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Carolina Blues
by Jim Booth

 

 

December 21, 1991

Chapal Hill

Dearnesst Angel,

Why, why, why, why, why, hwy, why, hwy, why, why, hwy, hwy, hwy, why, why, why, why, hwy, hwy, why, why, why, whhy. why, hwy, why, why, why, why?

Baby, oh, baby, ohbaby, obaaby, aobaaaby-----------

I.m sorry. Shouldnít wrte.. Iímtodrukn, I think its 2anm......... How diod i get all thos dost?

Got hedphones on, listeing to Robet Plant. Led Zep bigger than us. Biger than everyboy.

Biig Sadnees. Too drun..... Whatís with goddam dots?

Love you forever.. Ghey wow.... always dots.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

December 22, 1991

2:18 P.M.

Dear Angel,

I tried to write after I got home last night. You see the result. Drank a pint of brandy. Didnít seem enough, so I went to work on another. Wrote the stuff above somewhere around the end of the first bottle. Fell off my swivel chair shortly after that (I think). Spilled most of the second bottle on the carpet. Woke up breathing alcohol fumes. Broke another pair of headphones. When I fell, I ripped the male jack out of the female jack.

Male jack. Female jack. God, Iím pathetic.

You know, the sound of these computer keys is like hammers on my skull. Hangover from hell. Going to town and get new headphones. Back in a bit.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

9:30 P.M.

Took me a while, I guess. I went by to see Charlie Beagle. We ended up going out for dinner. Autographs? Sure. Signed four. Had a couple of drinks, too. Boy, howdy, I feel better.

Bought three new sets of headphones. At least I wonít have to go to the store for new ones for a couple of months, maybe.

I know Iím avoiding the issue of this letter, but I just donít want to talk about it right now. Shit, Angel, it doesnít seem like youíre gone yet.

Marlene had called from Munich. Jakob was ecstatic about his computer. Good suggestion. He turned 12 on the 12th, the day after you turned 24. Somebody told me (or I read somewhere) that Brian Jones left maybe 20 illegitimate children. Whoís Brian Jones? Dammit, Angel, youíre such a baby. Brian was an original member of the Rolling Stones. Died in July of 1969, a month after heíd been kicked out of the band.

If I die tomorrow, I leave only one (I think). Guess that makes me 19 illegitimate children more responsible than Brian Jones.

Iím so proud of myself.

Marlene was the first one to tell me Iíve got weltschmerz. World Sorrow. Melancholy. The Big Sadness.

Am I Blue? (Thatís the title of an Old Billie Holiday song, isnít it?)

I should be used to people being unable to accept things about me by now, but I guess Iím not. You have to understand, Angel. Money and fame and all that have opened a lot of doors for me. People never tell me no (well, almost never).

I canít help but think, in spite of all you say, that my going on tour again with The Lost Generation is why youíve left me.

Youíve left me.

Iím going to go buy some more brandy.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

December 23, 1991

1:25 A.M.

Dear, Dear Angel,

Iím having a blue Christmas. Have to leave in the afternoon and go to my parentsí house. They still live in Reidsville. You know that. Sometimes they go to the condo I bought for them on Jekyll Island, but this year theyíre staying home. So Marshall and I can ďcome homeĒ for Christmas.

Home. Almost my entire adult life has been lived in hotel rooms, resort condos, and rented mansions. Itís been luxurious, but it hasnít been home.

This house Iím sitting in writing to you is the first ďhomeĒ Iíve ever owned (that I actually lived in). Iíd had it and lived in it a year before I met you.

You made it a home.

Angel, what will I do without you?

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

Drunl; I kow what yu say. For am in th e mornig.

GODADMITT IT, Angle you legt me. Crikstmas. I love you.

Love you, love uyo loveyou,,, are these dots agin? Canít see.../,íl Iíí,m goimg to bde.

Love, Jay

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

December 23, 1991

3:14 P.M.

My Angel,

The house is absolutely still. I have the headphones down around my neck.

Iíve been listening to playbacks of the material for a new album. I know. You think going back into the music will kill me.

So what?

You wonít be there to see it, then, will you?

The house is absolutely still. Itís two days before Christmas.

Weíre thinking of two possible titles for the new album: ďOnce more into the breech, dear friendsĒ from Henry V by Shakespeare, or ďLovely, dark, and deepĒ from ďStopping by Woods on a Snowy EveningĒ by Robert Frost.

I donít know why Iím telling you this. You donít want to know. You donít care. Youíre like everyone else. Itís always ďOh, wow, there he is. Jay Breeze. The Rock Star. Will he give me his autograph? Will he talk with me? Will he play and sing for me? Will he give me some of his money? Will he sleep with me?Ē

Never, Angel. You would never ask for anything. Youíd rather die.

Donít think I donít understand.

Thatís what scares me.

You understand.

Perfectly.

I donít know how.

The truth is youíre not like anyone else. Why? Why do you get me when no one else in the world does? Why do I get you when I donít get anyone else in the world?

No walls. Ever.

Got to get going. Talk to you tonight.

Love,

Jay

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

December 24, 1991

2:25 A.M.

Oh, Angel,

Came in about an hour ago. My brother Marshall and I were out at a round of Christmas parties. Iíve had a few drinks but none of the unholy stuff Iíve been doing the last couple of days.

Marsh has been great. You know how funny he is. Grandmother (Momís mom) always said he got the personality and I got the looks. Yeah. Right.

Anyway, we made the rounds. The people who grew up with me made a BIG issue out of knowing me. People who never knew me but had (of course?) heard of me treated me as if I wereówhat? The two-headed calf at the circus? No, thatís not it. Whatís it like, Angel?

