A cautionary tale from a more guilty time…
Where are they ? Where the fuck are they ? It’s been too long. Something must be wrong, properly wrong. Must be wrong to have been this long. Too long. Too, too long. Wrong. Wrooong. Fuck. Get a grip. Concentrate. Think. Mind enhancing, isn’t that what this is supposed to be ? An upgrade. A stepping up and out of normal consciousness. So thinking shouldn’t be too hard. It should be easier and better in fact. Shouldn’t get stuck on an echoing rhyme of long and wrong bouncing around endlessly in my head. Long. Wrong. Long. How long could this go on ? And not be wrong ? Or be wrong ? How long ?
I seem to have lost something here. It might be my mind. If I sit very, very still perhaps nobody will notice. Not that anyone is here anymore, only me and Andy. He won’t have lost his mind, I think he’s used to the artificial enhancement. I better not let on that mine may have been misplaced, it won’t look good, will make it look like I don’t know what I’m doing. I should let you in on a secret though – I don’t actually know what I’m doing. But if I sit here very, very still and just listen to these songs then nobody need know and in a few hours I expect – at least I’ve been told – that I will find my mind again. The mind I will find. A mind find.
Focus. Don’t start all that again. He will suspect if you start all that again, the rhyming of a madman. Although I don’t think I said it out loud so how would he know ? It feels like he would know. He seems calm, just sitting there listening to the songs, so that’s what I need to be. He seemed pretty calm when we rang the ambulance, the only one thinking we should get out of the house and find a phone box. Best not let them know where we are. Smart thinking. We were just panicking. He seemed calm when the ambulance picked them up. I’m glad he didn’t go with them. He’s the only one who knows what’s going on so I’m glad he stayed. He can’t have been completely calm though because as we were walking back across that petrol station forecourt he didn’t seem to see the fuel lorry siphoning its load into the ground. He can’t have seen it otherwise he wouldn’t have lit that fag as we walked by. We both saw the guy come running out of the booth shouting and waving his hands. We ran.
There could have been an explosion. A spark was all it needed. Like the ones he’s making now, running his thumb around the wheel of that lighter, holding it upside down and watching the flame invert itself. Why does it do that ? I should know this. Heat rises, maybe that’s it. Maybe the flame rises too. Maybe I’ve been looking at that flame for a long time now. It feels like a long time. Best look away before he gets suspicious. Just listen to the songs.
He’s rewinding the tape again. How many times is that ? The same three songs over and over again. “Lazarus” and that one by The Cult and then REM, “Finest Worksong”. Bliss. Despair. Hope. Again and again and again. Did he only tape three songs ‘cos they’re all so long ? So long and not wrong. Steady, hang in there, focus. I know these songs and they’re not that long. Time stretching out and out and out must be one of the enhancements. Only that Cult song – what’s it called, Indian Woman or something – sounds so bleak and I don’t want it to go on and on and on. Standing at the edge of the world. Me too Ian, me too. What happened to you and Billy Duffy after Love anyway ? He suddenly learned the guitar as if he’d had a time machine like at the end of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and you uncovered some long lost Native American heritage and started prancing around with feathers in your hair. Maybe you had some of what we’ve had. Come to think of it you probably had quite a lot. Where do you get the Native American stuff ? Peyote. That’s it. Rhymes with coyote. Shit – where is my mind ?
Standing at the edge of the world… Wonder where they are ? They must have gotten to the hospital by now. Ages ago in fact. We’ve listened to these three songs – the longest, longest songs in the world, the longest songs ever recorded – at least four times so hours must have been and passed. I can’t listen to this one again. I need to tell Andy to turn it off. That refrain, it’s killing me. What if they are standing at the edge of the world ? Not literally. I haven’t lost that much of my mind. Just misplaced some of it. Not literally. What if they lost theirs and they can’t find it again ? He seemed pretty out of it. We’re all pretty out of it. Keeping clear of heavy machinery might be a good idea. What’s Andy doing skinning up again ? Surely that’s not a good idea ? In for a penny I guess.
It started well. That’s what we’ll probably say later when we’re laughing about it. It started well. Like these songs. Wait for Lazarus to come back on ‘cos that’s kind of how it started. A slow vibrating, swelling noise – dislocated shapes echoing out of the silence. Shapes ? Shapes don’t echo. Ignore me, I’m wasted. Settling into that dub bass with the fragments of feedback sounding queasily in the background, everything shifting and sliding slowly out of the old focus and into something different. Shaking your head as if descending into a dream and then that build into the trumpet, rising, rising, swelling and rising, peaking and climbing, a wave crashing over the sea wall you’ve put up around your consciousness. Jesus I am wasted. But that’s how it started. The song ? Not just the song.
I must be losing my mind…. It’s right there in the first verse. It’s not like they’re hiding these clues. It’s not particularly oblique. I must be losing my mind. Lost it and bought the tee shirt. Lost it and we’re a man down, carted off for an adventure in A&E whilst we sit here in silence and listen because we don’t know what else to do and don’t have control of our brains anymore. But it started well.
And now it’s The Cult again and standing at the edge of the world and, presumably, slipping off the edge of the world and tumbling into some terrible abyss, never to return. Except… except hang in there for a few minutes – it will feel like a few hours but believe that it’s a few minutes – and REM will roll around again. “Finest Worksong” is the most aptly titled song in the world. Listen to it blazing out of that cheap little tape player, all defiance and pride and get-up-and-go. I want to roll up my sleeves. Andy wants to roll up a joint. He is rolling one up. No wonder we’re not finding our minds, he must have done this every time that song has come on. Worksong, roll one up. Rewind tape. Smoke joint. Listen to Lazarus and believe we are touching the outer limits of a higher state of being. Finish smoking. Listen to The Cult and believe we are about to be pitched into the deepest reaches of hell itself, taunted by Ian Astbury, possibly brandishing a tomahawk. Worksong. Repeat. Must break the cycle but unable to speak. This way madness lies…
What was that ? What the hell was that ? Shit, it’s the phone. It’s… Andy’s answering. How can he still function ? What ? They’re okay ? They’re sitting behind a curtain in A&E on a bed laughing their heads off whilst we’ve been here in despair with Ian Astbury and REM and The Boo Radleys ? If I had any pieces of my mind left I’d be giving them one now. But they’re alright. And that means we’ll be alright.