Dancing With The Devil Ch. 33 - U2 Feedback

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Old 06-12-2011, 05:03 PM   #1
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Dancing With The Devil Ch. 33

As promised...

What? You think this story actually happened? Oh you poor thing.

“One knight, a woman, and man, and two children get on a boat and sail away. When they return there are five people on the boat. No one got off and no one got on. How is this possible?”
“Er…”
“Oh, I know this one,” Jack announces. “Hardly fair, what if she doesn’t-“
“Shut up, man, you’ll give her the answer!” Eric cries.
I take my eyes from the window to stare puzzled at them. “The man got the woman pregnant overnight?”
Jack laughs cautiously while Eric says, “Good answer, but do you think a child’s riddle would be so risqué? I mean, there were kids on the boat, and who knows how big it was-“
“Okay, okay,” I stop him, trying to conceal my mixed humor and disgust. “Was the woman already pregnant?”
“Noooo,” Eric says with a smile. “Guess again.”
I fold my hands exasperatingly, making sure not to disturb the man in the bus seat next to me. “The boat was literally counted as a she?”
“Naw,” Eric says, and guffaws. Jack rolls his eyes at him.
“Come on, Marieke, it’s not that hard!” Eric exclaims.
“I prefer to have the answer,” I say, settling myself primly in my seat.
“All right, all right,” Eric sighs in mock defeat. “One knight got on the boat. There were already five people!”
He prepares to laugh, but cuts it short upon seeing my face. “You don’t get it?”
“What’s a knight?” I ask blankly.
“See, I told you,” Jack mutters.
Eric is confounded. “Knight in shining armor? Rescues fair maidens from certain distress?”
“Oh,” I sigh. “I haven’t learned that word yet.”
“Huh.” Eric ponders. “Well, I’ll give you another one. You’re down to your last match, but you have to light the oil lamp, the fireplace, and your bathwater. What do you light first?”
“I know this one too,” Jack says, leaning back with an air of boredom.
I think. “The lamp?”
“Nope,” says Eric gleefully. “Think inside the box. Think to the very bottom of the box!”
I give him a frustrated stare he can’t forget.
“The match?”
***
Once out of the bus I drag Eric and Jack into the parking lot of the stadium, in search of my parents. We find each other quickly, and I hug Dad as he strolls toward me, grinning. Mom arrives at my side a little less hastily, using her walking sticks. I introduce them to Jack and Eric.
“Hello,” Jack says in Dutch, extending a hand and flashing a rare, handsome smile.
“Hello, good to meet you,” my mother answers, taking his hand while keeping her balance.
Eric sounds awkward when he says “Hi” in English. I can tell he still isn’t used to speaking Dutch.
“So you are Marieke’s boyfriends?” Dad asks in English. Eric laughs. “No, we’re her friends who are boys.”
“Man-friends?” I suggest, looking on.
Dad laughs.
We walk around to the stadium and move towards the door available to only the crewmen and, I suppose, their guests. First, however, we have plow through a long line of people blocking our way. “What are they doing?” I mumble to Eric.
He looks up. “I think this is the line for the video confessional.”
I stop. “Video confessional?”
I’ve watched the TV screens before encores of U2 shows many a time. The crew sets up a confessional outside the stadium U2 is playing at and concertgoers enter it and say whatever they want to the holy camera. The results are then shown in between sets.
“What have we stopped for?” Mom asks me.
I take a look at her and Dad, and give instructions. “You just make it through the throng of people and stand away from the entrance you see right there. Wait for us to join you.” They nod and hug me, and I watch my parents scurry off.
Eric turns his face from Mom and Dad to me “What’s happened?”
“I told them to go on without me.” Pulling Jack and Eric closer to me, I speak with breathy excitement. “Let’s go in the confessional!”
Eric nods and laughs a bit- “You’ve been a bad girl, have you, Marieke?” I twirl one circle with my toe- “No, but haven’t you ever wanted to go in there?”
Jack sighs- “I guess there are some things I could do with confessing.”
“Come on, Eric,” I say, tugging at his sleeve. “You don’t want us to leave you behind!”
“Ah, all right,” he gives up. “I’ll do it for you guys.”
We shuffle forward in the line and eventually reach the door of the confessional.
“You go first,” I tell Eric, pushing him forward. “I want to go last.”
“That’s fine by me,” Eric says, and enters the booth.
It’s not long before he’s out again, and I wonder what he confessed, the man who hasn’t been a good little church kid recently. Jack enters silently, and leaves with just as many words.
I take a deep breath and step through the threshold. There isn’t much room in the booth, only enough for about three people. It comes to me that Jack and Eric and I could have gone together… they both know what I’m about to confess, anyway.
Placing my butt firmly on the provided seat, I gaze straight in front of me, into the depths of the camcorder that watches my every move with one red eye. “I work for U2 on their Zoo TV Tour,” I say, using my native language. “I get to hang out with this band very often- I know, you’re jealous, right- and I’ve found myself madly in love with Bono…”
The sentence trails from my mouth as I conclude, “I confess to having unholy thoughts about a married man… and that’s all there is to say.” Upon leaving the booth, I start feeling wonderful.
My friends and I join my parents, and we lead them through the entrance into a clockwork Zoo TV world.
As soon as we’re backstage a perceptible change falls over Jack and Eric. They slide into their accustomed roles as crewmen, convening with other workers and receiving instructions, walking around to find if everything’s in working order. Eric is even assigned to do a mic check, which is a role he undertakes with excitement. Through the confusion I lead my parents towards the band’s dressing room.
