“Yeah, you were unconscious for a long time.”
“Where am I?” The hospital signs are all in French.
“Don’t freak out. It’s Switzerland, Montreux on Lake Geneva.”
“And who are you?”
“Let’s just say, I’m a friend. My boss is a fan.”
“A fan of what?”
“You. He’s your patron. He paid to move you here from LA.”
“Why was I in LA?”
“You work in the cinema.”
“I don’t remember.”
“You know who you are, right?”
“Um, I don’t know,” I hesitate before answering. “What movie?”
“Animal House. It’s a smash hit. They dedicated it to you at the end of the credits.”
“It’s all about the credits.”
“You are so LA.”
“Yeah. Is that a bad thing?”
“In Europe, yeah.”
“What’s your name?”
“Jacques. What’s yours?”
I must think about that.
“You don’t know my name?” I ask.
“It’s part of the protocol when someone wakes up.”
“I never think about it when I wake up.”
“It’s been a long time since you last woke up.”
“So, I was unwoke?” I laugh.
“Freddie said you’d be strange.”
“Your patron. What do you remember?
“Not much. Why am I in hospital?”
“You had an accident. Hit your head and were knocked out.”
“Do I live in Switzerland? I don’t speak French.”
“No dummy. You’re American. You barely speak English.”
“I speak New English,” I remember that, just barely. I look at my hands, expecting them to be black. No such luck. Now I am confused.
“You can explain New English later. I have questions to ask, part of the protocol.”
“Is it a test. What do I get if I pass the ‘protocol’?”
“Sort of a test, to see how your memory is affected by your concussion.”
“Okay. Go ahead. Rape me.” I am startled by that expression.
“You look upset.”
“No. Jacques. Just some déjà vu.”
“You remember my name. Good. Your short-term memory is fine.”
“Great. What’s the next question?”
“What’s the last thing you remember before you hit your head?”
“How’d I hit my head?”
“Surfing. But that’s not the question. You were surfing, and..?”
“I don’t remember that.”
“You went to the beach. Which beach, what’s its name?”
I think, but nothing comes to mind. “The Pacific Ocean?”
“That’s not the name of the beach, but at least you figured out where you were.”
“Well, Charlie don’t surf Lake Geneva.”
He laughs. “That’s cool. But what do you remember from the past? A Christmas celebration.?The names of friends? What school you go to?”
“I go to school?”
“Yeah. You’re in university, but it says in your file that you never attend class.”
“Let me see my file. Maybe that will help me remember.”
“Not until we finish the memory protocol. You seem quite creative. New English? It would be a mistake to let you create memories from what you see in your file.”
“Com’n, Jacques. s’il vous plait?”
“You speak French?”
“Is that French?”
“You said ‘please’ in French.”
This is all confusing. I do not know my name? “Mon nom, s’il vous plait.”
“They said you are very interesting. Just finish the protocol. I’ll show you the file.”
“Great.” I lay back in the bed. “I need a break.”
“Go back to sleep. I’ll see you this afternoon. There are just a few questions left.”
I lay back as Jacques pulls the drapes across the window. I glimpse the spring sunshine reflecting brightly off the lake. I have a room with a view. Hospitals are my favorite place. I remember that. Maybe I have been sick a lot. Why am I in Europe? Who is Freddie? Sleep quickly overcomes these questions.
Jacques returns after lunch. With him is an Arabic-looking man, about 30. He looks familiar.
“I know you,” I half-ask. “Are you Freddie?”
He looks surprised. “Maybe because of the band.”
“We’re in a band together?” is it possible I am in a band?
Freddie laughs, “Well, no. You’re in your own band.”
“Really?” I remember a song,
‘Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landside,
No escape from reality
Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see,
I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy,
Because I’m easy come, easy go,
Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows doesn’t really matter to
Me, to me’
Songwriters: Freddie Mercury
© Queen Music Limited
Freddie’s grin breaks into a solid laugh.
“I heard you stole my song,” he accuses me.
