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Old 07-11-2011, 11:48 AM   #1
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Dancing With The Devil ch. 34

It's baaack, after an enforced writing hiatus... This is an interesting one...

I enter the hairdresser’s with some money and my limp brown curls. The hairdresser smiles and offers me a seat, and I lean back, thinking Welcome to Hell.
The ordeal isn’t as bad as I’d expected, however- there’s still enough hair left on my head to form decent sized ringlets. The hairdresser gives me side bangs and trims the length down to my shoulders, which is a vast improvement. I thank her and try not to stare in every window I pass while walking down the streets of Nijmegen.
Just as I’m attempting to avoid my reflection, an object beyond the shiny surface of a clothing store window catches my eye. I stop and peer in. The leather jacket, similar to Bono’s only brown and less shiny, beckons me with temptation. I stare down at the silver bracelet on my wrist, and run my fingers through my now straightened and shortened hair. Are leather jackets really “me?” Well, I do have enough money…
On the plane to Glasgow I have a new piece of my ensemble to show off to Eric. He’s more distracted by the bass sitting across my lap, but once the jacket pulls away a bit his eyes light up, seeing as the shirt I’m wearing is quite tight. I shake my finger at him- “Bad boy, Eric!” He slides away from me, thoroughly embarrassed. Eric seems to be getting more and more adventurous in his exploration of my body with his eyes- and sometimes, if I let him, his hands. I’ll have to set him to rights once more.
When we step off the plane I run to find Stuart, who needs his bass back, and nearly trip over Jack. He’s standing stock-still in the middle of the airport lot, his arms out. “Ah, Scotland!” he cries, mouth wide open, eyes dead shut. I laugh. “This is your home, right?” He shakes his head without looking at me. “I don’t live in Glasgow. But it’s all Heaven to me.”
I push him and scurry over to Stuart, who is collecting his suitcase. “Here, have a bass,” I tell him, handing the guitar over.
“Just my luck, another piece to carry in,” Stuart sighs. I leave him trying to juggle his supplies and enter the hotel.
Once every piece of my luggage is in its proper place and I feel human again, I head downstairs to get some fresh air. Jack is entering the hotel, so I grab his arm and ask if he can take me for a tour of the town. He agrees eagerly, and we leave.
The sky is dull blue, with the sun disappearing behind the clouds ever so often. It’s hard to tell what time it is, but my body is set on Netherlands time zone. I have to ask Jack what the time difference between Holland and Scotland is. He replies that it is past seven, whereas we left Nijmegen after eight. I blink- it’s incredible how time can move backwards. “All depends on how you look at the world,” Jack responds, his voice gradually shifting into an accent more Scottish than Irish, and adds to that, “Stuart’s annoyed with you.”
I glance sideways at Jack. “What did I do?”
“You returned a bass in less than mint condition,” Jack snorts.
My shoulders rise and fall. “He can’t expect it to be properly tuned, with all the playing I’ve done.” Jack points me in a new direction, signaling the corner we have to turn on the walkway.
We eat lunch in town and return to the hotel at an hour past noon. Now my body is displeased, realizing that Glasgow will give me one more hour in the day than I’d prefer. To settle my thoughts, I take Zooropa downstairs for an easy listening.
The first song has barely begun when the hotel door opens and in steps… Bono. He strides toward the elevator without noticing me at first, and pauses to listen to the music. Turning around, he spies me sitting alone with the turntable, just as his recorded voice starts singing.
“Should have guessed it was you, Marieke,” he says, taking a seat to join me. “Zooropa’s been released on every format now, and you’re stuck with this old record.”
“Records are better than CDs,” I say. “CDs are too… breakable… where did you come from?”
“The city,” Bono answers, pulling his hands behind his head. “Lovely day for Scotland. You were out too, weren’t you?”
I nod and clasp my hands in my lap as Zooropa moves into its finer section- And I have no compass, and I have no map…
Bono listens intently too. “You really love this song, right?”
“Zooropa is my favorite song,” I say.
He leans forward. “Oh really? I thought that was New Year’s Day?”
“New Year’s Day is wonderful,” I say, “but it’s moved down a slot. Readjusting, you know…”
“Ah.” Bono flops back into the chair, a thoughtful look on his face. The song wraps up. She’s gonna dream of the world she wants to live in, She’s gonna dream out loud.
“Dream out loud,” Bono murmurs, half to himself.
We remain in a hushed reverie, a mirage of images and lyrics tumbling through our brains that would be useless to say. Once Babyface begins I sit up straighter in my chair. “What are you planning to release next from Zooropa?”
“I don’t know. You know, there are so many good tracks on this album… I really don’t think it would be adequate to release just one more.”
“Then don’t. How well is Zooropa selling?”
“Oh, it’s enough to get us by and keep this tour afloat.” Bono smiles. “I’m sure we have more than enough money to get that done.”
I laugh. “Yes, I’m sure you do.”
“I really would like to start performing more of these songs… I mean, Edge is excited with Numb, but you have to give the real singer his chance.” He laughs at himself. “There’s so much prospect in this album. I want to see how the songs fit into a live setting.”
“Stay is a very good addition to the set,” I remind Bono. “I can’t wait to hear other arrangements. Have you given any thought to the phone call for Saturday?”
“That’s your job.” Bono shakes his finger at me. “You have to remember, Marieke- the character MacPhisto owes his life to you. Write what you want, just don’t make any mistakes.”
“That shouldn’t be hard,” I say, and snort. Numb begins on the record.
Bono stands up. “Well, I’ll see you later.” He bends down to kiss my cheek. I ignore the way my skin flares with his touch. He won’t notice it either.
“Goodbye, Bono,” I call, but he’s already gone.
***
On Friday, August 6th, Bono mounts a stage in Glasgow, looking in a satisfied way about himself at the completion of the setup. The crew has really gotten on top of their game this time. Edge is lazily trying out different guitar sounds, and Larry is adjusting his drum set. Adam is nowhere to be seen.
“That’s great,” Bono calls, referring to Edge’s rendition of Until The End of the World. “Can we check that one from the top?”
“Adam, get in here!” Larry yells, hitting his drumsticks against the metal on the side of a drum.
Adam returns to the stage, smoking a cigarette. He frowns. “I haven’t gotten a chance to even touch my instrument and-“
“Here you go,” Stuart announces, appearing from the side of the stage and surrendering a bass to Adam’s arms. “It took me forever to tune it.”
