Riders on the Storm


3 July 1971

Lightning snaked across the inky black sky over the river Seine as he staggered along rue Beautreillis, towards apartment 17, on the Right Bank.

There’s a killer on the road

His brain is squirming like a toad

He heaved the cannon of Jack Daniels to his lips and drained the little that was left. Letting the bottle slip through his fingers, it shattered on the pavement in time to the thunder clap and the bell tolling at Cathédrale Notre Dame, cracking white lines like this:

A dog barked and an irritated old woman shouted a rebuke from a nearby window. Just another drunken American in Paris yearning for answers in an Old World version of Las Vegas.

Take a long holiday

Let your children play

He stumbled up the impossibly crooked stairs, lit a Marlboro and gazed out across the city from the balcony. He held the smoke in his lungs. It burned like battery acid melting fresh paint. So painfully beautiful, he thought, as wisps of smoke escaped through his nostrils. An entire city devoted to beautiful pain. The leaves of the chestnut trees quivered in anticipation of another holocaust as the breeze picked up and black clouds rolled in.

If you give this man a ride

Sweet memory will die

Killer on the road

Yeah!

The bathtub water was a shit-brown colour when he swiped on the tap. The tab of LSD slowly dissolved under his tongue. He let it run clear as he rummaged around under the sink for another bottle of Jack. Taking off his clothes, he examined himself in the mirror as the tub relentlessly filled and the sky became angrier and angrier through the little window behind him. “Losing weight” he muttered through the droplets of condensation distorting his face.  Lizard King.

Girl you gotta’ love your man

“Fuck”, he swore as he stepped into the scalding water. He slid under the surface, his skin screaming, as alcohol and drugs raged against one another across the battlefield of his cerebral cortex, thunder rattling the window panes. ‘I need to see it’ he thought as he surfaced and chopped up the powder into long brown lines on one of Pam’s little make-up mirrors.

Take him by the hand

Make him understand

The world on you depends

Our life will never end

Gotta love your man 

Yeah!

He rolled up a Benjamin and snorted down three fat lines. My Lai. Bobby Kennedy. Martin Luther King. Jack. Altamont. Andy’s Factory. Smoke. Fire. Water. Finished.

Riders on the storm

Into this house we’re born

Into this world we’re thrown

Like a dog without a bone

An actor out alone

“Jim”! she screamed, shaking him violently. “Jim! Jesus Christ – don’t you do this!”

“That is so awesome, Pam…”, he mumbled.

“That was H, Jim! Jesus fucking Christ, Jim! That was H – not coke!!! Goddamn it, you stink of pussy! Wake up”!!!

Riders on the storm

“I’ll see you on the other side, Pammy. Only God knows how much I love you”.

“Don’t go Jim. Please don’t go”!

“My heart has failed…”

***

Three years later, on 25 April 1974, Pamela Courson died of a heroin overdose on a living room couch in Los Angeles.

There was a clear blue sky on that day.

The coroner’s report made no mention of her heart.

It had died three years earlier.

About Requiem for the Damned

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