Bandsaw Accidents

Lou Reed, his hair close-cropped and dyed blonde and his eyes shielded from the fluorescent lights above by a pair of over-sized aviator sunglasses, waits for a journalist to put a new cassette in his tape recorder while a small Japanese man wearing a kimono sits in Lou’s lap, clipping his toenails: “I tried to engage him in conversation, but nothing worked. Finally I asked him if he would be touring any time soon and he told me he couldn’t tour because he couldn’t find a good enough guitar player to go on tour with him. When I remarked that it couldn’t have been that hard to find a good guitar player he scoffed and told me I had no idea what I was talking about. He said he could count the number of good guitar players in the world on one hand, a hand that had lost a couple of fingers in a bandsaw accident. He held up his hand and hid his pinkie, ring, and middle fingers, holding up only his thumb and forefinger. When I suggested he ask Mick Ronson he scoffed at me again and said Mick Ronson was a shit guitar player. When I playfully suggested Jimmy Page he said Page was even worse. Then I asked him who he thought was a good guitar player and he said Derek Leckenby, the guitarist for Herman’s Hermits. Lou said Derek Leckenby was the best guitarist in the world, always had been, and if he couldn’t have him – and apparently he couldn’t – then he didn’t want anyone, except for maybe Dewey Bunnell of America, who, for obvious reasons, he also couldn’t get. I asked Lou if he had asked anyone else and he said, No, I haven’t asked anyone else, there’s no one else to ask, why should I ask anyone else, I only want the best, Derek Leckenby and Dewey Bunnell are the two best guitar players in the world, if I can’t have them then I’m not going on tour, so why would I ask anyone else? A small Japanese man wearing a kimono walked into the room and started screaming at Lou about how there was no milk, or, there was milk, but the milk had expired, and Lou patiently explained that he didn’t know the milk had expired and how was he supposed to know it was time to get new milk if he didn’t know the old milk had expired, and the Japanese man told him that he should be constantly checking on the milk to make sure it hadn’t expired, how this was Lou’s job, to check on the milk, and Lou waved the Japanese man off, and this really got the Japanese man angry and they started cursing at each other, but it wasn’t like how married couples scream at each other, or friends, it was like two stevedores, “Fuck you right in the ass, you cocksucker,” and, “I’m going to come over there and beat the shit out of you,” and, “Just try it, motherfucker, and I’ll hit you so hard I’ll kill all your unborn children,” and it went on and on like this until the Japanese man pulled out a switchblade from his kimono and Lou stood up and pulled out a switchblade from the back pocket of his black jeans and they circled each other, knives out, for a couple of minutes, still swearing at each other, and then the phone rang and Lou dropped his knife, said, Maybe that’s Derek right now, but it wasn’t, it was Lou’s mom, who Lou proceeded to curse out with even more gusto than he had the Japanese man before ending the conversation with a perfunctory, I love you too, Ma, and hanging up. Lou disappeared for a couple of minutes (although it felt like an hour, as the entire time Lou was gone the Japanese man lectured me about work, and how working hard at something you love was the only way to go through life. When I asked him what he did for a living he said, Nothing) and then reappeared holding a manila envelope, out of which he pulled a thick stack of glossy 8 x 10 black and white photos of people who had lost their fingers in bandsaw accidents, which, he said, he procured from a fan who worked at Saint Vincent’s. I tried to look at the pictures for as long as I could, probably because I wanted to prove to Lou that I wasn’t squeamish, but after a while I started to feel a little sick and Cried Uncle. Lou put the pictures away and said, I had no idea there were so many people in New York who owned bandsaws, and, Maybe I should get a bandsaw, what do you think? When I got home I opened my satchel and was surprised to find that Lou had tucked in a bunch of the bandsaw accident pictures. I closed my satchel immediately and forgot about the pictures until I was reminded of them when I heard my kids scream bloody murder. I ran upstairs and found my wife hugging my son and daughter, the pictures of the bandsaw accidents lying face up on the carpet. My kids didn’t stop crying about it for almost a week. Every time I got within spitting distance of them they screamed for their mommy.”

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