We’ll Not Act Civilized

Patrick Bernhard


                “We’re going to GG Allin’s grave, and we’re going to pay truly unique tribute to it. No more debating,” Whammy told me, punching my Camaro’s door instead of my arm. I felt the familiar pangs of frustration: she loved GG Allin and not ugly me, while I hated GG Allin and loved her, from her smarts and ambition to how she was just the right amount of mean. Not that I was currently able to tell her so, anyway, at least not at the moment; since it was nighttime, the spirit of the dead shock-rocker GG Allin currently was in control of my body. A few weeks ago, his ghost had somehow invaded me while I was plunging a tape of his into the river, and, since it was he who decided when I could re-take control, it was safe to say that he was calling all the shots, at least for the moment.

                “What the fuck qualifies as unique?” we said, aggressively indifferent, a GG tactic I’d recognized as a means to both make fun of and hit on her. It had been more demonstrative as of late, as if GG was growing impatient with the platonic nature of the relationship we had with Whammy. Despite this, he’d shown remarkable restraint in that arena, making me wonder if he was planning something, or perhaps the man who once bragged about ass-fucking men and women on stage during a concert was actually as shy as me, or at least when others weren’t watching. That would be the ultimate surprise, though; GG Allin’s entire career, from his early hardcore days to visiting John Wayne Gacy in prison to his appearances on Jerry Springer before his death was never about ducking attention, though it never exactly translated into actual success. “People regularly piss, shit, pour liquor, and puke on his grave, in addition to setting the ground and the headstone on fire.”

                “Ah, there you are, Shadow Zane,” she said, smiling. This was her nickname for the change she’d noticed in my nighttime behavior; Whammy was untroubled by this louder, impatient, angrier version of myself, seeming to buy GG-led me’s excuse that it was due to growing frustration with the music store that I worked at during the day. Plus, she and I tended to only hang out at night, when GG was in charge, and GG had mirrored my lack of interest in spending time anywhere but my apartment and in my car, so the overall difference wasn’t too radical. “The headstone’s gone, remember?” she said, opening the driver side door for us. “We’ll figure it out on the way there. If we planned it out too far ahead, that wouldn’t be GG’s style, would it?”

                I could feel GG convulse a little bit, a spiritual retch that thankfully did not show up on my – our – face. He was definitely attracted to her, but it was fairly clear that she also irritated him, from her nickname – her real name was Rebecca, but she had gone by Whammy ever since high school; apparently, her lacrosse team gave it to her due to her reputation for throwing elbows at opponents and teammates alike – to how she claimed that the two of them were kindred spirits, having both coming troubled homes in small, Northeastern towns.

For the ten thousandth time, I tried talking to him.

For fuck’s sake, I shouted internally. Do you have any idea what you’re doing?

I was answered by a garbled, faint howl of words that might have been mocking or angry, it was nearly impossible to tell. Even though we shared the same body, communicating with one another was like trying to talk through one of those visiting room windows at prisons if the phones weren’t working. 

“Remember the lines from “I Will Not Act Civilized?” ‘I don’t talk about tomorrow, right now, tomorrow’s all I got,’ you know? There’s the blueprint right there,” she continued.

GG made us swallow what might have been an insult, which made it look like my body was shuddering in frustration. “Think about that one guy who was going there every week and pouring seven days of masturbations’ worth of his own cum on the monument and in the grass before some groundskeeper cracked him with a rake. How can we possibly top him?” we said. That was a lie; those I could identify pretty easily because GG flexed my toes whenever he didn’t tell the truth. From the force of the flexes, it was once again clear that he hated lying, yet another surprising revelation about him.  

                “Like I said, that’s what the drive’s for. It’s three hours from here to Littleton. And if that’s not enough, we’ll improvise.”

                “You’re also forgetting the fact that the place will be full of various motherfuckers, since it’s a Saturday, and that’s when everyone goes to that cemetery to party. So not only will it be crowded, most of those people will want to bloody you in his name and will stomp your shit before the cops come and ring us all up.”

                Whammy was already getting in the passenger’s side of my Camaro. “And you’re forgetting that you told me that the cops don’t even bother busting people in the cemetery anymore because they’re tired of getting in the news. You weren’t lying, were you?”

