7 – Blog 14 – Smoke on the Water

After our night of doggy-style lust, Freddie is fired up to renew his mate/bromance relationship with the original Queen. Brian claims he has also been writing new songs. I suggest he visit Toots’ Salon for dreadlocks; his long curly locks flow down to the middle of his back. He ignores my suggestions. I wander off to the kitchen.

“You look distressed, Laz. Post-coital depression”’ Jim laughs.

“It went well last night. With the band back Freddie just wants to hang out and be accepted by these over-age rockers. I bet they’re married and have kids. I don’t relate well to parents, they generally disapprove of my lifestyle.”

“What lifestyle? you live like a prince with Freddie, eat Raclette, and speak a magic language called New English.”

Jim has me down to all the details, as few as they are.

“I teach swimming at the Lake,” I offer as an excuse for being worthwhile in life.

“Speaking of being a parent, Brian’s wife is momentarily expecting their first child.”

“Maybe he’ll cut his hair and stop acting like an androgynous rock star.”

“Are you expecting to see Master Jackson today. Can I expect him for lunch?”

“I imagine Freddie hopes he has me all for himself.”

“Don’t take it personally but I’ve noticed he often pulls back after intense sexual experiences.”

“Is that your personal experience?”

“Mind that we do not step on each other’s toes.”

“Maybe I should go visit Mike.”

“I hesitate to give advice, but I can drive you and Master Amar to Lausanne later this afternoon.”

“Better we take the train but thanks for offering.”

I return to the studio and notice that my MOOG has been put into storage. I get the message.

“Freddie, I’m going to the Lake. We start swim lessons today.”

He looks startled, then rushes to me for a goodbye kiss. He is flamboyantly passionate. I suspect what Jim had observed may be happening between us. It is okay to feel thrown over. I only want to please him.

Monday morning at the Lake is mellow. Amar is there, basking in his fame and newfound acceptance. He is showing off some of the dance steps Mike taught him. He runs over when he sees me, followed by his dance pupils.

“Want to go see Mike later?” I ask.

“I have to ask for permission. You really got me in trouble avec ce baiser (kiss).

“Juste une illusion de scene.”

“Es-tu gay?”

“Juste mon chien.”

“Where is Max?’

“You can see Casper and Max?”

“Certainment.”

“Tu es incroyable.”

Amar beams.

“Pret de natacion?”

“Avec tu?”

“Bien sur. Aujour’dui, je vais enseigner aux non-nageurs.”

Let the lessons begin. I tell the best swimmers that they will get CHF 5 per lesson, suggesting they  pair off with two less proficient naguers/swimmers and teach them to assist each other  floating and doing backstroke in the shallows. I round up the twenty odd non-swimmers including Amar, whom I make translator of my marginal French. No more New English. It will put Amar in the spotlight for his English. We start practicing on the dry land next to the lake. I show them how to hold each other up with a hand under the small of their partner’s back.

“Estes- vous gay?” I am asked when I demonstrate the exercise.

“Je ne sais pas. Je suis un adolescent comme vous. Peut-être que je suis gay. Peut-être pas. Est-ce un probleme?

They shrug and look embarrassed.

“Vous m’avez tous vu embrasser Freddie Mercury parce que la chanson était triste. Êtes-vous d’accord avec ça? C’est le Rock n Roll.”

Amar looks glad he did not have to translate. The lesson goes on. When we get in the water, there is some giggling and horseplay about the boys holding each other up. The girls have no problem.

I need to act more as a lifeguard than instructor, making sure no one gets in over their head. I also keep an eye on the advanced group. Getting paid makes the instructors act like conductors on the city trams. The petty bureaucrat is a Swiss stereotype even among kids.

After an hour, we call it quits. Most stay for instruction on how to be in a rock band. Again, I separate the group so the musically trained youth can work with the newbies. With no instruments, I get everyone singing. Many are naturals, many are not. Everyone knows the lyrics to most Queen songs. We start off all singing ‘Somebody to Love’

I stop everyone after just the first line.

“First, if the person next to you is singing out of key, tell them to stop and listen. Help them get in tune. The voice is an instrument just like a guitar. It must stay in tune. Listen to me sing the verse and everyone come in at the chorus singing back-up. Just repeat what I sing:

‘Somebody (Somebody)
Ooh, somebody (Somebody)
Can anybody find me
Somebody to love
Yeah’

We repeat singing just the chorus until everyone is singing. The ones who cannot carry a tune are pulled out. Whoever tells them they are out of tune also is pulled out and the pair are sent far enough away to work together until they sing in tune. I tell the tone deaf that usually the problem is they are not listening to themselves. If they still want to be in a band and perform, they will improve overtime. What is important is they actually hear what they and the others are singing and playing together.

