Allergies in the Groove (2)
"Runnin' my rig around ninety-five, Rockin' and a rollin' into ....overdrive."
The sneezy visions of Tegan
had yet to appear in her mind's eye, but Sue was confident they would
show up to help her. She played the notes she had practiced for hours,
automatically, pushing them in, twisting them around and pulling them
out. On and on to avoid the silence that you were left with when there
was no music.
"Police catch me I end up in the slammer, Cos the law don't want no......gear jammer.
The boozy crowd below them were loving it. There were a couple of dozen people on the pseudo-dance floor in front of them now and every eye in the room was on the stage. Sue was caught up in what felt like to her a near-ecstatic moment of time slowed down. The harder she worked the guitar, the more the notes flowed, the more the spaces between the seconds seemed to expand into pleasure. This was her way of getting high. Now there was only one more test before the sky became the limit.
"Runnin' my rig in a mighty high gear. I don't care where I go just long as it ain't here.
It was nearly time. They played a twenty second bridge together, then the beat slowed as if the song was over. But it wasn't. Now there was only a soft backbeat cymbal from Tegan and a very nervous Sue, playing a wild, uncharted solo riff she had only ever practised.
In a droll move of desperation that no one else witnessed, Tegan took advantage of the lull to give her nose a sharp, one-handed blow. Then, with a practised ear, she listened to her lover.
Sue rode it hard, heading for what she privately called the "red zone. She liked it there. It was another place you could go to avoid the silence. The guitar yipped and howled, into the "red zone" and out onto the ragged edge.
Her confidence was back now and she could almost see George Thorogood himself standing there applauding enthusiastically. Sam had three lights shining on her from various angles, the rest dimmed. With the combination of heat and concentration, sweat was rolling freely down her face, but she didn't even notice.
Fuck a duck! She should have tried this a long time ago.
Then it happened. She knew it
would. Forget about seeing George Thorogood. The Tegan-vision was back
in her mind's eye, even though the living, breathing and cuddling
version was not five feet behind her. As the
guitar bit at the air, passing the two minute mark of the bridge solo,
the beer-fuelled audience clapping in time to Tegan's backbeat, Sue
heard nothing but the rolling notes she alone was creating and saw
nothing but the vision of her lover, raising a handkerchief to her
mouth and nose.
The three perfect sneezes were caught neatly in the hanky that the Tegan-vision held. This time, Sue not only saw them, she heard them as well. seeming to blend at the same volume as her amplified guitar. Then the vision changed again. Now Sue herself was in it, her body intertwined with Tegan's as the pair of them reclined partially naked on a plush-looking sofa that, admittedly, she had never seen. But such are the things out-of-body experiences are made of. She could see her hand rising to cover Tegan's mouth and nose, the other girl already lifting her head slightly and closing her eyes into a beautiful pre-sneeze expression.
Again, she heard that sweet, familiar sound blending perfectly with the sweet, familiar sound she was creating.
As quickly as it had come, the vision faded and she was back on the stage, sweating profusely, an enthusiastic audience in front of her. Her fingers slowed as she brought the solo to a close and Tegan took her cue, leading them all back in. Mike stepped forward to take up the final vocal.
Sue felt faint, momentarily. she wasn't sure if it was from her elevated body temperature or from the total exhilaration at what had just happened in the last three-and-a-half minutes. Getting through an untried solo without a beat of trouble was one thing, but an out-of-body experience involving herself and her lover complete with audio was right up there.
"Somethin' gets in my way, you know I'm gonna ram her, Nobody fools around with this...gear jammer.
A few moments later, it was over. The whole room was applauding wildly. Even Clive and the bar staff joined in. Sue, looking a little nonplussed, turned to check out Tegan who was grinning at her like a cat that had just gotten planning approval for a cream factory.
Shit, had it really been that good?
As things settled down again, she snagged her towel and water bottle, using both liberally. Then it was back into action, as they swung into the fast, but simple, "Marseilles" by the Angels.
