Streets are filled with broken glassA year and a half into being married to Cole, Lochlan sent a letter, registered mail from Atlantic City.
You get buried by the past
Give me just a little taste
Lay this mess to waste
Take me home
My mind is racing take me home
My body's aching so alone
I'll make you want to stay with me
Befriended by the enemy
One more time
Every little thing about this tells me
Nothing out there is ever gonna help me
All these words that I hear spoken
Just promises broken
Looking outside from a window sill
Throw another coin in my wishing well
Never find what you're looking for
Your dim light shines from so far away
Your sad smile is all I see when I say-
Renew your passport and come do this with me. Leave one madness for another.
That was it. Two sentences and his initial along with a hundred dollar bill to get me there. I started packing instead of eating the lunch I had just made for myself. I got on a bus and I went. I was twenty-four years old and I knew enough to pack everything I would need to stay for a while.
I should have packed that lunch. When I arrived Lochlan was busking for cash on the street. He was pulling in three or four hundred dollars a day as long as he began by nine, moved around a lot and kept it up until midnight with very few breaks. The day he started after lunch and finished up early he made forty-two dollars. Eight hundred dollars in he realized how unsustainable it was, and add in the fact that I did not want to pass his hat for fifteen hours a day in the sun, having walked away from a perfectly good job in air-conditioning where I made ten dollars an hour guaranteed. You ain't got nothin' if it isn't guaranteed.
Nights we would have a late dinner in the same dive bar each time and slow dance to the music over the PA. Soul Asylum was big back then, or maybe they just put them on when they saw Loch. His strawberry blonde hair was so long now it was almost straight. He looked like Dave Pirner, but shorter. (Loch is much, much shorter than Dave, as I found out later in life.)
Promises Broken was a favorite song for keeping us in line with each other at this point. I was married, he'd moved on (whatever that means) and we liked to slow dance and talk and daydream to pass the time while we waited to hear about the actual opportunity I had been summoned for, this one in New York with the show. This was not small time carnival anymore, it was full-on freak- and sideshow, be your performance, breathe in a madness of a different sort indeed, day in and day out.
Off we went up the coast. We thought it was legit. It was, in a way. In one way it was a dream life. Nomads. On the road again together. Best life. No rules. In another way it was a muted, corrupted nightmare and we never should have gone back down the road we did. We need rules. We need anchors. We need the security that doesn't exist out there. It isn't safe. It isn't fair. It isn't the same.
We were propositioned regularly. We were offered other jobs, far outside of what we knew, in the seedy underworld of unspoken entertainment and beyond. We saw things small town people shouldn't see, and at night we split a pint of whiskey so as to keep our wits while we slow-danced to that same damned song.
Loch was playing that song this morning and lamenting just a few more poor decisions we (Or I, to be fair) have made since then. Took me two days to find him down on the beach with a guitar, a pick and an untouched sketchbook, no pencils in sight and an empty whiskey bottle bigger than a pint, though I couldn't smell it on his breath when he kissed me. When I checked his body language for cues he caught me and explained that he poured it into the water, that he found what he was looking for and it wasn't in the bottle or the water. It showed up two days late and then heard the song and stood with her arms crossed, fighting off memories that he had no business bringing back to her now.
It's a zero-sum game now, Peanut, he said, and smiled and he tipped the very last drop onto his tongue. And you're not very good at those.