Part Five: The Bowery, NYC
He rides the trains for hours, switching from line to line just to make sure he’s not being followed. When he decides it’s safe he gets out at the corner of Bleecker and Mulberry, more out of habit than anything else.
An old habit. A very old habit. So old he wouldn’t have considered it a habit at all.
It’s dark when he climbs out of the subway. It’s not the way it used to be. It was definitely dirtier then, but it’s not just that: he feels like a tourist now. Back then he was just a kid who got swept up in something the older kids were doing that he knew was the coolest damn thing on the planet. Now he sees little echoes of all that, but he doesn’t recognize much of it.
He feels old, just for a second, then it goes away.
He starts walking toward the Bowery, the way he always did. He and Sin and Billy would walk down the street, meet up with friends, hurl taunts at whoever they felt like taunting at the time, occasionally get into fights… all the usual crap. And eventually they’d hear the music, and they’d quicken their steps a little, until eventually they’d get to Bowery, and right across the street there’d be CBGB, and the music would be pouring out of it like an ocean.
Talking Heads, Blondie, Television, the Voidoids, the Ramones, and a million other bands nobody remembers any more.
The closer he gets to the Bowery the deeper he frowns. He doesn’t hear any music.
He lights a cigarette and quickens his step. The rain picks up. It’s now a steady drizzle, and unpleasantly cold.
When he reaches the intersection of Bowery and Bleecker he doesn’t quite understand what he’s looking at. He crosses the street, ignoring traffic, and stops in front of a place he should recognize instantly. A place that should be as familiar to him as any other place he’s ever considered home. Instead he sees:
“What the hell?” CB snarls. He whirls around and glares at a random passer-by—a college student, from the look of him.
“What the hell happened to CBGB?” he shouts.
The student stumbles back in alarm. “What? Hey, it’s cool. You want money? I don’t want trouble.”
CB grabs the kid by his shirt. “Listen to my words,” he says. “What. Happened. To. CBGB.”
He tries to get away, but CB won’t let go. He shuts his eyes, whimpering. A second later they snap open and he looks at CB in utter confusion. “Wait. The club? The music club?”
“Yes! The fucking music club!” CB shouts.
“It closed!” The student’s voice is desperate and shrill. “Five years ago! It closed five years ago. They put up a… that.” He gestures frantically to the store behind them. “Please let me go, man, I don’t want any trouble!”
The student’s words finally sink in. CB loosens his grip on his shirt. “Sorry,” he says. “Look, hey, I’m sorry about—”
The student doesn’t bother to listen. He runs off down the street as fast as he can go.
CB looks around. A few people who’d stopped to gawk suddenly decide they have better things to do. He turns back to the storefront and stares at it in astonishment.
Ten years. Ten years in Farraday City, trying to figure out what made it tick, trying to learn how to bring it down. And he never knew. He paid attention to the news, but… not that kind of news. He’d been too busy. Too busy, and it’d been gone for five years, and he never knew.
It’s at that moment, as he’s standing in the rain, staring at something he used to love, something that no longer exists, that’s he’s forced to confront the one thing he’s been trying to ignore ever since he got off the bus at Port Authority.
Alex is gone.
Alex is really gone.