Crossman has always been a little on the dark side. Hi, my name is Justin, and I’m Cross’s guita r player. I met Cross in a local coffee house called The Beat only a couple of months ago. The Beat is an old house that was turned into a small privately owned business for the likes of odd characters like the Beatniks, hippies who have nothing to talk about other than events of the sixties, the Goths, who think they are too good for everyone and try to be mysterious, the Silent Ones who were too weird to actually associate with normal people, the bookworms, who don’t really associate but always have their nose in a book, and then there were very few guys like me, the Want to Be Left Alone crowd. Cross at the time I met him, seemed to fit into a half breed crowd: The Silent/Goths. But like I said the Beat used to be a house, and is still set up like one, there are bedrooms with nothing in them but a few booths probably taken from an old restaurant and some table and chairs that didn’t match. You get your coffee in the kitchen, and you can relax on the couches in what used to be the living room. It was nothing fancy, just old furniture probably donated by some second hand store, or maybe even some artist who thought that his “work” wasn’t sufficient enough for his own home. Who knows? The floors are all wooden, and there are no curtains on the windows. This allows enough light up and downstairs to not have to waste electricity. But in each window there is a candle, at night you can look at the house from the street and you would swear that it was straight out of the Old World, when electricity wasn’t a commodity, but rather a luxury. I once stood outside the house in the street, and imagined a famous writer writing with an old feather pen by one of those candles writing what would soon be the next big novel in history. That was when I decided to start going to the Beat to write at all, in hopes that maybe someday by me writing by their candlelight that I just very well may be that next famous writer. Yeah, right.
It was the middle of July and the place was packed in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, as it always is, and I actually go there to be alone. Even with the place being packed it’s still quiet enough for me to write in peace. I like to go there to write lyrics, something I have never been very good at, but all the same, it’s something I love to do. Also, I don’t really fit into any of the cliques that go there. I can be my own person, as everyone usually thinks they are. I can drown out the loud opinions of the college kids, and the silence of people like Cross, who just happened to be sitting at the table across from me, in what used to be the master bedroom.
I was writing frantically in my notebook, as I always do there, and couldn’t help but feel like someone was watching me. I didn’t want to look up and break my concentration in case my instincts proved me correct. But curiosity got me and I had to look up. I was indeed correct. It was Cross staring at me.
I looked over and he was wearing what I would soon find to be his signature cloak, a dark pair of small-framed sunglasses, and high black boots. It was odd for him to be wearing all this clothing in the heat of July. His cloak was covering up the rest of his outfit, but I was sure that it was something dark like his appearance. He sat there motionless, with a cigarette burning over an ashtray, and it seemed as though he hadn’t moved a single muscle since I noticed him there. It also looked as though he was staring at me through those dark glasses, but I couldn’t be sure. There was just something about him that caught my attention.
I kept looking up from my notebook, to see if he had moved, and he had not. He just sat there with that frivolous darkened stare that I was unsure of. Finally, I got annoyed, slammed down my pen and stared back. I think that is what he was actually waiting for, because he then spoke.
“I want to make love with you,” he said. Startled, I must have given him a queer look. I knew at the time that the Beat was full of unusual characters, but we lived in such a small town that homosexuals rarely “came out of the closet”. So I went back to my notebook, trying to ignore him. “Musically,” he explained. I was speechless. I was baffled on how this Goth character knew I was a musician. I know that I can usually tell a musician when I see one. Musicians usually have that certain “aura” about them. They usually hold themselves in pretty high regards. But I was not one to be guessed a musician, by far. A possible bookworm, but never a musician.
I never looked up from my notebook ashamed of what he thought I was thinking. But then, I took into great consideration of how he approached me. He told me something that most people would think of as odd, or out of the ordinary, something he knew would catch my attention. I respected that. I looked up at him. He still never moved an inch. A small grin came to my face, and I said, “Ok, let’s do it.” He immediately got up before I could gather my notebook, and headed for the door.
“Fine, let’s go,” he whispered. I began to gather my notebook and things, and he stopped in the middle of the doorway of the bedroom, with his back towards me. “You won’t need that. Leave it here.” I assumed he meant my notebook of lyrics, but I packed it in my book bag all the same, and followed with him as my lead.
