Wednesday, June 13, 2007

the nurse who loved me

saturday night, approx 4 hours after tool left the stage, peter, shoddie and i are sitting outside johnny rockets watching the funnel clouds of aggression whirl and disperse as groups of belligerent drunks move down the atlantic city boardwalk. half an hour ago we left josh at caesar’s, where he pitched a snit and refused to accompany us.

- i meet this awesome girl who will drive to atlantic city alone to see tool and she ends up digging THIS guy. he looks balefully at peter, who rewards him with a blank stare. – oh fuck you guys. this is my vacation and i’m going to ENJOY it dammit. fuck you, fuck you and fuck YOU. i got some gambling to do and i’m NOT hungry.

none of our imprecations worked so here we are at JR’s without josh.

in preparation for the 90min drive back to DE i am stoking up on coffee and chili. eminem – or an 18-year-old version of him – is our server: very white, very trying to be hip and very hyped.

-- he’s got to be on speed – i pronounce as marshall mathers whirls away with our orders – no one can be that fucking cheery at 3 in the morning. shoddie doesn’t even respond; he’s half in the land of morpheus already. peter surveys me with heavy lids.
-- you like bud? – he asks.
-- bud?? get real. you drive a chevy, too?
he frowns at me, processing with an overloaded CPU.
-- no, you like smoke bud?
-- OH. mmm never really worked for me. peter looks at me as though i’ve just outlined the theory of relativity. - and besides, i gotta drive home, remember?

this makes sense to him: he nods slowly and begins to roll a joint. at this point the speakers jack 10 decibels as donna summers’ Last Dance begins, apparently a cue for the johnny rockets staff to assemble and begin the obligatory line dance. for a little white dude, our server's got some funk in his blood, and he gazes confidently out the window at us from first row, center.
-- little man can dance - i note.
-- you think josh is okay? - shoddie wonders for the 10 billionth time. peter tries josh’s cell phone again; it goes straight to voicemail and he sings a couple lines of Last Dance.
-- i’m sure he’s fine. he’s a fucking army ranger. he can take care of himself – i say.
-- not worried about him – says shoddie – it’s the other guys. josh ain’t the same since he come back from afghanistan that second time.

i can’t argue with this, since i watched josh change over the course of several red bulls & vodka in the caesar’s lounge. a pretty nice, charismatic and funny guy who made you feel special by remembering your name and using it liberally, a soldier who guided you through cell phone shots of his 6-year-old in germany, his drumset and his rottweiler puppy, this man changed into something else over the course of those couple hours, the skin around his eyes pulling tighter and meaner.
-- yeah he’s okay unless somebody sets him off – peter mitigates.
-- did he talk about afghanistan at all? - i inquire. he never mentioned this to me; our conversation was all about europe, german techo clubs and endurance sports. before he can answer, peter’s phone chirps dyspeptically; the battery's running low. he answers but loses the connection.
-- dude that was josh trying to call.
i finish my coffee while shoddie tries to reach him.
-- yo, 'sup. you what? where you at? ohhhhhhkay we just gotta pay. we're there in 5. just hang, man. – he snaps the phone shut. – where’s our fucking waiter. we gotta go.
-- what’s up?
-- josh says we gotta go. – shoddie won’t say anything, just squirms while we we settle up. josh calls shoddie twice en route to caesars, while peter knocks off his joint, gracefully pirouetting away when the cops roll by.

when we reach caesars josh is outside pacing, rubbing his fist. he won’t look at me; hones in on peter.
-- hey fuckface what’s up with leaving me like that. i’m at the roulette table just minding my business when some asshole knocks my elbow. it wouldn’t have been nuthin except that i had my drink in my hand and it spilled a little. hey, i said, don’t you have any etiquette or fucking couth and he said what the fuck you say and i said don’t you have any fucking couth and then he shoved me and i fucking nailed him under the jaw and you never saw anyone drop so fast. i mean it was lightening fast and i just walked away from that table as fast as i could. didn’t run, just walked real fast.
josh rubbed his knuckles which, reddened as they were, showed the scars in starker relief.
- are you okay? – i asked.
- i’m fucking fine – he answered peter. fucking fine. that fucker dropped so fucking fast. you should have seen it. – he stops short, sniffs. – you fucking smoking? - peter shrugs nonchalantly. – jesus christ. let’s get the fuck out of here.

we chaperone josh down the boardwalk, away from caesars. peter’s worried about me driving home; says i can crash in their $60/night room at the Golden Flea. much as i’d like to stick around and see if josh ends up in police custody, i’m supposed to meet The Gay Squad in philly in 6 hours for brunch and the King Tut exhibit. drummed up on red bull, there is no way josh will go back to the hotel when there are strip clubs and casinos open for his business but someone’s gotta oversee him and that job’s left to peter, since shoddie is so down for the count i have to drop him off at the Flea on the way out.

i roll into the driveway at 5:20. the sun’s already rising, the cats are clamoring for food and i wonder how peter and josh fared. this isn’t the first time i’ve hooked up with the psycho kid with anger management issues and his coterie of devoted, understanding friends at a concert; and for the 30sec it takes me to fall asleep i question the influence of the bands i love.

say hello to everything you’ve left behind
it’s even more a part of your life now that you can’t touch it


fatmammycat said...

Sigh, you never met Scar, or perhaps you have. You should ask the Major about him some day, and ponder aloud how many of us it took to stop him murdering a dude for saying 'Columbian' to him.
I guess that's just how the world turns.

finn said...

the coffee, the nationality or the bud??

it begs the question, doesn't it, how long do you let the story roll because it's such a good one, and when do you step in because this person needs your help?

lawds i am requiring of sleep.

fatmammycat said...

Actually, having spoken it over with the Major, there was no 'n' or 'u' for that matter. It was 'Colombia' that triggered it. Nationality as far as I can make out. It went something like this.
'Colombia.' said the dude who was dressed rather like Elvis Costello at the time.
'Colombia? Colombia? Colombia? Colombia? Colombia? Did you say Colombia, Colombia? Colombia?' Said Scar, each Colombia rising dangerously until the last one came out in an outraged shriek.
Then he leaped and quite a few of us rugby tackled and led him-still screaming 'COLMBIAAAAAAAAA' -from the nightclub. I should add this was also the night he walked all the way back to ours hollering, 'You 'aving a good night?' to complete strangers, and when they'd say sure, he'd scream 'WELL FUCK YOUUUUU! NOBODY GIVES A SHIT!' at them. Then the dog almost bit him, then he was trying to catch imaginary floating heinekin beer labels until he passed out on the end of my double bed.
Oh yes, wot larks that was.
I'm against stepping in though, I say let 'em roll, it's not like you can stop them anyway, just keep them alive for a while longer and try not to get too suckered in the mean time.
Anyhoo, sounds like the actual concert was fun. Gotta run, I gotta paaaady to attend. With rum. I miss rum. I shall make up for it. Sleep well ducks. Don't wait up.

Anonymous said...

a little bit better than my johnny rockets story, damnit.

And its always healthy to question your own musical taste. But its much more fun to question others'.

"I don't know. I just....uh....I really like the way they sound."

finn said...

well i LIKED your story, esp the i may have blacked out over the 3rd or 4th honk. and the part at the end where you get soft, but not for long.

FMC that was a good story too, but what is it with you irish accosting strangers on the street for opinion-gathering? oh to live on a small island...

fatmammycat said...

We're Irish. *Shrugs*

Nerina said...

Well said.