7 – Blog 03 – The Thin White Duke

Our showcase for Henri is a shambles. It is the first time we try to play our instruments together in some semblance of a band. Freddie has no patience after we fail to stay on the beat, which is a hodgepodge of Tommy on the drums and Steve on bongos.

“We’re better a Capella,” I assert. “Freddie, you take the lead and we’ll come in to back you up. We’ll do ‘Keep Yourself Alive’, your first hit.”

We dance around Freddie as Steve hits the bongos. We all sing the chorus while Freddie sings. It sounds pretty good. At least we know the song, Queen groupies for life.

“That’s better,” Henri approves. “But we’re not booking a Capella groups to the Festival.”

“We’ll work on the instruments. It really helps to get out there and play for an audience. We won’t call ourselves Queen, unless the lads in London never show up,” I decide.

“Yeah, Freddie and the Knobs, with a ‘K.’” Billy shouts.

“Claude won’t see that as any different.”

“We’ll just do pop-up performances locally. You can deal with the press about whether Claude’s in the band,” Freddie decides.

“Any publicity is good publicity,” Billy is the PR expert.

At that point, Freddie goes to field a call from London. That should get the boys in London going.

Henri promises to get the press there once we arrange a pop-up.

With Freddie and our minder gone, we settle down to practice our instruments. A delivery truck showed up while we were at the Casino with additional gear for the Knobs – a full Pearl drum set (Steve can turn in his bongos) and a new MOOG for me. I hook up the MOOG and Spirity shows me the many instruments I can electronically reproduce by switching modes and twisting dials. Billy solos his own Brian May riffs. I repeat them. Billy plays the intro to “You’re my Best Friend.”

I play it back to him singing, “Ew, you’re makin’ me live, now honey.” The boys alternate the simple, slow beat on drums, both singing ‘happy to go on.’

At the end Billy leans over and kisses me. That is a surprise.

The drumming stops. My eyes are as wide open as silver dollars.

“Hell, Yank, if ya ain’t gay, you’re the only one.”

“Freddie’s married,” I observe.

“Whatever,” Jock smiles.

Spirity tells me to kiss him back.

“No way,” I speak out loud.

“You’re not gay, Yank?”

“I don’t remember. The Spirit of Rock n Roll just told me to kiss Billy back.”

“You don’t know if you’re gay?”

“I don’t know anything.  Remember, I lost my memory.”

“You don’t have to be gay. We like ya just the way you are, Yank.”

Maybe a song will satisfy Billy and I play the Billy Joel song, ‘Just the Way You Are.’ The Moog sounds just like a saxophone, while I sing..

Jock knows the bass lines, Steve and Tommy lay down the beat.  Billy smiles at me before he counterpoints my chords. Freddie walks in as we actually make the song work.

“I love you just the way you are,” he claps and we all hug him, even me, the suspiciously non-gay.

“Why are you playing that old Billy Joel song?”

“Billy kissed Yank.”

“Billy Joel kissed Yank? When did that happen? Another fake memory?”

“No, I kissed him after we played ‘You’re My Best Friend,’” Billy corrects Freddie.

“Hey Yank, can you play this oldie, (Don’t You Want) Somebody to Love,’ Freddie rips into the Jefferson Airplane song.

They treat you like a guest,’ he finishes the oldie.

I feel like a guest. I stand up and kiss Billy. It is not unpleasant.

Freddie notices the Moog for the first time. I had set the tone and sound to mimic a saxophone. Freddie tries out a few notes, the opening to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’

“That sucks,” he complains, moving over to the piano, his instrument of choice. I switch the MOOG settings for bass guitar, playing single notes to Freddie’s piano melody. Jock cames over and matches my notes on his bass. I switch to the rhythm box to hold Jock and Freddie to a steady beat. Steve and Tommy are soon dueling high hat and snare beats. I turn off the MOOG and contemplate how easy it was to get everyone on the same page. Billy grabs his guitar and riffs the end of each line. I set the MOOG for Carillon bells in sync with the rhythm box. I stand behind Freddie at the piano and start the vocals off, ‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?’ I sit next to him on the piano bench, singing in his ear.

