Ok, so here's the story: I had planned to write a Bar Slam Jam Halloween Special, hoping to have it uploaded by Halloween weekend. Of course, the thing became too long, so I decided to cut it into two parts, this being the first. Of course, by the time I realized this, the weekend had already arrived, so I haven't been able to post this until now. Enjoy, pt. 2 is on its way. - Robert Ippolito
You think I should call her?
Yes. Sam and Doc respond in unison from the front seats of the van. Doc has some weird psychotropic goa-trance blasting from the speakers. Romantic grey landscapes pass by through the windows, rain is drizzling down, giving the impression of a thin fog in the distance.
I look at Tommy, whose fingers are rapidly tapping out messages on the cell phone (we decided to share a cell phone to cut costs). I didn't even know he was listening.
Why not? I ask
Tommy takes a moment to finish a message before snapping the phone shut, before looking at me with sympathetic eyes, as if he was talking to a retarded child. Tommy does wonders for my self-confidence.
Andy my brother, you gotta get over this chick. Yes, she was great, yes, she was hot, yes, she was smart, funny, intelligent and a whole bunch of other shit. But at the end of the day, she's just another chick with fine qualities, and you put her in an impossible situation. You're the sinner, you're the one that left her and I can't really blame her for not waiting for you.
I sigh. I get that. I just I don't like the way things ended. Or, rather, the way things have been since. It ended as well as it could. But she hasn't responded to any emails or messages I've sent since I left. I mean, okay, we're not dating, but that doesn't mean we can't be friends, right?
Andrew, Doc calls from the front. Believe it or not, I've had some experience with relationships. It's never, ever as simple as just loving someone or not, or being hurt and healing over time. Sometimes us dudes simplify, but with girls, it's a whole different ordeal. We're good at hiding emotions, even from ourselves. Girls are more open, they let their emotions develop beyond just love and hate
Bullshit, Tommy interrupts. Tons of new studies are showing that chicks are just as horny, emotionally stunted and sex-driven as we are.
Doc smirks, lights a cigarette and opens the window. Whatever. Just go with your gut, and make sure it's not your dick.
What's the difference? I ask
Doc laughs. Hell if I know, Andrew, hell if I know.
I sit quiet for a while, mulling it all over, before reaching my conclusion. Fine, I'm calling her.
Christ, what a bunch of emotional pussies you guys are! Sam chides. Could we please discuss business here? Are we adding the new Nick Cave song to the set or not?
I give him a cold look. Just let me call Amy first.
I grab the phone from Tommy, who giggles. Jeez, this should be entertaining.
Before dialing the number, I quickly check the outbox. Jesus christ! I exclaim, how many f--king messages did you send!?
Tommy grins. Just the right amount.
Hell, this is ridiculous.
Look, even if only thirty percent o the people show up, that's still a few dozen guaranteed sold tickets. Relax, it's worth it.
I sigh, dialling the number. It rings a few times before she picks up.
Hello, this is Amy?
I clear my throat. Hi Amy, it's Andrew.
The line goes quiet for a moment. Hi Andrew. How have you been?
Um, okay, I guess. Well, pretty shitty sometimes, but mostly good. How are you?
Oh, I'm alright.
So, she begins, what's up?
Well, I'm going to be in town tomorrow night, playing a Halloween gig at The Dimebag. I was just wondering if you wanted to come, you know, just catch up.
Yeah, I mean I know about the gig. Some of my friends have been trying to get my to come.
I bite my lip. You don't want to go? Why not?
She sighs loudly. Why the hell do you think, Andrew?
Come on Amy, why does there have to be this animosity? I'm sorry, alright? I fucked up, and I'm not asking for forgiveness, or to get back together, but I I miss you. I thought it would be nice to just see one another, you know?
That's sweet Andrew.
I hold my breath. Is that a yes or a no?
It's a maybe. I've got a lot of work, I'll try to make time though.
I give a small smile, but on the inside I'm doing summersaults and singing Beethoven's Ninth. Fuck Tommy, I'm not letting go yet.
Thanks a lot Amy.
Sure. I gotta go.
Yeah, see you round.
I snap the phone shut. Tommy's looking at me.
How'd that go?
As well as it could, I say, she said she might come.
Tommy doesn't say anything, he just smiles. I give him a look and continue to stare out the window, Doc turns up the music and I let the psybient flow over me. I know I should look at some of the newer songs. Sam has gone wild with weird chord progressions and advanced vocal harmonies. Sometimes I wonder if he's trying to turn this into an indie-rock band. Better watch my back. Kidding, just kidding.
It's dark by the time we get into town. We drive through a commercial area on our way to the motel, and the halloween bling is prominent. Skeletons, Optimus Prime, Batman, makeup sets for The Joker rest in peace, Heath.
So, Tommy begins slowly, are wearing costumes on stage?
Hell no, Doc, Sam and I respond in unison.
