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Always, no, sometimes think its me, but, you know, I know when it’s a dream…
– John Lennon & Paul McCartney, 1967
I wake up to the news that Keith Moon is dead. I lay in bed staring at the ceiling in the dark for several minutes while it sinks in. He was found dead in his apartment yesterday. The same apartment Cass Elliot died in. According to the DJ he died of an overdose, which isn’t too surprising really. What’s strange is that he OD’d on meds he was taking to get off booze. Too strange. I’ve been a big fan of The Who since I first heard their Who’s Next album when I was in junior high school and became absolutely obsessed when Quadrophenia came out a couple years later. Their guitarist and chief songwriter, Pete Townshend, is like a god to me. Moonie was the heart and soul of the group. He is (was) without a doubt the greatest rock n roll drummer in the world. I wonder what the group will do now? I’ve heard rumors that Pete’s been just looking for a reason to break up the band and go solo. I guess this is his chance. Oh well, I guess nothing lasts forever, eh?
After a few minutes I drag my ass out of bed and shuffle into the bathroom. It’s not until halfway through my shower that I realize that I don’t remember going to bed last night. In fact, I don’t remember much about last night at all. I must have been dead tired when I crawled into bed not to remember. After my shower I wander into the kitchen to make myself some breakfast. While finishing up my eggs and toast, I browse through yesterday’s Democrat Herald. There’s a story about some panel that’s confirmed that JFK was shot in the back of the head rather than the front. They all seem very pleased to have confirmed the Warren Commission’s “Magic Bullet” Theory. Christ, you’d think that after 15 years they’d know what the fuck happened… Hey! There’s going to be a circus out at Timberlinn Park next week. Man, I haven’t been to a circus since I was a kid. Maybe I’ll ask Donna if she’d like to go with me. Of course she probably has better things to do, but it couldn’t hurt to ask, eh? I wonder if she’ll actually show up for class today? It seems like ages since I’ve seen her. Kinda hard to believe its only been a year since I was admiring that somewhat attractive girl sitting across from me in McCraith’s Latin class.
I’d been thinking that it was about time that I put the past behind me and start over again. And the best way to prove to myself that I was free of the past was to revitalize my now nonexistent social life. The only problem was that I was still too scared to actually talk to anyone I was even remotely interested in. Hell, I had enough trouble talking to people I had no interest in at all. Basically I was, and still am to some extent, pathetic. There were several girls I’d seen that I wouldn’t mind dating, but most of them were already spoken for. My other problem was that I didn’t actually know any of them. And even though she was far from the most attractive girl at school there was something about that girl in Latin that held my attention. At the same time Ian had been telling me about this girl named Donna who was in his PE class.
Ian and I had been friends since elementary school. It’s amazing that we ever became best friends because I remember taking an instant dislike to the nerdy looking kid I saw my first day in Mr. Gross’ 5th grade class. The only reason I ever started speaking to him was because a mutual friend, Ron Heller, had forced me to accept him into our group. We found that we did have quite a lot in common. We both loved to read, collected comics, and had similar tastes in music. Before long we were constant companions. There have been times over the past eight years that I wondered why I put up with a lot of his crap, but then I remember it’s because he’s pretty much the only friend I have. I’ve never been real good at making friends, so I try to hold on to the few that I have. And despite his faults, he is my friend.
So anyway, Ian was telling me about this girl he’d been goofing around with in PE. Actually, it was two girls he kept mentioning, Donna and her friend Thelma. Nearly every day he’d have a new story about what Donna said, or what Donna and Thelma did to him. It was fairly obvious to me that he was smitten with this Donna person, but, of course, in typical high school fashion he denied it. It was quite sometime before I made the startling discovery that Donna was the mysterious young girl in my Latin class. This posed a bit of a problem. I obviously couldn’t pursue a girl that my best friend was obviously interested in, could I? At the time it didn’t seem like a hard decision at all. It wasn’t as if I was particularly attached to her. She had merely caught my eye during class, and it’s not as if that hadn’t happened before. I’d let Ian have her and that would be the end of it. Or so I thought at the time.
