“Cheers for a fucking great performance!”
At the bar, the rest of the band was celebrating this great night… with a drinking contest. It had been a long time since Slash had been really drunk, for when he started dating Axl he had controlled his drinking ways to fool the rest of the band and to avoid tongue slips in front of them that could give their relationship up. But now that Axl wasn’t here, and since he was going to arrive with Stephanie and would have to play the part of the boyfriend… well, Slash was winning. Glasses came, glasses went, bottles were emptied, insults rang…
Finally, a curly head fell, alcoholic like hell, on top of the table.
“You’re shit-faced!” a not so sober Gilby slurred, while the rest laughed.
Slash lifted his head slowly from the table and looked at tall keyboardist Dizzy Reed, the slowest drinker of them all, who was sitting next to him.
“Hey…” he managed to mumble, “fucking… tall boy… I don’t feel well… Could you help me up to the bathroom?”
Dizzy was wearing new leather pants, and he was not going to have the guitarist throw up or pee on them, so he got up and practically dragged Slash up the stairs towards the bathroom of the bar, while the rest of the band laughed hysterically at the show.
Duff was the one sitting closest to the door, so he heard it open and turned around to see who it was. He saw Stephanie coming in and got up, a little unsteadily, to greet her.
“Hey!” she answered, giggling a little while looking at very drunk Duff. The rest of the guys whistled and dragged a chair to the table so she could sit down.
The supermodel sat down, ordered a whiskey on the rocks, and looked around expectantly.
“Well… where is he?”
“Where’s who?” Matt Sorum answered.
Stephanie smiled. Surely the guys were too drunk.
“Axl… my man, you know? I so want to hug him and kiss him and tell him he was great tonight… maybe I’ll take him back to the hotel and give him something special!”
Having ended her performance of the horny girlfriend, Stephanie winked, expecting the usual screaming, whistling and howling from the guys. Instead, she met confused faces.
“Is something wrong?”
“We thought Axl was with you,” Gilby answered.
“No! Who said that?”
“Duff”. Matt pointed at the bassist as if he had been a child expecting a scolding. The supermodel looked at the tall blonde man.
“Axl told me so!” Duff exclaimed, defending himself, now really confused. “I met him at the end of the show and he said he was going to wait for you and then come to the bar!”
Stephanie was surprised. Eyeing the table, she noticed Slash’s absence, and started formulating a theory that the lovers could be together.
“Maybe he stayed behind to kiss some Mr. Elton John’s butt,” the drummer suggested. “You all know Axl loves him.”
“No,” the girl shook her head, thoughtfully. “Elton John was one of the first performers to leave. I asked for his autograph, he gave it to me and then zoomed out. He was sure in a hurry. If Axl had been with him, I would have seen him, or he would have run after Elton, or something… he would have seen me.”
Stephanie had scarcely finished saying this, taking a sip from her whiskey, when a complaint from the stairs caught her attention…
Her eyes opened wide when she saw a drunk Slash next to Dizzy Reed. And no Axl. Her theory came crashing down to the ground.
The guitarist, looking up to relieve his booze dizziness, saw her through his messy curls as well. Alone. The surprise shocked him until he was almost sober, but he let Dizzy lead him down so the keyboardist wouldn’t notice.
“Hey, Stephanie!” he exclaimed when he reached the table, trying to act as calm as he could.
“Have you seen Axl?” she answered, in hopes the guitarist at least knew where he was.
“Nope… thought he was with you.”
Stephanie drank her whiskey in one gulp, and started acting like the furious girlfriend.
“Well, where the hell is that motherfucker? He could have told me where he was going! I certainly hope he’s not cheating on me, fucking slut!” She smashed her glass on the table and ordered a second whiskey. Slash could see she was genuinely worried.
The table stayed silent for a while, when drunken Gilby, who had been silent, slurred the following words:
“You know… Axl… when he gets angry… he really gets angry… so maybe he didn’t wanna leave without kicking some Kurt Cobain-fucker ass.”
Slash and Stephanie exchanged concerned looks for a second.
