7 – Blog 16 – Islam on Fire

 Jim walks Amar to the door and speaks with his dad. They seem congenial. Amar tells me to stay in the Rolls as me kissing Freddie is a forever black mark with his parents. His sisters sneak up on the car to look for David Bowie. Seeing only teen me they are disappointed.

No one is at the Lake House. Jim makes coffee. It is too late to buy croissants at the local patisserie. We enjoy sitting by the pool on a warm June night.

“I was worried you’d stay in Lausanne to be with Mike.”

“You can have your boyfriend back. I’ll sleep in Brian’s room.”

“That’s up to Freddie.”

“The King of Queen. I remain a lowly slave to my savior.”

“You feel obligated?”

“He did bring me back to life.”

“Laz, our Lazarus.”

“I decided to call myself Laszlo. It’s not so obvious.”

“I understand you had several names in your forgotten past.”

“Don’t remind me. I am still creating my second life, Laszlo, the Romanian Zombie.”

“You are nothing like the Undead.”

“Maybe that’s why I fail at whirling into a trance during Sufi dancing.”

“There are other ways to attain spirituality.”

“How about conversing with spirits. I do that regularly.”

“They seem to keep you grounded.”

Casper and Max appear at the mention of their presence in my life. Max whines that there is no pot available.

“You want to smoke pot?” I ask Jim. “That is sure to attract my spirits.”

“Well, I’ll steal some of Freddie’s. I usually don’t imbibe.”

“You’re such the gentleman.”

Max expresses his satisfaction at the appearance of his favorite vice, “Woof. Woof.”

“Why do I hear a dog?” Jim is startled.

“I told you Max always appreciates those who smoke pot.”

“How did I hear him?”

“You must believe he exists. Skeptics will never be convinced. Light up the joint, you will be able to feel his presence.”

Max sits patiently in front of Jim. Once he lights the joint and inhales, Max is in his face for the second-hand smoke.”

“My god, I can see him. He’s a large black Lab.”

“Yee of great faith, welcome to the spirit world.”

Max moves to me as I exhale. “Woof. Woof. Woof.”

Casper tells me, “He wants to take over your body in order to actually feel high.”

I am floating above Jim and Max/me as they finish the joint. Max is on his back wiggling my arms and legs in the air. Jim is laughing hilariously. I pop back into myself, get up and sit next to Jim.

“Max thanks you. When he is me, he actually gets high. He had forgotten.”

“This is so much fun. Am I now a stoner?” the proper Englishman comes to the light.

“If you are doing it only to get Max high, probably not.”

“Don’t tell Freddie. He’ll try to hook me on cocaine.”

“The elixir of the Mayan gods. Is that what happens in his bedroom?”

“Bowie got so out of control, he had to leave Berlin. They use much less in Switzerland. No clubbing every night and drugging ‘til dawn.”

Time for a song, ‘All the Young Dudes’

‘Billy rapped all night about his suicide
How he’d kick it in the head when he was 25
Don’t want to stay alive when you’re 25’

Songwriter David Bowie ‘All the Young Dudes’

“Even harder once you’re thirty,” Jim notes.

“Jeez, I’ll be twenty soon. Does that mean I need to learn how to be addicted?”

“You need to learn how to keep the energy alive. You are perfect, y’know.”

“Can you give me some advice on how to handle Freddie. Regardless of what you hear through the walls, I still have no clue about my sexuality.”

“Everyone assumes they know about you. Why the self-doubt? It is not just Freddie moaning in bed.”

“Moaning, or barking?”

“What?” Jim suddenly understands. Pot has loosened my tongue. Since he got Max high in the same way as Freddie gets off in bed, Jim is certain to eventually figure it out. “I refuse to sit here stoned to the gills and visualize what you may be saying.”

“Good. Let’s leave it at that.”

We wait for the gang to return. By eleven o’clock it is obvious that they have decided to go out clubbing.

“Want to meet them there?” I ask Jim.

He tosses me the keys, “I’m too stoned to drive.”

Another driver training experience. This time I drive a Rolls Royce. What can go wrong?