“Don’t worry, this’ll be worth it,” Adam assures him. The band jams on Until The End of the World. Bono prances about the stage joyfully, singing his heart out.
“You gonna dive off the stage like that in the real show?” Edge calls, stretching his fingers lightly across the guitar strings.
“Why not- love, love, love!” Bono tries answering, jumping back onstage and rushing down the catwalk in a song.
The truth is, he enters the audience nearly every night on this song. A few members of the crew make sure the fans don’t pull him under as they flock to his hand like fish to a baited hook. At this moment Bono is exuberant, caught up in the song. Edge hops down onto the catwalk and moves threateningly towards him.
“Be careful!” Morleigh calls to Bono from the audience pit. “Don’t fall!” Bono in fact is so energetic in his bouncing that he could trip off the catwalk. He’s stopped singing, saving his energy for the performance tomorrow night.
Edge jams with frenzy, tearing into the guitar as if it’s a deadly animal and he’s a hawk. Bono lunges in, getting in Edge’s way, trying to bug him out of the riff. Edge leans forward, gaining on Bono with every new inch. No one’s noticed that Adam had stopped playing when Bono stopped singing.
“Don’t go over the edge!” Morleigh warns as Bono’s leg inches dangerously close to her, feet poised to move backwards.
“Which Edge?” Bono shouts.
The Edge himself rolls his eyes and darts in, finishing the song with a kiss on Bono’s cheek. Bono backs away and scrapes the area Edge has kissed, an automatic gesture.
“You didn’t have to follow through,” he says.
“But you’re just sooo irresistible,” Edge snickers, backing away. “Wait, where’s Adam?”
“That was… good,” Morleigh informs Bono. “Try putting as much fire into every performance- although make sure not to get too out of control.”
Bono laughs, eyeing the sky. “Thanks. I sort of forgot that the show’s tomorrow and not tonight…”
The clouds above their heads heave their burden onto the ground, and raindrops begin splattering.
“Damn it! Wait for me!” Bono calls, scurrying onto the main stage and following the rest of the band as they move all equipment to the underground. “Ain’t no rain on my stage,” Bono huffs, helping Larry with his drum kit. Adam is to be found in this area, talking with his technician.
“That wasn’t as exciting as you promised,” Stuart is saying. “There wasn’t anything wrong with the bass, was there?”
“No,” Adam says. “I have to do something… see you guys!” he finishes as the rest of the band drop their equipment. Adam dashes off.
“What’s gotten into him?” Larry asks.
Bono shrugs. “Dunno.”
He pulls on a jacket, loathe to wait for the rain to clear. He doesn’t want to practice any more. Bidding farewell to his friends, Bono walks out of the stadium with a phone call on the mind. He’s restless, unable to concentrate on one task at a time today.
On the ride back to the hotel, the sun makes an appearance, breaking through the cloudy rain. Bono stares at it, blinking hard. His heart leaps, and words spring to his lips. He presses them together, keeping the song locked inside.
She’s gonna dream of the world she wants to live in
She’s gonna dream out loud
Dream out loud
***
I’m pleasantly surprised when Bono arrives at the hotel to discuss the phone call. I’ve been trying to write one, but no ideas come to mind. My brain is exhausted of creativity. Bono helps me by naming a few people he’s considered calling, and I pick the most interesting one. With Bono’s help, I write the speech.
“Here’s your payment, Angel,” Bono says sweetly, slipping the money into my hand.
“Why thank you,” I answer. We stand up.
“Bono, are you going to stick around here?”
“No,” he replies. “Nothing to do. Course, there’s nothing to do down there either…” He indicates the direction of the stadium.
“Where are you going?”
“Wherever they need me. I might explore Glasgow some more.”
I’m about to say I’d love to go with him, but the need for privacy occurs to me. I’ve been sticking around with too many people lately- I rarely get a time to myself. To help conquer the sadness that washes over me when I realize this, I keep my mouth shut on the offer.
“See you,” Bono says, kissing my cheek and darting out. I rub my face in a soft daze. What should I do now?
My hand drifts to the phone at the side of the bed. I take it up, staring down at the numbers, and punch in the number for Herman’s office. He’ll be at work by now. I’m sure Lina, being his secretary, is also there.
“Hello?”
“Hello, Herman. It’s Marieke,” I say.
He pauses. “Are you trying to reach Lina?”
“I want to speak to her,” I say.
“Why didn’t you call her line?”
“She would know it was me if I spoke one word. She won’t know it’s me if you call her in.”
“Marieke…” I can see Herman’s chest expand in my mind, watch his eyes falling to glance at whatever he’s working on before closing them. “What are your interests in speaking with her?”
“She’s my closest friend,” I say, a little too defensively. Calming my voice, I continue with, “I was just in Holland a few days ago.”
“You were? You weren’t in Rotterdam, were you?” Herman asks.
“No, I was in Nijmegen. My mother told me there that Lina had called them- called their house- and I want to know what that’s all about. Lina isn’t doing too well, is she?”
A sigh, and a “No. She- she keeps pushing me away. I don’t know what to do with her because I can’t find out what’s wrong.”
We both pause, and Herman says, “She’s in the adjacent room right now.”
“Oh, okay,” I say, catching his drift. “Do you want me to hang up?”
“That would be a good idea- wait! Marieke. Can you give me your number?”
“Why?” I ask
“So I can call you if you need to take an emergency flight out here.” We both think of the unspoken. Why haven’t I flown out yet?!
I tell Herman the phone number for my room, and we hang up. The long-missed voice of a friend had been so close in connection, but I’d done nothing to reach out.
***
Minutes before U2’s first opening act takes the stage in Glasgow, Bono hears a snatch of words floating past. They are familiar lyrics, sung by a woman with a deep voice.
“Babyface, babyface… slow down child, let me untie your lace…”
Bono follows the sound to its source. “Angel.”
“Hey,” Marieke says, pausing in her song. She stands from the seat she’s taken in the dressing room. “What do you want?”
Bono shakes his head. “Nothing, nothing…”
“You heard me singing.” She knows it for certain, he can tell, but asks anyway.
“Yes,” Bono says, fingering his earring and the lock of black hair that’s slipped from behind his head. “Babyface, huh?”
“It’s a good song,” she says, shrugging. “Would you rather I sing something else?”
“Hey, I’m the singer here,” Bono protests. “I don’t want to be upstaged!”
Marieke’s eyes drop. “You’re not. I’m awful anyway.”
“Oh, hush, love. You’re not awful, just unadjusted.” Bono sits down next to her, and the stylists swarm.
“Unadjusted? What do you mean?” She steeples her fingers.
Bono clears his throat. “Em, you’re just not used to singing U2 songs. Your voice doesn’t fit for it.”
“I have a lower range than most women,” Marieke starts.
“If you really want to sing, I could help with that.”
