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Tonight I’ll wear something wild. I’ll stand out in the August night, listen to the band, and be open for it all. Having lived in Boston for three months, I wanted to become part of the city life outside of the 9-5 job I fumbled through each day. The concert was at 8, and I watched the second hand on my watch move achingly slow to finishing time, wanting to run from the office and join the Friday rush hour. I knew Lisa and Rob were already at the bar across from our basement apartment, hopefully lubricating their renewed relationship...
The B-line is filled with fresh college students, and I feel shaky at the sight of them. I only graduated in May, and it feels odd that I won’t be going back. Exiting the street car into the early evening swelter I descend the dirty stairwell going to the apartment, and skitter around the motionless cockroaches, bigger than the palm of my hand. Lisa flings open the door and pulls me inside, telling me about her new concern. We’ll have to be careful at the concert to avoid a few people, but I’m hoping to disappear into the crowd anyway.
The air in the apartment is stale, but comforting. Rob is parked on the couch, hair gel in hand, perfecting his look. I exchange glances with Lisa, move into my room, and begin to pick at the clothes in my closet. Ancient cargos, red soccer shirt that has never seen a field or a drop of sweat but matches my newly dyed hair, and tiger striped sunglasses. An animal rearing to go. Lisa looks in. I know what you’re missing, she says. She runs across to her room then returns with her red sneakers. Ruby slippers to take me home.
Standing in line, we crowd together in the evening sun. I’m happy for the sunglasses hiding my eyes. Rob sprawls against the building with Lisa. She’s tense for any shouts of recognition. The doors open and we enter the cavernous hall, making a beeline for the bar. The crowd rushes the stage area, most too young to drink, leaving us with breathing space. The first band comes on, awful. Groaning we dissect their screeching. A wandering hand slips over Lisa’s shoulders in a hopeful hug. She spins and Rob edges the guy out, holding her in a newly protective clasp.
A blonde guy stands there smiling. He shrugs at Rob, looks at his arm around Lisa, then turns to me tipping his beer in salute. Hitching his thumb back at the band he shakes his head. I heard what you were saying, he shouts, about the band. I nod and ask who he was there with. He shoots a quick look down the bar at a few men singling to the bartender. Just got here, he said. We crack some jokes, talk music, until I begin to edge away. I’m going up front for the main band I announce. Alone.
I take my beer and don’t look back. Some familiar faces emerge in the crowd, but I just wave and keep heading down the stairs to the pit area. The concert starts and I become part of the surging crowd. Someone slams into my side, but before I fall I’m steadied by two arms from behind me. It’s the blonde. I stand with my back to him, leaning. He pulls me out to the side a bit, keeping his arms protectively around me. When the set ends we separate, but head to the bar together. I give him my name.
We share the railing for the next set and afterward he asks me a drink. I look for Lisa, but no luck. We walk looking for the right place but never find it. Heading back, there’s a guy lying in the street. People step over him. Jon jogs ahead and pulls the guy off the street, calls 911. Covered in blood he returns. He was mugged. Jon gets some wipes from the paramedics to clean up, and we go into IHOP to clean up. He comes back, and we head for the train. B-line again. Same block. Neighbors. Our start.
She sits facing the wall of the open plan office. New to the job and city, her eyes flicker between the clock and envelopes on her desk. The air conditioner blocks any of the August air that would stir her out of the 4’oclock hour and into the night. On the wall is a calendar with weeks crossed out and dates circled. On this particular Friday, “W at 8” is written and underlined twice. Waiting, always waiting, she sits wondering about the coming night. She is hopeful the renewed couple’s old arguments wouldn’t surface. She wanted to enjoy the band.
She waits for a B-line train, hoping that it’s empty enough to grab a seat. It’s not. The students arrived back in the city the weekend before, and she visible shrinks back from them, knowing that she is no longer one of them. She breaks free from the streetcar at Harvard Ave. barely noticing the line of sweat dripping down her back. The apartment door swings open and a skinny arm grabs her. A slight brunette puts her finger over her lips and nods to her room. “Chuck’s gonna be there tonight. Run diversion, ok?” She nods and goes in.
She heads in and givies a side wave at Rob, who may as well as well have been putting on make-up with the way he was staring into the small wall mirror. She wouldn’t give that much attention to how she looked. She always looked the same. Tonight she would stand out a bit. Put herself back on the market. After 6-months she was ready. Comfort and a little flash. Her friend pops in and nods in approval at her tinted shades. “Shoes!” She brings in her red sneakers. They slip on as if made for her on that night.
She faces the sun with her arms straight out, an evening sun worshiper. Behind her two figures half hidden by a concrete block. The doors of the club swing open with a bang. Tickets in hand they enter and drift towards the bar. The three of them are alone, as the masses swell around the lower stage. It’s an all-ages show. Immediately a band comes out and starts. It sounds like a rehearsal. She turns to Lisa and sees a hand flip over the other girls’ shoulder. Rob steps out silently and spins Lisa so the newcomer is left alone.
