Memory Motel: A Rock And Roll Fantasy, Part Four Section Twenty: Things Were Better
29 – Blue Eyes
So this is the final end, the final toss of the dice, send Mick back to his family, alive , and wait and see if he returns to me. I lit a cigarette and got in bed between the girls and made love, only stopping to do something I don’t do very often, change time. Later still no Mick so me and the girls went down to the beach and slathered lotion on each other, drank Mimosas and felt privileged. The girls asked me what my story was and I was gonna tell em something but instead I just shrugged and same same old same old and they nodded in an agreement and that, my friends , is people in a nutshell. I got a text from Mick. “Mick’s on his way”, I told Marianne. She beamed and while I knew they had no future except for the immediate future I had a sense that at least they did have an immediate future.
Mick showed and we lay about the beach all day, letting the sun pound us in the unseasonal heatwave and we started speaking in cod., the way new friends will, all mutual saliva and shortchanges and short cuts. Mick told us about the car accident, about the cute kid and Marianne said she worried about having kids. “In my line of work, you know. Maybe it comes with a price.”
“But that is the final point of all this, isn’t it. I mean, aren’t we meant to all mom and pop, extend the species. It’s just nature at work.”
Mick smirked at me. “What do you think, Blue?” He asked.
“That’s part of it. I think, depending upon how lucky you get, your job is to be alive until you’re dead.”
“Some philosophy,” Marianne laughed. “What does it even mean.”
“I guess it means, don’t beat yourself up too much, just let it happen and try and enjoy yourself. Because the quality of your life matters to something even bigger than you are. It matters… ah, nuts.”
Mick smirked. “Should I just enjoy these days and not wonder why I’m here, Blue.”
“That’s what I’m doing.”
“Are there no rules you can’t break?”
“The laws of gravity are very very strict, and I’m just bending them for my own benefit.”
Clare nodded, “Billy Bragg”.
“If he is dead, he can open for us.”
“He isn’t dead and no opening act”
“What are you guys talking about?”
“Did you know Bragg is playing tonight? He’s at the Grand Auditorium Louis Lumière.”
“I did not know that”, I said. “Isn’t that a little big?”
“Who expected a hit album, right?
“Let me call my manager, I am sure he can set us up.”
So around five we went upstairs, fucked for awhile, got dressed and went to dinner, Billy was going to be on stage at nine, and we had 5th row center. “I wish Ian, was here.” Mick said. “He used to be in Billy’s band you know.”
“This is solo.”
“Ugh, solo.” Marianne said.
“”Nah, he isn’t boring at all. If you can get him off politics for five minutes, he is really charming.”
“I hope he does ‘New England’” Marianne said.
“We should get Kirsty”, Mick said.
“Why is he here?” Marianne asked. “He is just lucky the Film Festival is over,”
“ssssh, ssssh.” Clare said.
Billy is 67 years old but he doesn’t look it tonight. He looks remarkably like the one man Clash who first jumped back in the late 1970s. Mick must have been thinking the same thing, “I wish Joe Strummer was around.” He whispered to me as Billy launched into a collection of songs off Spy Vs Spy. ”Like a hexagenarian has any reasons to sing “The Saturday Boy”
“’A girl not old enough to shave her legs…” I whispered and the girls shhhhed us again.
