the limits of respectability
chapter nineteen - men and their fascination with hydraulics
Journal entry -Day 23- My first thought today was, I’m hungry, screw the food trunk. I’m going to splurge and get something to eat in the restaurant. Real food. Something not from a can, or a box, or if it’s processed to shit, I’m not going to know about it. Doc is up, and he and I are heading down for a traditional offering of bacon, eggs, home-fries, toast and a big glass of O. J. After last night we owe it to ourselves.
It was 11:00 A.M.. Everyone else was still sleeping, burned out from the emotional duress of the previous night, but not Doc and I. The day was burning bright and everything seemed to be more vivid. The checkered table cloth was a radiant red, the laced curtains— a delicate lily white, my coffee— a black mirrored pool of steaming liquid. Although it seemed a little cool outside, you couldn’t tell with the way the sun blazed its warmth through the window next to the table where we sat. I basked in its loving embrace, letting it take me. “I can’t believe what happened last night Doc?”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
We started to rehash the cause and effect, which now had us sitting across from each other trying to figure it all out, from the utter chaos on stage, to Spike’s fisticuffs with the cowboy. The Shit-kicker, as I had referred to him, had the shit kicked out of him by our rookie guitarist-wack-job, and strange as it now seemed, it had helped more than hindered. Then there was Space, and his generous serving of reprimands for everyone. And finally, the unexpected knock at the door, from a man none of us expected to see again. There was also the ensuing conversation. It started with the big guy with the beard speaking first.
“Guys, my name is Graveyard but my friends call me Gravy,” he said.
I thought Space was going to drop to all fours, right then and there, and begin kissing Gravy’s feet. The rest of us looked up at him from our seated positions, as if suddenly struck by a heavenly vision. He seemed taller and even more ominous standing before us, but I realized it was simply forced perspective. That entire last set we’d been looking down on him, and suddenly the roles had been reversed. Other than telling us his name he hadn’t said anything. Yet, we were convinced, here was our savior ready to lead us to Walden’s promised land and Doc’s underwater dancing.
Gravy spoke slowly and deliberately in a low, gravel growl. “I wasn’t really sure if your band was the right one for us, but at the end I had to admire your spirit and feistiness in the way you handled yourself.” He chuckled lightly. “That’s just the attitude we need and what we’re looking for....intensity. A band who can hold their own when the going gets rough, and believe me it can get rough out there. I just had to check with my partner to make sure we could still take you on before I got back to you. Sorry it’s so late. Time's an issue and we needed an answer from you sooner than later.”
We must be the best band they’ve ever seen to want us this bad?
Space reported with appreciation, “As you can see we’re all still up.”
Gravy grunted and shook his head up and down slightly. “Musically it’s passable. I don’t care much for that bebop-pop, stuff you guys play. I’m more of a blues-rock traditionalist, but if you can maintain the intensity level and the entertainment value, then I have an offer for you.”
Spike’s going to have to beat up a lot of audiences. What kind of bands, is this Walden guy looking for?
Space said, “You must have spoken to Walden then, Mr. Gravy?”
“It’s just Gravy and who did you say?”
“Gary Walden, the agent. Supreme Agency? He sent you out to see us. You own The Matador Club . . . right?”
“I don’t know any Gary Walden, or Supreme Agency, but I have been in The Matador. I hang there with The Jokers.”
“Who are The Jokers?”
“The JMC, the Jokers Motorcycle Club.”
“So you weren’t sent here by the Supreme Agency?”
Gravy was becoming impatient. “No! Look guys, my club is sponsoring this year’s Biker Boogie. There’s bikers from all over the country, coming to this town next week and we’re having a huge bash. One of our bands dropped out at the last minute and we need a replacement by next Friday. Like I said. I don’t have much time. I just happened to be in Bob’s tonight and saw you guys play. I like what I see, and I’m offering the gig to you. You want it or not?” Gravy folded his arms across his massive chest just as he’d done when he sat in the club watching us
unimpressed. His biker jacket made a leather squeak as he did so. With all the studs and pins decorating the shoulders and back, the thing must have weighed a hundred pounds?
Space paused for a moment, then spoke. “We’re interested. What are the terms?”
