NOISE (c), a novel by Barbara Sparhawk, Chapter 3


The unpredictability of life may be the best part. Except for one thing. If angels walk among us, they sure don’t stay long enough to suit the mortal appetite. NOISE is a love story.

CONEY HEATS UPCHAPTER 3She could always feel it before she got to it. Coney Island eau de Frenzie rounded the Belt Parkway, picked up speed and came at her. It raced the asphalt, under the bridge. It ran her down. Three miles out of the park, the wall of noise and Lucien collided.“Take me , baby!!” She poured into it. Bass thumped the Chevy’s metal frame.TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT ONE MORE TIME. HEY JUDE DON’T MAKE IT BAD. She hit 75. IT’S ONLY ROCK’N’ROLL BUT I LIKE IT I LIKE IT. She hit 80. WALK ON THE WILD SIDE HEY. She upped the radio volume.“Leap me there, damnit, come on Cousin Brucie!” she yelled at New York’s famous DJ and weaved around three cars, boppin’ in the front seat, waving and laughing, “Get me on the Milky Way!” The Parachute Jump loomed up, still miles away. She hit 85. DESPERADO YOU BETTER COME TO YOUR SENSES. I CAN HELP, IF THE CHILD NEEDS A DADDY I CAN HELP. Punched up rhapsody of ten to twenty to two hundred songs through the open window into Lucien. HEY LITTLE SISTER DON’T DO LIKE YER BIG SISTER DONE. Off the exit, closer, over the metal bridge, here it comes, cut to Main.I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR. Lucien took off her blue mirrored sunglasses and looked at herself in the rear view and screamed, running one hand through her flying hair, eyes red, tired and rimmed, feeling like girl catnip. Whoooeeeee. GREAT BALLS O’ FIRE! Her long hair yanked into the hot wind, her palm slapped the car door. RUBY TUESDAY. She transfused. Her blood was music. From now on it was gonna be all visuals and viscerals. Tina Turner, ride that pony.Left at the drugstore. Past the salt water taffy shop. HELP ME RHONDA. Right at the old hotel, around Jazz’s Arcade, sweep that parking lot twice. Three times. TURN ME ANY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE. GoKart exhaust. Airborne cotton candy sweets. IF THAT AIN’T LOVIN’ ME THEN GOD DIDN’T MAKE LITTLE GREEN APPLES.Dazed, dizzying millions of New Yorkers exploded onto white sand into blue ocean. Bodies in flying machines, the rocket ships, roller coasters, the Ferris wheel moved out of sync with unisonned screams, her ears got it a second early or a second late. TAKIN’ CARE O’ BUSINESS. On the ground, brown and pink and red children crackled in Coney pixie dust. BROWN SUGAR. The sun set it ablaze. Lucien made a sudden right, inches behind a vacating car. BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE BUT YOU CAN GIVE IT TO THE BIRDS AND THE BEES I WANT MONEY THAT’S WHAT I WANT THAT’S WHAT I WANT.She killed the engine. She smiled. The way you do when everything is so all right, nothing hurts. The way you do when you feel so good, you look for trouble.In front of her the mounted division cops were already into crowd control, saddled on their wild-eyed horses. Inconsequential shoving matches ran about thirty feet apart. Over on the GoKart track, Nelson, rod slim, shirtless, arms out directing traffic, stood on the car seat and steered with his knees. He bent into each turn like a swan, going twenty miles an hour on an oval less than two hundred feet long Nelson spewed Spanish invective at drivers who tried to plow him down. There was his sweetheart, his angel Martina, who rested her belly swollen with Nelson’s child against the chain link fence, watching her man. Cheering for her hero.