                “No. I just forgot.” Another toe curl. That was something I’d told her back when only I was in control. It was a rumor that I heard from somebody in the music store well before I met Whammy; some guy walked in and somehow mistook my bootleg Fugazi shirt for a bootleg GG Allin shirt and babbled about the cops wanting no part of preventing the constant desecration of his gravesite anymore because they were tired of protecting a dead guy. After that, he asked if we had the equipment to properly electrify his bassoon. I told him all of that was on back order.

“Then you’re paying for gas, you’re getting us snacks, and you’re going to keep your bitching and moaning to yourself when we have to sleep in the car,” we said, climbing into the driver’s seat and closing the door carefully. GG loved my old, crappy car, an ’86 Camaro IROC-Z; he was very gentle with it, not minding that it was a wonky sled that rattled like a red, rusted maraca. Everything, from the clutch pedal to the tach needle to the heating vents to, worryingly, the steering wheel, jangled and shivered. A door slammed too hard might start a murderous domino effect.   

                “Done deal. These cloth seats were made for lounging, anyway,” she said, patting the exposed bit of seat between her legs. We coughed and turned up the volume of the Bad Religion cassette that Whammy had provided.

                “Don’t you have anything else?” we growled as we tenderly shifted into reverse.

                “This helps me think,” she said, reaching over to turn the volume up even higher.

                The fact that there even existed a friendship in the first place between Whammy and me was nearly as perplexing as sharing a body with her favorite musician. She was a third-year Comp Lit major at Williams College, while I was four years into a Williamstown move after dropping out following one semester at UMass Boston. I had gotten the lead on the music store and the apartment above the store from one of my music teachers from high school, whose old bandmate owned the building. Leaving college, which I hated, and moving to Williamstown, which appeared to be the opposite of the Boston shitshow that I had known my whole life, felt like a gutsy move at the time. Plus, I thought that quiet Williamstown would provide me with the type of isolation that would help me to craft my definitive solo bass album, a project that I’d given up on three years ago, though I still played the part of curt music store employee with distinction.

This role had played up well with Whammy, who, on an initial visit to the music store that I still didn’t know the purpose behind, took in my thrift store cardigan over a thrift store t-shirt advertising a defunct roofing service and the frowny-face tattoo I had drunkenly drawn on the top of my left hand with my UMass roommate’s tattoo gun and the beard my oft-absent boss had once described as “sparsely pubic” and must’ve thought to herself, here is somebody who would never attend Williams, and liked me for it.

                Her continued visits to the store to ask for band suggestions led to a friendship that was now six months old and consisted mostly of us driving around town and making fun of the Williams College radio station or drinking cheap beer and arguing about the Descendants catalogue. This, in turn, led to multiple nights of me staring at the nonfunctioning A/C unit in my apartment window and thinking about her willowy figure and casual swearing.

I knew it was love because everything she said I wanted to agree with, even when she spouted endlessly about Jesus Christ “GG” Allin, he of microphones up the ass and on-stage defecation fame. GG, who also regularly fought people at his concerts and enjoyed lacerating his body onstage with whatever jagged object was close at hand, was Whammy’s obsession. She reveled in his music, which was ragged and borderline unlistenable in my secret opinion, unendingly brought up why his claim to be “the last true rock and roll star” was legitimate, and laughed at tales that she told over and over again about GG’s antics, such as his desire to commit on-stage suicide on Halloween, a goal he conveniently never could meet due to consistently being jailed around that time of year, claiming the best time to die was when one was at the height of their powers. She admired him for fighting back so violently against his horrific upbringing, believing that his music and antics were laudable methods of gaining control over one’s life. Her Williams degree would definitely do that, but she felt that it wouldn’t be enough to push her own upbringing away; she’d revealed few details, but what little she had discussed – her dad an abusive alcoholic, her mom protective of her older brother but indifferent towards her – sounded painful.

Still, I thought that GG Allin had been an attention-seeking shitbird, not worthy of comparison with her, but I put up with this for a long time, listening dumbly to the stories and his music, even watching his wake with her, “The Final Hellride,” which could be found posted online in all its grainy VHS glory and featured many a close-up of his corpse. He had been dressed in his traditional jockstrap and leather jacket combo, was made to clutch a microphone in one hand and booze in another, and, most famously, had not been washed or embalmed.

