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Authors: Craig Kee Strete

Burn Down The Night

BOOK: Burn Down The Night
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It was the kind of
party where the host cuts the hearts out of small children and inserts a Coke bottle in the
red-rimmed hole to amuse his guests.

Snort. Pop.
Inject. Two rock bands from out of town and the local meat. Bikers. The surfer girls. The mad and
the maddening.

"Don't think.
Forget. Live on only what you can dream." His voice was soft. Jim Morrison was leaning against
the wall making exaggerated theatrical gestures. He popped a pill. His third pill in an

Later I learned
it's his first lie, although possibly not one of his own. Not drugs he ate like candy. Tabs of
Vitamin C.

Jim Morrison is handsome. I heard some
girl say he was so good-looking even his face slept around. He has a look of practiced agony
about him.

speaking to a girl. The same one I've been promoting. Both of us are hustling the same spaced-out

"My name's
Jackie." Bored and wary, she watches us both. She suspects we are both drug-crazed. A reason­able
suspicion. It fits almost everybody at the party. That kind of party.

She was tall, all
legs and muscles. Tight white T­-shirt with nothing to tell but a lot to show. Big made-up eyes
with the blues. Patched blue jeans with a patch on the right front pocket that reads

Nervous teeth,
restless hands. Tongue provocatively edging the corners of her month. She was the multiple-orgasm
girl with the quick-starting engine. All living, all breathing, but distant. She thinks we're

It still comes in
sugar cubes. Those days. I am head­ing for a hot peak that someone sold me as an Owsley, which I
doubt, but what the hell.
Sainted, I wouldn't burn you, Owsley Acid!

My frying brains
say I have been sold true.

I flip around,
stare at Morrison, the stranger. The cold cat cutting into my act.

Somebody at the
party had already pointed him out to me. Said he was crazy a little. A maniac.

To me he was just
in the way. I saw this blond beach bitch first.

Morrison leans
forward, says, "I don't want to know your name. I just want to remember your body and the taste
and touch of you."

She's sympathetic
but confused. I already told her practically the same thing, only more direct. Something like "I
wanna jump you."

Morrison just
leans against the wall, well posed. Ragged jacket, tight bead choker around his neck. Same
interested eyes for the girl that I got.

I'm dressed in
cast-off clothes from the band I trav­eled into L.A. with. Black velvet and ruffles. Slightly
Edwardian and completely out of place.

Morrison looks
like the ragged end of a trail drive, shirttail hanging out and battered jacket. Still he's real
competition. And I steam about it. Shit, I saw her first, talked her up first. I resent the
stranger come to jump in my game.

The chick laughs.
About nothing. Small teeth and big gums. Laugh that sounds like a horse in heat.

All around us the
party is jumping up and down like hot dice. People weaving in and out. Chaotic noise. Stereo
blasting above the level of auditory comprehen­sion. Heavy bass rumble from big speakers, so
over­loaded with vibration that we hear through our rears, not our ears.

Music that pounds
against the face, screaming at the inner ear.

Tripping talk.
Let's-get-laid numbers. I'm
Wasted is everybody. That kind of

Let's open a vein
and see if blood is real.

"Are you like into
what? I mean, are you a musi­cian?" The girl says it to me but looks at Morrison.

I try answering
but the best I can do is nod yes, which is a lie. My head is beginning to throw me. My eyes swim
in and out of focus.

While I'm looking
at her she becomes giant breasts with mouth wings. Harmonica ears. Wavering image and green
outlined face.

Heightened sense
of having lost her to a brain-dam­aged animator escaped from Disneyland, lost her be­fore
anything at all has had a chance to happen.

I regain audio,
good enough to tell some lies. Spin out my hanging-out-with-the-rock-and-roll-bands rou­tine.
Then lay on my mysterious Indian routine. My threat trip. Ever slept with an Indian?

Absurd searching
for the heat of Saturday night. Nonsense ritual of

She just listens
with the landscape of the Sahara passing for an expression on her face. Lay it all on her and she
blinks and gives Morrison a hot look.

Morrison´s still
on the wall, still got this mysterious smile, like a transvestite Mona Lisa. My line of
strut­ting stuff makes no dents in her or him. Morrison's into some heavy nonverbal projection.
Courtship without words. This cat is knocking me off without saying anything.

Morrison gets
passed a bottle of wine and drinks some. Somebody reaches to take it from him and he shakes his
head. Guy who wants the wine doesn't resist. He's been outpower-tripped without any real dis­play
of power. Morrison's got the wine for the rest of the night, practically a full

Building a solid
wall of resentment, I make a gesture that says leave. Fuck off. Rhetorical threat to see who's
more powerful. Indian or stranger?

Jim stares at me.
Just a little bit hostile. Watchful.

I get a rush.
Heavy. So intense from Momma LSD that I stumble, feeling the floor sinking out from under my
legs. Long screaming dive to the bottom of a well. Vertigo. Everything melting and pulled down by

Morrison's hand
hits my chest, steadies me, then pushes me to the wall so I don't dive forward on my

"Peaking on

I'm grateful for
the hand and the wall. "Mount Mc­Kinley," I admit, too suddenly disoriented. Shudders up and down
my body. Mild state of convulsion. Body jerking with involuntary twitches.