Backing up is somewhat new to my limited skills. Jim gets out and directs me. I soon remember that when going backwards any sense of direction is non-existent, especially if I look over my shoulder as well as in the mirror. I go very slowly. Stoned Jim finds this extremely funny. Hopefully, the Rolls is fully insured. Finally, we are on the road. Jim’s navigational skills are pot impaired. Finally, I go to the Lake and follow it to the Casino, where we park and walk to Taboo. I have no ID but Jim’s maturity gets me in with an extra ten francs for the bouncer.

“I’m not looking for them in the back rooms,” I tell Jim.

He agrees to check out the land of pornographic filth. We laugh.

I cruise the dance floor and laugh at all the ‘com’n looks’ I get. Finally, I pick a spot where I can keep an eye out for my reprobate friends.

I recognize the American who told me what I slut I was in my past life. He quickly approaches me. Where’s Max for sex surrogate duty?

“Tim,” He wrongly addresses me. “It’s Brian from Universal Studios. I hoped to see you again.”

In for a dime, in for a dollar.

“Hi. I remember you, but the name’s Laszlo. I’m from Romania.”

“Yeah. Right,” his American self-confidence assumes he is right and I am lying, which is true.

“Still picking up guys by claiming to be from Hollywood?” I accuse him.

“Taboo is less exciting than the Odyssey.”

“Whatever. How’s the movie going?”

“Landis is in town. I told him I saw you. He didn’t believe me.”

“I suppose you want me to pretend I’m someone who’s dead and wants a part in the zombie movie.”

“It’s a vampire movie.”

“Oh, well, plenty of vampires in Romania.”

“Com’n, Tim. Stop pretending. All the writers on Animal House loved you and how you beat up our boss for calling you a fag.”

“Aren’t you worried I may do the same to you for the same reason.”

“You are so funny. Please come meet Landis. He really loved you”

“Until I died. Is he here?”

“No. At the hotel. Come tomorrow. We’re here for a couple of days.”

“Meeting prospective vampires?”

I cannot help liking the guy. He is so persistent.

“Let’s go meet him now. But stop telling me who and what I am. I need to tell my friends I am leaving.”

Brian looks like the winner of the lottery. Max may still be called into service.

I assume Jim has found the boys in the backroom sex closets. I march in and check all the open doors. I soon find Jock, looking forlorn with no takers. Scots are so dour.


“Jock, I’m going to the hotel with someone from LA. Tell the others I don’t need a ride home.”

“Freddie will be miffed.”

“It’s not what you think. I’m meeting the director of a vampire movie. I’m perfect for the part. Take the keys to the Rolls.”

“I thought you were a zombie.”

“Same as it ever was,

‘Here a twister comes, here comes the twister
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
Once in a lifetime, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by’

Writer/s: Brian Eno, Christopher Frantz, David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth
Publisher: Warner Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

Brian has me wait at the hotel bar while he goes to wake up Landis. Several ladies of the night check me out before deciding I cannot afford them. My thousand franc wad of bank notes is burning up my wallet. No thanks, ladies. What price is enough for a night with a zombie?

Brian presently returns with a tall man too young be to be a director. I expected to be examined with a fine-tooth comb. Instead, he sits down and relaxes with me and Brian.

“I’m not really looking for a part in your vampire movie,” I start the conversation.

“You live with Freddie Mercury now?”

How does he know about my current life?

“We played the Casino on Saturday night as a Queen tribute band. The original members abandoned Freddie here. They showed up in a hurray after we got good reviews.”

“Can’t help yourself from kicking the hornet’s nest.”

“Yeah, seems natural. We’re playing with David Bowie at the Muslim Cultural Center on Friday after evening prayers.”

“You don’t remember your previous life?”

“I’m starting to be aware of certain things, like my parents and how we had issues as I grew up. I was told I was in the movie business, but honestly I don’t remember any of that.”

“Don’t you want to know?”

“Dr Jacques revived me. His opinion is I should find out about myself by living my life from scratch. He said trying to get back to my old life would mess me up.”

“Does Freddie know about your past? He paid to have you revived?”

“He has a file but after Brian told me I was a gay slut on the movie set, I decided I need to slowly figure out who I am now. I don’t have gay feelings. Maybe being in a coma repressed my sexuality.”