“Yeah,” Gilby kept on. “You all saw it. Axl was about to fuckin’ explode with fury. It was clear he wanted to kill the fucking asshole. And… he knew we wouldn’t let him, so…”
The supermodel gulped her new whiskey yet again, got up, and signaled to her limo driver, who was chilling out with a beer, that they were leaving.
“Where are you going, Steph?” Duff asked.
“Looking for Axl,” she replied. “I don’t want him to get into trouble.”
“I’ll go with you,” a very sober Slash immediately got up too, and added, as if to excuse his reaction, “in case things get ugly.”
In no more than five seconds, the pair was out of the bar, into the limo, and heading to wherever Kurt and Axl could be, while the men at the table, still somewhat dumbfounded with booze, wondered if Gilby was right.
Axl decided to walk back to the hotel. He wasn’t afraid of being out so late at night. This was L.A. After all, this was the city that had received him when he ran away from home in Indiana. The city that had been a mother and also a monster to him. The streets that showed off his first jobs and hid his dark secrets around every corner. The clubs that had given him the chance, then fame, and the fortune. And now, the moon and the sky that had been witnesses to his night of love.
Welcome to the jungle, he thought.
He eventually reached the hotel and walked into his room. It felt funny. He was used to getting directly to Slash’s room and to Slash’s bed. His bed, perfectly neat, contrasted with the guitarist’s bed, filled with clues of their encounters. This bed, new, was a good place to rest without memories of his bandmate and lover.
Axl laid down on his bed, only in his underwear, without even bothering to take a shower. The singer wanted to sleep feeling Kurt’s scent on his skin, which lulled him to dreams of this special night.
Inside the limo, Slash and Stephanie were discussing possible places to find Axl.
“I hope he isn’t out on some street,” the guitarist pointed out, “because if he is, it’s going to be terribly hard to find him.”
Stephanie bit her lip. She could almost see the news headlines saying the Guns n’ Roses singer had beat the fuck out of Nirvana’s leader.
They both stayed silent for a while, until the driver said:
“Didn’t you once ask me to go pick up some roadies that had stayed late at a venue?”
“Of course!” Slash exclaimed. “The Pavilion! If they’re not there, maybe some roadies can say where they went! Thanks, man!”
“And it’s the last place where we saw Axl, so…” Stephanie added.
So the limo driver took them back to the Pauley Pavilion, and, as soon as they got there, both the guitarist and the supermodel hopped out and ran to the back doors, which lead to backstage and to where the instruments are.
The curly haired man and the model ran through the empty hallways, wondering if they were too late… and they almost tripped on Jake, who was walking the opposite way to them. Both parties stopped near Nirvana’s warehouse.
“Hey!” Slash called to Jake, who was still a little fidgety after having nearly crashed with the tall man. He thought the guitarist was scolding him.
“I’m… sorry… sorry… Mr. Guns n’ Roses guitarist… Slash, right?”
“Yeah… it’s good that you know me, because I can ask you if you have seen my band’s singer… you know, Axl.”
“Well…” Jake stuttered.
“Is something wrong?” Stephanie quickly piped in. “Which one’s your band?”
“Man, don’t tell me Axl beat Kurt up!” Slash let out without warning.
“Well… no, I don’t think so…” the roadie backed away, a little surprised at the guitarist’s reaction.
“Calm down!” Stephanie smacked her companion’s head and then turned to Jake. “Just tell us if you have seen Axl Rose or you haven’t.”
“I’ve seen him,” Jake answered, “and he was actually coming out of my warehouse, so I can’t say whether he hit Mr. Cobain or he didn’t… though I certainly hope he didn’t.”
Slash and the model exchanged looks. What could Axl be doing in Nirvana’s warehouse?
“But why didn’t you check?” Stephanie insisted.
So Jake had to explain how he did things: how he left Kurt alone backstage or anywhere whenever the musician needed his fix, how he was so used to this way of acting that he would actually wait the exact time till Kurt needed to be dragged out…
“So I decided it was time to check on Mr. Cobain,” the roadie kept on, “and I came here. However, when I got here, I saw Mr. Axl Rose coming out.”
“And didn’t you ask him what was he doing there?” Slash wanted to know.
