Where have all the flowers gone?
Not now, a beer first.
I canít talk with my head all tangled up.
Yeah, I went over there.
Thank you, Joe. Thatís a little better.
Brew for the soul. †Thatís what I always say.
Okay, Okay, Iíll tell you in a minute.
Iím still a little shaken.
Yeah, Iím high. No, I didnít save you any.
And it was damned good stuff, too Ė like we used to get in the old days.
You could smell it even when he rolled it. I thought he had a time machine hidden up in that room of his.
And potís not the only old thing heís got up there.
Iím telling you. Will you hold on and let me catch my breath.
Joe, another one.
So what about him?
Iím not sure I can tell you anything more about him than we knew before I went up there.
No, no, nothing like that. Itís odd. Bizarre.
I mean weíve all wondered about him, even back when we wandered around together in the old neighborhood.
He was always on the fringe, hanging out with Hank and Pauly. But hell, he looks like an all right guy on the outside, and he doesnít have one of those uppity jobs like teaching or anything like some people we all know.
But over the years nobodyís really got to know him.
Even now, with him living across the street from here and me going up to see him, I canít say that I know him better.
Why did I go?
I guess I just couldnít resist trying to find out something, and maybe get a few chuckles about all the crazy things we all did back then.
Sure, he was surprised to see him. Wouldnít you be if he suddenly showed up at your door?
I canít say as he was unfriendly. He remembered my name and even seemed glad to see me.
And yet, I could tell he didnít seem to want me there.
Oh, it wasnít anything he said. He was the same quiet guy we remembered. He just seemed to look at me as if something about me disappointed him.
Oh, come on. I ainít that ugly.
And if he said that I would have burst out laughing.
It was more like I was intruding on him.
Hell, you should have seen the place. For one room, heís got everything you can imagine. But mostly books and records and walls covered with all the old posters from that headshop in Paterson.
No, it was more like I had just walked into a library or better a museum Ė too quiet despite the fact the record player constantly played old rock and roll.
Of course, I asked him to come over here. That was the whole point of my going over there wasnít it?
He said no. He said he had things to do up there, but told me to tell all of your hello.
No, I didnít ask him about the others in the old gang.
He didnít say if he had seen them or what they were up to if he had.
But he did say they all went off on their own a long time ago, and he seemed really sad about that, as if he wanted to know a lot more.
The whole visit would have ended there if he hadnít broken out that joint.
I was shocked to see him with it since every place else around here is try.
He had a whole goddamn bag of the stuff just like we used to get in the old days when we thought paying five bucks for a lid was too dear.
The quality was a good as anything Iíve had in years.
No, I didnít ask him for a spare joint just then. I wasnít thinking of you guys or anybody, just him and how he could just sit up there like that and now want to socialize.
I figured heíd be curious about us and come down to see what we had to say.
But he was as bad as he was back then, acting in a way I always thought superior.
Oh, he opened up once we started smoking that joint. In fact, he got downright warm, talking about the days we all used to get high in the park and how we stuffed the old World War I monument tank full of roaches, and what a joke it would be on the town if we all went down there and broke it open and got high on those roaches one night.
But then, he got sad again, staring at me with that intense stare of his, asking me what happened and why everything had changed, and why we had scattered like we had, even though he could have spit out the window and hit any of you on the head.
Then, he changed subjects and started about how all of us once thought we would all get famous some day. You know, Pauly was going to be the next Van Gogh, Hank, Frank Sinatra, and him, the next Allen Ginsberg.
It was queer, him bringing up all the stuff I didnít want to think about any more, until I felt bruised inside and wanted to leave.
I thanked him for getting me high.
He walked me to the stairs and watched as I stumbled down them to the front door.
He didnít once say good bye.
So I came back here for a few beers to try and wash all that talk out of me.
Hey, where you guys going?
Sure I said the dope was good. But it ainít worth the talk, believe me.
All right, go. But donít say I didnít warn you.
Hey, Joe, another beer.