Chapter 5 - Fires, angry producers, flammable beards, hard liquor, rug burn, women and reflections on romance
"Fire! Somebody get me a goddamn extinguisher! Fire!"
Our erratic, drunken, beast-like drummer was running furiously around the fire screaming, panicking, and ultimately leaving the room out of fear of his beard catching fire. It made sense. After all his beard was probably soaked in gallons of hard liquor. Alfonso stood by the door, calmly watching the flames grow bigger, taking a heavy chug out of his soda every few seconds. I lit my cigarette above the flames and knelt down before them, admiring the beauty of it all. I felt a firm hand grasp my shoulder and throw me back out of the way, before a spray of foam put the fire out. Our producer, Jefferson David, threw the extinguisher to the ground and turned to me, one hand on his hip the other hanging tensely at his side.
"The f--k is wrong with you Duke?"
"Me? You just put out my fire."
"You were burning the damn studio down! What the f--k was I supposed to do, you goddamn prick."
I stood, stomping out my cigarette and lighting another as I gained my balance.
"You coulda' let it burn."
"I oughta beat the shit outta' you right now."
"And I oughta make you swallow this cigarette. See how long it burns before you put that out too."
"f--k you Duke."
"I'm usually pretty casual with who I have sex with but I think I can do better than a washed up producer."
I stood there, taking my slow heavy breaths, glaring into his eyes and I could see how bloodshot they were. He wanted to cry but he gave no sign of it; just showed himself out. Alfonso finished his bottle and tossed it into the pile of foam and ash before turning to me.
"We're done right?"
"I don't like that guy much."
"Yeah, he was kind of a douche-bag huh?"
"Haha yeah. f--k that guy. Grab our shit and lets go. I'm tired of it here."
"Alright man. I'll meet you in the parking lot."
Final mixes in hand, I met up with my two bandmates and we piled into my car. I drove them home and I stopped at a bar I'd begun frequenting to get a drink or two. The place was busy on a Friday night but the bartender always kept a seat open for me. She had a bit of a sweet spot for me.
"Hey James. You look handsome tonight."
She had this real sweet voice, soft and friendly.
"Thanks Jenna. You seem to be in a pretty good mood. Got some big plans or somethin' tonight?"
"No. Just happy to see ya. How come you haven't been around as much lately?"
"Well I've been busy with the record and everything. We take off on the tour in two weeks so it's just been a lot of rehearsing and recording."
"Sounds like things are going good for you James."
"Yeah they are. Almost burnt the studio down today though haha."
"Really? Wow. How'd you do that?"
She brought me a bottle of rum and leaned over the bar, listening with such attentiveness, and I noticed for the first time that she had very pretty eyes. Very emotional, like looking into a pond when the water is still, in the early hours of the morning. Peaceful. I told her the story and she was so interested, so genuinely curious to know how my day went. Sure as hell made me feel special. So I invited her over once her shift ended and just a few hours later she was knocking on my door.
"Hey Jenna. How was work?"
She smiled, not answering as she stepped inside, knowing that I already knew the answer. She tossed her purse on the couch and slid her hands across my face, kissing me, surprising me mostly. We never quite made it to the bedroom, just sprawled across the floor in the living room and made love right there on the carpet. There was such aggressiveness in the way she moved, fierce, and it made me wonder if she fantasized about me every time I walked into the bar. I kind of liked the thought of that, a woman dreaming of me naked, but I never really thought myself a sexy guy. I mean, I can be sexy if I try at it but it's not one of those "comes natural" type things. The night dragged on and I always get bored during sex; my mind starts to wander off in different places. I manage to stay focused but I'm never entirely there if you catch my meaning.
I awoke to another cold morning, laying on the stains of my endeavors and a wave of despair rolled over me. For a moment I thought I might actually like this girl. But she was gone and like most things in my life, it was just tricks of the mind. I'd never go to that bar again, I'd never see her, she'd never come back but she would call me a few years later, after seeing me on TV and we'd talk about getting together, how things hadn't changed a bit since I'd left and that'd be it. I'd hang up the phone, never picking it up to hear her voice again. Makes me want a drink. Women are strange, I'll tell you that. They can worry, obsess, just freak out over something little and never say a word about it. They can think about you everyday but keep their distance until you make the first move. Men are supposed to be the ones with the balls but as girly as it sounds sometimes I'd just like a girl to come onto me without bein' desperate.
We move past such notions though, and just try to take whatever it is we're doing as far as we can, until it kills us really. The smell of freshly made coffee filled my nostrils with pleasant memories of childhood, waking up every morning at around five to talk with my Dad over a cup of joe before he'd leave for work. I always told him to have a good day and he'd just look at me and smile this real cocky son-of-a-bitch smile and say "You too son." Over time his smile faded, it became a rarity and I'd sit in his chair thinking about if he was happy with his life. I stumbled into the kitchen to find that she'd made me the coffee and left a bottle of my favorite rum to ease the hangover. Sometimes I think they do it on purpose, women. They do something like f--k you and leave but they do something like this and they expect it to make things all better. It sort of does. Honestly this sort of stuff makes me think of a girl a lot more than sex does. This shit is just so damn sick and so damn sweet at the same time. I guess it's just that motherly instinct they have. I always was a bit of a child at heart.
I sat in the kitchen drinking my rum and coffee, somewhat blinded by the vivid rays of light that reflected off the glassy surface of my table, and lit a cigarette. I fiddled with the lump in my ear lobe, picking at the skin until a small flow of blood oozed down my cheek. The shower wasn't any better since I'd bathed a few weeks before but I thought it a good idea to clean myself up a bit before I went out again. The weather was a raging 90 degrees so I walked around my apartment smoking a cigarette until I dried. I slipped on some black skinny's, a white v-neck t-shirt and my brown leather boots, leaving the door unlocked as I made my way out. The world looked different when you watched it from behind a glass lens; most people don't understand it, most can't or don't want to but I knew just what it entailed. My life was always being lived behind the lens, a two-way filter, blocking out anyone looking to get a glance into my soul, and keeping me from seeing anything that displeased me. People look at you and wonder, what it is that resides within those obscure eyes, what kind of man is it that hides behind the shades and all I do is look at them, knowing they'll never understand it. They'll never feel it, they could never empathize with me, with what I am, with what I do. I used to cling to the hope that the way they make love look in movies was all fiction but after a while you begin to care less, and less, and less. Now I just look at those people and grimace. And I just walk on by.