Sue worked it harder than she needed to, determined to hold her "red zone. Yes, she decided. It really was that good.
The second set finished 45 minutes later. It passed in an ever-changing pace of covers and self-penned material. Sue stayed in her "zone, turning a couple of times to check on Tegan, who seemed to have lost her hay-fever temporarily and was obviously enjoying herself.
They gathered at the table again, consuming jugs of beer and a big plateful of toasted sandwiches.
"Told you it was easy. You just about set the place alight, Mike told her with a grin.
That was the highest praise she could expect, but she knew by the eyes on her that she had impressed them all. Shortly before they got ready for the final set, Tegan took Sue aside.
"As soon as it's all over, you and I pack up and cruise, she said. "I want a quiet evening with you and a talk about a couple of things.
"Sure," she said. "How you feelin'?"
Tegan gave a barely perceptible shrug "Eyes are itchy, but my nose is behaving itself for the time being," she said.
Sue nodded again and made no further comment. She had a pretty good idea what Tegan wanted to talk about.
The third set finished at seven o clock with a fiery version of Led Zeppelin's "Been a long Time" Tegan looked like she'd been shot out of a cannon and Sue not much better. But the gig had been a top success.
Mike gave his closing speech, thanking everybody for spending the afternoon with them. Faces were changing around the bar as some people left for an evening at home and others arrived prepared to "kick on until stumps, which was at midnight.
Tegan was already disassembling her drum kit whilst Sue unplugged her guitar and stowed it away in its case. She noticed that Mike, Greg and Tori, who usually stopped for a drink after the last set, were also wasting no time. The years of setting up and breaking down had honed the necessary evil to a fine point, and in less than forty minutes, the stage was denuded, the equipment packed in Mike's van in the order it had to come out in again.
Tori leaned against the side of the van, eyes closed.
"You alright, Tors?" asked Tegan.
"Hmmm.....just tired, answered Tori without opening her eyes. "That was a full-on show.
Tegan's thoughts on the matter were never to be known, for as she opened her mouth to reply, Tori began hitching in breath, lifting a hand to her face.
"Ah...ha....ha...ah...Atchiioo!" she sneezed, the light release caught neatly in her palm.
Tegan flicked a glance at Sue who was leaning against the stage door, a good ten yards away. They had both seen it.
"Plus I've got hay fever, Tori continued. "I don't know how you cope.
Sue said nothing, knowing Tori would clam up with shyness if it became more than a one to one conversation. She hoped Tegan would grab the opportunity to talk to Tori about the vagaries of hay fever and sneezing, but before another word could be spoken, Greg and Sam appeared in the doorway.
"You lot coming in for a beer?" asked Greg. "Clive's just fixing Mike up with a cheque and those two will yak for half an hour if you let 'em.
Almost as an afterthought, he thumbed the small remote he was holding and the twin custom alarms on the old van blipped importantly. Tori jumped.
"No ta, said Tegan. "I'm dragging Sue back to my place for a night of sin and debauchery. We'll head off.
Greg and Sam both chuckled. Tori and Sue went red.
"Orright, well we're at the Bridgeway at three o clock tomorrow, Greg went on. "It's a different set up to here so I need you two there at one o clock. The soundchecks are more involved.
Tegan nodded and flicked a glance at Sue.
"We'll be there, she said. "See yez.
There was a chorus of "Goodnights" and the two men stepped back inside, Tori levering herself off the side of the van to follow them. Sue and Tegan walked down the narrow alley behind the bottle shop, cutting through to the rear of the building where they had left the car.
Sue considered Sunday afternoon's impending show. The Bridgeway Hotel was a large complex which also housed a motel and had live entertainment through the week. Talk about a step up. What next? One of the function rooms at the Hyatt Regency?
They reached the car and Tegan
blipped the doors. Then she paused with that look on her face.
Abruptly, she doubled over and let go.
