Idolatry – Pt. 4
I leaned against the soundboard nursing my fifth IPA of the night while Melinda danced like no one was watching to The Jukes’ encore performance of “Trash It Up”. I used to love this place and when I say “used to”, I mean as recently as three hours ago.
When I pulled into the parking lot of the storied Temple of The Boss, I rolled my eyes at the sea of hipster kids clamoring for a spot in line at the ticket counter as if I had somehow matured out of such youthful silliness since last weekend. Something was amiss, but I wasn’t trying to affect some air of jaded cool — there was an urgency to this sudden impatience with my familiar haunts and those who frequent them. A feeling that there was something very important I should be doing — certainly more important than watching Melinda’s drunken Elaine Benes dance floor routine for 20 songs worth of tired Asbury Park nostalgia.
The house lights back on, I check on Melinda who is sandwiched between two Guidos at the bar. Judging by the duo of untouched Long Island Iced Teas sitting in front of her, it seems they had staked their claims simultaneously. Last week, I’d have had her back. But tonight, I put a hand on her shoulder and say —
“Mel, y’okay? I’m gonna blow, if that’s cool.”
“SAMMI!!! Where were you all night? Oh, wait — this is — what’s your name again, Sweetie?”
“I gotta go. Call me tomorrow, okay?”
Before she can finish introducing me to Giove or Giuseppe or The Situation or whatever the fuck these Goombahs called themselves, I’m wedging my way through the crowd and out the door.
Home. It’s where I’ve wanted to be all night long. I roll a pinner and walk out back to unwind. This is what I’d been dreaming of throughout the whole interminable evening: a joint, a nightcap, my chaise lounge —
— and him.
My pulse accelerates as I lean down to examine his gnarled yet exquisitely lithe features. In an effort to stem this inexplicable endorphin rush, I begin to speak to him aloud.
“I think you need a name. You look like a Jeremy.”
“You must be joking. I look like nothing other than an Akaaneh.”
The joint fell from my fingers onto the patio. The statue hadn’t moved and a quick scan of the yard showed no signs of life. It was almost as if the voice had come from inside my head. I steadied my hands and took a long swig of wine.
“Akaaneh,” I echoed.
“Do you know how long I’d waited for you, Samantha?”
For a long moment, I’m frozen, mute. Finally, I resolve to put an end to this psychotic episode, bolting up from the lawn chair and swiping my wine glass from the patio table. Just before I slide the back door shut, I hear a faint voice like a mixture of silk and gravel —