(As performed by Filter. Music & Lyrics by Harry Nilsson)
My apology goes to the door. What a Fucker. Fine. Last time Torres plays nicely. Mister Torres plays drums better than he plays nice, anyhow.
kick-tap-kick-kick-tap One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do.
Kick-Tap-kick-Kick-taphatTwo can be as bad as one
it's the loneliest number since the number one
The concrete and unfinished walls in the garage make the sharp snare & hat bounce like a superball while the kick makes the plywood vibrate against the studs in the wall. Mama's going to be pissed if I don't lay off. My sticks stop and my arms twitch compulsively, ending the beat; my order to stop too slow to catch up with the previous message to beat the shit out of the skin. If these drums were a face, they'd look like mine.
The piccolo snare Mama got me for Christmas sounds like a coffee can with leather on top I tap it in a half-time and open the high-hat for a counterpoint. Tap. Tap-zing..... slip-Tap. Tap-zing..... slip-Tap. over & over. My left heel comes down on the kick, and soon I'm beating out Harry Nilsson, again. This has to fucking stop. Punk lives at 150. If I slow down any more, Harley will have to get out his Ovation, and I'll be dealing with him and a whine that even a Rickenbacker couldn't match. I don't know how Mikhail does it, sometimes. He's beautiful as a human being, but I can always go home at the end of the day. How did he deal with that fucker, too? Is he some sort of (KICK-CRASH.... TAPKICKRIDEhat)
No is the saddest experience you'll ever know
"What, was that Cyan?" riderideridesingclutch
Yes it's the saddest experience that you'll ever know.
"Jesus, Merce," I'm jumping out of my skin. I must be somewhere else. "Don't sneak up on me!"
"What're you singing?"
"I wasn't," was I?
"You were too," Mercedes mocked. She's better than her twin at that. "You're lonely!"
"He has nothing to do with it," I'm snarling. Her brows squiggle up in that expression Skids always laughs at when it's on my face.
"He, who?" I don't know what's coming out of my own mouth.
"Dude, go away," I'm the eldest. I have power. My right foot falls on the hat, and it sings as it's raised.
"Are you going to have your boyfriend beat me up, Cyan," she giggles and dodges my swing easily, since i'm stuck behind two feet of steel, chrome, wood, and leater.
"I'm going to make it so Mama doesn't recognise you, *Puta*," I spit at her as her face bleaches out and she runs into the house. The door slams behind her, and I'm kicking off again...
'Cause one is the loneliest number that you'll ever do...
One is the loneliest number, worse than two
Knock. Knock knock knock at my door. "Ci?" I don't look up from a book on polymers, a musicians catalogue, and a Vogue that came out of the washroom with me. Even at ten o'clock, this place is still worse than the student union for noise. The door opens, and it's Mama--she's the only one who knocks. I don't look up from my reading as she sits in my swivel-chair. "Hi, Mama," I greet her when I hear the chair squeak.
"*Mijo*," she sighs, and that's the cue to put on the haz-mat suit because the biowaste is in the turbine. I close my book and magazines and roll over on my back, propping myself up on my elbows.
"You know your sisters love you," is the lecture. It's been two months and I was about due. "You shouldn't scare them like that."
"Like what, Mama?"
"Cyanide," she's the only one who can say my name like that. I feel my face flush. She sees it and smiles. I'm a good boy and she knows it. "Mercedes says you're in love with Skids."
All of a sudden, I'm on fire. Spontaneous human combustion. "No," I cough, choking on the smoke from under my skin, sucking in another breath as my flesh sublimates under the heat of humiliation, "that's not true, Mama." And it isn't. I know it isn't.
"It's okay, Cyanide, Papa and I love you," which is no consolation. "We only want you to be happy."
"I," start, "Don't," well, "Like," heterosexual, "Boys." There. Truth makes everything better!
"Why would Mercedes make this up?"
"Why would Mercedes feed my phenolphthalein to Juancho," I snapped back. That shit was expensive. Mama shrugged.
