Amen, and all that. Sure. And you think I get tired? Of course. Who wouldn’t? Rest? Rest is just a four-letter word.
You see, I need to be manipulated to survive, and the coddling touch of Miss Massegee is all that’s ever strung me up good — real good, it once did. But now there’s not much left to get used to. My parts are not the whole she once knew. I get daffy and claw at remorse. I knock on myself, but the luck never sticks around. Spasms through and through the woodwork of my ways, all before the trunk’s shelter blacks out the world until the next show.
I arrived in pieces, you see, and now they won’t fit together like they used to; they won’t make me into me anymore. The fragile tremble of being brought to life — I do my bleak waiting in hopes of it. And they will say, “Oh, Erick! How you go gray.” I’m proud of every last silver follicle, like scars showing the horrors and tribulations I’ve been through on the way from stage to stage, from barroom to backroom to theaters where the curtains left long ago. My trousers are rolled for good, kids. Listen when your parents say, “Don’t end up like old Erick.” It’s the same advice I’d give.
Beverly doesn’t like when I go on like this. She’d be balling, most likely, if she knew. Calling me names is one of her specialties, and I’d be getting a few new ones, I’m sure, if she were still sticking around. Even in her arms with our eyes closed, she’d whisper under her breath, “That’s no way to say goodbye, you derelict dick. Don’t smile for the camera.”
Shit. It was sort of a sham I guess. And that “Amen!” was just one final “Bullshit!” to scream at the world. My voice was wrecked on that album anyway. I’d been on the hard stuff through a week of last calls, and the way I wasn’t sleeping at all would make even the most abominable insomniac quiver in terror. The DTs were creeping dagger-toothed spiders all over me, and I had to duck for cover in dark bars during the day, slowly scaring off the rowdy specters one needled beer at a time. The songs just spit themselves out of it all, and what I don’t remember about them is all I’ve got left of it.
I grow old. I grow old. The mermaids are laughing at me. I just know it. Beverly’s gone to Istanbul with the kids. I am nobody’s somebody. I’ve given up trying. The blue-black night of this battered soul just keeps getting darker, and it just keeps getting later and later here all the time. Amen? I guess. I am Erick, the hundred-voiced singer of triumph and zeal, and I’ve taken all the prisoners I can manage. Can’t even finish most of my sentences, while still there’s a parsnip of a song, singing in sign language: “Come drinking with me, under a baobab tree. The afternoon’s shot, let’s see what the evening might bring.”
Please, do not lay your hands on me. I am out of service. Perhaps you could put your arms around me instead? I promise I will not crack wise before the next round of hacksaws come around to make the rest of me comply with a proper finale — one last thing, before the razors of dawn slice me to bits, and the elephants crush my last dreams into the gravel of the past. Here’s to being alone. Let them burn my remains. I am closing my eyes to all of it for good. Oh, and some final advice for the kids: don’t try.