Throughout all of this, I never allowed myself to completely hate GG until a month ago. I was laying on my bed around midnight on a Friday, listening to an album, Bon Iver, Bon Iver, that was the complete opposite of the punk and thrash and occasional metal I’d been listening to with Whammy for five months at that point, but I was drunk and tired of buzzy electric guitar chords and screamed lyrics, so I took Bon Iver, Bon Iver out of our tiny Used LPs box in the back of the store and put it on the turntable in the apartment and collapsed on top of the sheets, my feet where my head usually lay.

No sooner had the third track started when the door of the apartment banged open and Whammy came shuffling into the living room, which doubled as the bedroom. I’d forgotten to lock the door.

“What the fuck is this?” she said. The words You’re in Milwaukee, off your feet answered her from the speaker.

“It helps me sleep,” I lied. “No parties?”

“The one I was at got broken up. Didn’t you get my text? Plus, my roommate sexiled me. I was going to see if you were up for a drive.”

I suddenly was annoyed. “The Camaro wasn’t starting earlier today.” Another lie. That was somehow easier than telling her how I actually thought of her.

She sniffed the air and recoiled. “Not that you’d be able to anyway, you beerhound. How shithoused are you?”

“There are still a few beers left, if that’s what you’re asking me.”

She left the room and was back quickly with a Cream Ale. “Move over,” she said, popping the can and placing her phone on the floor.

My drowsiness and grouchiness left me at that instant, if not my drunkenness. I took my feet off the pillow. “Sure.”

Whammy hopped on the bed, but with her head at my feet, rather than mirroring me, before wrapping herself in the comforter. I couldn’t even see her face, but I could hear her beer being slurped.

“You want me to put something else on?” I tried.

“Forget it. I’m pretty tired,” Whammy said, setting her beer down on the floor.

Talk, I kept thinking. Now. Now. Talk to her now.

“Whammy,” I started. “Wham, Wham, Whammy.”

She rolled over and sat up a bit. “What’s up?”

The alcohol did nothing to calm my nerves. “Do you know how much you, the possibilities that you are all about, I mean, all that is possible because of you being you, means? To me?”


I tried again. “It’s just that, I don’t know, you and me all the time, it’s pretty cool.”

She smiled and shook her head. “You drunkard.”

“Speaking.” I was losing hope at a dangerous rate.

“I’m glad I got your goofy ass to hang around with. People at Williams annoy me after a while. Everybody’s got some kind of agenda. They sort of overwhelm themselves with their own ethos.”

“Kind of like GG Allin,” I blurted out. A bad move.

Whammy, however, thought it was just more drunk speak and laughed. “Nah, he was an instinct man. That’s another thing that I love about him.”

“Like me. I got all kinds of instinct,” I said.

“Not you. You’re more of an analytical. Which is cool,” she said, laughing a bit more. The way she pronounced “cool,” however, made my heart sink – it was like how you told people your grandma was cool. “By the way, I think we’re due to check out his grave. Soon?”

                “Right,” I managed, frozen by both my verbal flopping and being officially friend-zoned. No way I actually wanted to be compared to GG Allin, but in this instance, it would’ve meant everything.

“Nice.” She turned away, and within several minutes, she was snoring lightly. I drifted off myself soon after, crushed.

I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of GG Allin screaming.

Bite it you scum, Here I come

Bite it you scum, I’m never gonna run

My bed was empty and my mouth was so dry my tongue was sticking to my teeth. Whammy was standing at my tape deck across the room. “Sorry,” she said, turning the volume down. “It was louder than I thought it would be.”

“Couldn’t you have just flipped the Bon Iver album?”

“Thought I’d leave you with something more fun. Some GG to hear if you got up to pee.”

“My roommate texted me. Her visitor and her are now both fully clothed and going to sleep. I’m in the clear to use my bed again,” she said, rolling her eyes. “I’ll text you tomorrow. I still need a drive to clear my head of that motherfucking essay.”

“Okay.” I sat up on the bed.

She gave me a mock-serious sweep of the hand, and then she was gone.

But GG Allin remained.  

Bite it, bite it, bite it, bite it

Bite it, bite it, bite it, bite it

GG. That fucking scumbucket. I ran over to the tape deck and hit Stop so hard that the button jammed in place.  

I waited out my hangover the next morning by trying to think of creative ways to destroy the GG Allin tape that Whammy left behind in my deck. The title of that album, You’ll Never Tame Me, only infuriated me more. All I could think of, though, was typical destruction: backing over it with my car, dropping it into the sewer, burning it at the stove, etcetera. I needed more of a release. Whammy might have called it catharsis, but I didn’t feel like thinking about right then. I was still crushed by my inability to tell her what I thought about her.