It was a fine performance, a nice mix of nostalgia and up to the minute political minutia. Billy hadn’t lost much over the years and age had given him some sort of elder statesman attitude. His voice has the streets of London, if not Londonberry in them, they seem to question the very seats we are sitting in it, righteous the way I am meant to be, he charms the rich and famous down from the Ivory Towers because all he can see is the inequality of the here and now and the tremendous equality of both death and life after death. Of what we can choose to share together, without end, sorting through what it means to be conscious. I could see my companions mulling it over, Clare in almost intense empathy, she mirrored herself in her achievements off the wrong side of the tracks in Hawaii, where she never knew her father and her mother struggled working night and day to provide for Clare and her older brother and sister. Struggling into college, struggling as a topless dancer and sometime escort for the tourist newly wed hiding from his wife, ,and struggling to the life of a makeup artist and finally an assistant to the rich and famous. A life Hawaii, where the rich and the poor, the touristy distraction of the place lay at odds with the reality of Asians in the US, lead her to a place of servitude for the rich and famous. She liked Marianne, which helped, and she was bi-sexual, which also helped, and sexually malleable, and she enjoyed the good things in life. I liked her but I liked everybody. I liked the smallest ant on the street, I liked the smallest lifeless planet. I liked the Aftermath. It all added up to me, it was all one huge pattern of life and death with no concern and no meaning beyond this incredible work of art that filled everything and everyone.
And I liked Clare because she was a good fuck and fun to be with. I liked her for all the best reasons you can like someone.
Marianne was the same in a way, they were drawn to each other after extreme pragmatism. The same pragmatism that had the eleven year old Marianne fucking for TV roles, the same Marianne who saw Mick and me and saw through us to something worth being around. It wasn’t that we were physically attractive, everybody was physically attractive in that level of stardom. It was that we had a certain cool vibe, a non-judgmental intuitiveness, a certain way of looking at what we were doing and why. Because we had the power of those that knew.
Billy was singing a slow one “I Ain’t Got No Home” and I noticed Marianne looking at me. There was something instinctive and quizzical, the sense sentient beings sometimes get around me that I am not what I appear to be. She held out her hand and I took it, and she squeezed it and tentatively put her head on my shoulder as thought there were questions that could only be answered by a head on the shoulders. I said nothing. I just left her to it. I drifted to Billy and my attention dragged away over to the Aftermath. To the preparations and what would happen next and what part would I chose to have in it. I could, if I wanted, just not allow the Universe to end. Yet in doing so I’d break a rule, a freedom of action, and it went against the simple needs of consciousness. I had to win. There had to be a winner. Here but how could I force the issue? I was not worried, I really didn’t even quite see what winning would entail.
1 – The Stones would perform their concert in Central Park.
2 – They would be followed by witnesses from earth and from the Aftermath.
3 – At the end, the world would be aware, on somehow, on some level, what happened without going insane.
4 – Then the universe will be saved.
For around 5 billion years, so we’re past the half way mark, and then… what? Well, I’ll have to think about that. But right now I need to stop it in the here and now. I know it feels like a done deal but the thing about living things, unlike living thoughts, is that there is a random element to them, there is chance. It is built in to the mechanism, so no, it is far from a sure thing. I don’t feel secure and I don’t think I ever have. The fear for life is death, the fear for aftermath is atrophy. That everything loses interest, that I lose interest. The movement is from Life to Aftermath to reassimiliation of thought that keeps a unique vibrant concept and with something like 20 billion years and counting, well, so far it has worked.
But I am uneasy. As we walk back to Le Marsailles, Marianne takes my hand and asks if I’d like a walk on the beach. We peel off, holding hands, not speaking at first. “Do you think I’m a bad person?” Marianne asks finally.
“Why would I think you’re a bad person, did you lift my wallet?”
“Ha, no, but I have taken advantage of every single possibility and so isn’t that wrong?”
“No, nothing is wrong, and sucking dick to get ahead when you’re ten years old is their fault not yours.”
“How do you know.”
“The trajectory isn’t unique, you know.”
She stood still on the beach, and with a flourish took off her heels and held on to the straps. “You don’t know how bad it was, how bad it made me feel. When I think now, I see some of these guys all the time, and I just want to kill them. It enrages me, I want to batter their heads. And that new kids program sensation, nothing changes. We all know the currency, I know what they’re doing, I know what the boys are doing. It isn’t a fair exchange but there is no way around it. This is a disgusting business, nothing is sacred. I wonder how my Mom didn’t know but I’m just kidding myself, of course she knew. She knew. She could smell it on me as I walked out of the office.”