God, I hate this class. It’s not that I have anything against poetry, I write quite a bit of it myself, but this idiot teacher knows just about as much about real poetry as I do about genetic engineering. How come I always get stuck with these nut balls who always want to over-analyze everything. I’m sure that Doris White isn’t the worst literature teacher in the world, but she’s definitely in the running. Right now she’s explaining to the class the “deep stirring social commentary” hidden in Lewis Carroll’s The Jabberwocky. Apparently it’s a “thinly veiled” description of Carroll’s first sexual encounter. Right now she’s expounding on the phallic implications of the Vorpal Sword. I’m sure Freud would be very proud right now… She’s probably one of those morons who think that there’s some deeper meaning to I am the Walrus too. I never thought anyone could make reading Lewis Carroll unpleasant, but I should know by now that all things are possible in this the best of all possible worlds… And to top it off, Donna didn’t show up for class again. I’m starting to worry about her. I haven’t heard from her in about a week now. I hope everything is alright. I miss her so much. At least if she were here I wouldn’t be in quite such a crappy mood. Somehow just having her around seems to brighten my day. Well, most of the time anyway…
“Watcha working on?” Angelica’s question startles me from my ruminations.
“Oh, just a poem I’ve been working on lately.” Her face absolutely lights up at this. Y’know, I don’t think I ever noticed how blue her eyes were before.
“Really? I didn’t know you were a poet, that’s great.” I could look at her smile forever, its like everything else just stopped mattering. How long can you know someone before you actually see them properly?
“Yeah, just a hobby really. Nothing big.”
“Well, I think its great. Do you write anything else, or just poems?”
“I’m working on a story idea I’ve had for a while, and some short stories and stuff. I’ve never really finished anything yet, so I doubt that makes me a real writer. Prose is hard for me though, poetry is really my strong point.” I know I shouldn’t look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth, but why is she suddenly so interested in me? I mean, she’s got real friends to shoot the bull with. Popular friends. Why is she interested in me?
“Well, I’m sure you’ll finish something soon. You just need to stick to it. I’ve never known a real writer before.” Her eyes are practically glowing now, and I’m probably blushing up a storm. “I’d really like to read some of your work sometime. If that’s O.K. with you.” O.K.? O.K.?!? No one besides Ian has ever taken any real interest in my work before (And he’s usually pretty apathetic about it most of the time anyway), and she’s asking if it’s O.K.?
“Sure, Angelica, that’d be O.K.”
A guitar screams
Played with such a vengeance
That his soul is thrust
Through the amplifier
Feedback stabs like a knife
And from the pain flows a note
Pure and easy
In that tone he hears all that is,
Was, and will be.
Suddenly it is clear
Finally it all makes sense.
The note fades.
“Well, what do you think of it?” Christ, he is so infuriating. Why would I have given him one of my poems to read if I didn’t want feedback of some kind? I guess I shouldn’t expect more at this point though.
“Its good.” Well, that’s really fucking helpful. I’d have better luck asking that dim witted literature teacher for an opinion. It would be lame, overly complex; she’d totally miss the point of what I wrote, but at least I’d get an answer that was more than two words long.
“And? Don’t you have anything else to say about it other than ‘Its good.’?” Ian lifts his oversized head from behind the issue of Rolling Stone he’s had it buried in since he silently laid my poem down on the coffee table.
“Well, you should really stop letting yourself be influenced by pop songs so much.”
“What? Why do you say that?”
“Well, you quote ‘Pure and Easy’ in this one, and several of your other poems look like they were inspired by other songs. You really need to concentrate on more literary influences.” I can’t believe I’m even having this conversation.
“Ian, that’s ridiculous. Why should I limit what influences me? I mean, Pete and Dylan have both been influenced by ‘literary’ sources, among other things, even though they’re primarily song writers. A writer has to open himself up to everything. Hell, Dylan has said that some of the songs on Blood on the Tracks were influenced by styles of painting.”
“Well, lets face it, Jack, you’re not Bob Dylan.”
“So, you really like it?”
“Yes, Jack, I really like it.” Angelica sighs. As would be expected I’m wearing on her nerves already, “Quit being so insecure. You have a lot of talent, and you’re going to have to accept that if you want to make anything of it.”
“Yeah, I guess so…”
“Is this the same one you were working on yesterday?”
“Yeah, its based on this really weird dream I had night before last. I was at some kind of party at this house I’ve never been to before. And, even though I know I’ve never been in this house before, it seemed strangely familiar to me. Maybe it was just that way that even strange and unfamiliar things in dreams seem to be normal and familiar at the time, y’know? The whole thing is kind of hazy, as if I was viewing it all through gauze. Somehow I ended up on a stage, playing in a band. We were playing a Who song, Pure and Easy, and I remember being extremely angry because nobody seemed to be listening to us. I ended up tripping over an amp cord, and, as I went down, I heard the most beautiful sound. I remember thinking, ‘Now I know what the answer is.’, y’know? But I don’t have the faintest idea what it was now. That’s when I woke up.”