Finally, just as the sun set and my headache finally faded, I thought of a wonderfully melodramatic way of getting rid of the tape, driving to one of the neighborhoods east of Williams College and, after parking my car in the road, walking through a little trail in the woods that I discovered while wandering around baked during one of my first weeks living in Williamstown, back when I cared about learning more about my new home. This trail cut through a stretch of woods that surrounded the Hoosic River, which I had decided to be the final destination of Whammy’s You’ll Never Tame Me. Not that she’d miss it; she had multiple versions of every GG Allin album, but when feeling post-hungover pathetic and hollowed out at twilight, this sort of move felt like a properly petty blow to her love of his music.

I reached the river, which was wide but very shallow, only a few inches deep near the shore, and waded in. It was immediately clear that my boots needed another duct tape lining; the chilly water seeped into my socks, which did nothing to improve my mood. A few birds shrilly called out at each other above me, cracking wise at my sorry-ass appearance.

“Shut up!” I called above me, and the birds chattered faster in response.

I pulled the tape out of my pocket. “Get fucked, GG Allin!” I then went on a babbling rant about how much I hated his music, focusing on my annoyance at his “shocking” lyrics, considered so because he screamed about inviting his own demise, called vaginas “cunts,” and could be casually misogynistic and racist, no different from any other scumbag’s bag of tricks; any determined fifteen-year-old with an intimate knowledge of gas station stall scratchings could match the songwriting within a couple days. I ended my rant by plunging the tape deep within the stones and mud beneath the water, holding it under, drowning the tape, while imagining doing the same to all of the tapes, to GG himself if he was still alive, thrashing and afraid of death. 

The possession wasn’t as sudden as one might think. As I let go of the tape, I suddenly felt like gravity had been quadrupled. Every arm movement, eye blink, and breath felt incredibly taxing; to even think was an exhausting slog, so I just stood there in the river, bent over and staring at my reflection that was fading as the last of the sunlight retreated. During the next hour, I alternated between a shockingly high body temperature, to the point that the sound of the sweat falling off of me into the river was similar to that of rain, and shivers so violent that the same sweat wicked off me. It was like my body was desperately trying to ward off an incredibly potent infection. I didn’t panic because that seemed impossibly strenuous.

The moon’s likeness was gleaming at me from the river’s surface when my right arm started to move. The rest of me still was weighed down, but that arm, free of its invisible burden, shot around wildly, like it was thrilled with its existence. The experience was similar to a thaw: every few minutes, a couple more muscles at random shed the gravity and shook wildly with excitement, which was a relief, apart from the odd fact that I had no control over these movements.

Finally, the last of the heaviness left me, and I started to walk around in the river. Or, rather, something was walking me around, with me maintaining feeling but no control; it felt like I was sandwiched between two people, the one in back making my limbs move and the one in front melding my mouth and throat with theirs in order to speak.

“Hey. Hey. Heeeeyyyyyy aw shit!” I but not I shouted at the river, the woods, the moon. I laughed, but it wasn’t like my usual laugh. It was full of snorts. “Heyyy! Motherfucker!”

It soon became clear that GG could take control at any moment and for as long as he wanted – he ran things for 38 hours straight at first, swimming in the river for an hour, eating so many pickles that he made us puke, driving my Camaro, writing his name over and over again on a cereal box he stole (this is how I learned who was possessing me), and absolutely delighting in touching everything, the walls, street, the dew that gathered on the Camaro’s windows – until he developed a vampire schedule, taking over when night hit and relinquishing my body when the sun rose. I thought that this had something to do with the times of day affecting his power over me, but when I hit the first weekend and he took 48 hours to himself, I realized it was because he didn’t want to have to go to work. I barely held onto the job; GG didn’t want to spend all of his time at night sleeping, so I was forced to spend hours in the back room every day “rearranging old inventory” and catching z’s on top of a few trash bags I’d filled up with shipping peanuts. The major drawback to this was that, while GG could not fully appear in my dreams, he could watch them like movies and shout muffled comments during them, which got especially frustrating during the recurring, very non-platonic dreams I had starring Whammy.