“Your ear cannot lie but your brain likes to trick you into thinking it is what you should sound like.”

Amar must translate all this. I try to determine if the kids all understand. Practice (a lot) makes perfect.

“I’ll sing the verse; everyone come in on the chorus.”

As I start singing, I walk around and listen to those in tune with my voice. I chose those who can already sing; we all walk around, pulling out the singers. At the end I arrange the singers like a choir and we sing to the non-musical group.

I pull from the choir the voices that are really sweet. They do the ‘someone’ repeats from the chorus. Everyone claps when we finish. The choir bows.

“Here’s a trick for those who have trouble finding the right note to start on: only sing the last few notes of each line; you will naturally stay in tune with those around you.

We all sing together. There is still too much disharmony.

“Okay,” I suggest. “If you are unsure, try singing very softly, so only you can hear yourself. As you get more comfortable sing just a bit louder. As you practice at home, don’t embarrass yourself in front of the bathroom mirror. Just sing softly to yourself.

“Okay, let’s try the song again.  Everyone sing sotto voice, meaning softly like a whisper. Nobody sing so loudly that it blocks out anyone nearby.”

We whisper the song. For the first time it sounds good. As it goes along, the volume slowly comes up. Maybe 80 voices at volume level 1 adds up to volume level 80.

“Ready to hum?” I ask. “I’ll sing and everyone back me up with your mouths shut, humming a vibration in tune with my voice.”

It sounds so good; I am excited.

“Ready to sing out loud and proud?” I egg them on. “If you are shy, reluctant or just not ready, mouth the words but stay silent. Everyone has a part in this song.”

I sing,

‘1 2 3 4

Can
Anybody find me…’

I motion for everyone to sing,

‘Somebody to love?’

I sing the verse,

‘Each morning I get up I die a little
Can barely stand on my feet
Take a look in the mirror and cry
Lord, what you’re doing to me
I have spent all my years in believing you
But I just can’t get no relief, Lord’

I call, the chorus answers,

‘Somebody (Somebody)
Ooh, somebody (Somebody)
Can anybody find me
Somebody to love
Yeah

I work hard (He works hard)
Everyday of my life
I work ’til I ache my bones

At the end (At the end of the day)
I take home my hard-earned pay all on my own
I get down (Down) on my knees (Knees)
And I start to pray (Praise the Lord)
‘Til the tears run down from my eyes, Lord

Somebody (Somebody)
Ooh, somebody (Please)
Can anybody find me
Somebody to love?

(He works hard)
Everyday (Everyday)
I try and I try and I try
But everybody want to put me down

They say I’m goin’ crazy
They say I got a lot of water in my brain
No, I got no common sense
(He’s got)
Nobody to believe

Ooh, somebody
Ooh, somebody
Anybody find me
Somebody to love
(Can anybody find me someone to love)

Got no feel, I got no rhythm
I just keep losing my beat (You just keep losing and losing)
I’m okay, I’m alright (He’s alright, he’s alright)
I ain’t gonna face no defeat (Yeah, yeah)
I just gotta get out of this prison cell
Someday I’m gonna be free, Lord

Find me somebody to love
Find me somebody to tove
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

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
Ooh
Find me somebody to love
Find me somebody
Find me somebody to love (Somebody, somebody to love)
Find me, find me
Find me somebody to love (Find me, find me)
Ooh, somebody to love
Find me somebody to love
Find me somebody to love (Find me, find me, find me)
(Somebody to love)
Find me somebody to love (Anybody, anywhere, anybody)
Find me somebody to love

Find me, find me, find me’

Songwriters: Freddie Mercury

We applaud ourselves for finally singing the complete song.

“That’s enough for today.”

It is almost noon. Kids have many questions and need advice about their musical careers and aspirations. We love answering them. Amar’s English is improving in leaps and bounds. His puppy dog eyes make me worried but when he translates into French to other kids, he speaks confidently.

Once everyone leaves, the Gendarme approaches Amar and me, speaking in English.

“Your new school is now teaching music as well as swimming?”

