GG Allin is writhing around on a bed of broken glass on stage and screaming about his penis but none of us are paying any attention to him.
K and I just got back from a visit to the bathroom to touch up our noses, and Screamer’s new girlfriend tried to start some shit. No punches or kicks were exchanged but we all mean-mugged all over the damn place and hurled threats not so thinly veiled and jabbed stiff fingers at one another. And you could feel the ether sizzling.
“I’ll jam her teeth down her throat if she even looks at me again,” K promised.
“Last week we were all sharing our malt liquor,” I pointed out.
“Screamer and Shaun got into it outside the liquor store last night.”
“And?” Shaun is K’s boyfriend. He likes to get into it.
“Well if they’re not getting along then we’re…” Her voice trailed off as she chugged from her beer and glared with slit eyes at everyone within the vicinity.
I knew what she was saying anyway. In a close-knit scene like ours, loyalties shifted like sand.The person you lit cherry bombs with down at the Albany landfill might metamorphose into your enemy within a few days or hours. And girls’ allegiances switched up depending who their current boyfriend happened to be which is what basically happened with Shelly.
“Plus her lipstick is a dubious shade.”
“Purple isn’t punk rock,” I agreed. Black or fire engine red were the choices.
K slapped down a couple of bucks on the bar without looking and finished her beer in one long swallow while simultaneously checking things out sideways. The bartender Owen slid another beer over to her and looked at me. I dug up some coins and was still counting them over, hoping to somehow make $1.55 grow into more money, when K shook her head, mumbled something and slid over another couple of crumpled bills.
“Thanks babe.” We clinked bottles.
Onstage GG is wondering how long it would take him to hemorrhage to death if he cut his dick off with a piece of glass. I watch him for a moment before K’s hand pulling at the sleeve of my leather jacket distracts me. Punks have ranked themselves around the doors to the bathroom. I recognize my friends’s faces in one group, Screamer and his folk in the other. Voices are buzzing in low furtive argument, shoulders are set, fingers check that mohawks and nail spikes haven’t wilted in the thick heat of so many bodies crammed into a small space. The air smells of tobacco, beer and farts.
Nathan, the guitar player in my boyfriend’s band, moves away from the wall with a swagger. His face is set in a smile which doesn’t look very natural. He catches Screamer’s eye and blows him a kiss and just like that, everything explodes.
I remember they all went to Berkeley High together, ate lunch out under the trees when they were little, skinny punks and it meant something more than fashion and the coolness factor. But none of that matters now.
I duck a swinging chair, pull K out the way just before a small table comes flying across the room. The pit empties spilling effortlessly over into the fight. It’s a seething mass of black leather and denim. White faces like moths on a wet sidewalk, mouths open in shouts which merge into one droning, thunderous noise cut with the sound of breaking glass.K is throwing wild punches. I’m kicking out with my heavy boots. We surge like one organism. Someone is down on the ground, surrounded by steel-toes, curled like a pillbug. I see his head rocket back in slow motion. Blood erupts.
I feel a sharp pain on my ear. I put my fingers up and they come away red. The skin around one of my twelve hoop earrings hangs in a shred. Some bitch pulled my earring out.
I spin around, see Screamer’s girlfriend. Not Shelly. Not the girl who rolls her own smokes and willingly shares; who snorts when she laughs, and has buzzed hair soft as a kitten’s fur. Not Shelly, but Screamer’s girlfriend. She’s crouched in a defensive pose. My ear throbs. Her eyes widen as she recognizes me and then I slug her in the nose.