Freddie gets distracted, moving away and taking over the singing. I slide over and play the piano part. The performance is seamless. I have played every instrument, as well as singing. The boys embrace their roles. We are a full band.

Freddie stops us and runs into the sound booth to make sure the tape machine is recording.

“Okay, from the top,” he conducts us. “One two three four.”

Nobody knows where to start. It is a shambles again. Freddie is pulling his hair out.

“It was so good the first time. Why can’t we do it again?”

“We need the MOOG to show us when to come in,” Jock knows my secret.

“Yank, get back on the MOOG and don’t be showing me up,” Freddie orders.

I secretly smile but quickly do as told. I riff on the opening lyrics, ‘Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?’

Freddie takes over the singing,

 ‘Caught in a landside,
No escape from reality
Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see..’

Jock plays the bass parts as Freddie sings and plays the piano. Billy strums rhythm guitar, then rocks out on the chorus. Tommy and Steve are the foundation of the rhythm while I get the bells ringing from the MOOG. We keep it together.  The boys have dreamed for years of doing this song with Freddie. After we finish, we all run into the sound booth to hear the replay.

“Why were you all so lame when you tried to do this song for Henri?” Freddie needs to know.

We all just shrug.

“And who ordered the extra equipment. The MOOG is just a cheap electronic piano.”

“I talked to Jim in the kitchen before we left for the Casino. Everything arrived before we got back. Who is he anyway?”

The boys seem uncomfortable and look away. I am in the dark about Jim.

“I just say he’s my personal assistant,” Freddie explains.

The boys snicker.

“Oh,” I drop my questions. Whatever is up, I am not on the ‘need to know’ list.

Freddie states that his London call did not go well. Queen’s manager, Jim Reid, is siding with the other band members and told Freddie he needs to meet them there.

“It’ll cost me millions in taxes if I return to England,” Freddie reveals what rock n roll is all about.

I have a brain fart.,“Send them what we recorded today to prove you don’t need them dancing bears.”

“That’ll wake ‘em up,” Billy snorts.

“That’s just a rehearsal tape. As good as you think it sounds, it’s not professional.”

“We need to perform it live,” I suggest, “another pop-up performance. We’ll call it ‘Live in Montreux.’”

Freddie shrugs, “Why not? But we need a real audience. There were only a couple of dozen fans last night.”

“We’ll do it at Taboo, on Saturday night. The place will be packed. We’ll call it ‘Saturday Night Live in Montreux.”

He walks out to call Henri so the press will be there.

The boys look a bit overwhelmed that we will be performing as a complete band. A Capella is one thing. They have been singing Queen songs all their lives.

“Get over your stage fright. We’ll all be together. If one of us screws up, I’ll be on the MOOG to fill in. Just remember, never stop playing. We need a sound man to mix it. They’ll be able to make us sound great. Perfection is not what ‘live’ means. The fans will be crazed that Freddie is singing and playing for them. The noise will cover up any individual mistakes.”

“But what if it sounds like shite?” Tommy is the naysayer.

“Well, remember we only need one drummer.”

”Great. More pressure.”

I sing Toots & the Mayals ‘Pressure Drop.”

‘It is you (oh yeah)
It is you, you (oh yeah)
It is you (oh yeah)’

I say a pressure drop, oh pressure
Oh yeah, pressure drop a drop on you

I set the MOOG to Reggae and we all come in without missing a beat. We all sing along but only know the chorus. Billy runs into the sound booth to make sure we recorded it. We have our first hit, only to learn later that the Clash beat us to it. Anyway, without Freddie, we are just nobs.

“We need a sound engineer,” I declare. “Anyone know where to find one?”

They all look at each other and are clueless.

