19 The Implant Hits the Fan
Josh hit the talkback button.” Fuckin’ incredible. Come and listen.”
Spider dropped his headphones on the stool and put his bass on its stand. He high-low-and mid-fived Joe Vostra as Vostra emerged from the drum enclosure.
“Fuckin’ gnarly shit, hombre!’
They joined Josh, guitarist Jason Elvis, and Aron Stoolflotzer, wunderkind keyboard whiz from Potsdam, in the control room. Engineer Razr-T played The Secret life of the God of War back at a fairly impressive volume. Three stylish young ladies lounged on the couch. Vostra’s impeccable beat thumped out and Josh’s staccato lyrics about the war god Ares’ sex life in modern Manhattan punctuated the funky rhythm. Spider’s spare but interesting bass lines left room for the intricate, pulsating weavings of the keys and the guitar. It was James Brown meets the twenty-ninth century with detours through the age of mythology and the dark, wet depths of depraved New York back alleys.
Vostra looked over at Josh.
“You are going to be a star, man.”
“Wow, thanks. Your playing is fucking awesome. I can’t believe how good these tracks sound!”
Razr-T opined,” When I get through mixing this, Tone is gonna flip backwards right up their own assholes, man. What do you ladies think?”
“I just want to be able to say I was in the room.”
Lydia didn’t say anything. She just tilted her head and gave Josh a little look that said, later.
I’m sick of these girls, thought Josh. I’m going to meet someone who is interested in more than going out and drinking vodka with the fashionable hip until dawn. I guess Lydia will do tonight, though.
It didn’t take Sheila long to realize the Ace had been there. Even before she looked in the garage, she noticed that the dog wasn’t barking. She checked and saw that the Forerunner was gone. She went the Ace’s music room and looked in his drawer. The royalty statements were missing. Shit! She had copies, but that meant the Ace was thinking about the songs and the money. He wasn’t a big businessman, but she knew he could add.
Well, is he as smart as my attorney? I don’t think so.
What to do about Greg Horn’s offer? She didn’t want to give him any of the publishing if she could avoid it. She couldn’t get it from Ace anyway. It occurred to her that only Horn could possibly pressure and bamboozle Ace into signing any of that away. Greg can make him an offer he won’t understand. All she could participate in was the income. But maybe if Greg could get Ace to give up some publishing, she could get a piece from him.
I’ll offer that to Greg: you get fifteen; I’ll take thirty-five. The administration had to be wrested out of Ace’s hands. Otherwise, he could say how and by whom the song was used. It’ll be hard to keep Greg from getting that. Sheila thought about Greg Horn for a moment. She looked at herself in the full length mirror in the front hall. I always liked Greg. She felt her smooth tummy and she liked the way her breasts stood out, still perky after all these years. Her red hair was down and silky. Good color; just enough. She had held off on the men. They hit on her, but she didn’t want complications with local attorneys and country club trust guys. But Greg? Maybe. She knew him, knew how his mind worked. Just like hers. She had a hunch that he liked to be told what to do in bed. That would work for her, even if it hadn’t with Ace.
Looking good. Maybe I can make it worth his while.
Charles Frank looked out over the desert. He loved this view. The severe, barren ranges rising above the saguaro dotted folds and arroyos of the Arizona landscape.
He wished he could enjoy it.
Natalie buzzed. “Senator Wallace, sir.”
Charles picked up. “Francis, how are you?”
Charles held the phone away from his ear. The senator’s voice buzzed in the phone like a trapped wasp. Charles answered in his best bedside manner.
“Now Francis, you haven’t got anything to worry about. We’ve just had a few less than expert doctors here and there. The implant is safe. I’d be happy to have my doctor pay you a discreet visit, if that would help. Jonas Arkavarian pioneered the procedure. He can tell if it’s been done correctly. The few problems that we’ve had are all from discount medical practices, you know, not from accomplished doctors.”
The senator continued buzzing at a slightly lower volume, but with a more menacing tone. Charles frowned.
“Well, Francis, I don’t have to tell you what effect any congressional hearings might have on Xeonosis. We’ve spent a fortune developing the implant. Our stockholders are not happy right now; that could only make our situation that much more difficult.”
We spent a fortune on your campaign, you idiot!
“I am going to put your aide in touch with Dr. Arkavarian. He’d be happy to come out to Sedona. No fanfare or cameras. Ok, great, Francis. Let’s play Shadows on Sunday? I’ll get a tee time. Great, adios.”
Moron! What does a seventy-three- year- old United States Senator need a bigger dick for, anyway, to bugger his interns?
“We’re back with Childhood here on KMTN, your rocky mountain oldies station! A little late season snow up on the Front Range today, snowboarders. For those of you using walkers, stick on your ski attachments and let’s go slidin’! So, Ace Jones, how are you guys handling the controversy? It’s a really big story!” Crash-boom!
“Well, we’ve been told that there is no big story, no pun intended, it’s just a few isolated cases.”
“Our sister TV station here in Denver reported last night that the number of malfunctioning implants was approaching a hundred. That seems like more than a few! One exploding member is too many! But let’s get to another subject. I hear you have a number one song in the country charts right now.”
”That’s right, it’s by Tracy Boggs. It’s called I’m sick and tired of the same old shirt.”
“I’m sure our listeners wouldn’t mind hearing a few bars, let’s roll it!”
Lightnin’ Willie, his gray hair sticking out beneath a Rockies cap, sipped his tepid decaf coffee. “Sorry to have to hammer you guys on the implant subject. More than you signed on for, no?”
“Hey, Xeonosis is our employer right now. We have to toe the party line pretty tightly. Plus, Charles Frank is our old buddy from college. We go back a long way.”
“Hey! We’re back on KMTN. We have tickets to the Childhood concert tonight out at the Coor’s Lite Arena. Call up and get ‘em! And we’ll see you there!”
Off air, Lightnin’ Willie shrugged and said. “Not too many callers. Well, what can you do, boys?”
The late-night guys were having a field day.
“This Xeonosis implant story has really come to a head!’
“I guess the thing gets you pumped up, but someone forgot to turn the pump off.”
“For women who wanted their guys to get implants, the whole thing has really blown up in their faces!”
“The Xeonosis Implant has really exploded on the scene.”
“The bigger they come, the bigger they blow!”
“They made so much money -I guess the biggest dicks are running Xeonosis!”
Outside the Coor’s Lite Arena, there were a handful of protesters carrying signs that read: Xeonosis lied and penises died…Here Comes the Big Exploding One…Save the Last Real Dicks!…Childhood has sold out…Down With Childhood…Childhood’s End…
The show was dismal, only about one third of a house. After the Hashemites finished their set, half of the house left. The mood of the band was resigned, though Joey still did his thing, leading the few hundred old fans with his Hitler salute. Backstage was pitiful. Only a handful of diehard supporters showed up. Joey had to settle for a pair of over-the-hill groupies with Broncos logos tattooed on their rather poor fake breasts.
Harry the Hebe sat in the dressing room, engrossed in his laptop, typing away.
Marco made himself a vodka and lime.
“Not drinking, Harry?”
“Harry’s in love. “Said Boomer. “She sends him dirty pictures.”
Without looking up from his laptop, Harry replied,” Shut up, morons.”
Ace called Roberta.
“Hey, you all set?”
“I am. I’ll be at the Hell’s Half-Acre Lodge, out on the west side.”
“Wow, is that still there? It’s a motel museum piece. You could have the shag carpets in that place appraised on Antiques Roadshow.”
“It will be our secret hideaway.”
“How romantic, I’m sure! I’ll try to find a leisure suit and some platforms! I’m just kidding, Roberta; it will be romantic. And then we can run away to your place.”
“Yeah, baby. Do you think the turnout will be affected by all the new stories?”
“I think that we’ll have enough fans on hand to make it a fun night. Besides, who in Idaho watches the news? It really could be our last show ever. I don’t think Childhood has another life past this – too much negative publicity. No one will ever touch us again. It’s only because Charles wanted to do this gig that it’s still happening, and he’s probably just going ahead with it for his ego’s sake. Xeonosis is going to be in litigation hell for along time. The count’s up to over four hundred cases now.”
“Well, Charles has a pretty big ego.”
“Size counts, right?”
Joey lay back on the bed, The TV flickered away, a rerun of Die Hard VII. That’s what I want to do, he thought, die hard. Russell and a very grateful Shinebone had come and collected the way-past-their-prime Broncos girls. Doing a little slumming, Joey Lowe! It had been almost fun, in a weird, detached way. Hey, look at me! I’m in a low-budget porn film!
He felt a little down. He thought about Jas. Goddam it; I let a good one slip away. Jas is classy. Right now Joey had hunger pangs. Fuck it, it’s just because it’s three AM and I’ve been on the road. Don’t be a fuckin sap, Lowe. Still. Jas was one of the few women he knew who didn’t really buy into his shit, and he knew deep down that that’s what it takes.
Sooner or later, I’m going to want to settle down a bit; get the Mexican pad. I’m gonna be sixty in four months.
He picked up his cell and clicked a number. “Hi, this is Jas. You missed me; leave me a message.”
He waited for the beep but didn’t leave a message. He clicked the phone off and tossed it in his bag.
Ah, fuck it!
Sandy walked down the aisle in the cosmetics section of the Rexburg Xian-Mart. Her cart was not full, just a few items: a pair of jeans, an Idaho State Bengals football jersey x-large, a faux-beat- up ladies cowboy hat with a paisley hat band and a feather hanging down in the back, a pair of oversize sunglasses, a long, black wavy-hair wig, and a pair of black, fake-leather ladies’ gloves. She looked over the products on the cosmetics shelves and picked out a box of Lady Xian-Mart hair color, black. She got a black eyebrow liner and a dark, brownish-tint lipstick. Then she went to the new display of summer products, a hopeful array of beach blankets, pink and blue inner tubes and cheap umbrellas. Spring in Idaho, with its consistent twenty-five- mile- per- hour freezing winds was almost here – time for summer fun to begin! She found a tube of Girl-Tan. Guaranteed to get your summer tan off to a running start – even if it’s still winter!
She looked over the line of cashier’s stations and took one manned by a young Mexican woman. Never seen her before, so she ain’t seen me either. Sandy paid for the lot with crumpled twenties and tens, $159.13. She thought about having a small pizza from the Pizza Shed outlet by the cashier stations and then thought better of it when she saw a kid working there who she recognized. She went out to her truck and drove off to the west.
Sweet Jesus, I’m coming home soon. My work is almost done.