7 – Blog 08 – Punk Days & Nights

My return to Freddie’s Lake House causes a stir. The Knobs all seem particularly insecure due to the imminent return of the original Queen band members. The happy-go-lucky vibe of their promotion from roadies to musicians is replaced by despair about their demotion back to slave status. They view me as the last remnant of the golden days of ascendance to full band status. As they bemoan their sudden shift in fortune, I remind them that without their loyalty Freddie would most likely be the one demoted.

“Yeah, but you are under Bowie’s protection now. You just moved on,” Billy accuses me of abandoning them.

“All I promised was to teach you how to play your instruments and back Freddie as Queen II. You should be proud that you were such a success that you are no longer needed. Claude offered to make the Knobs the Casino house band.”

“Yeah. So he can play tambourine on stage with us.”

“Well, at least he’s not insisting he sing for the Knobs.”

“He’s totally tone deaf.”

 “But he has the power and at least knows he will never be the star. Music business is about survival. It ain’t for kids.”

“What makes you the know-it-all. You don’t even remember your own name.”

“Laz will do for now,” I laugh.

They all look at each other and laugh as well. All is forgiven.”

“Wanna sleep with me tonight,” Billy is hopeful. “Missing your pop star bed buddy?”

“Never give up, Billy,” I turn him down. “At least you want me, regardless of how little I want you.”

Everyone laughs at Billy. The Knobs are needy nerds.

“We should go practice,” I suggest. “My lifeguard job has been terminated. I was a hero ‘just for one day.’”

With Bowie days over, I decide it is time for the punk rock me to come out. The Knobs already know the Mayals ‘Pressure Drop’ song. I get them to speed up until the lyrics are just a blur.

“We sound like Mods,” Jock complains. His rocker roots showing.

“What’s wrong about sounding happy?” I ask.

“Going all peace and love on us, Yank?” Tommy mocks me.

“Please, my name is Laz. I’m not some clueless Young American.”

“How’d you get Bowie to sing to you?” Billy needs answers.

“Charm, but really he was singing to Michael Jackson.”

“Well, let’s do that reggae song like real punks,” Steve suggests.

“The Clash already did it,” Billy is in the know.

“We could do ‘Police & Thieves,” Billy is into reggae. “It’s more gangsta than mod.”

Police and thieves in the street (Oh Yeah)
Scaring the nation with their guns and ammunition
Police and thieves in the street (Oh Yeah)
Fighting the nation with their guns and ammunition’

Songwriters: Lee Perry / Junior Murvin

Police & Thieves lyrics © Songs Of Polygram Int., Inc.

“Too slow,” I complain.

“Well, we can speed it up,” Billy cranks his guitar.

“Well, we better get a record out before The Clash does it,” Jock knows the score.

“The Clash are just poseurs,” I claim. “They have to do covers.”

“You are so punk,” Billy laughs. “You havta be more punk than other punks.”

“I just do songs about my life and what I care about,” I claim, forgetting I have only about a week’s worth of memories.

“Your life is nothing to complain about,” Jock continues to attack me.

“So what? We set Mike’s hair on fire; Bowie is bored unless he’s doing drugs; Freddie’s married; it’s all melodrama. I have no memory of growing up, and you guys just want to hit on me. My life is hell.”

The four of them throw me to the ground. I wait to be raped. All they do is tickle me, give me a nuggie and rub my belly raw. I relax as they have at me for about five minutes. It seems like an eternity.

Finally, Freddie appears, having heard my girly screams for help.

“Why is everyone picking on poor Laz? He’s just a kid.”

“A punk kid,” Billy explains why they are allowed to molest me.

“Oh no. I only said that to Brian and the boys to scare them into coming to rescue me. When did you Knobs get so tough?”

“We’re roadies. We do what we want,” Steve pipes up.

“What were you playing before Laz started screaming?”

“Reggae,” they all yell.

“Then why were you attacking Laz?”

“He wants us to play it like The Clash. Punks are the enemy.”

“We play in the streets for free. Isn’t that what punks do?” I argue.

“Queen is super stars, not down and outers.” Billy claims.

“You sound like Brian and Roger. That’s what we’ve become. You think we can start over and not pay our dues?”

“I got a song about you,” I claim. “It’s called ’Fools Who Laugh.” It’s only 60 seconds long.

