Hi…this chapter brings us to the end of Part 1 of My Way. It’s grown in the re-writing and now totals around 95,000 words. When I began, I believed that I’d written about 70% of the full story, but there’s so much more I’d love to tell. You’ve p’raps read 50% or thereabouts?😳
This seems the perfect place to leave off…with p’raps an epilogue or a preview chapter to Part 2. Still to come: the tour, album launch, Junkie Joe & His Mystery Man hit the headlines. Lots more sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll. All manner of mishaps, mischief and mayhem along the way to their Happy Ever After, Amen.
Thank you for reading and for all your support, it means so much.🥰
Joe was still reeling when he shrugged the strap of his acoustic over his shoulder to sing the rough sketch of the song he’d scrambled together from snippets of lyrics. They’d kept creeping up on him unawares all weekend; fragments of thought Joe had stashed away in his box of scraps till they told their full story. Sort of like the one at primary school—filled with odds ’n’ sods, cartons, boxes ’n’ buttons, loo roll tubes, tin foil and bottle tops for arts ’n’ craft projects—except it was stuffed with random bits of rhyme and ramblings.
A single word had strung all those snippets together, but it was Bowie, oddly nuff, who handed Joe a hook to hang them on. Then. The next stop on the station to station trip called life.
To be or not to be, me. Smack sodden, strung out on dope. Tattered torn, lost forlorn. Then was hope, shimmering on the horizon. The strongest link to fuse the lyrics that kept infiltrating Joe’s head, here, there ’n’ everywhere. The new verse had tripped off his tongue the moment all the puzzle pieces had slotted into place. He’d always written as fast as he thought…that bit was easy. It was the polishing up part that took more time—which he hadn’t had—so Joe had been unable to fiddle or fine tune it. A fact that made its already daunting debut—in the most knee-knocking of circumstances—feel a lot like flinging himself out of a plane without a parachute.
The ‘sneering’ accusation was way worse than the fury with which Mac spat it at Joe. Nothing could have been further from the truth Mac insisted on. The ‘Psycho Killer’ ringtone had been a bit of mischief to take the edge off the fact Joe felt as if he’d been outfitted with an electronic tag, like a prisoner on probation. Or a set of kiddie reins to stop him toddling off and getting into trouble.
Sneer? Joe hadn’t even had a huff, let alone sneered ‘if it p’raps gets lost, will you wheel out the shock collar, or leg irons next?’
The very next time Psycho Killer tootled through Joe’s thoughts, it ushered in a couplet t’die for:
Psycho Killer qu’est-ce que c’est, I did it myyy wayyy.
Irrésistible, non? So, a medley it was; the first verse, then half of Psycho’s chorus, segueing straight into My Way.
The latter came about because Joe’s brain had started humming to itself the second ‘My Way’ left Mac’s lips. It sang itself…could anyone hear those words without winding up with an ear worm?
Joe didn’t have a ‘reason’ for wanting to play them, that implied a ‘motive’. A means to an end. Joe rarely had reasons. He did stuff or he didn’t. He never consciously thought: what will happen if I do this? Or vice versa: doing this will cause… Joe’s ideas and decisions were instantaneous. Thus, the moment My Way was mooted, this happened: song/set list. This did not: song>motive>set list.
Mr doesnae feel a thing McBadass sure seemed to feel lots of things about something Joe hadn’t spent a second pondering. The two tunes had taken up residence in Joe’s head alongside Mac. There wasn’t a thing he could do to dislodge them.
Joe had never been able to reason things through, but he could backtrack, after the fact. Retrace his footsteps in reverse. From outcome to origin:
- Debuting the new song.
- It’s placement in the set list after ‘Is This It’ reflected the fact that it was written as an answer of sorts. An unequivocal No. There was more. There was ‘Then‘.
- ‘Then’ picked up where the refrain—Is this it? No you, for me? No ‘mine’ nor ‘we’. Merely I, myself, and my eneme—left off.
- Is this it, all there’ll ever be…was the fear Joe had sought oblivion from when ‘yes’ seemed certain: A fix to fix/hope departed/Hole hearted.
- The original set list occupied about…five percent of Joe’s headspace (he may have rounded that up). The rest was…bedevilled by badass. Taking into account that ratio? The likelihood that Joe would walk on stage and sing twenty songs about not-Mac? Zilch.
- Gig rehearsals.
- Drive to London
- And how.
- Arrival of badass to whip Joe’s into shape…
True to form, the very thing he’d longed for most had rendered him horror-stricken with happiness. Joe’s joy was a fearful thing. A petrifying tumult of emotion, as terrible as a beast crouched beneath the bed. A feeling so intense, it left him its loss short of insanity.
Mac made Joe feel safe. A fact that triggered terror. A very specific terror he recognised all-too well. Joe felt it every single time his stash started running low. Or, someone mentioned rehab. Or, his dealer was two minutes late. Or, he couldn’t find a vein that wasn’t shot to shit.
A truth that made: ‘the sooner you’re done, the quicker you can get back to what really matters’ a travesty of it.
“That’s not fair…” Joe’s limp as last week’s lettuce rebuttal incited the retort it deserved.
That? Joe could do.
It’s all I can do. The only thing…worth anything. Just let me show you…
So he did.
Prove it…propelled Joe through the studio door with the pizzazz of a man with a plan. The flinty glint that remained riveted to Joe’s person was rocket fuel up his arse as he careered through the set list like a man possessed. He must have sung the right songs in some semblance of order, cos the lads seemed to be playing much the same one, at the same time, which p’raps hadn’t been a…sure thing of late.
Slick with sweat, running on fumes, Joe played as if he were headlining Glastonbury, rather than rattling through a few tunes for one man and nary a dog. He lost all track of time, place, space. There was just his music, and Mac. Thus, it was a wee bit dazedly that Joe tugged the strap of his Fender over his head when a second guitar was wafted in front of his face. Severing his focus on eyes so potent he’d started to suspect they had superpowers. Panther-stalking-prey-powers at the very least. The latter shouldn’t have been as hot as hell, particularly when the mere threat of curtailed freedom customarily made Joe clammy with dread.
After shrugging the strap of the semi-acoustic into place, Joe lifted his head. Sought, found, that agate gaze and dragged in a deep breath. He must have taken another at some point, or he would’ve dropped dead, and Joe didn’t…so, it seemed safe to say he pulled that much off with aplomb. Whether he could claim the same about the song itself was a lot less certain. By the time he’d finished crooning the first verse and chorus, Mac looked…a mite shell-shocked. It was trickier to tell if that was a good or bad thing.
“As snug as the hug
Of a drug haze
Lazy days, lost ways
A last-past-the-post maze
Of nowhere fast…”
All Joe had ever been able to trust were the truths he cloaked in melody and rhyme. Seeking solace in structure, shaping their form, shrouding his secrets in simile and metaphor. Crafting a suit of armour to protect his inner self from the outside world.
The truth and nothing but, Mr McBadass? So be it.
Joe formed a chord, licked his lips, and ignored.
All reason why, or why not. Then, threw in his lot.
“A Nowhere Man
With no hope plans
All tattered, torn,
So lost, forlorn
What a blast
The future is green… “