Asleep with Mike in Jack’s hotel room in Montreux, I forgo my usual up-with-the-cows arousal and sleep in. I groan, sending Mike and Jack off for breakfast, and roll over back to sleep. When they return to find me sound asleep, they pounce and mildly molest me. I only relent and get up, when they decide to sing ‘Oh, You Pretty Things.’
‘Wake up you sleepy head
Put on some clothes
Shake up your bed…..
Oh you pretty things
Don’t you know you’re driving your mamas and papas insane
Oh you pretty things
Don’t you know you’re driving your mamas and papas insane
Let me make it plain
You gotta make way
For the homo superior’
Writer(s): David Bowie
“Ugh,” I complain. “Now I know why everyone groans when I sing spontaneously. Why am I so exhausted?”
“Well, you performed for three straight hours last night. Then battled your nemisis, Black D, for the honor of your dolphin girlfriend, White D. You rendered him senseless in the water, but lost the pursuit of your loved one when she took pity on her pursuer and swam away with him. She never thanked you.”
“It’s over,” I moan. “I’ll never understand women.”
“Especially when she is a fish,” Jack crows.
“Dolphins are not fish,” I yell at him.
“That black dolphin sure flopped around like a caught fish,” Mike adds. “what did you do to it?”
“Bowie and I zapped it with those fake lightning bolts on our guitars. It went into shock.”
“Never mess with Bowie.”
“And his sidekick, Ziggy Stardust.”
“At least he’s smiling,” Jack notes to Mike. “Maybe losing his girlfriend White D is not that traumatic.”
“She was my first love,” I lament.
“Not really. You left a trail of broken little girly hearts in the past.”
I glare at him for bringing up my past. Jack realizes he overstepped my rules.
Then I realize, it no longer affects me, like I would pass out.
Mike and Jack watch me intently for any serious reactions.
“Are you cured now?” Mike asked. “Do you remember anything from your past life?”
Thinking about how I felt when Black D looked like he was dead reminded me of another show I played where my dog was shot. It was at the beach as well.
“Max,” I cry.
Ever-faithful canine black lab Max appears at my calling.
“Max?” Jack exclaims.
“You can see him, too?”
“What are you talking about,” Mike is clueless.
“It’s Jace’s dog who was shot at the Skynyrd show a couple of years ago,” Jack explains.
“Jace’s?” I am confused. “Max is my dog.”
“After Jace was killed by his evil brother,” Jack has all the details. “Max stayed with you after that drama.”
It all comes rushing back. Jace is Casper the Friendly Ghost, whom I know as Spirity, the spirit of rock and roll. My head is bursting with memories. I sit down, thinking I will soon pass out like in the past.
“I remember now.” I look at Jack and remember all the sex we had back then. It is embarrassing and not at all exciting in any way.
Jack rushes over to embrace me. Mike looks pained.
“Stop,” I order him. “I’m not the person you remember.”
Jack is crushed again. He is used to it by now.
“Don’t you remember what it was like?”
“I remember alright but the feelings are not same,” I explain. “I’m just embarrassed.”
“It’s like it never happened?” he asks.
“I had to be into it to do what we did,” I admit, ‘but the feelings are different now. Maybe when my testosterone levels return, I’ll feel what I felt back then.”
Jack is in tears (again).
“Come here,” I reach out. “You never gave up on me when I was dead. I’ll give you that.”
He tentatively hugs me. I give him the ‘bro’ pat on the back. It is the best I can do. Jack lets go.
“We brought croissants,” Mike holds up a bag.
“No coffee?” I complain.
“You’re not in a good mood,” Mike observes.
“In one night, I lost my girlfriend, the other girlfriend flew back to junkieville, and now I find out I’m gay but not interested in my old boyfriend.”
“Love sucks,” Mike laughs.
I sing ‘Joy to the World’ (substituting ‘Jack’ for ‘Jeremiah’)
‘Jackie was a bull frog
Was a good friend of mine
I never understood a single word he said
But I helped him drink his wine
And he always had some mighty fine wine
Joy to the world
All the boys and girls, now
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me’
Writer(s): Hoyt Axton
After a good laugh, my spirits revive. We grab the croissants and run to Freddie’s Lake house where the coffee is better than the hotel room version.
