7 – Blog 02 – Amnesia II

A night of being chased by a hoard of gay hustlers through the streets of Montreux proves that Freddie Mercury is always a draw. His roadies/hustlers and I attempt to convince him we will revive what I call the now defunct Queen band, citing the defection of the current band members to London.

“There’s no Queen without you, Freddie,” I remind him. “Those guys are just dressed-up monkeys with long hair.”

“Reid tried to get me to go solo. I refuse to break up the band.”

“Forget Reid. We’ll get those monkeys begging to be taken back once they find out they’ve been replaced.”

“So, you learn to play their parts. but step away once the ‘boys’ are back?”

“We’ll always be roadies It gives you an option. I know you’re a control freak since you won’t show me my file. With us to step in at any time, you’ll have total control.’

Freddie thinks about it, for about a second, then smiles deviously.

“You’re right, I’ll teach ‘em a lesson they’ll never forget. I’ll get the Festival to headline Queen,” he crows.  “We’ll ‘Smoke’ Montreux ‘on the Water.’”

Our night on the town ends in the music studio at home, figuring out who can play which instrument in what we call a Queen tribute band. My one lesson on learning guitar with Billy has him claiming to be Brian May if only John Deacon and Roger Taylor return. With no memory I can be Deacon. Bass players have no ego, or in the realm of rock n roll, no super ego. The others, Jock, Tommy & Steve, fight over who is going to drum. Drummers need not be musically gifted, just able to keep the beat going.

“Hell, Freddie, let’s have three drummers. You’ll have to sing really loud to be heard.”

“So, you’re punishing me for being the only real rocker.”

“No, you love being challenged. Keeps you from getting fat.”

He gives me a mean look and sings, “Somebody to love.”

We all rush over and back him up. He looks smugly superior and really happy.

“See. We are already more fun than those dancing bears who think they are irreplaceable,” I kiss him on the cheek.

The rest yell, “Yeah.”

Rock n roll is never so gay. We calm down after everyone kisses Freddie.

“Don’t tell Mary this ever happened,” Freddie warns us.

“Will it be news to Mary when we perform like this on stage?” I ask.

“She understands.”

“Just give her cuddle, Freddie.”

“Just nothing below the waist.”

“And, nothing below the waist for you sluts,” Freddie slaps Billy on the butt.

We all line up for butt slaps. Rehearsal is raunchy chaos. They all have hard-ons.

“No hard-ons on stage,” is the second rule of performance.

Billy grabs a guitar to cover his excitement and rips into Bohemian Rhapsody. It is the only song he knows.

“Teach me more songs,” Billy orders me.

I pick up the bass and start playing ‘Champions.’ It is slower. Billy easily follows the chord changes.

“Now, create leads as I repeat the chords,” I instruct.

Billy looks confused. Maybe Brian May will get to keep his job .

“You know how the song goes, right?”

“Yeah, but how do I learn Brian’s leads?”

“Don’t try to be Brian. Listen to how I make the chord change at the end of the chorus ‘…Champions, my friends’ and make it fly away,” as I drop down to the G string on the bass and warp the sound into the stratosphere.

Billy uses the guitar’s ‘wah wah’ bar to sound more like Hendrix. Freddie jumps up and humps Billy while he flies to psychedelic heaven. The drummers keep up the beat on snare/high hat, bongos, and a gong. It goes on for at least 30 seconds. We dissolve into hysterics, flopping around on the ground.

“That’s lesson two,” I finally can speak as we all giggle.

We run through all the old Queen hits. Everyone knows them intimately from loving the band forever. I continue to play bass on just the top E & A strings so Billy can follow me until he wah wahs the chorus endings.

I notice that Jock is singing along as he slaps the bongos. He has a sweet voice.

“How come you sing so good?” I ask.

“I’m Keltic,” he claims. “These English gutter snipes can’t hold a tune.”

“Here,” I hand him the bass. “Try playing and singing.”

“How do I know the notes?”

“Just listen to yourself. If it doesn’t sound sweet, it isn’t the right note. Watch Billy for changes. It has to create a harmonic to harmonize. If you hit the wrong note, just dampen the strings until you know where to come back in.”

How do I know these things when I cannot even remember my own name? I guess there are different types of memories. Music is something you do not forget.

As we work our way through all the Queen hits. I sit at the piano and start the intro to ‘You’re My Best Friend.’ How do I know how to play piano. It feels like my fingers just know. I am inspired, by the spirit of rock n roll. Freddie sits next to me; we do a duet, singing ‘You’re my Best Friend’ to each other.

