I waited for the fancy hotel restaurant to open their breakfast buffet. A dispute with the wait-staff became a tired old George Costanza routine, a scene of pedantic self-interest. Madcap Seinfeldian logic prevailed at first. This seemed appropriate since Seinfeld was so frequently referenced at the time. It must have been 1998. I had been given free tickets to a Bob Dylan concert in a small New York City club. It was a grand opportunity because I’d have never bought Bob Dylan tickets otherwise; I didn’t want to spoil my memories of 1960s Bob Dylan.But the buffet is all very hazy now, much like that awful decade.
I remember the people in the mall the best. Who could better symbolize the 1990s than mall patrons lining up at a Taco Bell? A thin wreck of a young guy was asking people in line for quarters so he could get a Chalupa. This was somewhat galling as the Chalupa was one of the more expensive menu items.
Later I saw him waiting to get into the concert. He was telling anyone who’d listen, “I lost my job. This is all I’ve got going for me now. Bob has always meant so much to me.” But when the doors opened they wouldn’t let him in because he had three huge plastic bags filled with his ratty belongings.
I don’t remember the setlist either, but I’ve since listened to enough bootlegs from the period to know that all those shows were fantastic, and that Larry Campbell was maybe the best sideman Dylan ever had. I sat beside my girlfriend and at times it felt more like a movie than a stage-show. At one point images from the D.W. Griffith film Intolerance were being projected onto Bob and his players.
At the end, for some reason, they let in a bunch of rowdy teens who were talking and shouting over the encore. It was Royal Albert Hall all over again, except that these people didn’t believe in anything. They were the Judases, all texting like fiends.
I spoke to the character I’d been playing. His film that I’d been watching had been his last chance at success, and the rowdy youth had ruined it, he said, just as they’d ruined the actual concert he’d gotten the tickets for back in 1998.
There was a lot of confusion about Bob Dylan really being the WWE wrestler Triple H. I tried telling my girlfriend about this but she could only point out the obvious physical differences. A long WWE storyline rife with troubling implications unfolded—President Jindal played a part as a faction of superstars demanded $2 billion dollars against the threat of detonating a nuclear bomb. This was before small-scale nuclear attacks became so commonplace.
But I was teeing up drives on the first hole by then. When I was young I’d worked at this country club, and after I was fired I would often sneak on and play for free. I never got caught but the tension was always building and building.
Some long-forgotten friends text me to come over and watch sports. One of them confides with his father on the telephone: “There’s this girl I like...I might even be in a hotel room with her right now,” I couldn’t figure why anyone would talk to their father like that, since I’ve never felt my own had much to offer in the way of advice.
Back on the golf course a high school football game takes place. People park their cars all over the pristine grass, tear up the terrain, and dirty up the doorstep. The pretty girls, swaddled up in sweaters and scarves, are lovely in the crisp fall air, with their feet in the cold dew of the old country club night.
It was 3 in the morning but I debated taking another hit of acid. The only thing that prevented me was the fact that I hadn’t eaten in a day as it was, and if I took another tab it might be another day before I ate, and that would start to manifest in unpleasant ways. I played a baseball video game, something I’d loved to do when I was young, but now only played out of stale habit.
I started humming the song, “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” and it all seemed painfully true. I still yearned for what was retrievable only in the bastardized mashup to come. The early-Bob Dylan fan, the WWE conspiracy—it was all a part of me; something that had been before; something that finally proved a concept I had once jotted down in the middle of the night: “The very fact that we dream proves that the machine is working.”
But the machine was just getting started up. Soon it would be possible for Triple H and Bob Dylan to be one and the same, and it was going to become harder to get a good grip on anything, with or without drugs. In fact the serious drug people might have a small but necessary advantage. People would have ten years worth of dreams in one night and some wouldn’t be able to handle it. Some were going to wake up not knowing how to figure it all out.
I made some tea. I fed my two Dobermans. Their knowing eyes reinforced something in me, and a singular concept finally came to light, “There is no difference between past and present.” Linear time was the illusion. A
ny old dog knew that. Dogs have no concept of time. I threw up. The dogs were barking in a high tone that was more like a scream, and one started licking nervously at the vomit. I made them lie down. I turned on the radio, “You Ain’t Going Nowhere.”
"Mike Sauve's 115th Stream"
Copyright: © 2010 Mike Sauve
A graduate of Ryerson Journalism, Mike Sauve has written non-fiction for The National Post, The Toronto International Film Festival Group, Exclaim Magazine and other publications. His fiction has appeared online in Rivets Literary Magazine, Forge Journal, Candlelight Stories, Straitjackets Magazine, Eastown Fiction, the humour journal Feathertale and elsewhere. Upcoming stories will appear in print in Palimpsest, Infinity’s Kitchen and Kitty Snacks.