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  • Fifteen years later, sitting in the stands at a show in rural Virginia, an afternoon rushes back to me. The music takes me back, brings me forward and keeps me grounded as I remember.

    Igor's Buddha Belly Bar. That was the name of the place on the corner of Magazine and… something. Just down the road from the Snowball stand? We had gone to get mice for the snake my friend was watching. He kind of hated the biting thing so he never fed it, which led to more biting, which led to more hating, but it belonged to a girl and my friend liked girls.

    In the midst of this vicious cycle, the man with the gun, a lawyer friend who never stopped talking, stepped in to say that we needed to get mice. We needed to feed it. Him. Her.

    "Get two," said the snake sitter who refused to come with us.

    We climbed into a car – Mine? His? – and drove down to a pet shop on Magazine to buy mice, feeder mice. We stopped at the bar because the pet shop was closed and that's what we did. The bars never closed in New Orleans.

    He was waiting for the results from his bar exam. I was waiting for my life to begin. I had just packed up a car and left Colorado. I had no place to be, nothing to do until my money ran out and from what I had seen, that could be a very long time in New Orleans.

    "I used to work here," the lawyer friend said as he held up his fingers for another round. "Do you see that place over there?"

    I squinted into the brightness outside.

    "You know Nine Inch Nails, right?"

    I nodded.

    "That's Trent Reznor's compound. That used to be a funeral parlor; now it's a recording studio."

    I looked again. Even though there was nothing to see, my heart danced a little. Nothing Studios. Nine Inch Nails.

    "Sometimes he comes in here," he said before changing the subject and continuing with his never-ending story.

    He had taken the bar only in states that would allow him to carry a concealed weapon. Did I want to see it? I would have made a good lawyer. How did I end up friends with the snake sitter anyway? We should go back and feed the thing.

    "Do you think the pet store is open now?"
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