning, able to suck his eyeballs out of their sockets by way of his cock. But that was all over now. He’d always been more into the lifestyle than she had. Now he looked like a dirty old man trying to get fresh with a girl half his age, even though they were both barely in their forties. It seemed like all she could manage nowadays for him was contempt, or on really good days, pity. He’d be glad to never have to see that look in her eyes ever again. I’ll snort to that, he thought, and bent over, feeling the powder rush up into his nose. Everything got brighter for a moment, long enough to think that maybe he was actually going to feel the rush again. But the cocaine was neither of a high enough quality nor was there enough of it to break through the immunity he had built up over the years. After a few seconds, the glow faded from everything, and he slumped back, too tired and too disappointed to do another line.
A technician poked his head into the green room, his eyes glancing off the glass table and then bouncing away nervously, and said,
“Uh…you guys are on in five minutes.”
Alex nodded and looked up just in time to see Natasha turn away in disgust, making a noise that sounded like the same clucking sound his mother used to make whenever he did something stupid. He felt something warm running down his face, and put a hand up to his nose. His fingers came away bloody.
Fuck, he thought. He looked around for a tissue, a handkerchief, anything. He finally found some napkins, and had just wedged chunks of them up his nose, when the technician came back and said, “Thirty seconds.”
He knew the tissues wouldn’t last, but fuck it. He had a job to do. He was going to go out there, and he was going to give them the best fucking song they’d ever heard. They were going to be on national TV sometime tonight when this piece of shit talk show aired. And by God he was going to make sure that his vocals made every girl cream in their drawers from coast to coast. He stood up, tucking the remaining bits of napkin into the pockets of his suit jacket, and stepped out into the harsh lights.
“Those guys were amazing. Listening to them, you’d just about think they invented rock and roll.” –John ‘Bonebraker’ Hannibal, Crystal Deth
The van was moving again, taking them to another sold-out show. Natasha wasn’t talking to him, which wasn’t anything new. He thought about it, trying to pinpoint the last time they’d actually been able to talk to each other without fighting. He gave up after a while, although he thought it might have been sometime in the nineties. He couldn’t remember much anymore. But he knew back then he hadn’t been any better. He’d probably been worse, actually. But then again, so had Natasha.
It probably was 1993, he realized, because that was the year that they’d had their last big album. Virgin Mary with a Twist of Lime. He hated that album.
He hadn’t spoken with either of the other two since before that. Wayne, who went by Blotto onstage because (and this was another quote, they were just full of soundbites, it seemed) “Wayne is a pussy name,” he hadn’t spoken to unless absolutely necessary since the late eighties.
As for Jimmy, well, it wasn’t too late for Jimmy to stick a knife in his back, was it? It hadn’t always been this way. They’d known each other nearly twenty years now, ever since they’d all met in a coffee shop and just kind of fell in together. Back then, they’d all been stupid idealists, convinced they were going to make the world a better place with songs like “Underage Pussy” and “One Week, Seven Drunk Tanks.” He also vaguely remembered they’d been communists, or at least had pretended to be. Everyone had done their share of drugs. But he’d always done more than his share. And then Jimmy went and got married, and he found religion, and blah de blah blah. It was all very nice for Jimmy, he was sure, but that didn’t mean the little prick had to go rubbing his face in it all the time. Like he was a fucking Bible-thumping preacher addressing a congregation of sinners. Well, Alex happened to like his particular sins, and if Jimmy couldn’t accept that, then Jimmy could take his Bible and shove it up his ass.
Natasha was the only one who could even make eye contact with him anymore. He could always tell when she was judging him, could almost hear her thinking, “What went wrong?” Well, fuck her, he would think at those times. Fuck the lot of them.
Other times though, he would catch her mood, and it would depress the hell out of him. He would look back over his life and think of all the things he’d done wrong. But those moods wouldn’t last long, and he’d usually blame them on a bad line, or a bad joint.
The motion of the van was putting him to sleep, and he had one last thought before it took him. I’ve wasted my life, he thought. I’ve spent half of my life in this stupid van, and for what? Before he could think of an answer, he was asleep.
