So you see, o incomparable queen of the cowgirls, I am back in the business – although in a vastly different market. I resolved to start by calling those in the know and asking a lot of stupid questions. I generally found a lot of surly pricks (the rock biz is overrun by testosterone), but managed to hook up with a woman named Corinne Hail at a club called The Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. Corinne’s a den-mother type, widely know for her ability to spot budding talent and bring it along.
I am following Corinne’s advice to the letter, beginning with a good photo. I’ve got a session set up with Susan, a photographer I got a couple jobs for at Fetzle. We’re shooting at the beach, then some urban tough-guy shot in downtown ‘Cruz, then some shots through the beacon refractor at the Lighthouse (I get the feeling the latter will be artsy but unusuable).
Next is the bio, but how the hell do you write a bio for 19- and 20-year-olds? I’ve got a good hook, though – this peculiar, monastic setup in which they’ve honed their chops.
The pivotal project is the demo. They’ve got one already, but the producer had such a stick up his ass they sound like computers hooked up to microphones. Geoffrey’s got a friend who handles sound for all the big acts coming through Santa Cruz (Neil Young last week), and he’s gonna wire up the Lighthouse tighter than the Nixon White House. I pushed for a preview piece in the Hallis Gazette and a calendar feature in the Sentinel, so I’m expecting every other teenager within 50 miles to show up and scream for us. I’ve told the boys (listen to me, “the boys,” what’m I? Brian friggin’ Epstein?) to rock their asses off per usual and screw the occasional flub, because they’re phenomenal live and we only need four or five of their 20 songs, anyway.
So you see, o incomparable queen of the pigeonhouse, between the landfill jobs and this new gig (listen to me, “gig,” what’m I? Sammy friggin’ Davis?), I am fully occupied.
Where was I? Jesus, Audrey, I’m losing my identity here. I’m two beers away from getting my ear pierced. Help me!
Regardless of my work schedule, I am high due for a weekend off, and am fully aware that this here pigeon is hte last. I will be on your doorstep around noon Saturday.
Lascivious love to you –
PS You will note I got all the way through this missive without using the J word.
Scootie deposited his road-weary birds in the visiting bullpen and had barely lain a finger to Audrey’s prize conga (sold by a former Santana sideman who was down on his luck) when the owner came and grabbed him by the elbow. She gave him sharp instructions to fetch all the essentials from his car and deposit them in a monstrous four-wheel-drive across the road.
Scootie hopped up to the passenger seat and smiled. “Geez, Audrey, is business going this well?”
“Business sucks like a Hoover. But my home life has improved dramatically.”
“New pet? New washer and dryer?”
“New house.” With a flick of her wrist she sent them off the highway onto a ragged dirt road. Scootie held on like a cowboy, loose in the saddle, dancing into the bumps.
They appeared to be headed for blank descending hillsides, spearmint green from the winter rains. She took a quick left past a clump of cypress trees, revealing a temple of wind-worn gray wood, perched on the edge of a cliff.
The front walk was lined with thick nautical ropes, the front door a ribcage of half-cut logs. To the right sat an ancient, four feet square with tusk-like projections. The front of the house was broken up into three irregular triangles of window, shaped like sails.
The living room looked like an oversize ship’s cabin, varnished oak cov ered with antique spyglasses, barometers, compasses and star charts. At the center stood a five-foot-long model of a clipper ship encased in glass. Scootie went past it to a smaller case, holding a large journal lined in ribbons of longhand writing.
“It’s an original manuscript,” said Audrey. “Jack London.”
“The Sea Wolf,” said Scootie, and let out a high whistle.
He let out another whistle on the balcony, when he peered over the railing and found 200 feet of air between him and the ocean. Audrey was curled into a deck chair, cupping her hands around a marijuana pipe, struggling to light it in the steady breeze.
“So what’s the deal, Audrey?”
Audrey held in a lungful of smoke, then coughed it back out. “Roger Greenberg, this big shipping guy from New York. This is his favorite house, but he’s so busy he only gets out here a few weeks of the year. He was worried about security, so he asked Max at the Ventana if he knew someone who could stay here – but still be out on a moment’s notice should he decide to visit. Max was nice enough to nominate me. I gave up my old place, and now, when Roger’s in town, I just stay in the loft over the shop.
“Sweet,” said Scootie. “And you don’t even have to sleep with the guy?”
Audrey’s expression turned sour. “That’s a hell of a thing for you to say.”
Scootie was caught off-guard. All he could manage in response was to raise his eyebrows and say, Hmm?”
“You’re a pussy tease, Scootie. You haven’t touched a female since Princess Juliana, and here I am, perfectly willing to make use of the equipment, and suddenly you’re Saint friggin’ Augustine!”
Scootie looked down and shook his head. “I knew this would happen.”
Audrey shot up from her chair. “What ‘this’? Emotional involvement? Christ, Scootie, you dumbfuck! It’s not involvement, it’s ego! I’m a woman, goddammit – I want to be found desirable.”
Scootie couldn’t answer. This one safe place, this Big Sur, suddenly fraught with traps.
His silence only served to anger Audrey further. She spoke through gritted teeth. “I think you need a refresher course.” She took off her top, tossed it over the railing, and held a breast in either hand. “These are called tits, good for squeezing, licking, biting and providing milk for infants.” She rolled down her jeans and tossed them in a wad over her shoulder, then turned around and pulled down her panties. “This would be the ass. Good for fondling, smacking, for admiring as one walks away. Also convenient for holding onto while fucking.”
She was shaking now, from cold, anger – maybe both. She pulled off her panties, threw them over the railing, then lifted herself onto the table and spread her legs.
“This is the pussy, composed of the labia, the vagina, a lovely little trigger called the clitoris, and the pubic mound. The vagina makes an especially pleasurable housing... for the male... penis.”
Audrey dropped her head to the table and broke out in sobs. Then she rolled off the table and ran to the house, covering her face with her hands.
It was the first time Scootie had ever seen her cry, and it touched him deeply. Late that night, as she stood in her nightgown, studying a moontrail streaming silver over the ocean, Scootie came to her with eyes full of apology. He embraced her, then lifted her to the table, descending her body in a search for forgiveness.
Scootie woke in a cloud of unceasing, unreasonable regret, and atttempted something he’d only seen in movies. He was writing a note at the kitchen table when Audrey walked in.
“Dear Audrey,” she read aloud. “Oh, Scootie, you’re really in love, aren’t you?”
Scootie answered with a guilty nod.
“It’s not a crime, sweetheart, it’s just the way it goes. Look. Here’s the key to the store. Grab some pigeons on the way out, but let’s not see each other till you figure this thing out, okay?”
“Okay.” He took the keys and held Audrey’s hand, then picked up his backpack and left down the front walk. Audrey stood in the doorway and watched him go, the sweet swivel of those long legs, and how much she would miss him. She kept expecting him to take a last look back, like they did in the movies, but he never did.
Photo by MJV