“No offence, please,” Jake replied, “but your bandmate… well, he has a reputation of being really aggressive…” He paused a little before adding: “So I decided to get out of his way. I didn’t know how he would react, so…”
Stephanie and Slash shook their heads. The kid had a point.
“After Mr. Rose was out of sight, I went to open the warehouse, but then I realized I had actually forgotten the spare key! I had to rush back to my van and look for it, because it had fallen out of my pocket. Fuck, I thought maybe I wasn’t going to get there on time and Mr. Cobain could be OD’d, but for some reason the fact that Mr. Rose had been there with him reassured me… and I was about to open the door when you guys stumbled upon me.”
Jake finished his story, and both the guitarist and the supermodel exchanged looks again.
“Well… open the door, then,” was all the tanned man could say.
The roadie obeyed, and the three of them went in. Jake turned the lights on, and saw a carelessly dressed and somewhat dirty-looking Kurt laying on the floor.
“Mr. Cobain!” He ran to the musician. “It’s me! Jake! Wake up already!”
Slash, who had been standing behind the boy, walked closer to the blond figure. Stephanie stayed near the door.
Jake, noticing Kurt wasn’t waking up, sat the grunger up against the wall, his hands shaking. He was so nervous he didn’t notice the dry stains in his hands and even in his junkie arms.
But Slash did.
Slowly, the guitarist backed away from the roadie and his unconscious boss, and signaled to Stephanie it was time to go. His face looked strange, so the model said nothing at first.
“And what about Axl?” she finally asked as they were walking back to the limo.
Slash closed his fist. He was trembling.
“I’m not sure if there’s another explanation after what this kid said, about Axl being there with Kurt… I don’t think he’s lying.”
“What are you talking about?” the girl was really confused.
“Get into the limo, Steph. I’ll explain on the way… though I wish I didn’t have to.”
It was damn early in the morning, a little before dawn, when Axl was awoken by a hard knock at the door of his room. Fuck it, he thought. Whoever did it certainly deserved a good shouting-at. He had been pulled out from Kurt Cobain’s arms yet again. The blonde had been present again in his dreams, repeating that wonderful passion scene, promising this time was forever…
The singer walked over to the door, and listened. Maybe it was some hotel employee who had mistaken the room.
“Who’s there?” he asked.
Nobody answered. Axl began considering the possibility it was one of his drunken bandmates. He started walking back to the bed, in hopes of restarting the dream, when the knocking started again. This time harder. It sounded as if somebody wanted to push the door down. Drunken bandmate or not, Axl would have to stop it.
He opened the door, and shook a little. Standing in front of him, wearing those tight leather pants and that top hat, and looking as if he hadn’t slept all night, was Slash. His actual lover.
The strawberry blonde swallowed, but tried to hide the disorder he was in. After all, the man knew nothing about the affair…
“Morning, baby,” he started out, trying to sound casual.
“Morning,” Slash mumbled, and then added, his words now harsh and razor-sharp, absolutely meant to wound…
Axl felt the remark. What was going on? He didn’t know what to say, so he just moved aside and let the guitarist go in. Slash walked around as if he didn’t know where to go, then walked over to the door and closed it. That done, he looked at his man, almost expectantly.
“Why so early, babe? I wasn’t expecting you,” the strawberry blonde answered, half-smiling. Surely Slash looked so angry because he was upset about something else…
“I know you weren’t expecting me…” the tanned man answered, “and we weren’t expecting a very lonesome Stephanie yesterday night.”
Axl nearly sighed with relief. That’s it, he thought. Stephanie told him I left her alone. That’s why he’s angry.
“I’m sorry. I had something to do. A sudden inspiration for a song, you know. I rushed back here. I’m really sorry if I forgot about Stephanie. Tell her I’ll make it up to her.”
“I’ll tell her,” Slash replied, “if you tell me what your song was about. Tell me… was it a ballad… about… Kurt Cobain?”
Axl turned pale. Blood froze in his throat. He tried to say something in his defense, but the guitarist pushed him and quickly pinned him against the wall.
“Kurt Cobain? Was that the very urgent thing you had to do last night, you fucking slut?!”