The stylists are fixing up each member of U2, making them look perfect for tonight. The four men greet me politely, and I beckon my parents over.
“Here are your backstage guests for tonight,” I tell everyone.
The first band member out of his seat is Adam, wrenching free of his stylist’s grip. “It’s a pleasure to meet you!” he says, shaking my parents’ hands. “Adam Clayton.”
They give their own names in strong accents, smiling but looking overwhelmed at the same time. Even if they don’t like U2, at least the celebrity aspect of meeting them is overpowering.
“And we,” Larry begins, standing up, “are the rest of the band.”
“Charmed,” says Edge. Bono laughs.
“Mr. and Mrs. Lang, I presume?”
“You would be right,” my mom says, flicking her own rusty English switch. “It’s great to meet the people who have been treating Marieke so well thus far.”
The rest of the band shakes hands and wander over the room. Bono, being the last one up, is also the last one to greet my parents personally. When he comes to Mom, his eyes shift their expression. As he gives his nickname, he can’t stop staring at her hands, a deep emotion setting in when he realizes she can’t walk.
“I know who you are,” Mom says.
“Yes, I’m the one Marieke’s been pattering on about, am I correct?” Bono says with a smile. I shake my head.
“Come on, you haven’t spoken about me at all? Not even one mention of my name?” To my utter mortification, Bono bends slightly and kisses my mother’s hand.
She doesn’t react well to it. “I’d save that for someone better than me, if you please.”
“I’m just friendly like that.” Bono steps back and takes a slow breath. “Not to make you jealous or anything…” he assures Dad.
My father chuckles shortly.
Once again Bono’s eyes travel to Mom’s walking sticks. “I’m sorry if you take offense… but, will you be able to last the whole show on your feet?”
“Why yes,” my mother answers stiffly. “I believe I can manage, if Marieke can.”
“Ah, you’re not as young as her,” Bono says, his voice less joking now and more serious, almost somber. I’m caught wondering what he thinks of her, what’s going on in his head as he looks at Mom. To take my mind off it, I dance over to the rest of the band. Bono whisks Mom off into a secluded section of the room, and Dad, after stealing glances, has to follow me.
Soon we’re all having a blast with each other. Edge is getting along surprisingly well with my dad. Larry provides brilliant humor, and Adam attempts several times to speak Dutch, much to the chagrin of his visitors.
“How can you take the word for people and turn it into… that” I groan, referring to his butchering of an expletive.
“The words all get mixed up in my mind,” Adam defends himself.
A few times I look back at Bono and my mother. They’re still in conversation. By my third glance I perceive that they are wrapping it up, and Bono breaks away from my mother with a handshake and a smile.
“How many minutes till showtime?” he asks, which leads someone to go find Eric.
I rush to Mom. “How was your talk?”
“Marieke,” she says.
“What?”
“That man is not below flirting with old ladies!”
I gaze over at Bono, who is still waiting for the time. “How do you know he was flirting?”
“How do you know when a man is staring at you?” She sighs. “I don’t like him.”
“What did you talk about?”
“Oh, plenty of things. Mostly you, but we also discussed my disability. And U2’s music.”
“What did he want to know?”
“How did it happen? That was his first question. The man’s got nerve to bring up such a private issue.”
I stare at Bono again. He’s finally satisfied, for Eric has arrived and is showing Bono his wrist. “Oh, really? Your watch must be slow, they can’t possibly be finished with their set yet,” I hear him say.
“He doesn’t usually,” I reply to my mother.
“I think he’s sweet on me.” It must be a startling thought, because Mom looks freaked.
“Once again- how can you tell?”
Eric chooses that moment to interrupt our conversation, breaking away dejectedly from the band. I guess his pride is hurt, because he’s resetting his wristwatch. “Oh, hi,” he mumbles, brushing past us.
“Hey Eric.” He passes us, having a lot more work to do. I face my mom again- “So you talked about the music? What do you know about U2’s music?”
“We didn’t talk about it very much,” Mom says. “He did ask me which songs I prefer-“
“And?”
“And I said my favorite is One. That’s all. Can we retrieve your father?”
I follow her towards Dad’s direction, and think over her words. Mom likes One? I haven’t known that until now. In fact I wasn’t even aware she was familiar with any Achtung Baby material.
We bid farewell to the band, trapped in their holding tank until the show starts, and choose a spot on stage right to watch the performances. Stereo MC’s are still performing, as Bono had assumed, and we watch them calmly. The audience cheers.
A few minutes is all it takes for the group to be off the stage and U2’s act prepared for. I realize, as the lights on the screens flicker with a familiar glow, that I haven’t even given one word of warning to my parents. It’s too late now. The intro onscreen runs through its usual images- usual to some, but very bizarre to the newcomers beside me.
Something brushes my thigh. It’s Larry… no, Edge… no- I squeeze back so Adam can get onstage without touching me. The screen above the audience is where I perch my eyes, waiting for Bono’s telltale appearance as The Fly.
The last notes of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony strain across the stage. A man rises from the darkness, offering a sign of peace. I turn all fan. “FLYYYYYY!” I know the audience is screaming Bono’s name. I know better. The band kicks into the start of Zoo Station, and as The Fly approaches the stage he playfully dangles on Adam, taking his fair time. Now the microphone’s in his hands, a lifeline to the audience-