It was then that I grew excited and curious about him, wondering what kind of music he was into, or if he could even play, and if so, what did he play? With my questions unanswered, I followed him to his car, and got in the passenger seat. We drove to an abandoned little warehouse just inside of downtown, not far from the coffee house. I followed this strange new friend up two flights of stairs where he finally disappeared down a long corridor full of closed doors. I walked in the direction of the corridor and found only one door wide open, the others closed. I peered in to find three others who I would find out in time were the other members in the band, in a room full of instruments. I looked around and saw a guitar off to the side next to a half stack of amps. I looked at it and the figure that led me here told me to plug in and just follow the band’s lead. I was never introduced until after that first audition. From then on out, I have been in that warehouse four to five nights a week, practicing with The Growing Dim Project.
Lenny sat in the crowd listening to their applause. Cross was bent in half on stage sucking up every minute of it, living off of every pair of hands that came together for him and his morbid prose. Lenny watched as the candelabras flickered and the fog cleared from the stage. The band scurried around to their rightful positions as Cross slowly raised his head and grinned at the crowd. His grin proving to Lenny, if no one else, that he was a huge Danny Elfman fan, only because Lenny knew that Cross imitated him every chance he got. Lenny, called Leonard in those days, remembered giving Cross his first Oingo Boingo album.
The year was 1989 and Cross had wandered into The Music Shack, Lenny’s record store, a small shop that sold mostly vinyl and cassettes, but also served as a head shop to the local drug abusers in town. He kept a room in the back of the store with glass cases full of marijuana pipes, incense, and sold an occasional bong every now and then. The front of the store was full of T-shirts, small boom boxes, and of course, the bins and bins of vinyl. Lenny was fooling around with an old tape deck behind the counter, when Cross walked in. Lenny turned around and saw a young boy with scruffy hair and a nasty attitude.
Potential thief, thought Lenny. He watched as the young boy, possibly eleven, wandered around the store, but took notice of the drumsticks hanging out of the boy’s back pocket. Lenny went up behind the boy pretending to shuffle through the vinyl.
“Whatcha lookin’ for, little man?” he asked. No answer. The boy merely gave Lenny a glare and kept looking at the album in his hands. Lenny decided to try again.
“You play drums, kid? Maybe you should take a look at the bulletin board over there.” Lenny pointed towards the door where tiny pieces of paper were thumb tacked all around the door, not really a bulletin board at all. “If you’re any good, you could start a band, and I could put your album over there.” He pointed to a sign across the store that read:
Support Your Own!
The kid never even looked where he was pointing, let alone at Lenny.
Lenny looked at the kid’s clothes, torn up jeans, a pair of beat up old tennis shoes, and a faded Led Zeppelin T-shirt. The kid shifted the sticks in his back pocket. The sticks were torn to shreds at the tips, so either the kid liked to play heavy metal, or he inherited the sticks from an actual drummer. Lenny then looked at the album in the kid’s hands, “In Through the Out Door”, a classic Led Zeppelin album.
“Pretty obvious you like Led…” Lenny had started to say but was interrupted.
“Look, Leonard, can’t you see that I want to be left alone?” the kid said. How the hell did he know his name? Oh well, he would deal with that later.
“Ok, kid, have it your way. But hey look, I got this new album from a friend of mine, do you mind if I give it a listen?” Lenny asked as he headed back to the counter. He grabbed a tape from behind the counter and flipped it around in his hand. “Better yet, why don’t you take it, and let me know how it is.” He threw the tape in the kid’s direction. Not a movement on the kid’s part. The tape hit the floor next to him and he took a quick glance away from the Zeppelin album to see what it was that landed next to him.
“Oingo Boingo? Get real, man. You can keep your sissy shit to yourself.”
“Yours for the takin’, little man,” said Lenny as he tried to act like he was ignoring the kid. Cross took another glance at the tape on the floor, set down the Zeppelin album, snatched up the tape and booked for the door. The door slammed shut before Lenny even knew he was gone. Lenny shook his head and laughed.
For weeks, Cross never returned and Leonard had almost forgotten about the whole incident. It was a rainy Sunday, about 5 o’ clock, and Lenny was just about to close shop when the door swung open. Cross walked in dripping wet, hair matted down and clothes sticking to him from the rain. He looked at Leonard behind the desk grabbing his coat to go home.
“What else ya’ got?” Cross demanded. Lenny looked at the soaked kid in the doorway and chuckled as he put on his coat. The kid looked out of breath, like he had been running through the rain trying to get to the shop before Lenny closed.
“You liked it, eh, little man?” Cross just stood there, panting, and waiting for his answer. “Well, sorry, kid, but that’s it for today, I’m going home.”
“My name is Cross, so quit calling me ‘kid’ and ‘little man’,” said Cross, actually proving to Lenny that he had a bad attitude.
“Well, Cross, like I said, it’s late, and I’m going home. I’ll be open again tomorrow.” Lenny said. He looked at the kid in this dripping wet clothes standing in the doorway, and almost felt bad for the little bastard. He went over to the T-shirt rack, and then looked back at the scrawny kid just standing there, and remembered he liked Led Zeppelin. He pulled out one of the band’s shirts and threw it at Cross. “It’s a little big, but at least it’s dry.” Cross, now shivering from the rain, peeled off the soaked shirt he had on and put on the shirt that was thrown at him.
“Now lock that door behind ya’. I can stick around until the rain lets up or you dry off. But after that, I’m going home. Understand?” Cross nodded and locked the door behind him.
“C’mon, down here, and I’ll show you what else I got,” said Leonard. He walked through the hanging beads in a doorway that led to the basement of the shop. A customer would have never noticed it unless it was pointed out to him. Cross followed Leonard down the stairs. “And what do you know about one of the greatest rock bands to ever have played?”
Cross noticed as he walked down the stairs that this was where Lenny had his own personal studio full of instruments and microphones and a 4 track recorder, what Leonard called a “cheap way of recording oneself.” Cross was enthralled with the studio and could hardly keep his attention on what Lenny was saying in awe of all the instruments and technical equipment. They talked of Led Zeppelin and Oingo Boingo through the rain, which went on through most of the night. Lenny told Cross how he was “his own personal one-man band”, that he knew very little about how to play the instruments he saw but knew just enough to get his point across. Cross didn’t say much, merely listened, his full attention given to every word that poured from Lenny.
Now here was Lenny sitting at one of Cross’s shows. He was proud and jealous at the same time. Proud for the fact that he knew that he had been somewhat of an influence in Cross’s life, but jealous that Cross had more intelligence and promise than he ever would. Yet through all these emotions, he also felt fear. He and Cross had once been close, and Lenny knew what Cross was capable of, which was almost anything Cross desired.
Drums have always fascinated me, so when Cross had agreed to let me play those simple little notes for our opening part of the act, I was so excited. I’m getting out from behind his drum set, and his concoction of drums and electronics just fascinates me. Cross has tried to explain the set to me, but I don’t know all the technical names for things. I know that it’s a six-piece Peavey set mixed with a full set of electronic drum pads, making this one hell of a thirteen-piece drum set. The Peavey set is beautiful all on its own, with its metallic blue paint, and the tons of little Zildjian cymbals accenting the set. There are two bass drums, two snares, and the rest of it, I have no idea what the names are, Cross has told me, but the names leave me now. I just sit back and wonder how the hell Cross keeps everything straight back there. He has two what he calls “brains” controlling all the electronic pads. He told me once that this would give him more diversity in his playing. How true that is.
There isn’t another drummer in town with Cross’s sound. I think Cross is just about the most original drummer on stage. But then again, I have never worked with any other drummers, so maybe I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. I only know that Cross’s drum set is a sight to see.
I come down from the drum podium to go and take my place next to Cross who is still bent in half center stage. The crowd loves him, and I sometimes wonder why he ever asked me to be the singer in the band. He knows that he is the catch of the show, so why doesn’t he just take over? But anyway, I’m getting a little nervous now, because our next song is a cover tune that Cross picked. I hate doing cover tunes because I never know what to do with them. Do I try to imitate the original singer, or make it my own song? I especially hate doing songs that are originally sung by men, and the Stones originally did this next song. I was never a big fan of them, but like I have said a thousand times before, Cross can be very convincing when he wants to be. I think I also agreed to it, because I am always trying to avoid an argument with Cross. I don’t think I have ever seen him upset, and I don’t think I would ever want to.
Why, just yesterday at practice, I wanted to tell him something but was too afraid that he would get angry. We were sitting on the old beat up couch that Justin donated to our little practice room, and I grew nervous as Cross sat upright smoking and twirling his cigarette in the ashtray. I was leaned back on the couch, just watching him, waiting for the right time to confess up before the rest of the band arrived. When I finally got enough gumption to speak my mind, I reached out to touch his shoulder, and without even looking back at me, Cross spoke.
“I know,” he said. He startled me, as I took my hand back to my side. “I have a funny feeling about tomorrow night’s show, too.” At that point, I was pretty shocked that he knew what was on my mind, but then again, it always seemed like he did. Silence between us, as he watched his cigarette burn in the ashtray. He didn’t’ smoke much of it, just sat there and let it burn, never moving a muscle. I reached into my pocket and grabbed a cigarette myself, Cross was making me nervous in his silence, and he knew it because he then got up and went to his drums.
Before he could even pick up his sticks, Mike, Clint, and Justin all walked in. “Let’s get this show on the road,” said Clint, always eager to come to practice. Such a simpleton, I thought. I looked over at Cross as the rest of the band got ready for another practice and he gave me that “Let it go, everything will be alright” look. I couldn’t help it; I just had a funny feeling about tonight’s show. Cross almost seemed to read this from me, and then gave me that weird glare in his eye. And that is the same look I see now as he walks away from the microphone. It’s that look that tells me that he thinks that no one can do him any harm. When I see this look I know that something is really bothering him, and he won’t let me in to try and help him.
Cross walks away from the mike now to shed off the coat I wish he would get rid of already to show off his outfit. Cross has such great taste in everything, he never ceases to amaze me. The shirt, if you could call it that, is an old strait jacket, the sleeves obviously loose and tailored into regular sleeves, but the buckles are still on the back of this shirt and it fits his slender form rather mysteriously. He dyed it a dark hunter green, to match his eyes I would think. This shirt fits his personality rather well, crazy, yet free at the same time. With this odd shirt, he wore real leather pants, not those fake pleather pants that most rock musicians wear, but real leather. I had to put leather protector on them before the show. And they were tight, like that of a real true rock star.
But I watched him get behind his drums, move the microphone so that he could speak to the crowd. He never did this much, he told me once that our lyrics spoke for him.
“Are you ready to rock?” he screamed into the crowd. Their silence bellowed into another uproar. I could tell that Cross was trying to get the crowd into my palm as he let me take center stage.
I took the microphone from the stand, and waited as Justin played those ever so familiar notes slowly across his guitar.
As Justin plays his intro, I wonder about quite a few things. Things have been going awfully weird for the band and me lately. But first and foremost I wonder about my ability to even be in this band. I wonder if I ever do cover songs any justice. Cross tells me I do an excellent job, but I still leave myself to wonder. I hear the original song in my head as I sing the pre-written lyrics and try not to sound too much like I am imitating the original singer.
Paint it, black. Why, oh why did Cross pick this song of the thousands upon thousands of songs to choose from? He once told me that it was one of his favorite songs, but I tend to wonder what special meaning it has for him. Even as I sing the lyrics now, I still wonder.
“No colors anymore, I want them to turn black.” My mind questions what this line means to him. And what about a red door? Does this too hold a meaningful purpose? Does Cross have “red doors” in his life that he does not want us, as a band to see? And why does he want them to turn black? Does he not see that he has already made them that way by not telling us about them? I know for fact that Cross has something in his life that most people cannot understand. He used to be in contact with this odd woman, Miranda. Whatever happened to his connections with her, he has never told me. But during his friendship with this woman, which I am sure there is more to it than I know about, I am can honestly say that is the only time I have ever seen Cross truly afraid. Of what, I may never know.
Cross and I met almost a year ago in a warehouse we were both working at. The positions we held were only seasonal, and we worked opposite shifts, so it’s a wonder to me that we even met. Cross worked the morning shift, 6 to 2:30, and I worked the midday, 1 to 9:30. The hour and a half overlap in our schedules was telling us we had to meet. At least that’s my outlook of it.
Cross’s post was upstairs, bagging up the clothes that I hung and tagged to go out to all the major department stores on the east coast. The job was not hard but rather tiring from doing the same thing for eight hours, five days a week. Tagging clothes and putting them on hangers all day, I would have never thought that by me writing some poetry on the back of one of the tags one day, that I would end up in a band, or in love for that matter.
It was November. I had been working in the warehouse for about a month and was pretty comfortable in my position by this time. The job was only to be seasonal and I knew that I would probably be laid off after the Christmas season. But anyway, I was waiting on the next bushel of clothes to hang when some great lines popped into my head. So as any kind of writer does, I grabbed the first piece of paper I could find, and pulled the pen from my ear. Not realizing what paper I grabbed, a tag that was to go on the next trolley of clothes, I cursed myself as I initialed the tag and sent it on it’s way. We had to initial the tags in case there was ever a problem, our supervisors would know whom to pin the blame.
I thought for sure I would never see the tag again, so I tried my hardest to remember the lines I wrote so that I may rewrite them on my lunch break. But my frustration of letting the tag go caused me to lose the lines in my head. I was sitting at my regular lunch table, alone. My friend Mike, now our bassist, had apparently called off sick that day. I couldn’t even eat my lunch as I got frustrated trying to remember the lines I wrote earlier. Giving up, I had my cigarette and went back to work early. I then forgot about the lines until my shift was over.
I packed up my coat and purse and headed out for my car. As I approached I noticed a small piece of paper fluttering underneath my windshield wiper. At first, I thought it was a ticket, but then I realized I was in my normal parking space, from which I never received a ticket in before. I hurried to my car to see what it was fluttering in my wipers. When I pulled it from the wiper, I realized it was the tag that had my mind in a frenzy through most of my afternoon. I turned it over and next to my initials was another set: CM. Who the hell is CM? I thought. And how the hell do they know my car? Oh well, at least I got my lines back.
The next day, I was telling Mike about the whole incident at lunch. He joked and told me I must have some kind of stalker, but when I told him I was seriously worried, he then told me not to be. He said my stalker, who mysteriously returned my writing, would show himself eventually, and indeed he did.
I let it go, when I noticed the day after the incident, all of the supervisors were huddled together trying to figure out what happened to a tag of a particular trolley of clothes. Neither Mike, me nor my stalker had confessed to knowing anything about the tag, so I decided to just erase the whole incident from my memory, leaving all my questions unanswered.
Two weeks had gone by, and not a word from my so called stalker. Until one day, I went out to my car to see a figure standing next to it. He was wearing his signature cloak, and smoking a cigarette about 2 yards away from my car. I walked by, trying not to notice him and got into my car. He never even looked at me until he approached my window.
He stood there looking at me, smoking his cigarette, until I rolled down my window a small crack. “Can I help you with something?” I asked.
“You write beautiful prose,” he said. “Did you ever finish it?” I said nothing, in shock that my stalker finally revealed himself.
“No,” I answered. “I have not.”
“Good,” he said, “because I have.” Not knowing what to do or say, I just sat there in my car. I lit a cigarette and rolled my window all the way down. “I would love to show it to you sometime, if you would like.”
I took a moment to get a good look at him. He had the most brilliant green eyes I had ever seen. He didn’t show much facial expression, but rather spoke to me with those beautiful green eyes. He looked cold, so I broke away from our stare and reached over to open the passenger door.
“One tick, let me tell Leonard I have a ride,” he said and vanished across the parking lot. About five minutes passed and he then helped himself into my car.
Breaks in the music as Mick Jagger’s lyrics are displayed through my vocal chords. “No more will my green seagull turn a deeper blue.” I sing as I remember Cross’s eyes that night.
I took another look at them as we drove to my apartment. Not one word was spoken between us. His eyes turned to a pale green, almost fluorescent in the pale moonlight. He stared straight ahead through the windshield trying not to look at me. It was either that or my stalker was mentally recording the way to my apartment, I couldn’t figure out which.
We arrived at my apartment, driving through dirt roads and passing farm houses, and he followed me up the stairs above my landlord’s garage, where my apartment was. As I unlocked the door, he followed me inside, and immediately began walking around. It was dark inside my apartment so I immediately went for a light switch. I heard the strike of a lighter and felt a hand caress my own as I placed it on the wall looking for the light switch. I looked at him, and noticed the flame of the lighter shadowed his face beautifully.
He let go of my hand, and watched as he walked around my apartment lighting all the candles he could find with the same flame that enhanced his facial features to me. I stood in the doorway, and he looked at me with every candle he lit, until he was in the back bedroom and I could see the growing light as his shadow was shed in the hallway leading up to the bedroom. I followed that shadow until I was in the bedroom myself. I looked around the bedroom, and at first I could not see him, but then in an instant, he appeared to me, eye to eye. How delicate were his eyes. I was once told that the eyes are the human windows to the soul. If this saying was true, then I knew at that point that his soul was delicate as well as the look in his eyes. He never needed to speak a word to me, his eyes expressed enough to me to know that he wanted to kiss me, as well as me wanting him to. He did, intensely. This nameless creature whom I have allowed into the sanctity of my home was now kissing me like I have never been kissed. I cannot tell you how many fairy tales I have read as a little girl that described the kiss I was receiving at that point and time. It was fairy tale like to the fullest extent. The only awkwardness between us was that I noticed he didn’t shut his eyes when he kissed me, like he wanted to see every move and expression on my face.
I allowed him to kiss me that way, and he then picked me up off the floor, and placed me gently on the bed. A Fairy Tale, indeed. We made love slowly and gently, once again, like I have never been made love to, or ever dreamed of for that matter. We still had said nothing to each other and even to this day I have never made love like we did that night. It was slow and smooth, and I had no idea he would be so gentle. We stared in each other’s eyes, looking into each other’s soul, speaking and communicating this way, through our eyes. We never spoke physically during this bliss moment and still not a word until we were lying next to each other smoking our cigarettes.
I reached over to my nightstand and grabbed my cigarettes and ashtray from the drawer and handed one to my lover as well. I could not help but to stare at him even as he lit my cigarette for me. He then lit his cigarette and took a deep hit from it, and exhaled in a deep breath, then laid back on my pillow, his chest still bared.
“I lied,” he said. His voice was low, but graceful, as was our love making.
“What?” I asked, surprised at the way he was starting our first conversation.
“I only added to your prose, I never finished it,” he said. “I thought we would finish it together.” He took another hit from his cigarette and then got up out of my bed, and went for his clothes across the floor. It was then that I fell in love with him. It was crazy, I didn’t even know his name, and here I was falling in love.
I sat up pulling up the sheets to watch him walk. His steps were light and he was unashamed of his nudity. He bent down to his pile of clothes on the floor, his cigarette hanging from his lower lip, eyes squinted from the smoke, and pulled out a folded up piece of paper from his pants pocket. He unfolded the paper and crawled back into bed with me. His movements were slight but dexterous all the same. He sat there next to me, looking at the paper he unfolded. He then put out his cigarette as he handed me the paper. What I read was so beautifully and well written that I was inspired to reach over to my nightstand and pull out a pen myself. My lover looked over my shoulder as I began adding lines to our beautiful poetry until I got stumped for the next line and it was then that he took the pen and paper from me to add the next line himself. We went back and forth in nothing but satin sheets and candlelight, passing the pen and paper until it was complete. Silence swept over us again, and we only gave facial expressions showing each other that we approved of the words we wrote.
With one final smile of approval from me, he signed his name on the bottom and handed over the pen and paper for me to sign. It was then that I learned the identity of my lover, Cross McKnight.
Another pause in the music as Justin plays an added solo by himself. It was just him playing and I stepped aside as I allowed him to take center stage. The crowd was loving it. The solo, simply the melody being played in heavy distorted chords was ended as Cross played a cymbal and snare accent note to let me and the band back in to the finale of the song.
“I see your red door, and I want to know your secrets,” I sang, looking at Cross, changing the lyrics. He looked at me astonished, and threw his head back in laughter as he played. Little did he know I was sincere in my changed lyrics.
As the last powerful quarter notes of the song were being played, I danced in large circles singing to the crowd. “I want to see your face, paint it black!” The faces of the crowd were blank as I held up my hand signaling for the band to end the song. Loud cheering and clapping as we ended and I stood there panting from singing so loudly. Apparently, to the crowd, I had done the song justice. But it still amazes that I am even considered a singer.
Cross and I wrote many songs that night but none will be more sentimental to me than our first composition, which we entitled War in the Sky. Most of the songs we play today, Cross and I wrote that night we first made love, passing over the pen and paper feeding off of each other’s written words for the next line. We were like McCartney and Lennon, we were. We wrote poetry until dawn crept up on us, and Cross told me he had to go to work. He never slept that night which by this time, didn’t surprise me. This odd figure, Cross, showed me what it was like to be in love that night, a sense of adventure and elegant prose, a night I shall soon not forget.