“Well, for me, sitting here with you after believing you died is extremely unsettling. My wife Debbie and I treated you as a son.”

“You are kind of young to have a teenage son.”

“None the less, your death was a terrible shock.”

“I died because I was reckless.”

“Yes. We felt we failed to protect you from yourself.”

“I’m sorry for putting you through that. You probably feel I’m being insincere when I really don’t remember what I need to apologize for.”

“Brian says you go by Laszlo now. Debbie and I would love to get to know Laz, the person you are now.”

He makes me want to trust him. I guess he is a great director. But there are so many holes in my story, I cannot spend time trying to fill them.

“Will you be staying in Montreux for a while?”

“This is work I am doing to develop the script for my next movie. I’d love to see what you are doing now, besides keeping Queen together.”

“Why not come to the Lake tomorrow. We running a swimming and singing camp between 10 and noon. We can go see Freddie from there.”

“Would you do me one favor?”

“Sure.” I do not hesitate to ask what.

“Speak with Debbie by phone in California. It’s nine hours earlier. We can call from right here.”

“My only worry is I can’t start reconnecting to my old life right now. Not until I understand myself better. Dr Jacques warned me not to try to meet other people’s expectations.”

“I just want her to know that you are alive and well. She has a weakness for mothering.”

“A little mothering will feel nice about now.”

Brian makes the call and Landis tells his wife to sit down and be prepared for a nice surprise.

“Hi, Debbie. I’m sorry I almost killed myself last year. John tells me you were really upset.”

There is silence on the line. Maybe there is a time lag between Europe and California.

“Tim?’ is her tentative response.

“I go by Laz, Laszlo, now. It’s a long story. I was revived two weeks ago. I remember nothing before then.”

“Oh, Tim. We thought you died. What happened?”

I start to cry and do not know why.

“Let John tell you,” I hand the phone back to Landis.

“We’re all overwhelmed. He is fine and doing great work with Freddie Mercury and David Bowie in Switzerland. He is working out who he is now without remembering anything. He has been performing and runs a music camp in the city of Montreux. I’m going in the morning.”

John listens while Debbie has her say.

“Just wait, Debbie. I know you need to see him but it has to be on his terms. He really is an adult now.

….

“Yes. He was always mature, but as a boy. Now he is working out what kind of an adult he is.”

….

“I’ll ask. And, it will be nice to have you here. But I am working and have to be in London for site work soon. Let me ask Tim, er Laz.”

“She insists she should come and ‘mother’ you. I can’t stop her, but she understands you are just finding your way now. Will you see her?”

“Of course. I need some feminine perspective. Everyone I’m with is male, even Bowie’s seven-year-old son.”

“Wowie Bowie?”

“He goes by Duncan Jones now.”

I get back on the phone.

“Please come. I want you to see how great I am doing, as well as how crazy my life is.”

And, I am crying again. Possibly tears of joy or just a dissociative fugue state. I give Landis the phone again.

“I’ll extend my time here. Send me the flight details. It’s after midnight here…Yes, I love you.. .., I love him, too…Good night.”

He looks at me. “Are you ready to be mothered?”

“She may be disappointed.”

“Tell me about the Muslim performance.”

“I’ll let David tell you tomorrow if you come to camp. He’s bringing Duncan, no longer Wowie, and is playing guitar during music lessons.  He’s planning on saving the world from the Arabs on fire. I’ve got to get back to the club. I’m driving.”

I get up and leave. Landis insists on a hug. I guess our past together was not so bad.

I walk back to Taboo. The Rolls is gone, so I walk to the Lake House. The house is dark. I go directly to Freddie’s room and climb into bed with him. I sling an arm around him and quickly go to sleep.

In the morning, I am up before Freddie. Jim and I again go for croissants and have our coffee on the pool deck.

“You disappeared quickly last night. Get picked up?” he is more than inquisitive.

“The same guy from Hollywood. My old boss is in Montreux. We woke him up. I even spoke with his wife in LA.”

“Well, your past is catching up with you.”

