Placebo has now been collected. Originally published right here on my blog in 32 weekly increments, now available in this ten page zine edition. Nice Lava red cover. Thanks for reading! Available here on the site or at my etsy store. Only $1.
Archive for the ‘Placebo’ Category
It’s been months since I had any news on Sparrow. The television says she’s most likely dead. Something tells me she’s o.k. but I have no clue what to think. Daisy has been staying with me, getting clean, and occasionally we have rekindled our life together.
One night she takes a breath to tell me I’m her medicine, that I’m helping her on her recovery.
At best I’m a placebo, holding her hand.
She’s doing all the hard work. Sometimes when I look into her eyes, I see my wife there.
It feels good.
The end. (Thanks for taking the journey with me on this experiment. 32 weeks we went on this story called Placebo. I’m going to collect this in a small zine print version. If you enjoyed the story, I’d love for you to get a copy. I’ll have news on it soon.)
I love the air here in Paris. It’s full of life, and not tainted by years of the plague and other death, both manmade and not. I go by the name of Abigail now, wait tables at a small café near the Seine river. Luckily I don’t have to live on just that. Before my escape, I made Will the sole inheritor for any future music sales.
And of course the sales peaked after my disappearance. Once the authorities gave up the search, Will was able to collect for me. He gets his cut, keeps me supplied. I tried watching some of those awful news shows about me, when I first got here, but couldn’t stand the footage of my band-mates, sad as they were. I miss the sound of our songs, but can’t listen to anything we did.
Its’ not often I think of Jackson, but when I do, I wonder if he knows he gave me a get out of free jail card? I wonder, and then someone calls my new name, and I answer in better French everyday.
It’s been real.
We stop at a gas station an hour outside the city. This is where the changes start. Hair cut, then dyed. Chemicals fill my nose slowly burning up to my lungs. Lots of makeup covers my face. I take my time, looking every now and again at the new me, but Will is getting nervous outside. He knocks hard.
“Come on Sparrow. We got a schedule to keep.”
I finally head out of the bathroom, leaving a disaster of black dye and empty containers behind. I look back at the store as I leave and for moment I flash back to the 7-11. It almost buckles me. Bile fills my throat. Will is leaning casually against the car blowing bubbles in large round formations, and shoots me with his eyes.
“Get in, Joan Jett.” Ha, very funny.
We spin away towards one last stop.
I’m in a moving vehicle when the bag comes off. Will sits across from me in a passenger seat. His two men are up front, one driving, one fiddling with the radio.
“Hey Sparrow, we just left the city limits.” I glare at him. “What?” he asks.
“Jackson. One of your goons got him good.” He looks at me for a while.
“The friend? Well shit Sparrow, sorry, but it’s not like you can see him again.”
I realize this, but still.
“Hey Will, just make sure he’s o.k. for me alright?”
A few minutes pass between us, before he opens his cell phone and makes a call.
“Officer Mcready? Yeah It’s Will Tapley. I’m calling in that favor. Hold on for a minute.” He mutes the phone.
“Sparrow, what’s his name?”
“Jackson.” I don’t even know his last name. It makes me chuckle a little.
“Alright Mcready, You seen the news about that singer tonight? Well there’s gonna be a guy there named Jackson. I need you to make sure he gets home safe. Alright do that for me, then were square.”
Will hangs up the phone, doesn’t look my way.
“Who was that?”
“A cop Sparrow. You know I hate dealing with cops.”
I slide over to his side of the seat, wrap him in a small hug, “Thanks Will.”
I can’t make out the words he curses under his breath but I manage to catch the last bit,
“Damn girl, you’re a messed up little bird.”
I give the crowd everything I have. I haven’t put on this kind of show in ages. My bandmates feel it, get caught up in the energy and we CONTROL the room. It feels good. During a slow song, I take the moment to look over the room, witness the dying breath of my stage life. A minor legacy of good shows and a few good albums will carry on.
And if I’m lucky a few songs will still be played long after I’m dead.
It has to be enough. Our final song rings out, the guitars silenced under the roar of the crowd. It’s going to happen now. I turn to leave the stage, content with my decision and ready to be un-caged. And I see Jackson, standing just behind the curtain clapping. My smile fades as one of my ‘freedom fighters’ comes up behind him. Jackson must see my face, because he turns, and runs directly into the back of a shotgun. He falls quickly.
