Henry Rollins

I first met Henry Rollins when I was down the gym pushing out my seventeenth set of septuagenarian super squats.  My form was exquisite.  Arms straight.  Head High.  Thighs burning like the rash I got from that wild night in Tijuana.  I felt immaculate.  I felt right on.  I felt like I could push the floor right through to the Earth’s core.  But, mostly, I felt faint.

Are you okay, asked a kindly, masculine voice.

I think I’m having a near life experience, I said.

Near death?  He said.

Almost, I said.  But, that is nothing unusual.  I’m looking down a long, dark tunnel most days.  Most days, there’s no light.  Right now, it’s all light.  I’m not seeing stars, I’m seeing the sun, and it has a hat on that says, ‘Kiss Me Quick’.

I think you need a doctor.

When I came round, I was looking up at the concerned face of muscle-bound man.  I could only see his face, but I could tell he was musclebound by the way he held himself.  He kind of levitated, if you know what I mean, like he was walking on water, but the water is the air and the air is what I was trying to breathe.  I could tell all that from his face. The stained glass effect. The halo. 

You don’t look well, he said.

Don’t tread on my gas, I said. 

Easy, he said.

I looked in the mirror.  I’m easy, I said.  You look different.

I look with my eyes, he said, and my eyes are telling me that you don’t look well.

I have cataracts, I said.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Who’s ashamed?

Is there anything I can get you, he said.  Glass of water, fruit juice, protein shake?

Just the cheque, I said.

I’m going to call you an ambulance, he said.

Call me an Uber, instead, I said.  They have better bottled water, and they let me change the radio station.

How about I carry you? He said.

You could do that, I said.  First, your name.

Is it important?

Have you ever been carried by a stranger?

Fair point, he said.  I’m Henry Rollins.  Nice to meet you.

Front man of S.O.A.? I asked.

A long time ago, he said.  Now, I’m more a man of the world.

Front man for Black Flag? I asked.

Like I said, he said.

Front man of The Rollins Band? I asked

See above, he said.

There’s more information on Wikipedia about you than there is about the Crimean War, I said.

I’ve lived, he said.

He carried me from the gym, I felt like a leaf being carried by the wind.  Or, a dead fly by an ant.  Either one worked.  We sailed through the dark streets, the wind whistling in my ears, a cat call from nature.  I knew it wasn’t for me.  It was for the man on whose shoulders I sat, his ostrich speed untouched by the malice of this cold city, the darkness slipping from his slick skin like the bloodless grasp of a smack-beggar. 

While you are carrying me to what may be my death bed, I said, you wouldn’t mind singing me a song?  Just a little one?

I don’t do that anymore, he said.

Just a small one, I said.

No, he said.  I’m retired from music.

You can put me down here, I said.

I can put you down anywhere, he said, but this is not a good area.

My house is just over there, I said, pointing to what most people would call a bus stop.

Henry Rollins put me down.  I looked him square in the eye and said, Fuck you, Henry Rollins.  He went to punch me, but I was already gone.  I’ll show him, I thought.

A few minutes later I was outside a house party in Washington, DC.  It was kicking off big time. 
There were punks flying through windows, neighbours running for the hills.  The smell of cheap beer and sweat inter-mingled to form a swamp-like miasma.  I pushed through a crowd of underwashed and overdressed young men to where a sullen group were setting up their instruments.  I approached the intense looking young man who was grinding his teeth, his eyes bulging like someone had kicked him in the back of the head.

Are you Henry Garfield?  I said.

You don’t look so good, he said.

Thought so, I said.  You going to play some songs?

He didn’t answer, turned his back and nodded to the other band members who were ready to play.  They launched into Gonna Hafta Fight from the State Of Alert self-titled demo EP(1980).  I thrashed around with the rest of the crowd, all of us heaving like a ship in a hurricane, the music raw, untouched by sentimentality.  You’re.  Gonna.  Hafta.  Fight. 

When the band finished their set, I approached Henry Garfield again.

I fucking hated that, I said. 

So did I, said Henry Garfield.

You know, I said, you can’t have the same name as a fucking cartoon cat.  It’s just not punk.

Yeah?  He said, raising his fist.

You should change it to Rollins, I said.

That doesn’t sound so bad, he said, lowering his fist.  How’d you come up with that? 

I didn’t, I said. You did.

Henry Rollins laughed and we’ve been friends ever since.



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