- Truman Capote, on Jack Kerouac
(The difference is I won’t pass this drunken rambling off as “literature.”)
What goes through the mind of a solitary man, standing in the cold, drunk on wine, and smoking a cigarette in front of his apartment building? I couldn’t tell you. But, any time alone with a vice, no pen, no paper, just puffing and standing, is sure to encompass some amount of thought – be it the thoughts of the day, the night, yesterday, or the girl he spoke to at the bar.
A group of ruffians may walk by – every one of them just as much of an asshole as him – and ask who he is.
“I’m Paul Bunyon. And this is Babe the Blue Ox,” he may say, and poke his thumb towards his larger, stronger friend.
“Babe the Blue Ox!” his friend may echo, adopting a Minnesota accent, because they are film buffs and are always looking to exploit lines from Fargo.
But, he is alone in the cold. And there are no ruffians.
He has a few drags left of his American Spirit and disposes of it properly: his aim is true and finds the tiny hole of the receptacle in one shot. He pulls open the front door into his foot, and walks through, his shoulder clumsily bumping the jamb. Even though he is drunk his keys are already out. With one hand he finds the building key. His aim is not as good this time and on the third stab he finds the keyhole. He walks down the hallway – POV HANDHELD. He follows the ceiling with his eyes, tracing the cable concealment to a smoke detector. Two doors away from his own. In two or four stabs he finds the keyhole. Turns clockwise with no resistance, no satisfying feeling or sound – it is all empty slack; the door is already unlocked.
Inside he sheds his coat and hat. A guitar leans on the bed (a futon, really, but this is semantics for men; for women this may as well be a hay bale). Oh, that’s right: I was working on some music earlier, he thinks. Funny how a few songs came together after so many months. Not enough for an album, but enough for an Open Mic, enough for an EP. Not good enough to record yet, but getting there.
He imagines playing again in front of a crowd. No karaoke – this is more than singing. He must play, and he must sing the words from memory, with no prompter. He’s never been good at that. Even with his own lyrics he often fakes his way through. Just make sure the melody is there, he always thinks, sometimes catching the eye of a friend giving an ironic smile – because, hey, idiot, don’t you know the words to your own song?
No, I don’t.
I rarely do. But, it sounds OK sometimes, regardless. My voice buried under the music, the melody and beat there to make the feet tap and the heads bob and the lips haphazardly move along to the words I barely get out. Are you not remembering them correctly, or am I not? Doesn’t matter. I think the chords are right, or close enough, and we’re all drunk and laughing, and going to get some good sleep. Tomorrow we will have no recollection of the night, save the way certain lips felt against our own, and in a few days we will play again. Until then we face the day and wonder about those lips and if anything we do means anything to anyone, or if we are just a good soundtrack for the beer.