I’ve been fine. It’s been a weird trip, that’s for sure. At first I was so shy and nervous around these guys, and not all of them have been very nice. I gotta be honest. Noelle was an outright bitch at first, but she’s warmed up a teeny bit. Well, she’s not glaring at me as much, and she’s stopped calling me a groupie, and she actually gave me a pretty good interview yesterday. Mickey is kind of quiet and I get the feeling he doesn’t really care about me one way or another, but I don’t mind. Graham is an ass. When he’s not setting off by himself on some “business,” he’s reading cult-like textbooks. He likes Aleister Crowley just like Jimmy Page does, but at least Page is sincere with his black magic and stuff. Graham just seems like a poser, always wearing black and acting like a creep. And he knows I am on to him, that’s why he’s always glaring at me or being weird when I’m around. I get the feeling he wants me to be there, but I worry him just the same. The rest of the band doesn’t even pay attention to him and neither do I…except when I have to interview him during 2-3AM in the morning. What a loser! I’m NOT looking forward to that.
There’s Jacob, the band manager. He’s an enigma. He’s like tall and large; he reminds me of a British boxer turned gangster and should have gold teeth. He’s very rough around the edges and just last night at Chicago’s show, he punched a rabid fan in the head for coming after Robbie with a pen (I guess he thought it was a penknife?). But I like him for some reason. He looks after me like a surrogate father, in a way, and he seems to know way more than he lets on. Sometimes I think he’s Merlin.
Robbie…oh dear. I can’t wait to get you on the phone so I can spill the real details. He is as charming and gorgeous as you would think. He’s easy to talk to…or he was. He’s kind of distanced himself from me after the other night. Mel, I did a real dumb thing. REAL DUMB. I don’t know if there was something inside me that needed a rebound to get over Ryan or what (and it worked, because I haven’t thought about him in days), but let’s just say drugs and tongues were involved and leave it at that. Seriously. You wouldn’t believe it. I hang my head in total shame.
What makes it worse is that we were caught by Sage himself. Sage Knightly. You know I’ve always had a soft spot for him, and being here with him on the bus has only made it worse. At first he was pretty pissed that I was here, but he’s coming around. He told me that, in not so many words. He’s very distant from me and keeps to himself a lot but there is no question he is large and in charge. And MEL, HE IS LARGE! Don’t get your head in the gutter, I haven’t touched him and don’t plan on it (Dawn is no longer allowed to touch rock stars!), but he is large in form (super tall, super amazing smile, crazy strong—I’d embellish but you’d get the wrong idea—tattoos that are hotter in person made up of tiny snakes and Day of the Dead type stuff…speaking of, it’s quite apparent he’s of Mexican blood somewhere. Though his eyes are that light green/gray color, his skin tone is very olive in real life, and I caught him reading a book in Spanish once). Anyway, rambling, he’s also larger than life. I hope to interview him at some point, but every time I work up the nerve, I either say something snappy or I don’t say anything at all. I don’t know what that guy is doing to me, but I don’t like it.
What else? Well there are some crazy groupies that the boys call the GTFOs (not to be confused with the GTOs, and by the way, pretty sure Robbie has done the deed with Miss Pamela), and they are nuts. One is a journalist and is trying to get me in trouble with the manager by spreading lies and being a jealous bitch, the other threw beer on my face, and the other, the “crackpot ringleader,” is called Sonja and I swear she’s a witch. Or maybe I’ve just been hanging around Graham for too long.
As for my writing…eh…it’s coming along. I wrote a long concert review for the story yesterday on the bus ride to Chicago. I’ve got some notes on Robbie (though he won’t let me use a tape recorder) and Noelle. I’m actually writing this right now on my knee as I head toward Creem’s office. YUP, I am in Detroit and I’m about to see the big boss himself, Mr. Barry Kramer. It’s sort of unofficial, they knew the band was playing in town, and asked Jacob to send me over. So I’m in a cab and sort of sweating to death of nervousness. Wish me luck!
It feels weird being on the road and so out of touch with the world. I heard Nixon got impeached! The economy is totally sinking into a recession! There could be wars going on and I wouldn’t know about it! The only inkling of the world at large that I have is when Bob, our bus driver, stops to fill up the bus and complains about the gas prices. But at the same time, it’s kind of nice. Now if only I could just buckle down and start writing some genius stuff.
I love and miss you and hope I see your smiling face soon!
Future Editor of Creem Magazine
“Could you pull over the next time you see a post box,” I asked the cab driver as we zoomed up suburban Detroit’s bumpy streets. “I need to mail a letter.”
“No problem, mama,” the cabbie answered back. I folded the letter to Mel and stuck it in a stamped envelope and sealed it shut. Then I sat back in the ripped cab seats and watched the world go past, trying to keep myself occupied.