“Freddie, I have my memory back,” I run up to my savior.
“Does that mean you want to go back to that college and be a schoolboy again?”
“No way. My rock career is just taking off. Plus I’m sure all my old friends have forgotten me by now.”
“We need you here anyway. Who else can teach kids to swim with dolphins?”
“My dolphin girlfriend threw me over last night during the show.”
“I thought you rescued her?”
“She turned on me when it looked like I killed Black D.”
“Well, it was never going work anyway.”
“Thanks a lot.”
“Let’s talk about this tour you’ve got Henri organizing for the summer.”
“The Yassassin Live Long Tour.”
“Yeah. Free the Arab Hordes Tour.”
“It’s about all immigrants.”
“You’re too free,” as I lean and kiss him.
“I thought you were Bowie’s boy now.”
“He’s not into me that way. I’m his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust.”
“Any plans for Queen?”
“With Jim Reid gone, you need a decent manager.”
“Miami Beach has already signed on. You don’t want to deal with those lowlife rock show producers.’
“We could write songs together. You need to get in the studio and produce a new album.”
“Yassassin,“ I joke.
“What’s the plan?”
“Saturday Night Live from all over Europe and Asia Minor.’
“So the Muslims won’t work on their Sabbath?”
“And Duncan is home for swim lessons.”
“What about Queen?”
“You got the Knobs doing the old hits. One show a week not enough to keep you interested?”
“We want to debut the new songs at the Musical Festival here in Montreux.”
“You have artistic ambitions?”
“More than making a fistful of dollars?”
“The money’s in recording and selling records. Pretty soon all music will be digital. CDs cost pennies. They’re all profit.”
“That’s what I’m talking about.”
I sing, ‘Listen to the man, listen to the madman,’ from ‘The Prophet’s Song’
“That’s a different kind of prophet,” Freddie claims.
“It’s all about profit.”
“And Brian wrote that song.”
“No wonder you were breaking up.”
We both laugh.
“Then you came along.”
“And you were singing in the street for pennies.”
“At least we like what we sing in the street.”
“You are so wise today.”
“I got my memories back.”
“Now you’re a wise ass?’
I decide to call ‘home’ in Miami.
“Hi, Mom,” I start out hopefully. They probably hate me for my asshole behavior when they came to visit.
“Tim,” she gasps.
“Hi. I got my memory back.”
“We’re not strangers anymore.”
“I apologize. I know I hurt your feelings.”
“As long as you’re okay.”
“Better than that. I’m thriving here and once we get a break from touring, I want to visit.”
“You always have a home here.”
I gulp, “I know. You especially, Susan, have been the greatest mom a boy could want.”
“You will always be my boy.”
“I’m twenty now, Mom. Any prior plans to succeed in music are exceeded by miles and miles.”
“We read about the concert in London. It said you produced the show.”
“Well, I had a lot of help. The stars are the ones who everyone wants to see.’
“And your show in Geneva was written up today. It sounds incredible but the paper complained that the whole city was shut down.”
“Really?” I didn’t know that.
“Dad laughed and said you always cause an uproar.”
“Is he there?“
“He’s watching football. The Dolphins are not as good as they used to be. I’ll get him.”
There is a pause before Bert/Dad answers tentatively, “Hi, uhm, Laz.”
“It’s okay Dad. I got my memory back. Laz is just a stage name. I have a new role. I’m called Ziggy.”
“Can I call you Tim again.”
“Just not Timmy.”
We all laugh.
“Helen usually calls me Andy and sometimes Timothy when it’s serious.”
“You call her Helen.”
Susan interrupts our banter. “How did your memory suddenly come back.
“It was Max.”
“You still believe in ghosts?” Dad interrupts.
“A memory about Max, when the Miami Police shot him, tripped the switch and all my memories were back.
“I refuse to blame the police. You were out of control.”
“As usual, you’re right. I was out of control from when we moved to Miami until I died surfing in LA.”
“Then that rock star brought you back to life.”
“Well, it was touch and go for a while. Freddie needed me to keep his band together; now I will tour with David Bowie as his alter ego, Ziggy.”
