Tommy and I don't speak for a long time. We just wander back and forth around the apartment, sitting down, watching TV, exchanging awkward glances, knowing that there's a question hanging in the air that neither of us want to answer:
What the hell do we do now?
We spend several hours in this laconic state, before I notice that it's getting dark outside. I look at the clock: quarter after nine. I head for the bedroom, lie down on the bed fully dressed, and close my eyes.
I don't sleep a wink. Around eleven I finally get up, finding Tommy watching TV. I speak:
We should think about packing.
He doesn't say anything, he just nods and turns off the TV. There's nothing to discuss; no heading over to Doc, begging to have more than our share of the cash, paying off my landlord at the last minute, negotiating We both know it's over. Maybe the band distracted us, got us thinking about good things, maybe we were riding on the buzz of planning and executing a great gig, I don't know. All I know is that deep down Tommy and I have seen this coming for a long time, we've just been too stupid, naive and ambitious to acknowledge it.
Tommy and I get started. We find some boxes, start sorting through drawers, throwing away large amounts of junk I come to realize that I really don't have that much of value. I have musical equipment, a stereo system and a reasonably large CD-collection. A TV, a Playstation 2, a DVD player, a small collection of movies, a cheap table with a few chairs, a sofa and a couch, a bed, a desk
I pack all my clothes into two suitcases. Then Tommy and I box everything of value that's small enough to be boxed, stack all my furniture in one corner of the living-room. That would seem to do the trick, I say to myself. I dig my phone out of my pocket, dialling Doc's number.
Shouldn't we just wait until tomorrow? Tommy asks.
I don't see why, I respond. Let's just get this over with.
I let it ring for a long time, and eventually Doc picks up.
Jesus Christ, Andrew: it's like, two in the morning
Hey Doc, I say, sorry to bother you so late, but can we crash at your place?
There's silence on the line for a few moments. I suppose, but why?
I'm getting kicked out of my apartment.
I explain the situation in detail. I would expect Doc to be slightly pissed, but he takes it all in stride, agreeing to come over with his van immediately. What a guy.
Two hours and three trips with Doc's van later Tommy and I are lugging my last piece of furniture into Doc's house. Doc makes it very clear that we can stay here as long as we like, and that we can just ask if we need anything. Then he goes to bed. We've placed my bed in one of the three barren rooms that would seem to serve as bedrooms, and my sofa in another, along with some blankets and pillows for Tommy. It's now around four-thirty in the morning, so Tommy and I say good night before retiring to our respective rooms. I Lay down on the bed and fall asleep immediately.
I had bad dreams. I can't make heads or tails of them, I just know that when I woke up I felt miserable. I still feel miserable, sitting at my coffee table and drinking coffee with Tommy and Doc. We've been talking about what's going to happen, what we're going to do, where we're going to go. We haven't gotten very far.
So where are we going to get a new gig? Tommy asks.
We should contact the local venues, Doc suggests, see if there's anything coming up with an opening.
I haven't said much. I just stare into my mug of coffee, nodding like a marionette to the different suggestions, shrugging and making minute grunts when asked questions. I don't know, nothing feels right. Except Amy. She feels right.
After a small breakfast we call Sam to see if he can't come over and practice with us, but he says he's busy, so Tommy, Doc and I decide to try to play by ourselves. We fumble around for about twenty minutes before we get bored without the guitars. Doc and Tommy start discussing an idea for a new song, so I slip out of the basement and exit the house, catching a bus to the centre of the city.
I spend forty-five minutes walking around town, trying to retrace Amy's and my steps from the park to her apartment. I finally bump into the same brick complex that we said good night to each other outside of the other evening. I move over to the intercom, looking at the different names, and realize I have no idea what Amy's surname is. I screen the different names, finding only one Amy, and ring the bell. I wait half a minute before she answers.
Hi Amy, it's Andrew. Can I come up?
Of course! Just a sec.
Well, she sounds enthusiastic at the very least. I hear a click, and the door unlocks. Taking the elevator up to the fourth floor, I walk down the corridor, finding the door with a number to match the one I saw next to Amy's name. There it is: 401.
I only get the chance to knock once, as the door flies open and there's Amy standing in front of me with a huge smile. She embraces me, and without further ado we start making out, stumbling into her bedroom in the process.
Even though it's the middle of the afternoon, somehow we both manage to fall asleep after the sex. When I come to, I see a bedside clock telling that it's six o'clock in the evening. I look at Amy, running two fingers slowly down the length of her back, savouring the soft, beautiful skin. She seems to be fast asleep. I utilize the opportunity to take a look around her flat. Pulling on my underwear and pants, I slip out of the bedroom and take in my surroundings:
It's certainly a nice place. Large windows and pale wallpaper gives it a light and open feeling. There's a couple couches placed so as to slightly face a TV, a coffee table is surrounded by a few chairs, in the corner there's a piano, next to it a commode filled with musical odds and ends; sheet music, CD's, records, framed photos and autographs. Separated is a gigantic CD collection containing endless names of artists and albums. Makes sense, she said she had been running a record store with her dad most of her life. I inspect some of the framed autographs. One of them catches my eye: David Bowie. I whisper a little wow to myself as I continue to look around. There's an acoustic guitar in one corner, a tenor saxophone, some other musical tidbits, et cetera.
