Alas, Jay would continue to act towards Corrine as if that little Trent Daniels episode months ago had never happened. He would casually attempt to quarantine the past, though doing so seemed itself an exercise in futility. No matter how much Jay tried to compensate with over friendliness –in a way which went against Jay’s natural demeanor and which seemed to repel her that much more, it could only reinforce the fact that there really was no canceling out her reproach.
And even those times in his unguarded moments going out to get coffee at the coffee stand, the times Jay really was himself and wouldn’t much feel like holding up such a heavy facade and would act his normal heavy dreary self - those times were no better either, like the one time when he greeted Corrine with a sullen, unremarkable
That to which Corrine of course never missing a beat, responded back to him: “You just said that to me like I’m your ex wife.”
That which Jay could only reply back: “I should only be so lucky.”
But this Saturday, Jay simply resigned himself to swiping his red eye from the blond lacquered counter and found himself walking back to the pole where Banjo was parked.
A young couple proudly, holding hands was strolling on the sidewalk against him. If no one party veered to the side, there would be gridlock from uncoordinated laziness, creating an unnecessarily awkward stand off between strangers. Jay stepped out of the way, toward the curb to let them pass and as they walked past, the blonde woman who was wearing a tight fitting tube across her chest give him a “Who the fuck are you?” look, as if Jay’s gesture was some sign of weakness
That young lady, wearing a woven straw hat, updated with a thin brim- a flimsy brim which didn’t much block the California sun- a hat she could have purchased at a store that sold dirt bike gloves or bikinis that were designed to make men suffer, projected from her gait some jet setter privilege, an unearned entitlement to being hip, some audacity as if she was related to the Rat Pack or some other culturally relevant group. That little thin Fedora sat on her pointy head, the same shade of blond as the counter at Jon’s, which you could tell she was well proud of and reinforced some kind of happy- go-lucky- what- happens- in-Vegas –stays- in-Vegas- hangover –girlie-girl-hustler-attitude.
She was what a “wise guy” during depression era Los Angeles would have likely referred to as “a real looker”- but now they just call it eye rape. She was the kind of woman who was meant to be eye raped, who wanted to be eye raped, who liked to be eye raped- that for the sake of eye rape in and of itself and also for the luxury of later being able to simultaneously brag and bitch about it, even though it was exactly seventy five percent her idea.
She, walking hand in hand with her slob of a man, who was wearing irresponsible flip-flops, deliberately frayed cargo shorts, a black t-shirt that advertised “Doggy Style”. Of course Jay was familiar with “Doggy Style”, only because they played those fetid songs from that debut album on the radio constantly for well over a decade- it was practically the anthem of the entire state of California. Those songs that artlessly extolled the imagined virtues of smoking impossible amounts of marijuana, his songs that proclaimed “bitches ain’t shit” - which girls were still more than eager to dance to, and that also un-poetically compared Doggystyle’s genitals in relation to anything else that they happened to rhyme with.
The couple continued walking down, hand in hand- which seemed more indicative of an emptiness inside both of them, rather than a brilliant coupling of magnetism (although they were probably a perfect match). To Jay it was just simply another weak willed public display of affection.
Walking against the belief killing boulevard with Banjo, Jay caught a glimpse of the ocean between the fifty year old buildings and the palm trees, he wasn’t near them, but he could still feel the power beneath their colors.
The closer they got back to the complex, the more the muff from his neighbor’s Saturday afternoon laundry began to over power the pull of the Pacific and mixed in with the dust that blew in from the beach and the dessert.
It was another Saturday in LA and they were all the same. Saturdays always seemed filled with some potential that was never fully realized. Jay was extra tired from sleeping in and that sleepiness reminded himself of the sassy sign behind the bar at Antidote that said: “Beer: The reason I get up out of bed every afternoon.”
Even if Jay had had the physical and mental energy to go out last night, Friday night would have been typical as well. The inevitable disappointment of Friday nights, though Friday afternoons still brought on expectations that were not justified from the outcome of the approximate 1,768 past that have happened thus far.
