“The Good Doctor” by Sam Farahmand

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Sounds good, I’m sure I said right after their set or the morning after it when we all woke up and went back to the van warmed in the sun if not again the night before and well after their set if not right before Howard and I left them at the bar while they were still waiting to be headlined by the all girl punk rock band. Nothing sounds more punk rock than an all girl punk rock band as much as nothing is more punk rock than leaving before the start of a punk rock show, so Howard and I left the bar early to arrange for Goodwolf to spend the night at a library, but I still felt bad. I’m not too sure who I said it to or whom, any one of the three of them in the band, but I am sure I must have said it sounded good because that more than anything else is something someone would say if something is good. Sounds good.

Tyler might not have heard me if I said it to him because he is deaf in one ear, which makes him cup the other ear and lean in to listen to you sometimes and that makes him seem like he’s listening to you harder than most people with two good ears would. I buy him another beer because another ear couldn’t make him hear me any better as much as another beer couldn’t hurt. He says something about the record recording recorded for the listener to hear the way he hears, Mono.

I couldn’t hear him much either because the bar was loud even when the music wasn’t live, so once or twice we all go drink bourbon from a bottle in the van parked between a wood-and-orange barrier and a blue portapotty across the street and down some from The Grand Victory. The bottle passes around a few times to each of us the few times we’re sitting in there and even though the bottle-of-bourbon lineup changes with everyone sitting in a different seat from when we were in the van before and when we’re in there the third or fourth time Tyler leans forward to say, Looks like we’re playing a drunk show tonight.

One of the times one of them says he thinks we might have met before, so I say I think so too and I try to think so, but I don’t think we have met, though I don’t remember meeting a lot of the people I’ve met and I don’t remember meeting a lot of the people I end up remembering. He starts to tell a story of them all getting kicked out of some bar and like any other story of everyone getting kicked out of some bar it’s a good one, one of those ones where someone told him to stop looking at him, to stop looking at him like he was looking at him, but he wasn’t looking at him.

He stops in the middle of the story and looks the other way and says, Dude that’s Five-O.

So the story stops right before everyone gets kicked out of a bar somewhere that wasn’t much more than somewhere else on the Car in the Woods record release tour while Tyler and him and me all stare at a car that’s been pulled up to the side of the van for the past minute that I thought it’d been waiting for the light up ahead to turn. I recap the bottle and hide it under the passenger seat I’ve been sitting in and suppose I have been drinking the most for someone who hasn’t paid at all for the bourbon. The light up ahead has been green for some time and there hasn’t been a line of cars waiting for the light to turn, but this car has been pulled up next to us for a while now and I can see there’s no one inside.

I lean over to look and see nothing rearview mirrored.

***

What makes something good if not putting good in its name that makes it good. I think about the name Goodwolf and I think of what I think makes something good and how arbitrary it is for me sometimes and how much of what I do is dictated by something sounding good.

Good is a good word. It’s a four letter word that isn’t that far and away from a three letter one, a hard g and an even harder ending d. It makes for a good ending. It makes me think how much I think about ending sentences on the letter d, the way something sounds being reflective of itself, but everything I do seems at the start to be set by arbitrary patterns that only depend on the way they sound. Enough arbitraries add up over time to make some sort of story if not some scaffolding to keep folding over until I stop seeing all of the arbitrary folds and it makes some sense. The folds may sound arbitrary at the time, but all that matters is that they are repeated. Maybe it’s easier to see all of this in song because the words are set to sound and it’s easier to notice repetition in a song because songs, in their structure and sense, are all about repetition.

Songs are short, but if they’re good, they’re repeated. They have in them their repeated structures, one note is played and then another note and then maybe the first one again, but even then if one note is played and then another note it’s still just an instance of repetition even if it isn’t the same. The possibility of repetition is, in its own way, repetition, so the absence of repetition is made sense of through repetition.

Songs are short and essays are short and things that are short are, whether they’re good or bad, repeated in life and life is in thereforths time founded in if not found in repetition. Our sense of self through our sense of time is dictated by everything being repeated. If life is random, life is also ran dumb, so as it were, rhyme or reason, rhyme is reason enough.

I listen to Car in the Woods again because I don’t remember much from the evening itself and listening to Tyler’s record would make for a good end if not an arbitrary one. Maybe it doesn’t matter if he could or couldn’t hear me or even if I could hear him.

In the end there was the word and the word was with the wolf and the word was Good.

***

Spring is allergens in the air and my throat hurts and I’m afraid I’m dying. There isn’t any ringing in my ears the morning after, but spring has sprung even if it doesn’t sound like it has, as if there were something there that wasn’t, so I think of the lack of a ringing in my ears and think I should listen to the record.