"You know you can talk to me any time," she reaches out and touches my knee.
"Even if it were true," I confess, "it wouldn't be Skids. That would be like dating Rosa." At this she laughs. Rosa and I haven't acted civilly towards one another since I was twelve and she was 10.
"At least you two might talk, then," she's chortling, now, "eh?" She pats my knee and stands up. "You meet a nice girl, then, and bring her over for Sunday Dinner," she orders.
"Yes, Mama. Or a nice boy to be the son you never had," I laugh at her back as she lets herself out.
"If it makes you smile, *corazon*."
It's just no good anymore since you went away!
Now I spend my time just making rhymes of "yesterday"
"Dude," a hand shakes me awake. "Dude, get up!"
"Mff," I manage, "fuck ahhzzhshkkk."
"God damnit, Cyanide," it's more shrill, this time, "get your skinny ass outta bed!"
I roll over onto my back. My face hurts from sleeping on my left side. If I sleep on my right, I face the wall, and I can't sleep like that.
"Dude," he says, shocked, "what happened to your face?" Harley stares at me with blue eyes too large for his face.
"Your boyfriend's ex-boyfriend happened," I snarl and turn to face the wall. A drumstick slaps my thigh and my left hand rockets out catching Harley's without looking.
One is the loneliest number one
is the loneliest
"Owieowieowie," continued in that vein for a while until I let him go.
"Man, you've gone soft," there's a thump and all of a sudden there's 170 pounds landing on my bed.
"Bet *YOU* haven't," Skids says as he digs his fingers into my sides. I twitch, and I can feel my jewelry dragging across the pillow, but laughter coming out of my mouth kills any protests. I manage to get on my back and push against my attacker--Harley's staying out, giggling at his two best friends roughhousing on a twin bed. Still, he's right, and within moments he's got me pinned on my back, his hips holding me down. "Dude, what happened to your eye," Gio is worse than Mama, sometimes. "Did *I* do that," he panics.
"Tybalt did it," Harley growls
"It looks painful," Skids says, taking my face in his hands, "I'll fix it," he says in that mock-serious-everyone-thinks-I'm-an-idio
"Gerroff me, ya goombah," Skids giggles. I'm more Italian than he is. His grandad was DiAngelo, his dad was Kraut DiAngelo, and Skids is Brit Finn Kraut Kraut DiAngelo. Which means he's a hunky, sexy bitch. I can see why my sisters would be jealous if I were to... but I'd never. "I heart you, Skids, but it'd be like dating Rosa,"
"Your sister," Goldman chimes, "eeeeeewwwwww..."
"She's not so bad, Cy," Mutt DiAngelo opines as I locate trousers to fasten on my hips. The ones from yesterday serve well enough.
"You haven't dealt with her for the last 18 years," as I snap-buckle-zip my way to socially acceptable wardrobe, since blue y-fronts make for more questions than they answer. Looking in the mirror above my dresser, my hair is a mess. I walk to the washroom and my friends follow. As I brush my hair, Skids discusses someone named Nina Simone and Harley plays air-guitar with my sticks. Mama calls them away for refreshments (she's the consummate hostess--no Martha Stewart, but always at the ready) and I manage to shut the door and brush my teeth and piss.
One is the loneliest
Number, one is the loneliest...
We rehearse for the gig that's never coming. All Miss Jackson (if you're nasty) said was, "s'bout time," and laughed. I laughed too. Skids & Harley seem to be in their own little musical world. Skids actually manages to perform at a hotel piano-bar near the dorms, and he knows more odd tunes than anyone I know, but mostly it's played mechanically. Harley's dream of being a lead guitar likely won't be realized, either. I don't pretend to be anything other than a drummer. I hit things and make noise, and as long as I'm doing that, I'm doing my job. Rasheequa can get a gig because she's a Girl Who Plays Bass. Still, we're friends and we play.
