Hube showed up one Wednesday night and walked right in, which isn’t anything different for him. I thought maybe I’d missed another practice, but I saw right away he wasn’t here for music. His hair was combed, his shirt buttoned up to his chin. He looked stern and sort of preacherly, like he’d been rolling through the neighborhood passing out postcards with Biblical scriptures on them. He was even carrying a little black book. When he laid it on the table, I read the title: How to Conduct an Intervention.
Then he began conducting. “Hey, Joseph,” he said. He never calls me Joseph unless he has a point to make. “I think we need to have a talk.”
I started in with something sarcastic, then decided it probably wasn’t the best approach given the touchiness of the situation and changed course. “You’re right, Hube. We do.”
I don’t think he expected that. “I’ve been worried about you lately. You’ve been…different…since you got sick.” He made little air quotes when he said it. “I thought you’d be better by now, and then you blew off the doctor…do you want to talk about what’s going on?”
“Dude, it’s not what you’re thinking – believe me.”
“And what am I thinking, Joe? Hmmm?” Whoa. He was calm, superior and condescending – all at the same time. And he wasn’t cursing at all, not even PG-rated stuff. He had really rehearsed this. “What is it that I’m thinking right now?”
Without even trying, I picked up his thoughts. Since we’re pretty much on the same wavelength anyway, I figured it would be easy. And it was, almost like Radio Hube had switched itself on in my brain. It was even easier than it had been with the nurse. I read it all to him, word for word: You weren’t sick; you started hitting the smack and now you’re trying to hide the fact that you’ve become addicted. “Hitting the smack, Hube? Is that from your book? Come on…you know me better than that.” His mouth dropped. Holy fuck…you just read my mind! “I know,” I said, “yours and everyone else’s. It’s freaking me out big-time, and I really need your help with what’s causing it. But it has nothing to do with drugs.” This is some sort of trick…something you learned on You Tube. “Not a You Tube trick, buddy – something else. Something way worse.” I don’t believe this. “I don’t believe it either, but it’s true.” He fell totally silent, except for a few incredulous squeaks. We had just held a two-way conversation with me doing all the talking, yet he still couldn’t get what was happening.
I would have to prove it to him on his own terms.
“Okay,” I told him, “let’s try this another way. Think of something totally random – anything, whatever comes into your head – and I’ll tell you what it is. Okay? Anything – no holds barred.” He eyed me warily. “Whenever you’re ready.” Then it came. “Dodgeball. Paper clip. Chicken leg. Pamela Anderson’s left nipple. Dodgeball again.”
Hit, hit, hit, hit. And hit.
Hube was not prepared for something like this. Honestly, who would be? He sank onto the couch. “I thought you needed an intervention, not an exorcism.”
“It’s not like that, Hube,” I assured him.
He didn’t believe me. I don’t think he knew what to believe, actually. “What’s it like then? Tell me, Joe, what is it like? You’re pale as hell; you don’t seem to eat anymore. You won’t go outside; you hide out in your house all the time. You’re gone from work for nine goddamn days and I can’t get you to pick up the fucking phone! Were you sick, dude, or were you strung out, or were you possessed by the devil? And what are you right now? ‘Cause I’m watching my best friend go through some pretty dark shit here, and I feel like there’s nothing I can do to get him out of it.” He was crying. “So what the fuck?”
Yikes. I was so busy worrying about what had happened that I hadn’t stopped to realize I wasn’t the only one who was being affected by it.
The human part of me that was still in there felt like a total shit.
Steven Luna was relatively quiet when he was born; that all changed once he learned to speak. Now? Good luck getting him to shut up. He’s also known for not giving straight answers, but those around him are accustomed to ignoring him anyway, so it all works out. He’s currently writing another book…really, though, aren’t we all?