Nothing like being home among the ones who love you. He’d considered the Hole in the Wall home since he left the commune to get a room in town and peddle his art on the drag in exchange for used books, other vendors’ creations and money for rent. His bed was little more than a crash pad where days that were bound to get better began with a bong, a beer and a Bayers and reached fruition when he reached the bar and could ripen.
When textures began to reappear he found himself seated with Pedro and Phineas T. Freakears, fellow aficionados of the vintage vibes of the Cramdens, a 4±2 piece band of veterans of the bar wars, here in the Live Music Capital of the World.
He might have expected to see them here if he hadn’t lost the knack of projecting himself into the unknown on an imaginary line everyone called the future. He knew full well how it was done; he’d done it for many years. Ever since time had disappeared in the middle of the Big Bend desert years earlier it took an effort he found distracting from the obviousness of the eternal present to fritter off into any number of its infinite possibilities trying to guess it right for some reason.
He envisioned whatever the future was projected to be when in conversation or reading a book so he could get indicators of what the speaker or writer experienced in the present of their expression. He became so adept at the process of such reflection that he often ignored the subject for the image of the author in the mirror of their expression. His comments were often way off the subject, which direct him to and fit right in with the company of folks in a town for whom it’s never gotten too weird.
The back of his neck sent erotic signals throughout his body as he realized this must be Thursday judging from the body leaning none too timidly over his back with his unordered Dos Equis. “Thank ya, Darlin’" he said, trying to wiggle his ears between Gigi's freckled breasts. Hmmm, this being Thursday with Pedro and Phineas here … he turned to behold J. Xavier String, Flinty LaFlash, Ed Norton and Bilious Bongo setting up on stage. Once again the present in this place is good. Being here now is good without promises of any kind. Everyone who appears is a pleasant surprise and in for one, too.
He discovered this hole in his wall against the intrusion of Western Civilization when his restlessness disturbed his partner enough to want to “talk about it” over beers somewhere away from their bed. He hadn’t been drinking ever since he discovered marijuana so they went to the bar across the street from her job at the radio station for happy hour. They parted amiably, he remained and she never returned lo these thirty years. He had found it a more suitable social situation than either communal or romantic arrangements, both being so fraught with commitment he never felt anyone appreciated the present without guarantees. Here, cash was the only requirement and belligerence was the only prohibition, and even then it was, “take it outside!” His tab was covered by doing portraits of the regulars and posters for the bands.
Three beers, a smoke break out back to warm up the band-fan coalition, five songs into the evening and the music began to creeping under his skin and into his cells like acid mixed with DMSO. He was not only helpless, but loath to stop his various body parts choosing separate instruments to keep time with as he lost all cognition of anything but the sound and his ass bouncing in his creaking chair. As regulars began showing up he could no longer keep his seat and tucked himself into the corner out of the traffic of all but Gigi brushing by to order or pick up nachos or elfagators.
By the second set it was wall to wall shag fug and on the tables too. By the time they got around to gettin’ down with James Brown there wasn’t a dry inch of flesh in the room, saturated on the inside, sweating on the outside, and everyone picked up the intensity.
After several 13th Floor Elevator Classics as encores to close down the night for a room full of people who would vote them the best band in the world if the poll were taken then, the morph of the frenzy was akin to stepping off a small boat after several days of heavy seas, the momentum of emotion keeps one rocking while hanging onto the bloody bar. Someone orders 30 kamikazes and they’re gone in a slurp. Daisy asks if he’d like a bump. Although he doesn’t like pharmaceutical cocaine, he does enjoy what he and Daisy do in the bathroom.
Half way through the second band the present must be recorded if he is ever to be aware of its existence at sometime in the future. He recalls either talking about the music to Pedro or getting into Gigi’s car as the last semi-somnambulant event of the evening. His chagrin over lost time is never enough to prevent a bong, a beer and a Bayers from salving it enough to forget all over again.
He might have been happy that way for the rest of his life but the bar closed.
He and the fans followed the Cramdens to Ergo’s hoping to keep the party alive but it was never the same for him. He died sometime after I moved out here to the relative peace of the country five years ago. I know he died because I go back and pour beer on his gravestone around anniversary time when Pedro returns to town — he doesn’t answer. I’m glad he taught me everything he remembered before his final forgetting.