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Machina

Aberrant: Zuper Zcience Zeppelin InvaZion - ZZZZ: Battle of the Bands (Final Remix) [AU][M]

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Machina    0

It was Monday, and I was hung over. Again. Motorhead's 'Ace of Spades' jarred me out of sleep that I hadn't needed and back to my senses. I look at the clock. Seven in the fucking morning? Who the fuck was calling me this early? Damn. I rolled off the couch, my mismatched sock-no-sock feet landing on the concrete and finding their home amongst some empties and stood, yawning, stretching, letting my eyes catch up with the rest of my body. I snatched the phone from the old cable spool coffee table and looked at the face. The number wasn't one I recognized at first. New York City area code, Manhattan. Shit, let's see. 355 prefix. The Waldorf? Who the fuck was calling me from the Waldorf?

I hit the 'talk' button and light a rollie. "Yeah."

"Mr. Donighal?" The voice on the other end is inquisitive, but in no way uncertain, and stinking of a upper class British upbringing. A little bit fey, and somehow familiar. But nobody who'd ever use this line would call me that, much less phrase it as a question.

"Sorry, wrong number." I hit the 'end' button and throw the phone on the couch. The world is crazy enough without strange British men calling me first thing in the fucking morning addressing me by the name on my birth certificate. I stumble over to my console and slug out the remants of last night's coffee, a bitter soup of ragwater-thin gin heated and strained through some ground up Duncan Hills french roast. What's left fills my tin mug with enough for another cup left over, so I swig it back hard enough that half of it crawls out of the corners of my mouth and ends up on my wifebeater, then drain the urn for another cup that I carry with me back to the couch. I flick on the oldies channel, the channel they use to play all the music that was made before a bunch of mutant gods wrecked the fuckin' planet, and slump down. They're playing the Stones, and that's good enough.

My phone goes off again, Lemmy's voice sounding like someone's trying to muffle him with an ether rag. I lean up, pull the thing out from where I was sitting on it, and answer it again, ready to get angry.

This time, the voice doesn't wait for me. I've barely got it to my ear when I hear that voice from before tell me my name, and this time, it isn't asking. "Gerad Donighal, Agent Machina."

My brow furrows so hard I could use it as a coaster. "Who the hell is this, and what the fuck do you want?"

I got to admit, I wasn't expecting the answer I got. "This is David Bowie", he said. "And I need your 'elp."

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Machina    0

I stop for gas at a decrepit station on the western lip of the island, a direct transplant from Butte or Carson City. The only guy around, an old-timer with a few years on my father, sees the '67 Shelby I'm driving and gives an appreciative whistle. He asks me where I'm headed, same as he probably does with just about anybody who isn't a punk kid or a scary foreigner.

"David Bowie told me to go to the Chelsea hotel", I tell him.

He gives me a cool nod, like what I just said made absolute sense. "Well, sure, sure. David Bowie asks you to do something, you pretty much got no choice."

I don't stick around to ponder what possible series of events lead he and I to be having this conversation with these placid, matter-of-fact words, so I thank him for the fuel, wish him a good day, and keep going. The radio station ticks over to Van Halen's 'Beautiful Girls'. I cringe and throw Robert Johnson into the tape deck. 'Crossroad Blues' lasts me until I reach the Chelsea.

Standin' at the crossroad, I tried to flag a ride

Didn't nobody seem to know me, everybody pass me by

Mmm, the sun goin' down, boy, dark gon' catch me here, oooo ooee eeee

Boy, dark gon' catch me here

I haven't got no lovin' sweet woman that love and feel my care

Lord, that I'm standin' at the crossroad, babe I believe I'm sinkin' down...

