Archive for March 2011


March 19, 2011

I wasn’t sure what I would find when I arrived in San Francisco but I knew what I wanted to find: a fully outfitted three masted schooner, ready for sea. Having just finished reading Herman Melville’s novel, Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas, my mind was still occupied with its afterglow. The possibility of going on a long sea voyage immediately upon arriving on the coast was a dream coming true. I had never even been to the ocean but, after reading Moby-Dick, Billy Budd, Typee, and Omoo, I felt like I had lived at sea for years.

I was traveling west from Detroit with a group of people I hardly knew, driving in a caravan of six cars that were being delivered to a dealership in Sacramento. One of the drivers worked for the dealer and he was supposed to make sure we didn’t take passengers with us. Yet we stopped on our way out of the city and all the drivers in the caravan picked up passengers to ride along with them to California, except me. I had no passengers and that’s the way I wanted it to stay.

After a couple of nights out on the road, however, relationships between passenger and drivers began to fray. My car became an overflow space into which passengers were able to flee on repeated occasions.

We were almost to California when I confronted a driver who had thrown a woman out of his car in a screaming fit at an interstate gas station. He told me I could have her. She stayed with me to Sacramento, where everyone else separated. And then we traveled together on the bus to San Francisco.

Upon arrival, I searched for an empty phone booth at the crowded bus station. Over the phone, I learned that the three master schooner had been moved south to Monterey Bay where docking space was less expensive. The long sea voyage was still on hold but I was welcome to go down there and move aboard at any time.

She called herself Angel. Or maybe that’s what others called her and she just accepted the name. She looked like an angel. But she was living a lifestyle that was incompatible with maintaining her youthful beauty, injecting methamphetamine, drinking Pepsi for nutrition, and chain smoking menthol filtered cigarettes.

I didn’t feel comfortable about leaving her. She had an address for a group of ex-Detroiters who had formed a band and created a rehearsal scene in San Francisco. She hoped to make connections there for a place to stay and to find a source for crystal meth. She had money with her, a handbag stacked with cash, neatly wrapped and labeled. I felt she needed my protection so I went along. Big mistake. I started shooting methamphetamine and I forgot what I wanted.

I knew all the horror stories about injecting drugs. I thought I would never do it. But I stopped thinking when Angel put her arms around me. Her embrace soothed the jagged edges of my sleep deprived senses and awakened my passions.

We were horizontal and naked on a mattress on the floor when she started searching my arm for a vein. She had rubbing alcohol, cotton balls, a tourniquet, a small metal bowl, and a cup of water on a low table in the corner of the small bedroom. Wearing surgical gloves and using a freshly unpacked sterile syringe, she extracted water from the cup and squirted it onto a crystalline substance in the small metal bowl. It dissolved without heating and she filled the syringe with a measured amount of solution.

My mind labored to justify my actions as she tightened the tourniquet. The opportunity might never come again, I told myself. Angel seemed destined for stardom. I’m lying here naked with her on the verge of having sex and she wants to inject me with crystal meth first? Why not?

She searched my eyes as she swabbed the vein. Then she looked down to poke me with the needle. I cleared my mind, not knowing what to expect, yet feeling ready for anything, thinking I could handle whatever came next.

With the drug entering my bloodstream, my heart rate and breathing increased, along with my awareness of the atmospheric pressure. My mind filled with a chorus of voices chanting a litany of conclusions based on an elaborate assortment of vague assumptions yet I could willfully rise above this mental confusion to enjoy the intense rush of enhanced sensory stimulation, content with the experience itself, without needing words to justify or explain it.

During the ritual, Angel reminded me of a young vampire capturing her first major prey. What was the payoff for her? Was she expecting sexual acrobatics from me, bringing her to a life transforming climax? If so, I felt up to the challenge in every way.

“Let’s get dressed and go downstairs,” she said: “They’re waiting for us in the studio.”

What? Confusion, paranoia, and depression came to the forefront of my consciousness as I realized the anticipated great sex was not going to happen.

“I’ll be down later,” I said.

“No,” she replied: “I need you. I can’t do this without you.”

Her words reinvigorated my enthusiasm. A wave of euphoria washed the pain from my senses. The world seemed ripe with potential again, her potential. And she needed me. I had new purpose, new strength, was capable of accomplishing anything she desired of me.

As I opened the sound studio door, the music’s intensity increased exponentially. A smoke filled column of air danced in front of the big bass speakers, illuminated by stray light from overhead floods directed on the musicians and their instruments in the darkened room.

The possibility of being called upon to perform had been festering in the back of my mind since Angel’s comment about me having a great voice and how they were going to love me when they heard it. That possibility had now become the immediate focus of my existence. Singing in the church choir gave me all the experience I needed. I had total confidence in my ability to sing along with Angel during the audition, if that’s what she needed, and wanted.

When the band stopped playing, the performance area darkened, and the overhead lights came on in the sound studio. A film crew that had been shooting the rehearsal with 16mm cameras immediately refocused their attention on Angel. I followed in her wake.

The musicians were all clean shaven and their salon styled long hair gave them an effeminate appearance, I thought, which make me conscious of my own appearance. My low maintenance hair was too short to even comb. And I hadn’t shaved, bathed, or changed cloths in several days while driving across the country from Detroit.