I couldn’t tell her what I knew to be true, someday, 500 or 10,000 years from now, she’d be still her but the entire sting would’ve disappeared. Instead I sad, “It wasn’t too long ago.”
“I know but I feel as though life has damaged me. The trip up, they don’t see it the way it is. My mom is so proud, taking her cut, promoting me. I ran into my dad last year, he wanted to borrow some money to start new business. I gave it to him. How couldn’t I? At least he doesn’t know, he’s a carpenter. He’s like this old fashioned blue collar worker who got caught up and he walked.
“He would’ve taken me if he could have. Sure I know he would, he’d argue. Scream at my Mom, he’d be drunk and in her face and they’d be screaming and he’d say ‘Leave her to be a child, stop stealing it from her. Let her be young.’ Mom never listened. She didn’t listen. She didn’t care, I was so pretty, so attractive, I was the play thing into stardom. And when I nearly tripped, maybe five years ago the drugs begun to malfunction, and she pushed me back on track. Not even rehab, just, Marianne it isn’t worth it. Just hang on, hong on, we are nearly their.
“I’m so close, Blue. I can smell it in the air, I am about ready to make that leap into stardom. Four days ago I was at this huge party and I was accepted, I really was. I knew I was there. The buzz on my new movie has come through and I was there and when it breaks next year, that’ll be it…”
“And what will you do, kid?” I asked.
“I’m going celibate. Maybe I’ll let Clare give me the occasional hand job but that’s it. If I never see another dick…”
“Then what about Mike and me?”
“You know ‘what about Mike and you.” We sat in deckchairs watching the lighthouses flicker in the darkness. “My Grandpa used to tell me the lights were mermaids…. I wonder if he exists somewhere. I wonder what he is doing? Is he somewhere out there? Is that thing that was him still him.
“What drives me so crazy is just the thought of those men –like, I guess I knew what was happening, but it was completely alien as well. I always wanted to puke, and an 11, 12, I was heavily into painkillers… I, I don’t understand why would somebody do it? I am not blaming them, but ugh, I wish they were dead. Like, I’d wake up in the morning and pray they were dead. Even the nice ones, even them, I hated them.
“I think only a man could misread women like that, how guilt ridden and filthy it all feels. But I wanted it, I wanted lights, I wanted fans, I wanted to be recognized.”
“You were too young to make any kind of decision?”
“Was it worth it, I felt like I gave up youth and innocence for something I didn’t want. I think that’s what happens in heaven , you know. You regain your youth and innocence.”
“Perhaps, but then you don’t want it any more. It is overated.”
“What scares you, Blue?” I took her hand and we walked back onto the sidewalk. “Or does nothing scare you?”
“I get scared. I have this recurring nightmare where I have invited everyone to this wild party and when they arrive I don’t know what to do with them. They are all like ‘why did you bring me here?’ and I’m all like, ‘I have no clue as to why I am here. I just am. Maybe it is where I am meant to be,but you? You should be somewhere else. I am not surprised people are upset with me. Like, there is constant clambering: what’s the plan? What’s the endgame. No plan, no endgame. I don’t know what you can maintain in this world, perhaps the only thing you can do is dream of love and death. Life is just a dream but so is death –death is the real dream.”
I wouldn’t have said all of that but she had lost interest early and I needed to hear the words. I felt as though something was wrong with me. Every billion years or so I had a crises. We walked back to the hotel.
The next day it rained and we sat around the hotel room, smoking pot and watching Cashiers De Cinemas festivals on television. Hitchcoks “Psycho”, Janet Leigh, Marianne said, “I think I always feel like I’m Janet Leigh.”
“I’m the same way.”
“Do you think it was intentional, like she is an every woman, representing all the ways women are imperiled by men?”
I nodded. “Except, Hitchcock was always killing off women in his movies.”
“’Have you heard about the ‘Midnight Ramble’” Marianne sang and Mick, who was engrossed in the movie, looked up and laughed.
“You know what, to suggest all women are physically threatened by men is sexist.”