Two men grab my arms, placing a cloth over my head. It’s solid dark. Smells like a old leather jacket. The crowd’s cheers turn to panic, the curtain closes.
Show over, no encore tonight kids.
“What is this Sparrow?”
I pull back, a little unprepared by his reaction.
“Just thanking you I guess.” Somehow he makes me feel open, like my armor isn’t up. “But its cool if your not into it.” I want to look away, think about telling him I need to get ready for the show, but he grabs my hands.
“No, I’m into it. Just, I don’t know…” And then he kisses me. It feels, I’m not sure, right? I don’t hesitate as I kiss him back. My life is a rolling confusion, but this, this can do no harm. I surrender to it, let it wash over me, and spend a few minutes just living.
When the knock comes from the door, I’m both disturbed and excited for the future.
“Mrs. Sprite, your own in a few,” yells the bar owner.
Guess its time for my last show.
I start to get dressed and running over these past few minutes in my head. And I know what is coming now. It scares me a little and I light a cigarette to calm my nerves.
“Want to watch from the side?”
It’s all I can give him, Jackson, this man who just happened to rescue me from the terrible decision I chose a few nights earlier. It’s all I can give him, and I dare not think what could have been if I met this man before Tommy Lee. It’s the kind of questions one never asks.
I’m in my dressing room with Ginger and Toni, two of my bandmates. They have no clue as to what is going to happen tonight. I’ve been with them both for such a long time. Ginger I’ve know since grade school. I close my eyes and picture her twenty years earlier, her hair in pigtails as we played on the monkey bars. She knows about Tommy Lee, but nothing else. I feel like I’m slightly betraying her.
A knock on the door. Its Jackson. He stands there looking more handsome then I remember. A knowing look sends my bandmates out. Time for the show to start,
“Hi Jackson, Glad you came,” I say as I put my hands around his neck. I reach up a give him a passionate kiss. He doesn’t pull away but brings me closer and something in his pull makes my heart race.
It’s a kiss I planned, but not the kiss I was expecting.
So the plan is set. It’s going to be the end of era, and there are things I will miss. But one rarely gets the chance to start over, and I’m lucky enough to be in the position to do so. I’ve made so many mistakes in this lifetime, that I don’t deserve one. It is what it is. There’s one last thing I need to do.
“Hey Jackson. Were playing tonight in DC. If you can make it your on the guest list.”
I hang up and look at Will sitting on the couch smiling. We added another whiskey bottle to the floor puzzle last night. He eyes me questioning the phone call.
“A friend. Would like to see him one last time.”
“You sure about this Sparrow? Once it’s done it’s done.” I don’t hesitate before nodding.
“Alright then, curtains up fellows,” Will says to the passed out card players from yesterday.
“We’ve got a show to put on.”
I’m on the first flight to Philadelphia. My band is waiting for me there. I’ve got to formulate a plan, got to figure out something other than the way things are going. And I know just who to call.
“Hello.” The scratchy aged voice answers.
“Hey Will. It’s Sparrow.”
“Damn girl. Good to hear your voice. You in town?”
“Sure am Will. And I need your help.”
“Well come on over sugar, you know the place.”
I close the phone and head out into the Philadelphian maze. About an hour later I’m entering Will’s residence. Will is resting on his couch, thirty or more empty whiskey bottles are placed strategically around the floor. Like a puzzle waiting to be solved. Two guys I don’t recognize are playing cards on an overturned fish tank in the back of the room.
“Hey beautiful.” Will says smiling, showing chipped teeth. He looks older than I remember.
“Hey you.” I sit down next to him, my old friend. I tell him everything, about Tommy Lee, about the 7-11, and how I just don’t know what to do next.
And Will just puts his long slender hands on my head, pulls me close and tells me this story.
“You know about Harry Houdini? Some people think he was the greatest magician to ever live. He could escape any chain that you would place on him. Houdini, the great magician. A wizard people called him. Do you know how he died, Sparrow? Houdini was cocky, did not know when to close the curtain. One of his many claims was that he could take any hit above the waist without injury. He could escape the pain. Well all great magicians need one thing. Control of the situation. Well Houdini was at a college in Canada, when a student put this claim to a test. Houdini was relaxed posing for a portrait when the student rushed in and punched Houdini multiple times before the great magician had a chance to react. The great escape artist would die a few weeks later of a ruptured appendix. You know the one trick Houdini never mastered Sparrow?
The disappearing act.”