She looks at the guy, blonde, tall, holding a beer. He switches his glances from Rob and Lisa to her, and offers clanks his bottle against hers. “They suck.” He said, pointing back at the band. “I think I knew one song. One hit wonder.” She agrees, and asks where his friends are. She’s relieved when he points to a bunch of guys buying drinks from the bartender. They don’t stand out from anyone else. Normal. The music stops. She signals that she’s going to the stage. They all walk off, leaving the guy to head back to his friends.
She moves through the thickening crowd, waving at a few friends deep in the pit and settles into the back center. Not quite out of the action. The main band comes on, and the crowd comes alive. She holds her own for a two songs, but the third, a youth anthem, makes the crowd rock wildly. A large guy trips sideways into her, and she careens backwards. She begins to get nervous. Then he’s there behind her, steadying her. He keeps her there for the rest of the set. “Name’s Claire,” she whispers as they go back to the bar.
They stay together the rest of the show. When the lights come on he offers his hand. “Drink?” She calls over to Lisa to not wait up, and they head out. They end up across the street, in a dusty bar. A couple hours later they walk out and see a man in the road. “That’s not right.” He goes flips him over. “Mugging, call the cops.” After some flashing lights and explanations, they duck into IHOP so he can clean up. She’s never seen a rescue like that. “I’m at Harvard and Comm” she says. He smiles. “Me too.”
“Doing anything this weekend?” Carlos asked. She sighed, staring at the clock. “Concert tonight.” Keep personal information to a minimum, she thought, remembering her father’s advice. “Anyone I would know?” She turned, “Maybe,” she said. “But probably not,” she thought. “Weezer, at Axis.” He shook his head. “Who are you going with?” “My roommate and her boyfriend. They just got back together. Yesterday.” She was bad at not talking sometimes. “Oh,” he nodded, “I know how that is.” “Hmm.” She replied uninterested. She didn’t know his boyfriend had moved out that week, but it was 5 and time to leave.
“Have a good weekend everyone!” she calls out and she bolts from the office. On the train snippets of the new student’s conversations waft around her. “I can’t believe I have to live with someone like that!” “He is just too hot for words.” “Psych Mondays and Wednesdays. Fridays off!” “You can have it,” she thinks relieved she is done with college. “Excuse me!” she shouts pushing through the crowded street car at her stop. Once inside the cool building, Lisa rips open the door. “How long were you standing there waiting?” she asks her? Lisa laughs, “It’s that important.”
“You have to block me tonight if Charlie comes over to talk,” she whispers. “You didn’t tell Rob?” she asks in a hushed voice. Lisa shakes her head. “Worried about the hair there Bobbie?” She sings over her shoulder and goes into her room. “One of us should be,” he replies from the couch. “Lisa, come show me what you’re wearing!” She pulls out a basket of clean clothes. “Black and white, you’re safe in anything else.” “Red and tan then.” “Shoes?” She holds up a pair of flip flops and her gold sandals. “Neither, I know what you’re missing.”
“When will the doors open?” “Who’s got a smoke? Lighter, lighter?” “If you want to destroy my sweater…” “Claire, it’s time!” “Come on Li-li, the night’s beginning.” “Bar?” “Jack and coke, gin and tonic, Sam please.” “My God, these guys suck. Who are they?” “That one song they redid, boys in the hood?” “I really think that the 80s are coming back. It’s going to be bad.” “It was bad the first time around.” “But that means the 90s aint too far behind. I did love grunge.” “What the!?” Pause. “I heard what you guys were saying. They do suck.”
“They only have one song.”
“Right, we were just saying.”
“So, you two together?” The newcomer points to Rob’s arm around Lisa’s shoulders.
“I’m here with some friends, they’re down the bar. I’m just being friendly.”
“They look like they miss you,” she says.
“Right. I thought I’d come over here anyway.”
“Not a lot of people our age here, eh?”
“Well, the band has been away from the scene for a few years.”
“I have all their albums though, all of them.”
“Right.” He said again. Right.
The lights flicker and his friends wave at him.
“I’m heading down, ya coming Marsha Brady?”
Lisa laughs. “Oh my nose!”
“I’ll keep her in the back.”
“Yeah, you protect here there buddy. Last thing we need is a hospital visit tonight.”
“Who’s going to protect you?” the stranger asks.
“See you guys at the break.”
She walks away from the group and heads downstairs.
“Hey. Heya. Talk later. Excuse me.”
“Sorry lady, didn’t see you.”
“Lady!” She mumbles. She’s only 22.
Bass. Drums. Vocals.
“Got you,” a voice whispers. And he does.
Bass. Drums. Vocals. Cheers.
“Let’s get out of this pit.”
“Do you want to get a drink?”
“Now. Let’s get a drink now.”
“Let’s go someplace nearby.”
“Wait, look at that.”
“Is that a person?”
“Jesus. I need to help him.”
“He’s covered. Is he dead?”
“Call the cops. Call someone.”
“Pretty fast response time.”
“A wetnap. I need more than this.”
“There’s a bathroom in IHOP.”
