Twilight Surprise

Joseph’s head rested between his forearm and bicep, on the bar.  He refused to look again at the cell phone smushed against the side of his leg, inside his jeans pocket.  He longed for the days when he hadn't owned a cell phone.

She’ll either come or she won’t, he thought.  It’s open mic night and people will play music and either she’ll be here or she won’t.  I’ll be on this barstool or in the bathroom but I won’t be anywhere else until I’m in bed and that’s all there is to it.

“Another?”

“Huh?”

“Another Maker’s?”

Joseph raised his head, squinted, made a fist and stuck up his thumb and then lowered it toward his empty glass, as if his hand were a bottle.

The bartender poured and he eyed his drink as some guys breezed in and sat at a corner table.  A new, buzzing undercurrent began to flow throughout the bar, a sort of lo-fi hum of blended conversations rising in volume.  Joseph felt it hypnotize him.

“I think they opened for Radiohead in Camden tonight,” he overheard the young lady to his left try to whisper.

“They know one of the guys who cooks here,” someone else mumbled.

 “Hi there!”  It was Annabeth’s voice, she came after all.  How much time had passed?

“Hi,” he said, expressionless, suddenly at ease.

“Did you get my texts?”

“Oh, sorry, no.  Drink?”

“Sure.”

“How was your evening?”

Annabeth laughed, shook her head.

He thought of asking what she’d been doing, why she didn’t come sooner.  But all he said was, “It’s got a nice ring when you laugh.”

“You got any extra guitars we could borrow?” one of the guys from the corner table who looked vaguely familiar to Joseph, tall and lean, asked the bartender.  The answer was an emphatic “yes.”  Soon open mic night was over, transformed into a surprise mini-concert seen and heard through a haze of smoke and booze fueled giddiness.

Joseph awoke the next day unsure of whether it had all been a dream, but Annabeth reassured him.

(Click here for a song; you may even hear a line from the story.)

18 comments:

  1. I felt like I was there, Richard. Nicely done.

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  2. I agree with Karen. I could feel the atmosphere. It's like the stories hear where some star or other sang on a plane or in a mall or something. I like how Annabeth confirmed his thoughts. His anxiousness about the night and her had been groundless.

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    1. Hi, Craig, and thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comment; you hit on some of the story's key details.

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  3. Yup, any references and Easter eggs were lost on me. But it is a good piece of fiction, with your typical sense of social setting and interaction, Richard.

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    1. Thanks, John. The only particular reference was a direct quote (in italics) from the Pavement song "Gold Soundz," a link to which I included at the end of the story. That and an attempted to describe their lead singer Steve Malkmus' physique.

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  4. "Joseph awoke the next day unsure of whether it had all been a dream, but Annabeth reassured him."

    Reminds me of one or two nights out I've had myself in the past. :)

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    1. Thanks, Steve. I've had nights like Joseph's too, as you may have assumed.

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  5. Nice creation of atmosphere and interactions. You enabled us to see Joseph through his haze. ^_^

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    1. Thanks, Helen! Glad you could see him.

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  6. Like the others said, the atmosphere was fantastic. And now for some reason I have the song glad you came in my head.

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    1. Hi, Sonia, and thanks for the compliment. I hope the song is out of you head by now!

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  7. Great atmosphere building in this, and you've really captured the dream-like haze that you find in some places.

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    1. Thanks, Icy! It's comforting to know that you found the hazy bar realistic.

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  8. I liked this. My son had — probably still has — aspirations of being a rock star guitarist. Although the venues differed in the details, the atmosphere was much like you described it here. I wonder if he ever woke up after a gig, asking if it had been only a dream…

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and for the comment, Larry! And best of luck to your son in his pursuit of rock stardom.

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  9. Joseph's character is shown well through his annoyance with cell phones and I like his acceptance of a lack of knowledge of whether Annabeth will show up.

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    1. Thanks, Aidan, for visiting the blog and for the comment! Joseph can be found here in multiple flashes, and in one earlier story called 'City Fire,' his friends laugh at him because at the time he didn't have a cell phone. He realizes he was happier when he didn't have the phone and therefore didn't have the means to hear from people whether they'd show up somewhere on a given night. Glad you liked that aspect of the story.

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