Just Like That

October 31, 2020
Come on chick - a boom says Linda, checking her reflection in the bathroom mirror where Hope does her mascara. Saturday night for the twenty-eight year olds; l988.

I don’t know if I really want to go out to the American again.

Oh you’ll have fun, come on.

You always say that, and you’re the only one who always does.

Yeh, because I am always looking for a big one, she laughed.

You are terrible, Hope squints into the mirror, the pen drawing a line on her eyelid.

That’s why you love me, right? You could have fun too…if you would just let go. I know Danny likes you.

Danny’s married.

Yeh, but she’s never there, when he plays.

Hope turned, eye brows raised to face the friend she’d known since she was fifteen years old.

Anything you want to add?

Linda only laughs, wiggling to the tune on the stereo.

With one last check at her dark hair, Hope spots the small diamond-like comb from Spain; ornate as a flamenco dance in pure light. Why not?

She lifts hair on her crown to clip it in place. It dazzles and she

All…right, what else would I do on a Saturday night?

He lays on the bed looking up at the ceiling.

He’d been sipping beers in the lobby earlier in the day.

Do I really want to do this?

His hands behind his neck, he looks up at the crack above his head.

Assholes, make too much noise up there.

Then he laughs; maybe I’m the asshole who does.

He checks his jeans pocket for the money clip.

It’s right beside the scribbled name of the new drop.

Not the fucking American again; that place is baaaaad.

He laughs again, but I’m badder.

Reaching for the last of the beer on the bedside he guzzles it down.

Good and cold, still.

I don’t want to go, but I don’t want to stay. Shit, better go.

Linda laughs, having the last sip of Yago before they depart.

This wine is terrible.

That wine is cheap, two dollars is a good deal.

Linda giggles, a turned on puppy making anyone around her smile.

Her big brown eyes always ready for a dance, a chance, a risk, a who cares, let’s do it. Guys loved it.

We’ll take my car; that way you can’t just run away home.

It was the reason Hope liked to be with her; Linda was the opposite, too opposite, so opposite — she could hide in her shining light without having to do much. Problem was, Hope didn’t often want to do anything.

The serious journalist, knots too tight, wanting so much after the
divorce, but not knowing what. The days dizzying by with work, more work, stories, more stories, investigations and more investigations. Saturdays should be fun.

The girls gave one more flutter of hands to the hair, one more profile look at their chests; one stacked in a red-V neck, one flat chested in a black sheath off one shoulder. Ready to go.

You can get anything you want in a V-neck says Linda, including a big one, as she giggles at her friend wearing it.

I wouldn’t know what to do with a big one, if it slapped me in the face.

Linda’s dirty laugh; still puppy but as big as a great dane,

I would and with any luck…will.

You are such a slut.

And you definitely are not, but…that means more possibilities for me.

Just close the door so I don’t have to look says Hope closing the door to the apartment.

In the car, Linda backs out of the spot, it’s just the band, you know me and Chris are best friends.

Bed friends….?

Yeh, so…once in a while…

Can you do that?… I just …I mean, I get too close too fast and then fall.

Now THAT’S your problem, come on. They wanted us to get there early.

Ugh…The American…that place is creepy

Only if you close your eyes, says Linda lighting up her Marlborough.

Johnny swings his legs over the side of the creaking bed.
Sits up, stretches his neck left and right.

Shouldn’t be a problem, he mutters, just do it.
There was always the possibility of the heat.

I’ll go, make the drop, get out I don’t want to be there tonight.


He better be there, I don’t want to get stuck with the drop and then have to figure out what fuck head to sell it to. Getting steamed; those fuckers always wanted to get into some fucking conversation.

Girls are all obvious skanks, so not enough going on there.

Ugh, The American. This is the last time.

Danny and the band were sharing the last of it in the ally before going into to set up when the girls arrived. Good to have the fans, said Danny smiling.

He was the lead singer and even if he was married and had a kid, he swaggered as if he was one of the Stones.

Stop being an idiot, says Chris, they’re not fans — it’s just Linda…

…who likes too much dope muttered Danny
What about your wife…

Yeh, at least she never comes out, I just take it home for her.

Yeh, but still.

Besides we’ll make it back tonight

Half goes up your nose and the other half…
What are you, my mother now?

Danny was shorter and stockier; the guy fixing your transmission during the day. Chris was long and elegant, grew up with money and then spat on any of the privileges it provided. Until he didn’t have any — money.

I'm just saying, we practise every night all week, but we are always behind in getting paid…I’m just tired that’s all.

Get over it, watch out for a new guy…his name is Johnny and he’s a serious fuck.

