The restaurant gleamed in chrome and crystal. Laughter and chatter droned noisely above the dozen white, round top tables where expensive taste could be seen from across the room. We were dressed casually, too casually. The server was decidedly put off by us; you could tell, even against the downturn of severe features that appeared to be cleaved from a long history of distaste. But his lack of positive attitude was redeemed in the sartorial confidence of a three-piece suit, shiny brown brogues, and slicked back hair that complimented an angular, clean-shaven face. Only in the city do servers look like movie stars. The tropical fish bobbed in the tank beside us, little mouths kissing out at us from behind the glass. We were out of place, but Joseph was pure cocky confidence, which to me appeared as a kind of transparent bravado – like someone waving his hands in the air at a bear in an attempt to scare it off.
The underground music magazine that I wrote for was a gruesome mixture of punk and metal, and I reveled in its delinquency, making friends and enemies across the city’s various Eastside dive bars. There was still a day job, since the freelance underground punk and metal magazine business was not particularly lucrative, and I struggled during the day to be an adequate secretary. The problem was at that point I didn’t really care about anyone other than myself.
I met Randon when I was an executive assistant for an infamously crooked businessman known to have ties with a certain thuggish biker gang. My boss owned youth hostels and bars in the city, and my relationship with him was always tenuous and nerve-wracking. He’d often demand I perform some kind of shady administrative task; always willing to bend the rules for the sake of his wallet.
There was a drought. An absence of companionship that sunk in after a fun but short-lived fling with a photographer, which I’d ruined by yelling at him for not calling me in over a week. “This was behaviour he wasn’t willing to tolerate,” he’d told me, rather fairly, before hanging up. I was confused, since I’d managed to convince myself I was never one to get caught up in neurosis over guys. At least, guys I wasn’t serious about. I blame my lack of reason at that time to the weird world of drugs, drinking and anarchic pseudo-hipster culture that was consuming my days on the East Side and inflating my sense of self-righteousness.
(Published in “What She Left Behind”) A group of stragglers crowded through the door and she found herself looking up at the little Flea Market man she’d characterized in a short story. “Damien?” “Rebecca?” She stared at his ageless face, taking in the memorable mess of brown hair. He broke into a smile that spread from ear to ear like a demonic cartoon. She hadn’t seen him in over a year, not since his band Sex Toys had played one of her old house parties with Jeremy, Audrey and Simon. Rebecca met Damien when she and Audrey had stumbled upon a series of after-hours clubs in the X-town area. They’d spent many weekends prowling the über-secretive spots after rock shows.