They hang around

Abate and fade

They don’t realize

Their nomad fate

Repel one another

Complacent that way

Their vermin minds

Just waste away

We are the fools who laugh

We are the fools who laugh

Inclined to humor

They spread their rumors

Mourn themselves

They’re nothing but dregs

Emancipated and meandering

They act like cherubs

Without their wings

We are the fools who laugh

We are the fools who laugh

Beset on others

For their fun

Til the night

Is finally done

And when they’re all gone

They’ll realize

How precious time was

To their lives

We are the fools who laugh

We are the fools who laugh

But now they’re gone

And we remain

How vacuous they were

To call us insane

Fools we may be

But we linger on

While all of them

Have gone beyond 

We are the fools who laugh

We are the fools who laugh

…..We laugh last

Songwriter David Delgado

Copyright MIB 1981

Everyone is laughing, except Freddie who just shakes his head.

“Queen will never do that song,” Freddie declares. “They’re nothing but dregs. Emancipated and meandering, They act like cherubs, without their wings?”

‘You don’t like my song, King Farouk?”

“It’s elitist but down and out at the same time.”

“Welcome to the 21st Century,” I predict.

“I don’t plan to live that long,” Freddie claims. “And who wants to get old?”

“You’ll end up like The Who, deaf and grey,” I predict. “‘I hope I die before I get old.’”

I guess the Knobs are going their own direction. I predict ‘No Future.’

I grab a guitar and rip into ‘Anarchy in the UK’

‘Right now
I am an antichrist
And I am an anarchist
Don’t know what I want
But I know how to get it
I want to destroy passersby’

Songwriters: Glen Matlock / John Lydon / Paul Thomas Cook / Stephen Philip Jones

Anarchy In The UK lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, BMG Rights Management, Universal Music Publishing Group

Then I do the ending to ‘God Save the Queen’

No future, no future,
No future for you
No future, no future
For you’

“What did your friend David Bowie say about turning punk?” Freddie asks.

“I just told him to play faster.”

“So the ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ is a punk song?’

“Naw. It’s more like a military march. We call it “Boys Keep Swimming.”

“So, who wrote the song?”

“We all did. I got David to count out the beat with his foot to speed him up. Then we all sang different lyrics for the verses, whatever came to mind. ‘Top of the cherry’ is total David. I thought up ‘Other boys check you out.’ And Mike came up with the line ‘Clothes always fit ya.’”

“A total collaboration,” I contend.

“What’s he like, Bowie?” Jock wants to know.

“He’s pretty shy at first, like he enjoys hanging out. He gets you to do your best. He doesn’t mind being kidded. I called him out for being the Thin White Nazi. He said he was doing too many drugs at that time. Brian Eno from Roxy Music has this notebook of musical phrasings and riffs that he plugs into songs. That’s why the ‘Heroes’ lyrics repeat so much,”

I feel I am giving away secrets.

“He makes it fun. You saw him swimming with me at the Lake while the crowd sang ‘Heroes’ as we were ‘dolphins that swim.’”

“Let’s do another pop-up with him before the original musicians show up,” Billy begs Freddie.

“I guess it’s up to Laz to make that happen,” Freddie throws the task on me.

“Well, it’s Mike and I who really bonded. I’ll get him to come here to play music with us and maybe Bowie will come. You guys have to promise not to let anyone else know that it is Michael Jackson. He cut his hair so no one would recognize him. Don’t go bragging that you are playing with MJ.”

“Why all the secrecy?”

“He’s hiding from his mean ol’ da.” I explain. “That’s why Queen gets the new song that he basically wrote.”

“It’s a great song,” Jock is a fan.

“The boys are split. Deacy likes it, Brian is okay about it but Roger hates it,” Freddie reveals.

“Roger hates anything except ‘I’m in Love with My Car.”

“Drummers have no musical taste,” I contend.

“You play bongos,” Billy accuses me of dissing myself.

Freddie returns with beer for everyone. I consider asking for a mojito but wisely just enjoy the English beer. I ask if we can go out tonight. To celebrate the successful call to London.

“Let’s go to Taboo. They love us there,” Billy suggests.

“No performing there,” Freddie decrees. “I need a break.”

Everyone stares at me, the performance addict.

“Okay. Okay. I can behave. I’ll just make fun of you guys getting hit on by old men.”

“It’s a disco crowd. Old people stay away,” Billy knows.

“Well, you guys have to protect me. I’m not about to get my cherry popped,” I plead.

“What makes you think you’re a virgin?” Billy asks.