“That’s not my band?”
“Yeah. Your band is notorious for ripping everyone off .”
“Should I be sorry?”
“It’s only rock n roll.”
“But I like it.”
I turn to Jacques, “See. I can remember some things.”
“Songs are some of our strongest memories. But they are not on the protocol.”
“Oh, no,” my life hangs by a protocol thread. “Please show me my file.”
Jacques turns to Freddie. “Well, he seems bright enough. I think his short-term memory is fine. The longer-term memories may come back if I show him his file.”
“So, he can be released?”
My heart jumps at the thought of freedom. Then, I sing,
‘Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.’
“The file says that he sings at the drop of a hat,” Freddie remarks, then finishes the verse,
‘Nothin’, it ain’t nothin’ honey, if it ain’t free.’
Songwriters: F. Foster / K. Kristofferson
Me and Bobby McGee lyrics © Combine Music Corp.
We smile at each other. Jacques writes in the file, closes it and tells Freddie, “He’s fine. Since you get along so well, he’s released to go home with you, Freddie, if you call that mess of a lake house a home.”
“I’ll make him feel at home.”
That remark seems too pointed to be random.
“In for a pence, in for a pound.,” I shrug.
“That’s not New English. A pence’s now a penny. Keep up with the times.”
“So, you want me to be a trendy?”
“I just want you to be yourself, Tim. I don’t need hangers-on.”
“My name is Tim?” My memory registers nothing. Why am I living with someone I barely remember? Better than all my other friends, none of whom I can name. I grab the file and walk out with Freddie.
“Au revoir, Jacques.”
“Call me when you remember anything.”
“Still on the protocol. Ain’t it a drag?’
Freddie laughs and gives me a shoulder hug. Something is up but my memories are missing in the hug department.
“Welcome to the mess,” Freddie sweeps into a rambling one-story house surrounded by gardens. It reminds me of South Florida – ah, a memory!
“I feel at home here, but why is it so tropical?” I ask, as I spot palm trees waving high above the ground and Cypress trees bending and moving like a Van Gogh painting. Who is Van Gogh?
Memories are there. I just need to put the pieces back together, like a jigsaw puzzle. I cannot wait to go through my file. Freddie insists upon a tour after showing me my room in ‘the mess.’ I follow him while looking back at the file laying on the bed. Later.
After showing me where to do laundry, how the bathrooms are assigned, and the kitchen is set up, I realize I am not the only guest. Sprawled around the outdoor pool. three other young men are waiting to meet me.
Freddie flounces in, ahead of me. Instead of greeting the ‘guests,’ he plops down in a large armchair. The three boys gather around him, sitting on the floor.
“The King,” I describe the royal setting.
“Not quite,” Freddie pronounces. “I will always be Queen.”
The boys applaud. My memory snaps a jigsaw piece in place.
“You’re Freddie Mercury of Queen,” I am so pleased to know something.
Freddie hands one of the boys a note pad.
“Write it down with date and time. He remembers me,” proudly proclaims the singer.
“We played your songs at football games,” another memory related to his band.
“American football. How barbaric. I love it.”
Now I am singing again.
‘But it’s been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise
I consider it a challenge before
The human race
And I ain’t gonna lose’
“He does it better than you, Freddie,” one of the boys crows.
“No way,” he jumps up and counters my boast,
‘Buddy, you’re a boy, make a big noise
Playing in the street, gonna be a big man someday
You got mud on your face, you big disgrace
Kicking your can all over the place,
I pull the three princes to their feet and we all answer his taunts
‘We will, we will rock you
We will, we will rock you’
Everyone is giggling so hard, we cannot go on.
“Do you want to hear how I’ve paid my dues?” Freddie asks.
“No,” they all scream. “That’s all you complain about.”
The boys are all over me. It feels oddly comforting.
“I have questions,” I blurt out. “Am I now your man-in-waiting, O Mighty Mercury.”
“Is coming back from the dead slightly unsettling?” Freddie laughs.
