Painting by Baron

Hype Street - Danton Thorne

Jeremy Lewis came out of the woods country of Minnesota, with a wife and three kids, and the dream of the promised land of Washington, where there were jobs for hard working young men. He came first sleeping in his van, working at the boat yard, applying his skills to wooden boats at 8 dollars an hour. Compared to what he could get in Minnesota it was a fortune so he soon called up his wife, got a week off work and drove back to Minnesota and packed up the family and headed west.


Jeremy had been kicked out of the sect, he'd been a preacher but he couldn't control himself. He drank and when he drank he did cocaine and whored. They did not like that at the church and they wouldn't let him preach anymore, though his wife and children went to the church and did missionary work. Jeremy was an artist, a muralist who had a taste for the extravagant, perhaps he was a Viking too. At least that's what I thought when I saw him drive up on a black Japanese rice burner sporting 750 cubic inches of spine wrenching power. He pulled to a stop before the beer garden and gave me a big grin. He was wearing no helmet and his blonde wavy hair was combed back in a pompadour. A few of the girls drinking beer eyed the bike with a cool appraisal, not a Harley, but those Japanese bikes could book.

"Where'd you score the wheels," I asked.

"Right out of the paper."

"I mean where'd you get the bread for this baby."

"You wouldn't believe it man, I got a commission to do the garden of Eden on this couples bedroom ceiling."

"The garden of Eden?"

"Yeah, snake and all."

"Jesus, that's something. I'm surprised you're wife let you buy the bike. I thought she was getting welfare."

"That's nothing. I can take care of her. But this bike it's beautiful."

"Yeah, beautiful. I surmise that you haven't told the wife about this purchase, yet."

"Nah, but it will be all right."

"If you say so, but I have a hard time picturing Gwen riding on the back of this baby."

"She's got wheels now, she don't need to ride on the bike. Let's go have a beer. You up for it?"

"Sure, I'll drink a beer with you. What the hell.

"That's the spirit. Man I love bikes, I'd like to ride from one end of the country from the other on one. Can you dig it— I mean the freedom."

"I can dig it."

We strode through the beer garden into the Grotto, a dimly lit bar that smelled of stale beer and had a half dozen regulars hanging on barstools. Jerry, the owner came over,

"Can I help you guys?"

"A pitcher of your best. My ship just came in," Jeremy laughed.

"I like the sound of that."

"Yeah, and I just bought a bike, a seven-fifty."

"Amazing!"

"Life is a kick in the ass."

I saw Jeremy again a week later. He was living in his studio downtown now. His wife had kicked him out of the house and was threatening divorce. He'd painted a copy of a Vargas girl on the gas tank, and was dressing in black leathers. He'd been off to Seattle and was on a roll. I was on the wagon trying to keep my liver from exploding and avoided him. That Saturday there was a knock on my door and it was Gwen, dressed in a two piece dress suit. A curly haired blonde dude dressed in a suit and a tie was with her. They were definitely over dressed for the neighborhood and were packing bibles and study books, they wanted to talk about religion.  Being on the wagon I was feeling kinda holy so I let them in, and brewed up some coffee.

 Gwen smiled, "You don't mind us coming over," she asked.

"No that's all right."

"Well, we're here to preach the word of the Lord."

"Why."

"For the salvation of your soul."

"My soul? Uh, do you like you're coffee with cream and sugar."

"Sure, both— and yes, your soul."

"Why my soul?"

"Because the word of the lord must be brought to all people before he will return and lead the chosen to heaven."

"How do you get to be chosen. If you are of the elect, you will know."

"You mean like it's preordained."

"Exactly," She smiled, I was getting it.

"What's in Heaven?" I asked.

"It's wonderful. It's perfect."

"How do I know about this."

"It's in the bible."

"There's a lot of stuff in the bible, a lot of it contradictory. I mean how do you know that you are going to heaven."

"I have faith."

I knew I was over my head but I was interested in learning about Jeremy's wife and what was going on. People who are going to heaven are kind of scary to me. I can't figure out where the place is.

