Turns out that Steve had been right about the jerkwad councilman. Mr. Ketchum dropped me off behind the club, as he always did, and as I walked around to the front of the club I noticed that the aforementioned jerkwad had obviously arranged for a protest against the club. I assume that he saw it as a way to get some political attention.
The amusing thing here is that either people really didn’t care, or the councilman wasn’t much for organization, because his protest group was small and rather sad-looking. The group consisted of a few rather lethargic looking older folks holding signs. The signs even looked sad, like they were leftovers from some other protest. Maybe they couldn’t be bothered with actually making good signs.
Not that the pathetic nature of the protest would matter — the fact that there was a protest at all could be made into something which actually sounded like news. Even though it wasn’t.
As I walked toward the front door, I saw Samantha being interviewed by a TV crew. She was holding herself in exactly the manner that I had recommended to her. Actually, it was eerie how practiced she seemed at this.
“Well,” she said to the interviewer, “as I’ve said before, it was a minor incident, and it was caused by people who only came here to cause trouble. We don’t condone it.”
“And the protesters?” asked the reporter.
“Well, this is America and they have the right to protest as long as they don’t hurt anybody or try to physically keep people out of the club. That’s their right. I personally don’t think that there’s anything to protest though. And if they want to come in and listen to a few bands, then they’re more than welcome to do so.”
And at that, she nodded to the reporter and walked toward the front door of the club. You’d think that she had spoken to the press a million times.
“I was looking through a bunch of back issues of the magazine this morning,” said Samantha as she unlocked the front door of Seattle and escorted me inside, “and I haven’t seen your name in the last several issues. I had to go back almost a year before I saw your name.”
“Yeah, that’s true,” I replied, “I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus.” “But you’re back in the saddle now?”
“Well, I’m sort of climbing back in I guess. So, what about what
“What about what just happened?”
“Well, you’ve got a bunch of protesters outside your business
and a news crew is here filming them. You think they’ll be trouble?” Samantha chuckled, “Trouble? Did you see them? They’ll all be
in bed by 9. I can’t see them being a problem.”
I surveyed the empty room. I was feeling pretty good, though a
bit “fuzzy.” Before coming here today, I had taken the precaution of slamming back several drinks in the hotel bar before Mr. Ketchum’s scheduled pickup time.
I joined in to help as Samantha began taking the chairs from atop the tables.
“So, how do they pick who gets what story?” she asked as she flipped a chair down onto its feet, “how did it end up being you?”
“Why? You got a problem with me?”
“No, no. I just wonder how come you got picked to come here.” I grinned. “Punishment,” I said.
“Well,” I laughed, “you’re not exactly their favorite person.” “I’m not?” she asked sarcastically.
“Well, the thing is, neither am I,” I said, “so that’s why they sent
me to you. Rumor has it that they couldn’t figure out if the best way to stop you was with a restraining order or to give up and send somebody out here. ‘Hey we’ve got this screwup David, let’s send him!’”
We finished the chairs and I leaned back against the Misnomer Bar.
“So, you’re appeasing me?” she asked.
“Hey, I would’ve voted for the restraining order myself. But it wasn’t up to me.”
“Thanks, I appreciate that.”
Samantha smiled. She then walked over to where I was, right next to me in fact. Just as I was wondering what in the world she was about to do, she leaned over the bar and grabbed something—I couldn’t see what—from behind the counter. As she did so, she was very close to me; apparently close enough to give away my little secret.
“Have you been drinking?” she asked.
“Not here,” I replied.
Samantha rolled her eyes and then once again leaned over and
replaced the unknown something behind the bar.
We finished with the chairs and Samantha went to the sound
room, where she flipped a switch causing dozens of electronic components to whir into life. “You know,” said Samantha, “I’ve been thinking about your article. And I’ve been thinking that…well, what do you think about the idea of a book?”
“A book? You mean writing one?”
“Yeah, I mean writing one.”
“Instead of an article?”
“No, not instead of an article. God, no. You write the article, but
you also write the book, see? I mean, if you think about it, this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. You’re here at the beginning of all of this—well, not quite the beginning, you’ve missed the very beginning, but close enough to the beginning since we’re not famous yet. This is an amazing opportunity. Once the Terre Haute scene explodes, then this book will be hot. And you’ll have the jump on everybody. You’re already here. I’ve got pictures of every single set of every single band that has ever played here. So that would help. You just interview everybody. You know, do that whole scene.”
“Wait, wait, wait,” I said. “You have pictures of every single band that’s ever played here?”
“Every single set even. I take a couple pictures of every set that’s played. It started on opening night. I just brought the camera and took pictures of everybody because it was opening night. Then I thought, ‘why not do that every night?’ So I have.”
I looked at her, examining her, admiring her. “Man, I wish that I could be as driven as you are.”
“You could be. Just stick around Terre Haute a while and I’ll help you,” she said. “Have you ever written a book?”
“No. I tried to write a novel once, but it never got finished. It’s been twelve years, so I don’t think chances are very good for it getting finished. Like I said, I don’t have that drive. How do you do it?”
“All you’ve gotta do is look around and see what miserable stuff happens to people when they don’t do what they feel,” she said, “It’s like my friend Monica—she’s miserable. And God, that just makes me so mad. I see her in the supermarket the other day, and she’s draggin’ her two kids around and she looks like she’d rather be anywhere else in the world. And she’s married to a real scum—I see him here at the club sometimes, trying to pick up college girls, and he knows that I see him, and he knows that I tell her, but he just doesn’t give a shit. So, here’s this good woman who’s wasting away because she was too afraid to pick up and go. Instead, she got married, had a few kids and ‘settled down.’ And now she’s too afraid to just dump that jerk and go at it on her own. It makes me so mad and it’s not even my life, you know? So, if I want motivation, all I have to do is think of her.”
“Or your mom?”
Samantha stopped dead in her tracks. The emotion drained from her face like water swirling down the drain of a bathtub. She slowly looked up toward me, and when finally she spoke, her voice faltered, seemed to lose some of its cherished self-confidence. “Dad told you?” she murmured, “Or did…did someone else?”
“Your dad told me.”
Samantha seemed to loosen a bit with relief. “Yeah,” she said softly, “Yeah, I do sometimes think about her. When I’m really in
need of motivation.” A bit of the confidence came back into her face and she began to walk again. “Thank God I seldom need motivation that badly. And neither should you, young man.”
“Well,” I said, “we can’t all be fearless now can we? Some of us have to be the ones who just go wherever we’re told to go, doing whatever we’re told to do. Sometimes,” I said, “you’ve got no choice.”
“Is that what you are? The guy who does what he’s told?” “Absolutely.”
“So then why are you being punished, if you’re the guy who always does what he’s told?”
“Well I used to be the guy who was the tremendous pain in the
ass. But I’ve been, shall we say, shown the error of my ways.” “So what did you do?”
“Oh God, let’s please change the subject.”
“What did you do?”
“I don’t remember.”
“What was it?”
“Oh look,” I said, pointing to two kids approaching the front door, “Customers.”