“I just bumped my head. This is just a dream until I wake up. Right?”
“Not just a bump. They thought you’d never wake up.”
“How long was I asleep?”
“You were brain dead for 17 months.”
“What? It’s not 1977. That was the year I was to be a star, not a washed-up rocker, flunking out of college.”
“Yeah. You missed it. Punk Rock rules. Everyone’s now a junkie. I had to leave England to avoid massive taxes. The London scene was outlawed after the Sex Pistols insulted the Queen (the real one, not me) floating down the Thames at her 25th Jubilee.”
“I like that band.”
“I’m not surprised.”
“You’re hiding out from taxes?”
“I plan to record in Montreux. All they care about is how much money you bring here.”
“It’s really tough,” the tall boy snorts.
“If you mean running around having fun and not caring who we screw, then I’m a punk,” Freddie states.
“Where’d you find this one, Freddie. He sounds right up yer alley.”
“Watch it. He’ll be right up yer alley.”
The boys move back. “Ew, watch it, Billy. It’s yer turn next.”
“So, who’s the big queen here?” I ask.
They all point at Freddie.
“Where’s the rest of the band?” I ask.
“They’re banned,” Freddie doesn’t explain. “That’s why yer here.”
All the banter goes on until I remember I do not really remember anything.
Next thing I remember, short-term memory back, is waking up on the floor of the family room.
“Yer awake, mate?”
“What did I miss.”
“Mostly you passing out, Freddie freaking that you passed out, and leaving you here to recover.’
“I’m back.” I announce.
“Well, Freddie says he’s getting a refund for you,”
“Why? What did I buy?”
“Not for you. Freddie paid to have you shipped from LA.”
“My plane ticket?’
“Do you remember anything we talked about yesterday?”
“I slept for a day?”
“More like comatose. You refused to wake up. Freddie wanted to take you back as defective. He called the hospital.”
“Don’t trust that bloody frog.”
It all seems Alice in Wonderland to me, ‘down the rabbit hole.’ I need to remember what I can do to be saved from return to sender.
“Wanna learn guitar? It’s easy. I can teach you,” I brag.
“To play like Brian May? I can replace him. He’s been banned.”
“Why not,” crazy me does not know how it works. But carry on. (that seems the Brit way), “Ever heard of the spirit of rock n roll?”
“Sure. Sex, drugs and rock n roll.”
“Yer Billy, right mate?” I am getting into the spirit of this dream.
“That’s me. I got a guitar but am useless at learning.”
“Ya got an amp, too?”
“Let’s go to the studio. Plenty of amps there.” Billy jumps up and runs off.
I haven’t a clue about a studio and wander around the house, running into Freddie.
“You want to return me?” I make my face into distressed damsel expression.
“Tim. You woke up? I was just speaking with Jacques about your condition.”
“Yeah, to ship me in a box to America.”
“You seemed broken.”
“I’m not a toy that you can return.”
Freddie’s smile is slight and coy.
“I hoped you’d be more than these boy toys you see here.”
Maybe Freddie’s like all rich people, treating friends as possessions. That thought strikes a familiar chord.
“I’m teaching Billy guitar. Where’s the studio.”
“I gotta see this. Follow me.”
We troop outside to a free-standing shed, where Billy is waiting. He looks distressed that Freddie plans to watch and evaluate his feeble efforts on guitar. I realize I can sense his feelings. A voice in my head tells me it is the trick to teaching guitar – getting the student to trust me and believe what I tell him. I instantly ask the internal voice, “Who are you inside my head.”
“I am the spirit of rock n roll. I’m actually in your heart.”
That is comforting. It does feel familiar. I was not just speaking out my ass about teaching guitar.
“Let me see that guitar.” I tell Billy.
As soon as it is in my hands. I automatically tune it to proper scales. It needs it.
Freddie decides to help. He pipes up, “Sing these notes I play on the piano, Billy.
They duet several octave scales. Billy’s ear is fine.
