After being stunned by the man who managed to create explicitly pretty music from a jacked-in cowboy boot, (seriously, what?), it was time to find a way to say hello. So, blood still ringing, I did the only proper thing to do – I offered to haul gear. “Hey, do you need a roadie?” For those not familiar, the Railway Club has stairs where high heels come to die, or at least twist some serious ankle. Thin, narrow, legendary killer stairs. (On rainy days, they’re a toss-up between murder and suicide). Stairs unfriendly to performers with large, heavy cases, for example. Like someone I could mention. So after helping tear-down, carrying said cases through the line-up of drunks shoving their way in to the next show, and guarding the gear on the sketchy street below, my help was more than appreciated – introductions were made and kept. I was In.
Which, to be honest, was the entire point.
The van was loaded, the blinkers tossed on, and plans for dinner bravely made, then we went back inside. I wandered about while he was sucked in by fans, trying to find friends who hadn’t fled the mediocre following band. (No worries on being left behind by this point, carrying cases that heavy awards Honorarily With-The-Band.) On the porch, I found my luck. And more besides. Shane was out there, as was Jessica and River and Michael Campbell, a few other folk, and a thin, blonde woman I’d never seen before. She gasped when she saw me, her entire face going blank. “Are you Jhayne Holmes?!” I blinked, startled, but not terribly surprised. So I said, “Yes.” I assumed she was from the internet, a reader maybe, or someone following Heart of the World. It happens. But then she started crying, looking as if she’d been struck by stones.
“I was a friend of Jon Gaasenbeek.”
This, to me, meant a thousand unsung emotions stopping my heart, but, I’m sure, tells very little to you. Let me fill you in: Jon, dear heart, was my boyfriend who hanged himself a few years ago. It’s not something I generally discuss, and his name isn’t one I’ve heard anyone speak in years. When he died, it was a strangely isolated event. In spite of knowing each other for years, we were taking things as slow as humanly possible. The few people we had in common were mostly not speaking to us, hardly any of my other friends had met him, and I hadn’t been introduced yet to any of his. It’s been one of the strangest traumas I’ve carried, this solitary and unspoken lance through my heart. To have a stranger suddenly drop his name on me, let alone claim some sort of kinship, was tremendous.
So we had a bit of a Moment, out there on the smoker’s porch, us crying and people edging away, trying to give us space in the crowded din. Turns out her name is Stephanie and her long-term ex, John, was Jon’s best friend. Twenty years, they grew up together. She has contact info for his family and his old bicycle, the black one I helped him build five years ago, the one that came up to my solar plexus. She asked me if I wanted it. I asked her how on earth she came to know I was connected with Jon. And this is where it blossoms past merely improbable into a full fledged soap-opera list of associations, as if my night hadn’t been ridiculous enough. (Remember, this is the same evening that started with a transit stabbing.)
Stephanie found my post about visiting Mackenzie, who lives on the block Jon did, through the blog of the woman who used to roomie with the love of my life, the one who slept with him as soon as I went out of town.
Right. Now that’s over with, let’s get on with the rest of the night. I’m not even up to midnight yet.
END OF PART TWO