                The first couple of weeks I constantly thought-shouted at GG, threatening and pleading, but GG started ramming our face into the side of the microwave or holding our hand over the stove to silence me, pain we both felt but only he enjoyed. Tired of the blisters and the repeatedly smashed nose, along with acknowledging the lingering feeling that GG would do more if provoked, I stopped my complaints and decided to ride it out, worried about when he would decide to resume his truly extreme behaviors from when he was alive.

                It was Whammy’s idea to leave the car in a Walgreens parking lot and walk to the cemetery. It was not a 24-hour Walgreens, so a car that was left there, particularly a beat-to-hell red Camaro that looked like a stereotypical small-town drug dealer’s vehicle of choice, was pretty suspicious, something that Whammy joked about, but she wasn’t worried, and neither was my body bunkmate. Littleton, like many of the smaller towns scattered around the region, took on the characteristics of the forests that surrounded it: quaint and easy to ignore during the day, and completely indistinct at night. It was possible to feel like you were fading to something barely noticeable when the sun went down if you lived in such a town, at least according to Whammy, who had spent her entire life in a town like that before going to Williams, though she still refused to say specifically where.

                “You would think you’d feel larger in a town like that, but you don’t,” she said, kicking at the chunks of a blown tire that were scattered in the middle of the road that we were walking on. We’d only come across two cars, both speeding towards or away from something. “GG’s town was even smaller than mine. Groveton, like way north of here. And his dad was a complete nutjob, always threatening to kill him when he was a kid. My dad said stuff like that to us whenever he was loaded.”

                Whammy had often brought up parallels between GG’s horrific upbringing during our friendship, but it was the first time she discussed it since I had been possessed. “It was necessary for Allin,” we said. “No way he would’ve been what he was without that bullshit.” I waited for the toes to curl, but they didn’t. In fact, there was even something like fondness floating from GG.

                You are truly fucked up, I shouted. He answered immediately, but not angrily. The tone was unusually contented. 

                “I know. I was always really jealous of that. You know, how he could turn all that into weapons,” Whammy said. “How he could make all of that bullshit irrelevant just by force of will.”

I was getting that weird, calculating feeling from GG again, it all rotating around Whammy like a sick little halo. I was thinking of ways to push him for more answers when a stone wall a couple of feet high appeared at our right, and that feeling of calculation morphed into the first flickers of anxiety I’d ever experienced from GG. Satisfying as that was initially, it became deeply unpleasant for some reason.

“Holy shit, we’re here. We’re actually here,” Whammy said, flicking on the flashlight she’d brought with. Sure enough, ‘St. Rose of Lima’ loomed up right beyond the little wall.

Another shiver of anxiety from my supposedly hardass possessor. I wondered for the first time if GG’s spirit had even been to his grave before. 

                The headstone had been taken down as a means to discourage further desecration, but Whammy found the site anyway thanks to a bit of blog research, though anybody could have guessed this was the spot, even in the darkness: the grass grew poorly here, the ground was oddly warped from what had to have been repeated stomping, and there were miniature liquor bottles shoved into the dirt by their necks.

                “So much for all the various motherfuckers,” said Whammy softly. “We’re actually here. He’s actually here. A few feet beneath our feet.”

                So many ‘closer than you think’ jokes to be made, I thought.

                “Why didn’t you ever come up here before?” we said, a genuinely interesting question.

                Whammy shrugged, waving her small flashlight up and down the ruined grass. “Nobody ever wanted to go with me.”

                “You could’ve gone alone.”

                “I prefer to do most stuff alone, but this seemed worth sharing.”

                That feeling again from GG. “Gotta agree with that shit. You think of anything to do?”

                “No, but it’ll come to me. I’m just absorbing this. We should’ve at least brought a couple beers for inspiration.”

                “No need,” we growled. “A weird goddamned idea just came to me.” Our toes curled, meaning that he actually had been planning this for a while.

                “Nice! See? I told you the setting would be the key. What’re you thinking?”

                We crossed our arms. “Turn off the flashlight first.”



                She clicked it off, and the resulting dark completely enveloped all three of us. The night sky had clouded over.

                “First, we have to give him a proper fucking greeting, right?” we said.

                “Sure, okay. Sing him a line from one of his songs?”

                “Nah, nah. Let’s howl at him. He’d appreciate that.”

                The flashlight came back on. Whammy was shining it under her chin, as if telling a ghost story at summer camp. “Wouldn’t we wake the dead? Or at least the cops?” she asked playfully.

