Chapter Twenty-two- Sunny side up
The dream always ended the same way— our career in tatters crushed by cruel fate. Although Blake Cole left long before the night ended, and chose to tell us we, "sucked", at a later date, there he was in the dream with his proficient little laugh, every hair in place like it had been cast from a mold. He guffawed, and criticized, lambasting our performance, turning his back on us and sealing our doom forever. Labeled as losers and wannabes, a hurdle in the way of achievement, it always tripped us up with the finish line in sight. In the vision, there was always the twisted, morphed faces of anguish, sadness, and self-doubt emerging slowly from the shadows offering up condolence. It was a funeral pall, where we’d been buried alive by our own folly: Arsehole Party still spilling his guts in the corner— the empathy from the haunting eyes of our crew— Alice and her siblings— Wally just beginning to show the emergence of his dough-boy form— Apples as stylish as ever, and Wires who had been there to witness it all, from first song, to set’s end. He had seen the aspirations die that night, in a blink of his eyes between cigarettes, before the volleys of blame and condemnation were ever fired across our prow. Perhaps it was pity setting things in motion, or had he simply felt we deserved a better end? But we were here at Faith Sound now because of it. A second chance to correct the past- set things on their proper course. If only in the smallest recesses of his mind, Wires had started to lay the foundation for us on that night.
Tonight the dream had been vivid and more explicit in ways. It had clawed its way to the surface of reality from the world of unchangeable destiny and happenstance. I half expected to wake with a microphone seized in my clenched fist ready to bash the nearest skull in frustration, or out-and-out anger.
The mundane vision had twisted toward the end. It had warped to a unusual variance. It had played out as I had mentioned, but suddenly at the end, I found myself in possession of my voice. It was strong and loud as if my vocal cords had suddenly been cleansed of sickness. It rang with a crystal clarity. It boomed, and rose above the catcalls of laughter. It pierced the looks of revulsion, and whispering discontent. I laid into Blake, Arsehole Party and all the nay sayers. I even called Wanda a cheap inflatable whore. My words scorched into them like a branding iron on supple pink flesh. If it was over, I was going out with guns blazing and all would perish in my wake. No crevice was safe from penetration by my verbal fornication. Years of pent-up frustration and failure bubbled to the surface in a steaming hot spring of venom and expletive filth you would not kiss the ass-end of a cat with. They stood unable to break free of my diatribe. Smoking and burning from my words until they remained nothing more than pyramids of baked ash— cracked and blackened in the embers. A wind caught their remains, and in a flash of blinding light, they were gone. Blown to the four winds like the spores of a dandelion, swirling in a vortex of my smug satisfaction.
I awoke. It was morning. I looked at the clock. Ten minutes after nine. I fought through the remaining cobwebs of the hideous dream. Quickly I got dressed and headed out of the room. The house was silent. Everyone else was still asleep and despite the day that lay yawning before us, there was a serene calming atmosphere in it. The sun was rising in glorious splendor just as it had done for millions of years. It reduced all recent dubious events to a level of insignificance, like dead skin replaced by new cells.
I looked out the kitchen window, while I prepared some coffee. Amid full arm stretches, I spied Miss Agnes in her Sunday best. She was dressed in a wide, white, laced, brim hat and a flowing white sun dress. She stood facing the glowing ball of morning light as if energized by its effulgence. She held dear to an equally white bible with a red tassel that found solace at her breast. She embraced her little bible town with loving eyes. Reaching down she fondly turned a statuette of The Virgin Mary cradling yet another baby Jesus toward the beacon of radiant gold as a large brown Buick wound its way up the driveway from a cloud of dust. Florence joined her sister and waited for the hulking beast on wheels. It pulled up and rolled to a stop beside them. Inside, the car were Sunday morning church goers, women desperately fanning themselves beneath the brims of huge floppy laced hats not unlike those sported by the bible thumping siblings. The back doors swung open like the reaching arms of the Lord, and Agnes and her sister Florence squeezed into the encompassing bosom of the hat-filled car. I was reminded of clowns in the circus, as the Buick circled around and departed down the road, from whence it came. The vehicle filled with a variety of pastel chapeaus sailed off like an Easter basket of eggs, sunny-side up— positive, full of faith and forgiveness. It was a total contrast to my inclination. I looked on until it was engulfed in a haze of dust, dirt and gravel.
As Miss Agnes and her disciples faded from view, Suds wrestled my gaze away from the window. “You guys got in late last night. did you fix your drummer problem?”
“No, not really. Honestly Suds, I don’t know what we’re going to do. I’m not sure Doc and I decided what was best for the band last night. I think we may have cut our own throats by not following our initial intentions.”
I thought back to the previous night. It was a blur, but I do remember Doc asking what we were going to do and me responding, "whatever we have to". Blake Cole would have been so proud of me, beneath his molded hair atop a puddle of ash, doing what it took no matter what, even after I tore him a new asshole in my dream. We hadn’t even told Wally of the evening. I’m not sure why? After all, out of all of us, he wouldn’t have a problem either way. Letting Arsehole Party sit in, or continue on with Grub the invalid dropping his sticks every third beat. It made no difference to him. He was long gone from the Oral Blondes when the shit had gone down. Out of all of us, Wally was Switzerland— neutral, rational and undecided.
Suds once again broke the silence with his high-pitched squeak. “Things have a way of working themselves out. I’m sure it’ll all come together . . . ”
I looked down at him. “ . . . or all fall apart. Excuse my pessimism but I’m not exactly feeling positive right now.”
“With all that has happened to you that’s understandable,” the little man said. He reached up and felt blindly around the counter top for a mug. I pushed one into his stubby fingers and poured him a cup of black java. He nodded in appreciation and meandered over to the table cupping his gigantic mug with both hands. He climbed aboard a chair and released a newspaper from its elastic, thrusting it open before him.
“Where’s your huge apprentice today?”
“He goes to church with Miss Agnes on Sunday.”
“I didn’t see him out there.” Not that he could get into that car anyway."
“No he goes earlier. The Reverend picks him up. He usually has a few jobs around the church that need doing and Tiny- ”
“-I know, Tiny likes to help.”
“Exactly . . . Oh, listen, I almost forgot. Someone called for you last night.”
“Who?” Griffin Alexander? The Mechanic? Is my car’s ready? The ghost of Wires Whitmire? Who?
“He said it was the Mayor. Said it was urgent and you’d understand.”
“The Mayor called? Here?”
“I’m impressed. You know the Mayor? Which city?”
“It’s a nick name he’s not really the Mayor.”
“I see. Here’s a number where he said he could be contacted.” Suds reached into his shirt pocket and tweezed out a small folded piece of paper. He placed it on the table for my leisure like a Chinese finger trap. I picked up the note and opened to view the exchange. With all the long distance charges thank God Wires is paying for this. I’m a pauper.
“I’ll get the others up and start getting the tracks cued up.”
“Finish your coffee first. And Suds . . . Just wake Doc and Wally. Let the others sleep for now. Too many cooks you know . . . ”
“I hear ya.”
Then I realized something I wanted to ask him. I turned to Suds as he was sitting inadvertently blowing on his cup between sips and searching for the sports pages. His little legs swung from his perch like a child on a swing waiting to be pushed. “Suds how come you didn’t tell me about the calls we had Thursday night before we got here.”
Suds cocked his head to the side, a look of confusion on his face. He set his mug down. “Calls? there weren’t any calls for you on Thursday.”