“You start next Friday at dusk— hour on, an hour off— until the sun comes up. We pay you Twenty- eight bills plus all you can eat, drink and fuck. What do you say?”
“What about our gig at Bob’s? We’re supposed to play here next week.”
“Come next Friday there won’t be anyone to play to. This place will be a ghost town. Everyone including Bob will be at our function. You can either play to thousands of wild bikers for more money, or no one at all. The choice is yours.”
“Good. I’ll be back tomorrow with a contract.” Gravy had said all he needed to, and left abruptly allowing us to ponder this strange twist in events. It would be some time before any of us would see our beds with this new infusion of exhilaration.
Our breakfast arrived. The eggs steamed, the toast glistened dripping with butter, the bacon was crisp and aromatic. “God! What a wondrous day Doc. Twenty-eight hundred for one night. That’s more than we make in a week,” I giggled. I jabbed an end of my toast into an egg yolk.
“Yes sir! Simply glorious Sparky. I’m even going to buy– you– breakfast.”
No one had said shit when Gravy left. We’d all been in shock. Once the information began to take root our hands at each other’s throats, had turned into a virtual love-fest of back slaps and high-fives. All our problems had been temporarily swept under the mat. Wires had been the only one who showed any trepidation. He’d sat back with his usual cigarette perched between two fingers when it wasn’t in his mouth, deep in thought. He knew Gravy hadn’t stopped the bleeding of our agent problem, he’d only applied a band-aid. However, we weren’t
thinking about tomorrow when our today had turned out so wondrous.
Doc Barlow and I finished our meals, paid, and started to leave when I ran into Megan coming in, as we were on our way out.
“Doc, I’ll catch up to you later.”
Doc pointed at me and made a clicking sound much like Benton had done at the truck-stop, then sauntered off whistling South Side of the Sky, by Yes.
I caught up to Megan. “Hey! I thought you were going to come up to my room last night and . . . how did you put it?.... ‘Fuck me senseless.’”
“I only fuck guys with ten inch dicks!” She was obviously still pissed at my snarly exit the night before.
“Oh, and you expect me to cut off two inches just for you?”
She paused for a moment. There was the hint of that devious smile again. All was forgiven. “How are you at giving massages?”
“I don’t know? Why don’t we sit down and discuss it?”
Megan said coyly with a sly wink, “So twelve huh? You must be very proud?”
“Maybe later, we can get together and you can swallow my pride?”
“Hmm . . . Mr. Confidence. Sounds like you don’t get many complaints about your sexual prowess with your attitude.”
“I wouldn’t say that, it’s just that I never listen to them when I do.”
“What’s with you, Jekyll and Hyde? You’re like this totally different guy today, all happiness and sunshine.”
I told her of what had transpired including the Biker Boogie offer.
“I could have told you all that. I know Gravy. We party sometimes.”
“Here’s the funny part Megan. We thought Gravy was the owner of The Matador sent to check us out and report back to this new agent we want to represent us.”
“Oh how could you mistake Gravy for him, they’re totally different. Gravy’s much taller.”
“You know who I’m talking about? The owner of The Matador?”
“Yeah he was in last night too. He saw your first set. Why did you think Bob was so happy? He told Bob you guys are going to take away his business this week, you’re so good. Remember, I told you?”
“You didn’t tell me that! Fuck me! This day just keeps getting better and better.”
“You think so? Just wait for tonight.”
“Tonight? What about this afternoon?” I had come to terms with my infidelity long ago. I’d tried to remain faithful while on the road. I went as far as calling home after I had spurned my first advance. Perhaps I caught Lorraine in the middle of one of her favorite TV shows, or at the beginning of her menstrual cycle, but she had seemed totally disinterested in my effort, even a little annoyed at my intrusion. “Damn it woman! I’m a man! It is my ingrained need to procreate the world, and I’ve just turned down such an opportunity and you act like you don’t give a shit. Fuck that!” And that’s exactly what I did the next night, when the same girl appeared in the bar to see our band again.
Megan and I chatted as I waited for her to finish her meal. Later we’d adjourn to her place and I would explore the age old study of, men and their fascination with hydraulics. “Penis goes up!’” It was the best day ever! Until I realized, I was late for our afternoon rehearsal with psycho Spike and the boys.