“I know I am because I would remember that.”

“You have no memory, Laz. Why would Freddie buy you if you’re not gay?”

“Laz is a virgin. That’s all that counts for me,” Jock sticks up for me

“We’ll get you laid tonight.”

“No thanks. You’ve been trying to get me laid ever since I arrived here.”

“You don’t sleep with MJ?”

“He’s my best friend. We wrestled around in bed the first night. When neither of us got hard, we knew we are just friends. Best friends.”

“A waste of teenage ass,” Jock complains.

“I’m staying home tonight,” I decide. “You guys would sell me to some fat cat Swiss banker and not care about what happens to me.”

“If you don’t come with us, we’ll get drunk and no one will want us, so we will come home and take our frustrations out on you.”

“Is our little punk rocker afraid his purity will get besmirched?”

“Do you even know what that word means?”

“It’ll be what happens to you if we don’t get laid tonight. We’ll come home drunk and horny.”

“Okay. Okay. But you have to protect me. Swiss Nazis scare me.”

“Oh, we’ll take care of you tonight.”

“I’ll hold you to your word then.”

Taboo turns out to be fun.

I dance the night away, while the boys just get drunk. No one hits on them while I keep switching dance partners to keep my honor intact. Without Freddie with us, we are totally anonymous.

I call Mike from a phone booth outside. He is jealous that I am having fun.

“You want to go to a gay club? I thought we promised to stay kids forever?”

“Well, you’re there. You’ll protect me.”

“I doubt David will let you go, trying to keep your secret rasta gangsta identity intact.”

“While you keep your gay virginity intact.”

“Get David to drive to Montreux tomorrow. The Knobs are learning to play punk rock, now that their role in Queen is about to be terminated.”

“I’ll teach ‘em to Moonwalk.”

“White boys lack rhythm.”

“That is confirmed by your lack of dance moves.”

“Hey, I danced all night. No one complained.”

“How many Black men did you dance with.”

“How many Black men go to gay clubs? Not enough.”

“You know,’Once you go Black, you never go back.’”

“I’ll remember that when I meet Janet.”

“That bitch will eat you alive.”

“Not if I eat her first.”

There’s a pause.

“You asshole. I hate her but not enough sic you on her stanky ass.”

“I’m hanging up.”

“Call me when you get home. I want to fall asleep listening to the dirty experiences you have tonight.”

“Don’t be jealous.”

“I just want to hear your voice.”

“Me, too.”

“Stay safe, and use a condom.”

“Ugh.”

When I go back inside Taboo, the boys have been more successful hooking up. There is no one to protect me. I get a drink and ignore anyone who tries to flirt.

A young man about 25 comes up and speaks directly to me, “Tim?”

It is my old name. I am startled.

“I’m sorry. My name is Laz,” I decide to deny my identity.

“Sorry, but you are a dead ringer for someone I worked with last year.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer for the movie director John Landis,. Tim was John’s personal assistant on ‘Animal House.’”

“I hear it’s pretty funny,” I keep talking. Being a movie production assistant seems better than an unemployed punk rocker.

“Thanks. I was a script writer. We didn’t win an Oscar but it was the top grossing film of the year.”

“Awards walk while money talks,” I quip.

“You sound just like him. But he died surfing before we shot the film. Landis was in shock after it happened. Luckily the shoot was delayed until he got his mojo back.”

“I’m glad. ‘Mojo’..that is so Hollywood,” I laugh.

“You want to meet Landis?”

“He’s at a gay bar.”

“No, still married, but we’re working on a long-term project about a werewolf in London.”

“Good place for werewolves.”

“You are so like Tim. Landis will be in town next week. He really loved Tim.”

“If he feels that strongly about that guy, Taboo may be the place to meet.”

“I’m sorry to bother you. The similarity is striking.”

“They say everyone has a missing twin.”

“You want to hook up?” he looks at me shyly.

“No. I’m just here with friends. I’m not gay.”

“Well, that proves you’re not Tim. He was very active in the satisfying department.”

Oh gawd, am I suppressing my true self? Maybe being gay is based on the experiences you remember with other gay guys. With no real memories, I do not get excited in that way. I am not talking about this with anyone. Well maybe Mike. No, maybe Bowie can give me a gay perspective.

I wander around the club, ending up in the back where there are sex rooms for those in need. Some of the doors are open with single guys waiting inside. I am not ready for that. Billy comes out of a cubicle, looking depleted.