Her blue eyes roll. “As if bass lessons weren’t enough!”
Bono shrugs. “Suit yourself. Oh… did you cut your hair?”
Marieke stares at him, her hand unconsciously ruffling her curls. “Yes, right before we left Holland.”
“It’s very-“ Bono begins, but Larry and Edge cut him off when they enter the room. Larry’s gaze pinpoints Marieke, sweeping across her for a few seconds before sitting down to get fixed up. He opens his mouth to speak, but gives up when Edge speaks first, asking Bono where Adam is.
“Haven’t seen him since we arrived,” Bono says, scratching his chin. Edge leans back in his chair. Next to Bono, Marieke sings quietly. “Zooropa, vorsprung du technik…”
Larry eventually manages to sneak in a few words to Marieke before the band must take to the stage. Bono’s head is still singing Zooropa, and he can’t help but stare out at Marieke’s exchange of words with the drummer. What are they talking about?
Bono feels her presence by the side of the stage even while he’s on it. It’s a very dull point of wanting, something altogether too easy to ignore. Bono sings his heart out with Zoo Station, and pushes the wanting aside, forgetting Marieke.
As I watch the show under the protection of Eric’s arm, my mind wanders away from the action onstage. I run through my conversation with Larry in my head, and ponder his words. He’s becoming quite friendly with me.
“Have you been enjoying yourself in Glasgow?” Larry had asked me, his arms folded behind his back. Through the piercing blue eyes I’d seen a softness, a willingness to keep me safe
“Yes, it’s quite an interesting town. Jack’s been showing me around the place.”
“Ah, right, because he lives here.” Larry’s voice is undeniably handsomer than Bono’s, but I am reluctant to admit it. ”In Scotland. Not unlike our Ireland, if you think too hard about it.”
“I haven’t seen much of Ireland,” I confess.
“Well, we’re going to have to take you there again.” His eyes had caught on my silver bracelet, and then on my face. He’d been silent for the lapse of a few seconds, before finally murmuring “See you” and taking off.
Bono onstage is overjoyed, feeding on the energy of the fans. He takes Morleigh’s advice when Until The End of the World is performed, and throws all the fire he can muster into the song.
“In the garden I was playing the tart… I kissed your lips and broke your heart… You! You were acting like it was the end of the world!”
Edge starts his solo and Bono dances across the stage. He springs on his toes down the catwalk, begging the fans mentally to make eye contact with him.
“Love, love, love!” he cheers, thrusting one arm out straight as he walks. “Love, love… love, love, love!”
Edge plays a few thoughtful, ringing notes. Bono faces the audience and watched them scream. He can feel the presence of a camera behind him.
“In my dreams I was drowning my sorrows; my sorrows, they learned to swim. Surrounding me, going down on me, spilling over the brim…”
With that Bono dives into the audience, seeking the hands of the hidden crewman down in the pit. He’s lifted up and twists in the grip, lunging menacingly towards the fans who cluster about him. “Waves of regret, waves of joy, I reached out for the one I tried to destroy. You, you said you’d wait ‘till the end of the world.”
The crewman lets him tumble back onstage, and Bono rolls to his feet with a cry of “Hey!” He faces the stage as billions of numbers flicker across the screen, counting down to the end of the world.
Edge inches his way down the catwalk, shredding his guitar up. Bono faces him, leering towards his friend with a challenge in his eyes. “Is this rock and roll?” he shouts. “Is this rock and roll?!” Edge draws closer, sparks practically flying from his fingers. Bono leaps, throwing himself in Edge’s face, straining the microphone forward until his mouth is dangerously close. “La, da da da! La da da… la, da, da da! La da da…”
The two battle it out, Bono twisting away and threatening while Edge continues to play his guitar as if it’s in flames. The drumming grows fierce from the back of the stage, and Bono yells, “THIS IS ROCK AND ROLL!” He darts in towards Edge, ready to claim himself as the winner of their battle, and Edge pecks Bono’s cheek while slinging his guitar to the side. The song has ended, and Bono’s ignited spirit goes out.
Meanwhile, backstage, I wait for the dreaded moment, a recent low point of every show. U2 has been recently involved with the war occurring in Sarajevo right now, to the point where they wanted to do something to help. Once a plan for a journey to Sarajevo was snuffed out, a new idea came to pass. Bono has connected with a friend in Sarajevo each night, linking up with him, and gotten him to describe the war and what he’s going through with other families. Unsurprisingly, this has created a lot of controversy, and surprisingly, most of it has been from me.
As Bono talks with his friend, other people approach the line to make their own personal messages. One woman rages so intensely that I have to look away in embarrassment. The crowd is very subdued- not one round of applause. I absolutely hate these linkups, but I guess U2 has to do something to help out the war effort. Though I’m not sure what good spoiling a rock concert does.
The show wears on, and Bono returns backstage with a sweaty body and a swollen heart, pleased after singing Pride (In the Name of Love). He allows Marieke to hand over the MacPhisto outfit, and stares down at it for a moment before sighing and giving in. Become the Devil, Bono, he tells himself. Become MacPhisto. He applies lipstick to his mouth with a careful hand, brushes back his loose strings of hair and adjusts the golden jacket that sits on his shoulders. “Ah…” he breathes as he stands, the world swirling about to resettle in new and mysterious ways. Bono is MacPhisto.
The phone call tonight goes to Ian Lang, Scotland’s Secretary of State. Bono-inside-MacPhisto remembers how Marieke had giggled at the similarity between his name and her own. MacPhisto even now can feel her standing by the stage, and knows if he turns he would find her exactly the way he pictures her now in his mind. The pressure tugs at him, nearly forcing him to pull her onstage. He can’t bury his wanting now, but lets it out in words and a song.
MacPhisto ends the entire show with a few words of simplicity and rent pleasure. As he backs away from the audience, his hand circles in the air, pulling words from himself and planting them in the fans. “I can’t help falling in love with you…”
Marieke, he knows, is staring out at him, possibly with tears dried on her cheeks. MacPhisto shifts his gaze the smallest bit towards her, and their eyes meet. His breath slows, even as his movements do not.
“But I can’t help falling in love with you…”
Moments later, he’s backstage and goes by the name of Bono again. The show has drained his energy, just like every night prior to this one. Bono wonders if he’ll ever get used to it. Some things, like nervousness before a show and exhaustion afterwards, never seem to go away.
