Brian Jonestown Massacre Fan Fiction
Congratulations to the winner of our Brian Jonestown Massacre Fan Fiction Contest, Barbara Herman. Barbara’s winning entry is printed in its glorious entirety below.
THE ALLMAN BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
By Barbara Herman
It was a misty and melancholy morning in San Francisco. 5 am. The streetlights blurred in the drizzle. The grey streets were slick with rain.
Bucky Covington, recent American Idol reject, stepped off the Greyhound Bus.
He hadn’t planned to go North. Wrenched from the City of Angels to Kerouac’s city of Desolation Angels, Bucky figured he could let the sharp shock of losing his shot at fame fizzle into a dull ache in this strange town. He wasn’t ready to return home just yet.
Although his one-way plane ticket back to Rockingham, North Carolina had already been paid for, Bucky had also been given a small (to others) sum of money, money he decided to use to see this town full of queers and weirdos. He wandered for about an hour when he stumbled upon someone who would change his life forever.
It was early. He needed coffee. He noticed a cafe in the distance, and grateful it was open, he hastened his steps. He stepped inside The Last Chance Cafe. There was only one person there, his back to the door. The bored cashier yawned and stared blankly at the hesitant visitor.
Jangly folk music played on the speakers; static pops punctuated the songs and gave the cafe a timeless, black-and-white photograph feel.
Bucky stepped up and ordered coffee and an egg and cheese sandwich. Out of the silence came a deep voice spoken with teenage boy cadences:
“Egg and cheese sandwich. Add some pepper, some butter. Throw in some chorizo. Man, it’s the basic things in life that are worth getting up for, huh?”
The blue-eyed stranger with the piercing stare looked like he hadn’t gotten up from any kind of sleep in days. A curtain of dark hair, cut in a retro pageboy style, framed the stranger’s intense face. His last question, “huh?” sounded, to Bucky’s southern ears, like “haw-uh?”
“Yeah, man. You’re right.”
They looked at each other, silent and awkward, when the counter girl yelled that the egg and cheese sandwich was ready.
Bucky got his plate of food and coffee, and felt drawn to the stranger. He didn’t want to impose on him, though. The stranger looked like he was in the middle of something: a pen and ratty notebook lay before him, inky writing slashed across the page.
“Sit down, man” said the stranger. “I need the company. My name’s Anton.” He held out his hand. Bucky could tell from his nails he played guitar. He must be writing a song, he thought. But at this hour? Who was this guy?
“Pleased to meet you. I’m Bucky.” He placed his food and coffee down and sat across from Anton. The table was small. Although he was across from him, Bucky somehow still felt too close. Perhaps it was the energy Anton was giving off.
“Bucky? That’s a cool name, man. Where are you from? Your accent’s pretty thick.”
“Rockingham, North Carolina. I just got booted off that show American Idol, and I wanted to wander around California before I got home.”
“Yeah, this isn’t just California, though. This is San Francisco. The entire city is built upon a vast Native American cemetery. That’s why everyone here, if they have a poetic bone in their body, feels the ghosts, the sadness, the imbalance. You can’t ever get balance here, man. It’s part of the appeal. I talk to the ghost of a beautiful teenage girl in my Victorian every night. She gives me words I’ve never heard of, and I put them in my songs…”
Bucky had been eating his sandwich during this monologue. The coffee was beginning to kick in, and he felt strangely drugged. Twired–tired and wired. Was he being hypnotized? Conned?
“American Idol, haw-uh? You’re a singer? A musician?”
“Yeah, I sing and I play some instruments.”
“Music is my life, too. I live it and breathe it. I have a band. Music comes before everything, man. I’m a mystic. I had a vision at a very early age that this was my destiny. Even now, I get my inspiration from good and evil, everything at the farthermost reaches of the universe: God, the devil, little bugs burrowing their heads in the dirt, dolphins in the bay. They all give me signals, and I turn them all into music.
I don’t give a shit about record contracts: I hit the road with my guitar, my harmonica, my instruments and my band, and I’m good to go; it’s all I need. I always know I’ll have enough money for booze and food. A place to lay my head…some beautiful lost soul to keep me warm at night, crying about her daddy, who’s in love with me before she even knows me. Why would you want to sell your soul if you could have that?
I heard about that American Idol teeny bopper shit. The bright lights, the cheesy music, you guys singing Karaoke for the masses, parading around in front of washed-out never-was has-beens like a bunch of Miss America whores. Did you really want to win a record contract like that? Struttin’ in front of three coked out losers with no talent, getting insulted, voted in or out by pimply teenaged girls and some over-weight, middle aged polyester-wearing broad with a Kool in one hand and cheese dip in the other, nursing a Rumplemintz on ice? Man, is that the regard you hold music in?”
Bucky began to regret sitting down. This guy was a freak, and seemed to be getting angry. He knew San Francisco was full of weirdos, but he had no idea he’d bump into one the first place he went. There was nothing to say. This stranger, this Anton, was on a roll. His questions weren’t questions so much as parts of a sermon that welled up in him, each question prompting more modulations of the rant.
“I told you I was a mystic,” he said, picking up his pen and drawing spirals on the page. Anton stopped and stared at them as he made them, as if he were hypnotizing himself, and then looked up at Bucky with ferocity. Bucky noticed for the first time that the guy was wearing an entirely 1960’s era wardrobe, complete with love beads.
Anton continued: “I’ve recorded with Manson, man. I took his venom like you milk the venom of a cobra, and turned it into music so pure and raw you could mainline it. Venom, acid, alcohol, all of the stimulants and all of the hallucinogens, and tears and semen and mother’s milk. All that courses through the veins of my music. And I’m gonna go and whore that out to a bunch of record pimps? Fuck no, man! Saying ’no’ to the machine, giving it away so they can’t take it from you–that’s how I keep out of sight of the robbers. I turn out my pockets and tell them there’s nothing to take. Have you ever read any poetry man? ’ I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted /To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.’ That’s what winning is, brother. Or how about this, ’ I write in order to have no face.’ Fuck fame! Keep it underground…”
Bucky wanted to get the hell out of there. This guy was off his meds, and seemed to like it that way. “You know, I really have to be going. All this is interesting, but I only have a day here, and I, I…gotta get going.” He finished the last sip of coffee and stood up, ready to walk away.
“Uh huh.” Anton resumed his writing. He seemed to have been inspired by his own rant, and was continuing it to himself on paper. It was as if he’d totally forgotten Bucky was there. His head was down close to the paper. Maybe he’d never really been talking to him
at all, but through him, to himself.
Suddenly he looked up. “Who’s your favorite musician. Your favorite band?”
Bucky told him what he’d told the American Idol interviewers: “Kid Rock.”
“You’ve gotta be fucking kidding man. No seriously, who would you give your soul to see. Who would you give your soul to be? Maybe they’re from a long time ago, dead, no longer together. Music that breaks your heart.”
Bucky thought for a second. He’d have to go on thinking about it, all day long and all his life.