‘I’m happy, happy at home
You’re my best friend
Oh
Oh, you’re my best friend
Ooh, you make me live
Ooh, you’re my best friend

John Deacon, for his wife Veronica

Later in this practice session Freddie gets bored and disappears, off to bed. It is about 2 am. Rock n Roll never sleeps. With Jock on bass, I sit at the piano and solo several times where Freddie usually takes the spotlight. My fingers keep looking for keys that don’t exist.

“You’re playing piano, not the MOOG,” the spirit in my head informs me.

“You’re back,” I silently welcome the voice in my head.

“I never left. I just speak to you when you act helpless.”

“My own Personal Jesus.”

“You call me Teen Jesus.”

“I’m religious?”

“You mock the faith. The Church has turned its back on kids.”

“Jesus said, ‘Suffer the children.’

“They changed it to ‘Make the children suffer.’”

“I’m calling you Rockin’ Jesus.”

“Like Real Jesus, I suffered, died and went to heaven.”

“Yeah. Rock n Roll Heaven.

“Yeah. I’m up here with Elvis.”

“Elvis died?”

“Yeah. Sitting on the toilet last summer. Where have you been? It was big news.”

“He gained a lot of weight after Kung Foo Elvis.”

“Not everyone gets to choose how they go out.”

“What do you think of my new band, Queen II?”

“1978’s most likely to be sued band.”

“Not if we lure the real members of Queen back. Freddie’s all alone here in Montreux.”

“Freddie? You are the star fucker.”

“He’s really sweet.”

“That’s another band.”

“Yeah, English poofters.”

“Not so enamored of the gay life?”

“Was I ever?”

“Have you lost your mind?”

“Just my memory.”

“Do you know who I am.”

“Yeah, the spirit of rock n roll.”

” Cool.  We’ll leave it at that.”

 He is no longer in my head.

“Wait. Don’t leave me.”

“I’m always in your heart. All you need to do is need me. But I’m busy. I have others who need me as well.”

“You’re a guardian angel?”

“Exactly.”

“Can you tell me what I was like before the accident? I don’t even know my name.”

“You had several names.”

“What about my band.”

“I agree with Doctor Jacques. You need to make new memories, no living in the past.”

“Will you help the others learn to play the Queen songs.”

“That’s my job.”

“Thanks.”

I can feel him fade away. I figure, ‘Who needs a past. I’m Queen to King Farouk.’

In the morning, Freddie is all energy, excited that we are going to Chillon Castle.

The others are barely awake. Coffee helps. I demand croissants, embracing the Continental breakfast. Billy tells me to cool it and stop being a tourist.

“I am a tourist.”

I thought you were Freddie’s slave.”

“That’s just my job. If King Farouk wants croissants, I’ll run down to the patisserie. Show me the way.”

Another chance to sing (for my meal): ‘Frampton Comes Alive’

“Oh, gawd,” Freddie complains. “Are you going to sing all the time?”

“You bought me to entertain you. Shut up and make coffee. We’ll be back in a jif.”

Croissants are the French wonder food, still warm from the oven when we return. The coffee revives the others. Jock wants to get back to the studio and practice more. Scottish work ethic runs deep.

“We are going to Chillon. You need discipline and a little torture will help your playing. You guys lack soul,” Freddie has plans.

“How much will you pay us to perform?”  Tommy is all about the bucks.

“Learn to play first. I have no clue about the pay.”

“Let’s go to the Casino and negotiate a performance fee for the festival. The Beatles have been promised a million bucks for a reunion show. A Queen reunion should be worth that much,” I calculate.

“We only broke up last week,” Freddie notes.

“Time to strike while the iron is hot,” I am so cliché.

We march into the Casino and are directed to manager Claude Nobs’ office. Freddie is given the royal treatment. They know a Queen performance will make them big bucks. Brian and the boys have been making a fuss in the British music press, complaining about Freddie’s ego.

“They’re right,” he admits. “I don’t need them.”

I whisper that he needs to keep that opinion to himself, if we want the big bucks to play the festival. “No one will pay to see King Farouk and the Pussy Boys.”

“Okay. We’ll sign on as Freddie Mercury. If or when we get the band back together, we want 500,000 Swiss Francs to play the festival. Just assign a publicist to work with us to build excitement for this summer,” Freddie informs the Casino director, Claude.

“You need your manager, Jim Reid, to negotiate any contracts,” Claude deflects Freddie’s direct approach.

“I refuse to speak with Reid. He wants me to break up the band and go solo.”

