Marianne, The Faithful
by George Pringle
N.B. The events, characters and firms depicted in this photoplay are ficticious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual firms, is purely coincidental.
The plane pushed its way into the sky. Purple midnight cradled them as they rocked in a cosy way against the clouds. By now they were all exhausted. Beyond the aluminium, it seemed to become warmer as they headed south, across the border. Contained in this cheap and empty airplane, they drank beer, loose in their company.
Then they hit the city. It was alight. Lights…as far as they could see and all and everything they could see, was lit. Illuminated swimming pools, stencilled palm trees, billboard signs and sprawls of houses glittering on endless horizons.
They whooped, wildly, excited, like kids. Delirous. Eyes, widely drinking in the jewelled surfaces.
Met with a sign at the airport.
The promoter was waiting in the hotel foyer, wearing cuban heels and an expensive looking burgundy leather. They dropped their bags and he took them to a hip bar. They ate oranges which coffee grounds aside their tequila and picked at fusion food against the quasi-colonial interior. They drank a lot of tequila and beer and then went back to his apartment, where he and his girlfriend, Clara, plied them with Mescal and regaled them with stories of predictable debauchery.
Marianne wasn’t so sure about promoters. Sometimes they would sit around Mick as though he was some kind of a genius, about to preach his unique Gospel. They were nervous creatures, so reverent. She despised it. It had a lack of dignity to it…all this paying for the playing and the entertaining and the wide-eyed wonder at these people. We’re just flesh, she thought. Especially this band. We all shit and fart, you know, we’re the worst…we’re the ugliest people you’ll ever meet…egos like swiss cheese…we’re there in the drive-thru, eating shit meat and rowing, you know, we’re rowing all the time. We can’t even get on because we’re all alcoholics.
She went out and sat on the balcony, looking into the dark. She could hardly see a thing. She smiled, simply, high on the Mescal. She giggled, feeling euphoric, vague yet immediately connected with her surroundings in a benign, almost zen way. In spite of her slackened state, she sat, analysing her calm, almost disturbed by it…thinking it over so that it almost ceased to be and she became normal again, just a girl sitting on a balcony. This balcony could be anywhere in the world…
But this balcony was in Mexico City and she was becoming unwell.
Ashen Face (in photos)
Slippery, like a baby’s.
At around four in the morning, she awoke to a racket in the bathroom. Keith had thrown himself drunkenly from the neighbouring bed and plunged his head beneath a jet of water. She listened to him desperately gulping whilst Mick snored in a jurassic way. She had always been a light sleeper. This was the limit. She lay there, parched and grumpy.
“What an idiot”
Rule Number 1: Do not drink the water in Mexico City.
In the morning they smoked, blearily on the hotel balcony with coffee from a machine. The shower ran in the room next door. Everything sounded small: Carpeted. The building across was being renovated, the roof had been peeled off and men without hard hats on were clambering around on ladders. Down the middle of a neighbouring building was a large crack in a Nouveaux detail. Sign of a past quake.
Clara picked them up for lunch. She drove them to a very good restaurant. As they passed traffic islands filled with succulents and palms, she mused on her life in the city. “Yeah…You know, when I moved here I thought I was having a problem with the food. I had a bad stomach all the time and then I realised it was because of brushing my teeth. I was using the tap water to brush my teeth and it was making me sick”.
She tried to suppress a wry smile and glanced over at Keith, who looked a little green.
That afternoon, they wandered the streets of the area trying to find the venue. They passed tiny corner shops with little tables with vinyl tablecloths. Televisions buzzed within. The misery of lugging this equipment, the hard plastic handle and wrenched arm socket, had become a daily dread.
In soundcheck, she could feel everything through her bones. She could feel the bass vibrate up through her feet and into her chest. A sudden, stiff pounding seemed to be caught in her neck. Her breathing seemed slow and shallow. Every sound sent a tremor through her breasts. And somewhere in the back of her head, she was taking stock. She was freaking out. What was she doing here, so far from home, in Mexico with the boys in this band? Wasn’t it only a year or so…yes it was…she’d lost her mind completely. She could hardly leave the house. The London underground howled at her, shrieking and wrapping her tight in its cape.
Her room was a prison. She would wake and sit in bed, breathing in a laboured fashion, counting the pounds, effusing strange, half-formed feelings that had not the energy to be tears, to be sounds…
She never knew if it were an anxiety attack, a hangover or perhaps, plain exhaustion. Either way, she told the promoter she was feeling strange and needed to lie down.
She went back to the hotel and slipped in and out of a frightening consciousness. She felt detached from her body, drifting in the plush down of the thousand tog duvet. Lost in a clean, plastic hotel land. She had palpitations when she tried to stand.
There was a knock on the door and the boys and an unknown man in a leather arrived. They don’t remember his name but they called him Gabriel on account of he was Mexican and in his own, lukewarm way, something of an Angel. The boys sat around the bed looking at her. Look at this (she thought) all these guys sitting around…trying to bribe me. What are they going to do, sedate me? They don’t need help with that.
They need me
To complete the Royal Tour
And lying like this…they ain’t got no synth.
Keith handed her a drink. As it turned out, Gabe was also some kind of a Witch Doctor. He had with him an enormous bag of dried cocoa leaves and herbs and rocks to chew.
She was beginning to feel very calm and still, as though she were a pale blue glass of water.
“Did you like the Valium Water?” asked Keith.
She couldn’t respond.
It made sense.
The boys left her alone with the Angel who spent an hour massaging her. He did this in a reverent way, as though she were a saint. “Shouldn’t this be more dirty…” she thought as she lay, like a pancake, flipping when appropriate. When he was done and had left the bag of cocoa leaves next to the bag of weed on the dresser, the boys came back in with some room service. She sat up in bed like a sick kid and ate.
They couldn’t lose this gig. It was the only one that paid. In fact, it had made the whole tour possible. It didn’t matter if she went home and died, they had to play tonight.
So she sat up. She put on her Go-Go dress. She drew a lick of liner…
They got paid.
They stayed up until four in the club which was full of beautiful women. The most beautiful women they had ever seen.
At some point they lost Keith.
In the morning, they woke up too late. Keith was nowhere to be seen. She looked at her phone. It was half past six. They had to get a taxi to the airport. Mick tried to phone Keith but there was no reply. She looked across the room at all his clothes which were in a heap on the floor…In a blind fury, she packed up his things, cursing all the while.
“Fucking hell, what am I? His fucking mother?”
“What kind of a prick just goes missing when we have a flight to catch?”
In the midst of all this, Marianne was outside of herself. It suddenly became a film of a story from the 70s. She didn’t know whether she were really awake. She noticed there was a very large volume of narcotics in the room. She looked at the weed next to the Room Service Menu and thought:
She had been in America too long.
She took the drugs and threw an amount out the window. She watched as the buds caught on the city wind. It was a hazy morning, much like a dream. The men were back on the construction site, fussing around an isolated sink unit. She rushed into the bathroom with the bag and threw some down the toilet, before flushing it. There was still so much left…she took the rest and stuffed it into the tissue box.
Now she was Hunter S.Thompson. Yes, if Hunter.S weren’t such a disappointment…
And if all the girls in the stories weren’t always christians…or prostitutes or…
you know, peripheral cocksuckers.
You know, Rock & Roll is for dudes...
She was learning the hard way.
Dude, don’t forget it.
The morning was fragrant with Diesel and Acacia on the highway out to the airport, the palms and road signs bent through her plastic lens.
She awoke from this in the airport. Keith had arrived in the end. It seemed he hadn’t even got laid, he’d just stayed out, partying. Mick lost his landing card. There was a drama. In spite of all this they made it back to L.A, drinking Margarita Mix as they changed at:
Dallas Fort Worth.