Wearing the colors of the family gang. Two summertime ancient savvy sixteen year old Brooklyn kids who ate up the air.
“If I ever lose Nelson, I close down, that’s it,” B.J. said more than once. They were twins, skill and frenetic wise. B.J. almost cried talking to Lucien about how much he loved him.
Lucien swung her feet onto the seismic ground and immediately slammed the door and flattened back when another car pulled in tight alongside. She squeezed sideways and glared through the open window at the driver.
“Hey! A little room, huh?” and she hauled the milk crate with her brushes and cans of paint and gallon of turps out of the trunk. She could hardly get on the sidewalk through jostling backsides of bodies four deep at the fence. She headed to the second center of the storm, the GoKart ticket box. She could just make out Mary inside. Outside, the line was pure don’t you tell me where to stand. It went sideways thirty feet, vaguely clung to the ticket box to stay separate from the Haunted House line, and except for some readjusting and threats everybody seemed to know who came next. The Coney cloud, the magic carpet, the screaming sticky candy, beer and burgers hallelujahed from the ground up.
“Oh God I love it,” Lucien said under her breath. * * * *
Lucien got close enough to shout. “MARY! HAVE YOU SEEN B.J.?”
“OH BABY GIRL! GET OVER HERE, YOU GOT TIME TO BUY ME A SODA?” Mary had customers coming through the bars. “I gave you your change Bozo! That was a five, not a ten, look, damn, right here! Still in my hand! Move on, you…” she ducked and lifted to see Lucien, “B.J.‘s in ASTROLAND! HE’S COMIN’ BACK IN FIFTEEN MINUTES…anyways he said.” Mary waved two dollars through the bars to Lucien, but pulled it back from the wrong fingers. “No, stranger! Honey, that’s not yours, this here is a ticket book and I am a ticket seller and you pay me! I don’t give you money for havin’ fun especially not my own private money, you got that? LULU LEAVE YOUR PAINT WITH ME, BACK DOOR! BUY ME A SPRITE! PLEASE!!”
Lucien headed around the back with her paints. The air was smoggy thick. She took off the black cotton shirt she’d been in, down to a yellow polka dot halter, hiked her jeans, and rolled up the cuffs. Pick up some tan. She had to argue two cusomers out of the path of Mary’s door and then hold one foot against it to prevent anyody trying to force their way in. Mary was the kind of woman likely to be armed with a derringer in her bra or .45 Magnum on her hip though Lucien never saw a glint of metal but for Mary’s eyes when she got hot. Like now. Orchestrating the public.
“Two tickets or three? That your daughter? She can ride, same price. The little one no. I says!” You didn’t mess with Mary. “Don’t try fightin’ me, short stuff! Then find some other ride, you nuts? You put a baby on a race car? Next, move out. Go on, let the man up, you’re crazy, listen to your wife. Come on, next, how many?”
She turned and slapped two bills into Lucien’s hand and rolled her eyes. “Somebody must be havin’ a special for idiots today. They’re all here. Thanks, Lu. I’m dyin’ of thirst.” Lucien leaned against the outside ofthe door til she heard the locks click. The loudspeakers were a beast and a howl. Oh, Barry White. Oh, Jimi Hendrix. Oh Paul and John and George and Ringo. And the Ronnettes. From every direction.
Women bared in bathing suit tops, bright sunburnt men in straw hats, cigars and ice cream bars; muscle shirts and mini skirts; beards, frizzed up frazzled hair, pouty lips, roaring mascara and hot pink blush. Do’s out to there and bald heads, hats with ducks and beer cans; arms full of game-won pandas and whirligigs; Indians in turbans and saris, orthodox Jews in felt fedoras; blacks in Afro’s and military surplus, and electric pink satin. Blue-eyed Irish and snarling Italian boys dared anybody to look twice at their dolled up voluptuaries. The rifle range popped bb’s and bells rang. A beer bottle splattered against the side of the basketball toss without interrupting the play.
Summer reached New York early. Bright warm days started at the end of April; by early May the temperature hadn’t varied from a midday high of seventy-five and today it was ten more degrees than that. LISTEN TO THE MUSIC. Oh, Doobie Brothers.
Lucien was already suctioned in and nothing was going to change that. She had planned to quit the congressman by the first of June. A reporter she knew advised her to take her time and make it a clean professional break. She wasn’t sure she could. She thought about a move to city newspaper, or maybe tv news. If anything opened up it wouldn’t happen til late fall or even early next year when the next presidential elections started. All this color compared to a dark cranky office, enough to make a grown woman cry. And here comes summer.