“What are doing here. Laz? I promised to protect you. This area is for sex-positive people only.

“I am positive that you just had sex.” Does that mean I’m sex-negative?

“Well, let’s go home. I got what I came for. How about you.”

“Only more questions. What does Freddie say about my sexuality.”

“Nothing, but we just assumed you are gay since he insists that all the roadies be gay. Did you come here to find out about yourself?”

“I just wanted to go out and have fun. Worrying about my sexuality is not fun.”

“Oh, not to be a teenager again. At least you are open-minded about it. Are all punks gay positive.”

I know that answer, “Not really. They are not the peace and love generation, more the war and hate one.”

Billy laughs and punches me. I punch him back.

“You better build some muscle, Champ. Being in a coma for so long, you lost the power in your punch.”

Another issue to worry about.

We all return to the Lake House together. The Knobs have all been sufficiently rubbed and disappear for bed. I rush to the lounge where there is a phone. David gave me the Castle’s private phone number. It is after midnight, but Mike said he would wait up for my call. I dial and Charles answers.

“Master Laz, you call so late.”

“Mike said he’d wait up for my call. And please, don’t call me master. It has bad connotations in America.”

“Of course, I understand. I only meant to be respectful. I’ll connect the phone in..uhm .. Mike’s room if he is awake.

“Laz. Did you get laid? Still a virgin?”

“Disappointed? I thought we pledged to be straight?”

“Well, it’s not that simple. Did you have fun at least.”

“The Knobs all got laid. But that is not why I’m calling.”

“I thought we were going to fall asleep together.”

“We will but something did happen. Someone came up to me who knew me in Hollywood. I told him I must be the evil twin of who he knew.”

“That’s cool. Did you learn more about yourself, more about being a punk rocker?”

“He told me I was a gay slut.”

“Oh, no, that’s a twist. Do you not find me attractive? Is it because I am Black? I do love you, just not in that way.”

“Shut up. I love you, too. I lied to the guy and pretended I am just Laz.”

“He probably was just hitting on you and didn’t really know if you were gay.”

“He said I was very active in the gay department.”

“Sounds like he was talking about gossip.”

“Freddie warned me that I shouldn’t try to be the person I was before the coma.”

“I like you as Laz. Are you going to change?”

“I want us to be best friends. I don’t want to jump you.”

“That’s good news.”

“What if I am repressing my real sexuality?”

“We fool around all the time. I know it doesn’t turn you on, just as you know I don’t get turned on. We just like sleepovers.”

“We are such kids.”

“Don’t try to change. We are happy. I miss you.”

“This call has made me feel better. I was totally freaked out. Also, Billy says I need to build some muscle. Too much time in a coma.”

“Why did he say that?”

“We were punching each other, some bro thing. He said he felt nothing.”

“Just like I feel nothing in the sex department with you”

“I’m a total wimp.”

“You’re my lifeguard. You saved me from drowning.”

“What if I have ‘forgotten’ how to be gay and once I get stronger it comes back.”

“We can just beat off together. My older brothers do that.”

“With you?”

“That would be gay. I mean if you need to have sex there are things we can do and not touch or really fuck each other.”

“Yuck.”

“You are making a problem over nothing. Do I have to watch out for you now?”

“Oh, gawd. I think our pasts are nothing but baggage for both of us. This is why we are so close. If I am going to run into people from my past, I need to hide like you do. No more swims in the Lake or shows in the street or going to clubs.”

“But that’s the main reason we’re best friends. I am so bored here. David is great but he’s in his thirties. We both turn 20 this year. We’re just starting to be adults. I need someone I trust to help me when I panic like you are right now.”

“Thanks. I do love you. I would never hurt our friendship.”

“Me, too. Will you sing the song you wrote today?”

“It’s punk, not something to lullaby you asleep.”

“I just want to hear it.”

“I’ll sing it slowly.”

‘’They hang around

Abate and fade

They don’t realize

Their nomad fate

Repel one another

Complacent that way

Their vermin minds

Just waste away

We are the fools who laugh

We are the fools who laugh

Inclined to humor

They spread their rumors

Mourn themselves

They’re nothing but dregs

Emancipated and meandering

They act like cherubs

Without their wings

We are the fools who laugh

We are the fools who laugh

‘Beset by others

For their fun

Til the night

Is finally done

And when they’re gone

They’ll realize

How precious time was

To their lives’

We are the fools who laugh

We are the fools who laugh.’