“You need a lawyer, Freddie,” Claude continues to refuse to negotiate. “Try Jim Beach. He’s local.

“You mean Miami Beach. I’ll contact you after we deal with Reid. I heard he is stealing millions from Elton.”

“I’m not getting into the middle of that dispute.”

“Just sign an agreement to book us to the Festival. We’ll negotiate the details later.

We walk out with a freshly signed non-contract. Time for torture.

Chillon is 10 kilometers south of Montreux on a narrow strip of land between the Swiss Alps and Lake Geneva. In Medieval times it was a toll house, the only way to the Rhone Valley, west along Lake Geneva. Battles were fought for the right to pass. The castle is a fortress that could not be breached. Its history during the Inquisition excites Freddie. We take the ferry from Montreux to Chillon.

I sing ‘Ferry ‘cross the Mersey’, claiming we are a new English Invasion band.

“Always singing like ya got a bird up yer arse.,” Billy complains

I sing Herman’s Hermits ‘Something Tells Me I’m in for Something Good.’

The Swiss ferry system is not up to date. We must sit on deck.

I keep singing 60’s oldies. The other passengers recognize Freddie and mistake us for the other Queen musicians.

“See. We’re on the road to fame and fortune.”

The boys beam at the thoughts of how they will spend the money we make. Freddie is not amused, but signs autographs for the tourists.

“I need a beer,” he complains. The star-struck tourists rush inside and return with beers for the band.

Upon landing we troop up the hill toward the castle. Freddie drags all of us into the loo and makes us all don harlequin jerseys and black tights, causing embarrassed complaints. He also has juggling balls.

“You all need to tumble and flip into the air while I juggle these balls.” Freddie competently has three then four balls in the air simultaneously. A man of multi-talents.

We rush to the head of the crowd coming from the ferry into the courtyard in front of the castle’s gate. We lead the tourists inside, tumbling and doing flips while Freddie has his balls in the air. Poor Jock keeps back, embarrassed wearing tights in public . Once inside we stop and bow to the crowd. Jock lays his cap on the ground, expecting tips for the tumbling performance. The tourists hustle by, looking away from the cap.

“Do they have stocks where disbelievers are locked up and mocked?” I ask.

“Little do ya know, Yank, about real torture. Nothing as mild as Puritan public humiliation here. We know how to torture our enemies,” Freddie is in his element – drama queen for life.

“Oh, Mighty Farouk, I am your eternal prisoner.” I kneel in the courtyard beyond the gate. Another 60’s song comes to mind, as I swear my devotion to our King Farouk, ‘I’ll Never Find Another You’.

We forgo the tour about life in the Middle Ages and go directly to the dungeons. There are many.

“Where are the instruments of torture,” Jock is a dour Scot.

Next we go to the cellar of the castle where there is a large dining room.

Not for the prisoners,” our guide tells us. “They will die anyway.”

A guide takes us to the torture cells.“The only point of torturing them is to make their deaths unbearable.”

“What if they recant their devilish ways?” Freddie pointedly asks.

“Too late. There was no forgiveness during the Inquisition.”

It was a grim life with no hope of redemption. We reflect on our sinful ways. Or, for me, the assumption I have been a sinner who does not remember how, when or why.

The next room has manacles attached to the walls.

Once the guide has turned away, we hook Jock up and pretend to beat him. He squirms but when we try to unlock the wrists cuffs, they will not release.

We try without success to unlock him. Our joke is no longer funny. Jock struggles but the cuffs only tighten more.

About five minutes later, the guide returns. He has a key to release the chained Jock.

“Vous n’etes pas le seuls à vous enfermer,” he smiles wickedly.

Hah,” Freddie points at Jock. “God knows your sins and is taking his revenge.”

I grab a long iron prong and pretend to attack Jock. Rescuers rush in to save their coworker. We are ejected for abusing the staff. The Swiss have little tolerance for rowdy tourists and no sense of humor.

Enough tourist distraction. We ride the ferry back to Montreux and grab a taxi home.

Jock is ready to continue practicing our new roles as the Pussy boys. Freddie relaxes in the corner until he can no longer stand our amateur musical skills. We are still learning the songs, not ready to play together as a band. We sound horrid but Jock refuses to let us quit until we can at least play one song together. He choses “Bicycles’ which no one likes but at least is simple.

I find an old bike in the shed and ride around the studio, singing ‘I want to ride my bicycle.’

The song ends as a mashup of Brian May leads, with call and answer guitar riffs. I get too excited and crash through the door and land on top of King F reclining by the pool.