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Machina    0

The right kind of man could live and die at the Chelsea, and he wouldn't have been the first. Dylan Thomas springs immediately to mind, and in a perfect world, so would Sid Vicious. Charles R. Jackson liked the Chelsea so much he decided he'd never leave, and in 1968, he made sure of it, dying with a bottle of booze clutched in his hand. A lot of tough guys in one form or another had lived at the Chelsea over the years. Mark Twain, Arthur C. Clarke, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Jean-Paul Sartre, Stanley Kubrick, Mitch Hedberg, Dennis Hopper, Deedee Ramone, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Richard Crumb. They all called the Chelsea 'home' at some point in their often short lives.

Bartender, if you'd be so kind, add one 'Gerad Donighal' to the guest list.

When I was sixteen, I ran away from home. It was the kind of dumbfuck thing that cocky young pricks with parents who give a shit about them do. You get sick of mom and dad one weekend and you decide to fuck off to go get drunk. My weekend lasted about eight months. I could've gone to stay with my cousin in New Paltz. Instead, I hitched a ride to Manhattan and took up the life of a wastrel, shithead youth. Just another piece of litter lining the halls of the Chelsea.

This would have been, oh, 1986 or so. I was staying in a room for one with six or seven other kids. Most of them were on junk constantly, but they were good enough company. I got my first blowjob in that room at the Chelsea from a girl who looked like Cyndi Lauper, shifting uncomfortably in a futile attempt to not make a show of it for the other twelve or thirteen people crowding the room at the time. I was drunk. Afterwards, she tried to stuff my cock up her ass - up her ass, because it had been 'popped' by her stepdad and was apparently therefore unworthy of holdout - and I might have been drunk enough to try, had I not thrown up gin and hot dogs before she could muster the coordination to succeed.

Every night was the same. Wonderful, jagged as a dull knife wound, an exercise in the kind of freedom that only the very rich and the very poor can possess. We'd wake when the sun set and cross town from Seventh to Bowery, asking tourists for change, sifting through garbage, and stealing any food or liquor in arm's length. We'd always end up at CBGB's. While I lived at the Chelsea, I must have seen some of the best fucking bands in the history of our miserable species. I got into a fight at a Black Flag concert and necked with a trannie at a Minor Threat show. I got twelve stitches in my arm after seeing the Dead Kennedys, and broke my hand floorpunching when Motorhead played. After an AC/DC set, Cyndi Lauper ditched me to go backstage and ended up giving head to Angus Young, and some bouncer prick in order to get to Angus Young. Hard to be mad about that; I'da ate out Grace Jones if I meant getting a shot at Joan Jett or Lita Ford, myself.

A few months after I turned seventeen, a buddy of mine died. Overdose, natch. I figured about then it was time to move back and take my medicine. My old man kicked my ass and then took me to an Army recruiting office. Probably the best thing I ever had forced on me. Maybe a tie for that Cyndi Lauper blowjob, on second thought.

So here I am at the Chelsea again, and I've got the feeling of going back to my high school reunion only to find that all the cool fuckers you remember going to school with sent their kids in their stead, and so it's you and all the mewling little shitstains your fuckup friends raised. The walls have been painted over again and again. The place is cleaner now. College kids sit around and type on laptops while sipping coffee. Sid Vicious could never stab Nancy to death here, for fuck's sake.

Cigarette smoke wafts out of the lounge, calling me like a cartoon of some starving animal smelling a distant pie cooling on a windowsill. I follow it to a group of seven men sitting and smoking around a circular table with eight places set. I'm momentarily struck dumb, but nothing in my face betrays it. I notice them, they notice me, and the one closest to the door, a menacing skull with skin stretched tight over it and hair past his shoulders flicks his head towards the table, beckoning me over. The other six continue to talk amongst themselves, low growls that would scare away any of the children intrepid enough to venture close. Like any of the fuckups outside even know who these guys are.

I take the free seat and look around the table. Common names for uncommon men: Tom to my left, Neil to my right. John and Jim to their sides, then Nick and Thurston. Then James, who called me over. I figure most of you, though, would probably know him as 'Iggy'.

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