[Fiction] I Need a Priest (part 2)
I saw Hippie Jean just once more after that first time, a year and a day later. I could have picked her out of a crowd any day, with that long soft hair. She wore bellbottoms and a black tank top. Maroon bra.
It was the last show of the tour season and we were back at the state fair, not too far from my home town. I couldn’t believe they’d let us back here after the incident. Security was tight. Real tight. No one would be allowed back stage.
I took my place at the front of the stage, watching the throng of people wait for their beloved Purple Revelry. Waiting for D. They were not disappointed.
When the band started playing, and he started wailing, ten thousand people stood up and cheered. He loved them, and they turned it right back at him, and I sat in the crossfire, keeping these people at arm’s length. Keeping their madness at bay. The crowd was drunk off of eight-dollar beers, and drunk off D. Thirty years of memories poured out of them, and I swear to God I could see them start to change before my eyes.
The full moon hung in the sky, pouring her lunacy on the crowd. The stereo equipment was, as usual, as loud as it could go. At the end of the song, the audience screamed and cheered, begging for more. He winked at them, and turned to the band to speak with his eyes. “Play it slow. Take them away.”
As an encore, they played something new. It was unearthly. The beat pumped with my heart, calming me immediately. I watched Hippie Jean weave and dance, enthralled. The music started to speed up, faster and faster with the moon pouring down. I watched her spin. I watched the crowd go out of control, dancing, yelling, moshing. I swear to God they moved like animals, snorting like bulls, moving lithe like a cat, or the women rolling their arms like snakes.
The music stopped.
Everyone in the crowd collapsed. The concert was over. No one applauded as they struggled to breathe, wondering what just happened to them. I ain’t been around to see a whole lot, but I’d never seen anything like that. D and Purple Revelry left the stage silently. I followed them through the side door, leaving the mess of tangled, exhausted bodies to fend for themselves.
But I wasn’t alone. In the dark corridor I felt her small hand slip into mine. I smelled sweat, patchouli and ecstasy—I knew it was her, “Please,” she whispered, her voice was small and unsettled, “I need a priest.”
I stopped walking, and she did too, “No one gets back there”. I didn’t know what she meant, and it didn’t matter how much I wanted her as my own, the rules were the same for everyone, even pretty girls.
“You are the gatekeeper?”
“I guess you could say that.”
She pulled her hand away. I thought she would leave, but I didn’t want her too. Instead, she grabbed my jacket and pulled, pulling me to her lips. I was surprised and shocked, but I melted into her, savored her. I didn’t want it to end. The world dimmed away until it was me and her together.
She pulled away and slipped past me. Was I just used? Did she remember me from that night so long ago? Did she know that I was watching her, and dreaming of her from that night until this? Was she dancing for me? I didn’t know.
Slowly the world came back. And so did my responsibility. I hurried down the corridor, to the green room where the band would hang out. For some reason, those groupie girls were there, though I can’t imagine for the world how they got in. D was lounging luxuriously on the couch like he owned the place. Hippie Jean approached him and kneeled next to him. She seemed far away, entranced, and she gave him a bottle of wine.
D inspected the label. He cocked an eyebrow and smiled, then looked straight at me. I wondered what the crazy fucker was thinking. One of the groupies brought him a corkscrew from out of her bra. Normally, it would seem strange that anyone would carry such a thing with them at all, let alone between her titties. But tonight, nothing was normal. The band had seen to it.
D took the corkscrew without looking at the groupie. Almost like an animal, his head jerked to Hippie Jean, holding her gaze, he stood up from the couch. She followed his movements, like a dancer, keeping the same distance between them, and never once breaking eye contact. Slowly and deliberately, like they were fucking, he twisted the screw into the cork. I saw her breathe heavily and I burned with envy. D uncorked the bottle. He took a swig, and offered her one, still without looking away from her eyes: his green to her brown.
That seemed to break the spell. She seemed to break out of herself then. She lifted her tiny hand and slapped D in the face.
I moved towards them, this wasn’t right, but the band got in front of me, shaking their heads. Somehow, whatever was going on needed to happen—and I wasn’t to interfere.
She slapped him again. And again. She balled up her fists and punched him in the stomach, on the chest, in the face. She damn near broke his nose. He did not react in pain, but stoically stood there taking it like a goddamn Indian.
“You sonuvabitch! How dare you hit me! You can’t make me powerless anymore! I’m leaving you and I hate you and I hope you rot in Hell!” she was in a frenzy, and as badly as she was hurting him, I was afraid she’d hurt herself. Her yelling turned to tears and she hit him again and again. It looked like she would never stop. “You bastard! You cocksucker!” she screamed more obscenities than I’d heard growing up in the country. She was fucking pissed.
It was an eternity before D made any move. The bottle of wine was still in his hand and he raised it above her head, poured the whole bottle on top of her. She stopped crying and it was like the wine made her instantly drunk and she started laughing. Laughing like crazy. She stood there dripping and laughing like crazy.
“A bruise for a bruise,” he whispered, “go forward. You are free.” He kissed her on the forehead, spun on his feet and walked towards me. He handed me the bottle and grinned.
“Take care of her, will ya? She’s been through a lot.”
I looked at the bottle label: it was from my parent’s vineyard, from the year I was born. How could she possibly know? I went to her and picked her up bodily. I took her to the only place I could think of and walked out the door and put her on the tourbus. I had never been in where D took the groupies, but my money was that it had a bed.
The sheets looked like ivy going up a wall. I was afraid the vines would come up and take her and I’d never see her again. She had stopped laughing and was crying again. I put her down gently and went to fetch a towel. After all those times drinking and cleaning up after everyone, I knew where the best ones were. I grabbed five. I didn’t know how many towels a girl would need. When I got back she was sitting up, wiping her eyes. I felt like such a prick when I handed her the towels.
“Thanks” she said, “Mr….?”
“Green. Jac—John Green.”
“John.” It was like she was trying out my name to see if she liked the taste on her tongue. She smiled, so I think she did. “Do you drink wine?” she asked, her eyelids were heavy, but her gaze was penetrating and she allowed me a small smile.
“Yeah,” I lied. But then I knew it wasn’t a lie and that I would drink whatever she wanted to give me and nothing else ever again.
The moon shone through the window, on her way back home below the horizon. At the moment we were safe from her influence.
“What should I call you?” I asked.
“Call me yours if you’ll drink with me. I’m celebrating.” Rummaging through a nearby drawer, she produced a bottle of champagne and two fluted glasses. How she knew it was there, I’ll never know.
“It’s my birthday. I want to spend it with somebody cute.”
I blushed and flustered, “I’ll go get D—“
“No no, get back here John.” It felt weird inside when she said my name. “I don’t even know him. I want someone real.” She handed me a glass and filled it with golden bubbles.
I toasted to that. There would be plenty of time for talking later.