Marcy kept feeling more irritated. Since defeating King Malcolm those short months ago Larry’s behavior had changed markedly. Initially Marcy chalked it up to ego. Yet, there was something odd about Larry. For instance, he used to say he liked that she couldn’t be told what to do, but lately he would say things to her like: “maybe that’s enough;” or, “I don’t think that Milwaukee gig is such a good idea.” There is something truly odd about a binge-drinking-brawler telling someone not to have a ninth beer.
At first Marcy let it slide. Let the big dog chew on his bone. However, things really started grating on her nerves when she started suspecting Larry was involving the whole crew in his personal booze-duels unnecessarily. She didn’t really know why other than a suspicion it kept her close. He always seemed to be watching her, keeping an eye on what she drank, smoked, or snorted, all the while letting the others run straight into brick walls... sometimes literally. In a way, it was beginning to feel like having her dad around, though Larry pinched far less of her drugs than her old man used to.
Even worse, the constant drink-fights were taking a toll on her band. Sophie D. passed out in the middle of a bass solo. Not even drunk, she was just dead tired. George C. kept falling out of the pocket, and Jeanie X, well, at one knockdown brawl Jeanie went into a state of quantum disarray, her very atoms scattering causing her to disappear. Fortunately she reassembled outside the bar twenty minutes, running inside shouting, “I have seen the dragon queen, and we are all going to burn!”
“I’m just saying you could fight your own battles. You don’t always have to involve us,” Marcy said.
Larry frowned and nodded, “I just feel safer with you guys close.”
Marcy patted him on the cheek, “You are such a pussy.”
Larry said, “You’re right.”
Marcy winked, “Of course I am.”
She kissed him then hurried on stage. The crowd cheered. The bar’s windows flexed from the shouts. If nothing else the pub crawl brawls had garnered a larger following for LSDelight.
Larry sat at the bar sucking down a cold pint. He saw nothing wrong with his current situation. As long as he kept Marcy close at hand there was no chance of her overdoing anything. He’d already killed that Milwaukee gig where she’d died the first time. Sure, the band was pissed, but they got over it once his new reputation as king of the drink-fighters got them more shows. In addition, he made them a pile of money betting on the Hawks to win the Stanley cup, and being from the future gave him plenty of other gambling options to keep the cash coming.
Marcy chugged on her guitar as she sang in a soft purr, “Give me a lie so I can survive the night…” – Jeanie X. cut off the purr with a guitar squeal, Sophie slammed her bass, and George hammered; Marcy shifted tempo, and the purr turned to a snarl – “I don’t want to see you cut me. It ain’t so pretty. You do it deeply…”
Someone bumped into Larry causing him to spill his beer.
“Sorry. Oh, I’m so sorry.”
Larry blinked, “Ann?”
The little blonde smiled, “I’m sorry. Do I know you?”
“Larry. It’s Larry…” he trailed off. In this reality she didn’t know him. He’d never met his wife. He shook his head, “My bad. You reminded me of someone I know.”
“Thanks?” Ann blushed. He remembered how she did that whenever she felt nervous. So he decided to put her at ease:
“You’re much cuter than her. At least the way I remember her.” And he found himself realizing it was true. Larry’d gotten so used to Ann he hadn’t really seen his wife in years.
Ann looked away, trying to hide her smile. She shouted over the guitar solo, “That’s very nice of you.”
He felt compelled to ask a question, so leaned in to talk into her ear, “You don’t seem like the kind of person comes to this kind of show, or am I wrong?”
Ann shook her head. They shifted so she could talk into his ear, “Not usually, but my friends said we had to see this band. They’ve got a pretty big following.”
Larry smiled. He never suspected this side to his wife, a lady willing to plunge into dive bars after hard rocking bands. He started to wonder (worry) if, perhaps, he’d killed off a part of her with his own quest for banality.
Ann said, “I like to try new things. Even if they aren’t fun at least you can say, ‘Hey, I was there. I can be fun.’”
Larry raised his pint, “Indeed.”
A tall man looking like an ad for a prep school pushed his way through the pulsing crowd. He grabbed Ann by the arm, and jerked her over to him. He shouted in her ear loud enough for Larry to hear:
“You want a drink? I’m getting a drink.”
