Prologue: Cheese-Dick Rock

I suppose that it’s taken me long enough to learn from all of the things that have happened in my life. Call it stubbornness, or maybe even pride, but I’m a late bloomer in all of the ways that matter, and far too ahead of the game in all of the ways that don’t.

I always have been.

And it’s a bad combination.

Apparently, when it matters, like really, really matters, I have to learn the hard way, if at all.

Apparently, it’s in my nature. It’s par the course for my life.

And what is the hard way, you ask?

Well, for me, it was making the same damn mistakes over and over… and over, again.

Redundant, I know, but circle of life and all that.

I did it so much that my life became a Godsmack album.

What?

Why are you staring at me like that?

Please tell me that you get the reference…

No?

Seriously?

Sigh.

Okay

If you haven’t heard Godsmack then you’ve been living under a rock somewhere far removed from civilization, maybe even a different planet, with an alien race, where no one has ears… or radios.

And where Godsmack is concerned, I’d count you a lucky bastard… or bitch, respectively, if that were the case.

But for the rest of us, those of us forced to hear them every time we start the car or go into a music store, they’re inescapable – kind of like herpes.

I mean, once you get those, they never go away.

Woah, wait! I’m not speaking from experience here or anything…

Trust.

This is one of those areas where I’m ahead of the game. I just sort of know this kind of stuff…

Anyway, to the rest of us non-aliens, Godsmack is like herpes: even years after they’ve kind of disappeared from the limelight, they’re still pop up on public radio every day.

Who knows why…?

They’re a rock band, if you want to call them that, and the FM airwaves just aren’t giving them up.

Personally, I think rock is a loose interpretation here. I know rock and roll. It’s in my blood. It’s what I do.

Godsmack most definitely is not rock, but the rest of the known world isn’t as enlightened as I am.

In an attempt to meet the lesser beings around me half-way, I have classified Godsmack under the Ashley Davies disapproved genre of cheese-dick rock.

It’s still kind of rock to placate the masses, but I think my genre is more… succinct.

And I think its meaning is pretty self-explanatory.

I will admit that there was liquor involved when I came up with that little gem.

Like, lots of it.

And for those who were present when I first coined it, cheese-dick rock became sort of a household name, just like clutch or totes, or all of the pole-dancing jokes because of that one time…

But anyway, I digress.

Where was I?

Oh, yes.

So, Godsmack is cheese-dick rock. And this cheese-dick rock is especially cheesy… and dicky.

Why, you ask?

Because every single song is exactly the same three chords. It’s almost like the whole album is just one song on repeat. If not for the brief pauses between tracks, no one would know when one song ended and the other began.

I kid you not.

Every.

Single.

Song.

Same…

And that’s what I mean about my life: circles, people – just endless loops of the same old shit.

What’s that all about? I mean, how did that happen to me?

I’m Ashley Davies: wealthy, hot, commanding, charming, charismatic, and yes… I’ll admit, elitist, condescending, and conceited fit somewhere in there as well.

But seriously, when did I get stuck in a rut?

When did I become such a loser?

Why am I so thickheaded and oblivious and… just plain stupid?

It’s like my intellect is reduced to the IQ of a garden spade when an important emotional opportunity presents itself to me.

Why?

Just, why…?

Fuck. If. I. Know.

Seriously, I exasperate myself.

I’m so sick of fucking up.

Just once I want to make the right choice, do the right thing, say the right words…

And more than that, I want to make, do, and say all of that right stuff at exactly the right time.

But that’s just too much to ask of the universe. I have some seriously shitty karma and I just don’t get it.

And that’s the crux of the problem.

I just don’t even see the opportunity until:
One – I’ve already fucked it up so bad that it’s blown up in my face, or two – it’s just poof, gone…

I want to change this about myself.

Really, I do.

I just don’t know how!

How do you just magically become more aware?

Is there a pill for that?

Does yoga help?

Pfft, I mean, Kyla loves yoga and have you spoken to her?

So not helping her with awareness…

But still, how?

And that’s what brings me here, to this house, on this porch, in the middle of the night, staring at a long lost lover’s door like a pathetic fool and twitching like a tweaker.

Fuck, I don’t know if I can do this… change thing.

Ha, yeah, not gonna happen.

I turn on my heel and nearly stumble down the cracked steps that took me an age to find the strength to climb.

You’ve seen pictures of those Mayan temples with all those steps, right?

Right.

Well, these steps seem to go on forever and I just can’t figure out how to get to the top of them without having a panic attack.

I mean, there are three of them…

Yeah, yeah, yeah, laugh at me all you want.

But still, three might as well be hundreds.

They’re mocking me.

I’m serious!

They’re laughing at me, just like you.

You can stop now…

No, really…

Okay, I’m going to pout now…

See my lower lip?

Must you pop my melodramatic bubble?

I have feelings, you know…

And now you feel bad, right?

Maybe even got a few ‘aww’s or ‘how sad’s out of you?

Ha! Suckers…

Anyway, in all seriousness though, it took everything that I had to get out of my car and twitch my way closer to those laughing steps, the door beyond them looming in the distance like the gate to Mordor while the world narrowed in on me.

