Of Eons and Stars Part 5: Down the Drain #1 / Breakfast Bizarre
Down the Drain Part 1
Angelica steps from her brown beater and gently shuts the car door behind her. On her drive to Bolton, she decided that her new article byline may not have paid her enough to get a new car, but it did give her a new outlook. Her poor degraded, ramshackle of a ride would henceforth be known as Lucille. There are many that might argue that her car was a boy-car, however, she thought, there are many that might have mistaken her for a boy-person a time or two before in her life, and she’d be damned if anybody was going to gender shame Lucille.
It’s noonish and the sun is shining on her face giving her a warm glow. It’s been a long time since she enjoyed seeing daylight. The life of writing and concerts that she is currently pursuing does not lend itself to vitamin D, she forgot how much she missed it. She pats Lucille on the hood as she walks across the parking lot towards a large metal warehouse.
She hears a whistle and looks to her left to see a face poking around the far corner of the building and waving her over. The building is huge and from this distance, the person seems extra small. She thinks they might be wearing mouse ears. Oh great, a kid’s show. Nothing worse than turning up to a show and finding out it’s at a 21 and under club, no drinks.
As she gets closer she realizes that this pocket-sized person is actually a fully grown woman. She’s about 5’2 at best and slight, but shapely. What Angelica thought to be mouse ears are, in fact, two puffballs of dyed light blue hair on the sides, a la Princess Leia, only higher up.
“Angelica!” the girl calls out with a smile and gets on her tippy toes in order to give Angelica a full around the neck hug. Angelica feels doubly uncomfortable, her arms hanging at her sides, hugged by a stranger, and noticing this micro-humans chest against her stomach and face against her chest.
The girl steps back, but somehow manages to still be holding Angelica’s hands, looking up at Angelica, she says, “I’m Biscuit”.
“Yes, you are,” Angelica quips.
“I know, not the coolest nickname. You can blame my Grampa,” Biscuit responds.
“Are you a member of the band?” Angelica inquires, becoming more and more aware of Biscuit’s unbreakable death-grip on her hands, “…and can I have my hands back?”
“Oh totally,” Biscuit answers sheepishly, unleashing her steel-like clamps, “Sorry, I’m a lover. Yeah, I’m in the band. Follow me.”
Biscuit continues talking about nothing and everything as Angelica follows her into the warehouse. Inside there is an expansive open space with a concrete floor and a large stage at the far end. In the middle of the room, there is a group of people talking.
As Angelica and Biscuit walk up to the group it thins out a bit, people leaving to go to their sound and set up jobs leaving only the band, Down the Drain.
Biscuit introduces Angelica to the group then introduces the band to Angelica. “The tall one is Two-Bit, he plays guitar and sings. The medium one is Carter, he also plays guitar, and these two ladies,” Biscuit points to two almost identical Hispanic girls, “are Tiffany Tiffany and Debbie Debbie, known together as the Rock Pops.” Angelica looks at the two and raises a flat hand in greeting. They seem welcoming enough as the slightly taller one winks and the other points with finger guns.
“What an odd bunch,” Angelica thinks to herself, taking in the amalgamated group. “Are these rich kids playing goth or goth kids playing Kanye meets Valley Girl?”
Biscuit had her hair in near-perfect blue puffs, light skin, 80’s pink lip gloss, blue eyeshadow, and a leather corset with skirt, fishnets, and boots. The boots even had heels, making this tiny girl even tinier than initially guessed.
Two-Bit was tall, well over six feet, with a blonde feathered pomp, a polo-style pink Izod shirt, form-fitting pleated slacks oddly matched with black eyeliner and lipstick.
Carter matched Two-Bits motif quite well with matching makeup paired with blue boat shoes with no socks, white slacks, an inverted color Joy Division T-shirt, and a mint green sweater tied around his shoulders.
Tiffany Tiffany and Debbie Debbie had matching suits on, schoolgirl uniforms with dark plaid skirts, white shirts with little ascots, and ratted black hair above black eyeliner, black lipstick, and black blush.
Angelica makes the appropriate handshakes and nods, then asks, “How long until the show?”
“About three hours,” Carter responds, meticulously adjusting his flopped over sweater arms so they hang evenly.
“Great!” Angelica exclaims, “Did you want to do the interview now?”
The group seems to chuckle in unison. “No,” Carter returns, “We’ll have to do it after the show, we’ll feel more ourselves.”
Seeing Angelica’s confusion as to what to do in the meantime, Biscuit chimes in, “But. there’s a great little bar and restaurant down the street you can have drinky-poos at and get some dinner while we finish setting up.”
Angelica Walks into The Wave and Meadow, the “Great little bar and restaurant down the street” suggested by Down the Drain bassist, Biscuit. She marvels at what they thought to be a little place was in fact a full surf n’ turf steakhouse connected to an emerald eighteen-hole golf course called Bolton Downe Greens.
