Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Streak - 36

The pool hall was playing the Rolling Stones, just like everyone these days. The bewildering death of Mick Jagger had left an ill-defined void in the collective spirit. Everyone knew they were supposed to mourn, but what, exactly? He played the girlish boy, the decadent fop, the satyr and the sprite; but who was the player? It was the non-death of an untragic figure, a kind of spiriting away. Could anyone fix him in their mind's eye? Like a star, he faded upon contemplation. If death meant nothing, this was the most meaningful death of all.

I met a gin-soaked, bar-room queen in Memphis
She tried to take me upstairs for a ride
She had to heave me right across her shoulder
'Cause I just can't seem to drink you off my mind

Evan went on a bit of a run. The 1, the 6, the 7. The 3. He was in that magic zone, drunk enough to loosen up but not too drunk to shoot. The ecstasy seemed to buttress his confidence. It occurred to him in a moment that he felt the opposite of depressed. He felt impressed, he thought to himself, thinking it was funny. Impressing himself. Ha. So be it. His chest felt inflated, as with helium; he thought he'd better be careful not to drift up into the slow-rotating ceiling fan like Charlie Bucket.

I bet your mama was a tent show queen
And all her boyfriends were sweet sixteen
I'm no schoolboy but I know what I like
You should have heard me just around midnight

His hands were sweating but he didn't worry. His run would end but he didn't worry. We're all gonna die but he didn't worry. Evan decided to play a little game: Can I feel bad? He thought about the most scarring events of childhood: the ignominy of bullies' playground taunts, haunting him back home to mama with tears and snot upon his face. He could not feel bad. He thought about his churlish teenage insolence toward his father, never redeemed nor forgiven even as the victim of it died of cancer; he could not feel bad. He thought about the lies he'd told his wife. He thought about the lies he'd told his son. He could not feel bad. He thought about the people who'd perished in that plane, how it must have felt to pitch brusquely to the side and arc down, g-forces lifting up their guts and the Bronx's patchwork of car washes, strip clubs and dilapidated brownstones rising from below; he did not feel bad but, rather, was embraced by a glow of pure elation. He thought about his double, out there doing God-knows-what in his name, and did not feel bad but felt a curious mixture of love and pity. He thought about the streak.

"You know what I think?" Kyle made a fist and shook it from his wrist five times in quick succession, the universal gesture for mock masturbation.

Evan had the 5 lined up but he rose up from the table to peer at Kyle. He tried to imagine what he might be getting at.

"I'm not sure what you're getting at."


"Mick? Jagger?"

Kyle repeated his obscene and derisive pantomime.

"You think Mick Jagger is a jerkoff?"

"No, no," Kyle said. He repeated the gesture once again, this time pointedly slowly, to convey irritation at Evan's dimwittedness. Then he lifted his fist above his head, which he tilted down onto his shoulder, and stuck his tongue out, playing dead.

Evan stared mutely at this morbid tableau.

"You think Mick Jagger killed himself and he's a jerkoff?"

Kyle released his pose and sighed heavily. "No, I think he did that thing. That hanging yourself, jerking off thing. That kids do in the suburbs. Auto-oxification something."

"Autoerotic asphyxiation."

Kyle placed one finger on the tip of his nose and pointed the other at Evan. Just then, his phone chirped out its cheery coke alarm from a nearby table.

"You're an idiot savant, my friend," said Evan. "An idiot, but a savant."

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