No place for me in this world of mine

San Francisco, at Jelly’s Club on Sixteenth Street. Sixty people scream happily at us. “We’re going to take a little break,” says Jett Screamer. “But we’ll be back in ten minutes.” I take the guitar off my shoulder and we all step off stage. The sound man puts on drum and bass music.

Our drummer, Mr. Fantastic, goes to the bar and gets an orange-and-pineapple juice. The drink is called the Thirsty Thirsty Hippo. After dozens of sets and empirical tests, we’ve discovered it’s the fastest way to rehydrate between sets.

A lesbian couple grins up at me. I kiss them both on the lips and they both comment on how beautiful my wife looks. One coughs a little. “Oh, I just got over a cold,” says one. “I’m fine, though.”

“Were you able to hear everybody in the last set?” I scream at Mr. Fantastic.

“What!” he screams, over the din of the drum-and-bass.

“Look, we gotta talk outside,” I scream at him. I flag down Jett Screamer and the Basspod, and they follow me out onto the patio. The air outside is crisp and fine, and the lights of the Bay Bridge glisten across the water.

“Guys,” I tell them. “It’s ten thirty-five. The owner informs me that we have to be out of the space by midnight. I figure we have twenty-five minutes to play the next set, and then an hour to break down.”

“We don’t need that much time,” says Jett Screamer. “Twenty minutes tops to get all the gear in the truck.”

“Twenty-five minutes,” says the Basspod.

I look through the glass wall into the bar. Several lesbians are marveling over my wife’s dress. They proceed to feel her up and laugh about it.

“Twenty-five minutes,” I say. We head back into the bar and we turn our instruments back on.

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