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FICTION


them and they’ve only narrowly escaped. They literally scream, which leaves me disillusioned, and the kids in the audience sway as if Bob Marley were grooving. But he isn’t.


My eyes move in slow motion from Bruised


Monkey and the alien kids in the audience to the left side of the stage where a three- or four-year-old child and his alleged guardians watch B.M. The parental figures hover over the child and teach him how to do the Satan’s Salute hand gesture, which mimics devil horns. I haven’t seen it since my brother dragged me to a Mötley Crüe concert a long, long time ago in a land far, far away. Even back then, the Duranie in me was mortified. I look at Bruised Monkey. If someone’s screaming, shouldn’t we do something? I have to go. The


Inside, punk rock greets me. The mu- sic bounces off the ceiling, rolls around the floor, and runs up to you like it’s going to suck the meat right off your bones.


poor child. I move through the crowd. I prepare to lift heads off wet, beery surfaces, demanding, “Find Rob Shachtley for me. Now.”


I head backstage; no one stops me. A girl,


seventeen, maybe eighteen, blonde, pigtails, black leather vest on, approaches. “Sybil?’ “You called about Rob?” She eyes me from head to toe. You’re no Patti


Smith, she seems to say. And, kiddo, you’re no Mel Gibson. She tosses her head over her shoulder. “Come this way.” I follow the blonde girl deeper, deeper, deeper


into the punk rock funhouse. When it’s too late to run, she points to a ripped yellow couch. Rob Shachtley, out cold.


He’s curled up in an uncomfortable-looking fetal


position. I sit in the “C” his body makes and touch his damp forehead. “I didn’t mean to do anything,” the girl says. “I


really didn’t.” I look Rob over, unconsciously counting fingers


and toes. “What happened?” She tightens her pigtails. “I’m really sorry.” “I’m sure it’s not your fault. What happened?”


The punk people backstage look at me as if I


were somebody’s mother. I kinda want to yell, Get! “We were just messing around, and I guess he


drank too much.” Not a picture I like. I flash her a compassionate, tell-me-more look. “He started to cry.” She buries her hands in her


vest pockets. “I didn’t mean to upset him.” Her skinny elbows stick out. She’s a kid. “It wasn’t you.” I smooth the hair on his forehead.


“I’m glad you called.” “He’s all right, isn’t he?” I nod my head. “He’s drunk, that’s all.” “You’ll take care of him?” She stands in front of


me, pixie-ish, pigtails on a punk. I’m taking mine and getting out. “Yeah. Thank


you.” She turns around timidly, like she’s not sure it’s


the right thing to do, and she walks off towards Bruised Monkey. Nice punk girl. Rob stirs. I watch him rouse. I wonder about the


throw-up, but he looks pretty clean. He opens his eyes, staring at me without recognition. “You’re a pretty girl.” “Thank you,” I answer. “I like your silk blouse.” “I like your plaid pants.” Rob reaches out to touch my nightshirt, which


isn’t silk but rather cotton. “I bought them for you,” he says of his pants. He brushes his fingers over my breast. I reach for his hand and hold it away from my body. He shoots me a coy smile. “Will you go home with me tonight?”


I give him a coy smile. Releasing his hand, I


pretend to punch him in the nose. “No. You’re coming home with me.” “If you insist.” He reaches up and touches the


side of my face. I give him a wink. “I insist.” “I must have died and gone to heaven.” “Sorta.” It’s not easy schlepping a man who weighs


maybe fifty more pounds than you through Ramone’s. The combination of impaired man and powder blue sweatpants is cause for concern among the punk rockers. Punks look, but they don’t get up. Rob is like a ton of bricks, a sack of potatoes, a bundle of clichés. I get him out the door and immediately it’s desolate and quiet again. The door shuts behind us, and it’s like we’ve been cast away, spit out, and launched into another world. This hour, streets barren and bleak, me with sleep in my eyes, Rob drunk and heavy—it’s a misé-en-scene for every darkly-tinted futuristic film I’ve ever seen.


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