Monday, August 21, 2006

The Solo

Category: Issue 3, Short Story Winners

Magnus, I played your solo for the last time tonight.  The last date of the tour.  The last tour.

You always were an arrogant, misogynistic bastard, Magnus, but I still wish it could’ve ended differently.  I know we’d barely been speaking in those last months before you left.  We’d been on the road for four years, almost non-stop, and I still knew next to nothing about you.  I admit it: recently, even the sight of you, pissed up on whatever you could get your hands on, doubtless some new desperate young thing hanging off your shoulder while you snorted and gobbed on the floor and loped around the place walking into and breaking whatever was near you … man, even the sight of you has almost reduced me to tears.  But I do wish things had turned out different.

The gigs were still electric, but the rest of it was driving me insane.  I don’t know what I’d say was the nadir.  Me paying off the police to get you out of a Bangkok jail?  Having to wheel you through Sydney airport on a luggage trolley?  You pissing on a crowd of frightened Indonesians in Jakarta?  You know, I was even beginning to curse the day I put that advert in Loot in the first place.  It was going to take Deus ex Machina to a new level, that was what I’d decided.  I was tired of being a one-man show. I wanted to fill the sound out.  A world of sonic opportunity awaited.  But I don’t think anyone could have predicted what was going to happen next.  What was going happen next?  You, Magnus, that’s what.

“The Motorhead audition’s next door,” I said when you rolled up that first afternoon, dressed head to toe in leather, shoulder length hair spilling over your studded jacket, a motorbike helmet in one hand and your guitar in the other.  You looked all set for an Easy Rider convention.

“Dude,” you said. “I hope you’re ready for this.”

I thought I’d seen it all.  Of course, I’d done two albums already by that time.  I’d been on the road all over the country.  I’d done festivals, Europe, you name it.  I’d seen some pretty strange things, but I hadn’t seen anything that had prepared me for me you.

“You’re aware that Deus ex Machina are an alt:folk band?” I asked.

“Folk is the new punk,” you said.  “Let’s get it on.”

Magnus, you may be a genius, but you’re an idiot.  You can’t help yourself.  You’re an addict.  You’re addicted to anything you can get addicted to: drink, drugs, women … I’ve seen you disappearing into rooms with four women at a time, with whole families.  I’ve seen you drinking paint straight from the can.  It was a miracle you weren’t dead before you got to my front door.  But when you pick up a guitar, man, it’s magic.  It’s crazy.  I’ve never seen anyone play like that.  And as you sat there in my living room, your chest hairs poking out of your buttonless shirt while you played your audition, I knew we were going to take over the world.

“Where are you from, Magnus?” I asked you.

“I’m from the filthy bowels of your imagination,” you said.  You never did elaborate.

You remember that first tour?  The riots outside the venues as people fought to get hold of tickets?  They upgraded us to stadiums in no time, but they were still packed out.  It was amazing.  They couldn’t get enough of us.  The front page of The Times.  Ridiculous.  The album went platinum in two weeks.  It was plain ridiculous.

And then the World Tour.  Deus ex Machina goes global.  The spread in Rolling Stone, the screaming fans at the airport.  It was The Beatles all over again.  And then we’re all set to record the second album, and we’re just getting bigger, and bigger … and there’s a third album, another tour, a fourth album to come …

What a waste.  What a waste of talent.  Maybe I should have seen the signs.  Could I have helped you?  That’s what I’ve been asking myself, Magnus.  Could I have done more?  The record company’s going ape.  They’ve got search parties out all over the country.  Trouble is, no one knows a fucking thing about you.  You could be anywhere, in any country in the world.  You could be dead, for all we know.

It’s two weeks since that Kyoto gig now.  Maybe I shouldn’t have done anything.  Or maybe it was inevitable.  I haven’t got a clue.  You were going out after the show, another sordid party in some God-forsaken hole.  I blocked your way at the dressing room door.  “Magnus,” I said.  “Just leave it tonight, man.  You’re all used up.  Come on, you need some sleep.  Think of the band.” 

I could see it in your eyes. You weren’t going to make it.  I think even you knew you weren’t going to make it.  You wanted to stop, but you didn’t know how.  You just stood there for a moment, and I thought maybe we could sort this thing out.

And then you punched me in the face.

And then you left.

I’m sitting here in my penthouse suite, Magnus.  I can see the Tokyo skyline from my king-size bed.  It’s an amazing place.  There’s a Kandinsky on the wall.  Not that you’d know what that was.  You’d probably just throw it out the window. I’m still wondering about where you appeared from, Magnus.  Now I think about it, I guess one day you were bound to just disappear back again.

So, I played your solo tonight, Magnus.  Thirty thousand silent Japanese people watching me play your solo.  I knew they were all thinking about you too.  That was when I realized for sure.  It’s all over.  When I finished, I told the crowd Deus ex Machina were disbanding.  It was hilarious.  You would have loved it, Magnus.  They didn’t understand what I was saying, so they just cheered.


Posted by Andrew on 08/21 at 06:07 PM | Permalink
(7) Discuss • (1) Comments

« The Snake Wife      The Stories of Devil-Girl »