Thursday, August 12, 2021

The Wilderness Years - And After All... We're not John and Paul

 In the backroom of Anthony's the word had spread quickly among the dancers that Veronica and i were no more. What followed was what i'd refer to as open season on our protagonist here. I was always a well-liked guy around the club, mainly due to being laid back, polite and having pockets full of disposable income but now i was something different. It felt like it was almost a game between some of the dancers to see who could get my attention next and before i knew it i couldn't enter the place without having one of them immediately pull up a seat next to me... about the only place i could get away was to sit at the stage and even then the girl onstage would spend an inordinate amount of time in front of me. While it may have been amusing at first after a while it was a bit annoying as i just wanted to kick back and relax, this was a place for me to hide. Truth is sometimes i'd sit at the bar nursing a drink and watching college basketball... like i said it was a bit like your uncle's basement. 

Since Veronica and the Lil Blonde were friends LB had pretty much gotten the lowdown on the trip and everything since and LB seemed to make sure all the dancers were well informed as to events of recent history...  and while LB considered me off limits due to her friendship with Veronica a few of the other dancers did not. Let the games begin as they say... 

The story of Veronica and i can't be told without the music and in that music were some songs by Oasis, most coming from The Masterplan record and not what one would call a "hit." Now somehow or other the girls in Antoine's backroom had decided that the song i must unabashedly love the most was Wonderwall... or maybe it was the only one they knew... i can't be sure. What happened next was a very strange phenomenon. There are certain songs from that period that when i hear today put a wry smile upon my face... most of them are alt-rock radio shit but still transport me back to the smoke and body spray days of Anthony's. The one that is most effective is Wonderwall... mainly because there came a time when i couldn't go into the place without being guaranteed of hearing it... multiple times on some nights. In fact it became a bit of a running joke... from the how long will it take before one of the dancers play it to how many times do you think i'll hear it? yes i believe there were actually arguments among some dancers as to who got to play it first... and when it was played i'd usually get longing looks from whichever dancer played it while onstage...  it wasn't as if most of the dancers actually had a genuine interest in me it was more like i was a carnival prize, who could land me next? and like the arrogant prick i was i didn't discourage it even if i was laughing about it... part of me enjoyed the attention while the hurt little boy in me didn't object to the fact i could see it jabbed at Veronica.. i was a fucking asshole. 

But for all the non-sense it almost worked in my favor as Veronica and i had begun talking a lot more once the games had started. It was good to talk with her again, to watch her smile and laugh... yes she was still seeing Franco but she stated not in the same way she was with me.. she liked him well enough but she wasn't sure what she wanted. It felt a bit odd to sit there and listen to her talk about her dilemmas with a guy when i wished i was that guy. It wasn't lost on the other dancers that when her and i began talking as she worked the bar that it was as if i didn't see anyone else... i didn't... it was all her. Even when she had to serve a drink i'd watch her, she'd look up from pouring whiskey and ginger and smile back at me while said patron would try to engage her in conversation and she'd immediately excuse herself and walk back down to my usual corner at the bar. I'd slide her my pack of expensive Dunhill's and she'd smile and thank me and say she wished we could go back, i'd look at her say, me too. 

It was a little over a week out from X-mas when i was sitting at the bar in my usual spot. Veronica had mentioned this would be her last week here as she had scored a new gig tending bar. She wanted to get away from the scene at the club and who could blame her. These places were human meat grinders and i had seen my fair share of girls come and go, usually worse off then when they arrived. I was glad she was getting away and even she commented on the fact that Wonderwall tended to get played an awful lot when i walked in the place. We both had a good laugh and i told her i had my theories on why and that it most definitely had something to do with us and the trip. I then broke into the chorus, taught to me by Gulfboot, "and after all, we're not John and Paul."  Veronica being a Beatles fan giggled at the cheekiness of it and from there on out it's what we would sing every time a dancer felt the need to play it. 

And then one late December night that week before Jesus' so-called birthday Veronica asked me a question. She said, "i want to spend one more night with you." There was a moment of stunned silence... you do? i asked. Yes she said, but i want to wake up next to you... is that possible? I sat there a bit dumbfounded... but better yet luck was shining down as the Waitress was going home for the holiday leaving me for a few days on the Jack Jones... mainly because i had to work my shit warehouse gig which for once i didn't mind because it beat sitting around in a strange house with people who weren't my family... and besides if i could have gone anywhere it would have been to see my old man and sit on his couch drinking coffee and watching the Best of Sportscenter while talking about the state of the universe. I smiled and said yes, i can swing it. She smiled back.

Her final shift at the club was December 23, the last day it would be open until the day after X-mas... she was waitressing that night and it was decided that after i got done taking care of the last minute Chrimbo weed rush i would roll down and hang about until she was done with her shift and then we would go back to her place. It was like being a kid again and waiting for Kringle to deliver that bicycle or video game except now i was a ranking hood with a burgeoning weed empire who was going to hang out at a strip club in order to spend the night with his ex-mistress (for lack of a better term). Under the cool veneer i tried to project i was fucking giddy, i thought of it as a reprieve and knew there was a chance it could start things back up again. We sat and chatted at the bar and finalized how we'd go about it that night. When i told her goodnight and headed for the door her eyes were shining as she watched me walk into the cold December night... you couldn't have punched the smile off my face. 

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