“Okay, now play the intro to the new song, ‘Bicycles”
My fractured memory does not know this song. The voice tells me to relax. It will guide Billy’s fingers on the guitar.
“How do you know this song?” I ask the voice.
“I’m just following Freddie on the piano. You can do it. Pick up that spare bass.,” it orders.
Not one to complain and still thinking this is all a dream, we soon are playing a song that is nothing like any Queen song I know (Do I really know Queen songs? How?)
Freddie is standing at the keyboard and bouncing to the song with abandon. He finishes with a crescendo.
“Jeez, Billy. That’s so much better than Brian. He hates that song. When did you get so good on guitar.”
“Tim’s teaching me,” Billy claims no credit. Wise move.
He turns to me. “I’m not sending you back for a refund.”
“Thanks, boss. What else can I do?”
“Better read your file. There’s a long list.”
“Was I real expensive?”
“Just the shipping. They were going to cremate you after being brain dead for so long.”
“They gave up on me?”
“It had been 17 months. It’s expensive. Maybe your sugar daddy ran out of money.”
Sugar Daddy? I was a prostitute? I am not sure I want to read my whole file.
“You bought my dead body? Why?”
“They said you were a rock genius. Genius has never been so cheap. Jacques promised he could revive you. When you blacked out yesterday. I thought you were defective.”
“Yee of little faith.”
Freddie looks contrite. “I needed proof of genius. You’re back in good graces.”
“Thanks for letting me be your slave.”
That confuses him. No need to press the point.
“I’m hungry.” It feels like I have not eaten in years.
“Grab the others. We’re going out to eat,” he orders Billy.
I have no idea what time it is, just time to eat. The voice has been silent after orchestrating the miracle of rock n roll. “I’m still here.” it whispers. “I missed you.”
I ignore verbal hallucinations.
I run back to my room to change. My first European meal needs a style upgrade – tees and jeans are not très chic. The clothing sent from LA is no better. I knock on Billy’s door.
“I have nothing to wear.”
“Freddie will love it. Just something loose with a collar.”
“No tees and jeans?”
“You bloody Yanks, no taste.”
“Lend me something,” I seriously beg.
“Come in and pick. Stay away from what’s on the floor. They bite.”
“Here try this, as he hands me a garish shirt and baggy trousers with suspenders/braces.
“Thanks.” Never look a gift horse in the mouth, I think. What does that mean?
As he hands me the clothes, Billy leans over and kisses me on the cheek.
“Thanks for helping me on guitar. How did you do that. I’ve tried for years to play decently. You got me to really rock.”
I have no clue, but forge ahead. “I didn’t do it. It was the spirit of rock n roll that speaks to me.” That sounds so hippie.
“Now I want to be in the band.”
“What about Brian May and the others?”
“They don’t understand Freddie. There was a big fight last week. They left Freddie here and returned to London.”
“And you understand him better.”
“More than I can talk about.”
“Ask me no questions. I tell you no lies.”
“Let’s go out and party. I know that.”
“Let’s go look at what you do have to wear,” Billy suggests.
We go back to my room. The first thing I notice is my file is no longer laying on the bed.
“My file! It’s gone.”
“The maid probably cleaned up. What do you need it for?”
“I’ve lost my memory. I don’t even know my own name.”
“Tim’s your name.”
“Maybe. But it doesn’t seem right. Just what’s in my file.”
“It don’t slow ya down.”
“I say there’s no future. But now I have no past.”
“Kool. You can just stay in the present. Freddie suffers from the demons of his past. His real name is Farouk.”
“Are we related? He saved me from having the plug pulled.”
“I think he relates to you in another way.”
“Yeah. Rock n roll.”
“Sure but more than that, on a gut level.”
“Everyone knows he’s gay. You think I’m gay, too?”
“Don’t you know?”
“I have no memories. How can I know?”
“Your dick knows. I kissed you in my room. Did it get happy?”
“A dick can be happy?”
“It has a mind of its own. I call mine Buster.”