“What does Max have to do with all this?”
“In the show last night, I had to battle a large male dolphin. We used special effects to stun it. I saw it going into death throes. It reminded me of Max’s death. All my other memories were intact this morning.”
“Well, welcome back. We’ve been reading about your rock star life. I figured that’s why you were less concerned about your real family when we went to Switzerland.”
“I’m so sorry. I was a real jerk. I no longer pass out when confronted with my past.”
“We are just glad you are alive,” Helen mollifies what Dad thinks. “When are you coming home?”
“The tour only performs on Saturday nights, so I should be able to fly over during the week. I have other jobs but time off is possible.”
“You never slow down, son,” Dad reminds me.
“Seventeen months in a coma means I lost the last of my teen years.”
”It seems to have done some good.” Dad has his own opinions.
We all laugh. I promise to call often.
Dad asks if I need money.
“No need. Now I am as rich as King Midas,” I brag.
“Who’s that?” Dad is not up on Greek Mythology.
I hang up.
Mike has been sitting there listening. We both laugh about our dad issues. I forgot to ask how the Dolphins were doing.
We spend the rest of Sunday reading the reviews from newspapers (remember papers?). The local Montreux and Lausanne rags called the show a triumph, ushering in a new era of rock and roll where bands evolve (or, devolve, a la Devo) to more than their original hits. They compare us to Elvis and the Beatles.
“I hate the Beatles,” Jack remarks. “They are so 1960s.”
“You forgot kissing John Lennon and Yoko’s respective asses at the Dakota,” I laugh.
“Oh. You remember that?”
“I remember everything. Come here. I owe you a hug for sticking around when I didn’t remember you. But don’t push it.”
As Jack comes over, Freddie asks, “How do you know John?”
Jack goes into details that I ignore, still wary of living in the past.
The Geneva press is highly critical of the crowd’s behavior. Nobody is hurt but traffic was at a standstill well past midnight throughout the urban area. The talented show we put on is barely mentioned. There is a letter from a local fisherman blaming the dolphins and calling for a lifting of the ban on commercial fishing of the mammals. Totally self-serving.
The London papers play up the role of the stars, Bowie and Mercury, plus the surprise appearance of Michael Jackson as a drummer, singer and dancer. I am called a mysterious Eastern European reprising the Ziggy Stardust persona. They slight Siouxsie by only saying ‘local band the Banshee performed as well.’
Paris, Rome and Amsterdam all have normal music critics reporting of how long we worked to pull off a three-hour variety show of all rock genres, including punk. Siouxsie is spotlighted as the one female performer who sang with different bands including her own.
Berlin announces that an upcoming show will take place on the West Berlin side of the Wall in order to allow East Berliners to hear from their side. Very equalitarian of them. They call the show aufsehenerregend and spektakulär
Istanbul and Athens also announce up-coming shows highlighting the ‘Yassassin’ song and its message of immigrant tolerance in the West. The Sufi Dervish are pictured from stock photos.
MTV has a video of David singing ‘Prettiest Star’ to Duncan. Maybe he is the real star, while his dad is a washed-up star trying to revive his fame through me. Youth will will-out.
The only US paper to report is Hollywood’s Variety. They ignore the show but play up the lawsuit Joe Jackson plans to file claiming Mike violated his contract by participating. We will pay Mike under the table for his drumming services.
The net profit (after expenses and the contract fees for Bowie and Queen) for the open air concert exceeds 100,000 Swiss francs. I tell Henri that we will meet him and Claude on Monday morning to determine how much to pay everyone with the remaining profit for their production company. My enthusiasm for donating to the Save the Dolphins charity is diminished by my crushed feelings about White D.
Jack stops pestering me about old memories when he realizes that my feelings have not changed about sex. I treat it like a reunion with a high school crush. I tell him to commit to going with the Boss Band on our European Tour before returning to college. I explain how I have sex with Freddie by dissociating while Max does the dirty deed. He is not interested in sex with Max who appears when we mention his name but refuses to go to Jack when called. He is steadfastly my dog.