“Weird… You say it all seemed familiar though?”
“Yeah, but unfamiliar at the same time. It was bizarre.”
“Do you think it could have been a past life memory resurfacing?” Oh boy, here we go.
“I dunno, Ang, I’ve always been rather skeptical about reincarnation. Besides, it was definitely me me, not some other me. And Donna was there too.”
“Donna? Donna Gant?” Damn, I could practically feel the frost on that comment.
“Yeah,” I responded with caution, hoping I didn’t piss her off too much already, “So, unless I’ve suddenly become precognitive, it was just a weird dream.”
After class is over I head to the library to do a little studying before I have to go to biology. Half way there I run into Ian, who invites himself along. Its not that I don’t like his company, its just that I kinda wanted some time to myself. Oh well, eh? We BS a little while we walk. Things are going well until I make the mistake of mentioning Donna’s name..
“I just don’t understand why you waste your time with someone like her.” His holier than thou attitude makes my skin crawl. I’ve never understood why he has to be so fucking superior all the damn time.
“And just what do you mean by that?”
“You know what I mean, Jack. You may not want to admit it, but you know.”
“And what exactly is it that I know?” I can feel the colour rising in my face. I’ve never been good at containing my anger, and Ian is making it even harder. There is nothing I hate more than being talked down to, except maybe having someone I care about badmouthed by an arrogant little shit like him.
“She’s a slut, Jack.” he says with a tone most reserve for slightly brain damaged pre-school children, “A manipulative slut. You can do better.” Oh please. Just because Donna’s had a lot of boyfriends doesn’t make her a slut. I’m sure she’s more responsible than that. I’ve always thought that 90% of her bragging is just for show anyway. And I don’t know where he gets that ‘manipulative’ crap from. Sure, Donna’s not perfect, but she’s not evil incarnate either.
“Don’t you think you’re being kinda harsh?”
“No, Jack, I’m being honest.”
“Oh really? And you’re not the least bit biased or bitter, right?”
“What?!” I can tell by his expression that I’ve struck a nerve, “I’m the only one being objective. And what exactly do I have to be bitter about?”
“Oh, I don’t know. How about the fact that you’re jealous of our relationship. You just can’t stand the fact that we’re still friends even though you two broke up, and that we could be more than that. You’re bitter because I’m succeeding where you failed.” Ian just snorts and gives me that you-poor-demented-misguided-little-twit-how-I-pitty-your-ignorance look that I love so much.
“Jack, I am not the least bit jealous of your ‘friendship’. If it makes you both happy then I honestly don’t care. I apparently just don’t see what you do in her, and I wonder if you’re just not blinded by your lust.” My lust?! What the fuck? He has no fuckin’ clue what’s going on inside me. This isn’t lust. This is pure. “And secondly, she and I did not ‘break up’. For us to have ‘broken up’ we would have to have been ‘together’, and we were never together.”
During lunch Ian and I were roaming the halls discussing something of such monumental importance that it’s completely slipped my mind. Ian had been acting somewhat paranoid for several days. He kept acting as if Donna and Thelma were out to get him. We’d be standing next to his locker talking during lunch and he’d be continually looking over his shoulder like they were about to pounce on him. He never did tell me what they’d said or done to make him feel that way, but coming events would make it all pretty clear. She came out of nowhere from behind us, a mass of twig like limbs and blonde hair. It happened so fast I’m still not quite certain what happened, but apparently she was attempting to hug Ian. His natural response to this was, of course, to run.
“They make a lovely couple, don’t they?” I jumped slightly and turned to see who had spoken to me. I had been so preoccupied by watching Thelma chase Ian down the hallway that I hadn’t even noticed Donna walk up beside me.
“Yeah, but can you imagine what the kids will look like?” She smiled as she turned to face me. And for the first time we stood face to face. In that instant everything changed. As I looked into her light brown eyes I saw something I recognized. To this day I’m not entirely certain what it was, but it struck me to the core. She was the one. She had to be. That’s the only thing that made sense of what I was feeling. In that moment what had been a mild physical attraction became love. Love at first site. Of course, I could just be over romanticizing things just a bit, but you get the gist of things. I laughed and returned the smile.
Continue to Chapter II