“Too quickly. Landis’ wife Debbie claims she was like a second mom to me and is coming here to rescue me.”

“From the gay life?”

“Not specifically. More from my not wanting to reconnect with everyone in my past.”

“Do you have time for your past?”

“Landis is coming to swim camp today. He may hang out here.”

“Well, that movie you made was far better than anything else coming out of Hollywood. He must be a good director.”

“Maybe he taught me something.”

“You are the Boss.”

At swim lessons, David shows up with Mike and Duncan. Amar foolishly let his sisters know that Bowie comes to swim camp. They insisted they come. The parents forbid them from wearing bathing suits in public. Somehow, they escape house arrest.

When David drives up and the three get out of his Aston Martin, Amar’s sisters cannot keep it together. They scream uncontrollably, acting like they are seeing the Beatles circa 1964.

It is not what David expected. He is not pleased.

“I’ll be at the Lake House. Make sure Duncan is watched. Those girls may attack him as well.”

Amar is chagrined and promptly sends the girls home, promising there will be retribution that night. Anyway, with Bowie gone, the sisters have no interest in swimming.

Landis and Brian witness the whole soap opera. They observe swim lessons but are soon bored. I walk over and give them directions to the Lake House.

“Ask for Jim. He is expecting you. We’ll be done here at noon.”

I gather everyone under a cypress tree.

“Well, that didn’t go well. It only takes a few people to ruin the best of plans. Bowie was here to show you how to play guitar. Obviously those girls only came to meet their idol and when he left, they were not interested in swimming. That kind of behavior will have the Gendarmes closing us down.”

“We’ll skip singing today and have races after lessons. Find your buddies from yesterday and get with your instructor. Each instructor will be captain of their team for the relays. Only those who have passed the test of swimming to the 50 meter mark and back will compete. It’s all for fun, so practice your front crawl stroke and those who have made it out and back will be on the relays. I will be working with the non-swimmers until we start the relays. There will be a reward for the relay teams that win the most races.”

We split into the groups by ability. I buddy with Mike; Amar has Duncan for a buddy. All four of us practice the exercises we learned previously. Duncan apparently never had swim lessons, but he is not afraid and keeps up with us. We stay in the shallow area near the lake’s edge.

About eleven o’clock I give Amar 40 francs and tell him to barter with the nearby pizza shop for as many pizzas as he can get. He runs off.

I have the instructors pair up with another team and we run four man relays. There is always an instructor at the 50 meter mark, to make sure the novice swimmers feel safe

Back at the Lake House, Jim brings John Landis to the pool deck where Freddie and David are having coffee.

“Laz told me that John was coming to meet with you about his medical progress since coming out of the coma,” Freddie notes.

“I was Laz’s boss on the movie ‘Animal House,’ until his surf accident.”

“I love that movie. You are a great Director.” David has already starred in several independent films.

“That is quite a compliment from you, having had Nicolas Roeg as Director in ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth.’

“Another Space role. I’m type-cast as Ziggy Stardust.’”

“I hoped to hear you play at the Lake this morning.”

“It got out of hand, with young girls faking Beatlemania. I was there to drop my son off for swim lessons.”

“Laz says you are playing at a Muslim Mosque on Friday.”

“I wrote a Turkish  reggae song while in Berlin. Two Sufi Dervishes will dance to it.”

“I love being in Europe. Hollywood can seem so mundane.”

“Tell us about working with Laz. He takes over projects here and makes them shine, except for his punk rock tendencies.”

“They call it ‘DIY,’ do it yourself. He came from Harvard to arrange the movie’s music. He created a Black soul band, turned my star into a Chicago Bluesman, and found a classical composer to use elements of Greek Opera for the soundtrack. He also beat down the head screenwriter who broke into my office. It was a non-stop coup.”

“We call him the Boss.”

“I think his secret is he is so young that he is fearless. He actually replaced Universal lawyers with a law firm from Miami so I had total control on the final cut.”

“My lawyer’s name is Miami Beach,” Freddie notes. “That name triggered a vague memory for Laz.”

“He really has no memory?”

“His conscious memory is dead and buried. Subconsciously he has all the talent to play and sing music, remember poetry and literature, and organize events,” Freddie relates. “He just starts speaking foreign languages until he is understood. He calls it New English.”