As Bono strides out with a smile on his face, the very first observation he makes is the lack of Marieke. Where’s she gone? Why should he care? Bono shakes himself off, telling himself that Marieke can do what she likes without Bono knowing about it.
I am in a restaurant at this time, sharing a night with Jack. He passes the menu over to me. “Traditional Scottish cuisine,” he says, tapping his finger against one dish on the list. “What do you think of that, Marieke?”
I follow where he’s pointing with my eyes. “Haggis?”
“You can’t have visited Scotland and not tried this,” Jack says.
I raise my brow. “Is that a challenge?”
“Read the description and decide,” Jack offers.
I read the description of Jack’s meal of choice. It sounds bizarre, but- “Surprisingly appetizing,” I say, handing the menu back.
“Let’s get one for two of us,” Jack says, and we order as soon as the waiter comes back over.
We try to make small talk while waiting for dinner to arrive, but Jack’s brown eyes are gazing too seriously into mine. “Marieke, I’ve noticed something…”
“Go on?”
“Have you realized how many people on this tour are in love with you? And you’re just devoted to a man you can’t have.”
My hand ceases in its playing with a slippery glass. “What? Who’s in love with me, Jack?”
“You…” Jack eyes me. “I’m not sure if you want to know it all. They can have you, you know. You just don’t want to give yourself to them.”
My breath comes fast. “How do you know this?”
Jack looks uncomfortable. “I… I can just tell, Marieke. It’s clear to me…” Obviously having trouble articulating, he downs some of his drink and, licking his lips, says “We all know you can’t get what you want, though.”
I stare into my own glass, a bit angry. “It’s not sensible, I know. I can’t stop wanting him.”
“If I were you I’d open my eyes and start protecting myself from the masses lying in wait for you,” Jack says. “They want you, Marieke. They want you for dates, sex… mostly sex, and they want you for life. You have to realize this.”
My head jerks up as I struggle to hold my anger down. “Name one name, Jack, and then I’ll believe you.” I can fend off any man he tells me about- I always have. What’s Jack’s problem?
“Larry,” Jack says quietly, naming the one name.
I twist my head sharply, clasping my hands. “Larry?!”
“You said you wanted to know,” Jack murmurs.
I suck in a breath, looking downward. I hadn’t seen this coming, although I probably should have been able to tell from the way Larry treats me when I’m around that something was up. But still… he has a girlfriend already! Or was that a lie to make sure I don’t come too close?
“Jack, please don’t tell me any more.” I don’t need to know how many men fancy me when I only fancy one of them.
“Not even Bono?” Jack asks, blinking at me.
My breath scrapes harshly in my throat. “What about Bono?”
“I could tell you if he loves you or not,” Jack says.
I hasten away from this tempting offer- “No, Jack, no, He doesn’t love me. We all know he doesn’t love me. Don’t hurt me like this anymore.”
We fall back into silence until I ask, “Are you in love with me?”
“No.” He fires the word with such force that there’s really no denying the truth. A pause follows. For the first time I can hear the song on the radio, loud and clear.
You can feel my lips undress your eyes
Undress your eyes
Undress your eyes
Words of talk and words so leisured
Words are poison, darts of pleasure
Die, and so you died
When Jack next speaks, it’s in an embarrassingly awkward voice. “But actually, when I first saw you… woman… my only thought was- Who’s this sexy bitch?”
My laughter rings across the table and I practically inhale my drink. The main course arrives soon after, and I’ve never tasted anything better.
***
The following day is going to be a busy one for U2. Between their scheduled activities, the band has to practice their music at the stadium and think up how on Earth they’re going to change the setlist for the second night in Glasgow. Bono is in a frenzy, making a list of songs in his head. He wants badly to debut a new one from Zooropa for this show- the fans who went to the show last night will most likely be coming to this one again, and they deserve a new treat. Bono is humming music under his breath when he steps onstage down at the stadium.
“Hey Adam,” he greets the bassist, the only other man onstage. Adam waves with a slightly distracted smile. Bono knows he’s had a lot of stuff on his mind recently, and won’t dare ask what it is. He wants Adam to work it out for himself.
Bono idly slaps his hand against his leg to the beat of the song in his head. Unconsciously he starts singing it under his breath as he moves backstage- “No particular placements, no particular songs. I’ve been hiding, what am I hiding from?”
Edge greets him backstage, but Bono is too distracted by his internal music to do nothing more but nod. “Don’t worry baby, it’ll be all right, uncertainty could be the guiding light…”
“Zoooo,” Edge sings cautiously as backup vocals.
Bono faces him with a soft smile on his lips. “I hear voices, ridiculous voices… skip the subway, let’s go to the overground!”
Both men sing the crucial line at the same time.
“Get your head out of the mud, baby!”
Bono backs away, laughing and running his hand through his hair, while Edge points two fingers at him, a knowing smile on his face. “Let’s give it up for… Bono!”
“And let’s not forget The Edge,” Bono says. “Great singing, my friend, great singing. And happy birthday!”
Edge laughs- it sounds more like a cough- while simultaneously puffing with pride.“Well, now we’ve caught up in age. Why Zooropa?”
“Oh, I’ve heard Marieke playing that album for too much-“ Bono suddenly stops and thinks. Zooropa?! All at once, the idea that has been seeded in his brain sprouts and blossoms into something better.
“My God, Edge, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could pull off playing Zooropa live?”
Edge shrugs, but Bono notices the telltale spark in his eye. “It would take a lot of work.”
“Come on, not that much. You can recreate the sound, can’t you?”
“I’ll go get my guitar.” Edge races off.
Onstage, Adam is pushed a ways aside as Edge sets up equipment- a properly tuned guitar, an amp, and the wah-wah and delay pedals. He knows how to play the guitar like he knows that food and water will keep him alive. It’s practically an instinct now, something deeply rooted in him that he can’t remove from his soul. He begins to play, starting at the point where the song kaleidoscopes into Zooropa part two- the song that Marieke helped make.
Bono, recognizing his entrance, grips a microphone in both hands. “And I have no compass, and I have no map!” he shouts.
Adam glances up from his work to frantically locate the bassline for Zooropa from the back of his brain. He starts playing. The band is sorely in need of a drummer to help keep time, thus causing the performance to fall apart after a few more words are sung.
Adam rubs his hands together. “We need Larry out here.”
“Right,” Bono says. “I’ll call him in.” He starts moving backstage, but Edge grabs his sleeve and pulls him back. “Wait. We need to decide how we’re going to play Zooropa if we really want to do it live.”