“The Casino is paying the swim instructors. Music is just for fun.”

“I admit the choir sounded pretty good at the end.”

“Swiss are quick learners.”

“Never try to trick a trickster, slick.”

We laugh.

“Will you be here every morning?”

“The swim instructors will be. I have other responsibilities but want to teach music whenever I can.”

“This is very American, ad hoc education. Why not work at a lycee?”

“It’s for kids by kids, perfect for summer vacation, learning something that’s fun.”

“If you need any help, let me know. This is my beat.”

“Merci.”

Amar relaxes. The authorities are not always so accommodating to minorities. I suggest we check-in with his parents. I now have money for the bus.

“Did you get your pay for the show?”

He looks at his feet without answering. “You gave it to your dad?”

He nods.

“That’s good, Amar. It’s for the family. Maybe he’ll give you a little.”

“Ten francs is all,” he admits

I hug him. He smiles but still looks sad.

“It embarrasses my dad that I made more than he makes in a month.”

“It’s a pride thing. It is good to feel proud but hard when you don’t.”

“I didn’t mean to make him feel shameful.”

“He knows. But  the family needs it. You can be proud without shaming him. Just show him how proud you are to help.”

Words. But I hope I can make his dad feel proud of him. Immigrants give up everything to move where their children have better opportunities. Now I feel sad.

Instead of going to Amar’s house, we decide to visit Henri at the Casino. I tell him about the swimming and arrange for weekly payments to the instructors. He insists that payment not be taxable wages. He calls a gratuity for helping the City’s youth. He gives me CHF 100 to distribute on Friday. He agrees that Amar can be paymaster if I am away. It reminds me that I need to make plans with Mike for our Paris trip. I ask Amar if he wants to go see Mike.

I explain to Henri that with the band reunited there may not be a bootleg of the new song for Knob Records to release. The good news is Queen will headline the Festival with all the original members. The whole Jim Reid affair is in the wind, but Miami Beach seems on top of it. Business is so boring.

We take the train to Lausanne and call David who comes to pick us up. I still want to drive the Aston Martin but need Bowie to tolerate my poor driving skills. All four of us drive to the Castle. Amar and I are crammed into the back storage area. We are in high spirits as we sit by the pool. Casper decides he wants more time with Ziggy Stardust. Max just wants to hang out. With no pot in sight, he is slightly grumpy. I try to explain telepathically that as a ghost he really does not inhale weed.

“That’s what old hippies say,” David comments. “You want me to get some pot for Max?”

We act properly shocked for Amar’s sake. David knows Mike and I imbibe the weed.

“Want some Queen gossip?” I change the subject. Max stays disgruntled. “Brian May is about to become a dad for the first time.”

“Oh dear,” David reacts. “Hard to change the world while changing nappies.”

“We’ll soon see how Brian handles it. She’s due this month, according to Jim.”

“Does that mean his return to London is imminent?”

“Maybe I’ll be in Queen after all,” I fantasize.

“No. I’ll take over your body and be in Queen,” Casper tells me.

“I won’t let you,” I yell.

“What are you talking about?” David asks.

Casper and I start rolling around on the pool deck as he tries to take over my body. I refuse to let him. Finally, Max takes over. We both float above the pool while my body is in downward facing dog yoga position.

Mike who somehow understands all this conflict explains, “Casper is trying to possess Laz who refuses to let him. It is all about who plays better guitar.”

Amar is concerned that I have lost my mind. David is somewhat aware of Casper from running the mixer at our show on Saturday; while I sang with Freddie, Casper played the MOOG.

Casper is glowering at me after I retain control of myself. Max sits patiently for the pot he really cannot smoke.

Mike and I discuss our hopes to spend our show payment on a trip somewhere, possibly Paris. David pipes up that he has friends in Paris willing to put us up.

“We have enough money to afford a hotel.”

“Need a little privacy?”

“No. We only do sleepovers; don’t be a perv.” Mike is indignant.

“Maybe you know musicians with whom we can perform,” I politely ask.

“Paris is where everyone busks. Go to Berlin. My Turkish reggae friends there are friendly. The studio where I recorded ’Yassasin” is a good place to meet other musicians.

“Are they Nazis like you?” I kid David.

“That was nonsense for publicity about ‘Hunky Dory. I don’t care about politics.”

“Unless they gassed your relatives in a concentration camp.”

“Don’t even talk that way in Berlin. They have the sins of their parents to pay.”

