Winner's Blues

Last night it happened again, that whole shit with my heart. For a good part of the evening I was seized up like a poisoned cockroach. It must be some kind of mind over matter thing when I’m high—a sign that my nerves are fuzzing out, I suppose.

For this and other reasons, I’m leaving Arizona. I bought a one-way ticket to Amsterdam. I leave this afternoon. I blew my dime and called up some European peeps. They all owe me, anyway. I was up in that piece for three plus years and I built some bridges.

I’ll be in Schiphol Airport just in time for the Wednesday rush hour. I can’t wait to get lost in the morning crowd, jostled about by people with their folded up Dagblad and DeVolskrant and speaking Dutch into microscopic cell phones. Those European smells of coffee, beer and sweat. And cigarettes.

Everything is cold and damp. The sky is white.

But what, if in order to make something happen, I were to make a sign?

Trixie doesn’t believe that I’m leaving. When I told her the plan she rolled her eyes and snapped her gum.

“There’s something wrong with you,” she said matter-of-factly.

“You’re probably right,” I said.

She went back to working on her James Brown cover album. She wore her dead father’s denim jacket out to the garage, where she had an ancient four-track set-up alongside an equally ancient (and dusty) Emerson stereo. Something from the early 90s. There were three black Air Jordan sneaker boxes stacked against a professional looking mic stand. The microphone itself was covered with duck tape, but still. She pulled up a folding chair and sat her skinny little girl butt in front of the mic. The pockets of the jacket were filled with green and white cables. She opened the top Jordan box and carefully selected two cassette tapes. She put them in the stereo and they began to play simultaneously—a warbling, fucked up twist of James Brown and something else, maybe Depeche Mode's, “Never let me down again”. Each playing at various, changing speeds, but never the correct one. It was like a drunken carousel. Here and there you could hear a signature chord from James Brown’s band, “Da-Da-Da-de-Da!” but it would be quickly submerged in a quicksand of sounds. The distortion was so great that it’s possible the tape had been turned upside down and wound back into the cassette.

Trixie waited out a certain number of syncopated, drunken beats before she sat up tall and brought a kazoo to her mouth with one hand and the mic with the other. She let out a series of high-pitched woops and sighs, even spitting and licking the microphone at one point. The effect of all this was both frightening and fascinating—like watching a crack head hit the pipe. Trixie’s eyes became wide and staring. The kazoo made it sound like she’d been turned into a robot. But no robot would ever make sounds like that. I could only make out a few bits of the spoken words interjected amongst the scatting. She seemed to be saying:

“You gotta serve somebody, could be the devil or the risen lord but you know you gotta serve somebody.”

Just now, Trixie looked over my shoulder and saw what I was writing.

“If you really go away, who’s going to help me market my album,” she said, pouting with her pink lip-gloss.

“Aren’t you going to finish the movie? My sister will be pissed—she bleached her hair and everything.”

“I’ll be back,” I said, pulling on a button down over my T-shirt.

“I promise.”

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