“Just someone who has musical talent?”

Again, they shrug.

Billy sheepishly says, “Well, there’s David?”

“Well, call him up.” I am in director mode.

“We have to go up there. The phones are screened in London.”

“Well, let’s go. Is it far?”

“No, but it is a castle. You can’t just show up.”

“What is he, a rich bugger? Get Freddie to go with us. He’ll get us past the moat.”

“There’s no moat but they will let Freddie in.”

“Whatever. We need a sound man,” I argue.

Freddie agrees to visit the mysterious ‘David’ in order to convince him to help the Knobs as sound engineer for our impromptu gigs on the streets of Montreux.

“Of course, he’ll just insinuate himself into the show,” Freddie worries.

“I’ll let him play keyboard on the MOOG once the band is in synch,” I suggest.

“That damn MOOG again,” Freddie is no fan.

“It keeps everyone on the same page,” I contend. “And it allows me to play sax or any instrument you want to mix in.”

“If you like saxophones,” he mocks me.

“I can do anything,” I brag”

“I can do anything better,” Freddie challenges me.

“Ha. Choose any Queen song you want. I’ll do it better,” I challenge Freddie back.

“Yer on,” Freddie is smug. “I’ll do Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Billy and Jock grab their guitars. I tell Steve and Tommy to grab tambourines. I run to the sound booth and make sure the tape machine set to record.  Freddie sits at the piano, singing the intro solo.

I let Freddie do the entire song , with Billy blasting out the Brian May leads. Once finished, I set the MOOG to the ‘Champion’ rock rhythm and play the first lines as electronic keyboard. I jump to my feet, grab the mic, and sing the entire song strutting back and forth in front of Freddie.

‘I’ve paid my dues
Time after time
I’ve done my sentence
But committed no crime
And bad mistakes
I’ve made a few
I’ve had my share of sand
Kicked in my face
But I’ve come through…….

We are the champions, my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting till the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions of the World’

Songwriters: Freddie Mercury

We Are the Champions lyrics © Queen Music Limited

 Once he starts laughing, everyone feels free to join in. I rush to shut off the tape machine. I pack up the tape and present it to Freddie.

“This is the new Queen. Let’s take it to this David guy so he can mix it professionally.”

“We can’t just show up. He lives in a castle in Lausanne.”

“Take the Rolls, Freddie,” Billy eggs King Farrok on. “Otherwise he’ll deny us entrance for being gutter snipes.”

“You have a Rolls? Why are we riding around in taxis?” I complain.

“I love slumming it with you boys.”

“Is this David rich and snobby?” I remain in the dark. “I’ve never been in a Rolls.”

How do I know that? I have no memory.

I would remember.

“Why have a Rolls if you never use it?”

“Just to go visit Bowie,” is Freddie’s answer.

“What? Bowie. I played Weird in the Spiders from Mars,” I remember.

“Now you think you’re Mick Ronson,” Freddie laughs.

“It was just a tribute band.”

I pinch myself. This must be the longest dream ever.

We pull up to the gate 30 minutes later. The castle is in the hills above Lausanne.

It is not as old as Chillon and looks more like a hotel. Freddie chats with the security guard who calls ahead to let Bowie know we are here. We proceed to the front entrance where the man himself awaits. I swear I will kill myself if I wake up now and end this dream.

Freddie runs up and embraces the King of Glam Rock. He introduces us as his new band.

“You split from Brian and the boys?”

“They split from me, back to London. I am here all alone except for this posse. We need to show that I don’t need my old band. This is the new Queen.”

“Oh, Freddie, Don’t break up the band. I love Queen.”

“Well, they don’t love me. I can’t go to England without paying a massive tax bill.”

“Aren’t they (motioning to us) just roadies?”

“Wait until you hear the tape we made this afternoon. Yank here inspired them to play like maniacs. They knew all the old Queen songs already. Want to hear?”