“I’m ready, I’m ready for the laughing gas!”
We erupt with freedom and joy.
I’m detached from my parents. Never once do I look to see how they’re enjoying the show. I’m reduced to what I was before this journey started- a fan of a band. And that’s all there is to it.
Several songs go by- Zoo Station. The Fly. Even Better Than The Real Thing. Mysterious Ways…
And One begins. The lights dim, flash blue. No one in the band has started playing yet. They’re obviously waiting for something.
All eyes are on Bono as he rubs one hand over the mic stand. “I want to dedicate this song…”he drawls. “to Elsje Lang, a woman I met today…”
Mom gasps.
“…whose accident left her… without the use of her legs.” She stiffens. “We’re One…”
The song begins.
I don’t watch the stage. My gaze is locked on Mom. She holds any reaction to the dedication inside herself, but by the end of the song she’s clearly moved. Dad hugs her suddenly.
“Yeah, love, yeah love…”
Mom is transfixed. Her hands reach towards the stage. If anyone saw her, I’m sure she’d be allowed to join the band up there. But no one takes notice, and I whisper, “I told you he’s a good guy.”
It’s hard to judge what my dad’s favorite performance of the night will be. Mom’s is definitely One, and mine is going to be With or Without You or any one of the encores. Dad is a bit harder to read. Out of my parents, he’s always been the more accepting to U2 and my addiction to them. What will he get the most out of tonight?
Angel of Harlem is sung, and Bono playfully changes the words to “Angel of Holland” every chance he gets. I guess I’m not all that special anymore. Next comes Stay, and my Mom seems to enjoy it almost as much as One- almost. Hm. Soon Bono goes backstage, as he does every night, and emerges in a new attire. I’m still not sure what to call this soldier-like persona. He sings Bullet The Blue Sky, and ends up on the B stage, hands in the air.
After the blistering anger of the previous selection, it’s a comfort for the lullaby of Running To Stand Still to begin. The man onstage barely waits for the guitar intro before he starts singing.
“And so she woke up… woke up from where she was, lying still. Said I, I gotta do something… about where we’re going…”
He’s hugging himself in a way similar to MacPhisto’s embrace, but his head is up, the microphone jutting out of his headgear to leave his hands free while he sings.
“Step on a steam train…” he whispers. “Step out of the driving rain, maybe… run from the darkness in the night?”
His hands pull away from his sides. He raises them and cries out. “Singing ha, ha-la-la-la-de-day-yeah!”
The audience surrounds him with their voice.
“Ha la la la de day… ha-la-la-de-day,” he finishes. At once I am dying to see his face. Mom and Dad collectively take a breath- they’ve been holding it in since the song started, I realize. Dad tightens his grip on my mother.
“Sweet the sin- bitter the taste, in my mouth…” The man caresses his arm in an odd, gentle way. “I see seven towers; I only see one way out.”
I sing, blanketing the night air. “You’ve gotta cry without weeping, talk without speaking, and scream without raising your voice!”
His voice amusingly does raise on the last line. “You know I took the poison from the poison stream… then I floated out of here. Singing…”
He pushes up his shirt sleeve and leads us in song- “Ha-la-la-la-de-day-ay! Ha-la-la-la-de-day… ha-la-la-de-day, ay.”
His falsetto notes sweep the stadium. Both my parents are glued to the action of the B stage. The song intensifies.
“She runs through the streets, with eyes painted red!” he shouts. “Under a black belly of cloud in the rain…” His right arm scrubs at his left as if there’s a wasp there, and he’s trying to get it off.
“In through a doorway, she brings me, white gold and pearls, stolen from the sea! She is raging!” The three of us gasp simultaneously at the clap of music. “She is raging! And a storm blows up in her eyes…”
Instead of shrinking away as the album version of this song does, the band’s playing grows even wilder. “She will,” the man sings in a frenzy, tapping his arm, “suffer the needle chill! She’s running to stand…”
The needle of a finger plunges into the skin of his wrist, seeking the vein beneath. I know I’m not the only one who has cried out at this gesture- my parents have too. The man onstage folds over the area he’s just inserted the needle into, and groans.
The one word slides into the night as the figure remains hunched over-
“Still.”
Instead of backing off and fading away, the song reaches a fever-pitch with the release of the word. The man staggers back, clutching his arm. He cries out.
“Halle, halle… hallelujah! Halle, halle… hallelujah! Halle, halle… hallelujah, halle, halle… hallelujah!” He’s choking on words, gazing up into the sky, signaling the message to us- these drugs will help you find God. Every night I’m forced into half-believing the dirty lie, the conviction with which the man sings is so great.
My parents are clearly shocked. They’ve never seen the song live, and so were not prepared for the rush of emotion I encounter on a nightly basis. I want to tell them to wait for the encore. Dad hasn’t blinked once since the man shot himself up.
“Halle… lu… jah,” the man finishes, and slumps over as smoke billows out from the sides of the B stage, obscuring the man from the crowd’s view. We stand here, unmoving, waiting and watching while the crowd cheers.
And then a harmonica rings its notes, twinkling out into the night air- the man inside the smoke cloud is playing. His mournful song soon ends, but the band doesn’t stop their music. The man emerges from the cloud and walks off towards the stage, stopping briefly for a moment before the lights go out. A sound reminiscent to a violin slides over the stadium.
Dad gasps, “How can someone-“ He doesn’t finish his sentence, for the man is slipping past us, and I run to join him in the dressing room.
