Punk Show

By: Matthew Navey

You sensed her presence, her entrance before there was even an acknowledgement of you or her within the living room.  You begin to feel the blood pump from your chest. A warm sensation flows from between your fingers and toes and travels slowly inward. You see her before she sees you. Everyone is sitting around drinking, those not sitting are standing, and those not drinking are desperate to get something in them before the band starts. Among these desperate sober few is you.

Her movement into the crowd is directed to you, or towards the guy right behind you. The room moves away as she nears, gliding into you with ease effortlessness, and grace of a skateboarder. Closer comes her choppy vibrant blue haircut; closer comes the pierced eyebrow, the lip-ring, the shoulders which carried it all. Just within arm’s length you notice the movements her breasts make underneath her shirt as she walks, and moving down you notice her hips moving just the same. A light surrounds her, cast by the dollar-store disco ball strung up on the ceiling fan. There is a failure to move out of the way, your body dumbstruck in her presence. Her shoulder careens into yours. You spin wildly and hit the floor.

You are on your stomach and your stomach is on the floor. You’ve never noticed the carpet until now that you’re face first. Its pattern consists of Aztec-inspired zig-zagging lines colored brown on beige, in a rectangular spiral. Very Bauhaus. It feels soft as well, and if it weren’t for the group huddled around you—from your perspective a mass of torn shoes and tattooed calves—you might sleep.

“Are you okay?” She asks you. You flip yourself over and suddenly the legs you saw have hips and torsos and faces staring down at you. You do not say a word. She is centered among the crowd, crouching down, to meet you at carpet-level. She snaps her fingers in front of your nose. You blink.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you,” when she touches your shoulder you are in ecstasy. The drummer for the show is behind her. He’s carrying a speaker and some heavy drumming equipment in big black suitcases through the crowd, and steps over your body to get to the playing space portion of the room. You say, “Watch it, I’m down here.” He continues to the spot and unpacks his gear. “Sorry, dude,” you hear him say from the crowd. She pulls you up and dusts you off.

“If you’ve got a concussion I’m going to freak,” she says “is that why you aren’t talking? Why you’re limp? Dude?” You are letting yourself sink into the ground so she has to hold you closer as she picks you up. It’s a feeble effort, but her touch rewards you. Her arms are strong and carry you easily up off the ground and into a sitting position. You say, “I’m certain I’m fine, yes. Nothing wrong with me up here…” you point to your head with your finger, “I was just not quite ready to get up, I guess?” Two other members of the band shuffle past you, the singer and bass player, each holding a microphone stand. The crowd still looks to you. “I swear guys, I’m okay.” It takes little convincing to move the crowd away from you and towards the band, now nearly assembled.  Maybe they never actually cared to begin with, it was just morbid curiosity which held their gaze.

One, two, one-two. Hey, we’re Creatures of the Id and we’ll be playing in like a minute, okaycoolmkay?

She is with you though her head is constantly craned to the band assembling itself, “I’m Denver,” she says extending a black nail-polished hand. “I’m Erchin,” as you are returned to standing by her. Your legs wobble as they adjust, like sea legs. Your real name is Edwin. Edwin Gershin. You got your nickname for two reasons; you once had a punky spiked haircut which gave your head the look of a massive urchin. Also it’s a combination of your first and last name. You explain this to Denver, wondering how she came to be named Denver. The band begins to play.

Creatures of an angry God we are, Misery takes us pretty damn far, Goddamit mom, gimme the car!

You theorize her story. Born in Denver, she adopted the nickname once she left to remind her of home. It fits her look, she’s pale, and is wearing a denim jacket with a deer head patched to its back and a tight Californian tee, with a Catholic school girl skirt. You don’t know Denver, but this feels like a Denver outfit. Maybe she’s never been but has always wanted to go. You wonder what kind of parent would actually name their daughter Denver. Or Edwin.

You look at her face. She’s listening to the band intently and shaking her blue-hair from side to side, head tilted down. You want to ask about the name, but then she’d stop this dance of hers, and you like to see it continue. Her hair covers her eyes as she shakes and she parts her bangs every other verse of the song.

I’m strung up, you’re tied down ,fuck ya up at the crosstown.

You move to her side, allowing this war of attrition between her and her hair to continue unbothered.

“hey, did you bring beer?” you ask. Guitar feedback pelts the audience in thunderstorm peals. Her face is without change as you speak.

Beer. Did you bring, any? I’m thirsty and you knocked me on my ass. You owe me one at least,” you attempt a joking tone, but it’s lost in your quiet whisper-shouting over the screaming vocals and mile-a-minute guitar riffing. It takes her awhile to comprehend what you’re saying. You mime a beer. Opening the tab and drinking a ghost beer. She shakes her head and leans into your ear, “I don’t drink.”

Granted, God forgives  but, babe-ee I want account-a-bil-ity! For yer actions, yer factions, irra-tion-al-ities!

The song ends and for a moment there is space for conversation. You attack.

“So why are you called Denver?” You ask, rapid-fire among new found silence. She blinks and stares ahead.

“I don’t really remember, honestly,” this moment leaves you distraught for an answer. You also only had that as a discussion point, so from now on you have nothing to say to her.

This next song’s called Emotional Package. It’s short.

There is a cheer from the crowd, all standing now, all have finished sulking and are now conversing and rubbing elbows with one another. You’re no different with Denver at your side. Except she’s drifting away from you, she dances toward the band and the front of the audience. You shuffle to her side and mimic her dance moves. She smiles but keeps moving.

Where do I sign my heart away? Where is the dotted line? The thing was broken to begin with, didn’t get here on time.

The song was slow and you don’t know the slower song sorts of dances. Neither does Denver as it turns out. She’s quit her dancing and is now standing with a look of an aesthete, analyzing the form the songs take with a finger across your cheek and horn-rimmed glasses. You continue to dance. If you stop you’ll have to talk to Denver and you know you’re out of conversations. You bob your head directionless. The only one dancing among the crowd for this song.

Emotion: love’s tender embrace, you turn me into an astronaut, just the one lost in space.

You dance. You dance so hard you begin to cry. She sees your tears fall from cheekbones. The moment is one in which everyone is either completely aware of an event that has just occurred or the opposite. This audience preoccupies themselves. She comes over to you, the manic dancing emotional baby boy. She places a hand on my shoulder.

It hurts! It Hurts! Good Lord it hurts sometimes! Anytime! Every Time!

“Are you okay?”

“Oh yeah, just got a little hot on that song,” you’re fairly certain she’ll tell you something to get you to calm the fuck down, but in words that allow her the polite lifestyle in which she herself was a part.

“No I mean the crying,” she wiped one of your eyes. It fed your sad lonely pit, the one residing in your chest.

“I mean sometimes that’s the only way I can communicate it by crying, I just feel strongly sometimes.”

“You should write songs for these guys, saying stuff like that,” and she pointed to Screature’s sorrowful lamentation. You laugh.

Yeah this isn’t good bye. More like get out of my face! I need personal space! I need Personal Space! GetoutGetoutGetout!

Okay. That’s all we got for y’all. Thanks.

The audience cheers and you cheer along with them.