Miki St. John is not someone a fan could easily find at rock venues listening to other musicians or even down at the corner market picking over organic champagne grapes hand-picked by one-legged monks undergoing a vow of silence to protest the deforestation of New York City’s avenues. Instead, someone like St. John is found sitting on the park bench with a loaf of stale bread, with a legion of ducks who looked more like survivors of a zombie apocalypse than a bucolic gathering of water fowl bent on teaching him conjunctions.
It’s easy to forget St. John’s mixed heritage, especially since we’d spoken on the phone. While it wasn’t a surprise to see a long-legged somewhat Asian young man waiting for me, the contrast between the street-rough rocker and the laughing, hip young Asians coming from nearby shops was startling.
He’s dressed too casually for the weather. There is a bite in the air. Spring hasn’t quite gotten a good grip on San Francisco, but St. John hasn’t seemed to notice. He sits on the back of the bench, his worn black Converse set on the seat as he tears off small bits of bread to toss onto the ground where his minions are gathered.
The ducks must be devoted followers, or St. John is there a lot because other than a few dirty looks from one particularly nasty looking drake, I work through the feathered crowd to sit on the bench.
“Yeah, you might wanna get up here.” His husky roll of words is a rough velvet slid over skin. It’s not hard to hear Sinner’s Gin’s growling, sensual darkness in St. John’s rasp. He spices each sound, a dash of heat here or a trickle of arousal woven underneath. The drake and I share another exchange of hissing and looks—savage on his end, alarm on mine—and I climb up onto the bench to balance my seat on the steel back rail.
“They bite?” I ask, leaning over to nudge away my mottle-feathered foe.
“No, they shit on the chair part,” Miki replies, tossing another few bits of bread to the back of his impromptu avian mosh pit. “You can’t really get duck shit out of your jeans. Trust me, I’ve tried.”
It’s like yawning. Someone mentions duck shit stains on jeans, and everyone looks. The ones he’s wearing look like they’ve been through a mandolin alongside a sweet Maui onion. The tears along his thighs and knees are from wear, a bit uneven, definitely not the artful rents of a manufactured aging. Spots of paint—green and yellow—dot one shin and through the rip along his leg, I can see the purple anger of scar tissue curdling his pale, hairless skin.
He catches me looking and quirks a sardonic smile. “Yeah, good times. I’m like the fucking Tin Man.” Miki snorts briefly. “Guess that makes Kane Dorothy.”
More bread hits the lawn and the wind picks up, cutting through the park and chasing away a pair of mothers with their brood on a swing set nearby. He cocks his head, listening to the feminine chatter as the women push and cajole their reluctant children from the playground. Miki’s face is unreadable—or at least to me. Perhaps someone who knows him better could make out subtle changes in his eyes and mouth, but it was easier to read the ducks than the man sitting next to me.
He shifts and turns his attention back to me. Most people would smile, making social niceties, but not this young man. He is raw and honest, bare-faced in his emotions when he chooses to show them. There is now curiosity in his light brown gaze, especially when he spots the small notebook I’ve written a few questions in.
“What? Stopped at Inquisitions ‘R Us before you came here?” he teases.
“Just a few questions. One of your fans sends her love,” I say, crossing off a line of scribbles.
“Heh, that’s cool,” he chuckles. “Thanks. So we’re done, then?”
“Not even close,” I reply, wiggling the book at him. “Let’s start off with the easy. Why Dude?”
“Why did he move in, or why do I call him Dude?” A glimmer of sharp intelligence cuts past the icy wall and he smiles warmly. “I dunno. Habit? Seemed kind of rude to call him Dog. He started off as Dog, but Dude just sort of slipped out after a while. He didn’t seem to mind.
“He was company,” he continued, a bit more serious. “I had—have this small stuffed animal I got at a State Fair. Kinda looks like a panda and a dog had a baby. I named it Dude back then. Guess it was my only company when I was a kid, so I think I just…transferred the name over. He answers to it, so it’s all good.”
I consult my notes. “Are you feeling more comfortable around Brigid?”
The look I get is priceless in its combination of horror and a crackling uneasiness. Sighing heavily, he shakes his head and mumbles, “Dude, you have no fucking idea how much she…Fuck.”
“Can you pinpoint what it is about her that you feel uncomfortable with?”