Hope stands outside the circle where Linda is in the centre of the boys in the band. She snickers thinking of the movie she just saw, The Boys in the Band. The only drama she ever heard of agonizing over gay men; in New York. A film writer named Dominique Dunne, who was brother to Jonathan Dunne and his wife, the famous journalist Joan Didion also produced it. This was the kind of chatter Hope could rattle off, when she was just standing waiting around. None of it of any consequence to this crowd. They were outside her circle in the intellectual book reading life department.

It’s not that she didn’t like the band — they were just guys, and they played good dance music, so what the hell. But the club scene was a bore; the same guys came to the clubs all the time, none of them were ever interesting enough to spark anything inside especially at the notorious biker bar, the American.

Always the same type; frayed blue jeans - LEE — the uniform of choice, engineer boots, black; hair past the collar, sometimes stringy. No matter, they all looked greasy, all the time. What girl would want to be around that? Not, Hope. She loved Linda, even if she liked cocaine too much, where Hope hadn’t even tried it. It was of no interest to her. She strained to hear what was playing inside. Fleetwood Mac usually. This time, In My Dreams was riffing with Crosby, Stills and Nash. Tapping her feet she waved to the circle and said, I’ll see you inside.

Johnny was coming around the back end of the American and saw the crew that had to be the band. The usual, we’re gonna do it big, kind of guys, It’s not that Johnny was older than they were, but Johnny was just older in too many ways. Hands in his bomber jacket fingering the money clip. He liked to be as anonymous as possible, in the shadows, but sometimes, he’d add some flare, personality, tell a joke, warm ‘em up, in case there were any problems.

Of course there was a girl there, probably wanting it more than they were, but she was there wasn’t she, giggling that irritating way girls had when they thought they were covering up their need. Johnny always knew. Hey, are you Danny, he said sneaking in to the circle. He looked at the girl close up. She was already high.

Alone, Hope sat at their table in the front watching the doors, the stage, the bar, the shuffling of people in and out and through the tables, chairs and toilets. Ah, it’s going to be a long night, she glanced at her Swiss Army diving watch. A long night.

Coming through the back, her head turned, snapping her attention to see a blonde haired guy, hands in his jeans that stopped her from fidgeting. With clean hair? Hope stared hard. Something about him. He didn’t just walk into the bar, he glided - a skater; smooth, tight, clean, a tiny and smart bullet — like he
didn’t belong at the American, but kind of did. Odd, but definitely sexy.

“… you gotta believe in something if you don’t you will be lost you gotta believe in someone, whatever the cost

Johnny grazed the big room with a look from one end to the other. Groups of two or three at all the tables, as usual. Always people clinging to others like flies caught on fly paper. Sometimes they were an easy target, but most of the time a pain in the ass.

“ …well, hell if I’ve been had, then Jesus why’s it got to hurt so bad…”
and when will something make me glad to be alive…

He would down the Heineken after maybe one more, scan to see who was who in the zoo. It wouldn’t take long. But as he swilled the last of it, something caught his eye, unusual in a dark, ugly biker bar like this. He twisted his head to get a better look at what it was. A shining, blinking twinkle in a head of dark hair that refracted the light shining above her head. Johnny realized a cute girl was staring at him.

She was alone, not just because she was sitting there by herself, but because her eyes shouted out some kind of wounded isolation in heavy armour — a sparrow on a branch, waiting and watching, aware of all around her, but not partaking in any of it. Odd; mesmerizing.

“…hey would you dig to be alone
and tell me when will you be back home….

Is he looking at me, said Hope, smiling shy, small. He was cute. A compact, tight shooting star just staring back. Oh my god, what do I do? Where’s Linda?

“…you gotta believe in something and give it some time…. you gotta believe in someone go over the line….

He kept looking. Her smile did not belong in a biker bar. It belonged on a long velvet beige couch with black lace underwear and a plate of chocolate chip cookies, drinking a glass of milk. And he suddenly wanted that. He smiled back, careful. She was a faun at the edge of the forest peering out at him.

Sure, why not, he said, turning away from the bar, taking one step towards her table.

Suddenly the band was coming in with all their gear. Half the room noticed and glanced, including the girl with the sparkling light. She looked at Johnny for one more breath before she got up to join Linda and the band.

Johnny stopped in his tracks.

No! She’s not with them! She can’t be!

He toyed with the money clip, fat in his pockets.
Then he turned and left.

Just like that.

And just like that when Hope turned around, he was gone.

What’s the matter, Hope? asked Linda.

Just some guy…who…anyway…he’s gone now. Just like that.

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