“Let’s not dissect him until he is here to defend himself.”  David stops the gossip. “Dr Jacques told you not to let him know too much about his prior life. He needs to plot his own future, not try to relive the past.”

“Do I need your approval, Freddie, for my wife and I to renew our relationship with Laz?” John asks.

“That’s his decision. Can you not talk too much about things he doesn’t remember? The doctor who brought him out of the coma thinks he needs to find his own way without trying to recover his past. All his friends and associates have had to move on anyway. It would only confuse him to try to reconnect.”

“He cried several times while speaking with my wife Debbie last night.”

‘He never cries or gets overly emotional here.”

“Crying was one of his odd habits before the coma.”

“He has a busy schedule even though he has only been here less than two weeks. Your wife may feel ignored after flying all the way from California.”

“I’m glad she’s coming. We plan to go to London next week. I’ll warn her not to get him crying again.”

“It probably confused him,” Freddie is a shrink.

“What’s the film project you’re working on now, John,” Bowie is always looking for a good script.

“It’s a werewolf comedy, not a drama. I call it ‘American Werewolf in London.’ It’s a horror film that’s frightening and funny. It won’t shoot until next winter at the earliest. I wrote the script ten years ago in Yugoslavia.”

Back at the Lake, the swim races are done. Amar negotiated for enough pizza that everyone gets some.

“Sorry about not singing today. What I had planned was a folk session where David Bowie would show you how folk music and rock are connected by a tradition of plagiarism.”

Everyone is too busy eating pizza to care. Once most everyone is finished, a group of the better singers (the Choir) ask me if they can sing a Bowie song since he was why they were excited to come today.

“Not for the swimming?” I joke. “What Bowie hit?”

“Space Oddity, of course.”

The countdown and other effects are done by one of the boys. The choir backs up all the vocals.

” And I’m floating in a most peculiar way (the kids mimic stroking backstroke like we practice on the beach)
And the stars look very different today
For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do”

Songwriters: David Bowie

Space Oddity lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management, Tintoretto Music

I love camp.

Mike, Amar, Duncan and I wander onto the Lake House pool’s deck where the adults are. We are chattering and laughing after a morning at the Lake. I’m pleased to see my old boss getting along so well with my new boss.

“Telling stories about me, John?”

“No one’s interested in your past, Laz.”

“John’s been talking about his new movie.”

“Auditioning for a role, David. I should be the star of American Zombie in Romania.”

“Yeah. I hope to be Dr. Frankenstein.”

“We’ll get Belushi to be Igor,” David adds.

“I’ll be Frankenfurter from ‘Rocky Horror,’ Freddie wants in.

Freddie and I sing the duet to audition for Landis.

‘Don’t get strung out by the way that I look
Don’t judge a book by its cover
I’m not much of a man by the light of day
But by night I’m one hell of a lover

I’m just a sweet transvestite
From Transexual, Transylvania, ha ha’

Songwriters: Richard O’Brien

Sweet Transvestite lyrics © Wixen Music Publishing

We dance and prance as Rocky and Brad around the deck to their delight. Freddie gives me a hickey. I look shocked.

Bowie plays Janet to my Brad,

‘I’ve one thing to say and that’s
Brad I’m mad for you too

Oh, Brad

Oh, dammit

I’m mad

Oh, Janet

For you

I love you too
There’s one thing left to do, and that’s

Go see the man who began it (Janet)
When we met in his science exam-it (Janet)
Made me give you the eye and then panic (Janet)
Now I’ve one thing to say and that’s
Dammit, Janet, I love you

Dammit, Janet

Oh Brad, I’m mad

Dammit Janet

I love you’

Songwriters: Richard O’Brien

Mike has grabbed Amar, holding his hands over Amar’s eyes’

“I know what a transvestite is,” Amar is indignant that we treat him like a kid. Duncan is dancing around by himself.

The Knobs have come out of their rooms to cheer us on. They applaud. I introduce them to Landis as Queen under-studies and sometimes roadies.

“Can we be in the movie, too, Mr. Director?” Billy gets on his knees.

