The Howling Wind - Chapter 6 (31/1/2009) - U2 Feedback

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Old 01-30-2009, 08:08 AM   #1
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The Howling Wind - Chapter 6 (31/1/2009)

Another long one... Reggo and GG need to get out of my head.

Disclaimer: Do I really need to keep saying it? This is obviously all made up and no harm intended.


-------

12 September, 1987 – Uniondale, NY, USA

The Edge woke slowly from a deep and dreamless sleep. He felt utterly relaxed, the sunlight pleasantly warm on his back. Every tension seemed to have melted away from him, and he felt better rested than he had since the beginning of the tour. He sighed deeply, enjoying the feeling, and smiled to himself.

That made his face ache; he remembered the bust-up with Larry after the show, and the smile faded. He'd probably have a black eye now, but he and Lardence would patch things up. They'd been through worse. He would apologise to them all today, and tell them it would never happen again. A good night's sleep was all he'd needed.

It was funny, though. He was sure he'd drawn the curtains the night before.

Edge cracked one eye open and turned to peer at the sunlight streaming through the windows. No curtains. He opened the other eye, and saw that even the lacy inner curtains were missing. Odd.

Something at the back of his mind tried to remind him of something, but he was too sleepy and relaxed to worry about it. He rolled back over and thought about dozing off again.

The curtains had been torn down.

He turned his head again, staring at the curtains that weren't there, the cobwebs beginning to clear from his mind. He craned his head towards the side of the bed, and saw two heaps of heavy red velveteen on the floor, shredded to ribbons. Scraps of lacy material were everywhere.

Edge's heart began to pound.

The room was completely destroyed. Wide awake now, he realised that the bed linen was ripped up, pillows exploded, blankets torn. The lamp and the vase on the bedside table were smashed, as was the table itself, and the telephone...

He remembered the phone call, and that moment of blinding pain and rage. The feeling of his body stretching in unnatural ways, changing. Of finally giving vent to all the pent-up fury, and frustration and grief.

Edge experienced a moment of intense denial. No. He could not have done this, he could not have changed into some sort of monster. He was not a violent man, for all his temper. He didn't indulge in wanton destruction. This wasn't him, could not have been him.
But he'd hit his wife, he'd wanted to tear Larry's throat out.
Not me, something else. The thing that came out last night.
"No!"

Shaking and scared, Edge scanned the rest of the room from the bed. Even a patch of the carpet was ripped up. The mirrors were shattered. The sound of dribbling water came from the bathroom, and a flash of memory suggested that most of the fittings in there would be broken, too. There were deep gouges in the door and wooden furnishings, chunks of plaster missing from the walls. The mini bar had been smashed up too, broken glass and alcohol all over the floor.

Feeling the panic threatening to engulf him, Edge sat up in bed, and felt a pain in his arm. Terrified that be might be about to change again, he was relieved to see it was only a blood-crusted wound. Then he was terrified that his tendons were damaged, but he was able to flex his fingers. The movement gave him more pain, and a trickle of blood broke through the dried stuff; without thinking, he licked the wound, trying to clean it. Then he froze, realising what he was doing.

Wreathed in a sense of unreality, Edge slowly climbed out of bed and picked his way across the room, avoiding the worst of the broken mirrors. Seven years bad luck, wasn't it? After a look in the bathroom, he concluded that he had at least thirty-five years of misfortune to look forward to. Carefully picking up one of the larger mirror fragments, he felt another flash of memory... catching sight of an indistinct, fanged, hairy shape, and smashing the image. Again and again. Claws tearing at the walls and door, the feeling of being trapped, a beast caged in this moment of singular freedom and abandon.

Edge shook the memory away, and was reminded that Larry had dealt him a solid blow to the head the day before. Peering in the bit of broken mirror, Edge saw the black bruise around his left eye, half his face puffy and tender. He also saw nearly a week's worth of beard, and a tangle of hair that hadn't been washed or even brushed for almost as long.

His arm was throbbing insistently now that he'd noticed the injury, and he looked at it again. He didn't want it to get infected... and he squashed the urge to lick it again. Human saliva was considered more dangerous than that of dogs, when it came to infecting a wound. Or wolves, he supposed.

He cleaned his arm in the bathroom sink, and the dried blood washed away to reveal what looked like a bite mark. It wasn't human. Just to make sure, Edge held his teeth over the wound, and another scrap of memory returned. A stir-crazy beast, caged and desperate, lashing out at the only thing it could – itself. The angle of the bite was right for a self-inflicted wound. Just the size and spacing of the tooth marks were all wrong. Edge bared his teeth in a scrap of mirror still stuck to the bathroom wall, and discovered traces of blood between them. His head dropped, and he leaned on the bench, eyes squeezed shut. There were also painful welts on his skin, from where his clothes had bound him before giving way. How much more evidence did he need?

There was a knock at the door. "Housekeeping!"
Oh shit. Edge ran to the door and made sure it was bolted and locked. "Go away!" he shouted, unable to think of anything else to say. He stared at the destruction anew, horrified. It couldn't have been him... but here it was, and someone would have to see this and clean it up.

Heart hammering, his aimless panic was now galvanised into frantic action. He shoved the torn curtains under the bed, followed by the ripped sheets and blankets and pillows. There wasn't much room left under there, so he had to sweep all the broken glass and lamps and things into the rubbish bins. He supposed he'd have to pay for the mini bar... Hell, he'd have to pay for all of it when someone found it like this. And he couldn't hide the claw marks in the wood, no matter what he did.

Wolves don't have sharp claws, the thought surfaced. Edge pushed it away.

All the cleaning had made his arm bleed again, so Edge tied it up with some of the torn sheets. That was handy, he thought hysterically. Change into a werewolf, trash the room, savage yourself on the arm, but at least you provide lots of bandage material for yourself afterwards.

Edge was hunting for stray bits of glass in the far corner of the room, when he found a sliver of thin wood. He frowned, finding more.
"Oh, no..." The floor there was littered with fragments of wood, and six metal strings. Edge was staring at the remains of the acoustic guitar he'd kept with him. He sat down heavily and picked up the strings, still attached to the headstock. Not this, too...
He was not sentimental about his guitars, except possibly the Explorer. But he was a guitar player, and for him to have done this... His mind replayed a sound, a twangy, splintering sound, that could have been a memory or his imagination. He must have done this, but it wasn't him. Whatever had done this had nothing of himself in it. It was a monster, full of rage and nothing else. His hands shook.


Another knock. "Edge?" It was Bono.

"Feck off!" God, what were the others going to say...?

"Edge, are you packed? We gotta leave for Philly soon..."

Fuck. They were playing Philadelphia tonight, assuming the others didn't kick him out of the band on the spot.

"Come on mate, open up..."

Edge said nothing, sweeping the bits of guitar together. He gathered them up and looked around... every bin was crammed full of other debris. He'd even destroyed his suitcase and most of his clothes. Speaking of which, he'd need to find some that he could wear, when he decided to emerge. He finally dropped the dead guitar into a corner of the wardrobe.

"I'm not leavin' till you let me in."

"I guess we're neither of us goin' to Philly, then!" he called from inside the wardrobe.

"Look, is this about last night? Larry's calmed down now, and besides, he can hardly talk after you belted him on the jaw. You're not one to sulk. Come on out and let bygones be bygones."

"It's not that." Edge surveyed the room... it still looked like a bomb had gone off. He was fleetingly glad he hadn't broken any of the windows, since they were 14 storeys up. This beast may care nothing for guitars, but it wasn't entirely without common sense, it seemed.

"What is it, then? I know you've been havin' a rough time. But we're your friends. I'm your friend, and I want to help. Will you let me in an' we can talk?"

Edge sighed. Nothing he could do would make the room look as if it hadn't been completely trashed, and he would have to come out sooner or later. He dug through the remains of his suitcase, found a pair of jeans that weren't too badly torn up, and pulled them on. Time to face the music.

"Please?"

Edge unbolted the door and pulled it open, and saw Bono start with surprise. His eyes took in the black eye, the welts, cuts and bruises, and the makeshift bandage on his arm. Blood was showing through the sheet. Then Bono's gaze went beyond him, into the room. Edge stood aside, and Bono walked slowly forward. The door clunked shut behind them.

"What happened?"

Edge said nothing. Bono stared at the bare windows and bed, the patch of torn carpet, the mirror frames that still sported stubborn shards. The red curtain cord peeking out from under the bed. The singer went further into the room, broken glass crunching under his boots as he neared the mini bar. He turned to look at Edge, a dozen questions on his face.

"Edge? Jesus, what happened to the door? And the table..." He'd seen the deep, furious claw marks. "Where is everything? What happened to you? Were you robbed? Where's your guitar?"

Robbed – he should have thought of that. Instead, he opened the wardrobe door and pointed mutely at the pile of kindling that had been a guitar.

Bono glanced at the smashed mini bar again, the smell of alcohol pervading the room. "Were you drinking?"

"No."

He looked sceptical. "Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Then what happened?!"

Edge opened his mouth, closed it again. "I lost control."

Bono's eyes narrowed.

"I think it was worth one dud show to stop this from happening on-stage, don't you?" Edge snapped sarcastically. But he could tell Bono didn't believe him. About not having been drinking, and he didn't believe that there had been any danger of Edge going berserk in the middle of a show.


------


They tried to hush it up, of course. The hotel would be fully reimbursed for the damage, as soon as they had calculated how much that would actually cost. But news travels fast, and the hotel in Philadelphia insisted on a large up-front payment.

A knock came on the door of Edge's pristine room in Philadelphia. "Band meeting," came Adam's voice.

Edge followed behind Adam like a condemned man going to the gallows. Then he moved to one side to avoid the stream of cigarette smoke. He didn't know how Adam coped with constantly reeking of the stuff.

Larry and Bono were waiting in some sort of private lounge room, and Edge winced at the sight of Larry's face, discoloured and swollen.

The drummer glanced at Edge from his armchair. "'M sorry," he said, trying not to open his mouth any more than necessary.

"I'm sorry too," Edge replied, and their eyes met briefly. The apologies were accepted, and Larry handed Edge his hat, which must have fallen off during the fight. Edge had never noticed. He took it wordlessly and sat down in another chair across the room.

"Well, that's all taken care of," Bono said briskly, pacing up and down. It was all over as far as he was concerned. "Do either of you need medical attention?"

Larry shook his head.

"How about your arm?" Bono looked at Edge, who looked at his arm. There was still a bit of New York bed sheet wrapped around it, under the shirt sleeve.

"I think it's superficial," he said.

"Can you play tonight?"

"I think so."

Adam was looking back and forth between the two of them as if it was a tennis match. "Excuse me, what happened to his arm?"

"That's a good question, Adam," Bono said, turning back to Edge with studied casualness. "What did happen to your arm, Edge?"

Edge rolled his eyes. "I can't remember." Almost the truth.

"All right then. What happened to your room, Edge?" Bono had adopted the attitude of a television detective.

Edge said nothing.

"Do you remember that, Edge?" Bono continued. "Or were you too drunk?"

The guitarist could feel Adam and Larry's gazes sharpening on him, but he held Bono's eyes. "I told you, I was not drunk."

"Come on! There were broken bottles and alcohol all over the floor..."

"Yeah, on the floor! Not in me. I might look like shite, but I'm not hungover. I felt fine when I woke up." That hadn't lasted long, he reflected with regret.

Bono abandoned the alcohol theory. "Not booze then. Something else?"

Edge gritted his teeth, getting angry again. "I was not drunk, or high, or on anything. I was sober before the show and I didn't touch anything afterwards." Why the hell should he have to explain himself anyway?

"Are you sure?"

"What the hell does that mean? I think I'd remember if I'd taken something!"

"It would explain your performance last night. Or lack thereof."

"Fuck you! I told you why..."

"You're a lot touchier than you used to be."

"I know that! But if you won't believe me that I'm not on drugs or something, you can all feck off."

Bono's mouth opened again, but Adam cut in. "Hold up a moment, if you please. I wouldn't mind hearing an explanation for last night." He looked a question at Edge through his spectacles, smoke rising serenely from his cigarette.

Edge's eyes darted back to Bono. The singer was waiting, almost visibly holding himself silent. He'd get no help from that quarter.

"I want to apologise to all of you for last night," Edge began. They all waited, and he groped for words.

"You've all noticed, I'm not the same person I was six months ago. The temper, the attention span, the insomnia. The smell and hearing... And hurting people I care about." More silence. "I'm changing. Or rather, I have changed." Another glance around at his bandmates. "My explanation for my poor performance last night, is that I was trying to keep control. I had to take a step back from the music, mentally, because it was... affecting me. I was trying to prevent what happened in my room from happening on the stage."

Bono snorted.

"An' wha' wazzat, ezackly?" Larry asked, without moving his jaw.

Edge gave up. "I lost control," he sighed. "I changed, and when I woke up, everything was destroyed. It... It was me, but it wasn't me."

They stared at him.

"You changed? Into what?" Adam was struggling to keep his tone neutral.

"A beast, some sort of monster. A werewolf," Edge laughed humourlessly.

"In a metaphorical, 'Steppenwolf' sort of way...?" Adam was offering a logical, literary solution.

"No. In a literal, shape-shifting, 'American Werewolf in London' sort of way. This is a self-inflicted bite," he said, pushing up the sleeve of his shirt and showing them the bloody bandage.

There was a long moment of silence.

"This isn't funny, Edge," Bono snapped. "Jokin' around about wolves is one thing, all that stuff about dreamin' in smells and hearin' things we can't, but this is too much. You can't jeopardise the band and trash your room for the sake of a feckin' joke!"

"I'm not joking. Why the hell would I cut my own arm up?"

"You just told us you bit yourself!"

Adam and Larry were silent; Edge couldn't tell what they thought.

"I'd get that arm looked at, if I were you," Adam finally said.

"Good idea," Edge said. He stood up and walked out.

"We're not done..." Bono called as he reached the door.

"I am," he said, and left.

One of the crew members patched him up with a first aid kit, without asking questions. Edge was inordinately grateful.


----


Despite the air of suspicion and mistrust that had fallen over the band, Edge felt considerably better going into this night's show than he had the last two. It helped that he'd showered, shaved, and generally made himself more presentable before getting some new clothes during the afternoon. And whatever else had happened, all the pressure that had been building up had been released the night before.

And without that pressure threatening to overwhelm him, even with the wound on his arm, Edge was able to play a decent show, more or less. Exit had always reflected the darkest part of himself, and he suspected it always would. The only difference was now he knew exactly what that part was, and he could feel it stirring in recognition. But he was in control again.

This time, after the show, at the back of the stadium, Edge waited for Timothy to appear. The hobo was the only person who seemed capable of answering his myriad questions, and he desperately needed answers.

The sound of a sniff brought Edge's head around suddenly, and he turned to see Timothy standing a short distance away. He hadn't smelled him coming, and frowned.

"Always approach yer prey from downwind," the vagrant grinned, nodding to himself. The night breeze moved strands of his matted grey hair and beard.

"Prey, am I?"

"Not any more, boy." A knowing look.

"What happened?" Edge eyed the other man warily; he wanted answers, but Timothy had always made him uneasy.

"Way Ah hear it, some big rock star drank too much booze an' trashed his hotel room," the man grinned again, clearly enjoying his position. "Ah happen to have another idea. Ah tole ya, didn' Ah? Next time fer sure. An' ya did. Yer damn lucky no one got killed, too." Timothy grew serious.

"I didn't dare go out, I didn't dare drink. But it happened anyway."

"No stoppin' it."

"I'm not letting it happen again. I can't go through that again. If my family had been there..."

Timothy gave a hoarse bark of laughter. "Good luck! The first is always the worst, mind. Unless ya fight it, then they'll all be worse."

"So what, every full moon or something, I'll have to lock myself up, or risk killing my family? Why did... Why were there CLAWS, anyway?"