Bono scratches his head. “It’s not too hard. I mean, that jamming there went pretty well.”
“But that was after the Babble verses,” Edge points out. “That sound- that sound at the very beginning of the song, Bono, would take hours and hours of rehearsal to perfect. Possibly even days. We haven’t gotten that kind of time.”
“Way to drop an idea on us on the very day of a show,” Adam says.
Bono exhales. “All right, I’m sorry. I just thought we could give the Scottish fans something new to hear instead of the same old setlist like every night. I get it now- Zooropa’s not going to work. See ya.” He departs from the stage.
Edge and Adam glance at each other. “I really hate it when he talks that way,” Adam says.
“Makes you want to play the song, doesn’t it?” Edge asks, sidling up and slinging off his guitar. “It wouldn’t be a bad idea, honestly. I mean, we could try it for fun, right?”
“Definitely,” Adam agrees. He waits for Edge to start the guitar riff again. Sometime during the jamming, when Edge is singing the lyrics in his head, Larry appears from the side of the stage and settles down at the drum kit, tapping out a beat.
Bono is not in the stadium anymore. He knows that leaving is a bad idea when they’ve got so much work to do, but he can’t stand to be in there anymore- slightly fed up with the rest of the band at the moment, and needing to cool off. Out of the stadium Bono walks, and straight into a cluster of U2 fans.
Bono smiles and chats with the fans, politely obliging to autographs and mini-interviews. At one point, just as Bono’s caught deep in conversation with one man, the noise from the stadium becomes so deafening that he has to stop his conversation and listen. The band is playing a striped-down version of Zooropa, with only bass, guitar, and drums- the vocalist is outside, standing with his fans.
“Are you going to play Zooropa tonight?” the man Bono’s been talking to asks, wide-eyed.
Bono grins and shrugs. “Maybe, maybe not. We’ve got a ton of songs to work on- Zooropa is nothing compared to what you could be seeing.” The fans cling to his every word.
The man nods. “I think Zooropa’s a brilliant tune from an excellent album. I just want to say, anything you play tonight is fine in my book.” With a few more words exchanged, Bono bids the fans farewell and enters the stadium once more.
Thus Bono pays Eric to keep Marieke away from the stadium for the day while he and the rest of the band rehearse Zooropa, over and over. The screens flicker, testing different images that could be projected during the song. Bono decides to cut out the first half of Zooropa and skip straight to the best part- Zooropa II, also known as “And I have no compass…” Hopefully, Bono thinks, the performance of Zooropa will come as a surprise to Marieke. He knows it’s her favorite song, and she would love to see it performed. Another thing to be hoped for is that Marieke is doing something worthwhile with her time, like writing a speech, instead of hanging around with Eric.
Eric is entertaining me in the oddest possible ways. As soon as I arrived at the stadium, ready to wade my way in and listen to soundchecks, Eric swings right out, stuffing some money into his pocket and waving valiantly at me. “Hi, Marieke! What are you doing here?”
“Looking for something to do,” I answer, sliding my hands into the pockets of my leather jacket. “You’re leaving, Eric?” I can hear strains of music drifting from inside the stadium, and my heart pounds with excitement.
“Yeah, I am,” he says, eyes shining out at me. “Come, let’s go for a walk.”
“I just finished my walk,” I say. “I want to hear the band rehearse.”
“That’s what you do every day!” Eric exclaims, catching my hand. “I miss you. Let’s go, okay?” He begins to take me off in a new direction.
“No thank you,” I answer, removing myself from his grip. “I’ll see you later when the soundcheck is over!”
Eric maneuvers himself over to me, placing his hands on my shoulders. “I’ve barely seen Glasgow- can’t you show me around?” His eyes are pleading for me to stay.
I sigh, turning my head towards the stadium and back to him. “Are you asking me out on a date?”
“…No…”
“Yes, you are. I’m not going with you, okay?” I turn towards the stadium at last and head into the group of fans outside.
“Marieke!” I hear Eric calling from behind me. “I have to tell you something…”
He catches up to me. I twist and grapple him off. “What is it?”
Eric opens his mouth- “Why”- but changes the words immediately. “Have you gotten started on your script yet? The phone call for tonight?”
Now that he mentions it… “Er, no.” I haven’t even asked Bono who we should call. “Are you suggesting I should get to work?”
“Maybe I can help you.” Eric offers his arm. I shake my head and stroll in the opposite direction of the stadium.
“Why are you wearing a jacket, anyway?” Eric’s voice calls from behind me.
“It rained a few days ago!” I won’t tell him that the coat is pure vanity.
Somehow Eric does end up helping me write the phone call. There are a lot of basic ideas that I have to put forth to him- ideas like who the character MacPhisto is and what he wants. Eric slowly seems to grasp it, and actually manages to come up with a few clever thoughts. I embellish the script happily, writing about an unnamed person. The details will be added by Bono.
“Are you going anywhere now?” Eric asks.
“Well, I’ve got to present this to the band…”
“Why don’t you wait for them to return?” Eric hastily suggests- a bit too hastily, if you ask me.
“Is there a reason you don’t want me to see the band today?” Maybe he’s growing too jealous of Bono.
“Marieke. You see them all the time! Give it a break. Spend some time with someone else.”
“I’m not staying with you the whole day.” With those words I stand and walk from the hotel lobby. There is always an alternative- that I listen to Zooropa- but I’d rather see the man that Eric’s been so awkwardly keeping me away from.
Bono receives a call from Eric, who is at the hotel. Apparently Marieke has left the hotel with a speech that’s ready to be given to Bono. Eric claims he can’t contain her. Bono rolls his eyes- a movement Eric thankfully won’t be able to see- and tells Eric to stay put. “She’s a free woman, Eric. She can do what she likes.” He hangs up and makes the rest of U2 swear that they won’t mention Zooropa to Marieke at all when she arrives.
After wishing Edge a happy birthday, Bono and I revise the script, our heads close together, mouths moving simultaneously when we both get an idea. Bono’s eyes light on my jacket- “Are you trying to look like me?” I laugh at him and point out a key place in the speech, asking him to get back on topic. When the work is done, Bono gives me a hug. He reads the speech to a motley assembly of crewmen and band members, and I retire from the stadium soon after, taking along a bass for practice. Bono breathes a sigh of relief and prepares to leave as well.
***
The second night in Glasgow flows just as smoothly as the first one. Bono is exhilarated, singing Happy Birthday as a surprise for Edge, but is also careful not to waste his energy for the big surprise of Zooropa. The whole band is geared up towards the debut, excited to play such a spur of the moment song. Bono can’t get Marieke out of his thoughts.
He stares at the side of the stage, viewing Marieke shrouded in shadow. Bono mouths “This is for you” and the screens flicker on as Edge begins the riff.
My reaction to Zooropa is shocking. My back arches, fingernails digging down into my palms. Babble and an alien guitar riff dance across the stadium, energizing the fans in the audience. I scream, my hands flying up over my head, as Bono sidles up to the microphone and begins the song with my favorite verse.
“And I have no compass! And I have no map! And I have no reason, no reason to get back…” Bono jerks the microphone stand, wrenching the mic from its holder. “And I have no religion, and I don’t know what’s what! And I don’t know the limit, the limit of what we’ve got!”
The screens bathe the stage in an unearthly light as Edge backs Bono up. “Zooo…”
“Don’t worry, baby, it’s gonna be alright! You got the right shoes to get you through the night!”
“Zooo…”
“It’s cold outside!” Bono yells. “But brightly lit! Skip the subway-“
“Let’s go to the overground!” I shout from backstage, ready to break into dance.
Bono takes a moment to eye me in my place. “Get your head out of the mud, baby!”
My heart is swelling, taking hold of every fan in the stadium. It surprises me that they’re singing along with every word. I guess I underestimated when Bon told me Zooropa was selling well.
“No particular placements… no particular songs. I’ve been hiding, what am I hiding from?” Bono punches the air, a smile on his face.
“Don’t worry, baby, it’ll be alright! Uncertainty could be the guiding light! I hear voices…” He blinks appropriately at the audience. “Ridiculous voices… I’m in the slipstream! Let’s go to the overground!”
“Get your head out of the mud, baby!” the fans- and I- yell.
By now the euphoric Zooropa is ending. Bono stands high over the audience, smiling to himself and for them. It deepens the grin on my own face. “She’s gonna dream of the world she wants to live in…” Bono sings. “She’s gonna dream out loud!” I can’t help but think that the she could mean me.
“Dream out loud!” Bono returns to his wonted place onstage. The band slows.
“Dream out loud,” Bono finishes, more of a half-murmured cheer than a lyric anymore. I scream my praise from backstage. The audience goes wild with applause. Bono gazes at them, unusually staggered by their response. “Thank you!” His hand moves from his heart to a place over his head, waving them off.
Pride closes the main set, as usual. As the band takes from the stage, I shrink back to let them pass. Edge is first, and Larry follows. I back against Eric, wondering if Larry will attempt to catch my eye. But he moves on without a glance toward me, and it’s Bono who acknowledges my presence- “All right, Angel, you come with me…” Adam brings up the rear.
I only have time to thank Bono from the depths of my heart for playing Zooropa before it’s MacPhisto who’s up and whirling onto the stage. Bono does, however, respond to my comment- “You’re welcome, I don’t know if we’ll play it again.” He’s slid the headgear behind his ears, looking fully like the Devil sans platform shoes.
We watch and giggle as MacPhisto tries to ring John Mayor, the British Prime Minister. “I’d just like to say that I think he’s doing an absolutely marvelous job for the people of Scotland. It must be such a headache, being in charge of them when you’re so far away. And I’d also like to say that I think he knows exactly what they want- just like he does for the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Au revoir!” Ultraviolet starts, then With or Without You, and the pained beauty of Love Is Blindness. Tonight MacPhisto makes a word change- “A petit mort, without mourning…” He’s used that phrase before, mostly in France, and it means both “little death” and something else. I prefer the something else.
After the show, the true revelry begins as Bono plots a huge party for Edge’s birthday. I pull Jack aside- Eric is helping deconstruct the stage- and suggest we follow the crowd.
“That’s a good idea,” Jack says. “Edge will certainly appreciate our celebration! But you can’t possibly go out in that.” I look down as Jack indicates my outfit, the uniform of the Zoo crew. “What’s wrong with it?”
“Marieke, would you want someone to wear a ragged old uniform at your birthday party?”
I consider this. Jack is right, I wouldn’t want my guests showing up in their casual clothes. Though there is a valid point that Edge doesn’t care, I’m also starting to shiver a bit in my short sleeves- the night has grown chilly for the summer. Jack’s words also seem to be a helpful reminder that I should take a shower.
“Eric said I wouldn’t need a jacket tonight,” I sigh, hoping he’s eating his words at the very minute. “I’m going to the hotel to get it.” And freshen up and such. “Come around when you’re ready.” I toss my room keys, never far from my pocket, to Jack.
I find the band and tell them goodbye, see them at the party, and moments later emerge from a shower, carrying a hairbrush, a box of tampons, and my silver bracelet. I thank God that Jack didn’t decide to walk in on me at this moment, and dress quickly. It’s a wonder what warm showers can do for you. But as I glance at the clock, I grow antsy. It’s time to leave.
I start for the door- Jack won’t have needed my keys after all- and the phone rings. Erasing my previous thoughts, I tiptoe back to the bed and pick it up.
“Hello?”
“Marieke.” It’s Herman’s voice. On any other occasion I would be aggravated with his popping in, but there’s a note in his timbre that stops me from responding for a second. His voice is shaky, freaked out- badly frightened or maybe worried. My mind instantly jumps to- LINA!
“What’s wrong? Is Lina okay? Are- are you okay?” My own voice sounds detached, compared to the panic erupting inside of me at this moment.
Herman’s answer conveys slightly more emotion, the kind I’m covering up. “I’ve been trying to reach you for ages!”
I glance down at the blinking light on the answering machine. “Is something wrong with Lina?!” I ask, still unable to fit my terror into my tone. This must be what is known as shock.
“I’m- give me a moment, alright? Or two. I need to…”
He doesn’t finish his sentence. I wait, impatient on the inside, though my body betrays nothing outwardly, just exudes calm. I’m not even tapping my fingers, waiting for Herman to answer.
“I came to the flat tonight.” His voice jumps out when I don’t expect it, and I hone in on the sound. “For the first time in a while, she asked me over.”
“…Go on?”
“I arrived with words in my head,” Herman says. “I was planning to- I don’t know, to intervene, to confront her- I just wanted to demand what was going on. I had millions of ideas, ranging from the sensible to the outlandish, and I wasn’t going to… divvy from my plan.
“She called for me to come in from behind the door. It was unlocked, and she was sitting on the couch. She was like… nothing… I’d ever seen… before.” A new touch of satisfaction, of faded delight hits Herman’s tone. “She was only wearing her undergarments, and she looked…
