The Last Weekend

Six Separate Planets

Greg: That first semester at college seemed to last forever. Cassandra was bugging me to teach her the guitar, and she picked it up pretty quickly. Then she wanted me to teach her Six Separate Planets which was another Little Prince song I had written the previous summer, although we had never played it in Grendel. It suited my mood of the moment pretty well, because I felt like I was on my own lonely planet at the moment. Next, after the New Year, she decided to make her professional debut at the Tuesday at the same club where Grendel was born, the Tete a Tete, rebranded as the Carnaby Cafe following the British Invasion.

She did a nice job with the song, even though she was nervous. As soon as she finished, a voice from the back called out, “Play Soldier Boy.”

Greg: We swiveled around to see who made the request, and there’s Del standing in full dress uniform! To call us shocked is an understatement. Was this some kind of joke? We assumed Del was in New York, finding his way in the music world. We hadn’t heard much from him in the last few months. Just a few really upbeat letters.

Here’s the evening through the gauze of memory:

The Last Weekend

Greg: The stories came flooding out. While we thought Del was in New York, paying his musical dues, he was in basic training. Now he had a three-day pass before he had to report to Fayetteville, North Carolina pending assignment. “Fayette-nam” joked Del. No one laughed.

Del: I came clean on the fact that life had spiraled downward much faster than I ever anticipated. Despite the humiliation of it all, Greg and Cassandra were as rapt and attentive as I had been last summer (Man! … was it just last summer?) listening to Cassandra reading from Le Petit Prince.

We laughed, we cried, we sang, we toasted, we promised, we swore … we did it again. We packed half a lifetime into those three days. If something happened to me in Vietnam, hey … at least I had lived more than half a lifetime.

Believing Cassandra

Del: On Saturday night, the Brewsters put on a big, celebratory dinner for me. I was wearing borrowed civvies of Greg’s. His two sisters were there, Cassandra, and his mother and father. His mother pulled out all the stops on dinners, and Mr. Brewster was the expansive host. He even let Cassandra and Greg’s younger sister, both still in high school, have a glass of wine.

We made a round of toasts. When Cassandra’s turn came she said “Three years. It’s not that long. Greg will be a Junior in college and I’ll be a Sophomore. Del will come home and we’ll start a new band.”

“The $64,000 question is, what will be the name of the new band?” asked Greg.

“‘Grendel,’ silly boy” said Cassandra. “We’ll take Rhode Island by storm, then take off to New York and do the same.”

“First, we’ve gotta kick Lou Reed’s ass,” said Greg.

“One thing,” I said, “It shouldn’t take me three whole years to win this war.”

It was Mr. Brewster’s turn. “I’m believing Cassandra,” he said, raising his glass.

That set the tone for the rest of the weekend. We’d pass each other in the hallways, raise our arms and shout “I BELIEVE!” We’d pour a cup of coffee and … “I BELIEVE!” Even Mrs. Brewster was believing that weekend.

Only took me about 40 years to write a song about it, but eventually I did. Here it is performed by a band that call themselves The Spawn of Grendel:

Del: On Sunday morning of the Last Weekend I got up early, even though we had been up late. I went into the kitchen to make coffee. Cassandra was already there. She beat me to the punch.

We were futzing around, and she grabbed my hand. I knew this was the moment, but for what …?

“I …” I stammered, ready to profess my love. She held up her other hand to stop me. “Me, too,” she said. Then, she drew me closer and kissed me quickly. “I’ll see you in my dreams.”

“Greg’s my best friend,” I said.

“You won’t be cheating,” she said. “I’ll be Pamela, you’ll be Johnny. Sweet dreams.” And she kissed me again … maybe a second longer. The entire encounter was less than a minute, and that minute kept me going for … so many years.

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