An hour passed until Casey appeared and sat on one of the stools at the far end of the bar without her husband. She was still dressed in her bus clothes, black and somber. Space was applying the finishing touches to his drum kit, placing his various trophies of women’s lacy underwear at various junctions on the cymbal stands, (some things never change).
Under Wires direction, he started smacking the snare drum repeatedly while our sound-man fiddled with the equalizers on the main sound console.
Doc approached Casey, "Where’s Spike? We’re almost ready to try a few."
"He’s in the room. He said he could be a while."
"Je-sus girl, we don’t have a lot of time to get it together. It’s important that he’s punctual."
"Doc, let’s just go get him," I motioned. She told us their room number and off Doc and I stomped.
Once up a flight of stairs, we arrived at their door, midway down a long bleak corridor with that wet moldy smell. From inside we could hear someone stirring around followed by a click, click, bang! Doc was about to knock but halted, "Sparky what the hell was that?"
"I don’t know?"
Click, click, bang!
"There it is again! What the fuck’s he doing? Eccentric little bugger isn’t he?"
I just nodded affirmatively.
Click, click, bang!
Doc finally knocked after the next sequence of sounds. We heard Spike bellow from within, "Enter!"
Doc opened the door. Click– darkness. Barlow tumbled forward and I fell on top of him and what I perceived to be Spike’s big brown suitcase. I grunted and Doc yelped, "Je-sus! Sparky!"
Click– light, followed by a loud BANG!
Click- darkness again.
"Sparky! Get off me . . ."
Click- light. BANG! We looked up from our entanglement to see Spike directly in front of us, peering frantically from side to side, on all fours, in a British flag T-shirt, sunglasses, white underwear and black socks, holding a hammer in his hand. The blanket had been ripped from the bed and hung over the window blocking out all daylight. The lone lamp had been pulled down from the night stand, Spike clutched it with his free hand. Click– darkness. Click–light. BANG! As the hammer fell to the floor in a vicious stroke.
"Spike, for God’s sake. What the fuck?"
"What’s he doing Sparky?"
"Forget that. Where’s his pants Doc?"
We were on our feet again looking down at this creature that Space had hired to help us get to the promised land. Spike looked back up at us, his eyebrows visible above his dark shades. "Cockroaches," he said, in a hushed tone as if they might hear him and scatter. "This room is infested with them. I’m killin’ every last one of those fuckers before I do anything else."
Click, click, BANG!
"Oh my heart! Oh my heart!" Doc clutched his chest in feigned fright to cover up the fact that Spike was beginning to creep him out.
"Spike stop it! Don’t tell me you have a phobia over cockroaches too?"
"That would be insectophobia," Doc put in. He paused, "Why? What other phobias does he . . . ?"
"...Casey, she can’t stand bugs and I can’t stand to see her upset. I’ll eliminate anything that makes her that way including these nasty little.." Click, click, BANG!
"Je-sus! Sparky make him stop."
"Would ya shut up for a minute Doc! Shit Spike, did you ever think the easiest thing might be to change rooms. We don’t have infestations in ours. I’m sure you’re telling us the truth about the roaches even though I don’t see any squished corpses, just a bunch of hammer holes in the floor boards."
"They’re elusive as hell."
"I’m sure they are but we have to start rehearsing and it’s a rather pressing need at the moment. So perhaps you could just put the hammer down for now and we’ll deal with this problem later. We’ll get some bug spray or something ok?"
"No this is the only way to be sure," He shook the hammer at us.
Doc and I exchanged looks that said, Holy fuck! This guy is psycho, of course, I’d been on that bandwagon since the bus depot.
Spike finally relented after our continuous pleas of, "Just put the hammer down and back away from the bugs!" He finally agreed to follow us downstairs and put some pants on, thankfully not in that order.
As he plugged in, Space approached Doc and I who were with Wires at the sound console. Wally sat close by with his feet up on a table as he wiped his guitar neck with a soft cloth.
"What’s the hold up? You know how important this week is going to be to us."
"We had to hammer out a few issues with Spike," I then proceeded to inform them of
recent events in the room as well as Wires and my knowledge of Spike’s Curse of the J’s phobia.
Doc was stunned, "You mean he also has coulrophobia?"
"What? He has a fear of clowns?" Wires inquired, "That’s what coulrophobia is Doc."
"It can be two things! Or did I dream it? Really Wires I knew that. I was just testing you. Anyway it could be worse, he could have ergophobia like Wally . . . That’s fear of work Wally."
Wally turned to Doc, stuck his tongue out and returned to wiping his guitar.
"Look I don’t care what the problem is. Spike is our man now and things have to work
out. So work them out. Christ! It’s like baby sitting when it comes to you guys. Focus! There can’t be any more fuck-ups. We’ll get him a new room and no one calls him anything but Spike. Got it? ...Good!...Wires fire up the sound."
Eccentricities aside, Spike was prepared and knew a bulk of what we asked him to learn before he got here. We felt confident that we could make it through the first night with minimal mistakes and scheduled further rehearsals for later that day and the following afternoon.
Spike was now at the bar, with Casey’s arms around him, waiting for a new room key from Space.
"That went better than I expected."
"Me too, Doc."
"At least Wally and I don’t have to spend too much time working with him on the songs. I’d like to minimize my time with him anyway. That boy gives me the heebeejeebees."
"It’s probably best if we all do that...limit our contact with him."
"Do you ever wonder, Sparky?"
"About what? Why we do what we do? Why we put up with this crap for shit money? The long hours for minimal reward? Fraternize with crazy assholes like Spike?"
"No, Why the fear of long words is such a long word in itself? Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia."
"Sometimes I don’t know about you Doc. Maybe you’re the one we should be limiting contact with?"