Slash held the singer so tightly Axl felt a strong pain where the curly-haired man’s hands were. He frowned a little, trying not to think about the grip that was hurting him and finally whispered:
“Slash… love… I’m sorry… please… I… don’t know what happened… I was simply not thinking…”
“You were thinking with your dick, that’s what,” Slash growled. “Just like any other motherfucking rockstar.”
The guitarist moved his hands away from the strawberry blonde, leaving red marks on Axl’s skin. He felt like punching him straight on the face. The fucking whore would learn. Yet, he couldn’t. He just couldn’t bring himself to hurt physically the man he passionately loved. Of course, infidelity was killing him, right then and there, but love was getting the best of him. He still loved Axl. In fact, just having the pretty man there, so close and against the wall, was acting on his lust as well.
And there was Axl Rose. He was a man who knew how to fight. Magazines knew that. Even Jake knew that. He could have taken advantage of the fact Slash had let him go to push the guitarist away and escape. Yet, he couldn’t. Regret was now taking over his heart. He knew he had wronged the man who loved him and felt strangely weak.
Suddenly, Slash kissed him, so hard he drew blood from the singer’s lips. The guitarist just had an idea to punish his lover.
After the kiss, the tanned man flung Axl against the bed, not giving him time to react. The half-naked singer landed on his knees and bumped them against the bed. Before he could stand up, Slash was on top of him, leaving him in that position and grounding his head against the mattress with one hand, and his wrists both up and together with his free hand, so the frontman wouldn’t escape.
“Well, how was it?” he taunted.
“How was what?” Axl muttered, his face against the white sheets.
“You know… sex. Was that badly-fed blondie as good as me, huh? Did he kiss you like I did just now?”
Axl said nothing. Instead, he buried his face even more in the sheets.
“You don’t want to answer, huh? Well, maybe he wasn’t half the lover I am… but maybe you don’t remember. Have you forgotten, Axl? Have you forgotten about him now that you’re with me, just like you forgot me yesterday when you were with him?”
Still no answer. Slash took his hand away from the strawberry hair and moved it towards the white underpants.
“Don’t worry. I’m going to refresh your memory just now.”
Axl lifted his flushed head from the mattress as high as he could. He saw the guitarist pulling his underwear down with just one hand while the other never let go of his wrists. He was left naked and kneeling. Then, Slash moved his free hand towards his own leather pants, and began unfastening them and pulling them down as well as he could so as not to hurt himself. He wore no underwear under that tightness, and that was now an advantage.
Finally, Slash’s shaft was out. This achieved, the guitarist didn’t bother in pulling his pants all the way down: instead, he just left them halfway. Then, he knelt and began rubbing his crotch against Axl’s thighs and hips. The singer buried his head on the bed by himself. Oh God. He was started to feel aroused.
He whimpered when Slash’s free hand grabbed his dick and started rubbing it. Meanwhile, the curly man teased him:
“Feels good? Did he know how to please you like I’m doing it just now?”
Axl couldn’t answer between his moans; yet, he certainly wasn’t expecting what came next: all his pleasure washed away and was replaced by a wail of pain.
Slash penetrated him. Just like that. No lube, no warning. He just pushed inside, with a harsh thrust. The strawberry blonde wasn’t tight, of course, and not after his night of passion; yet, this entrance had been enough to drive a wave of pain through his body. In fact, he felt as if some of his muscle had been torn.
The guitarist heard the wail and smiled, satisfied. He reached again for his lover’s ear and whispered:
“Is this good enough, huh? Am I proving I’m so much better at fucking you than Cobain?”
Axl didn’t have time to answer, when the tanned man roared:
“Well, here’s your sex night, cheap slut!”
This said, Slash started pounding on Axl. The guitarist fucked the man in a harsh, violent, and mechanical way. No caresses, no kisses, no bites. The nights of tender love were blurred while Slash slammed himself in and out, in and out, not caring how much he hurt Axl’s entrance and cock. For, in the position the singer was, his now fully erect dick was against the bed, and, whenever Slash violently thrusted against him, the sensitive organ would be slammed against the hard wood. The pleasure the singer received from the contact with the prostrate was quickly replaced by pain: the pain of his shaft being ground mercilessly against the bed, the pain of the muscle being scraped with the fast and hard entrances… but, most of all, the pain of the contrast. Love had turned into a torture, into revenge. A meaningless fuck. That hurt Axl even worse than all the other things put together.
But, finally, it was over. Slash came into Axl’s ravaged entrance, and the singer filled the bed with cum from his sore and beaten dick. Both men laid there for a while, trying to catch their breaths, but it wasn’t long before the guitarist stood up, pulling out from his former lover, and started getting dressed.
“Where are you going?” Axl’s trembling voice rang into the silent room.
“To my room,” the curly man snapped, “though I wish I could go far away.”
The strawberry blonde tried to stand up, but his lower body ached after the encounter, so he just looked up from the floor. His eyes glistened with tears.
“Slash… please… you must understand… I… I’m sorry…” he finished, letting the tears fall down his pretty face.
The guitarist covered his face with his signature curls. He didn’t want to look at Axl. His heart was breaking right on the spot, yeah, but he couldn’t forgive the man. He had rescued him from depression, treated him right, loved him so much… and Axl let it all go, just for a simple caprice, for a wet dream. No. He couldn’t go back to the beautiful singer. Tears flooded his eyes as well when he realized his perfect love was over. Yet, he didn’t want Axl to see him crying, so he walked to the door, silent.
“Slash…” the singer’s voice was breaking into sobs. “Please… give me another chance… don’t go.”
Slash felt like running to the beauty on the floor. He felt like taking Axl in his arms and kissing him. But, instead, he opened the door and took a step out. Axl felt his heart jump out of his body at this gesture, and screamed, as if possessed by demons, as if onstage:
“SAUL!! PLEASE!! DON’T GO!!! DON’T LEAVE ME!! I LOVE YOU!!!”
His real name. Slash felt somebody had just stabbed a dagger through his heart. Blood could have gushed out of the wound, but… what the heck? His heart was already broken and dead. No time to go back.
The door closed together with the last syllable. Axl stayed on the floor. Not Slash, nor Saul. Nobody would be there for him from that day on. They were through. He had lost the man who, he know knew, was the love of his life.
He buried his head in the sheets, just where Slash had buried it some minutes ago, and started crying, sadness streaming down his eyes, wetting his face, his arms, the sheets, his hair. A droplet of blood, sad remainder of painful, loveless sex, trickled down his thigh, but the singer didn’t notice.
All was over.
It was February 1993, just some months after the Nirvana incident, but for Duff McKagan it already seemed a lifetime. Things had been terrible since some months ago, and they were still trapped in the never-ending Use Your Illusion Tour... and now, even worse, in some studio in Minnesota, right at the middle of the tour. Just because Axl had decided it might be a good idea to record a very fun cover album.
It was not like Duff didn’t want to belong to the band anymore, or that he didn’t want to make music or shit like that. It was just what was going on. Tensions had been building up in the band ever since last September. What started out as petty disputes that everybody expected to be talked over by Axl and Slash, suddenly became causes for wars, and big ones. It was as if the vocalist and the guitarist, who’ve had their problems but always solved them, couldn’t solve them now. The band could have sworn they now hated each other. Stephanie as well. Nobody hadn’t seen her around that frequently ever since...
The bassist lit up a cigarette. Huh. Like he didn’t know what was going on.
He had been let into the secret some time after the fights started, when, one night, a very drunken and sad Axl walked into his room and, instead of yelling his head off at him about something stupid, started crying like a baby. Duff had asked him what was going on, and the singer, who needed someone to talk to desperately since he couldn’t talk to Stephanie anymore, just blurted out the whole story: how he had gotten over Erin Everly with the help of Slash, their secret love, Stephanie as a cover because he didn’t want problems with the band or the media; his crazy desire for Kurt, the incident at the VMA’s... and, well, things as they were now.
Duff was surprised when he heard the truth, but decided to be a good friend (after all, he was the only founding member of the band, not counting Slash) and support Axl. So, he had kept this a secret from the band... and now those problems weighed on his shoulders. Since he was the only one who knew exactly what was going on, he had decided keeping the band together was his responsibility… and Lord, it was draining all energy out of him.
“FUCK AWAY!!! ALL OF YOU!!”
