Pour Dimes In Diamond Jim / 18 November 2001

Later I’d stumble outside, trailed by cigarette smoke and a dozen varieties of B.O., maybe even stabilizing myself by placing my fingertips against the pavement, the air—This is the finest air I have ever had the privilege of choking down! Shouting because I’m deaf. I wake up the next morning and I’m deaf. I’m deaf in European History. I’m eating graham crackers and I’m deaf.

Inside, Hersh is significantly pregnant, the guitar slung across her belly and I suppose it’s not like, say, playing cello, the whole instrument vibrating against your body, vibrating the fetus, sending it signals four nights a week, since the electric guitar only makes flat, tinny sounds, the real noise coming out several feet away, out into our faces. But still, that’s gotta do something. There is some inter-song chatter and B howls out from the crowd and makes Hersh laugh thanks to its sheer volume and insanity. One of the first things B did when I met him was a Prince imitation. Which was super-loud and beyond language, let’s say.

I’m nervous about tomorrow since we’re putting on a play and Z and S have yet to get through the whole thing without forgetting a line. They have only the most tenuous grip on it but we’re out of time now. My favorite song of the night is slow and beautiful because this was when I enjoyed things slow and beautiful. That went away and came back. I don’t look at them but at the ceiling, which is like the night sky, actually, made out of rafters and cables and probably a disco ball. I make a little prayer to some unnamed deity, still hedging my bets, not liking to get too specific, and it went something like: Please don’t let them fuck up their lines. Always with the please don’t let, that’s how everyone’s prayers go. A few months later I’d be curled up on R’s couch and knotting fists against my gut and deliver an ultimatum: Please let her be OK and I’ll never ask for anything again and I haven’t.

The feedback carries it up to the fake sky and sure enough, they nail every line and the audience laughs, they laugh, though I’m in a blackout in the back row and nothing really penetrates until it’s all over and I can stop embedding crescent moons into my palms, stop waiting for that horrible silence as they scout around for what to say next. I’m wearing a shirt that sports Spiderman’s face, thinking it’ll make me seem less pretentious.

We lose the competition to a bunch of nancyboy thugs and I go home and sulk and the Vice Principal asks us to put it on for the whole school but maybe I should consider softening some of the language, you know, for the sixth graders, and I add two more fucks because I’m so bad. They blow the lines and start laughing and I have to come out on stage and hand them photocopies of the script and I realize we only had one performance in us, that the unnamed deity, won over for a moment by rock music, Donelly’s curved stance, fingernails chipped and bloody, pour dimes in diamond jim two months to fill him in, never agreed to anything beyond that first go-round.

Joshua Green Allen

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