...And then he just sped off! I say, on the Vespa!
It's about eleven in the morning, Tommy and I are drinking coffee outside at a caf, and I've been filling him in on yesterday's events.
So he just sped off? On the Vespa? he parrots.
Wait, wait; I know there's a joke in here somewhere...
Wake the f--k up, man! I exclaim, This is serious!
Well, was there anything strange about him? he enquires.
You mean besides assuming that I'm a stalker and taking rather shall we say, drastic steps to assure that I don't come any closer than five feet to him? I say sarcastically. I mean, really.
Well, did he seem just really angry, or was he, like, upset? Tommy seems a bit more serious now.
What do you mean?
Look man, my mom's a shrink; she taught me a few things, he says in a matter-of-factly fashion.
Well, I stumble, now that you mention it, he was crying when he was strapping down the amp. I mean, not like a few tears in his eyes, I mean, like really crying.
Tommy goes quiet for a while.
Hmm, he mutters.
Hmm? What the f--k does hmm' mean? I growl impatiently.
Well, I know I'm approaching a very touchy and dangerous subject here, but I think he might have been raped or something.
What? I don't like the way this conversation is going.
Seriously, victims of abuse often develop extreme paranoia; a sort of mental precaution to prevent it from happening again.
Just then my phone rings. Slipping it out of my pocket, I'm rather surprised to see who the caller is.
It's Sam, I say to Tommy.
He raises his eyebrows. Answer it.
I press the button and slowly lift the phone to my ear.
Um, Andrew. Hi, it's Sam. His voice sounds nervous and shaky.
Sam? What's going on? I'm very confused, but I try to act normal.
Look, it's hard to explain, but I'm sorry about yesterday. Can we meet somewhere?
Hold on Sam, I cover the receiver with my hand and look at Tommy. He wants to meet me.
Tell him to meet us here.
Speaking into the receiver, I say: You know a caf called Espresso Extravaganza?
Yeah, sure. Twenty minutes?
Alright, see you then.
I hang up. Tommy and I look at each other.
Don't ask me, Andrew, let's just wait twenty minutes, he sighs, sipping his coffee.
Seventeen minutes later Sam arrives on his Vespa, and comes over to us.
Looking at Tommy, he says: Who's he?
Um, he's your shrink, I say, not sure whom I'm trying to fool.
Alright, I suppose I owe it to you to not ask questions or make demands. He sounds very calm, quite a contrast to when I last saw him.
Tommy offers a hand; I'm Tommy, a friend of Andrew. He told me about yesterday.
Sam, he responds, shaking the hand and sitting down in a spare chair.
Well, I suppose I should just explain
You were raped, says Tommy without forewarning.
Tommy! I bark.
Well, not exactly, says Sam,
My parents divorced when I was ten. I stayed with my mom, and when I was fourteen, she married again. He seemed like a nice guy; you know, did the whole I'm not here to replace your dad' routine. Anyway, after living with me and mom for a few months, there was this one night when he snuck into my room and tried to, well, you know I bashed his skull in with a baseball bat before he managed to do anything to me.
Ouch, winces Tommy.
Yeah, well, Sam continues, bastard deserved it. He was groaning on my bedroom floor, and I ran to my mom, telling her what happened. I expected her to call the police, or not believe me, or something but instead she just started crying. So I called the police myself. Later I found out that he'd been abusing her, almost ever since they got married and moved in together. Anyway, since then, I've been a bit paranoid when it comes to meeting new people, and yesterday everything just sort of popped. Sorry.
This leaves us all a bit speechless, until Tommy says:
We should jam.
You're going to university, I retort as nastily as I can. I'm still pissed at him for not being in my band.
No, like, just once, for fun. An acoustic jam, I could play my bongo-drums. We could get really high
That sounds retarded, I interrupt.
No, it sounds cool, says Sam.
I look at him. For a guy that just confessed an event in his life that was obviously very traumatic, he seems very calm.
Um, ok, I stammer, Where?
My place, says Tommy. You two can go get your instruments, I'll go home now, and you guys can come in should we say, about an hour?
Sam and I both nod. This all seems so spontaneous, especially considering the most recent previous events. We part ways, each to our apartments.
I'm back at my place. As I put my acoustic bass in its case, I try to review the facts in my head. Everything seems very confusing at the moment, but I try to organize what's known for sure. Ok; Sam has a bit of paranoia, but nothing too serious. He's still going to be in my band, and we're about to jam with Tommy, even though he refuses to help me with my musical quest. We need to find a drummer and a vocalist. I suppose I can assume that I won't be getting a repeat performance from Sam, and maybe this jam will help us put the whole mess behind us.
Christ, I could use a drink. I pour myself three large shots of vodka and choke them down before grabbing my bass, leaving my apartment and catching the bus to Tommy.
Knocking on the door of Tommy's apartment, I hear uncontrolled giggling from inside.
Wait, let's let Andrew in. I hear Tommy's voice.