Ann nodded. She gestured to Larry, “This is… I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name.”
The Adman shook his hand without glancing at him, “Cool. You know what beers they got?”
The Adman cracked a half grin and said, “Alright, alright. Call me Gary.”
“Okay,” Larry drained his pint. He caught the bartender’s eye and held up three fingers. Three pints arrived in a few seconds alongside three shots of whiskey. Larry patted Gary on the shoulder, “Welcome to the show.”
“Good deal,” Gary grabbed a pint and downed a shot. Ann offered a sheepish thanks then reached for a pint as well. However, Gary snatched her shot saying, “You driving.”
Ann shrugged, “He’s right.”
Larry said, “You can have mine.”
Ann, “I’m okay.”
“I’ll do it,” Gary said.
Larry said, “That’s okay.”
Larry swallowed the burn, and glanced at the stage. Marcy was deep into it. She once told him that during a performance, when the show was going really well, she lost all sense of reality. She only heard the band, the crowd disappeared into an ignorable static; the universe ceased to exist. Those were the moments she felt the most alive. Those were also the moments he felt the most in love with her. Only, on this occasion, the sight triggered a knot in Larry’s stomach.
He chalked it up to hair of dog until the knot twisted at exactly the same moment Ann howled, cheering for more. The sound of Ann’s voice sent knives through Larry as he longed to kiss Marcy.
Noticing the pained look on his face Ann asked, “Are you all right?”
Larry nodded, “Yeah. Just been doing it hard lately. You know what I mean?”
Ann grinned, “Not all the time, but when I do watch out.”
“Oh yeah. I mean, I tend to go with the flow, so if like no one’s drinking I’m not either, no worries, but every so often it doesn’t hurt to go a little nuts.”
Gary butted into the conversation, “How ‘bout a little more magic?” – he tapped his empty pint. Larry waved for a fresh round. Gary gave him a thumbs up.
Ann pointed around, “Bathroom?”
“Bathroom,” Larry pointed her in the right direction.
The second she left Gary shouted in Larry’s ear, “What you think?”
“Of her? I got plans on fucking that.”
“I mean, I’d rather be doing her,” – Gary pointed at Marcy – “but I’ve settled for worse. Fucking dry spell lately.”
Larry smirked, “Funny. We have the same taste in women. I find that disturbing.”
Larry pointed at Marcy, “She’s my girlfriend.”
“No fucking way!” Gary bowed, “No wonder you got the bar mojo. You are a pimp, sir. A straight pimp!”
“Thanks, I guess.”
“Oh man, no offense, but I’m gonna be thinking of your girl while I’m putting it to that doughy bitch.”
Larry felt obliged to say, “Ann isn’t doughy.”
“She ain’t tight. I mean, let me put it this way: I feel sorry for whatever fucking loser thinks that’s as good as he can get.”
Larry asked, “Yeah, I’d hate to be that loser. By the way, how you so sure she’s going to put out?”
Gary elbowed him in the ribs, “Easy. Not gonna give her a chance to say no.”
“Whether she wants it or not.”
“She’ll get into it, and any no will be a yes, yes, yes...”
Later, when Marcy asked him to explain himself Larry simply said, “I blinked, and I’d pinted him.”
As Gary went to take a drink, giggling into his beer, Larry grabbed him by the back of the head, and slammed his face into the bar. The glass broke, shards slicing up into Terry’s cheeks.
Marcy threw up her hands, “Well this is just fucking great. The owner of that place is pissed. He's never going to hire us again.”
“It started a riot,” Sophie D. said.
Jeanie X. laughed as she cut out a chain of horned paper dolls.
Larry rolled his eyes to the ceiling, “I know, Sophie. I was fucking there.”
George C. held up his hands, “Not saying it won’t be good for our rep.”
Marcy and Sophie agree.
George went on, “However, that kind of random violence spooks me.”
It wasn’t all that random, though Larry would be damned if he explained why. He never expected to miss Ann, yet here he was, sitting with Marcy, the love of his life, missing his wife. Larry lit a cigarette and thought about putting it out on his arm.
PART 6: ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS