Monday, November 23, 2009
Superstar is the story of a groupie and the rock star he loves. It’s the tale of a man on the edge, both literally and figuratively...and it’s a timeless story of love found and love lost, all set to a driving rock beat.
Amber Quill Press (2009)
“You said you loved me. You told me you’d come back.”
I lean forward and an updraft of wind catches at my hair and flirts with stealing my breath away. I am looking down at a straight drop of almost two hundred feet. Behind me, cars rush by, oblivious to my intentions, concerned only with making their way south to downtown Seattle, or north to neighborhoods like Fremont or Wallingford.
I push my chest forward, so I am hanging over the edge of the George Washington Bridge, better known here in Seattle as the Aurora Bridge.
AKA Route 99. AKA the “suicide bridge.”
One look down and I’m dizzy, the vertigo possessing me like a demon, filling me with a giddiness that makes my heart thud and nearly steals my breath. It’s quite a view from up here: I can see the distant mountain ranges of the Olympics, the pine-covered hills and neighborhoods dotting Seattle, and the sparkling blue of Lake Union. Unlike the common “rain city” conception of Seattle, this July day is a stunning one, clear, sunny, low humidity and a temperature in the mid 70s.
It’s a lovely day to commit suicide.
I glance down again at the plunge before me. I have read that it will take only 2.2 seconds for me to cover the 180 feet or so I would drop if I were to attempt to take flight. Flight? Gravity is a demanding bitch…hungry.
I close my eyes for just a moment, because the vertigo of standing here at the edge of one of the tallest bridges in the country is pulling me forward, making me want to make the leap before I’m even ready. But I have things to think about before I take that quick, exhilarating exit and before everything goes dark.
I have read extensively about this bridge upon which my black Converse shoes are now firmly grounded. Since it was built, more than 230 people have committed suicide by jumping. Hey, a shoe salesman made the leap first back in 1932, before they even had a chance to get the thing completed. Is life that bad for shoe salesmen?
I have learned that I will reach a speed of about 55 miles per hour before I abruptly come to a halt. The force at impact is 28,000 foot-pounds, equal to being blasted by twenty-five 30-30 Winchester rifles.
I guess I won’t be leaving a pretty corpse.
But then you never really did appreciate how pretty I was, did you? If you had, maybe I wouldn’t be standing here right now.
“You said you loved me. You told me you’d come back.”
Ah, but I bet you say that to all the boys. I wonder how many of them fell for it as I did? I wonder how many of them fall—big time—for you, just as I am about to do in a few minutes here?
* * *
The first time I met you, you were playing in a little dive bar in Ballard. This was before you got famous, before the Rolling Stone cover, the Grammy, and the two platinum records. I had planned an evening out in Seattle’s equivalent of Boy’s Town: the area known as Capitol Hill. Park once, and you had a ton of bars you could walk to, and later, stagger from. And if you didn’t get lucky at the bars and got desperate enough, there were always a couple of bathhouses you could sneak into. I had ducked furtively into Club Z or Basic Plumbing myself a time or two, not that I would admit that to any of the group of friends I had planned to go out carousing with that October night so close to Halloween.
But Fate, that irascible, mischievous little bitch, had other things in mind for me that night. One by one, my friends called and canceled. One was dating a new guy and he wanted to stay in and cook for him. This from a man who thought Paula Deen was a gourmet chef. Another was still hung over from starting the weekend early…on Tuesday. And the third, Greg, had come down with an outbreak of herpes. I tried to be sympathetic. But that one bathhouse I mentioned earlier? Basic Plumbing? The front desk knew Greg by name there. They greeted him much the same as the patrons of Cheers once greeted Norm.
So I found myself alone and without wheels. I relied on the kindness of friends for auto transportation and that night, after everything fell through, I just did not feel like taking a bus from Ballard, the neighborhood where my apartment was, all the way downtown, then transferring to get up on the “hill.”
Ballard had been a Scandinavian fishing village before—like some undulating blob—the city of Seattle absorbed it. There were still fishing boats moored at its shores and here and there, the occasional trace of Nordic culture, but Ballard had become more of a trendy place to live…and to eat, drink, and be merry. Merry. I said “merry,” not “Mary.” One still needs to go to Capitol Hill to eat, drink, and be Mary.
I digress. I do that. A lot. See? I’m doing it now.
Anyway, my thought that October night was to head over to Olive’s, a little dive bar and restaurant on Ballard Avenue, where Kurt Cobain was once rumored to have played. No, there most likely would not be any potential love connections there (although that’s not saying it couldn’t happen; just because a bar is labeled “gay” doesn’t mean you’ll always get lucky…and the inverse can often be true; hey I can attest!), but there would be Rainier beer, a dark, crowded room that might contain some grungy, nerdy, cute straight boys who may or may not be amenable to expanding their sexual horizons, and—I hoped—some good music to just float away on.
I threw on black jeans, a black T-shirt that read “Scum of the Earth,” my Cons, and a leather band for my wrist. I glanced at myself in the mirror, making sure the tribal armband tattoo stood out beneath the form-fitting arm of my T-shirt and decided I looked good enough to be going out solo. I ran my fingers through my dark hair, enjoying the way it stood on end, a calculated mess. I looked good.
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