Eating eggs, rice, beans, over and over again. Waiting on that check, that sluggish source of redemption. Don’t blow it on weed or on cheap dates, maybe have some fun but keep enough left over to pay rent. How’re you gonna put gas in your car in two weeks?
Ed’s playing a show at a bar down the street later tonight and Moira’s across the street getting ready to go with you. At the last minute you cave or your stomach just becomes too loud and you text Moira to see if she has any food or snacks or anything in the pantry she thinks she’ll never eat. She says yeah and brings you out a pack of Ritz crackers. Stale and crumbled, you eat every last one.
You go to the show and wander through the crowd. You know the bartender but you can’t tip so you just say hi and see who else is around. Ed’s band is playing with the volume 1000 times louder than it needs to be but the songs are good. You get yourself to the other side of the room where the sound is a tiny hair less loud but you don’t feel like your ears are gonna bleed. They play and you slouch over hypnotized by two keyboards. Notes climbing up and down scales. The drums shimmer brightly, an avalanche at high noon in slow motion. Your feet stuck to the floor and for a moment you forget about the bills piling up, the debts you can’t pay, the jobs you’ve applied to, the invoices that haven’t been returned, the studies that you’re part of, the woman you’ve just broken up with, the life outside this room.
When the band finishes, Moira and you have a cigarette when Mayer walks by. You remember he only lives half a block away from the bar and sure are glad to see him. Freshly shaven, he tells you about the city council meeting he’d just left. All the hit and runs right here at the crosswalk next to the bar. There’s a fresh memorial on the street corner marking the most recent tragedy. Mayer goes on about what it’s like at the city council meeting but as he does you get lost in the red, green, purple, blue, yellow, orange lights that strobe in sequence across his face from the taco truck parked outside the bar. The next band is set up and begins playing, you can hear the thunderous bass drum and a deep channeled howl coming from their relatively small singer.
Mayer says farewell to you and Moira. Following her into the bar you notice the entire atmosphere is different now, somehow darker. The band is attempting to destroy itself onstage. Guitars are thrashing, bodies crashing into amps, drums are being beat to a bloody pulp and the singer is clearly having an existential crisis. He’s climbing on the amps, climbing on the walls, screaming about gentrification, greedy motherfuckers, bullying creeps, he’s screaming his views on women and gasping for a shred of sanity. It feels overwrought, you’ve seen it a million times, but there’s sheer earnestness in his craving for connection. It’s everywhere in the room, this force trying to pull everyone together. He climbs up to the rafters and you think he’s going to jump. What is going on in his mind, you look on and wonder.
Back outside and you’re at the memorial where there’s a five-dollar bill staring at you with that presidential smirk. You wonder who put it there, if they’d known him personally. You think of the bit of groceries that could be bought with the bill then remember the few groceries you still have. Be grateful. You think for awhile, too long maybe, guilt gets ahold of you. “Bad juju,” Moira says.
On the walk home you joke with Moira about how if the bill is still there at 4AM then you’d go claim it. You get home to see your room mate sitting on the couch in the living room with a friend. They pass you a blunt. When 4AM comes you’re passed out dreaming.