show," I say.
"Thanks," he says. The old lady gets up to join a different
"I like your jacket," I say.
"Thanks," he says. His jacket is black leather, textured
like a reptile. It looks expensive. It looks English. I want to
ask him how much it cost, but I have the feeling that would be rude.
"Do you like any American bands?" I ask. He squints and
tilts his head, pondering the question.
"I don't really like too many American bands, except for The
Doors," he says finally.
"Wow," I say. "Me too. I hardly listen to any American
music, but I love The Doors." I feel my load lightening, loosening,
maybe even floating away. I think to myself, I can do this.
"I've always wanted to go to England, but I haven't had the
chance yet," I say.
"Hmm," he says.
"Have you ever heard Rock over London?"
"No," he says.
"Oh. Well, it's this really great show, on the radio. And it
plays all this great music, from London, which they don't normally
play on the radio here."
"Hmm," he says, this time with more emphasis. I can't
tell him how badly I wish that I was English, or that I pretended
to be English with Karen and this other girl, Dana, who looks just
like Robert Smith from The Cure. We were downtown, pretending we
were in a band whose bus broke down, and we were panhandling to
get the money to fix the bus so it could take us to Great America
where we had a gig to play. The guys that Dana stopped were all
flirting with her and asking what part of London she was from, but
every person I stopped laughed at me and asked if I was for real.
One guy said my accent was so bad that he gave me a dollar and told
me to take lessons.
The old lady returns to tell David goodnight. Her eyes flicker over
me and I can see she disapproves. I wish she would leave us alone.
David shakes her hand and she puts her other hand on top of his
like they're the best of friends and smiles and nods a lot. What
a phony. I could puke.
David turns to me and says, "It was very nice to meet you.
I hope you get a chance to come to England someday." Then he
excuses himself and I look for Karen but she's gone. I pick up my
coat and rush out to find an empty hallway. But then Karen comes
running in and shouts, "I'm on the bus! Come on!"
Oh my God, I think. I have to get on that bus, but my mom, she'll
have a fit if I don't turn up at home by midnight.
"I have to call my mom," I plead, my eyebrows weaving
themselves into frantic knots.
"Okay, but hurry!" she says, and runs toward the door,
black trench coat fluttering behind her like bat wings.
I jam a dime into the pay phone and dial home. The phone rings three
times before I hear the receiver tumble to the floor, a distant,
"Oy Vey es meer" and my mother whisper a groggy,
"Mom?" I say, oblivious to the fact that I've just woken
her out of blissful unconsciousness. "Hi. We're at the Depeche
Mode concert and we met the band and they've invited us to a party,
can I go please?" This rouses her. I hear the flick of her
lighter, the pause of her inhalation, and on the exhale she says,
"Oy, Elise. How do you know it's really them?"
I say, through gritted teeth, "I just saw them play Mom, I
know what they look like, I'm not stupid."
She says, "Boys will impersonate famous people to get at girls."
I say, "Mom, I am positive it's the real band, I just
met them. Can I please go to the party? Karen's with
me, and can I sleep over her house?"
She says, "Let me talk to Karen."
I kick the wall and say, "Mom, she's already on the bus."
"The bus?" she asks, as if I'd said the hot air balloon,
or the space shuttle.
"Yes! The Bus! Jesus Christ, Mom! They're going to leave without
me and then I'll be all alone, is that what you want?" I shout.
"Elise, don't shout at me, I am your mother," she says.
"Are you sure it's safe?"
"Yes! Jesus!" I say. "Okay, so I have to go, I'll
see you tomorrow?"
"Oy, Elise," she sighs, defeated.
"Thank you! I love you you're the best mom in the world! I'll
be so safe, you don't have to worry one single tiny bit." I
hang up and run outside.
I saw my first concert in eighth grade. It was The Who's final world
tour. I was in love with Roger Daltry and when it was over, I stood
in the parking lot and watched their giant tour bus recede into
the distance. My ears throbbed, my body shivered with cooling sweat,
and my mother hollered for me to get in the car, but I was forever
changed. Since then, whenever I've seen a luxury bus barreling through
town, or parked outside the Ambassador East Hotel, I've always stared,
wondering who's riding inside, behind those smoked windows and lavender
airbrushed desert scenes.
Now, right in front of me, parked outside the Aragon Ballroom, with
my best friend and Depeche Mode tucked inside, a gleaming, rumbling
tour bus is waiting for me. I climb aboard.
The seats on the bus face each other in the front. That's where
I sit. That's where David is. Andy Fletcher and Alan Wilder are
further back, drinking Heinekens, and singing along to Chubby Checker,
the last person I'd expect Depeche Mode to be listening to, not
that I'm disappointed. Actually, I think it's charming. Karen is
sitting in the middle, next to Martin Gore, who is still talking
nonstop, and waving his painted nails around. We nod to each other.
David opens a cooler built into one of the front seats and asks
me if I want a Heinekin. I say sure and he opens two.
"Thanks," I say, taking the bottle. "Where are we
"Back to the hotel," he says. "Is that alright?"
"Sure," I say, pinching the undersides of my thigh, to
prove to myself, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is truly
happening. I silently pray for a welt to rise, to remind me of this
moment, even if it only lasts a few days.
David leans into me, sniffs, and says, "Mmm. You smell nice."
"Magie Noire, thank you," I answer, grinning slyly. I
am like greased lightning with the comebacks.
For the rest of the ride, David laughs with Andy and Alan, who are
slapping their knees to The Twist, but his elbow is resting in my
crotch. David Gahan wants me.
We ride out of the city limits, to almost the airport, to a Holiday
Inn. The bus pulls into an underground parking lot and drops us
off near the elevators. I am so impressed, but I try not to show
it by keeping my head more or less facing ahead of me and not swiveling
around like a bar stool. I wish I could take a picture to show my
We take the elevator to the seventeenth floor, the age I'll be in
two years, the age I should say I am now in case anyone asks. I
wish Karen and I had gotten a chance to confer about age, but she
is oblivious to me, talking to Martin as if they were twins, reunited
after a lifetime of forced separation. Maybe I should reintroduce
We all go into a room with two matching queen-sized beds. Andy Fletcher
and Alan Wilder lie on one bed, flipping through channels on TV.
They don't even take off their boots. I sit at the bottom of the
other bed, both feet on the floor. David is on the bed next to me,
lying with his head on the pillow, one foot on the floor. I'm not
sure what I should be doing. Maybe I should scoot back, lie on the
bed, and lean against a pillow. I don't know what his one foot on
the floor means. Is it a signal that he wants to leave? That he
wants me to leave? The wire from my rings is digging into my skin,
so I pull at them.
I think about his foot on the floor and then I feel like I should
contribute to the conversation, but I don't know what to say and
I don't want to say the wrong thing that will tell them they never
should have brought me all the way back here. Karen and Martin have
been standing in the corner and now they're backing out the door,
yammering away in serious, hushed tones, leaving me alone in a hotel
room with three British rock stars. I stay right where I am, waiting.
Andy Fletcher and Alan Wilder stop turning channels at Star Trek,
then turn the channels again until a naked woman appears, moving
around in slow motion with her lover. They stare at the screen,
suddenly solemn, and then start hooting and rolling around with
each other. I wonder if they are gay or just pretending, and if
they always act like children, or if it's only when they have company.
Maybe they just want to be alone. Maybe they can tell I'm just a
Then David says, "I want to show you something, would you like
I look at him. Our eyes meet, briefly. "Yeah," I say,
and he gets up. I don't know if I'm supposed to wait here for him
or not, but he motions with his head and a smile that I should follow.
Down the hall he inserts a key into another door. I stay right where
I am, quaking in my golden shoes.
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