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For All Nails #164: Under Heartbeat City's Golden Sun

Heartbeat City, Manitoba, CNA [1]
10 August 1975

"Jackie, what took you so long?" said Rick O'Casey as his fiancée entered the
hotel room.

"Just a holiday," Elliot Weston muttered in a sarcastic aside to his bandmate
Robin Davidson.

Fortunately, Rick didn't hear, his attention focused on Jackie Rojas as she
swept into the room and fastened herself to his side.  "The drive up from
Michigan City took longer than I thought," she said nonchalantly.

"You /drove/ here from the Big Windy?" said Rick in astonishment, though Elliot
didn't know why Rick was so surprised.  Mexicans drove /everywhere/, and even
though Jackie had lived in the CNA for years, she was still a Mexican through
and through.  Not, Elliot reminded himself, that there was anything wrong with

Evidently dismissing his wonderment, Rick went on.  "Ah well, what matters is
that you're finally here!"  Rick took her into his arms and planted a great big
kiss on her mouth, which Jackie returned with her usual lack of enthusiasm.

It just went to show, Elliot thought to himself, that you should never put too
much stock in national stereotypes.  Jackie was just about as far from being
everyone's idea of the typical chica caliente as you could get.  She dressed as
drably as a New England preacher, in shapeless black skirts and pullovers, and
her emotional range ran the gamut from neutral to nonexistent.  Ever since he
had taken up with her, everyone in North America had wondered what Rick saw in
her.  Elliot, who had known Rick since they were lads together in Kent, [2] was
just as mystified as everyone else.

"You're just in time," Rick said to Jackie after unfastening his lips from
hers, "we were just about to head down to the theater for the sound check." 
Elliot sighed to himself as he followed the couple out of the room.  Jackie
hadn't been the only one enjoying her holiday in Michigan City.  Her absence
>from the tour had been sweet, sweet relief to Elliot.

They were accompanied on their livery ride down to the theater by a local
journalist whose name Elliot never learned.  As usual, he directed all his
questions at Rick and Jackie.

Q:  So what do you two think of Heartbeat City?

R:  Pulsin' town, man, really pulsin' town.

J:  It is bleak and windswept.  I find it strangely compelling.

Q:  Jackie, I've heard they're putting on an exhibition of your paintings at
the Gallivan Museum in New York.

J:  Yes.

Q:  Uh, so, uh, that's pretty exciting, don't you think?

J:  No.

Q:  Uh.  Uh, Rick, when do you think the group will be releasing their next

R:  Well, we've been working on some really sharp new songs, I think our
listeners are really gonna be hit for six when they hear 'em.

Q:  We've been hearing rumors lately that you and Jackie have been
collaborating on some of the new songs.  Is that true?

J:  We have created a series of atonal compositions.

R:  Yeah, really sharp, you know?

Elliot shook his head.  Well, at least she was honest enough not to call them
"songs".  Whether Jackie's . . . compositions . . . would be appearing on the
next Lokes phonosuite was currently a matter of deep contention within the
group.  The vote was currently four to one against.  By a strange coincidence,
the vote on giving Jackie a vote was also currently four to one against.

The vote on making the Lokes a quartet was currently deadlocked at two all, but
Elliot had hopes that Gregory Finch was starting to come around.

The livery deposited them by the stage door of the theater, where the group's
manager, Buck McGrath, was chewing on one of his Cuban cigars.  "Glad to see
you finally decided to stop over," he growled.  "You're supposed to go on in
two hours, and that means that you've barely got time for a sound check before
Vitavision goes on."  Vitavision was a local group from Flange [3] who had been
opening for the Lokes during their swing through Manitoba.

The microphones were lined up on the stage, and one by one Elliot and the other
members recited scraps of poetry, sang bits of their songs, and otherwise
tested out their voices while the sound techs fiddled with their equipment. 
Then the five of them lined up together.  After a brief consultation, they
decided to sing one of their early hits, "Moving in Binaural".

With Benjy Anders and Robin singing backrhythm, Elliot joined Rick and Gregory
to produce the group's trademark three-part harmony.

In her dress of blue and coral
Every time I see her there
When she's moving in binaural
Then to me she's twice as fair

Just like always, when he started singing, Elliot forgot about the stress of
being on the road, forgot about the arguments, even managed to forget about
Jackie sitting there in the wings.

I won't rest upon my laurel
Till I finally make her mine
When she's with me in binaural
I'll be feeling twice as fine

Now there was only him, his bandmates, and the music - the way it always was. 
The way it should be.

Heaven help me if we quarrel
And she leaves this lonely lad
If we break up in binaural
It will make me twice as sad

If only, he thought, if only the music could go on forever.

Now it's time to point my moral
Because then it's plain to see
When we're moving in binaural
Then she's twice as dear to me

Elliot Weston lost himself in the familiar song.  He closed his eyes and he
slipped away.


[1]  OTL Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Heartbeat City was first mentioned in FAN
#53c, "Bachelor's Hall".

[2]  OTL Cleveland, Ohio.  Kent is mentioned in Sobel on p. 66.

[3]  OTL Fargo, North Dakota.  Flange is mentioned in Sobel on p. 307.  Not
even I could have come up with a name as silly as Flange on my own.
Johnny Pez
Newport, Rhode Island
November 2002