“It’s ok. I used to be a waitress. I just need two cups. No worries.”
“I got you a coffee. We should leave though. ”
“Back to Allston then.”
“Yeah. Wait, me too.”
“I love this city.”
“It’s growing on me too.”
“So, what’s going on this weekend?”
Jeff leaned back and lit his cigarette. He was still in his suit and tie, but that wouldn’t last long. The apartment was a sweltering 96 degrees. It was always 96 degrees. In snow, rain, sleet, or whatever. Heat included. What a joke.
“The guys are coming up for the show, remember? You gonna be around later?” he called out.
Jon popped out from the bathroom, wrapped in a towel. “What show?”
“Weezer. They’re come back tour or whatever.” Jeff shrugged out of his jacket.
“Sounds a lot better than working.”
“Probably will be.”
“I have to go in at 7.”
“I forgot you’re working. That’s what time the show starts. Matt will be here in an hour.”
Jeff laid out on the couch, sorting through the stack of cds on the edge of the coffee table. Well, trunk. Coffee table trunk. He picked out Pinkerton and tossed it at Jon. “Throw that in Neumie.”
“Such a good album.”
Jeff put out his cigarette and lit another. He had picked up chain smoking the year before in Scotland. The smoke layered in the dank apartment, and drifed through the filtered sunshine.
“Who’s opening tonight?”
“Who the fuck are they?”
The apartment door swings open with a bang.
“Hello?” a voice calls out.
Matt walks in and tosses a case of beer onto the table.
“We got three hours.”
Jon threw himself on the couch. “I’d much rather go out tonight than wait tables for tourists.”
“Wait, I thought you opened this morning.” Jeff opened a beer. “Have you been smoking too much? It’s Friday. I thought you had this night off.”
“I did open. And I’m closing. And reopening tomorrow. I had the lunch shift off. I’m pulling a double.”
“They better be paying you good.”
“I work for tips man. I hate working for tips.”
“You should get a real job. It’s been a year and a half since graduation.”
“The suit and tie isn’t that bad.” Jeff said.
“I don’t even know what to look for. I’ve been waiting tables for years.”
“Something else then.”
Jeff watched Jon sit down and open a beer. He was already in his blue shirt and fish tie for the restaurant.
“You should be used to the tie now since you’ve been working at Legals since March.”
“Maybe tonight I’ll quit.”
Jon stood up and walked out of the room.
“What’s up with him?” Matt asked.
Jeff shrugged. It was the end of the summer, that was it. His comment about time may have hit home.
They had been living in Boston for a year, and his own exit from the service industry and into politics had left Jon counting tips alone.
“You think they still have tickets left?” Jon said as he came back into the room. He had changed into shorts and a t-shirt.
“Not exactly Legal’s uniform.”
“I’m due for a night off.”
“So that’s it?”
The three guys entered the club a few hours later. They found some friends from their hometown and grouped.
“Look at her.” Jon pointed down the bar where two girls were standing. One red head, one brunette.
“Not too bad. There’s a guy with them though.”
“Nah, he’s just a friend.”
Jeff laughed at him. It was obvious the guy was with one of them. The two girls were talking to each other though and ignoring him though. Could be either’s boyfriend.
“You’re taking risks tonight,” he said to Jon, “go for it.”
It would be interesting to watch anyway.
“That did not go well.”
Jeff just shrugged. He didn’t get how Jon spoke to women, when he did that is.
“I’ll see you guys later, I’m gonna follow her.”
Jeff watched his roommate descend into the pit. “Not sure he’ll come out of this one,” he said to Matt.
And he didn’t. Later that night, after much drinking, Jeff was surprised when the door crashed open and Jon walked in with the red head.
“We’re heroes!” She exclaimed.
He put out his cigarette and looked at Matt.
“Tell us all about it,” he said motioning her to a seat.
My favorite week was most definitely week 3. I realized I love writing in dialogue. This is a realization for me, as I’ve always had trouble with dialogue in the past. Usually my dialogue sounds forced and is trite. This time I think it added to the scenes. I found that in week 4 I continued to write in dialogue and was less descriptive overall. As I was writing from another point of view I didn’t think the description was needed though, as it had already been provided in weeks 1 and 2. Week 3 was the easiest as well.
The most challenging week for the month of March was week 1. Our prompt was to pick a memory and there were a lot of important ones that I wanted to write about. However, the one I chose really did change my life as it is about the night I met my husband. Re-reading it all it is not apparent that this is one of the life changing moments of my life though, but I think that is ok as when it was happening I didn’t know it either. I found that I wasted space the first three days writing.
Overall, this first month of 100 words went pretty well. Because the prompt was a bit repetitive on week 1 and 2 I became bored and restless during week 2, but on weeks 3 and 4 I enjoyed the exercises. It was a challenge to write every day, especially the week I had a term paper due and had been writing for 2 days straight on scientific peer review. But, what I wanted to accomplish—writing a bit every day—was done. March is the month that I felt like a writer again instead of an editor trying to write.
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