She hadn’t mentioned her plans to B.J. yet. Every night when he closed down they talked in the steamy dark or in the gas and oil and tire pungent GoKart office, or in his crazy little trailer. He wanted her to move in with him, she didn’t see how it could work. But oh how happy she was and still not figuring out all the why and the wherefore. Lucien just knew she hadn’t felt this good in two years, back again into paint, her own boss at least on weekends, and like dynamite going off she finds this depth-plumbing not-a-cowboy bayou boy she doesn’t want to live without. She was averaging four hours of sleep a night.
Lucien got Mary’s Sprite back to her and then to get out of the sun she headed down along the Bowery to Sporty’s Dragon Cave. Once she rounded the corner the music penetrated less, but Sporty had a loudspeakered loop of tape he made that beckoned the curious onboard a wet ghoulish boat ride over oil green water. Sometimes he speiled on the mike. Buck seventy-five a pop and not much of a thrill but a good place to make out.
Sporty was drinking his bourbon neat in a coffee cup. “Got a smoke?” He asked her to hold the fort. "First chance I got to take a piss since I opened, " and he slid off the five foot stool to the pavement.
“I want to try this,” Lucien said and grabbed the mike. Sporty said positively no, and took off.
B.J. had been coaching her. B.J. told her, Sugar, you got a long way to go. Lucien thought she could do just fine.
“Okay!! Step right up here! Sporty’s Dragon Cave! It’s dark! It’s mysterious! It’s romantic!!”
Sporty was back and snatched the microphone out of her hand.
“PulEEEEZE! You are losin’ me cash customers here!” He traded places with Lucien.
“You ain’t no good at this, kiddo. That’s notsayin’ you won’t never be, it’s an acquired skill. I’m forty years at this.” Sporty leaned back and ran the tape and bummed another smoke. “Hey, Luci-annie…did I say this? Mac says go see him over to the Wild Mouse. He needs paint somewheres.”
“Yeah.” Sporty scratched and stretched. “On that wall over by the side? I been thinkin’ about it. That wall, look where I’m pointin’.”
“Maybe a picture, one exceedingly large dragon or somethin’, Lu. Or two, like at war, like that. Whatta ya think?”
“Okay, Sporty. You got it.”
“Every year I think to do somethin’ with that wall and it never happens. Every year. It’s a bare wall. It looks like shit. It could look like somethin’.”
“Can you do somethin’ there?”
“I’ll take a look.”
“You could take a look. You know what wall I mean?” Sporty got busy with the ticket line. “It has to be good. Large.”
Lucien slowly looked at the colors. The buzzed crowd moved in jagged lines, rippling waves, fuscia, red, lime green turquoise, yellow, pink. Uniform in release, infinitely varied in form, all of it slightly out of kilter. Thrilling and nauseating. “Right inside Dr Calligori’s Cabinet,” she thought. “Home.” Lucien said it out loud to nobody but herself.
There was too much noise around her to hear anything but for the sound she was missing, the sound of the south, the talk of cornbread and dragonflies. And it was in her now like he was standing next to her whispering, like some wonderful plant started to grow and flower even if he wasn’t around. Lucien was only a few feet away from where she’d first met B.J., cold and empty in the park then, on April 1. She remembered the second he turned to her and fixed her eyes with his and said something about living in a devil’s den. “You up fer livin’ in this devil’s den, Sugar?” What was she in for in a trailer right there on the asphalt track with B.J. Thinking about it made her feet leave the ground. Not like home. No, not like nothin’. Hot damn.
Sporty was talking about painting his wall again but she stopped hearing. She let herself ride into what wasn’t lost and what wasn’t found. There were the usual times when she saw the exterior of people and that alone. The clothes, the smile, the hair, the fill in the blanks on the cop’s lined notebook page. Then there were the surprises, the split second when the color of the air pumped her eyes through to the inside into the mass, the protoplasma and the outline drifted away and particles were held in place by currents and mechanical schemata that whispered form and shouted substance. She was filled up with every memory of love she ever had in her life and all she could see was B.J.
Ooooooh yes. Hello! Who are you? We knew each other in Shangri-La. You rode the baby buggy next to me on the Bronx sidewalks before we could talk. You were the senior when I was in eighth grade who never talked to me and I couldn’t tell you that I loved you with all my heart and would die for a word from you. I saw you once getting into the F train but the doors closed, and then that one time, I knew, lying on my back on the roof, I knew you were in that plane that took off and passed right through blue sky and into the clouds like you were made to do. Well stop a minute here! Speak to me! Allure me down your alimentary canal, stranger. Share your internal workings and mingle spit with me and crunch me up in your arms and see if you ever want to leave again, no I didn’t think so I didn’t think so.
Where was B.J.