“Oh, god, Freddie. I can’t take sides. Are you really splitting up.”

“I just need to show them I don’t need them even though they think they’re indispensable.”

“Come over here, Yank. Who’s idea is it to show up the real band members. Queen is my favorite rock band.”

“Me, too, Mr. Bowie.”

Everyone laughs at how star-struck I am.

“Just call me David, please.”

“Okay, Mr. David. I don’t want Queen to break up, but King Farrok is really the main dude. We just back him up.”

“What’s your name, Yank?”

“I don’t remember,” I mumble. He probably thinks I am a fake.

Freddie comes to my rescue.

“I saved him from having the plug pulled after 18 months in a coma. You’ve heard of Doctor Jacques in Geneva. He revived him with the magic of Lake water and strong stimulants. He was one of the first punk rockers in the LA Scene.”

This is news to me.

“Oh, punk. How cool,” Bowie is a fan of anything new. “Let’s hear this tape. Is Queen going punk?”

“I’ve always been punk,” claims Freddie.

“I call him King Farrok,” I join the conversation.

“I can’t wait to hear. You really don’t remember your name?”

“I only know what Freddie tells me. He has a file which he won’t show me. He said I had been in a band but now I actually believe it.”

“You must stop treating others as pawns in your insufferable games, Freddie. You don’t own someone just because you paid their medical bills.”

“Dr Jacques said he should not learn details from the past, lest it effect the decisions he makes in the present. He is totally delightful and has inspired me and the boys to move on. I’ve booked us for the Monteux Music Festival this summer.”

“At least give him a name. Yank will never win friends in Europe. ‘Yank my chain?’”

“Billy mocks me and tries to ‘yank my crank,” I reveal.

He makes a face.

“How about Lazarus?” David suggests.

“I’m not about to be religious. But maybe Laz will work. I can be Romanian.”

Everyone laughs. Laz it is.

“That’s decided; now play the tape and see what you think,” Freddie demands. “If you can clean it up, I’ll send it to Brian and the boys in London to convince them to get back here.”

“I’m not putting my name on it but if it helps the cause… Just let me hear it first.”

We follow David into the basement of his castle. (Or, is it called the dungeon? Or, maybe Bowie’s Bowels?) I am excited to have a rock god judge my production.

The first 60 seconds is nothing more than random chatter as we prepare to play. It can be edited out in the final cut. The first version of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is a mess. Only because Freddie keeps singing over the chaos do we actually finish. ‘Keep Yourself Alive’ sounds decent but it is only vocals. At least, it is an improvement. Before the next song, there is a bunch of chatter, mostly about whether I am gay or not. Why does it matter? Next comes the Billy Joel song, ‘Just the Way You Are,’ with me doing vocals and not hitting it out of the park. Oh, well. On tape Freddie comes back into the studio and there is more talk about me being gay. The aborted intro to ‘Bohemian Rapsody’ only lasts a few bars. Then we chat about playing live in the streets and end up doing The Mayals ‘Pressure Drop.’ We finally have it together. Freddie and I challenge each other and we do our mash up of ‘Bohemian’ and ‘Champions.’ My vocals are electric and I push the beat so it takes the songs to another level.

“For a rehearsal tape, it comes alive,” Bowie praises our efforts.

I cannot help bringing out my harmonica and sing the Frampton hit ‘Show Me the Way.’ Only to be cut off by everyone else. Bowie just laughs.

Billy runs up and kisses me. I stop playing and look shocked. Bowie hugs Freddie.

“Okay, Settle down,” Bowie takes charge. “Let’s figure out what will get Brian, Deacy and Roger’s attention. There must be six or seven songs here. And the band chatter is rift with gossip. Mary will not be pleased, Freddie.”

“She’ll support me no matter how bad it looks. How does Angela handle your misdeeds?”

“Everything was fine until she found me in bed with Mick. We swore we were only sleeping.”

“The boys put up with me,” Freddie contends.

