"You're going to think this is weird, and you can take
this however you want, but it seems like whenever you get in this
mood. I'm afraid of you."
"What? John, you're two and a half years older than me.
And anyway, you could kick my ass."
"I don't know, Andy," he said. "You're not very big, but
I think you'd be quite a fight."
This time he did leave me alone with my thoughts.
Afraid of me? I’d never had anyone say that to me before. Afraid
Wait, what mood? Was I in a mood?
"Now, Jessica," he continued, with a little smirk, "she's
never frightening to me. At least, not during the daytime."
Funny. Jessica never frightened me at all, ever. In fact,
she usually made me feel really secure. Mostly on purpose, of
course. That's just the nature of our fucked-up relationship.
I decided right then that I needed to talk to Jessica. A
Where Were You Last Night was kicking up a storm. I
think that one of the most beautiful scenes in the entire world is a
band charging through a song at full throttle, with the bassist
spending most of his time in the air and the drumsticks moving so
fast that they disappear into the strobes. There's this feeling of
i freedom and the presence of a huge unnatural power, of being in a
I place that never existed before. The crowd was enjoying every
I inch of it, and you could feel the energy in the floor, in the air, in
I the bodies bumping into each other in a communal rhythm.
Not that I cared.
1 brushed the hair from my eyes and took the cigarette
^ out of my mouth. There was about a quarter inch left of it. Fuck it.
II threw it high up over the crowd, and I didn't care where it landed.
! I pushed my way past people, getting bumped all over the place by
i shoulders and elbows. Where did I last see her? She was dancing
I with that Latino guy.
, "Jessica, Jessica," I whispered out loud. "Girl, we are
I going to have a talk."
The smoke was thick tonight. The stage lights cut their
path through it in beams like streetlights do in rain or snow. You
could probably get a buzz just from breathing. Speaking of which,
I still had a few left. I leaned back against a fat biker who was too
drunk to notice and fished around in my pocket, coming up with
my Zippo and a beat-up cigarette. I cupped my hand, lit the thing,
and looked around for Jessica again. All you could see in there
was the action on stage and the tops of people's heads, crescent
moons, all alike. Shit.
I bit down on the cigarette and pushed people out of the
way. I used my elbows, moved people out of my way with my
shoulder. The bass line changed-I felt it in the floQr-and the
lights cut off. Great, I thought. Where Were You wants to do one
of their damn stunts, here and now of all times! The spotlight hit
the guitarist, he did his theatrical shit, and then he jumped into the
crowd. The spot followed him while the people passed him
around, and all you could see was his gleaming, sweaty body and
the glowing hands around him in the spotlight. No, that wasn't
true. You could see a black leather hat on a head of blond hair.
Only twenty feet away.
I slipped between people as fast as I could. 1 took an
elbow to the ribs, but I ignored it. Pushed a red-haired chick out of
the way. Removed my cigarette. Clamped a hand on her arm.
' Hey, girl," I said over her shoulder.
Her face was not the one 1 was looking for. Damn it. The
lights came back on, and the girl asked me for a cigarette, but I
ignored her and pushed on to the left. Then to the right. Then I
went back to the left. Then 1 just stood there and felt like 1 was
floating. The blood pounded through my skull in a different tempo
than the drums, and I had no idea which way was up. Getting a
buzz off the air.
The Latino guy standing next to me looked familiar. The
rings on his fingers glinted in the lights. They were also familiar,
and 1 tried to think why. Then I realized that they didn't belong to
his hand, but the hand he was holding. Jessica's hand.
I moved in front of her and said into her ear, over the
noise, "How've you been, chick?"
"Fine," she shouted back. "You look terrible. You
"No. I need to talk. Now."
"All right," she said, though I couldn't hear it because
Where Were You started a new song with heavier distortion. She
said a few words to Rico Suave in Spanish, and he nodded and
Jessica took her hat off, letting her gorgeous hair reflect
the light, and leaned her face close until her forehead was almost
touching mine, so 1 could hear her when she said, "I,suppose
you're going to be mad at me."
"Damn right, girl. 1 am very angry at this moment in
"Well, give me a reason or two." Dimly, 1 could see her
cheek stiffen. "It's not Juan, is it?"
I couldn't believe she said that. "No, hell no. I don't care
"Well, what is it? 1 think 1 have a right to know." Some
of her hair tickled my forehead. "You're not being fair to me."
"Oh, I'm not fair? Was last night fair? Or the night
before that, in the back seat of the car? Was that fair? You knew
what 1 would go for, and you used me for just that."
Jessica's voice purred sarcastically as she said, "Yeah,
well, you liked being used."
At this point, the blood in my skull and the bass under
my feet and the smoke in my mouth and the blond hair against my
cheek made me want to explode. 1 wanted to fly apart, erupt like a
fucking human volcano. So I did.
"Okay, let’s get one thing straight, babe! I love you so
much I'm dying from it like a disease. And you know that, and
you use it to your advantage. 1 don't mind that you don't love me
back. In fact, it's probably better that way. But I do not like the
fact that you play with me like a goddamn toy. If you kiss me, I
will kiss you back. I can't help it. It'll happen again and again. But
I hate being walked on. And I will hate you for kissing me when
you know that I love you!"
A silky finger touched my cheek, and those lips of hers
said, "You and I both know that there's no law against it,
Andrea." Then those sweet, sweet lips pushed against mine for a
few seconds, and she was gone. I shut out the lights with my
eyelids, I shut out the bass with my hands, but there was no way 1
could shut out the other human beings bumping against me in a
rhythm much too complicated to have come from on stage.
(End of Article)