 He jumps up and chases me back into the studio. I sit at the piano and beg the Spirit of RnR to help me play ‘Somebody to Love.’ Freddie cannot help himself from singing the lyrics while I pound the piano and the Pussy Boys back up Freddie on vocals. Having Freddie singing with us ups everyone’s game. We sound pretty good for once.

At the ending, we all hug Freddie. I feel that we are actually a band for the first time.

Time to party. Back to le Museum we go. There is actually a crowd by the door. We haven’t made a reservation. As we depart the taxi. A cheer goes up and the crowd of young fans surrounds us. Our frenemy the Maitre’d rushes up.

“Dieu merci, vous etes revenue. They have camped out here since the paper said you sang here last night. Please come inside. I have table pour vous.”

He even speaks English to us now.

Freddie answers, “If they are camped here, I must camp it up.”

He starts to sing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,” with the four of us backing him up.

By the second verse all the fans are singing along. We bow and rush inside the restaurant. The fans disperse throughout the plaza in front of le Museum.

No longer relegated to the kitchen table, we are feted with the elaborate prix fixe menu. We promise to eat here often. Even the wine is premium. I may give up beer.

Hours later we leave to find many fans waiting and hoping for another song. Freddie spots a bicycle, grabbing it from a stunned fan and circles the plaza, never missing a note.

Four young ladies strip naked and bike with him around the plaza. It is time to go. We jump in a cab and depart. The Maitre’d waves from the restaurant door. He pleads for our return. What better way to promote headlining at the Montreux Music Festival?

Jock is so excited by our first ‘performance’ that he insists we continue learning how to play our instruments. The dour Scot actually smiles as we set up in the studio. Freddie announces he does not need to learn anything more and retires for the night. I secretly am glad to see him leave and sit at the piano. The spirit of RnR whispers that we need to have a MOOG.

“Listen, Spirity, Freddie plays the piano. Why would he buy a MOOG?”

“All the more reason to add another keyboard. What will you play when he sits at the piano?”

That is a conundrum. No need to worry about it as the Pussy Boys are still a long way from proficiency on their instruments. We also need a second set of drums, as Tommy and Steve learn to keep the beat together. Bongos cannot compete with a full drum set. Jock has become comfortable on bass and sings backup to my counterfeit Freddie Mercury vocals. It goes on for hours, especially after Billy retrieves a bong from his room. I refrain from going mindless, still worrying that being revived from the dead is only a dream.

It is about 4 am when we finally quit. Billy leads me to his room.

“Let’s sleep together,” he coyly suggests.

“Um, I am saving myself for King Farrok,” I demur.

“You don’t seem totally gay, like the rest of us.”

“You mean like a gay slut?”

“Why be gay and not slut around?” Billy’s logic explains all.

“AIDS?”

“What’s that.” It is 1979 and Billy barely can read.

“A reason to not slut around,” the voice in my head knows the score.

“We’ll just sleep together. I promise,” the desperation of a true roadie.

We snuggle in together and pretend to sleep. I lay on my side, facing the wall. Billy sleeps on his back for the minimum amount of time for me to be convinced we are not doing it. Rolling over and draping his arm around me, I feel his raging protuberance expand against my butt. I give it a hard whack with the back of my hand. Billy scoots away. Slowly he creeps back to my side of the bed. I roll him so we are butt to butt. Billy sighs and relaxes. Soon I feel his butt clunching as he involuntarily cums. So much for the excitement of gay sex. Billy’s hormones expended, we both fall asleep.

Practicing all night is not conducive to rising early in the morning. I stumble into the kitchen and ask Billy to come with me to buy croissants.

“Wait until Freddie gets off the phone. Queen’s manager has been yelling at him for 30 minutes,” Billy is in the know. “John Reid is a twat.”

I guess Reid is the manager. “Does Reid side with Brian May and the others in the current dispute?” I ask.

“Naw. Reid is Elton’s manager and boyfriend.  Brian liked Norman, the original manager and head of Trident Studios. He thought ‘Bohemian Rapsody’ was too long for radio play.”

“Like the Trident Submarine?” I ask.

“The military complex is another industry. No gays there.”

That sparks a memory. “My dad’s in the military,” I reveal.

“You’re full of surprises, Yank,” Jock pipes up with his tuppence opinion.

“Queen left Trident when they didn’t support ‘Night at the Opera,” Billy knows the history.

At this point, Freddie rushes in, looking angry and flushed.