Jay had slept for fifteen hours, but was still exhausted, exhausted from the interval of his multiple hangovers, exhausted by the thought of Reese and the hellishness of his personality that which he constantly projected and flexed when he was around the office, exhausted by the inauthentic vale of friendliness that was required to just get by- even though Jay was barely getting by, exhausted by how every organization needed to scapegoat within their ranks in order to distract themselves from their own insecurities and differences as to redirect their tensions so that the rest could get along and function collectively, exhausted by how guys like Valentino got away with sleeping with married women like Sigourney, exhausted by the way people at the office would say Jay’s name back to him like an amusing piece of food caught between their teeth, exhausted by the Action Sports Retail Association, exhausted by all the posers who ran shit, who made more money than Jay, who got paid to ejaculate on something that Jay felt he had once helped establish, exhausted by how everyone seemed to have a clearer idea of what they were doing and didn’t seem to much wonder why, exhausted by Heather being somewhere else, exhausted by the inevitable notion of Heather being with someone else.
Jay let Banjo off the leash and when they got inside felt restless, useless. His pangs of desperation which now stemmed from nothing in particular, brought on from the harsh come down, now morphed into a slight feeling of mild terror, and was manifesting in the pit of his stomach. Jay looked back at his answering machine blinking on the faded formica counter and still didn’t feel like checking it. He could have also checked his mail, but he didn’t feel like doing that either. There were a lot of things Jay could have done this Saturday afternoon; he could have paid overdue bills he barely had money for, he could have taken the old Volvo to get its oil change- because the last time he did was about twelve thousand miles ago, he could have done laundry or checked his mail, he could have flossed his teeth because it had been awhile. Instead, he resigned himself out of habit, to plopping himself on the couch and grabbing his acoustic guitar off the floor.
Jay strummed a G chord, but it sounded off as the guitar had somehow de-tuned itself from sitting on the floor. Jay checked each sting, twisting the knobs until his strums resembled a real chord. Jay strummed on an F sharp minor chord- trying to think up some lyrics for the rest of an unfinished song. Jay, bad about keeping pen and paper handy, usually remembered the lyrics if they were good enough. Although he felt he didn’t necessarily need pen and paper to exercise word play-he frequently wondered if him not keeping copious notes could be part of the problem. When would he break down and buy a Moleskin?
Jay strummed on a C chord and tried to hash out the lyrics:
“I’m stressed cause I got emotional problems,
not even my therapist knows how to solve them.
So if you want to be stressed for the rest of your life,
you should make a pretty woman your wife.”
Jay stopped- that was as far as he had gotten. He didn’t have any more lyrics, but he did have a title for the song:“No woman- Cry”, still a work in progress, a riff on the Marley song -because basically he had always thought Bob Marley wrote mediocre lyrics.
Not being able to come up with another verse made Jay second guess his original instincts.He thought maybe he should put those lyrics in the bridge of the song and perhaps have the crux of the song expose itself there.
"Ah, this is shit." said Jay outloud, smilling embarrassed.
What would the great Hackmuth have to say about this? Hackmuth old boy, had sneezed songs had written dozens of them seemingly effortlessly- had quite a unique voice and was able to create a style all his own, spread a few masterpieces to last throughout the ages.
Jay looked at the framed black and white photo of Hackmuth hung on the middle part of the wall, the part of the wall that would have normally been blocked by a television set. Hackmuth staring straight into the camera, looking frustrated yet confident, with a piercing glare- a stare of a man fully in possession of himself as if he was looking through the lens of the camera into the future. Hackmuth, with short neatly combed hair, looked more like an accountant that a folk hero. Except for the battered Fender he was holding, you would not have guessed he was a rocker.
Jay pretending in his head he’s talking to the great Hackmuth: “I can’t resolve this. I can’t finish it, I don’t know where to go.”
The grey image of Hackmuth stepped out hidden beneath the shadows like dim static, it was hard to make him out- as if you tried to stare too hard he would simply disappear.
Hackmuth answered, “If it were easy my friend, everyone would write perfectly. You need to be moving around, calm your mind, concentrate. Focus on where you want it to go, where you want to take it. Not every line has to be a zinger or some profound truism. You can use lines as filler, but make it elegant filler – reinforcement. Besides you don’t play enough. You should be practicing at least eight hours a day, or at the very least a minimum of four.”
“I know, I know but I run out of stuff to play.” Answers Jay lamely, realizing right when it comes out of his mouth that its just a babied excuse.
“Then you need to be reading, there’s more than enough stuff out there…..” Said Hackmuth stoically.
“No, No, you’re right, I need to study…..” Jay taking his left hand off the neck of the guitar and studying his calloused fingers, flecking them, feeling the deadened nerves at the ends.
Jay laid his hand down and sighed, “Besides, I’m out of practice…”
The overly loud ringer of the Mickey Mouse land line interrupted, bringing Jay back into reality, forcing him to set up as Hackmuth stepped back and dissolved further into the darkened corner of the room.