When the Giants won the world series last week, I couldn’t join the riots because I had deliveries, but this is about the longest day of my life.
Zante’s Pizza | Nov 7 | 1:35am
Last call, and I was still making deliveries. I decided the platter of sushi in the passenger seat was my last run of the night. If Harry threatened to fire me again, I’d say I was out of gas, or asleep, or dead, even if he could see me, which I have reason to think. I glanced down at the dashboard. Shit, I really was almost out of gas.
In our old tour van, Effective Disorder was never afraid to use everything we had in the tank, and we actually made it to most of our gigs. There was a 76 station ahead on the left, but I kept driving. “Fuck it.”
It was a new address for me. I only kinda knew where I was going, which made it more exciting. Mission Street had too many people leaving the bars, so I veered left onto Valencia and took a sip of the Cabernet Sauvignon in my cup holder. That was also running on empty. At the light, I reached under the passenger seat for a refill, but the bottle was already tapped out.
I took a left at 24th. There were plenty of liquor stores up the hill but no filling stations. I just had to drop off the sushi. Then I could double back.
I passed a spot where we once played a house show and the noise got our friend evicted. The city was crowded with times I would never live again. I chugged the last of the Sauv in my cup to help ignore them and drive, but I couldn’t forget how it used to be.
Punk rock was reckless. It didn’t matter if we couldn’t play, if we didn’t have the best equipment. If we made it big, we’d be sellouts. Our goal was the opposite, to make as much noise as possible before we burned out, to let others know they could do the same. What could follow that?
The delivery was on a tiny street. I took a right and found myself on its 200 block. I checked the phone. I needed number 35.
I stepped on the gas and disappeared up the hill. The streetlights were far apart, but when I saw the end of the street up ahead, I slowed down and squinted at the houses to read the numbers. Behind me, the liquor stores would close in less than twenty minutes.
There. I grabbed the sushi, left the car going and ran up the steps. I hate running, but this was a crazy night. I looked from room to room for the computer screen light and dropped off the food next to the one called “Chewbacca.”
I wondered if all their code names were from movies, but I didn’t care anymore. It was quitting time.
Kashyyyk | 1:48am
On the front steps, I took a breath and looked back and forth. The convenience store lights were tiny, way down the hill. It was so still and quiet, I didn’t even hear my car’s engine whirring.
“Shit.” I ran again, took the steps two at a time down to my car. The hood was still hot from the engine overheating.
I got in and turned the key. The starter rattled, then the street went back to total quiet. I tried again, but the dead gas needle was frozen below ‘E’.
I slammed the steering wheel with my hands. “Goddamnit, hatchback.” It was time to run.
It actually felt good to open my own throttle and run down the hill, to prove I still had the fire and recklessness, but I was out of shape.
My thigh tensed at the wrong time, and for one step, my right foot didn’t go quite as far as I wanted. The rhythm was broken, and my other foot launched me across the valley.
For a fraction of a second, I hung in midair, a poseur punk with no one to fight, no drums and no stable rhythms of any kind.
My left knee landed first, but my hands were out to break my fall. My body bounced and slid to a stop. I’m lucky I didn’t tumble the rest of the way down the block.
I got up and took a few steps. Everything still worked. My hands just had a little blood on them.
I licked my wounds and tasted the coppery flavor mixed with asphalt. I figured that would be it, but then they really started to flow, and I got dizzy watching it. I wiped my hands, smearing blood all over my clothes. I had to keep walking until I could get some alcohol for everything.
I marched downhill with a shaky buzz going, feeling just like during a show. The familiar adrenaline helped me ignore my injuries and keep fighting.
I reached the main road and saw the store light just a half a block away. I was saved. I reached into my pocket, smearing more blood on my pants, and checked the phone. It was 1:58.
I started a shambling run, fighting my injured knee with every step. My legs wobbled, but I used all the strength I had left. Most people die never knowing what they really have in the tank, but Casimir showed me how to find out what we’re capable of.
With each painful step, the store got closer, and I made it to the door just as the neon ‘open’ light turned off.
I rattled the chain holding the door closed. A guy inside was doing inventory. I checked the phone again.
Shufat Market | 1:01am
I banged on the window and showed him the time.
He shook his head. It was Daylight Saving night, when the clocks turned back an hour, but they still stopped selling alcohol two hours after midnight.
I sat on the curb, bled and laughed to keep from crying. It was early Sunday morning. In a few hours, yuppies would cram into the brunch places all around me, but I was alone. There was a 24-hour doughnut shop next door, but I didn’t need caffeine or sugar.
I wondered what Casimir would say if he saw me out there. I didn’t want to think about it, but I was wired with nothing to drink. It was the longest night of my life, five hours until the stores opened. I was sobering up, and I couldn’t forget about everything I lost.
I was the guy who stored wine for nights like that, but it was gone. Some people might take a night like that as a sign they shouldn’t drink so much, but I’m no quitter.