"CYANIDE," Harley is shouting at me. My percussive reverie is broken for a moment and my arms jerk to a stop, the left starting out to silence the ride. Splash, ride, hat.
"Jesus, Harley, WHAT NOW?!"
"Where are you, man," he accuses, "you never miss beats, and you're all over the place, today."
"Nothin'," my accent is coming. This can't be good. I haven't rolled an N in a�os, so I say, "Sorry," and I kick off and count, again, into the same Three Dog Night.
is the loneliest
"Did you want to sing that song, Cyan," Skids asks, looking concerned.
"We're NOT going to play that song," Harley pontificates. I'm not feeling particularly agreeable. I ride it out.
"Number... one is the LONELIEST NUMBER!" Skids joins in, like always, and Rasheequa joins in after a bar and a half. I kill the beat for a measure, and I'm off on some Drum & Bass thing that I heard coming from Rosa's room the other day. It's easy--kickkick tap tick kickkicktapkicktapkick--to do, and I tilt my head at them to keep going. "Two can be as bad as one, it's the loneliest number since the number one," yeah. Harley is the color of Tybalt's hair. Or Tabitha's tattoo. Yeah, the landlady's tattoo is closer. I let the splash & rides spin out. I tap the piccolo a bit and give the tambourine a little hit and test the clave.
"Did he knock your brain loose, Cyan," Harley is seething. Rasheequa looks worried. Skids has the Not Again look on his face.
"Yeah, and now I can only play easy," I'm pissed, "listening and," I'm going to say something, "other," stupid, "fag," fuck, "favorites!" Everyone's faces turn white, then red. Even Rasheequa, and for her, that's effort.
Harley is shaking. He's red, and he's clutching the neck of his Strat in a grip that should break the maple in two. In the next quarter second, five years of building and saving and gifts and lessons and practice and hours and everything that I've built in friendship from my first drum set 7 years ago. My Pearls & Zildjians and the new Yamaha Piccolo that Mama got me for Christmas. The splash I might be able to get hammered, the ride is gone. The standing tom and the medium tom are gone. The strat is broken at the neck, and there's an impressive feedback as the amp picks up the sounds of *destruction profundo*. I manage to come off the throne quickly enough, but the snapped strings lash across my face.
"I'm sorry, Harls," I whisper. I don't know if he can hear me above the feedback, "I'm sorry," I say again, and I taste the blood trailing down my face from the B or high E string. The only two left are the low E and G. Harley holds the neck still, with the golden body dangling off the remaining steel. I'm the only one moving in the room. I can hear the hum from the dropped lead and the low B on Rasheequa's Rickenbacker is still carrying on the Maxima Golds she strings it with. Fuckers hold a note forever. I set up the tripods and tilt the racks and pretend to arrange the face of the floor tom that I never really use, anyhow.
Rasheequa unplugs the lead & kills her amp, and Skids does the same for the remaining noise-makers.
"Cyanide," My mother calls from in the house.
"Ci, Mama," I shout back. Small words so my voice doesn't crack.
"*Que fue eso*," she shouts.
"*Nada, mama*," thank Christ Spanish is so much easier. It's over & done with, quickly. Just don't come in.
"Cy, I," Harley starts. "Your face..."
"S'fine, Harley," I choke out with my new two-syllable English limit. I don't even have to think, anymore.
"We can play it if you," he won't let it go...
"I don't care, Harley. I'm mainly concerned about cleaning up and putting this back together." Yes. Anger gives a lovely focus from which to espouse many fine logical syllogisms. "If it needs to be said, I can't rehearse until I fix these," means business as usual, of course.
"I'm," Harley keeps knocking.
"I'm sorry guys," I interrupt. "I'm going to have to call it a day." Skids & Rasheequa are out the door with quick goodbyes. I cough a pardon, and the tears really sting as they hit the shallow cut on my cheek.
"Cyan," Damnit, he's still here.
"Harley," I look at him, dead in those sterile blue pools. I grab him, hold him close, and I kiss his cheek and smile. "Go on. Get out. I'll call you tomorrow or day-after."
