My friend Doug found Aliq dumpster-diving in Las Vegas, where Doug was going to school. I'm sure Doug recognized a kindred spirit when he saw Aliq wearing his leather jacket during a sweltering Las Vegas spring day. Doug also wore his leather MC all the time. For Doug and Aliq, leather was their armor. They felt unsafe with out it. In fact, I met Doug because of that jacket. The Mission was a tiny goth club conveniently located two buildings down from my apartment. It was July 2, and really hot, which was the reason I went to The Mission that night—to bask in gothic air-conditioned splendor. There was a goofy guy gothing out to Peter Murphy's It Cuts You Up wearing a leather jacket. I had to talk to him—how can you not talk to a guy who's wearing an MC in July?
Aliq frequently crashed with Doug at his apartment across from the UNLV campus. When Doug moved to NY, Aliq was torn between his loyalty for the Outback and his intense desire to go to hardcore shows at ABC-No Rio. This was the early 90s—there was no Outback on 23rd street back then.
It took Aliq a while to save up enough money to come to NY, but the July after I met Doug, Aliq was livin large in Doug's Stanton Street apartment. And Aliq was a great asset to our group—he looked outrageous with his multi-colored mohawk, black eyeliner, pasty white skin and that leather MC with the Outback Logo. He was about 6'2" and maybe 130 lbs. And, despite his Australian origins, he spoke fluent Spanish, thanks to his father, a simultaneous translator who lived in DC. This meant that every time Aliq and I went into a bodega and the counter guys started talking shit about us, Aliq would freak them out by speaking to them in his perfect Castillean Spanish. They'd charge us the insider price for our 40s, and we'd go up on Doug's roof and drink. Doug's roof had a sweeping view of lower Manhattan. It was really lovely, a great place to drink and hang out and watch the sun go down. We hung out there pretty much every night we weren't going gothing. You could sit on the ledge, but I never did. There was nothing to stop you from falling off. When I was a kid in the projects, some other kid fell off the roof once. Or maybe she was pushed. Whatever, I stayed away from the ledge when I was drunk.
We took Aliq to ABC No Rio, and to Communion at Limelight, and Ward 6 at the Bank. And the Mission. But it was August at The Bat Cave where he met his true love, Veronica.
Veronica was not a goth or a punk. She was just an art student from Queens living with her parents. A tiny girl with a pretty face, it was easy to see why Aliq fell for her. But what did she see in him? We never really found out. After meeting her, he spent most of his time at her parents house, and he'd wander around Manhattan in a Veronica-fog while she was at Parsons. He'd come by every so often and he'd talk about Veronica.
"She's a fine fiery female," he'd say. "Her ass! Her ass is like a peach, so ripe and succulent!" And then he'd make some obnoxious gnawing sounds. Aliq could soliloquize about most anything, but he'd really go overboard talking about Veronica. If Veronica had a logo, he would have replaced the Outback one with hers.
In October, they split up. Oh, the tears. Neither of them wanted to break up, but her grades were suffering because of all the time she spent with Aliq. Her father was paying for that art school education, and no skinny gutter punk was going to stand in the way of her getting her father's money's worth.
Aliq was more than mopey. He was morose. "We wanted to get married! How could she do this?" Nothing we said helped. He was inconsolable. He started drinking more and more. He started drinking ridiculous amounts, even for an Australian.
One Thursday night, we all, Doug, me, and Aliq, went up to the Doug's roof to drink. It was a beautiful October night, still summery but with a hint of the chill to come. It was too warm for a normal person to wear leather, but Doug and Aliq suited up, even though I was the only one who would see them.
We were hanging out, talking shit. No doubt Doug and I were arguing about Ministry. We always argued about Ministry. He contended that if Ministry ever got popular he wouldn't like them any more. That's bullshit! I would yell. Why not be happy for them? No, because if they got popular it would be because they toned down their music. We were always arguing about theoretical shit, like who we had a pass to sleep with if the opportunity came up. His pass was Kim Deal from the Breeders. I said I wanted my pass to be the goth kid from the health food store on Avenue A. "But you can't pick someone you might actually get to sleep with!" he whined. "What about Trent Reznor?" But health food store boy almost looks like Trent Reznor!
We realized at some point that Aliq wasn't chiming in like he usually did.
We look around. No Aliq.
We go downstairs. No Aliq.
"He's fucking with us," Doug said on our way back up to the roof. "He's hiding on the fire escape. Let's go down and find him."
We start walking down the fire escape stairs, calling his name. Aliq! Aliq!
When we get to the third floor, we hear a soft "Doug!" We look down, and Aliq is sprawled in the alleyway.
"Holy fucking shit! Doug, you go down, keep him company, I'll call 911."
Aliq fell 6 stories, landing on piles of trash bags ready to be hauled out to the curb.
He was still conscious when the EMTs took him away.
Doug stayed in the hospital waiting area all night and called me at work at 9. He sounded terrible.
"Aliq. Aliq…" he trailed off. My stomach started to flip and my mouth got dry.
"Aliq is fucking fine!" he laughed. He had 3 broken ribs, and his liver was lacerated. He was fine. The doctor in the ER said, "You know what saved him? That leather jacket!"