“I told her she looked… great, glorious. I wanted… to, to taste- she wasn’t behaving in her usual way, not even in the way she’s acted prior to tonight. She was restless, and kept shifting. I asked if she was okay, was she sick, and she leapt off the couch- and into my arms. She ripped off my jacket-“
“I know what happened,” I cut in. “Go on.”
Relieved, Herman does go on. “It felt intense- she was much more aggressive than usual. She was fighting me half of the way and giving in the other half. She wanted me, but didn’t want me. I don’t know what she… was thinking…
“She was crying after. She was crying, lying on the floor, and I was in mortal fear, practically hyperventilating- not from, er, exertion, just my heart- it was pounding so badly. I was alone in the flat with… with a woman I was starting to see as half-mad. For a moment I thought she would kill me.
“But… she didn’t.” His voice slows, trying to recall every detail. “I got dressed. I stood up. She didn’t put anything on. She said… “I hate you!” I left the flat with screaming behind my back. She said- well, she yelled that she never wanted to see me again. Ever. Not even at work. I went home and- I’m here.”
Herman’s voice sounds tremor-y, and I can’t move. I can barely comprehend what he’s told me now. “Lina is…”
“Insane,” Herman finishes. He swears by the God that he believes in. “I wish you’d been there, Marieke!”
“That’s it,” I say. My mind is snapping into action. “I’m going straight to the airport, taking a plane-“
The door to my room opens, and Jack’s face appears, slipping inside. He stares at me with a should I interrupt expression on his face, and I shoot him a get out look back.
“Herman, I have to go. I swear, I’m not leaving you alone. I’m taking a plane out to Rotterdam first thing tomorrow, I promise you, Herman-“
Jack’s eyebrows shoot up. In once instant his countenance has moved from shocked to wondering, or maybe a blend of both. He mouths, “Herman?!”
“That’s- that’s good. Please come. You’re the only one who can-“ Herman’s voice is interrupted as Jack flies across the room and wrenches the phone from my hand.
“Herman, is this you?” he demands, speaking in English. “Is this you? Answer me. Do you know a Jack Stuart?”
Herman must have asked who, or what, or any question similar. “My name is Jack, Jack Stuart. Have you ever-“ and Jack begins speaking in Dutch, clumsily but fast as a bullet. I can only stand, wondering for the life of me what’s going on.
Jack slides his hand over his eyes, leaving nothing but a smile exposed- laughing and crying at the same time. He and Herman seem to keep interrupting each other as they talk. I can’t listen to Jack’s end of the conversation- it’s too much to handle. Turning away to give them privacy, my head spins, and suddenly I end up lying on the bed, caught in a daze. The emotion has finally caught up to me.
Jack notices that I’ve fallen and comes over, still talking to Herman. “I can’t believe it’s you”- he’s said that several times now. How do they know each other? I climb up onto the bed and wrap my arms around myself, exhausted and shaking. I am unable to do a thing, though I want to cut in on the conversation so badly. Jack touches my shoulder and attempts to hang up, but apparently Herman isn’t done talking yet. The conversation lasts for several more minutes while I concentrate on breathing. Finally it’s over. Jack sets the phone gently in its cradle.
“Are you in shock, Marieke?” he asks worriedly, turning his attention back to me. “Can you move?” I break through from the haze, enough to nod my head, and sit up heavily, back against the wall. I ask the first question on my mind- “How do you know Herman?”
Jack watches me with shrewd eyes. “You’re- oh god, this is a stupid story.” He sighs.
“Tell me,” I insist, stretching my legs out. Now that the shock has passed, I’m overly curious about Jack’s connection with this man I’ve known for years.
“You’re going to think- hell, who cares what anyone thinks?” he admonishes himself, passing a hand over his face. “Remember how I told you I lived in Rotterdam for a few years?”
“Yes?”
“Herman was one of the friends I made there. And let me tell you, he quickly became- more than a friend.” Jack rolls his gaze onto me, forcing me to understand the meaning.
I’m not quite sure I follow him. “You- you were in love?”
“Yes. It was utterly stupid of me, but like you say, the heart can’t be controlled.” Jack leans back, breathing slowly with the effort of sharing his secret.
“But- I thought you liked women. You liked me in the least.”
Jack gazes at me. “I do, Marieke, just… I don’t only like women, you see.”
“Ah,” I murmur, flashing backwards to Jack’s dancing in various clubs, the way he’d moved in sync with both genders. I suppose that must have been his Zoo TV confession as well.
Jack resumes his story. “He didn’t know I liked him, but I didn’t want to say anything. You know how conservative he is.”
I nod.
“We were at a bar one night, with some other friends. Things got out of hand. I drank too much that night… and something happened and before I knew it I was being thrown out and Herman was aghast. I’d made a complete fool of myself.”
“Did you kiss him?” I ask.
Jack groans. “I can’t remember, it was that kind of drunk. All I know is the next day Herman didn’t want to speak to me- he was absolutely volatile- and I was packing my bags to leave Rotterdam. I’d lost the first love of my life. And now…” He shrugs. “Now we’ve found each other again.”
For a moment I can’t speak, and suddenly I just laugh and laugh. It’s hilarious that, despite everything, such an unlikely coincidence will waltz into my life and lighten the life of another. In this case, it is Jack, who laughs along with me. I don’t know what he thinks is humorous- probably not what I’m thinking of now.
“What in the world did you say to him?” I ask.
“I just wanted to know if he remembered me. I think we made up, but I’m not really sure. Can you- if it doesn’t bother you, can you give me his number? We need to sort out so much…”
“I’ll tell you later,” I say, my limbs feeling like stone. I don’t want to move as the weight of the story drops on me. There is still one priority I have to deal with, and that’s Lina. “Herman is dating my best friend.”
“He is?”
“Yes- er, I’m not sure anymore. They’ve broken up…” Why did Lina break up with Herman? I have to know from her. That means a trip to Rotterdam must be in order.
Jack stands up. “This is a lot to take in, I’m sure. You need to eat first.”
“Yes,” I say as my stomach growls. “Should we still try to make it to Edge’s party?”
“You can have your keys back,” Jack says, handing them to me. “Go out tonight. Get some good sleep too.”
We embrace each other for the first time.
“You’ll make it through,” Jack whispers in my ear.
After he’s gone, I head downstairs and try to forget everything that has just passed.
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:53 PM   #2
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Leather jacket, for the win!