“Billy’s Buster?” I laugh. “Don’t Europeans all kiss each other?”
“When it’s appropriate. With you, it feels appropriate all the time.”
We look at each other and exchange several kisses on the cheek. We both smile and leave it at that.
Everyone is waiting outside the front door for the cab. Billy puts an arm around my neck as we join them. No dick reaction yet. I truly live strictly in the present.
“Where we going, mate,” one of the others (did I forget their names?) asks Freddie.
“Pizza,” I call out.
“Oh, gawd. Another Yank barbarian. Can’t we try something else?”
“Nothing beats pizza. Soul food for teenagers,” I argue.
“Well, times up. You turn 20 next month.”
“Party,” I yell. Everyone shouts encouragement. I always forget my birthday, another retrieved memory
“Can’t we go where there’s real food, not just comfort food for kids,” Freddie whines.
“We’ll need at least a day’s notice for hair and makeup.”
“Oh, mighty King Farouk, grant me my fondest wish for pizza, my first night in Europe.”
“What did you call me?’ Freddie detects a hint of betrayal in the ranks of his noble princes. They all point at me. No loyalty toward the lowly,
“To the world, you remain Queen, but to me you are King.”
“King Farouk was an Egyptian despot living in Rome like Emperor Nero. He hated rock n roll and died in the 60’s.”
“Great. You can be King Farouk II.”
“Well, off with your head.”
Down the rabbit hole again. Wait. Is that a memory? Was I Alice before the concussion?
Freddie directs the taxi driver to le Museum. The boys groan.
“You want pizza, sonny. We’ll do Raclette, Swiss pizza.”
The restaurant is cozy. We walk in without being noticed by the locals. Freddy Mercury goes unacknowledged in Montreux. What is the point of being a Rock God if no one notices?
The Maitre’d takes one look at us and escorts our youth brigade to a booth in the back, near the kitchen.
“Back of the bus,” I observe. “Don’t they recognize King Farouk?”
”Swiss are masters of restrained reaction to celebrity.”
“Maybe they’re too important to care.”
The décor is cool, like a medieval castle with plaster walls hung with heavy instruments of torture.
“Will you torture us for dessert?” I provoke our patron.
“Only when you misbehave,” he warns.
“Oh, Daddy,” I mock our host.
“I’m too young to be a daddy,” Freddie is 31.
Just like Elton John, I remember, another memory from my forgotten past.
I stand up and start to sing “Somebody to Love.’
The other three boys jump up and join me:
“Can anybody find me somebody to love?”
We skip all the complaints in the verses and end with the chorus.
‘Find me somebody to love
Find me somebody to love
Find me somebody to love
Find me somebody to love
Find me somebody to love
Find me somebody to love
Find me somebody to love
Find me somebody to love love love
Find me somebody to love
Find me somebody to love
Somebody somebody somebody somebody
Somebody find me
Somebody find me somebody to love
Can anybody find me somebody to love?
(Find me somebody to love)
(Find me somebody to love)’
Songwriters: Freddie Mercury
Somebody To Love lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
“You’re so sad, King Farouk,” I throw myself into his arms. Freddie looks mortified.
Adding insult to injury, the Maitre’d rushes over, complaining we are upsetting the other diners.
I grab one of the iron implements from the restaurant wall.
“Well, just torture us now, Monsieur. Vitement. Je mourrai sans amour.”
Everyone stares at my unexpected switch to French. I worry I am a drama queen.
I turn to Freddie, “ Oh, King Farouk, make me your Queen, that is, drama queen.”
He stares at the Maitre’d, “Sorry. Just looking for love in all the wrong places. We’ll leave.”
“Mais non. Ne pars pas encore. Du vin, s’il vous plais?
“Parfait monsieur. Et, le menu?”
The maitre’d leaves in a hurry. Now that’s how a rock god is to be treated, just not in Switzerland apparently.
Billy whispers in my ear, “When did you learn French>”
“What do you mean? When did I speak French?”