He smiles and goes, dropping the neck of his mangled Stratocaster. If he had a Les Paul, he'd still have a guitar. I clip the strings with my Multi-Tool and set it back in the enameled aircraft aluminum case layered with Blink stickers. I close the case, wrap the cords around my arm for storage and set Harley's amp aside. I do my best to repair the appearance of my destroyed drum-faces, but the only place they're going, for now, is under the rubber. I slide the nylon slip-covers from Pearl over the faces, too, just in case any sisters get nosy--not that they'll be stopped by synthetics. The Zildjians I replace with the Avanti's I've got hanging in a storage cabinet, where I'd hoped they'd gather dust. Seems that now I'll be saving another three hundred dollars to replace the Crash & Ride. The Piccolo snare isn't as bad-off as I thought. I never got it mounted properly, anyhow. Masters Maple 4-Piece (the tom was from an earlier set that I sold to one of Rosa's boyfriends last year--she dumped him shortly thereafter) still mostly intact.
is the loneliest number, one
The water is hot, and it fucking stings. Ow. For being pierced & tattooed, I have to say pain hurts. I scrub the lemon-scented body wash (besides the drums, my one luxury) over me, working it into my skin like I worked oil into the baseball mitt to play with Jeff & Rosa on the Boys & Girls Club team. They never let me bat since I had longer hair than my sister and she outweighed me by a good ten pounds. A year younger and so much tougher. I always managed to kick her ass, though. I rinse the conditioner out of my hair and lean back, wringing it out into the drain. The knots get brushed out as the mirror clears, and then it's tied back with one of the innumerable rubber bands lingering for just the purpose here in the washroom.
The cut is shallow and the bleeding has stopped. It starts about a centimeter left of my nose and curves up almost to the corner of my eye. Maybe some chick will take sympathy on my poor abused face, though the black eye isn't as bad as it was on Christmas. A little hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and Neosporin and a Band-Aid over the deep bit takes care of the mess. I shave to get rid of the seven o'clock shadow that'll be popping back up to four o'clock by tomorrow morning. They say chicks dig hairy guys. maybe i really should let it grow in--Rasputin doesn't have trouble getting the girls, even though he wouldn't go near them with a ten foot pole.
is the loneliest number
I'm over to apartment 667 the next day and everything's normal. I can unleash my frustrations with Harley on his broody boyfriend. Yes, he grabbed my ass and punched me in the face then tossed me out the front door. He asks about the band-aid, too, and I tell him to ask his boy-toy about that but in the meantime can I borrow the paper to look for some part-time in the classifieds, since my Zildjians got tagged in the process, and maybe I'll manage enough to slide a China Splash or a bell cymbal in there. Harley doesn't want to confess, so I lie to Mikhail from behind the Times: Harley had an accident with his guitar and a misplaced lead and my cymbals and a couple of drums had issue with gravity. Iron alloys under tension met with my face to provide the band aid to make the left side of my face look like I'd met with loan sharks. When he asks why my hair is down and not glued into urchin-spines as is my habit, I crush the paper down to the table, make sure I have his attention, and draw my bangs across my left eye. "Chemistry isn't my only talent, Rasputin. Welcome to the many changing looks of Cyanide." He reaches in the cabinet, pulling out a calico ceramic jar filled with bills. He hands twenty or so of these to Harley, who lights up, and orders us out to go out and buy new toys.
One is the loneliest
"Ah, Mister Goldman!" You can taste the capital letters on every word in the dusty little music shop. "Welcome back!"
"Hi, Saul," Harley says picking out an Aquamarine Fender American Strat with maple fretboard.
"Mister Goldman," Saul chides, "this is your second in three months!" I don't think he minds Harley at all.
"He needs drums, too," Harley points at me as I blush.
"Cymbals," I correct. I need cymbals.