Politics is as boring as the music business. Which reminds me,

“I told Henri to hold off releasing the ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ tape as a bootleg single. Freddie has his boys back.”

“All’s well in Queensland?”

“They locked up my MOOG.”

“How retro.”

“Maybe I can sing for the Knobs.”

“That’s Claude’s role.”

“He’s tone deaf.”

“We taught singing at the Lake this morning” Amar notes.

David smiles at Amar, “But what about swimming?”

“We all sang after swimming.” Amar blushes from actually having a conversation with a rock star.

“Queen songs?” David asks.

“Just ‘Somebody to Love.’”

“Did someone take the lead vocals?”

“Laz did after getting everyone in tune.”

“Of course,” David winks at me. “The boss.”

“Not anymore,” I complain. “Freddie’s boys just ignore me.”

“How sad,” David laughs. “Maybe I can use your bossy skills.”

He turns to Amar, “Where is your family from?”

“Tunisia.”

“Want to show me how well Laz taught you to sing? I have a Turkish Reggae song I do. We can sing a duet.” David asks Amar. “You can sing the Arabic. I’ll do the English.”

Amar’s eyes light up, not too intimidated to show off new skills.

“It’s called ‘Yassassin.’

“Live long,” Amar translates. يعيش

“The Turks say it means ‘long live.’

“It’s all the same,” Amar asserts.

“Okay. Let me turn on the tape machine. You just sing the one word, ‘Yassassin.’”

‘Yassassin – I’m not a moody guy
Yassassin – I walk without a sound
Yassassin – just a working man, no judge of men
Yassassin – but such a life I’ve never known

We came from the farmlands
To live in the city
We walked proud and lustful
In this resonant world

You want to fight
But I don’t want to leave
Or drift away’

Bowie cues Amar to start again,

‘Yassassin – I’m not a moody guy
Yassassin – I walk without a sound
Yassassin – just a working man, no judge of men
Yassassin – but such a life I’ve never known

Look at this – no second glances
Look at this – no value of love
Look at this – just sun and steel
Look at this – then look at us

If there’s someone in charge
Then listen to me
Don’t say nothing’s wrong
‘Cause I’ve got a love
And she’s afeared

You want to fight
But I don’t want to leave
Or drift away’

Yassassin – I’m not a moody guy
Yassassin – I walk without a sound
Yassassin – just a working man, no judge of men
Yassassin – but such a life I’ve never known

Yassassin – I’m not a moody guy
Yassassin – I walk without a sound
Yassassin – just a working man, no judge of men
Yassassin – but such a life I’ve never known’

Songwriters: David Bowie

The long intro gets Amar whirling around the room. Mike is impressed that his dance partner has his own moves. He joins in with the whirling. When Bowie sings a line, Amar starts the next the line with a perfectly accented “Yassassin.”

“Are you Sufi?” Mike asks Amar.

“My family does not practice Sufism but my father taught me how the Dervish dance. I lose my thoughts in the dance.”

Mike is captivated. David suggests we perform at the Lausanne Mosque after evening prayers.

Mike and Amar continue to practice their dancing. David asks me to join him in the small informal dining area off the kitchen.

“What do you want to eat?

“Raclette, of course,” I quickly respond. “And beer.”

“You are so funny. Do you know what you liked to eat from before losing your memory?”

“Pizza is all I remember.”

“Raclette will have to do.”

He goes into the kitchen and returns with mixed salads for both of us.

“You wait on yourself?”

“I’m not a total ponce.”

“I guess I’m no longer Boss of Queen,” I moan.

“It was nice while it lasted. You ready to perform at the Mosque?”

“Anytime, anywhere, and in any language.”

“You can play the tape machine and hit the bongos.”

“I am so versatile.”

“How versatile are you in bed with Freddie.”

“Not as ‘versatile’ as he wants. I let Max take over and Freddie thinks I’m a beast. He really gets off.”

“Too much information. The ghost dog actually services my friend Freddie?”

“Max gets frisky whenever he thinks pot is in the air.”

“Freddie’s into bestiality?”

“He is unaware that Max has taken over my body.”

“Like you refused to allow Casper to do.”

“I want to be Queen’s guitarist if Brian leaves.”

“Is playing bongos at the Mosque beneath your standards.”

“I love playing in the street. What do you think about Mike and me busking in Paris?”

“Right up your alley.”

“No alley for me. I want to be on the Champs d’Elysee.”