"Is Jeremy going to heaven?" I asked.

Here eyes turned bright and startled, "That is not for us to determine," she said. "It's the lords will."

"But how do we know the lords will?"

"We know," the spoke in unison then the curly haired guy continued. "The lord speaks to the prophets."

"But how do you know who is a prophet and who is a crazy man, just hearing voices."

"The word of the lord is apparent to the faithful."

After coffee they left, and my eyes dwelt on Gven's ankles as she walked down the stairs. I could see why Jeremy hung around her, but they were a pair— my god, they were a pair. Jeremy was up right after they left and wanted to know what they wanted. I told him they were doing missionary work.

"That's gods work," he told me.

"Give me a break. The way you live..."

"I am a sinner but they are doing gods work. The day will come when I will pass through this veil of sin and walk into the arms of the lord."

"Let's change the subject, I've talked about god enough for one day."

"Don't you believe in god."

"Yeah, but I'm a transcendentalist."

"A what?"

"A transcendentalist. I believe that god is present in the essence of the universe, in all things, and that we as human beings are manifestations of god. Ultimately, it mellows me out a little, and that's all I really expect out of life or religion."

"You are a sinner, you will go to hell."

"Look, I got a couple brewskis left in the kitchen from my last bender. You want one."

"Uh, yeah."

"Good get it yourself. I got a headache. I gotta lay down."

"You want a beer, too."

I thought about it for a moment then replied, "Why not, sun's over the yardarm."

The sun broke low on the horizon the next morning and I tried to relax a little by popping a brew and watching the girls walk along Main Street. It was to early to call my partner, Harry, we were promoting rock and roll dances for the under twenty-one set, looking to make a big hit someday. The bands we worked with were pimple faced kids from grunge scene and sometimes they got a little out of control and thought that they were what the money was all about. Shit, as far as I could tell the worse the music sounded the better it should. Hype was the name of the game.

A soft wind wafted down the street shaking the leaves in the trees, flitting through the branches robins hung out staring back at me,  I smiled Good Morning World I am ready to do it again. I stretched and plodded down the hall and looked in the bedroom, Juli was sleeping on her stomach breathing softly, her blonde hair swept into a mist on the pillow. In the kitchen I turned on the gas stove and threw some thick slices of bacon on the skillet. Soon the room was filled with the smoke from the bacon grease. Sliding the window open I watched the billowing smoke escape. I fired up the coffee maker  tossing in some freshly ground Kenyan beans. Yes, life was good.

"Jesus Christ! What are you doing?"

It was Juli, standing dressed only in one of my

T-shirts in the doorway.

"It's breakfast, baby."

"What time is it?"

"It's nine-thirty or so."

"Shit! I've missed two classes already. My mom is going to be on my ass."

"Don't worry about it. Take the day off. I gotta drive to Tukwilla to check out a band. They're hot."

"I gotta take a shower."

"Go ahead, you want some orange juice first."

"Huh? Uh, yeah." I poured her a wine glass full of orange juice. She
accepted it with a smile, her pale-blue eyes looking up into mine.

"My mom's going to have my ass."

"Really?"

"Don't be gross."

"I didn't know you were getting it on with your mother."

"Your a pervert, you know that?"

"No, I'm not, I waited until you were eighteen before I bedded you."

"Some birthday present."

"You liked it at the time."

She looked at me for a moment then swept her hair over her shoulders with her hands.  "It takes all kinds of people to make up a world.  We're just two of them. Save some breakfast for me."

I didn't like the fact that she was skipping school. She had a scholarship at the University of Washington next year and that would save me a lot of bucks. I don't know how Juli and I got tied up. She started hanging out at the dances watching the bands, and for some reason talking to me... the old man. Hell, at forty, I was ancient to her, she was sixteen at the time. I thought she was just another bimbo after the band. Some bimbo, she was paying her own way as a model by the time she was seventeen, breaking a cosmetics account and quitting volleyball. That pissed her mom off, but at five-foot-six Juli wasn't going to play college. She was built for something else, she was the best.  I could hear the shower still running as I served up the two breakfasts, bacon, eggs, honeydew melon. Sweet thoughts of the previous evening touched me, life was good, one had to just keep hustling, time moved on and once you stopped it passed you by. So, don't stop, even if it kills you, this is the life you love. The phone was ringing in the living room. I waited for the answering machine to click on, I was tired of calls from creditors. It was Harry, calling.