"What do you need, Sir," Saul asks obsequiously. It seems Harley has purchased his affections with Mikhail's money. I wonder how many friends 32 million dollars can buy?
"Zildjian Brilliant Ride, 20 inch," Saul nods and looks about in a rack of boxes for something only he knows how to find. "And a K Dark Medium-Thin Crash." He takes one box immediately out from the middle and sets it on the counter--the K--and continues looking for the ride.
"You take good metals, Mister," Saul waits for me to fill in the blank
"Torres," Harley and I both say, at the same time. We giggle like we were fifteen, again, and I wander over to this sparkly pink monstrosity on the sales floor. I've seen jazz drummers use them, before, and for being so godawful ugly they have unique sound quality. "Hey," I shout for attention after picking up the brushes (instead of sticks), "alright if I give it a whisk?"
"So polite, your friend," Saul says to Harley. Harley rolls his eyes. "You make yourself to home, Mister Torres."
All toms, no bass, no snare, no pedaled hat. Just a tiny splash/ride and a closed hat. I find the pedal for a side-kick on the large tom that's the centerpiece. I manage to scrape out a bit and before I destroy a bar of whatever I'm trying to brush, Harley's back with a pair of 5-B's. I kick off, and it's an easy play, though the floor-tom isn't quite as low as a bass drum it's not bad. The hat is clean and the crash/ride seems to be decent enough for being a yamaha. Not a bad set, even though it's awkward as hell.
"Eh, Mister Torres," Saul's found my ride, now. "You gonna take that home, too?"
"It's twelve hundred dollars too much," I blush. I have champagne tastes and an isopropyl budget. "You can discuss it with my sugar-daddy, though. The blond is buying."
Saul makes noises and says that he thought Harley was the one being kept. Harley is indignant and I get a snicker out of it. I play with the sticks as I wander about looking for something to replace that floor tom. Saul has the 14-inch Pearl here. Between this and the Cymbals and the sticks and the axe, I've about topped us out. Saul invites us back any time after Harls rounds out the purchase with a dozen picks and strings. Two grand gone in a matter of moments. I'm in shock but glad. These are better Zildj's than I had, before. The floor tom I might play since Saul insisted I take a pair of felt mallets and those brushes with me and that I promise to come back and think on that Yamaha set.
"What're you doing here, yo," I ask Skids, dressed casually at the front door. I hold it open for him and he steps inside. Mama comes to the door and squeezes the air out of him, as always. "Mama," I say. She gives me the look that says Shut Up.
"ROSA," she shouts.
"Oh," She chuckles and winks at Skids. "I thought my little Cyanide wasn't in love!" Skids giggles as I turn red. At the puzzled look on my face, she explains. "Skids called for you the other night, but you fell to bed so early he talked to Rosa, instead." As if this explains everything.
"Your sister asked me out, Cy," Skids giggles, "and I couldn't wait for you, forever." He pokes me in the side and blushes as I shake my head. The black is almost gone, and only a bit of pink remains from my run-in with the E-string.
"If you would've let me know," I'm mock indignant. Really. "I would've made my move before now," I place my arms on either side of him in the narrow confines of the hallway. This makes for a great joke. Especially since I can hear Rosa coming. Mama is laughing because she can see what's going to happen. "You have to keep me aware of this sh..." I still can't swear in front of Mama, "...tuff," and I lean into him just as Rosa
screams "CYANIDE!" and Mama and I fall down laughing. Rosa can barely breathe. Skids looks confused, the poor boy, he's been coming around for the past six years and he's part of the family so he's part of the jokes but he's got to come in as an outsider again to go out with Rosa. Good luck, compadre, you'll need it!
"Rosa, you look beautiful," Skids is a genius at distraction. She turns the Torres Crimson. It's why Mama named her. Cyanide sounded beautiful & masculine. Rosa came out beet-friggin-red.
"Thank you, Gio," she says calmly. She has a hat and her purse and she's out the door with scarcely a goodbye, dragging Skids along with her.
is the loneliest number,