“Just now, to the owner. Don’t you remember?
“I forget. I do know he doesn’t speak English. Maybe it was my new language, New English.”
“Can we learn it, too?”
“Just say what you think the listener will understand.”
“That’s it. Just speak what you think will be understood?”
“You have to do your best, knowing they will do their best to understand.”
“Why are you guys whispering?” Freddie is not one to miss anything. “No secrets.”
“Oui, ma reine,” Billy is suddenly in the know about New English.
“What?” Freddie explodes. “What are you plotting now?”
“Somebody to love,” all four of us sing.
Freddie looks quickly at the maitre’d who just ignores us. Several diners actually clap. We bow to Freddie and to the room. More applause. We are a hit. Freddie feels slighted, rising from his seat and bowing to the room. More applause.
“Enough,” he murmurs. “Sit down. This is no place to perform.”
“But they are your fans, Oh Mighty Farouk.” I explain.
“I know when someone upstages me. Do it again and it’s back to the morgue for you.”
“How much did you pay for me?” I need to know my worth.
“It’s in your file.”
“Where is my file?”
“I have it. You’ll never see again if you continue to disrespect me.”
“Oh, daddy, I need your approval to have fun?”
“This is not fun. We almost got booted out of here.”
“Oh, the horror of being hungry and on the street.”
“You keep it up and you can add homeless to your woes.”
“Woe is me. I’m just a poor boy from a poor family,” I sing.
The boys are my backup, “Easy come. Easy go,” they chime in.
“Thus spricht die konigin.”
“Now you speak German? Are you a Nazi?”
Instantly the dining room goes silent.
“He speaks New English,” Billy reveals.
“Keep mocking me and you all will get New Arseholes to speak New English.”
Oops. The room is still listening. We all look mortified.
“Time to read the menu,” Freddie hands over la carte. We keep our heads down.
“Tell me about Raclette,” I ask Freddie.
“Just try it. If you don’t like it, they have pizza you can order.”
No one else orders Raclette, but I am stuck with no choice.
“Can I have pizza on the side?” I ask Freddie.
“Raclette is Swiss pizza. Stop complaining.”
“You know about fondu, right?” Billy whispers. “It’s the same except the cheese is poured over toast, or you can ask for it on potato.”
“It’s just an option.”
“Oh my god. Eating in Switzerland is exhausting.”
At that remark, the waiter appears to take our orders.
“Raclette avec pepperoni et oignon, s’il vous plais,” I forget to speak English. The waiter moves to the next diner.
“You were quick to note the tools of torture on the walls,“ Freddie smirks.
“I’m Catholic. It comes naturally.”
“Wanna see a real torture chamber?”
“I knew you had kinks up your sleeve.”
“I’m talking authentic Inquisition era torture.”
“If I’m drawn and quartered, I doubt there’ll be much refund for me.”
“Cheeky. We’ll all go to Chillon Castle tomorrow. It’s the real deal.”
I now have plans for the future.
We settle down. Raclette is inadequate as a pizza substitute, nothing more than melted cheese on toast. The sides are separate. You scrap the cheese off the toast and onto the sides. Not exactly genius cuisine. I am too hungry to wait for my second order of actual pizza and enjoy the local delight. A Swiss-style pizza finally arrives. It is nothing compared to U.S. style. We invented pizza, right? The others order fancy Swiss Chocolate desserts. Who has dessert with pizza? I share a slice with Billy. We agree it is the worst pizza ever. And the beer in Switzerland sucks.
Everyone has coffee after dessert. No one brings the check. Freddie lights a disgusting cigar.
“What next, Oh Mighty King?” Billy asks.
“You need another dessert?”
“Com’n, Freddie. We want to show the American the nightlife in town.”
“You just called me the American?”
“Well, you don’t even know your name. Is I really Tim?”
“It’s what the file says. I can’t remember.”
“We’ll just call you Yank then.”
“Like, ‘Yank my chain.’”