"Goddamn it Derek, I know you're in there—answer the fucking phone. Todd's in jail we gotta go down and bail him out."

Todd, the speed freak drummer for the Mindless Weirdness, our most popular band, had done it again. I had to answer the phone, I had the check book and I knew Todd didn't have a dime. We had him on an allowance of twenty grand a month and it was gone by the 15th every month. He owed the band a bundle and that was the way I liked it. Todd thought he was a star, but really he was just a spoiled small town boy. I was looking for real talent, but for now Hype was all I had, so I answered the phone.

"Give me the low down."

"They busted him down by Pioneer Square with two hookers, drunk out of his mind. He'd smashed the Ferrari into a fire hydrant."

"I guess that made quite a splash. This will be good for publicity. We need something to hype sales on that last CD. They catch him with any drugs?"

"Nah, he ate a baggy of coke."

"Too bad, we might have got an article in Rolling Stone. He didn't OD did he?"

"No such luck."

"I'll be right over. You call the insurance agent yet? That Ferrari was owned by the band."

"I'll leave that up to you. That tax write-off was your idea."


3

Juli walked into the kitchen naked, wrapping her hair with a towel. I looked up at her and smiled. Youth was fine, her velvety skin shown ruddy red from the scrubbing and she walked up and pressed her hips against me.

"What was the phone call about."

"Todd, busted for a DUI."

"That cretin."

"I thought you liked him."

"Pimples, and long stringy hair and listening to cool man cool day and night. No thanks by the time I'm thirty I'll own a dozen like him."

"Ambition's something your not short on."

"You're not short yourself."

"I didn't think you'd noticed."

"I keep my eyes open."

"I thought you closed them and fantasized about Todd."

"Get off it. I wouldn't touch that slime ball. This is the age of AIDs."

"You telling me you're faithful to me."

"Of course I am. You're my man."

I looked at her and wondered if any woman a sexual and ambitious as Juli could remain faithful. I didn't say anything, it wouldn't do any good. And besides, I had a little going on the side. It was a dangerous game— but what was the alternative? I guess I could get religion and go around pushing little books on people telling them about the end of the world and the hope of heaven. But life wasn't that bad, I took my little piece of heaven out of one short lifetime, and a sweet little piece she was. Gwen picked a piece of bacon off my plate and ate it.

"You wanta come down to the jail house while I bail out Todd. Then we can go down to Tukwilla and listen to that new band I gotta line on."

"Yeah, it'll take me a little while, but Todd ain't going nowhere."

We finished breakfast in leisure, then she went into the bedroom and changed into sheer yellow nylons, flats and a green mini-skirt.

"How do my legs look, you think I should wear heels?" she asked adjusting her bra around her rosebudbreasts

"You don't need heels, you got great legs. They're your best feature."

"I thought you liked my mind best."

"Only because it's attached to your ass."

"You are such a sweet talker."

"I have to be to get along with smart girls."

"Is there someone else. Have you been seeing Jana again, I'll claw that bitches eyes out."

"Jana and I are friends."

"Shit, there ain't no such thing as friendship with that predatory bitch."

"No, I haven't been seeing her."

"Don't lie to me."

"We had coffee last week."

"Coffee and what— a blow job in the front seat."

"Don't be obscene. You know Jana doesn't give blow jobs unless she's drunk."

"You bastard."

"You got that right."

I pulled her to me and kissed her, the sweet freshness of her body enveloped me and we fell onto the bed, my hand catching her above the knee then spreading the silken thighs.

4

Todd meanwhile was going through withdrawals in the King County jail but I didn't care, I pulled Juli towards me and her eyes closed slightly, I slipped her nylons halfway up her thighs and pressed by body over her. Sweet dreams and flying machines, Rock and roll fantasy. Harry was pounding on the door, it was an hour later I guess. I pulled on my sweat pants and let him in he looked at me and said, "I thought you'd be ready."

"I'm ready all right. So, you really want to bail the bastard out."

"The man's a gold mine."

"He's mine all right. How much is bail?"

"We'll know at eleven, he goes before the judge then. He's spent his mandatory 24 hours in jail all ready."

"Yeah, it can't be two much can it. I think I got a couple hundred grand in the bands account. They're running low. We're gonna have to put them on tour or something."

"Yeah, the way they spend money they'll be broke in a couple of months."

"The hero's of a generation. I love it."

"You created them. They were you're idea."

My idea— right. Now that Todd had fucked up it was my idea. I had met Harry that winter in a bar in Port Angeles, a little mill town on the way to nowhere. There was only one decent bar in town and I was in it drowning my sorrows. Tanya was dead and Jana and I had hung out in Seattle for a while, but she was a career girl and had resumed her on again off again relationship with her producer, who was married to some rich bitch who wouldn't give him a divorce. So, after finding myself playing third fiddle to her producer and her career, I went on a drunk that ended me up washing dishes in a restaurant in Forks, a logging town where spotted owl soup was the main entree. Well, I called Jana and told her where I was, so she sent me a check and I took the bus back to P.A.  where I'd make connections to Seattle. I missed connections so I grabbed a motel room then found the classiest bar in town. Harry stood about five-six and weighed two-seventy-five underneath a bald pate circled by a crescent of thinning black strands. Of course, he wasn't standing when I met him he had his legs wrapped around a bar stool and was drinking boilermakers. I was hammering bourbon and waters feeling low about crawling back to Jana with my tail between my legs.

Harry was a record producer and he hired me to do promotion for him. Boy, did I promote, four months later I was living in the Fremont district with an 18 year old lover and owned 50 percent of a record label. They tell me I'm a natural. Shit, I just do what I want— I'm uninhibited and that's the key in the hype business. Anyway, enough history. Judi and I got dressed and I grabbed the checkbook. We had a court date a 11 a.m. and that wasn't that far away. Harry had come over in the stretch limo and Ramone was waiting in the parking lot smoking cigarettes, with one foot cocked up against a tire. Ramone was one half of Harry's service staff, Fifi was the other. Fifi, was holding down the fort at Harry's penthouse probably on the phone talking to one of her girlfriends. We could never get through on the cellular and she never used the call waiting feature, when we were on the road, but Harry didn't care. Fifi and Ramone had lives of there own, as Harry said, they come with the territory.

Ramone gave Judi the eye through his one way shades as she showed plenty of leg crawling into the back seat. I know, Ramone went for it every chance he got. I was there to make sure he didn't go for it with Judi— I kinda liked the girl, she had class— something you don't see a lot of in this business. Ramone pealed out of the parking lot causing Harry to slop the gin and tonic he was pouring on his freshly pressed khakis and Happy Harry Hawaii shirt.

"Shit, slow down fucker."

The car lurched and Harry slopped gin on his crotch.

"Honey can you help me with this?" he asked Judi.

"I would but I didn't bring a blow torch."

"Baby you wouldn't do that to me. Would you?"

"Harry, I'm a one man woman."

"Give me a break— you two are a riot— and in this business."

I lit a cigarette and smiled. I liked the girl, and not even out of high school yet. Ramone guided us into traffic and onto the Freeway. Harry was dabbing his pants with tissues trying to sponge off the moisture.   Downtown Seattle loomed up before us blue and green gray steel buildings, the New York of the West Coast, the happening music scene— it moved around and now it was here. I laughed so this is what it's all about, you grow older— up make money and you wet nurse rock and roll stars. Oh, well— the money was good, and if I didn't have the loot I wouldn't have the babe. That's the way life went in the wild west.

5

Ramone pulled the purple Cadillac to a halt in the loading zone in front of the police station, a chrome and steel wonder in the heart of the downtown business district. Harry leaned over and switched the television off, Perry Mason was extinguished in an electronic zap.  Ramone got out and opened the curb side door and Judi put her foot on the curb. Vagrants sitting bumming quarters on the sidewalk lowered there line of sight to get a look up her dress. 