“The local buskers may not let that happen. Best to play for the tourists at Notre Dame. Stay away from the Eiffel Tower. It’s all controlled by the Roma, Gypsies.”

“How about the Metro?”

“You will need to be on the run from the Gendarmes; busking is illegal there.”

“Maybe busking will be a problem since I do not have any identification papers, and Mike wants to remain incognito.

“You ever think about your old life?”

“I like my new life too much. What I have learned is pretty sordid.”

Casper finds the question interesting and pops up.

“Your friendly ghost seems interested,” David can sense him.

‘You were my lover,’ Casper tells me.

‘That’s not what I need to hear,’ I complain.

Casper disappears. Max the sex surrogate leaves with him.

I relax. David wants to know what happened.

“It seems my ghost is gay and is disappointed that I refuse to be that way.”

“I told everyone I was gay during Ziggy. It is nowhere near what I actually feel.”

That thought is interrupted by the appearance of a young school boy.

“Laz, meet my son.  He is back after two weeks with Angela on vacation.”

“Your ex?”

“We’ll always be friends. Zowie visits often.”

“Duncan,” he says. ‘My name is not Zowie Wowie.”

“Hi, Duncan. I have several names, too.”

“Mike has a new friend and is ignoring me,” Duncan complains.

“They’re learning new dance steps for a performance today. Do you want to perform, too?”

“Oh, yes. Will Mike teach me the steps?”

“He’s learning from Amar, who’s a Whirling Dervish.”

“Wow. What’s that?”

“They dance so fast they are oblivious to what is going on around them.”

“What does oblivious mean?”

“Your mind goes blank.”

“Sounds like drugs.”

Seven-year-olds have definite opinions.

“Let’s find tom-toms for you,” I suggest.

“Will you come, Dad?”

“Sure. Let’s see what Mike has learned about whirling dervishes.”

We practice for an hour. I want to sing with Bowie but he insists that only Amar can pronounce the Arabic word ‘Yassassin’ properly. By the time we have practiced the song sufficiently, Duncan and I can sing back-up vocals to his dad’s verses.

Amar teaches us to say welcome in Arabic ‘a salem alaikom.’ We are ready to play for the evening prayer attendees. The mosque is south of the Railway Station. Amar and I can take rail back to Montreux.

Amar is breathless that he will be singing and dancing. I suggest he call his father and explain he is going to the mosque to honor him. He calls but just says he is in Lausanne and will be home soon after dark.

The performance goes well. The prayer attendees are impressed that we have a native Arabic speaker singing the Arabic lyric. When Mike joins Amar in the whirling, the audience claps to the beat, showing their appreciation.

The Iman greets us afterward and asks if we will repeat our performance after noon prayers on Friday. We are happy to comply. Our Paris plans are delayed. We drive to the Mosque. Afterward David promises to drive us back to Montreux. As I am about to ask about driving, I sense negative reception to my request. It is merely driver’s training, for god’s sake. I appreciate the ride. David escorts Amar to the door. His sisters almost faint when then see the star again.

“Your son is very talented, monsieur,” David addresses Amar’s father. “We played at the mosque tonight and are invited back for Friday prayers. I hope you and your family will attend.”

Amar has that hopeful look that it means a lot to him.

“We most certainly will attend. Thank you letting us know.”

Amar vigorously hugs his dad. Dad looks embarrassed. David smiles.

“Maybe sales of ‘Yassassin’ will finally pick up,” Bowie hopes.

“Amar’s sisters are sure to buy one,” I joke.

We all enter the Lake House. The studio reeks of pot. I wonder where Max is. Freddie hugs me when I sit next to him. The boys eye me nervously.

“Have you been performing in the street,” Freddie jokes.

“At a mosque in Lausanne,” I answer. “We did ‘Yassassin.’ It turns out Amar is a whirling dervish.”

“Zowie,” Freddie notices Bowie’s son. “Come give your Uncle Freddie a hug.”

“My name is Duncan now,” the boy answers and refrains from excessive expression of emotion. Pot is not on his approved list. Second graders are taught to set boundaries.

The band has the munchies. I suggest Raclette at le Museum, explaining that I am of Romanian heritage.

“le Museum offers other more English dishes, if you prefer,” I mollify their disdain for Swiss cuisine. Like English cooking is that great.

“We do prefer English,” Brian May curtly responds.

