He knows he shouldn’t have come, just as he knows he had to. What he doesn’t know is why he’s here. Because now it’s too loud, and all he wants is to get out, out past The Beast and its churning sea of bodies in the mosh pit, out to the door, where there is air, and the cool, quiet solace of a Seattle midnight.

But the beast doesn’t care, it never does. It feeds on them all, the yearning, the drunk and lovestruck, seducing them with the illusion of a good time. Maybe it really is a good time. Maybe there’s no difference.

Thirty years ago in this basement, he’s the one careening across the pit in torn jeans. The Reflectors or Young Fresh Fellows are on stage and there’s no Seattle Scene yet — they’re just having a good time. A real good time. Hell, Cobain may even be here somewhere, brooding in his torn Pendleton over a bottle of Rock Bottom, telling himself Hey, I can do that too.

And he’s in the pit — no, not Cobain — feeding the Beast. Trying to lose himself, trying to forget that he’s going home alone tonight, the way he always goes home alone. Because the beast lets him forget this, and when it’s over and his ears are ringing in the pre-dawn winter rain of a Seattle sidestreet, somehow it’s okay.

But tonight the longing has turned to lead. The Beast has no interest in him and he needs to get out now, somehow get across the floor, up those stairs and outside. Now. Maybe it’s raining tonight too — he’s missed the rain. But he shouldn’t be here, not tonight.

Thirty years ago they come out of the pit and she says she’s in a band. The Skirts, she says, and he laughs. She needs someone on rhythm guitar — You play? She sounds surprised, as if you couldn’t swing a bottle down here and hit three guitarists in the first turn. He says he doesn’t look good in a skirt and she’s even more beautiful when she laughs. She is too beautiful to be talking with him and he has no idea why she is talking to him, but he doesn’t want her to ever stop. And her hand is around his waist, holding him like a gun moll, and they’re swaying much too slowly as they step backwards again into the pit, and the Beast swallows them whole, together.

(image source: wetwebwork via commons.wikimedia.org)

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