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Eric seems to be getting more and more adventurous in his exploration of my body with his eyes- and sometimes, if I let him, his hands. I’ll have to set him to rights once more.
O.O BAD ERIC.

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Bono in fact is so energetic in his bouncing that he could trip off the catwalk.
*snicker* oh Bono, you are so bouncy

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Don’t go over the edge!” Morleigh warns as Bono’s leg inches dangerously close to her, feet poised to move backwards.
“Which Edge?” Bono shouts.
The Edge himself rolls his eyes and darts in, finishing the song with a kiss on Bono’s cheek. Bono backs away and scrapes the area Edge has kissed, an automatic gesture.
“You didn’t have to follow through,” he says.
“But you’re just sooo irresistible,” Edge snickers
I love you. Also, there's a rather, well, interesting fic existing called Going Over The Edge that gives the phrase a much different meaning

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“Ain’t no rain on my stage,” Bono huffs,
Red Rocks, anyone? I love that part...

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Larry’s voice is undeniably handsomer than Bono’s
Om nom nom. His accent is...I forgot Larry may have a thing for Marieke yay...OH, so she knows now. Huzzah! *cheers* Sorry, can't help it. I have to be the devil's advocate for both you and Grace in this...except wait, the Devil here wants Marieke...man that's complicated.

Oh man, Lina...I hope she ends up being alright...
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:54 PM   #3
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Oh, and Bono in your avatar is looking quite delicious.

Also, forgot to say how much I love Zooropa...I listened to it again yesterday and it's just amazing...
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Old 07-12-2011, 07:56 AM   #4
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Thanks for your comments... I'm not sure how to respond because I just woke up.
Ha, I didn't think that anyone would take Larry's side (although, knowing you... just, you would). That was funny- we have a real devil in this story too...
I think I'll type out the pairings. Take your pick!
Eric+Marieke
Bono+Marieke
Larry+Marieke
The very, very odd one of MacPhisto+Marieke
Hmmm... she's got some good candidates to choose from...
Ugh, I knew that quote was from somewhere but didn't know it was from Red Rocks... um, thanks I guess, but now it bothers me that Bono was quoting himself! :P
Thanks on my avi. Mmm, Zoo Bono... I listened to Zooropa this morning too!
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Old 07-12-2011, 08:04 AM   #5
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Oh, and this time I think she really means it, on the going-back-home part.
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:21 PM   #6
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How about MacPhisto and Larry? So hard to choose.

...knowing me, I would, wouldn't I

And Red Rocks quotes are a good thing! That one makes me happy. He's just...so entertaining in that movie. I can be found randomly quoting that part when I get the chance, and getting odd stares from my family
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:32 PM   #7
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Oh, I'd take MacPhisto over Larry! Except you could only have him during encores, if we're being realistic here XD
Forgot to mention the song in this chapter. It's a Franz Ferdinand song, which means it did not exist in 1993... but I had to use it at the time, it was stuck in my head! :P

War Bono is very adorable
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:38 PM   #8
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Sounds like a plan! and I was wondering what the song was, thanks. I do that too, put in songs that are in my head...unfortunately some of them are so after the fact it's impossible (ex. a lot of the Runaways' stuff would have been great for ACD), and some songs I hear a bit too late to put in. (ex. Joy Division would have worked perfectly for ACD too :/ arrrgh)

He iiiiis I have a serious thing for 80s!Bono in general, and early-90s Bono, and definitely the Fly, and you're starting me having a thing for MacPhisto, heh.
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Old 07-12-2011, 02:51 PM   #9
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Eric needs to be locked in a freezer to cool his hot heels. I find him so annoyingly creepy, that I skim his parts. Dude, no means no. Ok, I am getting irrationally angry with a fictional character.
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Old 07-12-2011, 03:24 PM   #10
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Y'know, when I first had the character in my mind he wasn't creepy at all... he just came out weird when I started writing about him.
Have you noticed Marieke barely reacts to it at all?

You have good taste, Katie
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Old 07-12-2011, 04:02 PM   #11
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Grace, I know what you mean...Eric is such a creeper. I don't react nearly that strongly to him though

Blue, I know right? XD
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