Angelica steps to the concierge and asks for a quiet table outside.
The concierge looks down his romanesque nose with a glare, appearing to eyeball her thrift store sweater and Converse combo. “Your name?” he asks.
“Angelica… Whateley,” her answer sounding like another question.
He looks down for a sec at a spiral book on his podium, looks up and says with a smile, “Ah, yes, Ms. Whateley, please follow me.”
Angelica follows her svelte porter through the opulent dining room marveling at the ornate wood carvings and argent silverware. He leads her to a back patio with open fireplaces and running water and offers her a table away from the others. She sits down and thanks him. Reaching down to her bag she realizes that the running water is coming from a koi pond right next to her table. She pulls her laptop out, thinks to herself, “Maybe I should take money from Dad and Charles”, then starts to write about the first half of her experience with Down the Drain.
If there is one thing that you can rely on in life, it’s that the time a concert says it’s going to start is not when the concert is going to start. Knowing this, Angelica shows up thirty minutes after the show is scheduled to start to find Tiffany Tiffany and Debbie Debbie smoking their last pre-show cigarette behind the warehouse.
“Hey there, Angelica, go ‘round front, we’re about to start. They have your name at the door,” the shorter of the two yells to her.
Around the front Angelica walks in the front doors with just a nod from the doorman. The inside is packed. Full of rich twenty-somethings that all looked like they passed out at a Skull and Bones frat house party and ended up getting drunken makeup drawn all over them.
There are half-naked girls and boys swinging from pulleys amid the fog machine mist and pseudo-water laser lighting shooting across the floor. She can’t tell if when she strikes up a conversation with a fan if it will be about cutting one’s self or stock options. These were the alpha preppies, the actual rich kids on LSD.
Before she can take in another moment of the ergonomically charged emo fuckfest, the lights drop to complete blackness. For a single second, she sees nothing and just hears hoots and hollers across the umbra.
Then, Down the Drain Starts.
It is a thunder of guitars and flashing lights. A total assault on the senses, the music like Rammstein and Skrillex made a baby, beat it to near death, and left it on the side of the road to grow up eating roadkill and turning tricks. Needless to say, Angelica didn’t really like it. So she sets her cynicism aside and redefines. “Okay, it’s a Thrill Kill Kult or Bauhaus rehash without the newness or sound quality,” she thought.
In front of her a mound of bodies dancing, or fighting, or possibly fucking; a mound of bodies fuck-fighting? She could make out limbs and the occasional mohawk from the guy or girl who didn’t get the yuppie-death-cult newsletter.
Beyond the horde of angry horndogs, was the stage and the band. The crowd was doing all the work, the band just stood there. Biscuit smiling with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth and both hands on the keyboard next to Two-Bit strumming away and screaming into a microphone. On the left Tiffany Tiffany and Debbie Debbie, both leaned back playing staring up at the ceiling with indifference. On the right was Carter playing guitar. Angelica doesn’t particularly like this band’s style, definitely doesn’t like their music, and doesn’t like having to wait until after the show to interview them, but she does think that Carter looked pretty good up there. “Fuck it,” she thinks and grabs the closest drink she can find and walks toward the mob of fans to join the copulative melee. She has enough to write about, even if she wakes up in a haze.
The alarm on Father Pleasant’s nightstand unbearably howls every morning at six A.M. His role as Priest for the small town of Midwich comes with responsibilities and no one wants to hear that he was up to late at the bar drinking, playing darts, and talking smack with the boys, they especially don’t want to hear it daily. Being Catholic provided him with the luxuries of drinking intractable amounts of alcoholic libations, that is as long as he also did Mass, ran bingo, took communion, etc. He loved being the church’s Father, it is what got him up in the morning and motivated him to go on after all the trammel he had endured. He also liked to drink, it was the only thing that could get him to sleep at night.
He slams his hand down on the clock muzzling the alarm’s unbearable howl. He lays on his back for a few moments staring at the ceiling, the practically exposed springs in his mattress sticking him in the back. With a rub of his eyes, he rolls over and sits up perching on the edge of his bed. He prepares himself and stands up to the sound of multiple cracks and creaks in his body.
Father Pleasant is not that old, but he feels it. His is all of forty-five but feels a hundred times that. This is the second time he has occupied a body on this fair earth. One would have thought that he would have gotten a tune-up, but apparently they shoved him in the same old shitty one he had before.
