XVII — The music fades out
Fade out. The music fades out. I say you’re a strange girl. She doesn’t reply immediately so I stay: switch channels. She switches channels. I watch the people swaying and stomping in front of me. Unselfconscious. They can’t escape the remorseless indefatigable rhythm. Neatly captured music that rumbled on for some ninety years now. The rhythm may get displaced every so often. Disguised as something else confused as something else. At some point it finds a way back and rumbles on. This music right now. The bass player pulls at the fat strings like shaking hands. The drummer pushes the drums back down. The drums come back up for air. The drummer pushes them down. The number going out now is……… the singer moans and his face contorts to the lyrics. I can’t separate the two. The girl spins off into the crowd, drawing people with her. I watch and try to keep rhythm at the same time. But I can’t stop me fragmenting into a million different frames. Each frame a possible alternative I can’t dismiss. They all come together to make a mess and I can barely hold on to her spinning off into the crowd. But this one girl has split herself into three. At least three. All dark hair. All petite. I can’t recall which is which and who is who. So I try to concentrate hard on the past. Try to latch on to a word or a smell. A look. Come on and try. Come on. Focus. I was responsible for something, but I can’t recall. I’m sorry baby. I’m sorry and I’m lonely for you. But it’s a fuck lot better than………………..something else I can’t recall. You have to be there, I guess. You want to play another? Well heck yes.
I slip back to some club in the 1970’s. Warm summer, late night. Maybe two or one a.m. I watch the scene I’m part of. I can hear the electric piano and feel the ambient warmth of the late night early morning. The electric piano drops out so smoothly I never notice the space it leaves behind. Then the rhythm changes, the music breaks and the electric piano is there with two perfect chords that freeze the moment. The affect entangled in those chords in that moment connect to different places across time and creates a new space. But it’s too small for all of us to enter. Outside the space we remain.
It’s an oblong building, low, not sure where the door is but the streets around it are wide and the occasional car cruises by. There are a million thousand people with me. But I don’t see them. A thing I can’t understand is why clothes get dirty. No. Not dirty, take on an odor. Clothes take on an odor. I put on a clean shirt and it smells clean and yet at some time later it smells different. But in between I didn’t notice a difference. You never notice yourself aging. The lines that had appeared in between. You’re doing the same thing you were doing ten, no nine fucking years ago. Nine fucking years. No. It was ten years. Ten fucking years. You’re working in an engine shop. I’m wearing this shirt. You’re pretending to be something. I wear the same shirt, or similar. There’s no point in pretending. What is different what is the same? On the left we have: difference! On the right we have: same! On your marks! Get set! Let’s just pause for a second to reminisce and let it all come back into focus. As it was or as it were? And go! Look in the mirror quick quickly now look in the mirror I’m holding up to you. Quick enough to hold on to it? Or did it slip away! Are you the wrinkled version of the young smooth unwrinkled version of you or is it as was. Metanomically speaking, that is?
I watch the people reflected in the plane glass window of this electrical shop. Lit up under a dim yellow light sign. The rows and columns of TV’s all contain my face. Staring back at me. I turn to the left. The faces turn to the left. I force a smile. They don’t smile. The people pass in between me and all those images of me looking out not smiling. These are big old TV’s. Really heavy big old TV’s. I’d be ashamed to own one of them. Even the ones at the top of the columns. Slightly bigger screen. More expensive. The air is still and the night is still. The people come and go but they don’t get on the TV’s. Just me. I turn round to look at the scene. No cars move along the road and the cars in the lots can’t move. They’re just flat images painted on the back drop. I step out to the edge of the road and squint up my eyes looking way down to where the street lights get closer and lower and dimmer. I can’t see past a point some two hundred feet away. The street seeps into the flat painted backdrop. The lights past that point are smudges of yellow matte on a matte painted backdrop. The figures that walk past me don’t say anything and they don’t look up from the ground or they don’t shift their fixed gaze from straight ahead. They’re just part of the backdrop pulled into a different shape and they pass from one end to the other. And back onto the backdrop. They don’t stop to look at the TV’s.
The door of the club is open and the music rolls out. One of the figures walks up that street and level with the door does a sharp ninety degree turn and goes through. Into the club. A figure, a woman, comes out of the door a few feet, does a sharp ninety degree turn and walks slowly off down the road. I can smell the cigarette smoke. I recognize the brand and look around, expecting her to appear. I watch me turning round and round on the TV sets. Where will I go if you’re not here? The woman turns round one hundred and eighty degrees sharp and walks back towards me and stops three feet away staring blankly at my face. I’ll see you later, baby. She says. No, I reply. No. I don’t think you will see me later. The woman doesn’t change her expression. She looks at me unmoved and then repeats herself: I’ll see you later, baby. She runs a monochrome flesh colored hand down the side of her yellow dress. Also monochrome. Dead flat. She has optical black hair and cartoon red lipstick. I’ll see you later, baby; she tries again. My lack of response isn’t part of the plan.