|The Iroquois Club|
He stands on the stage at the Iroquois Club - belting out a Doors cover with all the sass and sex appeal he's got. He's got a lot. He's lean, wide shouldered and slim of hip, with dark, tousled, rock-star hair, blue eyes and a young man's chiseled features.
The young woman across from me is all but drooling. She wouldn't get a second glance from him, in spite of the bright blond hair, she's got 'mouse' written all over her. She sips her Morgan and Coke, talking softly during the break, but her eyes never leave him.
"His name is Teddy; he just got back from three years in Iraq." She sighs, her name is Kaylynn. She was National Guard and served with Teddy. "He swore up and down he wasn't coming back here, but - you see where he is."
He moves to the bar, flirting with every female in range and downs some shots. I wonder how much booze he can take before he can't sing standing up. It looks like he's pushing his luck. Teddy has an easy smile as well as a roving eye. He is well liked, I can tell by the indulgent way the bartender is pouring shots.
His band mates don't look happy with the way he's knocking back shots. The lead guitarist makes a cut off gesture that Teddy ignores.
"I work down the street, day shift at the restaurant," Kaylynn smiles. "He comes in at noon for breakfast."
"We are friends, during the day. At night, he's like this, I hardly know him." She bites her lip. "He was my best friend in Iraq. I don't understand why he's like this now."
"He wanted to go active duty, make a career out of the Army or go into the Air Force. But he's wasting his life drinking and drugging, playing rock star and screwing everything that walks."
What she isn't saying is pretty clear - she's in love with him.
There is a collective pause, and heads turn. The woman walking into the bar is a stunner. Black hair to her hips, scantily dressed in a red leather mini-skirt, she's either some biker's wet dream or a dominatrix escaped from a brothel.
My money is on the brothel. She's not a young woman and she's got a hard look to her that should send any smart man running for home.
"Destiny," the name is said with distain. "Well, we know who Teddy's going home with tonight. He sings that song to her, you know."
Teddy plants a lip-lock on Destiny that makes my companion's eyes fill with tears. The break is over; he is hip-to-hip with the woman as they walk to the stage. He mounts the stage giving her smoldering looks that should have caught the ceiling on fire.
Destiny wanders over to the pillar next to us, leaning on it as Teddy wails out a Roxy Music cover 'Love is the Drug' as if she is the only woman in the crowded room. This close to her, I get a look at the tattoo on her shoulder, an upside-down pentagram. There are a couple more tattoos, roses, thorns and bleeding hearts. Her earrings are dragons. She's thin, always has been, being thin is a good thing when you're a cougar - hunting after young bloods.
Destiny is mighty attractive for a woman pushing fifty. Yeah, I know her age, as well as what she did to keep her figure. The signs of aging are muted at night; I wonder what she looks like in the harsh light of day. A lifetime of taking speed and snorting coke can be covered by makeup and hair-color, but to really look young takes more drastic measures. You've got to sell your soul, either to a plastic surgeon or to Satan himself.
Destiny doesn't have money for a plastic surgeon.
"That song is posted on Create Space," Kaylynn dries her eyes. "People are downloading it like crazy. They are getting a lot of attention, and good reviews. Enough to where they are putting together an album."
"Cory and Tony are working really hard on the album, but Teddy blows them off. He won't lay down the vocal tracks." Kaylynn shakes her head. "I don't know what's wrong with Teddy. He won't make up his mind to do anything. Not the Air Force, not the album, he's just partying with her and her creepy friends."
"You know who I'm talking about." Kaylynn takes her eyes off Teddy to look at me for the first time. "That creepy artist - Van Man Go. Teddy is over there all the time." She shudders. "What a skank! But Teddy acts like Van and him are best friends - all the time he's screwing her, and she's been with Van for years."
I have to smother a laugh. Van Man Go’s name has popped up once again. I give the girl some encouragement before I get up to leave. As I walk passed Destiny we make eye contact.
“Kitty, how’s it going?”
“Good band, hot singer.” I smile at her, raising my eyebrows. “Cindy’s son, isn’t he?” We partied with Cindy, before Cindy departed to places unknown. She came back with Teddy, stories of a groupie’s life and AIDS; without money for healthcare, Cindy lasted only a few years. Nobody knows who Teddy’s father is.
Destiny doesn’t like to be reminded of the fact that we go back many years, that I know the age she carefully denies. Her eyes sweep over me, I’ve been on the straight and narrow for more than 20 years; that knowledge bugs her, too. She takes a drag off her cigarette and blows the smoke at me. I smile and walk away.
There is a couple sitting in the corner, a long lean man in a sport bike leather jacket and a slim woman with long dark hair, Eric and June. As Teddy announces “Lights” by Journey, Eric takes June’s hand, inviting her to dance.
They take over the dance floor. Teddy’s voice is pure and soulful as Eric gathers June to him with a tenderness that glows in the smoky light.
Destiny rolls her eyes in disgust. What is between those two is very real, and she can’t stand being in the same room with that kind of love. She brushes passed me. Teddy’s watching the couple dancing. There is a longing in his eyes that comes out through his voice.
Kaylynn has her eyes closed, pretending that Teddy is singing to her, no doubt.
I take that image with me – thick smoke, neon lights – a singer silhouetted in red and blue crooning to a couple, slow dancing their way to falling in love; in a bar, in the Harbor, in Ashtabula.
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