When I first walked into the place, I couldn’t believe it. It was like a small nightclub down there. Drummer’s parents actually encouraged the kid & there was a stage, stage lights, PA system with floor monitors, mikes & stands. I said, “Eels, we’re the Electric Eels,” & Joe said, “sounds good.”
We all chose punk names. Joe the drummer took Pat Dry, funny fucker. Nick, who I had talked into playing bass, took Nick-A-Rama, “like punk-a-rama,” he said. All right. I took Cliff Spikes. When people asked, I said it sounded sharp.
Nick & I had hammered a set of songs out in his bedroom at his mother’s place. It took a month or so. We listened to records, learned some songs we liked & worked on our own stuff. Neither of us had jobs, I was still on unemployment & he did whatever the hell he did, somehow always had money for weed & cigarettes. Did I say he was a thief? That I would give him rides to the pawn shop? When I would ask, he’d say he had some friends or he “found” something.
“Just drive. I’ll give you gas money & we’ll get some weed from Dave.”
All right, so I’m a driver. Been giving Stevie rides to York to cop dope a few times a week, paid in bags & then met this Puerto Rican in the Uptown B&G who I drove once a week to get major weight from Reading. He actually paid money, $50 a trip & threw me one bag when we got back. Smokin’ white dope, way better than the Mexican mud I was running with Stevie.
I turned Dave onto this guy & the next morning, there was a note on the pad we had on the refrigerator in the commune/rooming house where we posted things we needed that read:
FUNKY RICAN SACKS.
Well, Dave had a habit, had a job & the pot dealing business & enough money to support a habit.
This particular evening, I’m up on the stage singing Now I Wanna Be Your Dog, the Stooges tune & there’s that Rican white running through my veins, the shit they get $25 for on the street, when Pat Dry’s parents come bopping down the stairs. What was their real names? Dunno, never asked. The Dry’s. Nick found the situation, Nick knew people, was a people person. He had told me stories while I pretended to listen. Damn rich, pampered kid & we’re playing in the Dry’s basement. Stage lights & damn ambient lighting on the walls. They stand there & listen & I’m on it man, feeling evil, strangling my guitar between vocal lines.
When we get done with the tune, the Dry’s are clapping, yelling, “wooo.”
“You guys are getting tight!” Bob Dry said.
“Thanks,” I said into the microphone.
Pat Dry said, “aww,” & I looked at Nick who wasn’t saying anything.
I started strumming the chords to the next tune, had to keep rolling…
“No, wait,” Bob Dry said. “The Cooter has an announcement!”
The Cooter, AKA Mrs. Dry, AKA Claire said, “we’ve asked Bob’s old manager to come check you Eels out next week. He’s pretty big in show business, books acts all over the east coast.”
“Cool,” Pat Dry said.
“You’re damn right it’s cool. Mr. Flatulence booked my band, The High-Five, all over back in the day. Those were the days, right Cooter?”
“Oh, Bob,” she said.
“You used to play in a band?” I asked.
“Well,” Bob said.
“He-he,” the Cooter said, “Bob played drums. He was a great drummer, started teaching Joe when he was very young.”
“Mom!” Pat Dry said.
“Well, it’s true. It isn’t like we forced it on you, you liked it. Now look at you, playing with these fine young fellows.”
“What happened to the High-Five?” I asked.
“Well, we all got married & settled down,” Bob said.
“My dad sells insurance,” Pat Dry said.
Nick lit a cigarette, stood there. Pat lit a cigarette. I didn’t smoke, just stood there. Bob lit a cigarette & the Cooter paced a bit. She had a nervous tick, head twitch thing like there was a fly attacking her. I looked. No fly. My guitar felt heavy, wanted to be played & there we were. I thought about cracking their skulls open.
“AHHH!” I yelled.
“What?” Bob said.
Nick was over there laughing quietly & Bob took another drag from his cigg, said, “Well, John Flatulence will be over next Thursday night. He’s a good guy & might have some suggestions for you guys.”
“He sure straightened the High-Five out,” the Cooter said.
“That he did Cooter. We were pretty wild & he straightened us out, booked us all over the east coast, well, you guys know that. We had matching stage gear, costumes, like the Beach Boys. You guys ever think about doing something like that?”
“We’re constantly talking about that. Right Nick?”
“Oh, yeah,” Nick said.
The Cooter was standing in the corner, head twitching, wringing her hands. What the hell was wrong with her? I started the chords to the next song, Bob yelled something & waved & he walked up the stairs. We tore into Hard Cars / Fast Drugs, one of mine & the damn basement disappeared along with everything else for a while, like it does & the Cooter over there with all her ticks & strangling the neck of my SG after first verse, gonna kill this thing, look at the Cooter, her eyes wild, drops her ass in the corner & imagine something in her belly, maybe roach nest that explodes, blood all over the walls & ceiling, insects crawling around. I’m gonna beat this thing to death, strangle the notes till it or me breaks.
She jumps up, runs after Bob.
Then it’s night, really late & Eels outside, sweaty Eels.
“My parents think you’re a junkie,” Pat Dry said.
Nick didn’t know. I told him driving back to his place. He asked more.
Two more trips with Stevie & one with Hector with the funky Rican sacks. The UC check in the mail, gotta walk over to the office which was a block away, sign in.
“Yeah, I been looking for work,” blah-blah.
The girl on my ass about the orgasm count, that I owed her a few, that I should quit kicking her out of bed when I was done. “I have a bed too, you know. We could sleep together.”
“What?” I said.
“I’M JUST UPSTAIRS!”
So $50 a week from UC & the 50 from Hector. Can actually maintain a decent buzz and eat. Had been tapping the bags I brought back to Dave, stealing a little out of each dime & had money for weed also. Which I bought from Dave. There was the bags Stevie gave me for each trip, Mexican mud & the bag Hector threw me, that fine white powder.
When Thursday came I was cruising on that fine white dope. Driving up with Nick, he’s telling me how he cut his neighbor’s lawn, that after he was done, the guy, “old guy, said he used to work for the railroad. Wife died 5 years ago, sad-sack & we’re drinking whiskey sours on his screened back porch & I say, ‘I gotta take a piss,’ go back, piss, look around a bit, guy’s got this huge coin collection. Tons of stuff, right?”
“Yeah, well, I don’t rob him blind, like the guy, he’s got stories man, you wouldn’t believe the stories this guy’s got.”
“Got big cash from the coins. Got these pills also.”
When we pulled up to the Dry’s place, I looked at the pills. That’s nothing, this is nothing, oh.
“That’s percodan. That’s good. How many you got?”
We counted them, 10. He had 10.
“Gimme those,” I said.
“Yeah, man, they’re good.”
“I’ll give you 8.”
We finished the joint we had been working on on the drive & ate some pills.
When Mr. Flatulence showed up, we were pile-driving through our set again. Knew it didn’t matter, that we’d have to find another place to play soon, that they were idiots & their son was either an idiot or wasn’t from where we were from, well who cares?
The Dry’s brought Mr. Flatulence down there &, he brought his side-kick, Elroy.
They critiqued us as Elroy made notes in his notepad.
“We have some thoughts,” Mr. Flatulence said as Bob chain-smoked & the Cooter, well, the Cooter had a bit of drool hanging off her lower lip. I imagined her ripping their heads off, vomiting down their necks. Good. Bob ceremoniously talked about things, how things should be done & Mr. Flatulence picked up from there. It was all static, like a radio that wasn’t tuned in right. I reached back, turned up the amp and made fart sounds from my guitar. Nick reached back, turned up, went BOOM, BOOM. He had a loud amp. Pat Dry said,” could we get some consensus here?”
I started playing some Stooges song, amp full up, Down On the Street. Nick fell in & well, you gotta sing it & Pat Dry sitting back there, lost, won’t come in & his mom, the Cooter is crouching in the corner, wringing her hands, looking around. When Mr. Flatulence walks upstairs, Elroy follows & Bob? Well Bob is standing in the middle of the room & looks like he’s yelling. Can’t hear it but his face sure is red. Pat runs upstairs & Bob follows. Damn SG. I’m gonna kill this thing. The Cooter squatting in the corner, looking around, gonna kill this thing, she jumps up, waves her hands, I stop. Nick stops.
“What?” I said.
“YOU GUYS!” she yells & runs upstairs.
Nick & I put our guitars into our cases, turn the shit off, walk upstairs.
“See you Saturday,” Nick yells into the kitchen.
“HEY!” Bob Dry yells.
“See you,” Pat Dry says.
Driving back, Nick says, “you think we should get our stuff out of there?”
“That percodan kicks ass.”
“I like percodan,” I said.
“Ha, his boy Elroy.”
“You never watched the Jetsons? His boy Elroy, daughter Judy, Jane, his wife?”
“That’s right,” I said.
Mike Boyle is a poet from Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in Thieves Jargon.
Copyright 2003-2006 AntiMuse