Soon we come out, and I return to my parents as Bono returns to the stage. The guitar riff of Where The Streets Have No Name transforms the audience into something better than we are, and I feel like I have wings. Bono only gives us one smile before opening his mouth-“I want to run!”
This being my parent’s first live Where The Streets Have No Name, I expect great excitement, and what I get from them is even more. They’re motionless, which I know means there’s even more glee beneath the surface. The red light of the screens illuminates the tear on Mom’s cheek, the ecstatic smile stretched over Dad’s mouth. I remember wanting to fall to my knees when I heard this song for the first time in concert. We all join in as Bono sings his last notes- “I wanna go there with you!”
Then quick as a flash, the whole band is leaving the stage. Dad catches Bono’s hand as he pushes past us, and thanks him for the show. Bono smiles amusedly, and tells him, “It’s not over.”
We return to the dressing room and I give Bono his new clothes. While I watch him dress, a tap on the shoulder startles me. It’s Eric- “Let’s watch our confessions come alive, okay?”
“What mine’s a deep dark secret?” I mutter, turning my eyes back to Bono.
“Um, I probably wouldn’t understand you anyway. Marieke, don’t you want to see yourself on the screen?” He tugs my arm, and I surrender with a sigh.
We get back to the wings, where we find Jack, who has already watched his own confession. “Hey, guys,” he greets us, his face red. I place my hand on his shoulder and ask in Dutch, “What can’t you have told us that you can tell to the masses?”
“Plenty,” he answers, shrugging away from me.
Eric stiffens as his face comes onscreen. “That’s me…”
“Marieke!” I turn to see my parents coming toward me.
“What do you want?” I ask, stepping out to meet them.
Eric calls, “Hey, where are you-“
I’m out. “What is it?” I call to my parents in Dutch.
My mom reaches me first and settles her hand on my shoulder, nearly knocking herself off-balance. “How much longer until the encore starts?”
“Not that long,” I assure her. “You’ll get to see my speech in action!”
“What’s going on now?” Dad mumbles, coming up behind us. We turn towards the stage and the screen.
Eric’s face is fading off in a sea of static, and I stumble back when I realize I’m next. My ghostly face hovers onscreen, smiling and speaking the words I’ve recorded a few hours ago.
“I work for U2 on their Zoo TV Tour. I get to hang with this band very often- I know, you’re jealous, right- and I’ve found myself madly in love with Bono… I confess to having unholy thoughts about a married man. That’s all there is to say.” In a few seconds the next confession flies up, but the damage has been wrought. Mom and Dad stare at me.
“Marieke, is- is that true?” my mother asks.
“Er…” No use in denying it. “Yes.”
They continue to stare, shocked.
Fortunately I don’t have to say anything more when a hand brushes my shoulder. “Angel of Holland,” a British voice intones. “Time to get ready…” I turn and find myself in MacPhisto’s gaze. He gives an elegant smile. “Let’s go…” The band onstage begins Desire. I reach up to stroke MacPhisto’s cheek. He whirls and is gone, patrolling out onstage. “Lover, I’m off the streets!”
I tear free of my parents and cluster up by Jack and Eric. I don’t want to face my mom or dad right now. How will I explain my desire for Bono to them? That has to wait for later. MacPhisto, however, cannot wait. I keep one eye on the stage and one eye on my parents, to see what sort of impression he’ll make to them.
Mom has a sort of blank stare, and Dad is watching me more often than the stage. I pretend not to notice his expression. They do cheer when MacPhisto launches into his playful yells at the end of the song- “What a night! What a city! Zooropa! Zooorrrrropaa! Myyyyy Zooropaaa!”
Though I’ve been holding back from expressing my love for this man, I have to let a grin break through the outer edges of my face. He’s amazing.
MacPhisto smiles to his bandmates as the money slowly drifts to Earth. “Oh, jolly good,” he sighs, smoothing his hair. “Shhh…” The audience quiets at the gentle command. I whisper to my parents. “This is the speech I’ve written.” Hopefully MacPhisto won’t decide to change anything.
“Well… I’m not so very good at speeches, so I’ll be brief,” MacPhisto begins. I know that he is only beginning. The Devil is in love with irony.
“Look what you’ve done to me! You’ve made me very famous, and I thank you.” Whoo! This being my parent’s first taste of MacPhisto, I decided he had to use all his old catchphrases. “I know you like your pop stars to be exciting…”
I pull Mom and Dad closer up so they can see better. Jack and Eric squeeze to make room for all of us. If one of the band members decided to make an unexpected exit, he’d have to use the other side of the stage.
“Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the good old days,” MacPhisto sighs, half with nostalgia and half with happiness. “The Third Reich!”
The audience boos, as do my parents. Being the Devil’s advocate, I can’t say I join in.
“Don’t you miss the good old days, when the trains ran on time?” MacPhisto asks. I nod to myself. “Oh dear,” MacPhisto continues. “My… as God said, and he was partly right, I could live here!” The words noticeably fit my mouth better than MacPhisto’s. “I have a friend here. Heer Janmaat.”
My parents look on, surely with an automatic flash of dislike for the name MacPhisto’s spoken. I want to point out the joke to them and ease their opinion, but I’m afraid. Janmaat is a person I hate as much as my parents- and the audience, judging on their booing.
Seemingly oblivious, MacPhisto asks, “Shall I give him a telephone call?” And the majority is “yes.” Even if we dislike MacPhisto’s choice of men, none of us can wait for them to speak.