“Only if there is a remake of ‘Rocky Horror,” John deflects the wannabee actors.

We settle into chaises and deck chairs at the shaded end of the pool.

Jim is at the grill – more Wimpy Burgers for the crew, beer for the adults and soda for the kids.

“Did you enjoy swim camp?” David asks his son.

“Yeah. Amar’s my buddy,” Duncan replies. “We watch out for deep water.”

“Was it fun?”

“Yeah, da. Can I come tomorrow? Everyone said you are going to show them how to be a rock n roller.”

“Sure,” Bowie is a good dad. “Will Amar still be your buddy?”

Duncan looks at Amar.

“Of course I will,” Amar grins, “unless my sisters make a fuss when I tell my dad what they did today at the Lake. He may ground all three of us.”

“Wanna see what I learned, da?” Duncan jumps into the pool. No fear in the Bowie-Jones family.

Amar gets in with him, holding him up on his back as he kicks and thrashes his arms.

Landis looks at his watch.

“Want to meet Debbie’s flight, Laz? It gets into Geneva soon.”

“Geneve, John. Geneve,” I correct him.

‘Yes, Boss.”

Everyone laughs. I turn around and wave at the group, my new life, and turn to go back with John to the old one. I am shocked to find I am crying again. Am I schizoid or what?

John notices the tears and gives me a hug.

“Your new family is pretty cool. The Knobs???”

“An English expression for a clueless twit,” I gulp and stop crying. “They were just the band’s roadies until I taught them to play and replace the original Queen members who wanted Freddie kicked out of the band.”

“What happened?”

“The original members came running once we played a show here in Montreux. Freddie took them back. They were beaten at their game of chicken. It is Freddie’s band now.”

“You taught them how to play in one week?”

“They already knew all the Queen songs. I just showed them they could do it.”

“The black kid looks familiar.”

“Don’t tell anyone because if the press finds out, it will ruin it. He’s Michael Jackson. After filming ‘The Wiz,’ he has been hiding from the Jackson 5 at David’s.”

“So, you are keeping Queen together while breaking up the Jackson 5?”

“Their dad, Joe Jackson, has been abusing them. Mike needs to be on his own. He and Amar are going to be the dancers on Friday at Bowie’s Muslim performance. You got to stay for that.”

“Are you performing?”

“I’m not Black enough. David is flying in the Turkish musicians he records with in Berlin. I’ll probably be the sound engineer and maybe play keyboards.”

John shakes his head. “You don’t miss any opportunity to be in the mix. That has not changed.”

“Thanks for refraining from speaking about my past. I’m not ready to give up my present for what I was then. Maybe in the future.”

“Well, hang on. I know Debbie. She’ll be unable to stop loving you even when you don’t remember her.”

“That’s her lookout.” Then I start crying again. What is wrong with me. Landis looks concerned

Casper shows up and punches me on the arm.

‘Stop being a sentimental fool.’

He leaves.

“If this gets to be too much, I’ll bring you right back to Freddie’s. Debbie’s sure to make a scene, but it is only because she misses you so much. It’s sad but everyone gave up on you. You have every right to create your new life.”

“I just don’t know who I really am yet. What do I do when someone loves me but I don’t really know them?”

“Those who really love you will understand. They will give you time. Give them the chance. You are one of the strongest people I know. You survived death!”

“I was a fool to die. I won’t get fooled again.”

Oops, time for a song, right in the middle of the Aeroport Geneve.

‘I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that’s all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain’t changed
‘Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war

Songwriters: Peter Dennis Blandfor Townshend / Lawrence Andrew Ball

Won’t Get Fooled Again lyrics © Spirit Music Group, BMG Rights Management

The song goes on forever. A woman comes running at me, just as I sing,

“I won’t get fooled again.’”

She grabs me, hanging on forever, “You fooled us. I knew it. How could you?”

She lets go and grabs John, sobbing, “He doesn’t know me.”

“He’s the new boss. Get used to it. I think he’s a new and improved model.”

“Oh, John, how can he not know me.”

“Calm down. He hasn’t changed.”

I keep singing,

‘Yeah
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss’

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