                “Imagine yelling so loud that a little bit of sound reaches the inside of his casket. Like, think about your voice actually reaching GG.” The toes were curling slightly, but I didn’t know if this was due to a specific lie or just general duplicity.

                “Different enough for me,” said Whammy. “Is there a follow-up plan with the howl?” She turned the flashlight off once more.

                “That’ll be the best part. Okay, get ready to screech.” The self-directed tone indicated that he was talking as much to me as he was Whammy, which made me immediately suspicious.

                No way, I shouted internally. GG answered me not with words, but with very clear feeling of intent directed in Whammy’s direction: if I didn’t comply, Whammy would be the one who’d pay for it.

                “At the ground, at the ground,” we said, getting on our hands and knees, Whammy following suit. “Three, two, one, AHHHHH!”

                All three of us started to shriek. I internally screeched as hard as I could, until it seemed so integral to me that I feared if I stopped shrieking, I would cease to exist. Whammy was going full first-roller-coaster-drop with hers. GG was managing to both use my physical voice and his internal one simultaneously. The dirt was vibrating around our hands.

                Whammy stopped to draw breath. “Keep going!” we shouted.

                She continued for a bit, then stopped. “Zane, the ground. Zane. Zane!”

                I stopped, shocked. The ground was growing, literally lifting us up. An internal command from GG, which I didn’t need translated. I resumed screaming along with him until the three of us slid off the mound of dirt and onto the ground.

                Whammy stood up, dusting herself off and turning the flashlight on again. “I, uh, hmm,” she said. The light was catching a small square of silver within the mound of dirt. She put her fingers on it, pulled them away like they were burnt, and then brushed away a few clods of clay.

                “It’s, um, it’s the casket,” she said, using a tone that reminded me of ordering at a drive-thru speaker, oddly loud and hurried.  

                “Open it,” we said.

                “Wouldn’t it be locked?” she said, still using that too-loud tone. I noticed she was leaning against a nearby headstone and looking at us as if she wasn’t sure there was someone standing in front of her.

                “Right, right,” we answered apologetically, reaching under the lip of the lid and straining. One more yell from GG internally and externally, and both halves of the casket lid flew open, loose dirt pattering the grass.

                I really wish that GG hadn’t lingered so long as he did on his rotten-like-a-pumpkin face, still bracketed by the headphones of the tape player they’d buried him with, but I didn’t have the option of turning away. Our hands pulled my t-shirt off frantically and slid down my jeans and boxers after sliding out of my boots. This was an unpleasant development.

                “You’ve seen your face,” Whammy said quietly, her voice shaking a bit. The lid was blocking my view of her. “Now can you let my friend go?”

                I was surprised, as was GG, who spewed a mix of a little admiration and a lot of impatience. “Was that too obvious?” we sneered, pointing at the casket.

                “Well, Zane’s head movements and that way he was projecting his voice and the way he looked around the room was exactly like every video I’ve seen of you, but I thought that was just because I had watched too many videos of you with him. Lately, it had been getting so weird, though, that I thought coming here would, I don’t know, somehow help clarify things. I wasn’t quite expecting this, though.”

                “You weren’t expecting a chance to meet your holy, holy prophet?” we said, spitting out a laugh.

                Whammy shifted uncomfortably.

                “Speaking of, you’ve talked a lot about how great I am, so maybe you’ll be willing to help me with one last thing.”

                “We’ve done enough already. You got to visit your grave and see your body. Aren’t you done? Zane?” she called, looking at us. “Can Zane hear all of this?”

                We pulled the lid halves down slightly to look at her. Her flashlight was pointed straight at the ground. “We’re not done. Why would seeing this make me done?” we growled. Then, when she looked ready to run, that nervous feeling started pouring from GG again. “Hey. Please. Fucking please. One last thing.” It was oddly uncomfortable to hear someone like him have to plead.


                “Stand there and enjoy the show.” The lid came up again. With little reverence, we jerked the microphone out of the corpse’s hand, pulled out the bottle of whiskey that the other hand was cradling like a teddy bear, moved the torso up and shook the leather jacket off of it, pulled off the canvas shoes, and, worst of all, peeled the dusty jock strap away from the crumbling body. All of these items we put on in a rush, attempting not to heave: even GG himself needed a moment or two to compose himself after witnessing the smell of the clothing.