Quickly, Sue passed her the hanky that they had exchanged earlier that afternoon. Tegan gave her nose a long, gluggy blow and wiped her spit-shiny lips.
"Errgh. she said. "That was a ripper. Those tablets have definitely worn off." She passed Sue the keys. "You drive.
They got in. Sue rolled the motor over and manoeuvred the big sedan out into the car park, then onto the arterial road. Daylight saving had started the weekend before and the sun was blazing as it began to set at eight o clock. Without sunglasses, Sue squinted for a minute before making a right turn out of the immediate glare, heading back to Tegan's place.
Tegan herself, sat silently in the passenger seat and Sue knew her lover well enough to know that the silence meant deep thinking and it was best to just let her do that. They cruised along at a more legal speed than the one reached during their approach hours earlier and the short trip was conducted without conversation apart from a few watery sniffs from Tegan.
Soon they were back at the house they had left so hurriedly that afternoon. Sue killed the engine and looked over at her beloved. Tegan smiled sadly.
"I feel like shit, she said. "Let's have a shower and some tea.
"Tea? You've been eating and boozing all afternoon. You can't be hungry again.
"Nevertheless, Tegan spoke in shorthand again. She sniffled and opened the car door.
They both got out and went into the house. Tegan had purchased it for a ridiculously low price eighteen months ago. It was ex-Public Housing and the previous tenants had caused substantial damage to the interior. With her contacts amongst workmates and around the pubs the band played at, Tegan had the inside renovated and refitted for a fraction of what it would have cost retail. True, it was best not to ask where some of the things like the large top-of-the-range hot water service and the expensive-looking carpet had come from, and neither of them did.
They undressed in the laundry, throwing their sweaty clothes in a pile to be washed tomorrow.
Sue wrinkled her nose.
"We both smell like a pair of dead polecats, she said.
"I can't smell, Tegan returned.
As if to underline that statement, she sniffed and raised Sue's hanky which she had continued to hold after her sneeze in the pub car park.
She caught the "triple shot" neatly in the hanky and blew her nose before throwing the hanky down with the rest of the clothes.
"Ohh, bless me," she said. Lets go. I need hot water.
Watching the tall girl's tight, little buttocks as she followed her to the bathroom, Sue needed something else, but there had been less than subtle hints that she would get that later, anyway.
With Sue sleeping over several nights a week, Tegan had refitted the bathroom with all new tiling and a shower that comfortably held two people. The hot water cleared Tegan's nose somewhat and they flirted, kissed and touched as they washed away the rigours of an afternoon's music. Afterwards, Tegan put on her pyjamas and dressing gown while Sue merely chose her track pants and an old flannelette shirt that seemed to keep going back and forth between their two houses. Fashion first.
It was dark outside now and, despite the warm day, the temperature had dropped rapidly, promising a chill night.
"Might have to light that fire, Tegan said, eyeing the big wood-burning fireplace in the corner of the lounge room, another no-questions-asked feature. "It's gettin' chilly.
"You did everything to this place except have it insulated, is why, Sue pointed out.
"Yeah, gotta do something about that in the next couple of weeks. Summer's comin'."
She set about her fire-lighting while Sue raided the freezer. Soon, the room was heating and chops and salad were ready. Conversation flowed steadily, but hay fever and music were put aside.
With tea eaten and the dishes done, Sue reclined on the sofa, watching the fire. Tegan lay down and put her head in the other girl's lap. The tissue box was conveniently placed nearby on the coffee table.
There was silence for a few minutes, save for the crackling of the fire. Sue stroked Tegan's hair lovingly with one hand and interlaced their fingers with the other.
Tegan spoke abruptly.
"What happened up there this afternoon?" she asked. "You were somewhere else when you did that solo you were so worried about. And you blew everyone away."
"Was I that good?" Sue asked innocently.
"Yes, and not just for that song either, Tegan went on. "You were behaving like we were playing a $200,000 gig at the Entertainment Centre, not some knockdown pub in the suburbs.
