Bed of Roses

Sitting here wasted and wounded at this old piano
Trying hard to capture the moment this morning I don't know
'Cause a bottle of vodka is still lodged in my head
And some blond gave me nightmares
I think she's still in my bed
As I dream about movies they won't make of me when I'm dead

The tall blonde sat beneath the single spotlight in the seedy downtown bar, his voice strained and tired from the endless nights of overuse in smoke-filled rooms. A has-been at twenty-four, he was the colossal victim of ego, immaturity and poor judgment.

It was a mistake, some had said, too much too soon. Some blamed his youth, some blamed his mother, but none placed the blame where it truly lay: his own mind and his own insecurity. It had been such a rush at first, the personal appearances, the adoration of fresh young faces that appeared wherever he went. What the hell went wrong? He'd carefully orchestrated every move, every minute of every day, and for what? To make 'him' proud, to prove that he had the right stuff, to be his equal. If it didn't still hurt so much he'd laugh. His own search for himself had destroyed four friendships, four careers, and driven away the one person who'd meant the world to him.

With an ironclad fist I wake up and French kiss the morning
While some marching band keeps its own beat in my head
While we're talking about all of the things that I long to believe
About love and the truth and what you mean to me
And the truth is baby you're all that I need

I want to lay you on a bed of roses
For tonite I sleep on a bed on nails
I want to be just as close as the Holy Ghost is
And lay you down on bed of roses

His success as a solo artist had astounded even the harshest critics while his ultimate downfall had surprised none. The groundwork for disaster had been in place for years. He was a beautiful boy with a winning smile who was playing in a grown-up world. Women, booze and the occasional chemical concoction were placed at his willing feet and he partook as if it were his due. He was an adult, he could handle it.

He'd lied.

Well I'm so far away
That each step that I take is on my way home
A king's ransom in dimes I'd given each night
Just to see through this payphone
Still I run out of time
Or it's hard to get through
Till the bird on the wire flies me back to you
I'll just close my eyes and whisper,
baby blind love is true

I want to lay you down on a bed of roses
For tonight I sleep on a bed on nails
I want to be just as close as the Holy Ghost is
And lay you down on bed of roses

The hotel bar hangover whiskey's gone dry
The barkeeper's wig's crooked
And she's giving me the eye
I might have said yeah
But I laughed so hard I think I died

He was in over his head and being sucked under by his own success. The roller coaster ride toward the next plateau of fame took him away time and again and instead of bringing them closer it had wrenched them apart and ended anything they had before they could even begin.

Now as you close your eyes know I'll be thinking about you
While my mistress she calls me to stand in her spotlight again
Tonite I won't be alone but you know that don't
Mean I'm not lonely I've got nothing to prove
For it's you that I'd die to defend

The siren call of the spotlight had been as addicting as the alcohol that numbed him to sleep each night. Accusations and anger divided their friendship and his last hope had died with their first and only kiss. He'd loved him with a silent desperation and finally steeled himself to share his feelings. As with everything in his carefully orchestrated life, he'd set the scene perfectly.

Dinner, candlelight, soft music.

The timing was perfect, the tension in the room electric. So softly had he approached him, so softly had he touched his face as he smiled and emptied his heart. So quietly had he closed the space between them to press his lips to those of his love. For one brief instant it was perfect and then, with a simply spoken phrase, his world had ended.

No, he'd said. I can't do this. It isn't right.

With a hurried and breathless apology he'd walked out the door and out of his life. The younger man cried himself to sleep that night as the candles burned themselves out and the rose petals dried and curled, much like his broken heart. By week's end he had activated an escape clause in his contract and walked away from everything and everyone he'd loved.

His work consumed him and the women devoured him. The drugs and the alcohol numbed him while his music was the only refuge he had. The flame of newness burned out and his existence soon revolved around karaoke bars and seedy dives on the waterfront of yet another nameless and faceless city.

As he'd done hundreds of nights in the past, he closed his final set of the night with what had become his signature song. He poured out his heart to the lonely bar patrons while the only person who could possibly understand its meaning was the tired, green eyed man seated in the shadows at the end of the bar.

I want to lay you down on a bed of roses
For tonite I sleep on a bed on nails
I want to be just as close as the Holy Ghost is
And lay you down on bed of roses

He'd followed the young blonde's descent into the hell of obscurity and as he'd searched his soul, he'd come to see what he'd thrown away with his denial, his unwillingness to take a chance. He'd taken that chance by coming here for the last three nights, hiding in the darkness and hurting for what could have been. Tonight he planned to take that chance, to open himself to the possibilities that lay ahead.

The refrain repeated as clear blue eyes searched the crowd, looking for nothing in particular yet finding something he'd convinced himself he'd lost. The sea of faces dimmed through his tears as their eyes met, the words of his song fading into the night and as he smiled, the emptiness in his heart began to mend.

I want to lay you down on a bed of roses
For tonite I sleep on a bed on nails
I want to be just as close as the Holy Ghost is
And lay you down on bed of roses.


Happy 40th birthday, Jon!

"Bed of Roses", recorded by Bon Jovi

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