“I didn’t think it wasn’t, but it also has a germ of truth in it.” I replied.
“Men’s needs and women’s needs are not as close as they should be…. But even so, I don’t feel threatened by either of you.”
“Because you don’t get it,” Mick said. “it’s like when people say, oh music is just as good today as the 60s and then name some name to make their point. It isn’t that everything is worse, it is that enough of it is worse to be make a discernible difference.”
“My golden age was the 00s”, all those indie bands, it was just terrific. Bright Eyes, that lot…”
“There you go, Mike? What do you think now…?”
“I think she doesn’t like groove music, I think. I think she ain’t into James Brown… shs knows no better…”
“Maybe, who is to say?”
“I am, about this, I am. But you can tell us about the predatory male.”
“Yeah, the nature of life is that it eats self, from the biggest thing to the smallest thing, it expands and contracts. Nature abhors a vacuum anyway. I think this planet has been going downhill since the Jurassic Age. What a great life a dinosaur had, you killed everything that got in your way and then died. Keeping life to the essentials, with such a small brain you never got bored or distracted, you just chomped around.”
“I wish I was a dinosaur”, Clare said. “Try fucking with me then, just try it. And she got on the bed knelt and hovered up and roared, Mick joined her and they prowled the shite and Marianne and I joined them, knocking down tables, howling and screaming deep into the room, communicating with our eyes and the ululations of our screams, and I felt this tremendous wave of nostalgia. We prowled like all that matter was the moment and the thought, to rule, to win, to be this creature. I could feel my old angry brain coming to the front of my brain and I fought back the old instincts while we prowled. The Universe thinks I can control it because I am responsible for it, I don’t any more than you are responsible for a son or daughter. Randonmess isn’t just part of it, it is all of it. It doesn’t just feel like lives are chaotic and out of control, they absolutely are out of control. If I could change anything, I’d have the Dinosaurs still reign the world: I prefer them to humans, I was at my happiest among them and as I was thinking about them, I was thinking about my six-year-old daughter. I would have saved her, I wouldn’t have let her go so early. And I know what you’re thinking, but I was less close to Mick’s Granddaugher, and I chose to break the rules but I didn’t for the dinosaurs and I haven’t for my Granddaughter.
Of course, I saw her in the Aftermath and for awhile she wanted to be with me all the time even as she matured and lately she hasn’t. I wasn’t like other things in the Aftermath. Mick doesn’t quite realize it, but I am hidden in plain sight.
Then we cleaned up the mess. Mick smirked, “We didn’t used to do that, you know.”
“We’re middle class working man’s gods” I said.
The girls looked at each other. “There they go again,” Marianne said. “Their own private language.”
“You men are very strange, you know? I don’t understand you at all. What does that mean.” Mick shrugged “it will all make sense one day… really it will.”
Marianne lay on the bed and I rested my head on her stomach, we could hear the rain on the sea outside the window and the lights were off. It had that mid afternoon darkness, that world at rest feel betwixt day and night. “When I was in my late teens I dated this guy who worked in a bar”, she said, “and I would hang around the bar, and that was that time, that place like now, neither one or the other where they’d be a coupla degenerate drinkers asleep on the bar and I’d sit on a stool in the corner, reading a script or something, and the place was neither nor. Like today. Like now. Like this entire week. I feel as though you’ve put me in limbo, Blue. I could love you, it would be easy, but you are not here for me to love and you two will be going soon to do what? I just want this moment here to last because I think I’m in love with you and so what? I’ve never been really in love before and this is no place to start. Say something, Blue. Make me feel better.”
So I told her the truth: “You have nothing be scared of, nothing to be concerned over, nothing to worry about. You will be fine, it will be fine. I know it feels difficult, I know you’ve had to be strong, but you are a perfect thing Marianne O’Hagen, you are the brightest of stars… “
This seemed to please her and she moved into the crux of my shoulder and arm and retreated a little bit, we retreated one last time