He stands up and walks into the bathroom to wash his face. Shirtless and haggard he reviews his form in the mirror. His body is like he likes to keep it. In perfect form. The muscles of an athlete fifteen years his junior. It is covered in dark, deep tattoos of runes and designs. For all the muscle, he knows that it is just a facade to cover the broken bones and shattered soul contained within. It is an armor he wears out of fear, an armor that would offer him little defense if he were to confront the trials of his past. Still, it is God’s temple and if he was going to abuse it all night, the least he could do was treat it well during the day. He slaps on his back-in-the-day punk mix and throws on his favorite threadbare old T-shirt and begins his exercises. Three days a week he hits the gym, today is just maintenance with calisthenics and stretching. Today he’s not feeling it, as the song says, “blah blah blah – I’m tired of all this shit”, but what else is there to do?
He showers and puts on his clergy shirt and pants. Finishing with his Roman collar he takes another review of himself in the mirror. His face did not match his body. Father Pleasant is an unassuming man and he likes it that way. He never had a face that would draw in the ladies, but it wouldn’t chase them away either. He looks like everybody’s dad, like a teacher or a dean. He looks like a priest.
He walks out into the receiving area of the Midwich Cathloc Curch and pulls a piece of paper and his phone from his pocket.
He types in the numbers from the paper and waits for the rings. The line is answered and he hears, “Buddy speaking”, on the other end.
“Good morning, Buddy. This is Father Pleasant.” He says with a hidden moan and a rub of his clammy post drink forehead.
“Father, I’m happy you called. Afterin’ my run-in with them other two I was thinking no one was gonna help me out, ‘specially given your drinkin’ last night.” Buddy says.
“Don’t let the booze fool ya’, Buddy, I always remember and I always follow through with what I say I’m gonna do, no matter how crazy the farmer is that I promised to do it for. Welcome to the flock, I guess.” Father Pleasant responds through the filter of his sharp headache.
“Well, I sure do appreciate it, Father. I won’t doubt you again. You come out here and have a look and you can count on me to fill a seat and put a buck in the hat,” Buddy drawls.
At the front of the church’s receiving area, Father Pleasant sees a shadow pass in front of the glass. “I think I have company, Buddy. I have your address on the paper from last night still, what time should I show up?
“Few hours before nightfall I reckon, how about eight? I’ll put the dogs up and feed ya,” Buddy says.
“Mighty kind, I’ll see you then.” Father Pleasant hangs up the font as the shadow stands in the doorway.
He gets up and opens the door. Standing there is Mrs. Shrewsbury holding a pie and fumbling with her keys. Her wild, slightly predementia eyes staring at him, and through him to the church behind at the same time.
“Good morning, Father Pleasant,” she says to him.
“Good morning, Mrs. Shrewsbury,” he responds.
She reaches out handing him the pie, “I thought I would bring you breakfast, Father.”
Taking the pie he says, “Mrs. Shrewsbury, you left the church unlocked last night and I gave you those keys to help with church business, not to just let yourself in in the mornings.”
“Did you have company?” She asks, “I heard you talking in here.” She walks past him into the church.
“No, Mrs. Shrewsbury I was on the phone, and that’s beside the point,” he says, then pauses and continues, “Nevermind. Thank you for the pie, an odd choice for breakfast, but who am I to turn down such a gift?”
“It’s chocolate!” She says with excitement, nervously wrapping up her hands.
“Breakfast of champions,” he responds.
“You know, ever since my grandson left I have no one to cook for.” She starts to tell him, yet again.
“Oh yes, so terrible,” Father Pleasant cuts her off, “I know the story, so terrible. How he went missing 20 years ago and…”
Mrs. Shrewsbury cuts him off, “Yes, my poor grandson, did you know he went missing almost 20 years ago now? It was so terrible, he…”
Father Pleasant slips the pie into one hand and checks his watch, “On Mrs. Shrewsbury, I’m so sorry to cut you off, as much as I’d love to hear all about it, I’m late for a very important church appointment,” He starts ushering her towards the still-open door.
“He was only 40 when he went missing,” she continues, “it was 20 years ago when we were…”
He finally gets her out the door. “I’ll see you in Mass, Mrs. Shrewsbury. You can tell me all about it on Sunday. Thank you so much for the pie. I really appreciate it”
He starts to close the door as she grabs his wrist strongly, her fingers wrapped around like gnarled iron twigs. “Eat the pie, you will love it.” Her eyes stare blankly into his.
He wriggles his hand away awkwardly continuing to thank her and closes the door.
Father Pleasant walks away toward the kitchen, he turns back and sees her shadow still standing in the doorway. He watches it for a moment trying to figure out if she needs help or if he does. The shadow then walks off down the steps with clog like claps of her heavy-soled shoes.
He continues on into the kitchen and sets down the pie. He turns on the small TV in the dining nook. Returning to the pie he cuts himself an ample slice, in doing so he sees chocolate mixed in with dirt and possibly bugs and leaves.
“Christ,” he says, throwing it in the trash and grabbing a protein bar. “I think we both need help.”