“How come my sexuality is everyone’s business?” I remain clueless.

“Your honor is pure, just don’t expect anyone in this group to respect it.”

I shake my head in disbelief that my life can be of interest to anyone else. I am just Freddie’s slave.

As we get down to cutting out the extraneous chatter and the first aborted take of ‘Bohemian,’ a young Black kid wanders in and asks “What’s up?”

“Oh. Mike, come meet Laz. He’s your age and is shaking up the Queen lineup for this summer at Montreux.

“Hi, Freddie,” it is Michael Jackson. “As long as you sing, it will always be Queen.”

“You visiting, too?” Freddie asks.

“I ran away from the Jackson 5. Joe is threatening to replace me with Janet.”

He looks over and smiles at me.

“What have you done to my favorite stadium rockers?” Michael asks.

“Brian May and the others split for London and threatened to quit. Freddie brought me out of cold storage and we’re getting the roadies to back him up so the regular band members will run back to Montreux. We’ve been playing in the street to the local Queen groupies.”

“In the streets?” Michael is totally mesmerized as I fantasize on life as a rock n roller playing for free.

“Yeah. Saturday night in front of Taboo.”

“The gay club on the Montreux shoreline?” Bowie knows the scene.

“It’s strictly a pop-up. The Casino is sponsoring it and will provide security, publicity and city permits,” I ad-lib the logistical details.

“If it gets out of control, we’ll run into the Casino to escape mayhem,” Freddie buys into my plans.

“So, they are playing Queen covers to scare the real band members to come back here?” Bowie confides in Michael. “Freddie is a devious genius.”

“What were you fighting about, Freddie, that made them leave you here by yourself?”

“All the obvious reasons, money, control, artistic differences. We always fight like cats and dogs but keep it together on stage. I love those guys, but it is just a job for them.”

“Why not write some new songs to show you moved on?” Michael is a kid after my own ways.

“They only do stadium anthems. I love going to clubs and dancing my ass off.”

“Dance music. You need soul, brother,” Michael challenges him.

I sit there and smile. This is how music is created. Individual differences clash; somehow they come together (‘right now, over you’).

“I have the start of a song you can use,” MJ suggests. “It sounds a bit angry. It’s how I feel about what me old dad Joe has done to me all these years.”

Bowie unlocks a storage closet with a dozen guitars, basses, keyboards (no MOOG, but I can adjust) and mics. We all grab what we want and set up.

I am the task master, making everyone tune up to matching harmonics. MJ has a bass and sets a funky rhythm – ‘bump bump bump (drop) badabump bump bump.’ MJ cues Freddie with the opening lyric, “Another one bites the dust.’

Freddie makes up random lyrics and we return to the basic beat,

‘And, another one gone, and another one gone, and another one bites the dust.’

Songwriters: John Deacon

Another One Bites the Dust lyrics © Queen Music Limited

Between choruses, Freddie creates his own story, with several verses. No one asks Michael to explain his history of parental abuse.

David has a tape recorder already on and gets the entire first version of the new Queen hit.

“Amazing,” David is in awe. “That’s a hit, in one take. The only question is which band gets to release it.”

“No way am I giving it to my dad. It’s all about getting revenge on him. It’s Queen’s first disco song. That’ll wake up the boys.”

Time to take a break. MJ and I go outside for some fresh air.

“How old are you?” he asks.

“As I said, I have no memories past a week or so when I woke up in Geneva.”

“Geneve,” MJ corrects my French. “They all say Geneve, not Geneva.”

“How come? Everyone I know says Geneva.”

“Well, you’ll learn that sometimes everyone is wrong. I’m 19”

“Freddie says I’m 19 but age up to adulthood in a couple of weeks.”

“Not ready to give up being a teenager?”

“You can’t be a kid forever. I was in a coma the last two years.”

“Not the teenage heaven you expected?”

We laugh.

