VIII

IX

I rummage through the shoebox of cassettes, then put on a Richard Hell tape. Josh grabs a beer from the fridge. I'm still afraid to have one - for all I know, there might still be some Primatene in my system. I'm certainly not feeling any better. I light a cigarette; Josh sings along with "Time", alternately dancing with and singing into the bottle.

"Time and time again I knew what I was doing and
Time and time again I just made things worse
It seems you see the most of what is really true when
You're stepping into your hearse..."

He grabs the chair from my desk and sits across from me. "OK. Speak up. Can you string some words together now?"

Fuck, I'm all words; I'm drowning in words. I'm besieged with words, all trying to fight their way to the front of the line. How many do you want? I got 'em. I'd like to say:

...Dewey's the only sane person in the band. We've got Captain Tinnitus, still looking for a "12" setting on his amp, when he's not busy puking on it; a drummer who won't stay on his medication; me, who'd rather be playing chamber music, naked and shrooming in the Brazilian rainforest... Dewey's the only sane guy, but I bet that beneath that Mayberry exterior beats the heart of a disgruntled postal employee, ready to say "Good night, Akron! You've been great!" after the second encore and then proceed to open fire on the crowd... And what about Amanda? Everybody says she looks miserable. Why is she miserable? I'm the one who has to sleep alone! Why is her misery making mine worse?... And the people around me are turning into junkies! There's nothing I can do to stop it. Do you know how heartbreaking it is to see some fresh-faced 16-year-old's eyes light up only when he's on his way to score a bag?

But all that comes out is:

"Y'know...

...I can't do this any more."

"Do what? Smoking? Not smoking?"

He takes a swig of his beer, then studies my face, which surely must be catatonically inscrutable at this point.

"Kayla?"

"That's not what I'm talking about," I mumble.

He takes another swig, pausing midway for another attempt at piercing the wall of catatonia. I think I'm crying.

"OK, sweets, pack some clothes. You're coming with me."

He gets up, turns off the cassette, walks over to me, gathers my head in, and cradles it in his arms. Silence. Silence is good.

fin

Standard disclaimers:

  1. Names, locales, and chronologies may have been changed or obfuscated to protect the innocent.
  2. Or maybe not.
  3. This film is rated PG-13.
  4. Think of a number.
  5. No animals were harmed during the noding of this crap.
  6. There's a little more: rocks to Canaveral.
  7. Good night, Akron! You've been great!

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