“Alright then,” MacPhisto says, opening his arms out as he moves to the back of the stage. “People give you their phone numbers when you’re famous- it’s one of the plusses. How do you pronounce that again…” He wonders out loud, practically enticing the audience to give the name up. “Heer Janmaat, my old friend!” With that he adds a few Dutch words, making me smile. I could have told him the pronunciation myself…
MacPhisto dials and tells us the number. “070-346-9264. You can try this at home, children,” he winks, grinning slyly. We applaud. Personally I think it would be interesting to call Janmaat myself.
“Ja, goedenavond?”
MacPhisto nods with a yay expression painted across his face. “Hello, I’d like to speak to Heer Janmaat.”
“He’s not here,” the man on the other end says.
“He’s not available?”
“No.”
“Well,” says MacPhisto, “my name is Mr. MacPhisto and I’m a very good friend of his, and I think he’d be very disappointed not to receive my call.”
“Yeah, but he’s not here,” the man tells him, and I picture an eye roll on the other end.
“Could you leave him a message?”
“I could,” the secretary answers, wary.
MacPhisto sings. “I just called to say… I love you…”
The receiver thumps down on the other end, the man presumably disgusted. I’m sure he thought it was a prank call. This does not deter MacPhisto from continuing his song.
“I just called to say… how much I care…”
Ultraviolet starts up. And MacPhisto screams, “I’M BACK!” It’s true. He’s back in Holland, the country where he was first conceived. It must be like a homecoming. Hell, this whole night is a homecoming for me! We’re channeling each other.
I warn my parents that I tend to get very emotional during this final section of the show, but despite the warning I never really feel anything. My mind is distracted, hovering about the edges. Perhaps I’ve seen this performance so many times that the feeling has worn off?
If MacPhisto hasn’t captured either of my parents’ hearts by the end of the concert, I will feel I’ve done a poor job with the speech and bringing them backstage. However, by the time With or Without You starts Mom is captivated by the performance. Dad only falls under the spell when Can’t Help Falling In Love begins. Maybe he never did understand the joke of MacPhisto, or maybe his mind is on other things, such as my confession before the encore started.
We cheer and move away to let the band through our side of the stage. MacPhisto has vanished to stage left. I walk away, trailing after the band, and my parents and friends follow. I know Mom is going to want to talk to Bono again, and Dad will ask for a conference with me. If you ask me, I just want to go home.
The activity backstage becomes a blur as each band member is congratulated on a show well done. Mom’s gaze flickers from face to face, amusing me- she’s searching for Bono. The three band members who are out here thank me heartily for the speech, and I return the praise. Dad is itching to speak to them- he really enjoyed this night, I can tell. Maybe he’s on his way to becoming a true U2 fan.
Bono emerges from his dressing room and I try to make sure I’m the first person to pounce on him. “Hey, Angel! How do you think THAT show went!”
“Fabulous,” I say. “My mother wants to speak to you.”
“Oh?” I lead him towards Mom, who relaxes upon seeing him.
“Thank you for tonight,” she says, feeling free enough to take a hold of his hand and squeeze.
He beams. “You’re very welcome.”
“Why- why did you dedicate One to me?” she asks, peering out of the corner of her eye as if watching for intruders on this conversation. I notice that she doesn’t call me away.
“It’s simple,” Bono tells her, his voice soft. “Your story is inspiring. I don’t know if- if I could have lived like you do, without being able to walk. You lost something precious- like a voice, I could say- and- and you made the most of it. Adding that with your favorite U2 song, One, I couldn’t resist…”
“Oh,” Mom breathes. “Well, thank you very much.” They shake hands a last time and we retreat.
Bono murmurs something in my ear just before we’re out of earshot. “Your parents are just as wonderful as you are- now I see where a girl like you came from!” I ignore his flirting and my blush as we cross the room.
Dad is chatting eagerly with the band, wanting to know everything about how they pulled such-and-such off in the show tonight. Mom has to drag him away. “It’s time to go home.”
“Are you staying with them, or coming with us, Marieke?” Adam asks me.
I glance in my parents’ direction. “I’m going home,” I say. “You know, I need all the time I can get…”
“We’re not going to drop dead if you leave us for a night,” Mom says, and I giggle at her. Secretly, that is the very thing I’m afraid of.
“Adam, I have to ask-“
“Does Stuart want the bass back?”
I laugh. “How did you guess?”
Adam rolls his eyes. “I noticed one of the bass guitars was missing, but didn’t think too much about it until Stuart began freaking out. I told him you’d most likely taken it.”
“That is true, and I’m giving it back tomorrow,” I say. “Come on, we need to go.” I wave goodbye to my friends as Mom and Dad head out. Eric comes over to me.
“Bye, Marieke.” His voice is suppressed, and we embrace coolly. “I was just wondering- I mean, you don’t have to, but are we invited over?”
“We?” I say. “Who’s we?”
Eric flushes red. “Well, I have nothing to do tonight… seen one club, you’ve seen them all you know… and, um, I wanted to ask- well, Jack and I-“
“Can we come over to your house?” Jack cuts in, appearing out of nowhere to lean on Eric’s shoulder.
I look at them and think to myself, gazing past them to the band. Behind me Mom tugs at my elbow- “Come on, sweetheart”- and I begin to state my reply. “I’m not really sure…” I would rather drive home with my parents, so we can talk over the show with a heart-to-heart. On the other hand, my parents haven’t had guests over in a long time, and I haven’t gotten enough minutes with my friends in the crew.
