Two hours later, Manson was back on the desk, where, once again, I had not put him. “Stop it,” I told the CD. The other Marilyn Manson saw no need to jump out and get in my way all the time. Smells Like Children, though? It wanted to be played constantly. I was supposed to be writing a twenty page essay called “Textual variations between Battle of Angels and Orpheus Descending: Tennessee Williams’ Versioning Game”. I absolutely needed Gustav Holst, Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and AC/DC to get me through. Manson tended to break out in talking instead of just singing, and he should have understood that his music wasn’t conducive to my graduate studies. I put the disc back on the shelf and went to bed.
By the next morning, the case had made its way up to sit on the CD changer. I got out of bed, and Manson’s face glowed lurid green at me from the top of the stereo. He wanted to chant the damned boat song. “Fine.” I put the disc on while I ate my bagel, and I ran late to class so I could sing along to the cover of “Sweet Dreams”. I also let him sit in the player all day while I was at school. Even though it was turned off, maybe that compromise would mollify him.
Monday was my long day, and I didn’t get home until close to seven. I walked in my apartment, and the stereo clicked on. “Oh no you don’t.” I ejected the CD, returned it to its case, and replaced it in the stand. “Look at all these other guys I’m not playing right now,” I told it. I pointed especially to its counterpart, Portrait of an American Family, but also to Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral, and Kiss’s Psycho Circus (which was still in its cellophane wrapper). “They aren’t acting like a bunch of assholes. Stay put.”
I woke up at 3AM. Every light in the apartment was on, and Manson was singing lewd suggestions at volumes sure to wake my neighbors. I hit ‘off’ on the remote, but nothing happened. I got up and hit ‘off’ on the machine, but Manson went on accusing me of being white trash. “Damn it!” I unplugged the radio. It finally went quiet. The apartment lights turned off on their own.
In the morning, when I plugged the player back in, Manson fired right back up in the middle of the song. “This is starting to get on my nerves,” I told him. I hit ‘eject’, but the CD kept playing. Finally, I unplugged the machine again and went after it with a screwdriver. It took two hours, and I missed breakfast, but I finally got the disc out without damaging my equipment.
I considered throwing it away, but I thought it might just crawl out of the dumpster and come back to me. And I could manage a CD that played itself and turned on all the lights. But I was pretty sure I couldn’t handle one that slipped under the door with some rotten bananas.
I tucked it in my backpack. “I’m keeping an eye on you today.”
I waved to my downstairs neighbor as we both got into our cars. She sang a few lines of “Sweet Dreams” at me. I drove to school. In the parking lot, some undergrad was blaring the boat song. I hiked to my office. My officemate Michelle sang a verse of “Cake and Sodomy”.
“I love that song,” I told her.
“Yeah! I haven’t heard it in about a year, but I’ve had it stuck in my head all morning.”
“Hey, listen, I’ve got two CDs with it. You want one of them?”
“Sure! That would be awesome!”
I smiled and gave her a thumbs up. “As it happens, I threw one in my bag this morning.” I drew out the offending object and handed it over.
“Talk about coincidence!” She was thrilled. She popped on headphones and put it in her portable CD player.
I smiled at Michelle’s desk drawer as I sat down at my computer. “Let’s see you try to get home from the other side of town.”
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.