“Yeah. Why not?” Billy moves over and grabs my crotch.
“Whoa, cowboy. Calm down.”
“You ain’t no fun,” Billy slides his chair away from, me.
“I ain’t yer toy,” I reply.
I turn to Freddie, “Let’s pay the check and blow this joint.”
“We have to wait for the waiter to decide to give us the check.
“I’ll show how to blow your joint,” Billy stays frisky, sliding his chair back towards me.
“You are relentless,” I complain.
“Give him a break, Billy,” Freddie takes my side. “He doesn’t remember whether he’s gay or not.”
“I know how to find that out,” Billy is ready to go at it at the table.
The waiter instantly appears to save me from public indecency. He looks anxious to have us out of le Museum. The five of us make a noisy exit. There is scattered applause as the door shuts behind us.
“Where to next,” Billy needs to party. “Let’s go to Taboo.”
“That place is too sad,” Freddie nixes the suggestion. “I promised Mary I would not go cruising. She wants my ‘proclivities’ to stay out of the gossip rags.”
“We can hang out without going in,” I suggest. “Who’s Mary?”
“I’m married,” Freddie confesses.
Everyone laughs. I am confused.
“Why did you buy me, then?”
“So I don’t have to go to gay bars. And, I didn’t buy you. I paid to have you revived.”
“Can I have my file back?”
“So you can run off to your old life.”
“I had a life? You’d think I’d remember if it was real.”
“Nothing in Hollywood is real.”
“I was a movie star?”
“No. Just a Hollywood hustler.”
“I’ll stay here then.”
We wander down hill toward the lake and harbor. Taboo is a block from the water. Several young men are smoking outside. I walk over and ask for a smoke. I chat in French awhile, until Freddie and the others join us.
“Ah, bonne chance. Vous etes Freddie Mercury,” my new friend recognizes our star patron. “Bienvenue.”
One of the other smokers goes into Taboo. Soon there is a rush of gay Queen fans surrounding us. Only Freddie excites their interest. We laugh while Freddie tries to be gracious as several cute boys throw themselves at him. Once they start pulling off his clothes, Freddie looks panicky and mouths for us to save him.
“Arretez. Freddie, nous partons.” I shout and pull him away.
We run along the waterfront, several gay hustlers following us. We need a public place to hide from the gay nightlife. I see the Montreux Casino.
We run into the main lobby. The doormen stop the hustlers from entering. We collapse onto facing couches to catch our breath.
“You’re so popular King Farouk,” I mock him.
“Always” he complains but winks at us to show that he loves his celebrity. “This is where they hold the Music Festival every summer.
‘Smoke on the water,’ I sing.“I thought it burned down,” another random memory.
“It reopened last year,” Billy knows the history.
“Let’s get them to sign us up for this year’s festival.” I am full of ideas.
The band’s in London, nitwit. They hate Montreux.”
“That’s their problem. You’re the band. We’ll just back you up. It’s sure to get their attention.”
“They’ll sue me. The label hates me anyway and always supports them.”
“Tell the promoters that Queen wants to play but sign everything as Freddie Mercury. If they complain, call it Queen II.”
“You’re crazy. The lawyers will eat me up for lunch. And how can the four of you become proficient enough on the instruments in just a few months?”
“You said Billy plays better than Brian already. I’ll play bass and the other three can fight it out over who is the better drummer. We all know the songs. It’s not just you that we love, Freddie.”
For some reason, I have another memory blast from my past, “I know the best entertainment lawyer in the world. And he works for the Italian Mafia. No one will fuck with us. Music industry lawyers are all pussies.”
“When do we start?” the four others are in. Freddie shakes his head. Anyway, he has no better way to revive his fame. ‘Bicycles’ is a hit but it is lame. We all need a bit of inspiration every once in a while.
“You’re right, Dead Boy. Let’s go home and practice.”
We troop out the Casino where the doorman has a cab waiting for us. Running through the harbor with a gay posse on our heels was enough excitement for the night.