“Who suggested we sign a contract with the Montreux Music Festival?” he demands.

Everyone points at me.

“It was just to get your boys back here,” I defend my management decision. When did I get to be Queen’s manager?

“They’re suing me now and threatening to kick me out of the band,” Freddie feels attacked.

“What are they going to do, hold auditions on American Idol and replace you? You are Queen. Not those dancing bears,” I defend my Dr Frankenstein.

“Reid screamed at me. What can I do? He’s the manager.”

“Fire him, like you did Sheffield,” Billy demands. “Why did you hire him in the first place?”

“It was Elton’s suggestion,” Freddie shrugs.

“Well, that means you’ll always play second fiddle to Elton. Not the best management decision,” I speak like a music business guru. Somehow Elton strikes a chord in my defective memory.

“Elton’s cool.”

“We call him Reg,”

“Whatever.”

“What about Miami Beach?” Billy asks.

That strikes another memory chord. “I lived in Miami,” I pipe up.

“Not Florida,” Freddie laughs. “Our lawyer, Miami Beach. I called him that when we fired Norman Sheffield for refusing to record ‘Night at the Opera. His first name is Jim.”

“Hey. He lives in Montreux,” Billy knows. “Get him over here.”

“Whose boyfriend is he? David Bowie’s?”

They ignore me and rush into the office to call ‘Miami’ Beach. At least I now remember my dad and living in Florida. Sounds cool. And why do I know Elton John? No answers to all these questions. It makes me so sad that I have no idea about who I am. The Spirit of Rock n Roll appears.

“You called master?”

 At least someone cares.

“Listen, Yank. You’re on your own here. Free to be whoever you want to be. Don’t blow it. It’s a chance to be really cool.”

“Okay, Spirity. I guess I don’t need you if you won’t even tell me my name.”

“They call you Yank here.”

” That’s not helpful.”

“My expertise is teaching the willing to play rock and roll. Your job is to become the person you are supposed to be, not the person who killed himself.”

“I committed suicide?”

“No. You were reckless and met an untimely death.”

“What about my old friends? All I have now are Pussy Boys and their egotistical minder.”

“You’ll make friends. Concentrate on making the new band capable of playing Montreux in a couple of months.”

Freddie and the gang return, excited about the turn of events.

“We’re meeting Miami Beach at the Casino,” Billy tells me. “Be ready to explain how we plan to replace all the instrumentalists in Queen.”

“They’re not so instrumental now,” I crow.

“Yeah.” “Right,” they all agree.

Freddie loves the drama. His loyalty to Brian and the boys does not run deep. I will remember that. ‘Music is no business for kids,’ bubbles up from somewhere in my past. These memories remain like single pieces in a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. I need to separate the leaves from the trees. Was I always so cliché?

“I am Cliché. I am Cliché” I sing and bounce around the kitchen.

The Pussy Boys are amused. King Farrok is not ready to embrace Punk Rock.

“Stop. Calm down,” he orders.

“I need my daily croissant,” I demand.

“We’re going to the Casino to meet Claude Nobs. I’m sure they’ll have croissants.”

“Nobs?” I explode. “We’re all nobs,” I giggle.

“What part of a rich toff are you?” Billy joins in giggling.

“No, knob. Like the tip of my dick,” I grab myself through my jeans. “That can be the name of the band. Queen 2 is too obvious.”

“Yeah. Freddie and the Nobs,” Billy is totally into it.

“Who is this Claude Nobs?” I ask.

“He is the Festival founder and boss.”

“I thought we already signed our contract.”

“Miami Beach says we need to renegotiate.”

“And, who’s Miami?”

“He’s my lawyer. He got us out from under Trident,” Freddie explains.

“The nuclear sub. Were you swimming in the wrong place?” I crack.

“Just keep your mouth shut while we deal with the money people.”

“Better buy me more croissants then.”

“Shut up and stay shut. You’re the one that got me to sign the contract in the first place.”

“Look before you leap,” I advise him a little late.

Soon we are sitting with Claude Nobs at the Casino, waiting for Miami Beach.

“Can I get you boys anything,” Claude asks. His mistake.

“Croissants,” we all yell, except Freddie who just looks embarrassed.

Soon a platter of the French super food arrives. I am too shy to ask for butter and jam.

Claude smirks as we make fools of ourselves with crumbs flying around our chairs.

“You’re telling me that this is the new Queen?” Claude addresses Freddie.

“We changed it to Freddie and the Nobs in your honor,” Billy pipes up.

Claude is somewhat unnerved by this development.

