I’ve mentioned I was a prolific short, and longer, story writer for my entire life more or less, till rock nyc decided to raid every free brain cell I have and I stopped writing fiction. In the past knocking on six years I’ve written exactly one short story, posted it on rock nyc, and it really really sucked
I figure when rock nyc has run its course I’ll go back to fiction but till then I simply don’t have the time to really think up a story.
Or even re-write a story. In the 1990s I wrote a novella, maybe 200 pages or so, called “Ooh La La” and I was thinking about it because I was just reviewing Arms’ cover of the old Faces track and I thought of rewriting the story in its entirety but I simply don’t have the time or energy, so instead I thought I’d just tell you about it.
The first half is told in the third person and the second half is told by a teenage girl 60 years or so after the first half ends. The connection between the two is obvious but not spelled out. The young man of the first half is the dying man of the second half.
The first half happens on an island. I was thinking of Manhattan visually, so I didn’t have to make up stuff like the East River, but it isn’t MANHATTAN Manhattan. It is just there for reasons of geography and ease. Some five years before the story starts a drug epidemic has hit the island, a drug whose sole function was to make people feel self-confident. That is the only thing this drug did, it was its only use whatsoever.
But have you ever had that feeling, say you are trying to chat up a girl you’ve just met and it suddenly becomes clear to you that she really likes you; she’s smiling, touching your knee, paying attention and it is affecting you, making you happy and very sure of yourself. That feeling you had then, you can have whenever you take this drug. Not like alcohol, it isn’t making you sloppy, not even really cheerful, just very sure of yourself.
But it was very very addictive and very dangerous, take too much and you are telling the 6 foot seven bruiser if he looks at you like that one more time, they can take it outside. And if that doesn’t kill the withdrawal will. A down so complete suicide levels jumped and jumped and jumped.
It was outlawed and I say outlawed because that’s what it was. Possession for personal use got you three to five, possession to sell got you 25 years to life. Two times and you’re out. Our hero, let’s call him Fred, is released from jail after serving five years as the story begins, no job, no friends, living in a flop house, who frequents a dive bar when he isn’t trying to get back on the work force, and becomes close to a teenage hooker. They start taking the drug together and he eventually gets a job for a big firm where he keeps his addiction hidden.
The hooker gets pregnant and they continue to do drugs, meanwhile he strikes up a friendship with a cool beauty at his job and invites her out. That night, scared to go to a hospital because of drugs in her system, a midwife delivers a stillborn baby son. Fred throws him away in the East River.
A month later, the hooker has recuperated but Fred has turned ice cold towards her. Finally, he gets his date with the blonde but realizes she is completely wrong for him and runs back to the hooker who he realizes he loved but she has left him and he is left waiting in their apartment for her to maybe come back one day.
End of the first part.
In the second part a fifteen year old girl on summer vacation falls for a seventeen year old boy and pursues him around their hotel complex but he doesn’t notice her. She asks this very old man, in his 80s if he has any advice. And the old man claims the secret of life is sharing the same space at the same time because the other secret is if you aren’t doing so than nothing can make you together. That love is matter in space.
She doesn’t know what to make of this concept except the day before she is to leave at the end of the vacation with her friends, she sees the boy smoking cigarettes on his bike behind the 7-11 and she walks up to him and says she wants to share his space, and he kisses her, her first kiss. “Ooh la la” she says. That evening she goes to find the old man to thank him but he died during the night, completely alone, no family, no wife, no children, isolated.
The girl goes home the next day.
And that was it.
I wrote this story maybe eight years before “Fly”, but it is another story about a subject that was interesting me: a girl I’d loved had left the city in maybe 1990, and I was fascinated by what her absence meant in a purely physical sense: how she wasn’t there, how somebody who spent so much time in the same place I was was now no longer in the same place I was.
As an immigrant chased out of two countries, a sense of where you are as a physical thing has always afflicted me. The story was ABOUT the hooker leaving him and how he felt her absence and lived his life with absence, not sharing the same place with someone.
So if five people comment, I will rewrite the initial story (this is a suckers bet, we don’t get many reader’s comments, one would be a miracle). Ohh La la indeed.
I was happier because I knew I was happy
a snapshot of big hits and high tides, mostly high tides.
There is just a lot to love
the sound seemed to erupt from every side of the room
still on top
“danceable music for the end of days”
contracts its world in Nashisms
let’s take what we are offered
It’s the music, stupid