Everyone else is still asleep, but it’s still early. The American flag of a wall behind the bandstand at The Grand Victory doesn’t feel like anything but some American dream I had last night and I start to drink a leftover beer to either fall asleep again or to put off a hangover when I hear Tyler waking up and I listen to him talk about the library’s ceiling while he’s still in his sleeping bag on the floor and saying something about the tin ceiling and how you don’t see much of that anymore, It looks like lava.

I look up at it and it does look like lava even if it isn’t lava colored. Tyler talking about décor and the sound of the word décor makes me think of the verb then the noun then the word record.

He says in Chicago they went to some independent press to talk to someone about some literary-musical series Howard and him might be doing, It’s nationally syndicated. The independent press is run out of what used to be a macaroni factory, but the ceilings didn’t even look like they were made out of lava.

From macaroni to Marconi, I think to say. From macaroni to Magma Carta.

Outside the van is warm from sitting in the sun. I ask how she’s been running and Tyler says she’s more or less been running, but Howard might say different, though he’s been driving most of the way because he’s their tour manager and when he wakes up he drives this morning too because he’s used to driving in the city. It’s nice to sit in a car sitting in the sun, but when all of us are in there I don’t mind the windows down as they give me a ride into the city because a friend of theirs is the nephew of the owner of an Italian restaurant where brunches have been promised. They’ve neared the end of their tour and have one more stop farther east before heading home to their homecoming show in West Virginia. They had driven the tour up until then with two vans between two bands, but their opening act left for West Virginia sometime after the all girl punk rock band’s set last night.

We drive a while and we’re all quiet and don’t have the radio going because it’s broken and we’re all quiet until Howard says, I did something bad. He stops and he starts. It’s not what you think it is.

What is it, Tyler asks after a while.

I left my card at the bar.

They’re gonna kill you on gratuity, one of them says.

I don’t think that bartender liked me all that much, I say.

Why don’t we get it before we get brunch.

They don’t open until six.

Don’t they.

You know what it is is I just had the one beer.

Maybe you forgot it because you just had the one.

Everyone thinks that must have been what it was the rest of the way they give me a ride into the city and one of them thinks it’s the Brooklyn Queens Expressway we’re getting on when he sees a sign for it up ahead, but it isn’t that, it’s something else that I don’t know what it is either, but it doesn’t matter all that much. It feels good to feel like I’m something I’m not.

There’s a lot of traffic getting up to the toll as Howard wrestles the window down and sighs if anyone has any cash on them and the toll man is aggressive about asking Howard how his day is and saying how his day is good. We all laugh about it and Howard pushes and pulls the window up again with several come-ons.

We stop and start into the city and when we’re in the city the one next to me asks me if he can switch seats, if I wouldn’t mind, so he can smoke the cigarette we were both watching him roll all the way into the city.

I say, I think I’ll actually just get out right here.

Where are you going.

I don’t know.

Well we’ll miss your company.

With friends like these, who needs friends. I tell them, I’m going to go drink a Bloody Mary.

It makes them laugh and one of them say something like, Sounds good.

I wait for the light up ahead to turn red to get out after patting more than one or two of them on at least two or three shoulders then shaking the hand of the one next to me and saying a good bye to all of them before closing the door behind me. It feels good to not have to keep going as a part of something I’m not.

The light up ahead is still red and getting out of the van in traffic and coming around the back of the van I smile at the people in the car behind us and I remember the empty car pulled up next to us the night before.

Dude that’s not Five-O, Tyler says pointing to a small shield stickered on the inside of the passenger side window that looks like something he says isn’t what it looks like.

We still stare at the car and the no one inside and look all around us before seeing the door of the portapotty swing open and close and the car door open and close and the car start off into the light. We all laugh and we finish most of the bottle and go into the bar and I don’t like the bar because I don’t think the bartender likes me. She has blonde hair and blue eyes and it’s just the one or two tall cans for me before Howard and I go back to the van and finish even more of the bourbon after they’ve played a few songs off of the record then covered a few more songs before they’re finished.

The city is loud in the morning and I think I’ll go home and listen to the record. I wonder does a Car in the Woods make a sound and if it does, it does, but if I think it does, does it make a good sound or does it make a sound good.

doctor

Sam Farahmand is a struggling writer, both fiscally and metaphysically. He is from Los Angeles in California.


44. The Exegesis of Matthew E. Nelson

On the eve of Mellow Pages Library’s closing, Sam interviews Matt Nelson on all things Mellow, Pages, and Library: several years of the independent library’s goings-on, from hosting all manner of readings to boasting all manner of small press and large press books; the foundational myth of meeting Jacob Perkins; having a do-it-yourself, can’t-do attitude; the exoduses of New York friends and folk alike; and much more.

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