Beaver was sprawled on the couch, the Domino’s box balanced on his stomach. The little garage was equipped with a patchwork denim beanbag, a ratty couch covered in oatmeal tweed, Beaver’s drums, and a secondhand amp. “It is true your Grandma was a Doors groupie?” They had named their new band “The Windows” in a respectful tribute to the iconic rockers.
J shrugged, his guitar held tenderly in his arms. “That’s what she says. Hey, you know what tomorrow is, right?”
“Saturday? Our first gig?”
“It’s March the first, man. You got it now?”
“Uh, something about Julius Caesar? He got stabbed in the eyes?”
“Beaver, I swear. The Doors, man. The Miami Incident. Remember now? When the noble Jim showed his pride to the screaming crowds. Damn, that was righteous.”
“Oh, shit, yeah. Remember what he said on Youtube? It’s all about artistic freedom. Jim had it right. Artists, we’re a different breed.”
“Damn straight.” J raised his Mountain Dew in a salute. “To Jim Morrison. May that dude live forever, wherever he is.”
In celebration of March first, J talked Beaver into testing out the weed just a bit before the gig. “Ask Grandma, man,” J said. “Rock and Roll is wreathed in Mary Jane. I mean, shit, you ever hear Janis? Chick had a throat burned into a fine musical instrument with Jim Beam and reefer. That’s what I’m talking about.”
“What do you mean, what?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Beaver, you got to get it together! This is a holy day for The Windows.”
The Windows garage band’s debut was set at the Boise Teen Community Center, sponsored by the Interfaith Coalition. Teens were invited in off the streets for some music and companionship and light snacks, and chaperonage was provided on the holy day of March first by the LDS crowd.
Looking back on it later, J wasn’t sure if it was the excitement of their first gig or the smiling faces of so many pretty Mormon girls, staring up at him on the stage. Something caused him to do it. Beaver thought he was channeling the spirit of the noble Jim himself, because certainly his guitar playing reached a peak of perfection that night it had never achieved before in their practice jams. Whatever the reason, he felt the flush of rock and roll fever come over him, and his hand inched down to the zipper of his orange bell bottoms, the ones with the brown stripes that Grandma had found. She told him they were authentic.
He shouted out the question, just like Jim had done, and the pretty Mormon girls gasped, then surged forward, fumbling in their bags for their little cell phones. It was the lights from all those cell cameras that temporarily dazzled his eyes, so he didn’t see the beefy chaperones barreling up on the stage, fists raised.
Grandma came out to the garage with an ice pack and a bottle of Tylenol. J was on the bean bag, feeling moody, and Beaver was lying on the couch, wrapped up in the chenille quilt. The random nature of violence was the topic of their conversation. She stood in the door, studying them, then settled the ice pack on J’s forehead. “Boys, I just can’t tell you… I swear you make me feel young again, a couple of tough rockers like you nursing your hangovers. You two remind me of Jagger and that fellow Richardson. Did I ever tell you about that time in LA? It was after Altamont. Those were dark days. I could tell you some stories.”
Beaver sat up, pulled the quilt around his shoulders. His face looked as damp and white as a steamed dumpling. “I think I’ve got food poisoning.”
Grandma gave him a cold Mountain Dew from the little dorm fridge. “You boys checked out Youtube this morning?”
J waited until she was back in the house, then he and Beaver scrambled for the laptop. He still felt vaguely betrayed, and he was thinking Grandma was somehow to blame for the whole shit-kicking he had taken, in front of a room full of pretty girls.
“Dude! Would you look at that?” Hey! He looked hot! The guitar clutched against his crotch, his beads and bell bottoms looking freaky-deaky in the lights of the little cameras. Grandma had been right about the pants, after all. Beaver took a long pull on his Mountain Dew. “We need to get going on My Space, Facebook, Twitter, pronto. This is the headline: ‘The Windows Shatter Boise!’ Get it? Windows? Shatter?”
J gave him two thumbs up. “Oh, man. Jim would have been proud.”
Sarah Black is a fiction writer.