Now sober, Izzy Stradlin reflects on the years he spent with Guns 'n Roses and more importantly with Axl Rose. With his band falling apart before his eyes, Axl finds his mind on his childhood frie...
Drip, drop, drip, drop. It's a chilly April evening and here I am staring out the window. Rain pelts against the glass and pools onto the ground. My eyes follow the dribbles of water running down the window, but I'm not actually seeing them. Even though I'm staring directly at those clear drops, my eyes are blank and empty. Despite the fact that I am looking, I am not seeing.
I jerk myself out of my momentary numbness and blink as I stare around myself. Here I am in a small, quiet house in Los Angeles. The house is very empty and plain. I suppose I could decorate, but the last thing I feel like doing is trudging through the rain and buying home decor. That can wait until another day. Still though, I have to do something.
A year ago, my live had been consumed by chaos. As the rhythm guitarist for Guns 'n Roses, there was always something to do or something I should be doing. Either I should be at a practice, at a gig, or I should be traveling around with the band on a tour. But now? All that was over. Guns 'n Roses was history for me. I had quit.
Why had I quit? Well, I could probably fill up a novel on reasons of why I decided to quit the band. It wasn't as if I didn't like Guns anymore though. On the contrary, I found that I missed it at times. Whenever you make a decision, there are always good parts to the decision and bad parts to the decision. The good parts that came from ditching the band were that I was finally clean and free at last. I was free to make my own decisions, free to do what I wanted when I wanted, and I was finally free of drugs. It felt good to no longer have heavy metal chains dragging me down towards the pits of oblivion, but...
I'm still not happy. Sitting around and staring out of the window is not exactly something I want to spend the rest of my life doing. I know I want to keep playing guitar, but playing without Guns doesn't seem very exciting to me. Playing by myself only makes me feel sad. Something's missing.
You know where you are?
You're down in the jungle baby, you're gonna dieee!
Axl's piercing voice enters my mind. I chew my lip and shift myself into a sitting position as I continue to absentmindedly watch the rain pour down from the heavens. I should be happy to be free of Axl's screeching, ordering, and ranting. He's a handful at times. Well, actually he's a handful all of the time. Yet, for some reason, it feels too quiet without him around.
A melancholy smile plays at the edge of my lips as I think of Axl's words swimming around in my mind. Guns 'n Roses certainly had brought me to "the jungle" and Axl was right; I had been going to die. We had all been going to die. Slash actually had died. His heart had stopped beating, his lips had turned blue, and he had died. However, by some paranormal miracle, he had come back to life minutes later. We had all been relieved to see Slash alive again, but I think that was the turning point for me. Did I want to end up killing myself from drugs and other shit? No. That's when I knew I needed out.
Still though, the sober life isn't as great as I expected it to be. I thought I would be content, but no, here I am watching the rain and thinking of Axl's voice. It sounds pathetic, doesn't it? I drum my fingers on my thigh and try to think of something else to pass the time.
Feel my, my, my serpentine
Ooh, I want to hear you scream!
There's Axl's voice in my head again. I try to clear my thoughts, but Axl refuses to fade into the background. He's lodged himself in the front of my mind and will not allow me to kick him out of there. As I look down at my fingers tapping against my thigh, I blink and suddenly I remember a day when it was someone else's hand there on my leg.
It was ten years ago and Axl was a temperamental, fiery-tempered young man. Axl hadn't had an easy life. He claims to have been sexually abused by his biological father and to have been physically abused by his stepfather. I believe the bit about his stepfather. I'm not so sure about the sexual abuse part though. Axl would have been two back then and sometimes things tend to get a little warped in Axl's mind.
Either way, Axl hadn't had an easy childhood though. Religion was forced on him and he was taught that everything was evil. The TV was evil, women were evil, and the whole world was evil. What kind of way is that to raise a boy? Anyone who's raised like that is going to have demons chasing them for the rest of their life. This is exactly what ended up happening to Axl.
