Chapter 15: November 1998
Days go by. Then weeks. David doesn’t miss a rehearsal and after that first time he’s never late again. He even starts hanging around with us outside of practices. We become like animals, racing alongside Regent’s Canal and yelling at the sky. We jump on the night bus at Camden Road then fling ourselves off it again at Denmark Street. We glance at the places where David Bowie, Black Sabbath and other old bands once recorded but we don’t give a fuck about them. We’re living in the here and now. I look around at the gang: David with his trousers rolled up, showing his twelve-hole boots; Ace fiddling with the bar through his eyebrow; Sawyer dancing to imaginary music; Chambers making sure no danger comes our way. We fall asleep in our clothes.
Carlito keeps making everything possible. He gets us into clubs – the Borderline, the LA2, The Camden Palace – for free and we start to know the people that work the doors, the bars, the cloakrooms.
“You are bonkers nuts,” Carlito keeps telling us and we love it.
How many times did I tell Ami I was going to do this?
“It’s not possible,” he’d always say. “There’s no way.”
I’d almost believed him.
Watching bands during that winter is like feeding. I become solid. I’ve waited forever for the experience. Bodies push against mine. Each other’s sweaty, wet hair in each other’s faces. We are bound. Our breath on each other’s necks. The crowd screaming as another band arrives on stage. We jump. I am on them and they are on me. I have waited for this. It’s the beginning of my life.
In the core of the night, right in its dead centre, we talk about music.
“I’m the weak link in the band,” Sawyer says but she doesn’t really mean it.
She knows there’s more to being in a band than being an expert bassist.
“You’re doing great,” I tell her.
“Anyway,” David says. “It’s punk rock not to know how to play your instrument.”
He’s not being serious. He knows what being punk rock is and he assumes everyone else does too. But Ace always takes everything the wrong way.
“That’s not punk rock,” Ace says. “It’s more punk rock to actually know how to play.”
No one bothers telling him to chill out, but Sawyer does give him a kiss on the top of his nose.
For fuck’s sake.
I start feeling crazy.
If Ami was here, I’d tell him it was his fault.
And he’d tell me to forget Sawyer. That we’ll never be more than friends. I can hear the way he’d say it. I can hear his voice like he’s in the room.
I get up.
Sawyer shifts her focus from whatever Chambers, David and Ace are talking about and looks at me.
If we were alone, would I tell her? About me. About Ami. About my parents. Would I? In all these months, I’ve hardly said anything that means anything to her. So, would I?
“Everything’s cool,” I say.
For a second she looks like she’s going to say something else but then she turns her attention back to the others and I escape to the basement. I undress and fall into bed. Before I turn the light off, I see Alfred staring at me with those wise fucking eyes.
Like he knows who I really am.
Like I can’t fool him.
Like he knows everything.