That’s cool,” Mike murmurs.

“Here’s the next verse”

‘But now they’re gone

And we remain

How vacuous they were

To call us insane

Fools we may be

But we linger on

While all of them

Have gone beyond ‘

“’But we linger on,’” Mike repeats the line softly.

“Here’s the last chorus.”

‘We are the fools who laugh

We are the fools who laugh

…..We laugh last’

“I love you forever Laz,” Mike falls to sleep.

I realize that rhymes with ‘last.’ My prayer for Mike is that we last.

I fall asleep on the couch in the lounge.

“Wake up, sleepy head. You never went to bed. Gay bar too much for you. Afraid to sleep in the dark,” Billy shakes me awake.

“I’m locking my door from now on. You guys are all sex fiends.”

“You seemed shook up when we got home.”

“I’ll tell you if you promise to keep it a secret.”

“Ah, someone did hit on you. The gay life too much for you?”

“No. I ran into someone who knew me in Hollywood.”

“He thought you were back from the dead?  Maybe he was more shook up.”

“No. He seemed to believe me that I am Laz from Romania. But before that he told me a bunch of stuff about my old life. My old boss is going to be in Montreux next week.”

“Your past is catching up with you.”

“But that’s the problem. It’s not me. Not who I am now.”

“You are pretty great Laz. I don’t want to change nothing about you. Well, almost nothing,” he laughs.

I turn bright red.

“I’m just kidding, Laz. Your gay virginity is safe with us, damnit.”

We laugh. I’m so glad Mike and I talked. Otherwise, I would feel guilty that I don’t find any of the Knobs sexy.

“How come you slept out here?”

“I called Mike and we fell asleep on the phone together.”

“You are so cute, and don’t even know it.”

“He may come over today. I asked him to bring David.”

“Thanks, Laz. There’s hope for the Knobs yet.”

Freddie seems to know that something happened last night.

“Just trying to follow your advice about not letting my previous self effect me now.”

“A gay club can be distracting.”

“That was no problem. The Knobs disappeared into back rooms. Some guys tried to flirt with me but got quickly discouraged.”

“So, you felt rejected?”

“No, but a guy came over and recognized me as Tim, from my old life.”

“Did you reminisce? Did he assume you are gay?”

“He told me a bunch of stuff that I have no memory of. I kept telling him I am Laz from Romania.”

“Maybe Tim from Hollywood can be your secret identity.”

“I have nothing to do with Tim. You convinced me to be who I am now.”

“Well, all this musical talent you have comes from somewhere.”

“When I got up to sing at Claude’s office yesterday it was totally spontaneous. It’s like I do things without any forethought.”

“We all love the way you are Laz. David is totally in love with you.”

“Great. How do I handle two rock stars fighting over me.”

“Three, if I’m correct. There’s also Mike.”

“At least he’s my age. And he doesn’t think he’s gay.”

“Whatever. You’re too young for me, and Jim gets jealous.”

“What about Mary?”

“She got over any jealousy years ago.”

“Life in the cuckoo’s nest.”

“What do you plan to do about this guy who knows your old self?”

“He told me my old boss will be here next week. The movie I worked on is a roaring success. They are doing research for a werewolf movie, their next project.”

“Maybe they’ll cast you as the werewolf? Laz from Romania makes you a natural.”

“I need to work on my accent.”

We both laugh. I relax. I can decide later about connecting to my past.

“Mike wants to come visit today. He’ll get David to drive. Is it okay?”

“Do I have any say?”

“Well, the Knobs are worried about their future since Brian and the boys may show up at any moment. They could back up David as the Bowie Knobs.”

“I want my roadies back.”

“Give ‘em a chance to promote their musical talent. They really saved Queen by stepping up.”

“So, my house will be invaded by punk rock. That song you wrote yesterday is too fast for me.”

“Don’t worry. Punk is for kids and should be played by kids. I’m about to age out at 20.”

“You seem to be able to play any music.”

“You and David should collaborate. That song you got from Mike will be a Queen hit. All three of you should make Montreux the Memphis of Western Europe.”

“I stay here to avoid taxes. Brian and the boys got sick of just laying about. That’s really why they left.”

“No slacking when I’m around.”

“Let’s keep David involved. I think he likes punk for its energy. Don’t expect us to cut our hair.”

“Still stuck in hair band style,” I kid Freddie.