It was a cool evening in a small rickety apartment in Los Angeles when it happened. "It" was what changed my life for...well...forever. I was sitting by the window not unlike how I am sitting at the moment. There was a cigarette in my hand and I was thumbing through a magazine. Axl was irritated about something or the other. He stomped around the room with a glare on his face. He usually calmed down after five minutes, but today was different. It had been ten minutes and Axl was still pacing.
The magazine I was reading was less than interesting and I found myself listening to the ticking of the clock and wondering what was bothering Axl so much. Were his demons haunting him more than before? Were they coming to attack him even now that he was thousands of miles away from his mother and stepfather?
Suddenly, Axl was in my face. I don't know how he had gotten there, but there he was. His deep brown eyes stared straight into mine and he murmured, "Izzy? Iz...?"
"Yeah, Axl?" I asked, tossing the magazine aside and giving him my full attention. "What's up?"
Axl didn't speak for another few minutes and when he finally did, all he said was my name again, "Izzy."
"Yes, Axl, I'm listening. What is it?" I asked, unsure what Axl was playing at. However, after a second glance, I noticed something different in his eyes. There was a need deep in the dark pools of brown. It was a need for love, comfort, and care.
Axl's hand found my thigh and he leaned towards me, eyes searching my face as he pressed, "Izzy, I need you. They're coming for me. They're gonna kill me..."
With that said, Axl had practically thrown himself at me. His arms had wrapped around my neck and his smooth lips were pressed against mine. I had never thought of myself as bisexual before, but in the whirlwind of the moment, I had allowed Axl to lead me to the bed and push me down on the virginal white sheets. After what we did that night, I had promised myself that I would do anything to take care of Axl. He was mine and I was his. I had never felt this way about anyone before.
It had been strange to see Axl so emotional. Normally when he got upset, he would kick, scream, and throw things. Only when he was with me could he find other ways to calm himself down. Our relationship lasted...for a while. Why did it end? Well, it was because of my promise to protect Axl. That was what really changed my life.
There were things I ended up being forced to do to keep Axl safe. I would do anything and I mean anything to keep him from harm. I allowed myself to be torn open for him and I cried many bloody tears for him. I kept these things a secret from Axl though. He needn't know what was going on.
As more years went on, more blood and tears were spilled. I needed something to keep me going and keep me in the band, so I turned to drugs. Alcohol and drugs seemed to be my best friends for a while until I realized that I was flying towards a pit of disaster. I needed to get clean. Now.
So here I am, all alone and miserable and clean. I can't help but worry about Axl. What's he doing right now? Is he alright? He needs me and we both know it. I'm the only one with a calm, logical mind in Guns 'n Roses. Axl never thinks things through. He acts on impulse.
Ka-boom! Thunder shakes the house and pushes Axl out of my mind for a few minutes. I need to do something, need to distract myself. Determined to forget about Axl for at least five minutes, I stand up and go to the kitchen. I'll make something to eat. I'm not hungry, but cooking will at least temporarily distract me.
I open the fridge and find nothing there except some moldy cheese. Great. I'm even forgetting to buy food. I stare into the empty refrigerator and try to think of if there's anything I can make from moldy cheese. Nothing comes to mind.
Thud, thud, thud! I kick the refrigerator shut and cross the room to lean on the counter. That's when I realize that someone is knocking on the door. It's not the sound of thunder like I had thought it was. Wondering who the hell could be knocking on my door during the middle of a storm, I brush long black bangs out of my eyes and start towards the door.
I hesitate for only a minute before opening the door. Dark eyes glint into mine and a twisted smile grins as a voice says, "Hello, Izzy. Miss me?"
Before I can answer or even think, a fist collides with the center of my face and a foot kicks one of my legs, sending me crashing to the floor. My skull hits the tile with a smack and dark circles come rushing forwards to blanket me in a world of black. Am I dead? I can't tell you that because this isn't really where my story begins. It begins in a little place called Lafayette, Indiana back in 1979...