Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Wishbones by Tom Perrotta (Berkley Books 1997)

Stan popped the trunk and handed Dave the bass drum, open side up like a big round box. In the natural light, his eye looked worse than before, not so much black as a repulsive amalgam of green and purple.

"Jesus," said Dave. "Where'd you get that shiner?"

Stan reached into the well and pulled out the pillow he used to muffle vibration inside the bass drum. The pillow was an eyesore, shapeless and sweat-stained, a sack of old feathers and bad dreams. The least he could've done was hide it in a pillowcase.

"You really want to know?"

"I'm not sure."

Stan stuffed the pillow into the drum.

"Walter," he said. "The piano player in Phil Hart's band."

"The old guy with the shakes?"

Stan nodded. In spite of everything, he seemed amused.

"I've been hanging out with him the past couple of weeks. He's a great guy."

"So why'd he slug you?"

Stan grabbed a foot pedal from the trunk and set it down on top of the pillow.

"We had one too many. I said some things I shouldn't have."

"Like what?"

Stan's tongue made a thoughtful tour of his month, poking at one cheek, then the other. His expression remained inscrutable behind the glasses.

"Well, for one thing, I said Thelonious Monk could suck my dick."

Dave couldn't help laughing. "He hit you because of that?"

"That was part of it," Stan looked up at the sky. "Then I said something about Brubeck. That was when he popped me."

"What'd you say?"

"I can't repeat it. It's too disgusting."

"Come on," said Dave.

Stan blew a weary raspberry and shook his head.

"I'm serious," he said. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

No comments: