And it always seemed I’d end up standing next to that piano. No matter who was on the drums or what acid-blot retro porn poured down over our heads, there I would be by the piano. And it didn’t matter if I almost took that junkie home after he punched me in the throat and I told him my room was right next to the toilet. No, within a week I’d be back to standing by that piano.
Sometimes I could rest my bottle of whiskey there, if the crowd were thick and I were locked in place. An accidental plink would sometimes rise from its unused bowels, but you’d never hear it for the patch-hacked synths and the shimmering found-video stream. It seemed one life plus two or three days since I’d sat at the encompassing cognac leather booth. And it didn’t matter that they started stamping our hands or that all our friends had long since moved out. Because if you didn’t wait to piss under that hollowed-out plastic dome which may once have been a light – well, you just hadn’t gone out that night.
There were ukuleles and busted guitars nailed to the walls, and I never moved in because everyone could hear everyone else fucking. It would be hard to give of your space like that, and someone hung around to make sure no one stole the guff food and beer. All the beards and the postures seemed a bit frozen, and you wouldn’t believe what you would talk about over red wine there until you had done it. Once I wrote a song about how I cut my beard and no one recognized me at lunch in the big cognac leather booth. You couldn’t sift out the real and fake pearl buttons, not even if you were making a cake. God, he was just the nicest Israeli you ever did see.
It could hug you, though, in the cold. I tickled the ashes of glühwein there, dodging plates of crispy potato rounds. If the lights were on, even just a few of them, and if someone yawned or moved mail around. If someone could stroke your beard or perhaps offer you a cube of cheese. And then you could smoke in the magic of the slick rubber balcony. And even look up into those stained-glass eyes and neon bike lights. You can’t imagine how warm a place like that can be, with the tall Michigan wind stuffing itself into the cracks.
But it’s not like a home and there is lots of dried pasta. You couldn’t think up a pumpkin knife or something to do with apples. And they must have stood around in their underwear sometimes eating cereal, but who would have the pride of bringing milk up those badly carpeted stairs. If provisions didn’t just fall out of the walls from when our parents had brown hair and radio shows, where did they come from? Were there more spiders on the undisturbed rafters than in anywhere else in the city? For the love of Frank McGuinness, where did they put their bottles and cans? One nail in the floorboard could tell you how they never, ever burned their bras, and also exactly how that myth started.
There were rules about the stairs. You’d swear on your honor it was a rope bridge, but it wasn’t. Just another reason you didn’t want to talk about rent with them. Some girl was always teetering, struggling to find the next iron rung. Her friends gave her extra arms, but she really could have used some feet. You could catch 1000 snowflakes and one snowflake on your tongue while you smoked, but half of them were going to end up on your knees when you fell up those stairs.
My arthritis just got worse standing there next to that piano.