Bowie and Duncan arrive, wanting to swim in the Lake. My favorite gendarme informs me that a crowd of kids was there in the morning. There are twenty or so loyal fans still there. We sit under the Bodhi Tree and talk about the show. Amar gets a round of applause while Emile is as always besieged by the girls. His ‘date’ at the show is missing.
“Her parents got upset when Le Temps and Le Courrier both reported there was a riot in the streets after the show. She is grounded,” Emile reports. His fame only grows. He is now a ‘Bad Boy.’
After swimming, I do not ask Bowie to lead singing ‘Heroes’ to attract the dolphins. He suggests that the dolphin verse be removed. That is a step too far. The song has a history now. I don’t really miss White D. Her seventeen-year-old’s mating rituals are done, I assume.
Freddie insists he host dinner at la Museum, having called M. Pelletier for a large table at 8 pm. Our entourage of Queen, the Knobs, the Boss Band, Bowie’s Berlin/Turkish band with Jim, Duncan, and Amar’s father Mustafa as a plus three bringing the guest total to 21.
Before being seated we sing ‘Putting on the Ritz’, my suggestion from recently retrieved memories of serenading restaurants in Boston.
Getting 21 people to perform in synch makes it more a comedy than a Gerswin classic. Jack’s Broadway genes are suppressed. The other guests give us polite applause. Our local fans peer in the windows, knowing they will have their own performance once the meal is done. Freddie rushes outside and does a solo a Capella version of ‘Don’t Stop Me Now.’
“I’m having a good time’
Freddie rushes back inside to the cheers of his street fans. We are all thrilled to be the center of attention in Montreux, our home.
The food is divine, although the Queen musicians miss their bangers and mash. After coffee and brandy, we are ready for the final song of the night in the open plaza. Word has gotten around. At least a hundred fans are waiting. Everyone is mellow. Our ‘riot causing’ reputation suffers as everyone sings along to ‘Yassassin.’ Amar and dad Mustafa, now local celebrities, sing and whirl. Bowie’s eerie voice is perfect without musical accompaniment
Mike and Jack put their arms over my shoulders as we march toward the hotel. As we pass Taboo, Jack looks enviously at the gay guys hanging out.
“No ready to hang it up for the evening?”
“I don’t go cruising by myself.
“We’ll go there, No one bothers us because we are together,” Mike explains
Jack stammers, “But what will I do?”
“You’re gay. You don’t know how it works?” Mike does not hold back.
“Will you hang with me?”
“Why go there then?”
“I never hook up with anyone but Tim.”
“I’m Laz now. Tim can’t help you,” I tell him.
“Okay. If you insist, I’ll go.”
“We’re doing you a favor. We are not dragging you in there,’ I note.
“We can hang out in front,” Mike is full of ideas.
“You don’t mind?” Jack may want me to complain so he can avoid putting himself ‘out’ there.
“Jesus, stop being such a closet case,” I remark. “You’re twenty years old. You need to get out there for yourself if you want to be happy.”
“Happy,” he moans. “You are the only one that can make me happy.”
“I’m calling Max. He knows what to do.”
Jack remains a mope that we drag toward the Taboo entrance. Several boys recognized Mike and run up to us.”
“We heard your show was a riot,” a tall blond addresses Mike.
“The riot happened after we finished,” I explain. ‘It was more of a traffic jam.”
“Well, we heard that Michael Jackson was putting on an showcase of a new dance, the moonwalk. Com’n inside and show us,” they drag us inside to the dance floor.
All the queens inside start screaming, ‘Michael, Michael.’ The DJ starts playing ‘Killer Queen’
The stately beat is perfect for disco. Mike gets everyone to follow him, using Jack as a pupil on the Moonwalk. Soon they are moving backwards across the dance floor to the cheers of all the disco queens. Mike teaches several others before returning to the table where I am sitting with my two left feet.
“You should really try, Laz. It’s easy once you get the beat.”
“White boy got no rhythm.”
He looks bemused by my shyness on the dance floor, sliding in next to me.
We are instantly surrounded by Jackson 5 fans. Mike looks panicked. He hooks an arm around my shoulders and hugs me tightly.
“You’re gay?” one of the fans gasps.
“Don’t get your hopes up. We’re best friends,” I explain.
“Oh,” several murmur, looking disappointed.
