“Perhaps you could wear the wig tonight, darling.”
The very idea is startling to Yitzhak. “You are sure?”
Hedwig – stripped clean of makeup, in jeans, without her armor, lifts her chin, a thin smile on her reluctant lips. “Of course. You’re just stunning in sequins – like Joan Crawford in the thirties.”
This is how things change once Hedwig embraces her true nature – she gets kinder, of course, and more generous. She’s willing to listen to Yitzhak’s ideas. She’s less driven by revenge and more willing to embrace peace.
That didn’t mean that they both weren’t going to take advantage of every drop of fame the Tommy disaster had provided them with, of course. The next gig is at a small club near Manhattan, and Yitzhak actually wins himself a full solo. Hedwig doesn’t snipe at him then and doesn’t argue with him later – in fact her reaction is nearly zenlike.
“You do good work, darling. Keep it up,” she says later, over cold chow mein in the back of a car speeding off to the next town.
It’s raining. It’s been raining since Tuesday, as far as Yitzhak has noticed, the clouds chasing them from Peoria to Deerborn. The clouds are bright and soft, like an angel’s cheek; it’s inspiring enough to still Yitzhak in his tracks.
The song comes clearly to him – a tale of unity and beauty, of nature and of the world around him. Maple trees and power lines, the first line goes, I know this place.
When he plays the song for Hedwig she wipes a tear. It’s a very small tear, but Yitzhak sees it fall.
The verdict comes between sip of coffee. “I’d get rid of the middle eighth, but the rest is spun gold.”
Hedwig helps him shave the beard in Arizona, making a mess of the bright white sink, splattering them both with foam and hot water. They laugh like they’ve never laughed before, splashing and joking, rushing to get clean before someone comes and finds the mess.
The new album - the first album – arrives in drips and drabs. Half of the songs are Yitzhak’s, half are Hedwig’s; half are ballads, half are heels-to-the-wall rockers. They bargain their way into studio time (at one point Hedwig finds herself mopping up after an office party for the chance to record free of distractions), but slowly but surely there is a master recording.
They listen to it while racing down a highway in Arizona, screaming along to the lyrics.
The bits of baubles come back into the act, with Hedwig encouraging Yitzhak’s progress. One day he emerges wearing a Tina Turner dress, a short little mini-skirt with green spangles and real-and-not faked cleavage. And the music that emerges is boss – bright and shiny, spangly as the outfit. It’s brilliant and worthy of everything that he and Hedwig have been driving at for the past few years.
The jealousy dissipates, bit by bit. You can stand beside someone for years without coming to the conclusion that there’s only so much good bitterness can do a person. He compliments them sincerely on the hard work they’re putting into the new tour, and Yitzhak writes a number directly for them, for their voice, instead of mentally transposing himself into the lead singer role.
Hedwig cries over the lyrics, just once. And for once she has no suggestion.
They finally go shopping together. It’s not a glamorous trip to Rodeo Drive but a trip through a strip mall filled with amusing, interesting little knickknacks. He buys a bright lime cocktail dress and Hedwig buys rainbow-striped slacks and a clown fright wig. They wear the outfits about the lobby of their hotel between gigs, and they end up blind-drunk and screaming with laughter in the middle of a fountain in East LA, splashing each other and laughing like children until the police came to get them.
The sunset-colored rocks and bright blue skies of Arizona comforts Yitzhak as the tour started to wind down. Hedwig feels less of a relentless need to roam now, but she does require hotter temperatures to rest her voice, and to stave off her own sense of restlessness. So Yitzhak tries to find a cheap base of operation somewhere in the city. The realtor brings his own ideas to the parade, lets him rent a small apartment. It’s be a fine place for Hedwig to prop up her heels and watch terrible soap operas all afternoon while they do a final mix on the album.
They both seem to be holding their breath as they release it to the wild, let it go, allow themselves to wonder of they’re doing the right thing, if they’ve actually succeeded in creating the world they’ve always hoped to reach.
It does well digitally.
Hedwig has no idea what ‘digitally’ is. Yitzhak is happy to have the advantage for once.
They’re at a small club that smells like old beer and is covered wall to floor with shellacked Marlene Dietrich posters. Hedwig’s eyes are closed, and she’s swaying to the music, her beauty almost gallingly inexplicably indefinable. Yitzhak remembers how he felt when he saw her for the first time. It was like a fist squeezing his heart. He thought it was breaking in her manicured hand.
He can conjure up the memory, though he couldn't do much more than quietly relive it here and now. The past will always be theirs, the future will always be uncertain, but the fact that the present is warmer seems like a gift from the gods.
They kiss just one more time, on a bridge in Paris over the Seine. Just because Hedwig thinks it will be romantic, and because the glitter of Yitzhak’s dress looks so appealing. And the moonlight, the perfume…the June.
Yes, this might be a song some day.
Yitzhak keeps himself open to the possibility of more. Yitzhak tries…operative word TRIES….to think positively about turned corners, spangles shining and mixed up with leather.
Hedwig fondly smears the lipstick he so recently applied to his lips. “We need to get you a shade that suits,” she says.
Yhitzak smiles, truly smiles, at this.
It’s like being handed the sun.