Detroit was huge and more sprawling than Seattle. It wasn’t pretty by any stretch, not even close to the Emerald City, but it had its own vibe and sense of malaise. Cars were made here, and according to the headlines I’d caught from gas station newspapers, as the economy crashed so did the auto plants. You couldn’t see it in the faces of the kids as they played on the streets in threadbare clothes, but you saw it in the adults as they stared blankly at their neighbor’s foreclosure signs on overgrown lawns. The black population was huge but even Mel wouldn’t have fit in. She was too cute and full of smiles. The folks here stood on the street corners with suspicious baggies, eyes full of hate and defeat as my cab rolled past them. It was a hard luck city, and I had to wonder why Creem decided to set up office in the land of motors.
We drove past a post box, but before I had time to point it out, the cabbie said, “Too dangerous for a white lady like you.” When we finally did find a box, he ran out to mail the letter and left me in the cab. I had been away from the band and the safety of the tour bus for a half hour, and though my cabbie seemed like a good man, I had never felt so alone in the world. One tall redhead in a world of real life problems that would put any spoiled rock star’s to shame.
As the cab trundled along the streets, I tried to sit back and relax. Now that the letter was out of my hands and on its way to Mel, my mind was free to wander and that wasn’t always a good thing. It wanted to get nervous about going to Creem, meeting Barry and discussing the work in progress…which so far hadn’t been much work at all. I felt beads of sweat forming underneath my palms and a shakiness in my lungs from my building nerves. Oh boy.
I kept my eyes focused on the city rolling past, trying to ignore it. When we stopped at a light, I looked over at the brown Cadillac next to us. There was a woman in the backseat holding up a bundled baby and cooing to it. I couldn’t help but smile. Even though I couldn’t see the child’s face because of how it was swathed, the cute way the mother was bouncing it up and down and the sheer joy on her face made me feel warm inside.
I watched as the mother brought the baby in closer for a kiss.
A long, inhuman tongue protruded from the infant like a waving tentacle. It licked the mother’s nose, slopping around her face.
I felt the skin at the back of my neck tighten. My arm hairs stood on end. My breath was gone.
The mother smiled at the child as the tongue slinked back into its head. Then she slowly, deliberately turned her head toward me. She smiled again. Her teeth were red with blood and it dripped down her chin. As she kept that frozen grin on her face, the infant’s tongue came back out and wiped it all away. Blood spilled down its pulsing, wet length and into the baby’s blanket.
I hadn’t noticed I was screaming until the cabbie slammed on the brakes and I was jerked against the seatbelt.
“What the hell, woman?” he yelled, giving me crazy eyes in the mirror.
I looked back out the window at the Cadillac. It was already ahead of us and turning down a street. I couldn’t get my thoughts together, couldn’t feel my limbs. What the hell was happening? Did I really just see that?
I gulped for breath and shook my head. “Sorry. Thought I saw something.”
The cab driver didn’t look too convinced.
Finally we reached the Creem office and I tipped my cabbie handsomely for getting me there in one piece. He gave me a funny look, a little glad to have me out of his cab, and took off down the street. I couldn’t blame him. I was simultaneously a nervous wreck over meeting Barry and a paranoid nusto who was seeing baby demons on the street. I had to get myself under control and fast.
Here I am, I thought, standing in front of the rather plain building on Cass Avenue. The rest of the buildings on the street were rather quaint and Victorian looking, but Creem Magazine’s headquarters looked totally rock and roll in that “I’m not trying hard” way.
I took in a deep breath and tried to keep the waves of nausea at bay, and made my way up the stairs to the front door. I almost reached it when the door flung upon and Lester Bangs stepped out.
I nearly had a heart attack. Here was my hero, Lester, in all his mustached, aviator sunglasses glory, wearing a dirty t-shirt with a rainbow on it that did nothing to hide his potbelly.
“You’re the kid? The chick? The kid chick?” he asked, talking a mile a minute. I noticed he still had one foot in the door.
“I think so?”
He waved me over. “Come on, come on. It’s not safe out here for a girl like you.”
I couldn’t tell if he was making fun of me for being a country bumpkin or what, but he quickly ushered me inside. He closed the door behind me and set about turning as many locks as possible.
“Rough neighborhood?” I asked.
He let out a shy, “Heh heh heh,” and when he was done, he turned and ran up the narrow stairs, calling over his shoulder, “we had a break-in a few days ago. We’re getting the fuck out of here.”
I ran up the stairs after him, noting the smell of smoke and incense in the air. When I got to the landing and turned the corner, I was faced with a neat and tidy teak desk and the round, smiling face of a woman in her early thirties. She exuded both welcoming and no-nonsense qualities about her, and her multiple bracelets shook as she reached out to shake my hand.
“I’m Maureen,” she said. The phone beside her rang, rattling in its receiver.
“Mother Goose,” cut in Lester, winking at me.
“Maureen, I’m Dawn,” I told her. “We spoke on the phone.”
“I speak to everyone on the phone, dear. Go right in, Barry is waiting for you.” She reached across her desk and smacked Lester on the arm. “Be nice to this one.”
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