Chapter 18: March 1999

There’s nothing like being on that BMX bike. Dodging the traffic with Sawyer alongside me, I feel bigger than the sky.

“I love London,” Sawyer says as we cycle in parallel lines.

I don’t reply. I don’t think she expects me to. Our lives are meshed together by the things we do more than the things we say. Sawyer often has stories to tell, though.

“I tapped this guy on the shoulder in HMV last week because I thought he was Dave Grohl,” she tells me.

I smile.

“I should have known Dave Grohl would never wear a Kurt Cobain T-shirt.”

“He might do!”

“Yeah, right!”

She speeds up and so do I. When I’m past her, I take a corner at the last minute. I feel the ground shift under my back wheel and hear Sawyer screaming behind me when she has to then negotiate the same turning. The wind is in our hair, the city too, and we are at home. Deeply, dementedly at home.

The night before we go away, we all lounge around at Carlito’s. There are no bands playing so the venue’s quiet. A few of the oldies are at the bar, talking to Carlito. A boy and a girl are draped drunkenly over each other in the corner on the other side of the pool table. There are a group of musician types standing at the bar, complaining about the fact that so many shitty bands have made it and yet they haven’t.

Sawyer is looking through a magazine and she shows me an advert for a film that’s showing called Ten Things I Hate About You.

“What ten things do you hate about me?” Sawyer asks.

I think about it even though I don’t need to. When I don’t say anything, Sawyer laughs.

“Are you saying I’m perfect? I guess that sounds about right.”

She pauses and looks more serious.

“I hate that you never tell me what you’re thinking,” she says.

She really is serious.

“What do you mean?” I want to know. “I always tell you what I’m thinking.”

Sawyer laughs in a way that confuses me. She looks around.

“Back me up, Chambers. Does JD ever say what he’s thinking?”

“Well, it’s his lyrics we’re listening to about seven million times a day. I’d say they give us an idea.”

“You know what I mean, Sawyer says. “I’m talking about being to the point. About saying something specific about himself or his life. If I tried to figure out his existence based simply on those songs, all I’d end up with is some lunatic who likes lighting matches and staring at the sky. And what about those motorcycle lyrics?”

She turns her focus back on me.

“Have you ever even ridden a motorbike?”

I shrug.

“And there are so many wolves. And, oh my God, soooo much rain.”

Sawyer’s deliberately trying to get a reaction out of me and I almost tell her that all those things are metaphors, but of course she already knows that.

I’m grateful when David cuts in.

“Leave JD alone. He’ll speak when he’s ready.”

When I’m ready?

What’s that meant to mean?

How did JD and Chambers end up here? Go back to the prologue.