Let's let? Sam says, hey, that sort of rhymes!
They both burst out laughing, and Tommy opens the door.
Oh, Andrew, Hi get it? High
I see that you started the party without me, I say, grinning as I step inside and take off my jacket.
Sam is sitting on the sofa, taking a hit from a bong. He waves to me as he's pulls the smoke in, before slowly exhaling.
Oh god, he squeaks, This is some good shit.
He hands the bong to me.
Good to see you're enjoying yourself, Sam. I say, meaning it. Seems like the atmosphere is finally is loosening up.
I sit down, taking a hit. Sam's right, it is some good shit. Tommy sits down as well, and we start passing the bong around.
Tommy, this is primo, I gasp, where'd you get it?
He takes a hit, holding the smoke in for a few seconds before blowing it out.
This guy I know was desperate to get it off his hands. He had, like, five pounds, and he sold it to me dirt-cheap. He grins, best investment of my life.
How much do you have left? asks Sam.
Oh, less than an ounce. I've smoked quite a bit myself, and sold some. Put the money away for university.
f--king p--sy, I mutter.
Hey, f--k you! he snaps as he passes me the bong. My apartment, my f--king weed, my rules.
Chill out, says Sam. I'm high as a kite. Let's jam.
Alright, says Tommy, Let's do it.
He heads to the other room, stumbling on the carpet as he goes. Sam and I look at each other for a second, then start snickering uncontrollably.
Hey, f--k you both, Tommy slurs as he carries out a very large bongo drum, followed by two smaller ones.
He puts them down on the floor, big drum on the left, the two smaller ones side by side on the right. He starts beating out simple rhythms, slowly developing them and elaborating. Sam opens up a large case to reveal a jumbo-style twelve-string acoustic guitar coloured in a deep, rich brown. He sits down next to Tommy and strikes a chord, then starts a slow pattern to match Tommy's rhythm. I myself take my bass out of its case. I grab the bong from the table and take one last puff. The smoke reaches my lungs, and the room starts spinning around me. I sit down next to Sam and Tommy so that the three of us form a tight circle. I don't need to look at what chords Sam is playing; I can feel them. The vibrations from the twelve strings rush through my body, taking control of my fingers. Slowly, in a minimalistic fashion, I start adding a thumping bass line. Fingerpicking between two octaves, I look at my two fellow musicians: Tommy has his eyes shut tight, slapping the skins of his drums, rocking back and forth to the rhythm. Sam, with eyes half closed, is hammering the strings relentlessly, with no mercy, letting them ring out to infinity. I close my own eyes, and fall into a sort of a trance. The music surrounds me, rocking me back and forth, moving my fingers to and fro over the frets, over the strings, creating an indefinable and indescribable atmosphere.
After a period of time (five minutes? Five hours?), Tommy's bongo drums slowly come to a gradual halt. I let my bass fall out, but Sam plays on for a short while. Finally he stops, but before anyone can say anything, he starts another song. At first I think it's just more improvised shit, but suddenly Tommy's face lights up, and he starts playing a very specific rhythm. Obviously both Sam and Tommy are aware of what song it is, but I can't recognise it. Instead I just join in, thumping a slow line to match Sam. After a verse or so, Tommy starts softly singing:
Delusional, I believe I could cure it all, for you dear, coax a trick or drive or drag the demons from you, make it right for you, sleeping beauty, truly thought I could magically heal you
Sam plays a small bridge, then Tommy starts on the chorus:
Far beyond a visible sign of your awakening, failing miserably to rescue
Sam adds harmonies for the next lines;
Sleeeeeeeeping Beeeeeeaaaauuuuuty Poooooiiiiiisoned and hooooopleeeees
I have no idea what it is; the lyrics are darkly poetic without being metal or emo, and the melody is strange, unpredictable and amazing at the same time. We go through a few more verses and repeat the chorus a few times, before song comes to a close, and we all look at each other, smiling.
Well, says Sam, that was fun.
f--king trippy, says Tommy, snickering.
We all laugh a bit before putting down our instruments and taking seats around the coffee table. Tommy refills the bong, lights it up and takes a hit. He hands it to me, and I put my mouth to the opening, breathing in slowly. Somehow the smoke goes the wrong way, and I get a major coughing fit. After twenty seconds of choking and wheezing, it finally stops, and I lie on the sofa, gasping for air.
Sam looks at me with a worried expression on his face.
Are you okay?
Yeah, I whisper hoarsely, maybe some water
I'll get you some, says Tommy, getting up and going to the kitchen.
Just then, the doorbell rings.
Sam, get him some water, says Tommy, I'll get the door.
Sam moves towards the kitchen as Tommy opens the door. I have tears in my eyes from the coughing fit, and can't quite make out who's standing in the doorway. Sam comes into the room with a glass of water in his hand; he and Tommy speak at the same time:
I wipe the tears from my eyes, only to see two policemen looking sternly at me.