This is where you would have exactly the right description for how things are. You would have sized everything up and given me some very sensible observation about the behavior of all these people. Then I would write it down here as Iíve written down so many of the things youíve said to me.

But youíve left me.

The house is absolutely still.

What did you promise your mother, Angel?

Did you promise to kill me?

Youíre going to, you know.

Iím going to see if Marsh has a bottle.

If he doesnít, Iíll get one from the car.

Iím weak and Iím bad, Angel. Youíre right not to love me. Nobody should.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

It id 5í37 A>M. Gon agan. Noyu no god.. NO GOOD.

SHIt. Tuned on caaspitol letters. Sorry. Always so soory.

Go bed now. Mars helping me. By Angel. Love always.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *


December 24, 1991

12:18 P.M.

Well, Angel,

Iím sitting here with the hangover from hell at my Aunt Barbaraís house. She has been quietly and reprovingly giving me tomato juice with shots of Worcestershire sauce. I keep asking for vodka, too, but she wonít give.

Merry Christmas, Angel.

Tell you a story. When I was eleven or twelve, I used to mow my Aunt Barbaraís lawn every week. While I mowed I listened to a transistor radio. It was red and had a white cord with an ear plug for one ear. The cord was just long enough to reach from the radio in the pocket of my shorts to my right ear.

I would mow and sing at the top of my lungs along with the British Invasion groups: The Beatles, of course; The Rolling Stones; The Animals; The Kinks. I had the best time, you know?

This drove my Aunt Barbara crazy. She would call me up to her screened back porch and give me a glass of lemonade or iced tea or milk and maybe a sandwich or a piece of fruit pie. Then she would fetch a volume of The Harvard Classics and have me read to her from that to prove that rock and roll wasnít rotting my intellect. That summer I got through Machiavelliís The Prince and Thomas Moreís Utopia. And I learned the words to ďSatisfactionĒ by The Stones and The Beatlesí ďHelp.Ē

And it all made sense to me. I began to think of The Rolling Stones as Machiavellian and of The Beatles as Utopian (probably because I thought Utopia was supposed to be a nice place and The Beatles seemed nicer than The Stones). Maybe thatís whatís meant by a liberal arts education.

You know, Angel, I told Ringo this story at a party in L.A. We sat on one of those huge sectional sofas that was about a half mile long and went all along the walls of this room that had floor to ceiling windows looking out over Malibu Canyon. He just sat quietly and listened. When I got finished he said, ďImagine. A kid in a little town in North Carolina listening to us on a transistor. And now youíre here. Imagine.Ē Then he got up and went to pee or something.

I have no idea what the hell it means, Angel.

So whatís new, right?

Aunt Barbara wants to know what Iím writing. Iíve told her a letter. I guess thatís what this is. Iím writing you a letter, Angel. Iíll probably write you a million letters. Youíre the person I tell everything to, Angel.

What will I do with you gone?

If I wrote a million letters, would you read them?

You would.

I love you so much.

You gotta come back.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

December 24, 1991

11:48 P.M.

Goddammit, Angel,

We just got off the phone. The thing you do that costs me the most is your ability to push me away from you. Your coldness on the phone (whether it was conscious or unconscious I canít say) hurt me worse than anything you could ever do to me. I feel a knife in my heartóit has your name on it. (I knowósounds like one of our song lyrics.)

I realize now I will never send you this letter. I will never send you any of the million letters I will probably write. Because I canít keep anything from you, I wonít be able not to. You know what is in my heart and soul anyway.

What I will try to tell you is what I think is happening.

What is happening, Angel?

Am I being punished by God because I play evil rock and roll? Is the person I have loved most in my life to be taken from me because of this?

I donít believe it.

Iím too caught up in my own myth.

Thereís a song by Argent called ďGod Gave Rock and Roll to You.Ē I think thatís true.

Rockís like religion, Angel. I mean, concerts are like church, arenít they? Like religious rituals, anyway. All that holding lights to the sky and stuff. On stage is where I feel closest to God, Angel. I feel sanctified. Holy. The music, the crowd, the lightsóit all reaches my soul.

I think you may come back to me.

It feels right now as if you will.

Just checked my watch. Itís Christmas.

There are so few things that bring joy, Angel. So few things that touch the soul. The music does that for me.

Christmas does it.

You do it.

To be able to say that someone gives me joy scares me, Angel. To say that you touch my soul seems too small. You have my soul. I have yours. We have completeness of the soul.

Yeah, Iím too devoted. To you, to the music, toóChristmas?

I donít really know what else.

I feel I can do anything if youíre there, Angel.

What a gift to give me.

Itís Christmas.

The house is absolutely still.

You never leave meóyou know?

Thatís the gift, isnít it? Someone who is always there. For each person, someone who is always there.

You are always there for me, Angel.

Thank you.

Merry Christmas.

Oh! Thereís the phone....

God bless us every one.

Love,

Jay

 

 

About the Author

"Carolina Blues" is from a longer work a sort of pastiche novel called THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF JAY BREEZE, ROCK STAR.

Two of the stories from this work, "Fins" and "The Balcony Scene," have been accepted for publication. "The Balcony Scene" is in the current issue of storySouth and "Fins" has been published by Dead Mule: The School of Southern Literature.

My novel, The New Southern Gentleman will be published by Wexford College Press in Ca. A book of interlocking stories Morte D'Eden, or Tom Sawyer Meets the Rolling Stones, will be published in the late fall of 2002 by Beach House Books in MO.