Elephant and Castle

In fiction, music on 12/03/2011 at 17:08

Jimmy Starkiller wasn’t always Jimmy Starkiller, we remembered suddenly one night in the suburbs of London over an antique Parcheesi set. TVs played a test match between English and Indian national teams. A real postcolonial dive, bartenders all slick brutes from Congo, patrons dressed to the nines in ivory. We’d just seen Attack the Block, blazed an absolute cannon in the Megaplex. Over white Russians we decided to remember every girl he ever ran off, fucked, or recorded with (celebrities excluded). We tipped our waiter to be on his toes.
Starting with Candy, to get her over with, because it informs nothing but the absurdity of lust, they started on New Years, going at it like cats do, with that tornado-exuberance humans get stumbling on something new, this sex––until “like clockwork,” she told us, Candy was arrested by an awful fit of coughing. –Nothing contagious, she assured James and us. –It’s a seasonal infection. –Yikes, we’d sympathized. –Luck on that.
Eventually Candy had to be locked away and left to cough her brains out. James stuffed his ears with cotton if he ever wanted to sleep (this is one of those rare periods in life when James desired at least four hours a night). By the time Valentine’s arrived and Candy had convalesced, and finally opened her bedroom door, they were different people. Didn’t know each other anymore. So––
Move on to Janine. A Hooters girl. No, really. Their relationship began with a blowjob in the back of the van, so it was with the excitability of perverts we awaited its end.
Janine’s problem was she enjoyed practicing “situational conversations” before pursuing real conversation. She’d be offended when James said something harmless (for example “It doesn’t bother me either way”) and play that argumentative angle, then she’d abruptly find the same remark super suggestive, grab his dick, do her thing, then finally she’d admit she hadn’t heard him to begin. It wore James out, a lone-wolf by nature, to manage these analogous relationships. She specifically maddened him after watching Remedial Chaos Theory# and the idea of parallel universes became worrisome. –What if in an alternate reality we don’t get big? So, kaput.
Then there’s the sad, sad story of Summer Roberts. The fact she was named after our favorite Newport hottie we all took as a show of confidence. Summer had boundless, Bambi eyes and fruitful cleavage. Summer was a student at Suffolk where she studied philosophy, a truth she seemed mystified with every time she told it. Summer carried a slender ledger in her back pocket and would take it out two or three times per conversation, daintily laying down a couplet of psychoanalytics, her thesis.
Summer Roberts charmed James, usually twice a night. And he’d parade her in little dresses down Landsowne and backstage at the House of Blues and even into the Allston house where we were supposed to be recording, which proved impossible when we were always wearing pants, closing the lids to toilets, wasting all sorts of minutes on maintaining a moderate level of personal cleanliness.
Whatever it was that tied James to her most evaporated in the matter of a moment: two in the morning, Trani was building to the first solo, Summer––mid-conversation, telling me “issues you have with your father, Aleks, are not means to attract damaged women  with, they are serious debilitating issues that need to be sorted––reached across me and clicked Next Song. –Whoa. I stood up, intent on avoiding the storm, but there was no escaping the fever-chaos of James, Greg, Matt cussing her out brutally, in loud, dissonant chorus, until she shut the music off altogether, made a climactic note in her book and called a cab.
Dates continued for an unneeded week. James began to wonder what Summer was writing about him. –She’s my biggest critic, he said.
Really I guess, like he does with his records, James decided that while Summer was a great girl, there would always be a next girl, just like that next record, and she/it would be inevitably superior. So why not go find it now? And begin being dissatisfied all over again. For James, love meant just waiting. I notified James of my theory as the waiter set down new drinks. James was caught in a blockade of mine and only half-listening. –Huh? No. I dumped Summer because she cried all the time. Always. We didn’t sex anymore.
–Only, that’s not technically true.
James shifted his eyes icily from cricket to me. –Not technically.
Summer Roberts would remain famous for being the only girl to Leave (not to be confused with the only girl to Vanish, aka Evangeline ‘Sammy’ Court): in the night, likely stifling silent tears, Summer packed her things––socks mostly––opened the lids to all the food so it spoiled, and left, dropping a note that read around hollow-blue tear stains YOUR FEET ARE SO COLD IT CAUSES ME PAIN. Like this was her reason. The effect was lost when she called that night, explaining a Kafka-dream scene she’d had, it changed her. –Sorry. One more final I NEED YOU. James was sorry, too.
As a concession of sorts, I broke my barrier.
–Well, should we get to Sammy already?
I hesitated. When James was drinking his anger came in the form of a dare. –Let’s finish first. James consented.
–Evangeline Court, we uttered in unison as the clocked geared around eleven. Sammy was the name she gave to strangers––her real name––but everyone in Hollywood called her Evangeline. She wasn’t a celebrity, exactly. Like a white, caustic Amber Rose. She serviced men in the business of Rock. She pushed the noise of house music and dub-step on our playlists. She pretended not to like the R and B immortals (Salt n’ Peppa, Big Boi and Dre, TLC) and told us Kings of Leon were the most boring band she’d ever heard, and that she’d turned Jared down at a Nashville gala.
–Fat chance, Greg raged all tour. –Fat fucking change.
When we’d revolved back east, somehow Evangeline––Sammy––had returned with us. She was exotic garbage from China Town caught on your boot that didn’t look so hot when you scraped off at the front door in Cambridge. But James was hooked. Not that we were surprised. If you looked just briefly, it made sense.
My brother jabbed me awake every night at four o’clock to confirm that he’d warned  me. –Did I tell you this would happen?
–You did.
His response varied by night: –He’s texting me lyrics. –He got a tattoo. –He wants to drive to Vegas. –They are looking at places.
In the end Boston proved too bourgeois for a girl with three names (“Stella” on flickr)––none of us knew what it meant, rich, poor, plain, fucking who cares?––and James spent the short side of a week with her in LA armed with a stack of Newbury Street applications trying to sell her on the Celtics, the Duck Tours. –Babe. I heard him say that to her. Oh, an ugly word phrase.
When James came back he had the blackness that claimed me long ago, that was slowly sewing itself in Matt, that had long-term investment in Greg’s hourly whiskey highs. We’d all broken now, at least once, and sharing that brought reality to far into focus. –Home, I said for the fourth time in as many minutes.
–You planned that. James was befuddled. –How’d you plan that?
–I look ahead.
Five days later when the match ended we were in Philadelphia killing time at an airport where no one there could really tell you what cricket was, let alone score. Little else to do but look at ourselves in bathroom mirrors and see how dark the sun, among other things, had made us.


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