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by Gary Archambault


The hundred-and-forty-grand tour bus lay on its side. Like a huge deactivated mechanical shark, thought Larry "The Lizard" Watson, lead singer of Crotch, whose album Scar Tunes, Car Tunes, And Bar Tunes had that week hit the four million sales mark. He hovered about fifty feet above the tour bus, experiencing a clarity and calm he never wanted to end. He sensed that it would if he went back, however. Back into his body. Man, he'd never even conceived of feeling as he did. Like a cloud. Like a floating all-knowing eyeball saturated with the very essence of ecstasy itself. Man, it rocked. But. He had to go back. To try to save the guys, and the driver, Dan. Not to mention the three band-aids they'd picked up back in Moose Jaw, Sasquatch-oh-wan. Shit. He didn't want to slip back into his fleshly mortal threads, back into the earthly plane where such rockin' lucidity was impossible--unless you meditated on some mountain or something, and who had the patience for that? Larry "The Lizard" Watson told himself that they were probably all dead. Furthermore, more than likely they didn't even want to have their maya-ridden lives elongated. Dead, his bandmates would be propelled into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Legends, man. Alive, in all likelihood they'd end up in some backstage pisshole, spikes dangling from their arms, their careers in ruins. And the groupies from Moose Jaw, to live fast, die young, and leave good-looking corpses was all they wanted, man, and who was he to refuse them that. Which left Dan. Shit. Good ol' straight-talking Dan "The Big-Time Voodoo Chile Fan" Powell had two kids, an eight-year old daughter named Hendrix and a six-year-old son named Jimi. He talked about them constantly. And he was always saying stuff like, "A man who does wrong by his kids is a man who got the soul of a snake." Shit, thought Larry once again. Doubleplus dog shit with worms in it. He had to go back to see if he could save Dan. If he didn't, he would be cast into the outer darkness. The otherworldly wind blowing through his disembodied spirit told him so.

Man, not even smack had put him into such a paradisiacal state. Nor had pussy, no matter how much of it he got. Nothing had.

And ...

To not feel as he did--it would be like losing his five senses and all four limbs, or his mind like Syd Barrett did. Shit. This was as not-rockin' as it gets, him having to slide back into his cage of mortal skin and into his previous state of non-grace, back into his lucidity-free lifestyle. Hmmmm. Maybe even in the outer darkness, this heavenly serenity would remain, his newfound feeling of divine fullness. A line from a song he wrote went through his mind. I'd rather shoot smack in hell than drink tea with Jesus. He tried to recall what he had meant by that, and couldn't.

Shit. The last fucking thing he wanted to do was go back!!

In the outer darkness, whatever that was like, a cross between the Deep South and a Hanson concert probably, he would stay a spirit ... and that meant that he would keep feeling the way he did!! He spiritually smiled.

Minivans and sports utility vehicles and Subarus and Corvettes and Dodge Ramblers whirred by the beached-shark tour bus. Surely the occupant of at least one of the passing enviro-wreckers would donate a quarter to getting some paramedics happening, or would punch in the magic number on their cellphone.

Chances were that they already had, and what the hell could he do anyway? He was a singer not a doctor, a songwriter not a healer. He didn't know the first thing about treating the mangled.

More and more traffic whizzed by. The snow had started up again and man he'd never noticed how rockingly gorgeous falling snow could be, all twinkly and sparkly and super-cool.

No, he decided firmly, I am not going back. Life is all foreplay and no climax. Let this spirit that I now am be pulled into the outer darkness. I am not returning to the worldly realm. I could be in a full-body cast for months for all I know. I could be paralyzed. I ain't no hero. I'm not even in the same ball park, no matter how many of my fans act like having my autograph's as close to God as they're ever gonna get. Like I have some great cosmic message to bestow upon them.

He began to float slowly upwards. Images of Hendrix and Jimi flashed through his wondrous new crystalline consciousness. Dan practically kept a whole photo album of them in his wallet.

"Fuck the world," was his last thought before he--instead of being pulled into the outer darkness--was dematerialized forever.

As the wind cried, "Larry."

Gary Archambault has published stories in The Silver Web, Pulphouse, and, in Canada, Descant. His story "Falling Awake To The Here In Now Brightly" received honorable mention in 97's The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling). His stories have just started appearing in e-zines such as 3 A.M. Magazine and Mindkites.




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