Speedy Ange laughs. Don’t know ya up from ya down, do ya.
I’m all over the place. They’re cooking up hot knives in the kitchenette; Tammy and Speedy Ange. I’m failing to tune a guitar in the other room. Bare boards and candles and incense. Ash on china.
I’m on my back, Tammy’s sunburst Jaguar on my belly. I’m twisting pegs this way and that. Shadows rise and fall. The lampshade is furred with dust. Grime on hessian.
It’s the G-string, says Tammy. It’s always the G-string. Speedy Ange laughs.
Speedy Ange drums blackened butterknives on the work-top. Orange-red filament glow. Tammy is wan against the hob, blowing vast clouds. Speedy Ange says, stop it! But I can’t. Gravel on glass.
Gutter-grit strikes the black window. I lay the guitar down and go to the window. The Ancient Skate Punk is down on Silver Street. He is beside a battered transit van. He wears a metal hat and army greens. He wears plimsolls. He looks up, shimmers through streetlight rain, slings another handful anyway.
What’s wrong with doorbells?
The ASP don’t do doorbells, says Tammy. She calls him The ASP. She turns off the hob, pulls on her jerkin made from rabbit, picks up her guitar. Let’s go. Wire on wood.
Loves knockers though. And we all laugh at this and leave. We sound legion in the one bulb stairwell among the dirty bicycles and bills. Rubber on paper.
The Ancient Skate Punk’s face is painted white. His eyes are holed with Tuesday’s kohl. He smells of whisky and wears a WW2 American infantry helmet. There is a candle nub melted to it. Wax on steel.
Speedy Ange and me climb into the back with the amps, the drums. Tammy rides shotgun, guitar between her legs. The Ancient Skate Punk hands around a quarter bottle.
Speedy Ange’s voice reminds me of Joanna’s. Spooky how similar they sound. When Speedy Ange and I first met I told her as much, but she said she don’t know no Joanna. Did she use to go by Jo-Anne? Not to my knowledge, she didn’t, I tell her.
I sometimes hear her in my dreams; never see her there. Joanna speaks from behind dry-stone garden walls hung with spider ivy; cold stone and apple tree shadows. She speaks from old fashion telephones. Joanna speaks from behind a velvet curtain; her sweet voice muffled within folds. The curtains fall to the floor like black wax. They reach for the dusty ceiling. Joanna behind it; Joanna beyond.
Joanna’s from the past, I tell Speedy Ange. But Speedy Ange doesn’t listen, or she doesn’t hear. She only says, everyone tells me I have a dirty laugh.
I find this inconceivable. She speaks like Joanna in the past; she speaks like Joanna beyond. But when she laughs…
All out that’s getting out.
A ramshackle pub. The Moon In The Tree. Middle of nowhere. Windows, yellow in their dark frames.
The Ancient Skate Punk claps his hands twice and we begin to unload the van. There is a phalanx of hogs at the front of the pub: mostly Triumphs, a few Japanese numbers. Several Road Rats are stood there, jugs in their hands. They watch us struggle. Curses on air.
Get the door, would yer. I cradle my bass amp.
The black leathered and black booted riders look first at this pale stranger and then at each other. The bikers continue as they were before and the Peavey slides an inch down my front -and then, a skin and bone girl appears at the door, pauses, steps aside, holds it. She has Highway 61 Revisited hair, a tee shirt with a crow and The Anarchist Bookshop printed on the front. She ushers me in. Words on cotton.
I remember Joanna and me walking through Crystal Palace Park one winter morning at the turn of the century. Two crows were fighting at the foot of a beech. They tumbled like dogs and a great number of others hooliganed in a rough circle, cawing and bouncing. The terrace lawn was littered with leaves and, as the crows scuffled, the leaves rose up and fell like embers and ashes. It was horrible to see and Joanna feigned a rush forward to startle the crowd, shouting, stop it! But the silence only lasted a moment.
Speedy Ange laughs. Dirt on pine.