I turn to Mom and Dad. “Is Eric allowed to come home with us? He and Jack want to see my house.”
“Unless they’re going to steal our valuables, go for it,” Dad says. Mom’s mouth tightens, but she agrees. “They aren’t spending the night with us, though.”
I relay the decision to Jack and Eric, who nod. We say goodbye for a last time- by now there aren’t many people to say goodbye to- and finally leave the stadium.
At home I show my guests around the house while Dad makes tea. Mom sits on the couch, waiting for a moment alone with me. Eric is fascinated by our home and starts asking questions, which I do my best to answer. Jack offers to help my father with the tea, and impresses him by speaking Dutch. The five of us soon settle down in the main room, having our late night snack.
Eric and Jack are charming and put my parents in a better mood, knowing that I’m in good hands on tour. Dad particularly takes a liking to Jack, and as they talk Eric lays a hand on my shoulder and asks to speak with me. I excuse myself and we go out to the front porch.
Eric gazes around. “This is a nice place your parents have. They’re very friendly.”
“Yes,” I say. “This is… this was my home.” Memories overcome me.
Eric grips the railing in both hands, and a breeze drifts through. I inch away from my friend. If he tries making a move in the dark he’ll have my parents to answer to.
“So… if it’s not too personal, what did happen to your mother?” Eric asks. “I mean, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”
In my mind’s eye I see several still-moving pictures. A hospital… my mom coming down the stairs in the morning… and one image from my imagination.
“It was an accident,” I say. “Just how Bono described. It was a car crash…”
My imagination fills up the space, showing me Mom’s old car colliding with another… the victim of a drunk driver and a wrong turn.
“Her spine was injured,” I murmur.
“When did it-“
“I don’t know.” I can barely remember a time when she didn’t use the sticks- it’s too fuzzy.
Eric inhales. “I’m sorry.”
“That’s okay,” I murmur, shrinking into myself. It’s not like she died. Mentally I thank the universe- fate, God, whatever you want to call it- for sparing her, something I don’t do often enough.
“Is that all you want from me?”
Eric turns, arms out. “Marieke, I-“
The door creaks open and light falls across our faces. “You’re not… doing anything out here, are you?” Mom asks suspiciously.
I walk in. “We just needed to talk.”
“I think it’s time for your friends to leave. It’s late,” Mom tells me in Dutch.
I wave Jack and Eric off as they start down our driveway, assuring me that they can walk back to the hotel. I suspect they just didn’t want to ask too much of my parents. Dad closes the door behind them.
“Did you enjoy the show?” I ask when I can’t see them anymore, turning back from the window.
“Yes,” says Dad. “That was a very exciting time. I see why you love the band so much!”
“Yeah, every night is like that,” I say, retiring to the sofa. “And still, it never gets old.”
We sit together in comfortable silence, not quite wanting to talk just yet. I picture Jack and Eric’s moonlit wander back to the hotel as Mom sips the dregs from her teacup.
Eventually the silence must be broken. “Marieke…” my Mom says as she sets her teacup back on the coaster.
“Yeah?”
“Are you sure your friends aren’t-“
“More than friends?” I finish, looking at Dad. We remember our conversation last morning.
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m getting at, sweetheart.”
“Mom,” I say. “They’re only friends. I mean, I don’t want to commit to anyone yet. Eric… he has a lot to learn about me, but he’ll learn the lesson well. Jack is only my friend. He would never fall in love with me.”
“But- you did mention something, in the video on the screen tonight,” Dad says.
“Yes, about-“ Mom starts.
“Bono,” I sigh. “Mom- it’s true. The whole confession is true. Thank God Bono was backstage at the time.”
“You’re in love?” Dad asks. He sounds rightfully confused- I am not the one for hard crushes.
“Yes,” I say. “I’m in love, if you can call it that. It takes two to fall in love, but I- I can’t give up on this man.”
My throat constricts at once as Dad sighs. “I told you yesterday to be careful…”
“And now I’ve thrown the warning away, I know, Dad. I can’t help it. It’s my heart… his charisma…” I shake my head. “So stupid,” I murmur, glancing away from my parents.
“Well, I can see where you’re coming from with the charisma,” Mom says. “Sweetheart, are you okay?”
I shrug my shoulders, refusing to look back at them. “I’m… somewhat okay… just a long night, too late to be discussing this.” I stand, taking up my cup and moving towards the kitchen. My parents stay silent as I clean up. Finally Dad speaks as I make for the stairs.
“Marie… please try not to make any bad decisions. You don’t know what you have with this man. It could be the opposite of what you think. Just…”
I stop Dad’s flow of words by taking the steps necessary to reach him and give him a hug. Mom joins in and we go up to bed later than we’d like.
Moonlight twists over my bedroom wall, and I watch it with a heavy-lidded gaze. Idly I wonder what Bono is thinking of now, if he’s in bed yet. My hand stretches out, trying to catch the filaments of night air before they disappear. I am a woman, and I can make my own decisions about life. However, sometimes the right answer isn’t clear- and sometimes affection gets in the way.
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Old 06-12-2011, 07:33 PM   #2
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You have really flourished as a writer. I used to think I was pretty decent, but not anymore. You really invoke emotion....I'm a little speechless and babbling now. Job well done.
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Old 06-13-2011, 12:39 AM   #3
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Something tells me he's going to figure out :3 you know who I'm talking about!