“Freddie saved my life. It’s weird that I owe him so much but it just feels like I’m his personal possession. He never asks for anything, so I don’t know how to thank him.”

“My dad, Joe, always reminded me that I owed him everything for making me a star when I was a little kid. Now I see why I am so angry at him. I let him abuse me when I felt I owed it to him.”

Too Much Information. Whoa. Pretty personal memories.

“My dad was tough on me and didn’t understand why I needed to perform. He sent me to jail.” That’s a new memory. “I still love him. I guess I got over being locked up.”

“I had to leave. They don’t know where I am. David’s been a perfect host. The only bad thing that ever happened to him is that singer in the Monkees stole his real name.”

We laugh and I sing the Monkees theme song. MJ and I do a duet.

“Here we come. Walkin’ down the street….”

We run back inside and sing for the adults who are all smoking and drinking beer.

“Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees and people say we monkey around…”

We grab beers and spray everyone as we dance around. No one complains. I assume Bowie has staff to clean up.

“Okay, boys. You’ve been perfect gentlemen until now. We need you to calm down.”

“Aw, we’re just kids. You guys can be boring as long as you want. We need excitement to not wither and die.”

They just stare at us, knowing we speak the truth. With the rehearsal tape edited and ready to be sent to London, I suppose it is time to go. MJ nods at me expectantly. Hell, Freddie’s Rolls is just sitting there.

“Let’s go cruising,” I suggest. “I don’t always have the opportunity to make a scene just by showing up.”

“Yeah, King Farrok, we need to go cruising,” Billy pipes up.

“Should I get security to follow us?” David and Freddie act like adults.

“You guys are 32 & 33. That adds up to 65. Maybe you both should retire as old age pensioners,” I am cheeky and reckless.

“Is that anyway to treat your rescuer?” Freddie is taken aback.

“You too, Mike. You said I was rescuing you from your life as preadolescent pop star,” David lays it on.

 “We worship you as rock stars but stop trying to be our parents. You’re both too young for that,” I retract my old age accusation, “Unless you were fooling around at 14.”

“Well, I’ll never say I wasn’t, but I‘m not ready for rowdy teenagers who defy me,” David stands up for himself.

“Let’s just go and see what types of degenerates we can attract in a Rolls Royce. Ditch the security if you want to see real degeneracy.”

Off we go.

We skip Lausanne and go to Taboo in Montreux. We find many degenerates, so many that we feel overwhelmed and escape to the Casino. The lounge has a jazz combo playing mood music to lull the gamblers into forgetting how much they lost at the tables. I run up to the band leader and tell him the two stars want to entertain the crowd. He says they’ll play the Martha & the Vandellas hit, ‘Dancin’ in the Street.’

“Nous avons une surprise ce soir,” the band leader introduces the guests, “Messieurs David Bowie et Mick Jagger, mes amies”

He must be stoned, getting the rock stars’ names mixed up. Jazz musicians are notorious weed fiends. It doesn’t matter to Freddie as they dance onto the bandstand.

They camp it up as we rush past the audience, singing and waving our hands in front of the stage. As we make a scene, the audience is dumbfounded by the sudden musical switch to rock n roll. MJ does this strange dance where he looks like he is going in reverse, saluting the crowd with a royal wave.

David grabs the mic, “Come see us perform as Queen on Saturday in the plaza before Taboo.”

I guess Bowie is in the band. The stars bow and run off to muted applause.

“Not our crowd tonight,” David shrugs as we relax with beers at the bar.

Henri, our PR man, rushes in and stares at the two English stars and the underage American wunderkind celebrity.

“You must advise me when you will be performing. How will I get the press to report the event.”

“We are just having fun. It was only one song,” David defends our impromptu show. “We will create rumors and gossip until the show on Saturday. Tonight was an appetizer.”

With two stars, the rest of us will be just Knobs.

“How can I do my job if you don’t tell me in advance?”