"Doll, don't you think you should wait in the car?" I asked.

"With Ramone?" she replied.

I thought about that one. Harry had once told me Ramone could jump a girls bones faster than anyone he'd ever seen— a total animal.

"Nah, come on with us. You might as well see what a real rock and roll star is all about."

"Goody."

"We should never have taken her a long. This could be a mess," Harry said.

"Life is a mess," I replied. "She's legal age."

"Don't worry Harry," Judy laughed, "I won't be shocked. After the things that teen-age boys say to me at school every day Todd will be easy."

"Little girl, life is full of surprises," Harry told her, then to me, "Where did you find this one at anyway."

"A high school football game."

"Figures. You were just hanging out, right?"

"Don't get on my case, she's smarter than any bimbo you've ever groped."

We were at the door, Harry opened it for me and said, "I love you baby, that's why you're my partner. You and Todd deserve each other."

At the front desk we learned from a grinning cop that the bail was 50 grand.

"Fifty-grand," Harry screamed, "What did he do, murder somebody?"

"It was a grand until he started mouthing off in court. Is he really John Lennon's illegitimate sun by Janis Joplin."

"Janis Joplin never had no kids."

"I didn't think so, but that was before my time.

Anyway, you're lucky Judge Bailey didn't hit him with contempt of court, but he was laughing so hard he just upped the bail. Your man has to show up in court again in 30 days. "

"Isn't there some way we can take care of this?"  Harry asked.

 "Exactly what do you mean," the cop leered at Harry.

I grabbed Harry and pulled him aside and told him, "Damn it Harry, just pay the bail. We'll get the money back. Don't get yourself in hot water."

"You're so straight."

"Damn right I'm straight, now just cool it and cut the check."

"Okay— okay."

Harry cut the check and Judi placed her hand inside my elbow. I looked at her, pony-tail, mini-skirt, fresh from love and smiled. Everyone was looking at her she loved it. She was born to be a star. The cop got on the intercom and called for them to release Todd and told Harry, "It'll be a few minutes."

"Oh yeah, pay 50 grand and wait."

"Now it's over an hour."

"Harry shut up," I told him pulling him aside.

"You fuck up one more time and Judi and I are leaving.

"Okay... Okay."

I led him over to a bench where we sat down and waited for an hour and a half. People came in, hookers, gang members, lawyers, all the same breed— people out for the easy score. A hooker in red net stockings and a low cut velvet blouse sat down next to me and crossed her legs.

"You got a cigarette?" she asked.

"Uh, yeah. Camel all right."

"Yeah, thanks. What you in for?"

"He's not in for anything. So cut the small talk sister." Judi told her, eyes blazing.

"Oh, who's this? Your daughter."

"I told you you shouldn't have brought her along,"

Harry said looking at the ceiling.  "His daughter— you bitch."

"Calm down Judi— all she's trying to do is be friendly."

"Friendly. I'll show you friendly."

The door opened and Jana walked in dead serious dressed in a blue two piece suit with a camera man and a sound man. Her eyes caught mine and she smiled.

"Derek, What you up to?" she asked.

"Bailing out Todd Laruu— Drunken driving beef."

"Your here for the same reason I am."

"Don't tell me Todd's news."

"We gotta have something to put in between domestic violence and drive by shootings."

"Maybe you should go national."

"Then I'd put Todd between Terrorist bombings and ethnic cleansing. It's all the same love."

"This some friend of your?" Judy asked.

I looked at Judi, then Tanya, they were staring at each other.

"Yeah," I said. "An old friend. Judi Marttins this is Jana Jammison, you're the two smartest women I know."

Judi laughed and Jana shook her head and Jana asked, "Who's this? "indicating the hooker who taking one look at the camera, uncrossed her legs and stood bolt upright.

"I ain't nobody," she said and moved to the other side of the hall.