“I’ll cut my hair and grow a mustache. It’s all the rage at gay clubs.”

“No disco, Freddie. Mary won’t approve. And, it’s called electronic dance music.”

“Roger will shit kittens.”

“Good.”

“No. I need to appreciate their perspective.”

“What, homophobia?”

“They will never appreciate their feminine side.”

“Well, return the favor with Bowie by collaborating on songs for him. And Mike can sing higher than Roger ever will.”

“Hah. You still think drummers have no musical talent.”

“I drum when needed.”

“You play everything. Did you take lessons starting in pre-school?”

“Maybe. I just assume I can and just do it.”

The voice in my head, ‘you give me no credit.”

Whoa. I communicate by telepathy

‘where have you been? I haven’t heard you for days.’

‘where do you think you get the ability to play anything by assuming you can. I am the one who can do that; you let me take over.’

‘I’m possessed?’

‘totally. we’re lovers and that is a fact.’

‘I’m gay?’

‘you only love me, even after death.’

‘I’m alive now.’

‘isn’t that a surprise?’

Freddie is shaking me.

“You’re spacing out. Are you okay?”

“Just talking with Spirity, the spirit of rock n roll. He claims he possesses me when I have to play drums or the MOOG or any instrument I‘ve never played before.”

“You’re possessed?”

“Yeah. He claims we’re boyfriends, my pact with the devil at the Crossroads.”

“Maybe you should contact Ozzie Osbourne and join Black Sabbath.”

“Laz wants nothing to do with fucking the devil.”

“That explains everything.”

“I just want to play with all of you, and not just my music. You, Bowie, MJ and even the Knobs have all this music bubbling up.”

“You okay explaining it all to everyone?”

“Just the musicians that we play with here and at the Castle.”

“Call Mike and get him to bring Bowie. We’re gonna make some music here.”

“Hi,” I get Mike on the phone.

“Thanks for sleeping with me last night.”

“Yeah, phone sleep, almost as good as phone sex.”

“You’ve done that?”

“I don’t know. Some questions about my past life came to light. Can you and David come to play music here today?”

“What did you learn? Did that Hollywood writer contact you again?”

“No. I’m over Hollywood. But he made me confront some memories that are hard to accept. I need you here so I can explain it to everyone.”

“Should I be scared?”

“Well, think of it as I fought the devil and the devil didn’t win.”

“Now I am scared.”

“Trust me. It is all good. And, it means we’re best friends forever.”

“You really are punk rock, you know.”

“I know you’re not, but we are so good together. You will be the King of Pop.”

“Maybe Pepsi soda pop.”

“We are the new generation.”

“Get here as soon as you can. I’m fired up.”

“Oh, no.”

“Bring swim suits.”

“So we cool off?”

“No way.

Mike and David show up around noon in Bowie’s Aston Martin. I meet them in the driveway.

“Give me a spin in your sports car,” I ask.

Mike squeezes into the space behind the seats and off we go. The hills around Montreux put the car through its paces. The shifting of gears is complicated. I wonder if I know how to drive.

Bowie notices the close attention I pay to his driving skill. “Want to take the wheel,” he asks.

“I think I can do it. Why is the steering wheel on the right?”

“Do you even know how to drive. England has left-hand driving.”

I have no idea what he means, as he pulls over to switch drivers.’

“What is left-hand driving?” I ask Mike.

“In England they all drive on the left side of the road,” he answers. “Don’t ask me why. I don’t have a license. Me mean ol’ da forbid me to drive.”

“Won’t everyone run into each other on the same side of the road?” my thinking is muddled.

“We have to stay to the right in Europe. Just don’t try to pass anyone.” David cavalierly exposes his expensive foreign car to teenage driving.

It takes me a moment to check out the gas, brake and clutch pedals. I am encouraged that they seem familiar. The gear shift seems wrong in my left hand but moving the shifter through the gears without moving becomes more familiar.

“Here we go. Fasten your seat belts. It may be a bumpy ride,” I quote Mae West, gun the engine and prepare to blast off.

Mike yells, “Wait. There’s no seat belt back here.”

“Calm down, Laz. This is not a rocket ship. Just drive slowly at first.”

“That’s no fun,” I complain.

“Maybe it’s best I drive,” Bowie is losing confidence in my uncertain driving skills.

“Yes,” yells Mike from the back.

“Hang on,” I yell, as I gun the engine and pop the clutch.