As band members gathered around her, Angel said: “Where’s Gerda?”

A tall dude with piercing blue eyes shrouded in long blond hair, replied: “She’s not with us anymore. She hooked up with some recording company. Said she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go out on her own with a major label.”

“Who’s taking her place?”

“You are, darlin’. That’s what you’re here for, isn’t it?”

“What kinda gigs?”

“Not much work here in the city, if anything, for local bands. We were out on the road, promoting our own record, before Gerda ditched us. Theaters, dance halls, gymnasiums, auditoriums, bars, nightclubs, you name it. There is work out there, if you’re willing to give people what they want.”

“Can I do some of my own stuff?”

“Show us what you got.”

Angel hesitated with her mouth open, then said: “I need to warm up first, get a feel for the studio, who I’m working with. But yes, let’s get started.”

She directed me to follow along with her exercises, breathing and stretching, holding notes, jumping intervals, running scales, singing melodic phrases in two part harmony. The musicians were exchanging glances and shaking their heads but I could feel my confidence growing with each step in her routine. Everyone assumed their place when Angel signaled we were ready.

“Let’s start off with something easy, yeah?” she said in a singsong voice: “Go a step at a time. Give me a funky slow walking beat, please.”

The bass player, the tall dude with piercing blue eyes shrouded in long blond hair who had answered Angel’s questions, initiated the rhythm. The drummer, a look alike, picked it up using brushes, not sticks. The rhythm guitarist, in the same mold as the other two, punctuated the backbeat with a bluesy chord, rotating through a basic progression, changing with each quick, downward strum.

I worked from Angel’s handwritten notes. The first song she selected, a lament about a troubled relationship, used alternating verses, the female voice and then the male responding. I had the words in front of me so I could concentrate on making my voice harmonize with hers, especially during the chorus when we sang together. Yet, later, when the Hammond organ and the lead guitarist joined in, close vocal harmony wasn’t critical so I concentrated more on melody, amplitude, and rhythm.

When I finally relaxed, I could look from the words on the page into Angel’s eyes as I completed a phrase or held a musical note for emphasis. I felt more comfortable with each passing song and, even as I performed, my mind began to wander. The scent of Angel’s naked body lingered in the most primitive area of my memory, signaling my senses to breath the air around her and stay alert for more of the same.

I knew the audition wasn’t about me. I wouldn’t fit into the band. I couldn’t handle going on the road and performing night after night. One of the band members would do Angel’s material requiring a male voice. The base player seemed eager to assume the role. He tolerated me to please Angel, but only for the initial session, I felt.

Angel called for a break at the conclusion of an uptempo number and received unanimous consent from the musicians.

“Good stuff, darlin’,” the bass player said as the overhead lights came on: “We’ve got it all down on tape. Let’s go upstairs, get some rest, something to eat. Then we’ll give it a listen.”

The studio was built into a large open space that had originally been a horse stable in the rear of an old three story building, a building that had survived the earthquake and fire of 1906, according to its current occupants.

The front part of the third floor had a kitchen, two bathrooms, and four small bedrooms. It was used during rehearsals and recording sessions as a place to rest and get high. Everyone lived somewhere else.

The rear part of the third floor, on top of the sound studio, was a large communal space with an assortment of used furniture arranged to create separate groupings in each of the four corners according to usage. A television set in one grouping with the picture on but the sound turned down. A listening area in another with reel-to-reel, multitrack tape machine, amplifiers, speakers, and earphones. A reading area with stacks of books and magazines. And a circular sitting area where people could face one another for conversation and discussion.

In the dim bedroom light, I watched as Angel dropped onto the floor mattress and stretched out. She looked exhausted. I wasn’t sure how long we had been in the studio or how many songs we had worked on. Time didn’t seem to matter anymore.

While undressing, I said: “There’s a shower in the bathroom, I think I’ll use it?”

“Fuck the shower,” she replied, reaching to turn off the lamp on the low table next to the mattress. In the resultant darkness, she added: “But fuck me first. That’s the only way I’ll get to sleep.”

Her soft moist lips tasted like juicy fruit chewing gum as her mouth opened and her tongue reached out in search of mine. She brushed her hand lightly between my thighs, moving upward, tightening my scrotum and sending waves of pleasure surging throughout my body. Her fingertips stroked my hardened shaft as she climbed on top. Working my penis back and forth, she parted her pubic hair with its nippled tip. Then she slowly eased down around me, not waiting to further lubricate the entrance.

A climax was not acceptable for me, not unless she climaxed first. She made me feel like a god living in a timeless world, my only concern being to stay hard for my goddess, until she sleeps.

A perfect sunrise, clear blue skies, wind and waves, salt water spray, pitching and rolling, sails flapping in the breeze! My consciousness saturated with immediate sensory impressions as we tacked west by southwest heading towards Tahiti from Monterey Bay. Details of the previous few days in San Francisco with Angel temporarily slipped below the surface leaving a vague disquiet in the back of my mind. I didn’t have time to dwell on the state of my heart. Yet, when memories did push their way into my consciousness, I found my lack of emotion surprising, like it had happened to a different me in another life.