I pick up the acoustic guitar, plucking a few chords softly. I start fumbling about with an interesting little chord progression I forget where I learned: B minor, B minor with an A in the bass, B minor with a G in the bass, B major, repeat once, then C major seven, then an A flat major, then a D flat major seven, G major, G major with an F in the bass, G major with an E sharp in the bass, G major with an E in the bass, repeat
Amy comes in just as I get to the bridge. She's wearing a robe, and is looking rather relaxed and comfortable. The sex was good.
That's Radiohead, right? she comments, sitting down next to me on the piano bench.
I don't know, I answer, is it?
Yeah, sure: Faust Arp, by Radiohead. Off the newest album, In Rainbows.
I stare at her. Really?
She leans over and kisses me. For a second everything around me disappears, and I'm lost. Then I snap out of it. Come on, Andrew, I say to myself. If you insist on having a relationship with this girl, don't let it affect your life for the worse. You have a band, your only hope, to be perfectly honest. So stick to the f--king numbers.
Breaking off the kiss awkwardly, I say: so, um, the guys and I were thinking about getting another gig.
She looks at me quizzically and with slight disappointment. Okay?
Well, I was thinking maybe you could help us out a bit. If you want to, I mean. You seem to have a few contacts around in the business
What, like just this once, or as a regular thing?
I don't know, we're still in the beginning phase, you know? Nothing is decided or secure. We'd give you a cut of any profits, of course, I add.
You mean like a manager? she says sceptically.
I don't know! I burst out. Everything's so f--king confusing! I don't know where the band is going, I don't know where I'm going, where you and I are going, what we're doing I've lost my job, I've lost my apartment, I'm just floating around, with no safety, no security, nothing!
Shhh, she says soothingly, holding me close. Just relax. It'll all work out, I'm sure of it. And in any case, she looks me straight in the eye, I'll be here for you. No matter what. And I'll help out with your band, as a manager or whatever. Like you said, nothing's been decided. Let's just see how things go.
I keep quiet for a while, not wanting to speak.
After a while she says quietly: you lost your apartment?
Um, yes, I mumble, got kicked out last night.
Where are you staying?
With Doc. He has a big house.
She looks at me comically. He has a house?
I suppose it must be.
We sit together and talk for a little while longer. Eventually my phone rings. It's Sam.
Hey Sam, what's up?
Where have you been all day? he asks.
I see no reason to lie, so I respond: with Amy. How's that?
A while after you must have left, I came over to Doc's place. Him and Tommy and I have been hanging out for a while, and we were thinking about celebrating the success of the gig with a night out, now that you're feeling better. Hit some of the local bars and stuff. You in?
I think about. I suppose. Is it okay if I bring Amy?
Knock yourself out, buddy. How's eight at The Irishman?
Sounds good. Cheers.
I hang up. Amy looks at me.
What was that about? she asks.
That was Sam, I explain, he and the guys want to have a night out. You're welcome to come.
No thanks, she laughs, I have to study for an economics exam. Besides, I don't really feel like spending a night getting drunk with you and your crew of band buddies.
Alright, I say, in that case, I'll leave you in peace.
I put on the rest of my clothes, kiss Amy good-bye and head out the door.
I'm walking down the street. A couple blocks away I see a sign advertising the presence of The Irishman. I'm thinking about a lot of things, chiefly my relationship to Amy. She's definitely what you could call my girlfriend; we seem to have taken all the steps, albeit in a rather compressed period of time. She's also contributing to the band, although how much and for how long I don't know. Also, my living situation seems kind of awkward. I'm sure Amy would let me move in with her, but I'd rather not ask, unless she suggests it. Besides, if I'm really taking this band one hundred percent seriously, with daily practices and the like, it seems more practical all in all to just stay with Doc.
Well, Amy certainly makes me happy, but she doesn't exactly make my life more complicated. I step into the bar, feeling the warm, thick air hit me like a brick wall. The lights are dim, but I can see Tommy, Sam and Doc at the bar. They spot me, wave and raise their glasses. I start moving across the crowded room to them, feeling at ease for the first time in a long time. Grinning, I greet my band mates.
So, says Tommy, ready to get wasted?
I grab his glass and down it's contents in one go.
f--k yeah, I grin. Bring it on.
Robert Ippolito, September 2009