There may even have been fog and ominous light spilling out through the jamb.

Maybe a breathy voice was telling me not to go into the light.

It had me worried.

I’m still worried…

My palms would be sweating, if that were possible.

I just don’t do things like sweat.

Because, I’m Ashley Davies…

And, I mean, gross

But… oh, who am I kidding?

I come skidding to a stop at the bottom of the steps, my feet unwilling to let me run away like I want to – like I have been for most of my life – as if I’m a mime but the fake glass is so not fake, and I have no choice but to admit that my palms are indeed sweating.

They never sweat.

I screw up my face in disgust.

When did that happen?

I’m a guitarist, a programmer, for fuck’s sake.

My hands are my trade.

They’re steady and capable and… dry… at the very least

And when did I start living in a box, the open world around me somehow confining?

And since when am I so nervous that I feel like a zit-faced, prepubescent boy hiding his chubby because his tutor leaned over him to check his work?

When did I become such a… pussy?

For all of my flaws, I’ve always been gutsy.

That’s one of the things that she always liked about me.

Where she’s shy, I just jump right in.

Where she’s level-headed and predictable, I’m rash and impulsive.

And those are the very things that I always liked about her.

I mean, we’re so different – like night and day.

And I think that it’s those differences that made me need her so damn much, too damn much. And that’s what makes running away impossible for the first time in my life.

Or maybe the concrete has somehow softened and mired my feet.

I look down to check, and feel my shoulders slump with relief.

T’would be a shame. I really love these boots…

Focus, Davies…

The truth is that she kept me tethered, but somehow, still allowed me to touch the sky. And without her, this time, I’m just going to float away…

I sigh, turning back to the hundreds – I mean, three – dreaded steps, and wipe my hands on the thighs of my jeans. It’s dark out, those steps lead into Freddy’s boiler room – I just know it – but I’ll never be able to sleep again if I don’t face this.

Face her…

I’m awake now.

I finally see what’s been right in front of me all along.

And there’s a good possibility… no, I’m fairly certain, that I’m destined to have this door slammed in my face the minute that I get the nerve to say what I came to say.

But at least it will be out there, with her, to do with what she will. At least she’ll know that I’m sorry, that I was just scared, and a coward, and that I think…

I shake my head, my jaw clenching with the effort to be honest.

No, no, no… I don’t think, I know

Deep down in my bones…

That I still love her.

That I’m still in love with her.

And that regardless of what the future holds, I can’t stay away from her, even if it’s to protect her. I also know that it’s too late. Because I’m always too late. But late or not, I have to do this.

I need to do this.

She deserves to know the truth.

With a deep breath, I run up the steps and force myself to knock three times before I can psyche myself out again.

But that didn’t help; now I’m really psyched.

I can’t leave now…

I’ve done it; I’ve boxed myself in.

Ironic, isn’t it?

But then, maybe she’s not home…

I can’t tell if that would be a good thing or not.

I glance over at her Toyota in the driveway, a canary yellow jeep sitting next to it, and swallow the cotton in my mouth.

She has to be here.

And what kind of person owns a canary yellow car anyway?

It’s just… tacky.

There’s still no answer. Or, maybe she’s really not h-

I grimace when the porch light blinds me.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck…

The deadbolt clicks as loudly as a gunshot, the door cracks open just enough to expose a bright blue orb slightly murky from interrupted sleep, and I swallow so hard that this time I’m afraid that I just ate my tongue.

I wipe my nasty palms again.

Fucking, gross…

“Ashley…?”

This is the part where I’m supposed to say something.

I know.

I think I opened my mouth to make sounds, but I can’t tell. My face is numb and I think I’m going deaf because her lips moved but I didn’t hear what she just said.

Or, no, maybe it’s because the blood pounding in my ears is drowning her out.

“Ashley?!”

That did the trick.

I snap out of my funk and finally say something profound.

“Wuh…”

It was more of a whooshing exhale than a word, but work with me here.

I made noise.

That’s progress.

“Do you know what time it is?”

Um… I look down at my wrist and realize that I’ve lost my watch.

Shit…

I start patting my pockets and checking the area around my feet nervously, taking a full minute to realize that I don’t wear a watch…

I don’t even own one…

“What are you doing here?” This time, her voice is sort of harsh.

I breathe in and close my eyes, again wiping my palms and cursing them for having ducts. I didn’t find the elusive watch, but I do finally find my voice.

“Hey, Spence…”

Smooth, I know.

She’s looking at me expectantly.

It’s not good expectation, more like the expectation one might feel when they stick their foot out to trip someone else.

Only, instead of wanting me to hit the ground, she wants me to hit the road. I made my absence from her life pretty clear the last time that we saw one another.

And I can tell by the fact that she’s refused to open the door any further than the small length of security chain will permit, that she’s not going to invite me in.

No getting comfortable for me.

But then, nothing about this entire situation is comfortable.

So, I try again, clearing my throat though I have no idea where to start.

But then, maybe, the start is where I should begin.

Continued in Chapter 1 – FML

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