YOU HAVE JUST READ CHAPTER THREE – CONEY HEATS UP – From my novel: NOISE. The work is fully copyrighted by BD Sparhawk 2001. It may not be reproduced, copied, translated, sold, or used in any formwithout specific permission of the author in writing. For a synopsis, or a full copy, legitimate publishers and filmmakers please email me at
My heartfelt, undying gratitude to every man, woman, & child who ever made Rock’n’Roll.

OH What a Life I Lead

NOISE (c), a novel by Barbara Sparhawk, Chapter 3

Barbara Sparhawk

Carmel Valley, United States

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Lucien didn’t know it before she tried it but she found out. Real life wan’t anywhere near the halls of Congress, and it wasn’t in a New York City newsroom. Sometimes it was on a reporter’s pad and got as far as print, but not often enough. It tumbled, however, off the tongues and out of the guts of real people. Lucien might be some fallen Brooklyn angel, but she wanted salvation and she’d listen for those tongues and search for those guts and man she needed some genuine humanity in her or she’d wither and die.
She trekked out to the Brooklyn badlands of Coney Island that April 1979, disconsolate and angry. The old amusement park was rebuilt make-shift over too many burndowns and unsalvaged dreams. She’d found plenty of reality there before in years of sign painting for Jazz and Sporty and Captain Nemo. Mary was real. And Satelite Bob, and Metoo. Real and creepy and marvelous and no pretense otherwise.
On that quiet cold spring day, a Louisiana kid who wildcatted in the Gulf of Mexico showed up, ready to scope out the ride manager’s job he signed up for. Sensual, physcially gorgeous, soft southern drawl puntuated by Cajun French, the guy electrified Lucien. His name was B.J.Ten years before, he’d been a child preacher. His name was Bijou then. A healer in the backwoods of southern bayous, raised by his grandma, he grew up in torch-lit revival tent Sundays where he brought hope and redemption to sickly outlanders. When he hit fourteen, his grandma tried to murder him. That three minutes of fighting for life in an old empty Baptist church permanently altered the boy. B.J. ran and didn’t stop running, learning to live on his own in a life that had gone from gentle to deadly. Dangerous, wild, all piss and vinegar, on a tightrope between life and death and not remembering enough of who he used to be, to jump himself off.
B.J. held the secrets of the universe under that greasy t-shirt and dimpled grin. He knew things. Lucien said Take me I’m yours. Something was there for her that was going to make it worth the scare. The man made her feet leave the ground.
The preacher turned wild-catter was way too used to women, mostly ones who burrowed his soul, emptied his pockets, and left him wretched. Lucien looked for adventures, excess was her favorite dish and dangerous men moved her, but she wouldn’t be tied down and she wouldn’t cause pain. B.J. introduces Lucien to a new wide-open playing field in a machine driven maniacal neon summer. They live twenty feet off the GoKart track in an old tin trailer, sawed-off double barrelled shotgun on the top bunk, howling murderous Brooklyn just outside the door. NOISE starts off all rock’n’roll, eighteen hour days, frenzy, passion, and pure Coney peculiar.
Human complexities start to get in the way. B.J. keeps his past untouched with as much noise, danger, recklessness, and Jack Daniels as he can get in him. Lucien’s falling in love, but for B.J. she’s one more handy device toward oblivion.
But it turns against him. For the first time in years somebody touches him. He starts talking and he can’t stop. Lucien helps him open up but now he’s in trouble with his memories. Even as some part of him gets excited by his rediscovered past, B.J. holds fast, determined to stay big on action, small on reason, and hell bent on dying young.
For Lucien, B.J. is sexually liberating. She lets go of every reserve she’d ever installed, ready to throw herself into whatever lies ahead. Unexpected answers to those prayers is a man in transformation as the underlying compassion that marked his childhood starts to re-surface in the grown man. It deeply affects Lucien, the tough Brooklyn survivor. She never expected much for herself in the past, but her ideas of love had always been dead wrong. Maybe she wouldn’t have to put up with the poverty of feeling that was all she’d ever known before B.J. showed up.
By summer’s end in the slowed down park, B.J. is beset by his unresolved past. He leaves Coney Island in a ferocious goodbye that devastates Lucien. He heads out to find his grandma in Louisiana. At the last minute he can’t face her, tries to kill himself, and accidentally lives. He forces himself to confront the woman who raised him, who tried to murder him years before. And as that starts unfolding, B.J. hears the truth about his parents. He sees grandma for who she really is.Then life really opens up! Maybe he wasn’t born with all he might have needed but he can find it now. Motherly women appear in diners, roadmaps point to untried territory. It’s all new.
Lucien was the first to show him love without knowing she had it in her. B.J. didn’t expect epiphany in an amusement park or that he’d be changing every idea he ever had about life. Now the pounding noise he always used to obliterate life, he no longer needs. The sudden quiet forces his hand.

The story begins in Bijou’s Louisiana childhood. He is six years old. At a tent revival meeting with his grandmother he prepares to set his healing hands on strangers. It will be two decades before he discovers how to do it for himself.

None of the copyrighted work on this website including chapters from NOISE© may be sold, copied, or used in any manner whatsoever without direct written consent by the author/artist BD Sparhawk.
Protected by International Copyright Law. 2001 – 8

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