“The Jesus Complex came out of the British punk scene along with other influential bands such as The Clash and the Sex Pistols, carving out their place in the already overcrowded scene in huge, brutal chunks…” –from I, by Andrew Thompson
He was alone in his dressing room. The spread was much better here, but he no longer had an appetite. He hadn’t eaten in three days, unless you counted snorting coke as eating.
He was falling apart. He realized that now, had always known it back in his mind somewhere, but now there was no escaping it.
He looked up again at the ghastly image staring out at him from the dressing room mirror. His nose had a sunken look, as though it had collapsed in on itself. His face was drawn like a rubber band stretched to the breaking point. He thought he could see his skull through the thin layer of skin covering it. Jesus Christ, he looked like a skeleton. I need something to calm me down, he thought, patting his pockets. After a moment, he found the vial, and started going through the familiar ritual. A few minutes later, his head was buzzing slightly with the rush of cocaine, already fading out. He looked around the room, and came to a decision. He searched around for a pen, then a piece of paper. After a moment, he put the pen down and walked out. After all, the little shits had sold their blood to see him, hadn’t they? He couldn’t disappoint his adoring public.
“The Jesus Complex gave their final show on January 21, 2006, in front of 10,000 screaming fans. Of course, none of them had the slightest idea what singer/songwriter Alex Grimswold had in mind for an encore…” –from Leaving a Beautiful F*cking Corpse: The Rise and Fall of The Jesus Complex
God damn, he thought. Now that was a show.
Apparently the fans agreed. Looking out, he saw rows upon rows of screaming fans. His angry face stared back at him from several rows, parroting every stupid soundbite he’d ever said, drunk or sober. Many in the audience were in various states of undress, including three angry kids stomping around in the pit as naked as the day were born. For a moment, it felt like old times, and he’d even caught Natasha smiling at him. He thought about backing out. But then he felt the vial in his pocket and realized that there was no way out of it. He was in too deep. If he chickened out now, he would never do it.
He tapped the microphone, sending a wave of feedback bouncing off the acoustically perfect dome of the auditorium. “All right, listen up you little shits.”
There was a moment of loud cheering. Then they calmed down.
“Listen up, you bastards. I just wanted to thank you for one fantastic farewell tour.”
Another roar washed over him, and he rocked back with it, feeling it like an actual physical force.
Grinning now, he said, “Without you wankers, I would’ve eaten a bullet long ago. Sometimes, I almost wish I had.”
The three down in the pit were brawling now, and the crowd was nearly rioting. “Now, I just want you to know that right now is the best I’ve felt in years. My God, this might be the first thing that I’ve felt, period, in years.”
“But it all ends tonight.”
The shot silenced the roaring of the crowd immediately. The only sound was the feedback of the microphone, squealing around the arena and bouncing off the walls.
“…It took police over three hours to restore order and even get the paramedics on stage. By then, Grimswold was long since dead.” –from Leaving a Beautiful F*cking Corpse: The Rise and Fall of The Jesus Complex
Natasha looked out the window of the van, feeling slightly nauseous from the night before. She had gotten way too drunk at the funeral and had a serious hangover. She would’ve traded everything just to see him again. She’d spent the last two weeks crying, even though she had thought that she couldn’t feel anything for him anymore.
The van felt different now, emptier. It hadn’t seemed like he’d been doing much more than just phoning it in, but now she realized that he had been the glue holding them all together. Without him, there was no band. They were no longer the most influential band since the Beatles. Now they were just three people who had lost a friend.
She sighed and looked out the window. They’d come to a stop. She looked around for a moment, experiencing a feeling of deja vu. It took a moment, but then she realized that this was the same gas station they’d stopped at a few days before…
She stepped out of the car, feeling tense. She stretched, and walked around to the restroom.
A few minutes later, she was at the sink, splashing cold water on her face. She caught sight of herself in the mirror, the glasses too large for her face. They made her look like some horrible bug, and she took them off and threw them in the trash can. Her eyes were puffy, but they looked better to her somehow. She smiled, taking a moment to straighten her hair and smooth her skirt.
As she did so, she felt something in her pocket. She pulled it out. Alex’s note. The tears came all over again, and it took a minute for her to recover. Finally, she straightened out, wiped her eyes, and walked out of the bathroom, leaving the note on the sink. The note simply read,
Fuck this. It’s not fun anymore.