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Tribute to Orpheus

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Two-Car Studio
September, 1980

R. Dean Johnson

Tuesday morning, Treat’s waiting for me and Keith when we get to school. He’s never been there before just waiting like that, but there he is, his back up against the lockers, looking out at the quad like it’s just some coincidence he ended up right next to my locker. Before he can say hi, before I’m even to my locker, I say, “Hey Treat, I’ve been thinking. Keith’s got that little amp, and what, three lessons?” Keith nods and I turn back to Treat. “And I don’t know how to play anything. How are we supposed to make a band out of that?”

Treat doesn’t move or even look my direction, but Keith’s staring at me like I just said Bo Derek is ugly. “What about Treat’s Mohawk?” Keith says. “That counts for something. And all his ripped T-shirts with the punk bands on them? What about those?”

“Sure,” I say, “that stuff helps. But I got nothing. No instrument, no money.” I look at Treat. “You know the only way my dad’s going to give me anything is if we play all Frank Sinatra songs while donkeys fly over a frozen hell.”

“A frozen hell?” Keith drops his backpack off his shoulder and lets it fall down until it’s sitting on his feet. “Flying donkeys aren’t enough?”

Treat pushes himself off the lockers with his head. “First of all, we’re not doing covers. We don’t need our creativity stifled by structure.” He slams his fist on my locker and the rattle makes people nearby look over like maybe there’s going to be a fight. “We’re going to play what we feel.


“Well, I feel nervous.”

“Good,” Treat says. “Nervous has energy. It’s the next best thing to anger.”

Keith holds out his arms like he’s soaking wet. “Look at me. I’m wearing a used shirt some guy probably died in and a pair of jeans with holes in them. You know why?”

“Yes,” I say.

“Because you begged me to is why.”

“I know, Keith.”

“You can’t quit before we start,” he says.

“Yeah,” Treat says, punching Keith in the arm.

“But that’s just it,” I say, tightening my arms in case I get a punch too. “We can’t even start.”

“We can start,” Treat says. “We’ll come up with a name.”

Keith folds his arms like he’s been in three bands before this one. “Yeah.”


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