"Was I really that obvious?" Considering Tegan had caught her out so easily, Sue already knew the answer.
"Yes, said Tegan at once. "Look, put a guitar in your hands and you're bloody good, but today you ....ISSSSH...ISSSHH...HAISSSHHOOO!!.... .were an entirely different person, she finished lamely and sniffed.
The three sneezes had taken them both off-guard, Tegan's head jolting out of Sue's lap and some spray hitting her arm. Sue reached out and wiped her girlfriend's lips.
"If I told you how and why, you wouldn't believe it.
"I believe anything that's told to me the right way, hon," Tegan countered.
Sue considered a moment. She knew she would have to try and explain what had happened. Tegan would never accept something like "a flash of inspiration. Her attention was recaptured again as she heard Tegan draw in breath.
This time, Sue was ready. Her free hand slipped neatly over Tegan's nose and mouth, catching the three sneezes perfectly in her palm.
Tegan reached out and picked up the tissue box. Sue took two out and held them to her girlfriend's nose. Tegan blew wetly. Ignoring the spit on her palm and her tingling pussy, Sue put the used tissue down beside her and looked at Tegan lovingly. There was no way out of this, but Tegan was the only one who would understand. She couldn't not tell her.
"If I explain things as best I can, will you keep it to yourself and not laugh?"
"You know I will, replied Tegan bluntly.
For a moment, Sue stared at the crackling fire, gathering her thoughts. Then she took a deep breath and began to speak.
Some ten minutes later, she fell to silence again. Tegan said nothing, her face bearing no expression. She lifted her head from Sue's lap and swung her long legs to the floor. Sue watched as she walked gracefully to the bookcase in the corner of the room. There were several ornaments on top, one given as a "rare Chinese tobacco box. Tegan opened it, found what she wanted inside and returned to the sofa, pausing only to lower the beam of the overhead light with the dimmer switch, fitted again with her and Sue in mind.
"Fire one of these up while I clear out my nose again, she said, handing Sue three joints and a lighter.
Sue obliged, lighting one of the joints and taking a deep drag while Tegan blew her nose again, this time working on each nostril individually. She put the damp tissue on the coffee table and resumed her previous position, head in Sue's lap.
Five minutes passed in silence as they smoked the joint down to nothing. Tegan lit the second and finally found her voice.
"An out-of-body-experience along with visions of me sneezing that turned you into a guitar maestro?" she asked. "That's the weirdest fuckin' thing I ever heard. I don't disbelieve it, but it's still weird.
Sue nodded slowly, the powerful Columbian recipe that Tegan used to grow her own, creeping up on her.
"It's what happened, she said.
They smoked silently again, the fire popping and crackling.
"Does it ever strike you, Tegan asked after a minute, "that I've never thought it odd that you like to get so involved with my sneezing?"
"Occasionally, answered Sue. "Do you mind?"
Tegan handed her back the joint and exhaled.
"Nope, she said, smiling slightly, her reddened eyes soft. "I enjoy pleasing you.
She sniffed wetly.
"And if sniffing and sneezing is what that takes, then pass the allergens.
They both giggled a little crazily.
"This is powerful stuff, Teegs, said Sue.
"It oughta be. I got it from a cop," Tegan said, straight-faced.
That did it. Sue went off into gales of laughter. Sure, she knew that Tegan only grew her own with the meticulous care and concern of a mother hen, and if she ever sold any, it was to people she knew long and well. But if you have to deliver a one-liner, timing and effect were everything.
Giggling and snorting, they made it through another couple of hits, then the joint was finished. Tegan stubbed it out, looked at Sue and grinned.
"Visions of me sneezing make you play better, she said dreamily. "That's just soooo original it has to be true.
"And you like to please me, do you?" Sue questioned softly. "What can I do to please you?"