Morrison's oblique
nod. Meant for me or the chick, I don't know.

The chick is eyes
agog, staring at us. Suddenly we see her pulling back from us, disengaging. Morrison and I
exchange a knowing look. As with the same mind, we at once understand that she is not who we
thought she was. We suddenly know this one is not a doper, a fellow traveler in the
pharmaceutical alchemy line. Not a head chick, more like a juice maiden. Bud­weiser on the

A dark shadow. A
biker, three months in the same shirt without once taking it off, is suddenly in our per­sonal
space. New gladiator in the arena.

Has his tattooed
arms around the chick, squeezing breasts, beer belly pushing her back against us. He and the
chick are climbing all over each other's bones like two dogs smelling their sex places. He
himself smells like a dog pissed him into the world.

They pull apart
and then the biker is using his eyes to give us the against-the-wall-motherfucker treat­ment.
Pushes her away and gets into an ass-kicking stance. He's got a scar across his forehead from eye
to eye and half of one ear gone. Broken teeth that smell. Chains and leather. Sharpened bicycle
chain for a belt. The flails of the godless.

"You bastards been
hustling my old lady." Not a question, an accusation spoiling for a fight. His face looks like a
skin-colored carpet with cigarette bums.

He fixes on me,
ignoring Morrison.

I fold up inside.
Panic time from the skin side inside and out. Start a paranoid dead man's float, eyes wish­ing
not to see. Pushing off the wall, please just let me float away?

Too alchemical,
too wired to handle any threat.

The biker moves
toward me, whirling me around by the arm. Universe goes nova inside my spinning brain. I almost
lose it altogether and go down.

Jesus H! I am
gonna get my head pulped in Techni­color.

I get pulled in
close, watching this incredible slow­-motion movie where the biker's arm comes up, goes back,
tightening to strike out at me. Know I'm going to get stomped.

My body already
writhing, gone paranoid on a cellu­lar level in convulsive anticipation.

Morrison moves in,
a smooth glide. "Hey, man, there was this drunk son of a bitch. Really on his ass from downers
and booze, man. Fucker was bothering your old lady so we stood next to her so he would leave her
alone. No shit, man!"

Morrison pulls me
away from him, gets up in his face.

"She told us
straight off she was connected up. We were just holding the fort till you could get back."
Morrison´s cool smile. You had to believe it when you saw it.

"Yeah?" The fist
unclenches, the arm comes down. Guy has to think about it. Has a tattoo on his right arm that
says "Born to Raise Hell."

Biker gives the
room a once-over. No thanks for imaginary services rendered, just suspicious as hell. "Where's
this guy at now?"

Morrison's vague
gesture. "He got pissed off and went outside. Maybe he's waiting for her to come out. You should
have heard the stuff he was saying about your old lady!"

"Son of a bitch!"
says the biker, and he pushes past us, almost knocking us over. Western gunslinger rage, arms
knotting up like pythons, he storms out of the room. A real meat mind, a territorial

"You lied," says
the chick. Not too bright, this chick.

Morrison shrugs.
"Didn't you see the guy? Didn't you hear what he said about you?"

The chick frowns,
brain stretched to the limit, al­ready confused. "What guy?"

Even rushed a
million miles up, I am picking up his game. Funny trip. Strange guy.

self-assured, as if he believes it himself:

"Man, this guy was
practically slobbering in your panties. We kept shoving him away. He was really wasted, you know.
Like out of it completely. Just fucking insane."

"But I didn't see
nobody. I didn't hear nobody say nothing." The chick looks a little worried. Definitely feels
cheated, like something interesting happened and she was smelling her armpit and missed

She believes him.

I nod.
The words are hard to get out at first. This tripped out, this wrecked, you have
to keep talking or you lose your tongue. "It's... true. Said he was gonna suck your armpits til
they bled. Should have heard him... him. Was gonna... was gonna rip your tits off with a can

Where I'm at, in
my drug dream a million miles out and fading fast, it even begins to seem real to me.

Chick looks at us
both. We're both pretending to be angels.

Then, incredibly,
she reaches out to each of us to shake hands.

Very formal, like
a cocktail waitress in church. "Thank you so much I am sure I hope he catches the bastard."
Idiotic smile.

The three of us
shake hands awkwardly, like three unfrocked businessmen meeting for lunch in a toilet in a
Mexican cathouse.

communion," mutters Morrison, catching the absurdity of it all, bowing from the waist.

"Gotta go see if
my old man is all right. Was very nice talking to you, I am sure." She retracts her claws,
rearranges the molecules in her legs and splits.

We watch her go,
suddenly co-conspirators in a Ro­man plot to squeeze the juice from the daughters of Caesar,
whatever that means.

I nod gratitude
and add the clever line, "You saved me from the mad biker who goes bump in the night."

"It was a newly
coined chance to go mad and swal­low my brain."


"The pleasure was
all mine," says Morrison.

I say, "Oh! Uh,
well, we both saved each other from a social disease. We're lucky."

"We're even," says
Morrison, "except you're peak­ing to glory and I'm pilled and not even a little bit off. Think I
got burned."

Curious, I ask,
"What you supposed to be doing?"

"Supposed to be
mescaline. Brown mesc. That's what the asshole said. Got nothing. Probably drugstore

BOOK: Burn Down The Night
2.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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