10 Harry the Hebe and the Crazy Cossack
In Seattle, Greg Horn had a last-minute booking for the band to do a mid-day outside performance at Micro.Net Plaza, the new, glittery waterfront commercial area built out on piers below the Pike Place Market. The occasion for the affair was the public unveiling of the Mariner’s new pitching sensation, EnJaJa, “Sharkie” Supramatso, a fourteen year old Okinowan pitcher. Sharkie had only compiled a 9-11 record in junior high school the year before, with an ERA of 9.87, but everyone agreed he was a sure winner, and worth the one hundred twenty-seven million dollar signing bonus. His grinning agent (who pulled his fifteen percent off the top), the macho-looking but secretly gay mayor of Seattle, Miss Washington, two rather tipsy state senators, Mariners’ manager “Toots” Macphail (scowling, because he only made $220,000 a year after forty years of baseball), Sharkie himself, a baby- faced six-foot- six Okinowan, and the University of Washington marching band and drum corps joined in with Childhood on Here Comes the Big One, as clouds of blue and green balloons lifted into the city’s famous low overcast. On the bus, Shinebone Johansen did a head count on a couple of girls that were mysteriously rejected by a strangely sour-pussed Joey.
Greg Horn was offstage, checking on his Blackberry to watch his Xeonosis stock race up the charts. He and Joey had been enticed into the whole Xeonosis deal by an offer of stock options for several thousand shares at thirteen dollars per, plus eight million in cash. . Now that the stock was at forty-one and rising, it all seemed like the usual good deal. I suppose I could have cut the other guys in for a little, thought Horn. Nah, fuck ‘em! His divorce was final. It had cost him a bundle, but hell; he was worth ten bundles and growing. No one really knew how much money Horn had squired away anyway. His money was as endless as cowpies in a Florida feed lot.
So why did he have this hungry rat gnawing feeling inside?
The truth was: Greg Horn was lonely. To be as rich and powerful as he was meant that virtually no one treated him like a human being. Everyone was after his money and influence. Hey, for years that had worked just fine. It had been his life; trading that power for what he wanted. But the emptiness of all that had been growing on him; he wanted real. Women would go out with him. He wasn’t a terrible looking guy. Maybe not a star like Joey, but he wasn’t butt-ugly. He was loaded, so there was no end to gorgeous girls who would do anything. But something had dawned inside of the Great Horned One: time was running out. Seeing her at the Rutabaga had awakened something long dormant. He knew what he wanted: Roberta. Roberta the incorruptible, the untouchable. Roberta who did it her way and told the world to kiss her ass. Roberta who had always scorned him
Well, she didn’t know it yet, but he had her surrounded. And Greg was used to getting what he wanted.
It was right before that night’s gig in the Rainier Dome that Harry the Hebe broke down. Everyone had disappeared to do this or that just before the set. He was sitting in the band room. He was tighter than a sheep not raised in Idaho. His nervous frustration had had his skin crawling for days, for weeks. Something had to give. The bottles on the table just gleamed like a new set of teeth. Someone had cracked the vodka open; it was four-fifths full.
No Harry! Don’t be an idiot! But he just impulsively poured a medium glassful of the rocket fuel and downed it in one blast, straight. Then he made a big cranberry juice and drank it quickly to cover up. He felt the buzz hit his bloodstream. Oh God, there it is! He had always preferred this to sex. Booze doesn’t demand that you get it up. It does the getting up for you.
The set went off without a hitch. No one noticed, not even Russell, who had better sensory apparatus than the CIA. Harry, you sneaky bastard! He had tucked the vodka into his gig bag, wrapped in a towel. Just a taste for later.
“I’m just not fucking feeling good!” Joey slammed his wet shirt onto the sofa. It was just him and Russell. No visitors yet. Russell knew the score.
“So, how long until you get to unveil the new pecker? He said. C’mon Joey, you dickhead, lighten up.
“I don’t know. It fuckin’ hurts. It wasn’t supposed to hurt. I paid fucking Arkavarian twelve grand to put the thing in.”
“Be patient, man. Give it a few days. Your goddam dick hasn’t had a vacation in years anyway!” Russell’s attempt at humor fell on deaf sorry-for-myself ears.
What if it doesn’t work anymore? It doesn’t seem to want to work anymore. Joey couldn’t say that, not even to Russell.
“Well, perk up the face if not the penis, man, ‘cause here come the unwashed hordes.”
Russell opened the door of the dressing room and began to admit the backed-up line of worshipers, in ones and threes. Joey quickly got his famous game face together. No one was better than Joey at the meet-and-greet. Sign those t-shirts, programs, and CD’s, and the occasional breast or cheek. Keep the fans lovin’ you – otherwise you’re playing in Idaho for real again, in a biker bar!
Jas sat with Ella at an outdoor table at Zebra. Zeh-brah. The flames of the overhead kerosene table warmers reflected off their glasses of Chardonnay. Jas rolled her eyes. You’ve got to be kidding!
“I know it’s silly, Jas, but I just have a little tiny crush on the guy. I know it doesn’t make sense, but then again, what especially makes sense in any of this?” Ella waved her hand in a dismissive motion over the glittery nighttime street below.
“Well, “said Jas, playing with the smoke from her cigarette,” He’s an interesting guy. Not like these dicks.” She paused to stub out the smoke. “But there are problems. For one, he’s married. For two, he’s twice your age. For three, he’s probably pretty broke compared to the guys you go out with. Outside of that, I’d say he’s a very good choice!”
The two women laughed. Ella tossed back her wavy, honey-colored hair. She was an actress, which mainly meant her parents had paid for her to hang out in the Village and drink nightly to excess while she took classes at Tisch. She had the looks, kind of neo-Lauren Bacall, but not the talent; even with Sidney Goldman as her agent, she had soon dropped off of the soap wanna-be’s list. She had gotten into Buddhism of late, and was a student of Dorge-Jeff Rinpoche, aka Jeff Feldstein. She liked that, but many of the guys in Rinpoche’s circle were very competitive about meditation, which struck Ella as not quite right. Plus, they all hit on her relentlessly as well. Ace hadn’t done that. He had an intellectual spark for spirituality and history that was different. He seemed to like it for itself rather than for himself, which she found refreshing.
“Well,” she came back,” they’re all married, most of them are at least twenty years older than me, and I’m sick of rich guys who think they’re fucking God.” Ella sipped her wine. The glass was huge, half the size of her head. “I don’t know, Jas,” she said, “sometimes I feel like getting out of here and going somewhere where all this stuff isn’t so important.”
“Ell, I know you. You’d be in some little cabin in the mountains and get seized with a desire for a real shopping experience, which I don’t think K-Mart would satisfy!” Ha-ha. “You’re not serious about this, are you?”
“Well… “Ella made a Gee-I know I’m really dumb… but face, “kinda serious. If you come with me, I’ll go.”
“Oh, shit, I’ll have to think about it. That fucker Joey can go stick his prosthetic cock up his own ass, as far as I’m concerned.”
Jas lit another smoke and thought about for a moment. “Still, it might be fun to just to cause some shit, wouldn’t it? Sure, I’ll go.”