For answer, Tegan reached out a hand to Sue's face. Sue immediately bent down. Lips locked and tongues intertwined. Tegan felt a hand snake inside her pyjama pants and let out an involuntary gasp as fingers touched her pussy. The fingers felt for the "magic button" as the kiss deepened.
They broke only once for breath, necessary due to Tegan's stuffy nose. Then Tegan was thrusting against Sue's fingers as they worked her clitoris at just the right speed.
The feeling started inside her pussy and spread up and down her body until it reached an unbearable crescendo. Then she was over the top, coming in long sweet waves, breathing hard against the kiss that went on regardless.
Slowly, she descended and their lips finally broke apart.
"Whoo, was all she said.
Sue nodded dreamily, the dope muzzing her head.
"Whoo is correct, she said.
There was silence for a few moments while Tegan recovered. She sniffed and rubbed her nose.
"And then there's you, she observed, the sly smile back once more.
"Oh, do I get something too?" asked Sue innocently.
For answer, Tegan uncurled herself off the sofa and reached out her hand. Sue took it and stood up. Tegan grabbed the tissue box with her other hand.
"Might need this during or after, she predicted.
Like two silhouettes, they moved gracefully through the softly lit lounge and into the bedroom. They undressed in a trice and climbed into the bed that they had hurriedly vacated that afternoon.
Light from the passageway backlit the room as fingers, tongues, and other sensual things did their expert work. Then, as Tegan had figured would happen, two sneezes caught her off-guard, most of the spray hitting Sue's neck and throat, causing them both to giggle helplessly.
Then it was good. It was very good indeed.
Sue looked at the clock. 11.15. Shit, she'd been dozing. Tegan lay fast asleep beside her. Carefully, so as not to disturb her partner, Sue climbed from the bed and dressed again. She folded Tegan's pyjamas and lay them on the foot of the bed. Pulling the door to, she wandered back to the living room.
It was a little like the Marie-Celeste. Except the passengers were still here. they'd just gone below deck. Still, the evening was pretty much over. Even the fire, dancing before, had tired and was burning low........
Sue took the third joint that they had left on the coffee table, opened the front door and stepped out onto the veranda. Leaning against the wall in the shadows, she lit up and smoked slowly. Despite the warm, clear day, a chill night wind had sprung up, gently marbling her cheeks. From maybe a couple of streets away, came the Saturday night noises of a working class suburb. A party in progress. Shouts, ugly, drunken laughter, music. From another direction, there was the sound of a high-powered motor being driven aggressively. Then yet in another direction, more shouts, the sound of glass breaking.
She listened. She felt. The vibes were never the same twice.
Then it came to her suddenly. No warning. There seldom was. She bent forward and let go.
There was a little bit of spray. Sue had one of those sneezes you could let out without really concentrating on it or stopping what you were doing. Tegan, on the other hand, had to put everything into it.
Sue giggled, a little from the dope, a little from the sheer strangeness of the day, all based around sneezing.
She had been seriously worried about doing that guitar solo, yet in an odd way, Tegan had seen her through it without realising it. She wondered if the sneezy visions of her lover would appear again.
The Bridgeway Hotel tomorrow was an important gig. What would Mike slip into their play list and would the sneezy Tegan-vision help her out again?
She finished the joint and crumbled the remains between her fingers. for a few moments, she contemplated walking the short distance back to her house. she sometimes did if Tegan fell asleep before her. She was stoned, but not that tired. Perhaps a video.......
Then the breeze blew a little more strongly. The hell with it. Her lover was asleep in a comfortable warm bed. Time to join her.
She went back in and locked the door. She checked that the guard was around the fire which was now down to embers. Then, visiting the toilet briefly, she turned out the living room lights and walked to the bedroom door. In the glow of the light from the passageway, Sue could see that Tegan had turned over and pulled the blankets to her chin. She grinned, turned out the final light and padded across to the bed. In the dark, she undressed and climbed in.
Potent grass, hot food, cold beers and one hell of a strange, sneezy day, took over. Very soon, she too, was asleep.