We're not some fucking gimick band. We deliver our message straight, no strings attached, Doc mutters.
Tommy rolls his eyes. Yeah, I get that. But after all, it is Halloween, you know? It would be in the spirit.
Costumes on stage are tricky, Sam explains, they have to be light and comfortable, otherwise we risk getting way too hot and stripping down halfway through, ruin the entire point.
No f--king costumes, I say with what I hope is conviction. Too complicated, too late in the game, too stupid all around.
Jesus, alright, Tommy pouts, sorry I asked.
Alright, Sam turns around to face us. What about the Nick Cave song? Does it make the set or not?
I don't see why, I say, I mean, it's a cool song and all, but nothing really special. Kind of soft as well.
Nothing special? Tommy comments, it's Nick Cave. We're talking about the Grinderman here. I mean, shit; did you see the video for Heather Child?
Yeah, I did, I retort, the thing was so fucking freaky it gave me nightmares. But the song we're talking about here is just cool, nothing to throw into our set list on a whim.
I agree with Andrew, Doc concurs, it's not really worth it.
Well, I like it, Sam mutters.
Me too, it's Nick Cave. It's wonderful, Tommy says approvingly.
Alright, a compromise, I reason, well add it as an extra encore. How's that work?
Sure, Sam shrugs.
That's not a compromise, Tommy says sulkily.
Yes, it is, I retaliate.
No, it isn't.
Shut up kids, Doc interrupts, we're here.
I look through the window at the dark streets and realize that we've come around the back of The Dimebag. Despite the heavy rain, Steve comes out to greet us. We all pile out of the van, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries with Steve while carrying the gear inside. He shows us the new and tidied-up backstage, where we'll be sleeping for the night. There besides the two couches, there are a couple matresses leaning against the wall. We stack all of our gear in a separate room, before heading into the bar. Steve goes back to work, but tells us to let him know if we need anything and that the first round is on the house. We all order beers and step outside for cigarettes.
Yes, I'm definitely a full-time smoker now, or at least when the money allows it. I kept telling myself that it was only something I did now and again, and then one day I realized that I was buying nearly a pack a day, and decided to stop pulling the wool over my own eyes. Doc's always been a smoker, along with Sam, and Tommy seem to be on his way. I guess that's just how things turn out sometimes. There's a cold wind and I shiver in my coat. The bar is pretty quiet, some old-timers, a few hipsters.
I watch with slight interest an older woman in the bar, far too much make-up, far too much to drink, trying to light a cigarette inside the bar. Although I can't hear much through the glass, I see the bartender get pissed and tell her to put it out. She starts talking, probably saying that she's sorry, it slipped her mind, it wasn't like this in her days, don't be so hard on an old bird, couldn't she get one on the house The bartender ignores her as the hipsters come over for another round. The old hag starts to nag at them, saying something about one of these sweet young boys buying her a drink. Finally one of them does, if not to just get her to shut up. She says thank you over and over, tries to plant a wet kiss on his cheek, but he pulls away and sits down. Christ, what a pathetic creature. I'm usually pretty tolerant and liberal, but sometimes I wonder if Hitler wasn't on to something, some people just aren't cut from the same cloth as the rest of us. Or maybe I'm just a mean bastard.
We finish our smokes and head inside. It's only nine-thirty but I'm already ready to drop. Believe it or not, sitting in a cramped van for several hours can really kick the shit out of you. We all get one more drink before crashing in the backstage room/bedroom. After settling in, we all sit around, staying pretty quiet and discussing meaningless things about the gig tomorrow. Eventually Doc suggests that we smoke a joint, and we all agree to that. A nice high before drifting off to dream-land. Doc starts rolling a fat one, and Sam remarks that he doesn't really want to smoke in the cold outside. I head into the bar to ask Steve if it's okay we light one up inside.
Sure man, he grins, I'd join you if I wasn't working. It is The Dimebag, after all. Just air out a bit when you're done, okay?
I thank him and head back to HQ, giving the go-ahead to light up inside. We pass it around, Sam and I are quiet while Doc rambles on about spiritual enlightenment and Tommy mutters the odd comment about how weed should be legalized.
We finish the joint, talk a little longer while Doc rolls another, smaller one. Just to round things off. I'm already feeling the buzz, but this second one kicks the shit out of me and I lie back, letting the others finish it up. After that we let some air in, settle in our respective sleeping areas (Sam and Tommy on each their couch, Doc and me on the matresses) and hit the lights. I'm just about unconcious when Doc utters something.
What's up, Doc?
This might seem kind of random, but, uh, you know that house we lived in?
Tommy sits up. The one the cops crashed in on? Yeah, what about it?
Doc is quiet for a moment before dropping the atom bomb: Under the floorboards in the kitchen I buried twenty-five pounds of grade-A Nepalese.
I sigh, thinking that this is exactly what I needed. Good night, Doc.
TO BE CONTINUED
- Robert Ippolito, October 2010