Monday, August 9, 2010

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

One afternoon I was sleeping when someone started pounding on the motel room door.
“Go away!” I yelled as I rolled over, the room was dusky, I had pulled the drapes tight to keep the light out. Someone pounded on the door again. I got up. I padded over the matted brown carpet, and opened the door, Tom was standing there without a shirt on. The light assaulted my sensibilities, it took me a minute to comprehend why it should be light out while I was sleeping, there really is something vampiric about the lifestyle of being in a band, if you see daylight you either shun it or you know it‘s been a late night.
"Yeah." I said, sleepily.
"You gotta come to the other room, we have an emergency."
"What kind of an emergency?" I asked.
"I don't know man. Ian says he's quitting the band and going back home."
"Shit." I said, "does anybody know why?"
"No. He's been babbling, but not making any sense. Just something about the price being too high." I threw on a shirt, and ran hot footed across the cold concrete sidewalk to one of the boy’s rooms. All of them were sitting around Ian who was sitting on the bed sobbing while the TV blared in the background.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"He broke up with his girlfriend."
"Or she broke up with him."
"That's all?" I asked, sitting next to him. He was pale, his face was all washed out from his tears, "c'mon buddy you can't let something like this knock you down." No reaction.
"We've been telling him that for like two hours now." Johnny said.
“Ian, can you tell us what happened?” I knew if I kept asking questions that as soon as I broke through and got an answer the rest of the story would come flooding out.
"I, I can't live without her!" He sobbed. I could see he was making an effort to contain himself.
"Of course you can. You were able to exist before her, right?"
"OK, now listen carefully and do everything I tell you, OK?" He looked up and shook his head 'yes', "I learned this a long time ago, cry." I said. A couple of tears ran down his cheeks, "C'mon cry!" I yelled. "Didn't you love her?"
"Hey, c'mon, man." Brian said, "don't be so cruel he's had a rough time of it already."
"You gotta get her out of your system." I said to Ian, and for the benefit of them all. "OK, now think of everything you did with her," I looked at him, he was trying to fall back into self-pity, "you thinking about her?" He shook a weepy yes, "think about every place you saw together, every candlelit dinner you had, the jokes you shared, the kisses you stole, the plans you made. Cry them out until there's nothing left."
He started sobbing loudly. "Why? Why? Why, doesn't she love me?" It was the heartbreak of the unanswerable question we all have one time or another. I knew that pain in the past, but steeled myself against it, in the present.
"Let the band be your armor against the loneliness of those feelings. Do you wanna be a rock star or not? Is it just a dream, or your destiny? You're out here on the road accomplishing something. Most people aren't doing that in their lives, you can't let such things alter your journey." Tears were streaming down his cheeks.
"I'm tired now," he mumbled, "I jus' wanna go to sleep." He laid on the bed in the fetal position, subdued.
“How long until the show tonight?” I asked, suddenly sleepy again.
“About four hours.”
"He'll be OK. Maybe a little vulnerable and raw for a while, but he'll be OK." That night we had one of our best shows because Ian had a little more emotional intensity in his drumming. A few weeks later the hole in the girlfriend troupe was soon filled with a new member, Cassandra, of all things.

(The Last Stage is available on Kindle, Nook Books, or if you would like a signed copy of The Last Stage they're available from my website (only $20!) at Jymsbooks via Paypal (, please don't forget your mailing address!)

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