“Breathing?” He shoots back. Leaning back, he takes in a deep breath and stares up at the tree branches above us. “Fuck. Brigid. Okay, shit. Um, let’s see. Brigid’s…it’s like she wants inside of me. Under my skin. In my brain. I know she doesn’t—it’s just that she envelopes everyone she’s with. Her kids—fuck, her kids are used to her, but it’s like all of a sudden you’re in the middle of this huge fucking tsunami, and everyone’s all; isn’t this great weather? And I’m the one looking for shelter. She wants so much of me. I’m not ready for that. Fuck, I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for that.”
“But it’s okay with Kane?”
“Mostly,” Miki admits slowly. “Sometimes it’s hard because I kind of look at him and think, fuck, why is that guy with me when he can have anyone he wants—like someone who isn’t fucked in the head or shit, but every damned morning he’s there with me. So, I guess it’s me…trusting that. He’s comfortable wrapped around me. I can breathe. I can’t breathe around Brigid.”
I let him have a moment before asking the next question, “What would be your dream opening act? Meaning, who would you either want to open for or have open for you. And why?”
“Hell, I don’t know. Damn.” He picks a bit at the bread, his gaze unfocused as he thinks on what I’ve asked. “Fuck, I don’t want to open for them. That’s—if you’re playing, you don’t really have time to listen because you’re either fuck-tired from just playing or you’re amping up to hit the stage with everything in you ready to pour out. But… dream concert? Janis Joplin and Queen with Freddie Mercury. That would be awesome. I’d die happy. If you’ve got to ask why on that, I don’t know you, man.”
“Fair enough.” I nod in agreement. “Okay, when you write your lyrics do you have specific faces in your head that you speak to, or is it emotion only that you write?”
“Just cut me to the bone here.” His laugh is a brief, bitter spit of sound. “Sometimes, it is emotion. Other times—some songs—I know who I’m talking to. Some of the shit I’ve written is…personal. Well, nothing’s really personal with me anymore, right? I mean, my shit’s out there for everyone to swim in, so hell, guess my singing about it isn’t all that private either. Some of it’s about Vega—that asshole. Sometimes I get something in my head about my mom—shit like what happened? I get angry sometimes because it feels like she just tossed me out like I was shit, and then sometimes I wonder if something happened to her.
“Other times, it’s about stuff that happened when we were on the road or…” he stops, taking a deep breath. “A lot of the songs I wrote when I was alone—with Dude—that shit was about Damie. It hurt so fucking much—not having him. There was so much noise in my head, and I couldn’t make sense of it. Everything from missing him to being angry because he left me. And then a couple of times, I just—wanted to join him, you know? Because it felt like everything around me was made out of broken glass and razor blades. I couldn’t breathe without cutting myself open.”
He shrugged off the emotion in his voice and motioned to the notebook for me to continue, the ducks squeaking and squawking for his attention while he doled out more crumbs.
“Change of pace. Have you considered taking cooking classes?”
“Yeah, no. Ain’t happening. It’s safer for mankind if I’m not well-versed in chemical warfare,” Miki teases. “Really, ramen’s as far as I’m going to get to cooking.”
“Last question,” I say, noticing the heavy SUV parking against a curb nearby. I recognize the black-haired Irishman stepping out of its cab and once Kane joined us, I had the feeling Miki would step back and let his lover handle any conversation. “If you had to take a road trip alone with one of the Morgan men—and it can’t be Kane or Donal—who would it be, and why?”
“What the—hell, I don’t know,” he mutters, spotting Kane. Nodding a hello at his lover walking towards us, Miki frowns. “One of the Morgans? Sionn doesn’t count, I guess. Let’s see—probably Quinn. He’s pretty cool. Different from the rest of them. Kind of weird but in a good way. He’d be someone who’d want to wander—Quinn’s a let’s see what’s over that hill kind of guy. He’d be interesting. Pretty easy going and he’ll eat anything. So yeah, I think Quinn.”
“Quinn what?” Kane asks, sliding his arm around Miki’s waist then leaning into to kiss the singer’s mouth.
“Who I’d be on a road trip with if it wasn’t you or your dad.” Miki tugged at Kane’s shirt. “So I said Quinn.”
“So long as you didn’t have a set schedule, you’d be fine.” Kane smiled a hello at me. “But if he’s got to be someplace, then God fucking help you if you’re a minute late. Tweaks his brain. You ready to go?”
“Yeah,” Miki nods and tosses me the loaf of bread. “Here, feed them the rest.”
“Thanks for answering my questions.” I am talking to their backs, but Miki turns around, walking backwards to shout back at me.
“Thanks for feeding those bastards!” He grins wickedly. “Just when you get down to the last piece, throw it on the ground and run, or they’ll bite the fuck out of you!”
The Giveaway: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED