Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Last Rock Star

Kevin was a little in love with him,
the last of the dangerous rock stars,
the last of the “hide your daughters
and lock up your pets” rock stars,
the last rock star who could truly shock anyone,
the last rock star who drew protests
and was rumored to participate in ritualistic murders.
And Kevin was a little in love with him,
but “not in a gay way,” he always added.

No, not in a gay way,
but Kevin wanted to follow him,
join his band,
wanted to be him,
knew all the lyrics by heart,
was trying to learn some chords on the guitar,
and vociferously defended him
from bemused parents and mocking classmates.

The rock star came to town one day,
on his latest tour
to promote his newest album.
Kevin begged his parents,
but they wouldn’t allow him to attend the concert.
Told him he had to work his regularly scheduled shift
in the family deli.
It was so unfair.
They didn’t understand.
No one understood.
Kevin wrote about his feelings in a journal
he hid under his mattress
and illustrated the entry with a few skulls
for emphasis.

And it was 7:30, and Kevin knew
the concert had just started.
The first of two opening acts was on,
and he was slicing an enormous log of capicola,
not caring if his hand ran through the slicer as well.
It was only his strumming hand.
Then he walked in.
He walked right in the door.
Kevin recognized him instantly,
even without makeup
in dad jeans and a stained Journey t-shirt.
It was him.
He walked right into Kevin’s deli.
Kevin’s mouth went dry,
couldn’t speak.
The rock star was older than he looked in the videos,
was surprisingly soft-spoken.
He ordered a turkey sandwich,
with lettuce and tomato,
no onions, no pickles,
mustard and a little mayo—not too much, kid.
A bag of barbecue potato chips
and a twenty-ounce Diet Coke.

Kevin prepared his meal,
wondering what to say.
This was probably his one opportunity,
his one chance to tell him
what his music had truly meant,
how it saved his life,
changed his life philosophy,
basically replaced his parents’ lame Catholicism.
When he finished making the sandwich,
Kevin stepped to the cash register
and said, “Uh…”
The rock star looked at Kevin expectantly,
a ten dollar bill in his hand.
“Yeah?” he said impatiently.
“That will be $7.65,” Kevin replied.
He handed the rock star the change.
And even though there was a tip box next to the register,
the rock star left nothing in it.
He walked out the door,
the bell tinkling sadly as he stepped out.

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