Character: Cassidy, from Preacher
Date activities: Dinner and a gig
Dinner is burgers at a greasy diner (the best place in New York, he says, and he’s lived long enough to know). He gets a double, rarer than rare—I can see the blood dripping down his chin. With someone like him, dinner is always in this general price range, but my God, it tastes amazing. I just have to try to avoid thinking about how terrible this food is for me and the gastrointestinal havoc it’ll wreak in the morning. It’s not a problem for him, of course. When your body doesn’t feel the strain of mortality, it doesn’t have to deal with pesky little things like arteriosclerosis.
Then it’s off to a basement bar, where a band who clearly wishes they were the Dead Kennedys is acting out that particular strain of aggression you only see in post-adolescents. We load up on Jack and Cokes for me and God knows how many beers for him; some overly friendly stranger gets us to join in a round of tequila shots. Pretty soon the band’s “Anti-Establishment Sentiment 101” doesn’t seem so ridiculous. When the lead singer screams “Fuck the pigs!” at us, we scream it back with something approaching sincerity. We’re still laughing at them, though. What grown person wouldn’t?
His apartment’s not far from the venue, so we walk, lapsing every so often into the slightly desperate laughter of the drunk when we recall the very blond drummer’s Trustafarian dreads, the bassist’s OBEY T-shirt, and of course, “Fuck the pigs! I watched V for Vendetta last week and now I’m an activist!” Then silence. Then music, which it takes me a while to realize is coming out of my mouth (I blame the tequila. Or the last three Jack and Cokes): “I’ve been loving you a long time, down all the years, down all the days…” I’m not only at the singing stage of drunkenness, but the shit, is that me? stage. The terrible decision stage. The stage of slurring out that the Pogues have read my mind, even though a long time for me is so much shorter than what a long time must be for someone like him.
I’ve never been so grateful for terribly laid paving. My toe catches the raised edge of a stone; he catches me before I face-plant into the sidewalk; whatever I was singing about, whatever I was thinking, they recede into the Jack and Coke haze that my brain has become. When we reach his apartment, there’s the kiss in the stairwell, his mouth tinged with the sharp taste of copper and injury that I always wonder if I’m imagining. We climb the stairs without speaking, but that song’s back in my head now, having skipped to the bit about watching our friends as they fell and how some of them fell into heaven and some fell into hell. Under the stairwell’s fluorescent lighting his skin is pale as ice. I know where he’s falling into, and I try not to wonder when it’ll start.