And everything about Jack and Eric being more than friends was awkward as hell...

Agreed with Grace, this evoked emotion very well...I practically cried reading the Running To Stand Still bit...it's so unexpected but each chapter always carries such a punch...
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Old 06-13-2011, 06:38 AM   #4
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Oh yeah. Running to Stand Still into Streets is my favorite running song. Just when I want to quit, that comes on and I can dig in a little harder.
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Old 06-13-2011, 05:38 PM   #5
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You have really flourished as a writer. I used to think I was pretty decent, but not anymore. You really invoke emotion....I'm a little speechless and babbling now. Job well done.
Before I say "Aw, thanks" I want to point out that this is so coincidental with my day... first my teacher tells me that my Romeo And Juliet essay was the best ninth grade essay she's ever read, and then I get a link about sharing your writing and getting published emailed to me from my mom. Now I see your post, and... it's been a weird writing day!
But anyway. Aw, thanks! You're a good writer too, though, and invoke more emotion than mine does to me!
AS for you, Katie... well I'm sure he's going to find out! Oh yes, it could seem suspicious when your only friends on tour are guys... pretty awkward, and I also love RTSS/Streets, it's awesome.
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Old 06-13-2011, 06:37 PM   #6
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Oh yes, it could seem suspicious when your only friends on tour are guys... pretty awkward
I don't think I'll be experiencing anything like that anytime soon dammit