                We slammed the lid down. Whammy was still there, her face registering the next step beyond incredulous, though it was a bit difficult to say for sure, what with the darkness. She likely was close to going into shock. It was too much to even scream at.

                “What now?” she asked. “Why are you doing this?”

                Squatting, we set the bottle of whiskey down and brought the microphone close to our face. “It’s how it should’ve been,” we answered. “Put that light on me.” The flashlight shined in our eyes, but GG refused to blink. Then, after inhaling deeply, he whispered to me, and only me: “Sing along.”

                We exploded from our crouch into a wide-legged stance, holding the microphone to our mouth and screaming the lyrics.


                I sang along internally after the first couple lines, recognizing it as the last song at GG Allin’s final concert at The Gas Station in New York, the set being only four songs long before the venue pulled the plug due to complete mayhem occurring between the crowd and the performers. It was one of Whammy’s favorites for that very reason. GG was dead of an OD the following morning.


                There was a lightness to me now, a lightness I had to combat as I continued to sing. It reminded me of fighting to stay in a dream as you felt yourself drifting back into consciousness. The feeling itself wasn’t unpleasant, but I dared not allow myself to succumb to it.


                I was being pulled away, only a few strands holding me fast, even my internal voice fading into a fuzzy obscurity as GG finished the song.

                “HATE ME HATE ME HATE ME!” Our voice briefly echoed in the cemetery. The flashlight came down from our face.

                “Keep it up,” we said, squatting and grabbing the bottle of whiskey. I could see and hear and feel everything still, but I was almost gone now. The light came back in our face.

                “HATE ME!” we shouted into the microphone once more, swinging the bottle backwards and shattering it on the casket before drawing the jagged edge deeply across our throat. Whammy gasped and dropped the flashlight, and GG and I tumbled to the ground in darkness, our throat sickly warm. The lightness suddenly reversed, morphing into a heaviness that was somehow different than I felt when he first entered my body, like climbing off of a carnival ride, a reassuring feeling of my body’s gravity being centered again.

                I sneezed, and I, just I, instinctually rubbed my nose with the back of my hand before grabbing at my throat, but there was no cut, just the usual poor beard growth. My head felt emptier than it had in a month. I called out tentatively, but it was just me thinking to myself, the silence not the quiet of being ignored but the stillness of being the only resident of your consciousness.

                Footsteps sounded softly in the grass. “My flashlight’s broken,” Whammy said.

                “You drop it?”

                “No. When he shouted “Hate me,” the bulb popped.”

                “I guess we could just use the ones on our phones.”

                “My screen kind of popped, too. I checked. Is it you now?”

                The smell of the clothing returned to me, and I gagged. “Yep,” I said in between gasps.

                “Good.” A fan like her would know that GG was no gagger.

                “He cut my throat, but there’s no wound.”

                “There was, but it closed up almost immediately after the skin around it kind of fluttered for a bit. No blood.”

                He finally did it, I thought. Just as he always wanted to do, ending himself in front of an audience. Then, my thoughts shifted back to the here and now, and, with a rush of adrenaline that would’ve been formerly mocked internally, I decided that I was done hesitating, be it the wrong moment or not.

“Alright, so I love you. I don’t expect anything from you, and it’s okay that you consider me just a friend, if even that now, after all this, but I just want to tell you that,” I said, with only a minimum of stammering.  

Silence. Then, a hand crawled under my armpit, and the other felt for my wrist and tugged, helping me stand. As soon I steadied myself, Whammy gave me a tight hug, my cadaver clothes and all, not the hug of someone who loved me romantically, but the hug of a friend, a protective hug, which didn’t fill me with disappointment like I thought it would. I needed a friend after the past few weeks. We stood there for half a minute, then we separated and I ducked behind the casket to shuck off GG’s clothes, which I folded neatly and placed on top of his exposed ribcage, before changing into my own. I put the broken bottle next to his hip and placed the microphone back in his hand before closing the lid.

“No music on the drive back,” Whammy said, picking up her flashlight as we both turned to leave.




A native of the Chicago suburbs, Patrick Bernhard received his BA from Oberlin College and his MFA from Northwestern University. His work has appeared in New Ohio Review, Maryland Literary Review, quip Literary Review, Funny In Five Hundred, and elsewhere. He currently teaches English at College of Lake County.