Timothy was shaking his grizzled head. "Ya only went halfway, boy..."

"What?? What could be beyond that?" Edge interrupted.

"The wolf." Timothy pinned Edge with his eyes. "Ya gotta find the wolf. That beast, it's halfway between wolf an' man, stronger an' meaner than both. It's got the claws, an' the rage, an' the bloodlust. It's what kills."

"But... Why...?"

"You were mad, weren'tcha? Somethin' riled ya up, gotcha mad as hell. The beast came out. Ya let it out..."

"I did not LET that thing out! I couldn't stop it!"

"Awright, son. The first time, it pushes out. But if ya hold it in fer long, it'll push out again, worse."

"How can I let it out, knowing what I... What it could do? I don't know how I'd do it deliberately anyway..."

"Find the wolf," Timothy said again. "Ya gotta find a balance between wolf an' man. Ya can't be one or the other, all the time, or the beast comes out."

"All right, how do I do THAT?" Edge was scowling, growing impatient with all these cryptic ominous words.

"Ah can't tell ya. It's different fer everyone, ya gotta find yer own way. But it ain't anger. Wolves don't attack without need."

"Fuck! Fat lotta good that does me." Edge paced angrily, then stopped himself and took a breath.
"Why isn't the moon full, then?" He glanced up, the moon hanging in the sky still shy of its whole disc.

Timothy shrugged. "Some change under a full moon, some change at other times. There's some hold that it means somethin', which moon is yours, but Ah reckon it don't mean squat, not after the first time."

"You mean it could happen again at any time?"

"Ah mean, you can change any time, now. If you wanna, if the beast ain't pushin' first."

"Why would I WANT to?" Edge blurted.

The homeless man gave him a long look. "Sometimes ya gotta. Sometimes ya wanna. You get the dreams, right? Runnin', huntin'. That's the wolf. Freedom."

Edge had had many such dreams, vivid and compelling. Dreams that made him long for that freedom and simplicity, unhindered by responsibilities. Just running, nose to the wind.

"Yeah, ya know what Ah'm sayin'," Timothy said, watching Edge's expression.

"Do you have a family?" the guitarist asked suddenly.

Timothy's own expression closed. "That's a mighty personal question. Ah reckon Ah'm about done 'splainin' things. I'll be seein' ya." It was a promise, more than a farewell. The hobo slipped into the shadows and was gone.

"Shite."

Edge didn't know what to think, but at least he had a lot to think about. He wasn't sure he believed half of what Timothy had said, and there was no reason to, except that Timothy knew what had been happening to him. Because the same thing must have happened to him, and apparently others.
And he still didn't know why, or how.


-----------
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Old 01-30-2009, 08:24 AM   #2
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I still can't believe you did that.
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And if U2 EVER did Hawkmoon live....and the version from the Lovetown Tour, my uterus would leave my body and fling itself at Bono - for realz.
Don't worry baby, it's gonna be all right. Uncertainty can be a guiding light...
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Old 01-30-2009, 07:37 PM   #3
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There is something surreal about reading that, then looking at the pic in GG's sig.

And stop blaming me for your madness

All that aside... Awesome chapter. I forgot where I was for a second. Still feel a bit off-kilter.
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Old 01-30-2009, 07:58 PM   #4
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Sorreh GG

I wasn't blaming you, Reggo... just trying to keep my madness to myself...
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Old 01-30-2009, 09:43 PM   #5
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I this Edge.

Remind me never to get him mad though...

At least you didn't kill the Explorer...that would have been sad.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:20 PM   #6
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I couldn't hurt the Explorer...
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Old 02-01-2009, 04:58 AM   #7
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There is something surreal about reading that, then looking at the pic in GG's sig.

And stop blaming me for your madness r.




And Yes Ali, what she said! Stop blaming us!
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And if U2 EVER did Hawkmoon live....and the version from the Lovetown Tour, my uterus would leave my body and fling itself at Bono - for realz.
Don't worry baby, it's gonna be all right. Uncertainty can be a guiding light...
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Old 02-04-2009, 04:06 PM   #8
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i like it.
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