We Were Here.

by Serge Bielanko

As Violet was napping I decided to wade out deep into YouTube. I mean deep, people. When I go in: I go in. Bobbing up and down through elaborate keywords. Swimming hard out past those leads and into choppier waters. Submerging. Grabbing onto tiny buoys that promise but don't deliver. Yet I cannot give up. Ever. I swim out through an evil riptide of digression, hold my focus with everything I've got and voila. I'm at a massive rock festival at Castle Donnington in Leicestershire. Then I'm traveling and moving back through time and space. A few successive videos succeed in wiping the age off of some older men's faces. It's magical. They turn into nothing but boys, really.

And so there I am, ending up in the most fascinating and unexpected place. On a corner in London. Covent Garden. It's 1976...a great year in music and movies and historical parades. And there are the guys from one of my favorite bands, AC/DC.

Lads. Angus looks like he's twelve. Bon Scott has a banana sticking out of his Daisy Dukes. For real. And no shirt, or shoes.

It blows my Monday mind. Time travel.

And after a couple unfocused minutes it hits me. I'm thunderstruck. They are standing on a corner that I know very well. Hot damn. You probably would recognize it too, if you've been to Covent Garden. It's down the street from the Tube station I think. So yeah: there's AC/DC looking insanely young. They're probably hung over. In '76 they were in the middle of their LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS TOUR and more than likely they were feeling rather invincible on a sunny summer afternoon in London. If you go find the video and watch it you'll see what I mean, I think. They're sort of dripping with satisfaction. With YoungManLife. Rock'n'rollers far from home and playing like ten nights at a theater in town plus a lot of other dates all over the UK. Rock'n'rollers eating catered spaghetti bolognese and sipping styrofoam cups of lager in the back halls of dank dungeon-esque backstages amidst clattering amp cases and roadies speaking in Pirate tongues. AC/DC. A still young band. Smoking fags by fire exstinguishers. Laughing. Kissing teenage chicks they met in Portsmouth or Leeds, who've come down on the train to see the band.

What happens on a corner at any given moment is such a wonderful thing to consider. Any second someone might saunter by unseen on their way down the block to change the world somehow. I've seen stilt-walkers and nutshell hustlers on that very corner myself. Gods knows who else has stumbled through. Hell, you could spend a lifetime just dreaming about it. I do that shit a lot. Churchill on a little bender? Maybe. Some people running from bombs dropping out of the winter night? Probably. Boy George Christmas shopping in a light evening snow? Why the hell not?

I've stood out there in that part of London a bunch of times. Mostly by myself. I can remember feeling overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people heaving around me more than once. Crowds moving in every direction with no real flow to follow. Bus groups from Wales. Kids watching sword-swallowers and breakdancers. I would just bounce around, ricocheting off of lovers making out and elderly Germans moving slowly through the human forest. That damn corner. I can remember standing RIGHT there as I tried to figure out what to do with myself. Lonesome Serge in one of the most congested places on Earth. If only I'd known that AC/DC had once been strolling around right where I was standing/smoking/staring at shit. It would have made it so much cooler.

A few years later after the video I watched, AC/DC's singer was dead. In a car outside a flat on some back road in some far-flung section of the same city. But in the video I came across dying is obviously/deservedly the furthest thing from his mind that day. He's giddy. Super 70s'd out. Maybe stoned. Probably stoned. But he's a joy to watch for a fan like me. I like knowing he was there once. And that later on by coincidence I was there too.

I like knowing that certain corners are just impromptu stages from time to time. Stages where people once stood feeling downright fucking good or horrible or extremely alive or sad or whatever. They laughed there, with friends. Or cried alone. Or gawked at strangers and failed to connect with anything or anyone. Maybe they ate a hotdog there and somebody walked by and said Kennedy had just been shot.

I hope someday to be able to take Violet to some of the corners I have known. In London and Philly and Manhattan. Madrid and Hamburg and Pavia. Crickhowell. Norristown. Conshy. What an excellent series of afternoons that'd be.

"Here's another one where I stood, cupcake." She'll stand there as I make her hold my hand. She'll yawn but try to hide it a little.

"I stood here all dazzled by the spinning city. By myself. Years and years ago. Before I knew your Mom. Way long before you were around, Peppercorn."

Violet will turn away and watch a unicycle rider juggling florescent bowling pins.

"Ahhhh, but baby I still remember it like it was yesterday."

Her thoughts turn to a snack. Maybe a boy she has a crush on.

"When I was a young rapscallion moving through London unnoticed. Like a secret spy. Or a great novelist."

She'll look at me, melt my heart with her sweet sweet eyes. Eyes that yearn to jet.

"AC/DC stood here once," I'll tell her.

If I play my cards just right in the precious God-given years hurdling my way: her face will explode in astonishment and smiles when I say what I say. And with that, that corner will carry on being one of the awesome ones.