There it was… the scream. Duff knew it was only a matter of time before Axl lost it and yelled at everybody. He was glad they had already recorded his bass lines and he didn’t have to be inside, trapped in the fights. Yet, he knew the guys had a right to be angry too. Axl was forcing them to record a song by The Chiffons. The Chiffons! A vocal band of girls! Definitely not what you expected when you played in a metal band. The worst part? It was a ballad. A fucking corny ballad. “Since I Don’t Have You”. What a title! No way! He understood why the rest of the band felt uncomfortable.
Axl came storming out of the studio, shoving Duff aside as he walked out. He didn’t even mutter an apology as he walked outside and was lost out in the streets.
The bassist didn’t move. Some minutes later, the rest of the band walked out as well, looking kinda angry but also relieved. Slash stretched out his hand asking for a cigarette, and Duff gave him one.
“I was only waiting for this to happen,” Gilby said. Matt nodded, and added: “I’m sick of this. I hate the fucking song.”
“Yeah… let’s go for a drink,” Dizzy suggested.
Slash nodded under his curls, and all of them started walking out. Well, all except Duff. He started going after them and came out into the street, but all of a sudden he decided he didn’t want to be with the band. Just… not now. He needed to rest. He needed some time for himself.
The guys noticed somebody was missing, and turned around.
“Duff,” Slash called out, “ain’t you coming?”
The bassist finished his cigarette and said:
“I’m sorry guys… I think I’ll take a raincheck on this one. You know…” he pointed to the studio door, meaning Axl, “I think it’s his fault. I’ve got this fucking headache that just can’t leave me be. I want to get some sleep. Sorry.”
The band nodded. Surely Axl was a pain in the ass. Duff had a right to rest if he wanted to.
“Well then Duff. See ya tomorrow, then,” Gilby waved.
The blonde man waved back, and watched the band walk away. When they were around the corner, the bassist started walking the opposite way, with nowhere to go. He just wanted to be alone with his thoughts.
He entered a small bar and ordered a beer. It was not so late: the sun was barely setting. Surely the guys were going to spend a LONG time at whatever bar they were going to go.
The beer came and Duff took small, quiet sips from it, eyeing the few people that were there. Not one of them was very interesting. Many of them were middle-aged men who surely had nothing better to do or maybe wanted to be alone with his thoughts before going home to their wives.
Duff had gotten married for the second time a few months ago.
Suddenly, the setting sun shone against the window, and gleamed on what looked as long, blonde hair. There was a blonde figure sitting near the window, its back to Duff. It looked frail and skinny underneath the tough flannel jacket. It could have been a girl who was into that grunge fashion. Well, she had beautiful hair, Duff thought, finishing his beer.
Suddenly, the person beside the window turned around, and the bassist could see who he was. The sunset made his hair shine with a golden light and his eyes were sparkling diamonds.
Duff swallowed. He had listened to such passionate descriptions from Axl, he had seen some videos in MTV… there was no mistake. The frail blonde figure by the window was… Kurt Cobain.
All of a sudden, the bassist didn’t know what to do. Something inside him asked him to get up and confront the grunge singer. He felt like telling Kurt how he had ruined his band; how Axl had been so affected by him as to fuck up everything he had, both musically and romantically speaking. Well, perhaps that was getting into some problems that were not rightfully his. Maybe he should only tell Kurt how affected Axl was for what had happened. Maybe he should just walk over to him and tell him Axl said hello. Or maybe he shouldn’t go there at all.
To his surprise, Duff found himself going to Kurt’s table. He sat down in front of the singer, who didn’t react. He seemed rather absorbed in his drink, which wasn’t alcohol, but coffee.
The bassist looked at the man who looked at the mug. Well, certainly Axl had a point. Kurt could look good on TV, but, in person, he was simply something else. There was a kind of celestial air about him… or maybe it was the sun that still shone shyly on his hair. His pretty but sad face increased his beauty. His skinny hands, the weakness that could be inferred from his looks… all those features just helped this man be more beautiful. Duff shivered a little when he found himself looking at Kurt not with the same interest he had felt a few moments ago, but now as if he was under a spell. Caught by the beauty of the grunge singer. Mesmerized, was the word.
“Are you going to stare all fucking evening, or are you going to say hello?” came a mutter.
The bassist nearly jumped. It was as if he had forgotten the dreamy grunger knew how to speak.
“I… I thought you hadn’t noticed me,” he stammered.
“You’re so tall it’s hard not to notice you,” Kurt answered, and looked up from the mug, adding, “Mr. Duff McKagan.”
How does he know my name? Duff thought. He seemed to have forgotten he was a rockstar, after all. But he simply said:
“I see you know my name.”
“Like all of America. They know my name too,” Kurt concluded.
Duff was getting nervous; he didn’t know why. He tried to stand up, but couldn’t. God, what was holding him back? Instead, he asked for another beer.
“And… what are you doing here all by yourself? Without your noisy friends?” Kurt asked.
Going away from Axl, who’s suffering because of you, Duff thought.
“Well… I needed a drink, and… well, you know, you sometimes get tired of your bandmates. I needed some time for myself, Kurt,” was all that came out.
“I’m doing that, as well,” the grunger answered.
“And what are you doing here in Minnesota?” God, Duff thought. Wasn’t Cobain supposed to be the silent type?
“Working on an album. Axl wanted to.”
A quick smile escaped the grunger’s lips when he heard the name of Guns n’ Roses’ frontman.
“Yeah, Axl. Tell him I say hi.”
The nerve! Duff felt like punching Kurt, but instead took a drink from his beer and continued with the conversation.
“Are you… recording, too?”
“Yeah. You know, the crowds can’t live without a new album by Nirvana.”
The bassist nodded. Yeah, Nirvana was a huge hit.
Some more silence. Duff started to feel awkward and blurted out the first question he could think about.
“And your wife? And your child?”
“They’ll be coming here in two days. I really want to see my little daughter… before we start another fucking tour.” Maybe it was because the sun had already set, but Kurt looked a little more somber when he said that. The bassist noticed it.
“Are you OK?” he asked. Maybe he was indeed concerned for Nirvana’s leader.
“Yeah…” Kurt mumbled, and then added, “it’s just that… well, sometimes I don’t know if I can keep on with this. You know, sometimes I wish I could just go ahead and throw it all away.” A shadow was cast on his pale blue eyes.
Duff thought Kurt was talking about leaving the music business, so he answered:
“I’ve thought about it, too. Of just getting up one day, picking up your things and leaving the band with nobody following you. Going home, to the wife, to the family.”
Kurt laughed bitterly.
“No, Duff. I’m not talking about Nirvana.”
The bassist looked so confused, the grunger had to laugh again. Poor naïve thing, he thought.
“When I talk about giving everything up, I mean everything.”
It took some minutes for Duff to understand the deep, and even terrible meaning of the words. He had never thought of Kurt as a man who would be so ready for death. He looked at the grunger again and saw, underneath all that beauty, something dark and broken. An abyss. Duff felt he would fall inside. The man was simply intoxicating, (yeah, that was the word, “intoxicating”, beautiful yet dangerous) in spite of all the suicidal talk and the self-destructive tendencies. Suddenly, Duff saw clearly why Axl felt so attracted to him. Axl’s demons lived inside that frail body as well.
The bassist only reacted when he felt the firm touch of a hand on his long legs. He looked at Kurt, now more confused than when the grunger had talked about suicide. But the man just smiled.
“The good thing about giving everything up whenever you want to, is that you’re free to do what you want. You’re free to experiment, Mr. McKagan, without fearing the consequences.”
Duff nodded silently. The abyss… he was falling…
“And there’s something I have been very curious about recently, Mr. McKagan. Well, in fact, I started wondering about it ever since I had a very long talk with, oh, what a coincidence, Mr. Axl Rose at the VMA’s.”
Duff paled after he heard that. He started thinking about where this was going. And, for some reason… something inside him asked to give in. Yes, whatever you want, Mr. Cobain. Beautiful, strikingly beautiful, yet dangerous and deadly…
“So, what do you say, Mr. McKagan? Can I know what was it Mr. Rose was feeling that night?”
The bassist gulped the last of his beer and muttered almost inaudibly:
“I don’t think my bandmates will be at the hotel for the night.”