I drove him to work, and went back to my apartment to catch some sleep in the bed that was my fairy tale the night prior.
I told Mike about everything the next day at lunch. He laughed and said I was crazy and that I will probably never see Cross again. I showed him the poem we first wrote together and then he told me that maybe I should ask around about this guy. So I took his advice and asked my supervisor if he knew him.
“Strange breed, that kid. Hangs around with Miranda an awful lot from what I’m told. You stay away from him,” my supervisor advised me. “He’s trouble if he’s got anything to do with that Miranda character.”
“Why?” I asked. “What’s wrong with this Miranda?”
“She gets into a lot of that voodoo and witchcraft bullshit. Why are you asking about him anyway?”
“No reason, just wondered.” I replied and walked away before he could ask any more questions.
I never asked Cross about Miranda, and he never forfeited the information, so I just let it be. Instead, we talked a great deal about books, poetry and just life in general. We made love occasionally but our first time will forever stay in my memory.
I introduced him to Mike and that was how I found out that Cross played drums. He never talked about himself in our conversations, so I didn’t get upset when I realized I had been sleeping with a guy I barely knew anything about. I just made it a mental note to ask more questions about him. He did however, in one conversation, tell me about his friend Leonard that was supposed to be his ride the night he and I had met. He told me how Leonard was his inspiration to start writing, and how Leonard introduced him to the many doors of music.
Upon meeting Mike was when Cross got the ideas of starting a band. They only had bass, drums and Mike knew a keyboard player, Clint, who still plays with us. Months went by, and Cross and I had both been asked to forfeit our seasonal positions to be added to the roster as full time associates, but unfortunately, Mike was let go. Cross, Mike and Clint spent an awful lot of time together, making music and came to me one day to get my permission for turning my poetry into lyrics for their songs. I agreed, and they then told me they would not perform them unless I was the one who would sing them. I am no singer, and will never say that I am, but Cross can be very convincing at times. So I joined their little band, and we went nearly two full years, trying out guitar players, they’re a dime a dozen you know, before Cross came to practice one day with Justin. He never introduced us, just told Justin to plug in and follow our leads. He played exceptionally well for not knowing our original material, and afterwards we asked him to join the band and he agreed. With Justin joining the band, I grew nervous that my poems and voice would actually be displayed before an audience. Cross told me not to worry, that I would be great just like our writing, and I believed him.
After about six months of Cross pushing us to the limit at grueling practices four to five nights a week, we were ready for stage. Our first performance got us such great reviews in the papers that we felt pretty secure about getting steady gigs. And we were right, during our first few weeks of playing, Cross and I were pretty much forced to quit our jobs at the warehouse. Cross said it was time for him to move on with his life anyhow, and that our day jobs were no longer a big deal. I can only assume that this had something to do with Miranda. It was also at this time, that I realized that Cross had been in fear of something that he would never tell me.
In our last few weeks at the warehouse, I noticed Cross was very quiet at work. Occasionally, I would go upstairs near his post, and notice him talking to this woman, once again, an assumption it was the troublesome Miranda that I had heard about. But in the last few weeks of our employment there, he was always alone in deep thought. Through this solitaire thinking, is when I saw the fear. Miranda was working on the opposite post from him, and Cross seemed tense. He simply wouldn’t look at anyone around him, just kept on the job, like he couldn’t wait to get out of her company, even if they were only at work.
I had been with him for nearly two years by this point, and knew his expressions quite well. I also learned that when Cross was thinking he was not to be bothered. He just simply wouldn’t answer you, whoever you were. So I learned just to let him be. Maybe I have been too tranquil with Cross. Maybe I shouldn’t be so easy to get along with. But no one that I know of has ever questioned him. Cross has an odd nature, I guess that is why it was so odd for me to have seen him in fear. I still see it every once in a while. Not often, but every once in a while. I still love him to this day, and uncertain if he still feels the same way about me. We still write together, but now we write with the other members of the band.
So here we are, big rock stars in the state of Ohio. Our applauses only end when we want them to, so I gave my signal for the crowd to quiet down as Cross gets up to introduce Clint for this song. He is the only one in the band who actually has a part in this song besides Cross and I. It is merely piano and vocals, and I love the way this song has turned out. This is the first song that Cross and I wrote together. This is War in the Sky.
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