That's awesome about the essay, Blue!
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Old 06-13-2011, 08:09 PM   #7
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Of course I meant "you" generically.

You could read it... somewhere... if you like, I posted on FP and made a thread in Dream Out Loud. I prefer the thread because it has my name in it on Fictionpress. Total accident.
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Old 06-13-2011, 08:25 PM   #8
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I know XD I just chose to think of it that way...*sigh* Marieke's a lucky bugger.

Dream Out Loud? Oh wait...that's where non U2 writing goes, right? or wait, I don't really know what it's for...
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:38 AM   #9
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I tink it's for... art, and writing?
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:34 PM   #10
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Hmm...probably.

I just spent way too much time drawing on photo paper and decided you needed MacPhisto to go with all those drawings of Marieke XD

 


Sorry his chest hair's kinda weird. I forgot what shirt he's supposed to wear, so he doesn't have one
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Old 06-15-2011, 05:51 AM   #11
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EEEEEEEEEEEEE! I'd be doing that in real life if it wasn't early in the morning. He looks handsome!

And... well, faulty memories can be good sometimes...
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:05 AM   #12
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My faulty memory was probably for the best
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:52 AM   #13
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Yep, and your picture is making me want to write about shirtless MacPhisto. Hmmmm... I'll go work on that.
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:57 AM   #14
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Yep, and your picture is making me want to write about shirtless MacPhisto. Hmmmm... I'll go work on that.
Yes please. I want to go to there.

I should have Chapter 19 up of Please tonight.
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Old 06-15-2011, 03:00 PM   #15
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Please do, Blue XD Shirtless MacPhisto action (hmm?) for the win!

Grace, that's exciting

I really don't know how you guys are able to be writing so much! I've run out of steam for a short while...then again I've been writing other stuff...
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Old 06-25-2011, 08:47 PM   #16
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That was a great chapter, Blue! I love Bullet-RTSS-Streets, gives me shivers every time. And the scene back at her house after the gig was supremely awkward.
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Old 06-27-2011, 09:04 AM   #17
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Thank you! Yes, lots of awkwadness...
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