Off we go in the Rolls. No knobs tonight. They are back to being roadies, cleaning and closing up the studio.

A crowd greets us at the door. Someone yells ‘Vive Freddie.’ The boys are not impressed with our street cred.

“No song tonight,” I announce to M. Iverson’s relief. “The show knocked us out.”

I refrain from flaunting my French fluency. It is all Modern English tonight.

“We normally entertain the other diners with a single song,” I remark to the band.

I am met with a resounding ‘No!’

The boys all order steaks. I figure ‘what the hell’ and comply with their paleo diet strictures. As we sip the wine, Jim rushes in and pulls Brian away from the table. Brian rushes back and announces he has to leave.

“Christine’s gone to hospital. The baby’s coming early. Jim is driving me to the airport. There’s a late flight to London.”

We all are in shock.

I whisper to David, “Nappy time.” We refrain from laughing. You’d think Brian is the one going into labor.

“Congratulations,” I shout as he heads out the door.

When his steak arrives, Mike and I split it. My appetite has increased exponentially now that Queen needs a lead guitarist.

I am seated next to Deacy, who leans over to discuss the songs we wrote.

“I understand you wrote ‘Another One Bites the Dust,’” he tells me. “I really like that the bass drives the whole song, not just the beat.”

“Um,  Mike wrote it,” indicating MJ seated on my other side. “We always planned to give you the writing credit once the band got back together.”

“That’s not fair to Mike. I won’t take false credit.”

“Don’t be so hasty to give away royalties,” I whisper. “Do you know who Mike really is?”

Deacy looks at him. “Some African pop singer?”

“Look again. He’s Michael Jackson. He’s in hiding with Bowie after breaking up the Jackson 5. He can’t let his dad/manager know where he is. Also, anything he writes belongs to the Jacksons, not Mike. Don’t tell anyone.”

Deacy gives Mike a full screening. “Why’s his hair so messed up?

“Gangsta Rastafarian’s the perfect disguise in racist America.”

“Is that why Freddie insists we do Reggae covers?’

“They are the perfect set up for you on the bass to ‘Another One Bites the Dust.’”

Freddie notices our whispering.

“No hitting on Deacy. He’s not gay.”

“Oh. Sorry,” we both giggle.

Roger Taylor shoots me a nasty look.

“Roger doesn’t like ‘my’ song,” Deacy owns it.

“We were just saying that Roger should get dreadlocks like Mike,” I scoff. He really glares.

Mike preens his Jamaican ‘fro.

“Here’s a song for Brian,” I stand up and sing the Broadway hit about an alpine family fleeing the Nazis, ‘Adieu’

Mike, Bowie and Wowie join in. Deacy jumps in as well. We all exit outside and mingle with the fans who did not leave even after we said we would not perform. Freddie and Bowie split the bill. My thousand francs remains undiminished in my pocket.

“Look what we got paid for Saturday’s show,” I pull out the wad of cash. “One thousand francs.”

“Is that like tuppence hay-penny in English pounds?” Deacy replies.

“No. That’s one thousand smackeroos in American bucks,” I crow.

“You can’t be paid for pretending to be Queen,” Deacy asserts Jim Reid’s opinion.

“We call ourselves the Knobs and only play Queen songs that Freddie wrote.”

“Don’t let Reid know,” Deacy is on our side now.

“Reid’s going to jail. He’s been stealing from you guys for years.”

This is news to Deacy. His policy of always going along with the others may have cost him big time.

The others wander out of the restaurant. David is driving back to Lausanne. Mike sits in front for once with Wowie on his lap.

“You look like an Aussie Joey,” I tell Wowie, “tucked into the mother kangaroo’s pouch.”

The boy looks pained, “My name is Duncan.”

Off they fly. Someday I’ll drive that Aston Martin again. Maybe on Mike’s and my road trip to Paris, now delayed.

Once home, Freddie notices I am almost asleep. He pulls me away to the bedroom. I desperately pray for Max’s surrogate appearance.

Casper speaks to me, “See what happens when you won’t let me take over.”

“I got rid of Brian May, so I’ll share the guitar playing with you. Just let Max rescue me here.”

“You think you’re so smart. You have no clue how to gets Max’s attention.”

I have a brain fart, ‘Pot.”

“Freddie, can we first smoke a joint?” I inquire.

He pulls out his stash. I instantly am floating near the ceiling. I see myself deeply inhaling. Max has learned how a ghost can smoke.

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