“We brought our bandmate, Jack,” I indicate the white kid giving dance instruction on the dance floor. “He needed to get some action.”
“Oh,” they are suddenly interested and rush out onto the floor.
More Jackson 5 fans take their place. One leans over to kiss Mike. I slap him away.
“Hands off,” I rule. They give me mean looks, as their celebrity dreams evaporate. Gays are so predatory. Mike just laughs.
Finally, we are alone, scarcely watching Jack being cruised by the regulars.
“Are we gay?” Mike asks.
“My prior life experiences says you are not, and I am repressed from a lack of hormonal response.”
The club manager leads us to their VIP area, a roped-off corner in the back. A champagne bottle is ready to be opened. That we can do, aiming the cork at Jack, hitting him on the head. He acts more confused than ever.
“What are our plans for the summer?” I ask Mike.
“Plans? Whoever plans their life?”
“Okay, the plan is to push ahead and do shows once a week all over Europe?”
“Sounds good to me. The reviews for ‘The Wiz’ are not encouraging enough for me to pursue a movie career.”
“Diana Ross will be disappointed.”
“She’s my mom’s age. I love her like I love you, as friends.”
“Do you really want to be in the Boss Band?”
“Why not? I’m learning the drums while dancing with all the bands in the show. I feel like a kid again.”
“Were there times you enjoyed the Jackson 5?”
“Not really, once we got famous and toured all the time.
Sounds like you lost most of your youth. I lost 17 months and feel deprived.”
“Sounds like you were getting pretty famous before you died.”
“Only the good die young.”
“Being with you is like making up for all the repressiom in Joe Jackson World.”
“Being with you makes me feel like I never want to be gay.”
“I wouldn’t hate you.”
“But it would be weird. Right now is perfect,” I lean over and chastely kiss him, like we spontaneously do.
Flash bulbs explode.
“There go our reputations,” Mike laughs.
“Who cares what others think?” I claim.
We may not care, but Joe Jackson has a coronary and stroke once he sees the photo. He redoubles the legal fight to regain control over Mike’s life. The lawyers have a heyday.
“How do you see your musical career evolving?” I ask. “Is it enough to be in the Boss Band?”
“I love the Boss Band. Not sure my drum skills are worthy enough. I had hoped to be a movie star.”
“You need to play to your strengths. Remember how horrible all those Elvis movies are?”
“You are comparing me to Elvis?”
“You’re already as big a pop star as he ever was.”
“He died, you know.”
I think about what career move Mike needs to make. He cannot stay in the Jackson 5. I remember my relationship with Edgar Bronfman Jr at Universal Studios.
“I convinced Universal Studios to sign rock stars to make short music videos that tell stories. It is the future of rock. All those videos on MTV are so boring; they just show the bands playing their hits. It’s like using a movie star for a commercial.”
“Joe wants me to do Pepsi commercials.”
“Don’t sell your soul for soda pop.”
“You really have Hollywood connections?”
“I was a total slut there.”
He looks aghast.
“Don’t worry. You’re the talent with worldwide acclaim. They’ll slut for you.”
He grins, “How do we get started.”
“My lawyer in Miami also represents Universal. He’ll sign you in an instant.”
“Miami Beach is protecting me from Dad’s lawyers.”
“That’s fine but Jay will protect your artistic rights. I’ll call him tomorrow. He works for a Mafia law firm. No one will fuck with you.”
Mike’s eyes pop open wide.
“What are your plans? Being the new Ziggy Stardust will keep you busy, but is that all there is to your ambitions?
“I’ll keep dancing.”
Mike jumps up and pulls me onto the dance floor.
“No Moonwalking,” I cry.
“You lead then,“ as we chase each other around the room. Jack runs over and soon everyone is doing a Conga line, hands on hips of the dancer in front of them.
‘Let’s bring out the booze and have a ball.’
We run up to the DY booth.
“We have a new Queen song that Michael and me have been working on with Freddie,” I yell at the DJ.
He waves for us to join him and hands us a single mic. The patrons surround the booth, looking up at us as if we are Juliet on her balcony.
“The name of the song is ‘Love Me like There’s No Tomorrow’
Au revoir, Freddie