The wheels spin and spit dirt out the back end as I race onto the highway. Instantly a horn blares as I cut off a safe and sane Swiss driver on his way to lunch. I speed away from him as he shakes a fist out the window.

“Never look back,” is my philosophy. David has turned as pale as a thin white duke. Mike shouts “Go,” with a fiendish look.

I skid back and forth on the highway before straightening out. Bowie tells me to slow down. Mike is pounding the back of my seat as we hit 80 kph. I remember the photo of James Dean’s totaled Porsche and decide I should not cause the death of the two rock/pop stars. I settle at 75 kph, trying to remember how to covert to kph to mph. I realize 80 kph is only 50 mph.

“Stop being wimps,” I yell at them. “We’re not going that fast.”

Bowie tells me to turn off the highway to take a side road in the mountains. I fail to shift down properly and the engine stalls. Both Bowie and MJ quickly jump out of the car. I join them, leaving the sports car stuck in the middle of the mountain road. We hug and jump around from excitement.

“You don’t trust me?” I accuse them.

“No way,” they both yell.

“I can drive slowly but what’s the point of having a sports car if you don’t take risks. It’s not an adventure.”

“It’s more than an adventure when an auto crash becomes a death trap,” Bowie quotes Springsteen.

We all start singing ‘Born to Run,’ like Springsteen in Switzerland, not in New Jersey.

‘It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we’re young
‘Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run’

I give the keys to David who energetically drives back to Montreux. We run into the studio. I grab a guitar and belt out the intro to ‘Born to Run. I pass the guitar to David, jump on the MOOG and blister the Clarence Clemons sax notes to finish the first verse. Mike grabs the mic,

‘1, 2, 3, 4 The highways jammed with broken heroes
On a last chance power drive
Everybody’s out on the run tonight
But there’s no place left to hide
Together, Wendy, we can live with the sadness
I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul
Oh, someday girl, I don’t know when
We’re gonna get to that place
Where we really want to go, and we’ll walk in the sun
But till then, tramps like us
Baby, we were born to run

Oh honey, tramps like us
Baby, we were born to run
Come on with me, tramps like us
Baby, we were born to run’

Copyright Columbia

Songwriter Bruce Springsteen

Freddie and the Knobs rush into the studio.

“Springsteen?” Freddie sneers. “We’re Brits. We don’t do Jersey rock.”

“I let Laz drive the Aston Martin and he tried to kill us. He says if I never take any risks, I’ll be old. He stalled out on a turn. We bailed out and sang ‘Born to Run’.”

“We’re the Young Americans,” is my excuse.

“I was crouching in the back, scared shitless,” Mike crows. “I loved it.”

“Once we stopped, you were out of there in a New York second,” David reveals.

“Well, now that we have your attention,” I announce, “I have something to say.”

“You and Mike getting married?” Billy jokes.

“Don’t be jealous. It’s about me. I met someone at Taboo who knew me before I died.”

“Now you know your real name?”

“No, I’m still Laz. I don’t want to know any more about my old life than I must. Obviously, I died because I made bad choices. This life is a second chance, not just to show I learned from my mistakes, but what I can do better by just being myself. Both Mike and I will be twenty this year. We don’t want to grow up. We’re still kids who know the music kids love. We just want to sing and play with you guys so we can be cool, too.”

No one is buying my wacko logic. David remembers my attempt at driving today and just shakes his head.

Mike jumps in, “I feel the same way. I don’t want my life to be like it was growing up. I remember what happened that made me so unhappy. I want it to be like it is here, playing music with friends and for fans who also want to be my friends. I made millions but have nothing but you guys. Especially David who took me in. Laz and I are trying to escape the past. You treat me as I really am today, not some burned-out child performer. It was never real, singing alphabet songs and having a rat for best friend. Now I have Laz; he may not be as cute as Ben but he’s a real friend.”

“So, what you are trying to say is we should accept you as you are and not let people and events from the past bite you on the ass,” David summarizes our pleas.

“Of course,” Freddie agrees. “Since Laz showed up the last few days have been great. My band is coming back (maybe), we‘re writing new songs and I play for free in the streets with my loyal roadies who amazingly play as well as the real Queen band.

“Enough with the mea culpas,” David stops our lovefest. “I came here to play music, but so far I have only had my expensive sport car thrashed and endured this silly teenage love-fest. Get over yourself. Let’s play some music.”

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