“I thought we signed Queen?”

“I just signed the contract in my name.”

“Well, you are Queen.”

“Tell that to Brian May and the others.”

“You broke up?”

“No. They left Montreux in a huff, so I put together replacements. They’ll run back here once they see the light. They’re acting stupid.”

“Well, I know Freddie and the Nobs will not be as good a draw.”

“Get us a publicist. We already played at le Museum a couple of nights ago.”

“You played in a restaurant?”

“No. we ate there and came outside to a crowd who learned we were there. We did “Bicycles’ with Freddie singing while he rode around the plaza with naked ladies chasing him.”

Claude is non-plussed at this news. “You’re right. You need a PR man to keep you from getting arrested. I sent out a press release that Queen is headlining this year.”

“That’s what got the boys’ attention,” Freddie surmises.

At this point Miami Beach arrives, wondering why five pussy boys are sitting with his star client.

“Freddie, you need to clean up your act,” Miami sweeps his hand at all five of us.

“This is my new band, Freddie and the Nobs. Claude is playing tambourine.”

I start singing Mr. Tambourine Man, directly at Claude. Somehow there is a harmonica in my back pocket to accompany myself.

Claude shakes his head. “This is not going as I thought. Is Queen playing Montreux? The Freddie Mercury band is not getting 500,000 francs even if I’m in the band.”

“Sounds like we need to clear up the Queen break-up issue first,” Miami is all business.

“As I said. Get me a PR hack and let the press know the new band is already playing in the streets of Montreux. If Brian and the boys don’t show, I can fire them. If they show, they can win back their places in the band. If not, we’ll renegotiate.”

“Isn’t that what we are doing right now?” Claude gets down to facts. 

He picks up the phone and orders his secretary to have the Casino publicist meet us at the restaurant.

“More croissants,” I shout.

“Get out of here before I lose my sense of humor,” Claude dismisses us.

Freddie turns to Miami, “You two figure it out. We’ll wait for you in the restaurant.”

We troop out of Claude’s office, with Freddie shaking his head. He really does not care, while we are all having a great time. Rock n Roll is so fun.

We do not have more croissants, just coffee. Miami appears with a serious looking middle-aged man who is introduced as Henri.

“Bon jour, Henri,” we welcome him.

“Merci, nous parlons en francais maintenant?”

“Pardonnez-nous notre francais,” I excuse our Anglo inadequacies,

“That’s okay. We will need to work with the English press and their horrid tabloids.”

“Humanoids in the tabloids.”

“Be careful about what you ask for.”

“Oui, Henri. Mon ami.”

Everyone laughs at me, the goofball.

“Tell me about cette performance a le Museum.”

“We ate there but when Yank decided to sing for his supper, they quickly got us through the meal and hustled out the door.”

“His name is Yank?”

“He doesn’t know his name. Seriously. So, we named him Yank.”

“Like ‘yank my chord,’” I explain.

Billy decides to grab my crotch. Henri looks horrified, as do I.

Miami addresses Freddie, “Get your boys to behave. The Swiss have no sense of humor.” 

“They don’t listen to me,” Freddie shrugs.

“At least we’re fun,” I apologize.

“Fun? Punk rock scum,” Billy thinks he is Shakespeare.

Henri turns away from us and addresses Freddie (he knows where his bread is buttered), “I think we need to be all on the same page. Claude rejects being in the band.”

“I knew he’d be a nob,” Freddie states.

“Let’s get past the name issue. We can refer to the Nobs as just a rumor.”

“What should we do?”

“Playing in the streets will get you attention but it seems like desperation about your band mates deserting you.”

“I want them to get back here and be a band again.”

“They just sic’d a lawyer on Claude’s case for booking Queen without their approval.”

“They’re lazy cunts.”

“So, this is all a publicity stunt to get their attention?”

“Yeah, but I’m ready to fire them and just be Queen with my new mates.”

“That’s us,“ Billy interjects, ‘the Queensmates.”

Henri looks dismayed.

“We need to play to an audience if we’re going to improve. How about some small club gigs here in Montreux?” I change the subject. I wonder if they just see me as another drama queen.

“Queen is a stadium act. Small and intimate will sound pitiful. What instrument do you play, Yank?”

“I teach these pussy boys how to play rock.”

“Like Malcolm McLaren, just the manager?”

“I’m the Spirit of Rock n Roll.”

‘No you’re not,’ the voice in my head yells.

“Why don’t we go to Freddie’s, and you show me what this act is all about.”

No more croissants.

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