6

"You fuckers haven't heard the last of me!" Todd's voice cannonaded down the hall.

I relaxed, all was well. Todd was on his way toward us, his stringy blond hair billowing, a grin on his face.

"Where you guys been," he asked.

"I've been in this hell hole for weeks."

"Yeah, Todd. Looks like you got in a little trouble," I replied.

"Trouble? Shit! They ain't seen nothing yet."

"Yeah, well we put up your bail. You should get a kick out of that."

"Great! I'm outa here!"

"Let's get him out of here, come on Todd. Off to the stretch limo."

"Just a minute please. Todd I'm Jana Jammison from Newswatch. Can you tell us what's the story here."

"I ain't talkin' to no...," Todd's eyes glistened as he realized he was on center stage, it shook me inside.

"Well, maybe I do have something to say. Yeah, it's time the police stop bothering us law abiding criminals... I mean, there ain't nothing wrong with what I was doing..."

I grabbed him by the arm and led him down the hall way as he screamed, "Fuck you television people, fuck you all..."

Jana and her cameraman followed us to the limo. I stuffed Todd inside with Juli and told him to keep quite.  Jana looked at me, the microphone in her hand and asked. "Here is the manager of Todd Laruu, Derek Thorne. Derek, can you make a comment on the incident."

I looked at her for a moment, then smiled into the camera. God I loved this, "Hi, Jana, I have no comment to make until I talk to Todd. I'm sure this incident is blown way out of proportion and Todd will be ready to perform next Thursday in Sydney, Australia for our relief concert there for the aborigines."

"The aborigines," Jana asked, her eyes widening slightly.

"Yes, the aboriginal people. Todd, and all of Weirdness have a great social consciousness."

"What about this bending Italian steel around a fire hydrant down on pioneer square. What has that to do with social consciousness."

"Todd has a hard time accepting wealth and fame. The car was a symbol of the excesses in greed that our culture has come to symbolize."

"Stop the camera," Jana said. "You know I can't run that."

"Too bad. Somebody should. See you later Jana. I gotta mess to clean up. Dinner Saturday at the Space Needle."

"You know I can't."

"Why don't you lay off him bitch," Juli said jumping out on the street. "You two are history. He's mine now."

"You little bitch. What are you doing out. Skipping high school. Run the camera Louis."

I knew this was going to be trouble. Louis had the camera running. Juli was screaming at Jana and trying to jerk the microphone out of her hands. I tried to get my hand in front of the lens— another typical day in the life of the rock and roll promoter. Finally, I trundled Juli inside the Limo and Ramone floored it spraying a sheet of water on the crowd gathered at the curb. Todd was ashen, he needed a fix. I knew I had to get out of this business. Todd Laruu, America's idol, a multi-millionaire at twenty-four, high school drop out, heroin addict—yeah, I had to get out of here somehow.

"Hey, man, you guys got any dope."

"Just some smoke man," Harry said reaching for the console.

"Shit, that ain't dope— I need something to take the edge off."

"Edge," I laughed. "Todd you're living on the edge— your danger is falling off."

"Fuck you Thorne. If it wasn't for my talent, you'd still be smearing grease on canvas and calling it art!"

"Don't believe your publicity Laruu. I write it and it's all a pack of shit. Your a product of Harry's publicity machine."

"Fuck both of you guys, I can go on my own. You guys are shit, both of you."

"Laruu, I'm getting tired of you," Harry said.

"Shut up."

"Fuck you guys. You're fired."

"You can't fire us, we own you."

"You don't own shit. I had my lawyer read that piece of shit contract you had me sign. Fuck, it won't hold up. Fuck you guys— I'm free. Ramone, stop the car, I'm getting out. Judi babe— come on. Goddamn it Ramone, stop the fucking car."

Ramone slowed town at the curb in pioneer square, Todd flung the door open and grabbed Juli by the hand and started out on the street. Street people, bums, skateboarders, orange haired, wild eyed leather swathed youths, and businessmen and women stared as they scrambled outside.

"Juli," I yelled, "What's going on."

"Todd's going to make me a star. I love him."

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