“There was no planning. Laz just asked the band leader who was glad to let us make a guest appearance.”

“Incroyable. J’ai mal à la tête.”

“Have a drink,” we include him in our carousing posse.

“Je suis heureux de faire votre connaissance, M. Bowie,” Henri bows as we laugh at him.

“Pas de tout,” David answers, “But don’t be a knob unless you want to be in the band.”

“Qu’est-ce que c’est un ‘knob’”

“Don’t be a dick,” Billy knows.

We slap him on the back, and he comps all our drinks. He is an official Knob.

We proceed to take full advantage of free drinks and the noise level quickly increases. It brings in some of the lounge crowd, who surround and pester us with fan questions. We soon leave. Our preview of Saturday night is a rousing success.

We drive back to David’s castle in Lausanne and are invited in for a nightcap.

“Can I be in the band, too” Michael asks me respectfully.

“Sure,” I laugh.  “You can do that dance again when we play disco.”

“Cool,” and he hugs me. I realize I am now the manager/producer of what is the Jackson 3 (stars).

I grab a bottle of Champagne, shake it up.

“I christen this band, ‘The Jackson 3,” and pop the cork. Everyone is doused.

“What about the Knobs?” Billy complains.

“Until you are better at playing your instruments, you’re demoted to session gig players,” I laugh at his presumption.

“Sorry, Laz. Mike is in hiding here. There can be no Jackson 5 press to blow his cover.”

“Back of the bus, MJ,” I mock him.

“You’re a slave, too, Lazarus,” I am put in my place. Youth gets no respect.

MJ puts his arm around my shoulders. We march off to bed. Curfew for the teenagers.

“I guess I am staying the night?” I ask.

“They’ll drink themselves into a stupor and pass out in a couple of hours. Old people are boring.” 

We undress and slip into a huge bed together. Not one to avoid confusion, I roll over and explain that I am asexual until I figure how to it works for me.

“Well, I like sleepovers,” MJ knows what he likes.

That settled, we go to sleep.

In the morning, I find myself snuggled up with Mike in the middle of the bed. Up like the meadow lark, I cannot help jumping around singing my favorite Jackson 5 song, ‘ABC.’

After making a face,  MJ jumps up and we do a duet. My efforts to sing high enough to match his high alto are pitiful.

“You lack soul, Laz,” he mocks me.

“Did you really go through puberty?” I mock him back.

“ABC is the first song I wrote. I was eight,” Michael brags.

“I saw you do it on American Bandstand. I loved it and was dancing with the junior high girls watching the show. The boys mocked me for being a girl. I said you were my idol. Then they called me gay. I had never seen anyone my age on TV.”

“Why does everyone think you’re gay? They are the ones who are gay, Freddie’s rent boys.”

“They’re his roadies. Freddie only chooses gay roadies. He doesn’t want a bunch of slutty groupies causing drama.”

“Maybe they just want you to fit in.”

“I’m whipping them into shape so we can have a live show this Saturday at Taboo.”

“What can I do in the show?

“You can  dance while I sing  ‘Mr. Bojangles.’”

‘That’s racist!”

“Okay. I’ll dance and you sing.”

“We can both sing and dance.”

We wrestle each other until we fall off the bed. The Knobs rush in to investigate our rough-housing. They just shake their heads. Who knows who they slept with last night. They all are hung over. We lay tangled together on the floor, in just our briefs.

“Can you keep it down. Your noise woke us up,” Billy complains.

“We’re singing,” I proclaim. “Have you no appreciation for pop music.”

We jump to our feet, swing an arm around each other, as I belt out my own lyrics to his song.

‘ABC

Easy as 1 2 3

Can’t  you see

I havta be me.’

MJ does his version.

‘I’m carefree.

Com’n com’n com’n

My melodies

Just you and me’

We sing together

‘Do re mi
That’s easy

How we can be

Just you and me’

The Knobs shake their heads and stumble back to bed.

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