We knocked off a little after midnight and Ziggy left us standing on Beacon Street with our heap of equipment, giving us a little salute with one finger as he crossed at a break in the traffic. Then Bart left me to watch the stuff while he retrieved the car from a nearby side street. A summery night breeze was blowing humid and I could still hear familiar riffs and choruses in the sound of the cars driving by. Bart pulled up at the hydrant and we loaded the car without saying anything.
Once we were rolling he asked, “You want to get something to eat?”
He started listing our options for food at this hour. “Chinatown, pizza, the Deli Haus, IHOP, Dolly’s…”
He said this last with a hopeful note in his voice.
“Dolly’s is such a fucking hike.” I closed the air vent that was blowing on me. “What about Charlie’s?”
“Yeah sure. We’re going that way anyway. But I kind of worry about the equipment.”
“Shit, you’re right. Maybe we should hit the IHOP on Soldier’s Field Road, at least they have a parking lot and we can sit where we can see the car.”
The one problem with that IHOP was it was possibly the worst ventilated building in Boston. Don’t get me wrong, we were used to–and resigned to being in–a lot of smoky places. Most of the clubs and bars where we played and hung around were full of cigarette smoke, and Bart and I kind of hung on to our non-smoking-ness as a badge of eccentricity. This IHOP though, was even worse in the smoke-to-air quotient than most of the bars. The fact that we would be trying to eat in there, too, made it seem worse. But, on the other hand, it wasn’t the sort of thing either of us would make a big deal of.
Once inside, Bart negotiated with the hostess to put us in the window by the car. The place was crowded and noisy, but she took us into the supposed No Smoking section and put us in a booth. This was the only IHOP I’d ever been in that wasn’t shaped like a swiss chalet, with the peaked roof. We speculated that it used to be something else before IHOP took it over, like a Denny’s or something. We sat in a booth with our laminated menus and suddenly I felt sleepy.
“So I take it you’re happy with our new singer,” Bart said then, just as I was about to lay my head on the table.
“What makes you say that?”
“Because I haven’t heard you complain or analyze or say much of anything since we left.” Bart took a sip of water out of the amber glass in front of him. “Am I right?”
“I’d be lying if I said he didn’t seem like exactly what we want and need.”
“So say it.” He smirked.
“I would, but I don’t quite believe it myself.”
“Believe it,” Bart said, leaning forward conspiratorially. “I think we’re seriously, seriously onto something here.”
The mental recording of ‘Welcome’ played through my head again. “I think you are seriously right, my friend.” I couldn’t help but smile.
Bart whooped and banged the flats of his hands on the table. A waitress appeared then, and took our order. When she was gone he went on. “Still need a drummer, though.”
“Yeah.” I felt like finding a drummer would be a piece of cake in comparison. “So, are you glad we waited?”
He wrinkled his nose. “Well, I concede the point. Seems unlikely we’d find someone like Ziggy through the ‘musician wanted’ ads.”
I voiced my concern. “You think he’ll stay serious about it though?”
Bart shrugged. “What else has he got to do?”
I shrugged back. “I don’t know, I didn’t ask.”
“I get the feeling he’s an art school dropout,” Bart said, accepting a mug of coffee from the waitress. She put a glass of tomato juice down in front of me and I drank it in one long series of gulps. “That party where he met me, it was an artist’s loft in Southie.” Then he chuckled. “You were right. We ended up without someone we knew, sort of.”
“Do you think he works?”
“What do you mean?” Bart stirred half-and-half into his coffee and stacked the emtpy containers one inside the other. “You mean, does he have a job?”
“Why don’t you ask him? You’re the manager.”
“I guess I am.”
“You know what your problem is, Daron?” Bart said, his voice quiet but audible through the background noise of other conversations and kitchen clatter, “You just want everything to work out. You never want to have to push things, you just want them to fall into place.”
“And they damn well better,” I said, my fingers around my sweating water glass. “They damn well better.”
I think it was April 25th we all got together at Bart and Michelle’s and Ziggy signed the contracts, and so I learned his last name, Farias. I didn’t even know what kind of name that was. We made plans to cut a demo and find a decent rehearsal space. Then he took off and I sat around and the three of us watched a depressing Australian film about heroin-addicted punks in the late 70s that starred Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of INXS. Something of a downer of a film and I felt a little lonely after I left, as I caught the last trolley back in to Kenmore.
I usually masturbated in the morning when I first woke up, before a shower or coffee or anything. But that night I lay in bed and fantasized, trying to imagine someone there with me, not Matthew, not Roger, someone I couldn’t quite picture, someone who probably just did not exist. It had been a long time. I had once or twice been propositioned in the park across from my building, but the first week after I’d moved in someone had posted a flyer in the building foyer about a brutal attack in the gardens. A man walking home from a gay bar nearby had, apparently, been approached by someone who appeared to be cruising, but who actually had a lead pipe in his hand. I didn’t even walk through the fucking park at night if I could help it–on my way home from work I stuck to the sidewalk on the outside. My stomach clenched to think about it.
The thought that the last person who’d touched my cock in a loving way was Matthew seemed suddenly unbearable and I choked back the urge to cry. I beat my fist into the pillow and beat myself off and if the pillow was wet with tears later, I didn’t notice.
(By the way, what kind of crime against humanity is it that of the litany of late night eateries mentioned here by name, the IHOP on Soldier’s Field Road is the only one that is still there as of 2010? Jeez. -dm)