When the band takes the stage, it is clear they are all drunk, which might be problem but the audience is drunker. There is a girl sitting near the front who has bloody bandage on her knee that on closer inspection proves to be made of toilet paper. People wobble, pretending to dance to hide their drunkenness, before the music even starts.
Out on the rooftop there are screams, girls screaming in a way that makes you stop, listen, and decide I think she’s having fun? I think? And then you think Shit, I’m too drunk to deal with it anyway. The band members have taken off their shoes for the sound check and the audience starts to take off their shoes too,despite the broken glass on the floor.
Another night in Brooklyn, you think, and there are tears in your eyes when you decide to go outside with that guy who offered you a bump.
You check to make sure you still have your own shoes on, seeing around you so many shoeless drunk kids. It is a hot night, and many of them, the boys and the girls, have cut out the necks of their t-shirts, some so deeply that the shirts are falling off their shoulders, the girls and the boys, and so many of them are wearing cut-off jean shorts and no shoes that you are reminded of summer camp in the mountains back in California, kids in cut-off shorts and bare shoulders and feet stumbling around and laughing so hard they spit but they don’t care.
But it turns out you do still have your shoes on so you follow this guy outside onto the rooftop and down the stairs, and as you walk down the stairs you think I was crying earlier, why? But you don’t think about it too hard because if you do you’ll remember why and you’ll start again.
You get to the street where suddenly, past the rush of blood in your ears, you notice it’s perfectly quiet. Alert now, you look around, moving your head too fast, and you’re dizzy and trying to take deep breaths but god it’s so humid you might puke. But you won’t. This guy is watching you. Who is this guy? The guy with the coke. Where are your friends? Oh fuck, they are performing right now. Their band just went on and you’re missing it. It’s only warehouses here, and you can’t even remember which one you came out of, and this guy is saying something about how he just got out of Riker’s. And okay you’ve been around long enough to hope to hell that he was just there for dealing.
“What were you there for?” you ask him and suddenly you realize you’re smiling in that way you do when you’re terribly afraid. He says it was for a misunderstanding with his girlfriend and you think: What has happened to me that I couldn’teven go outside and check when I heard those girls screaming out on the rooftop, and what am I doing out here? and you see the tiny square bag in his hand and you remember.
He’s holding out a key with a little white pile on the tip of it, and you automatically lean into it, and maybe you spill some of it, and he laughs but it’s not a funny laugh, and why is your back up against a car? Why is this street so quiet? It’s never quiet in Brooklyn. In California you were afraid of people but here you’re afraid of silence. It always feels wrong when you walk down a street and there is no one on it. This is a street you should not be on. And you have an idea.
“Hey,” you say. “I gotta go to the bathroom.” Because this guy’s face is too close to yours and your back is up against a car. “And my friends are playing and they’ll be pissed if I don’t see them play.”
And he says,”They are way too drunk to care and anyway I want you out here with me.”
“They’ll know,” you say, and there is a new hardness in your voice and there is a new hardness in his face as it moves closer to yours. His hands are on your shoulders and his hard-edged knee is burrowing between your bare ones. You begin to succumb to the boozy limpness that is trying to take over your body, and you think: Nothing will be the same after this. And you’re right; nothing is ever the same.
Chloë Gladstone writes catalogue copy for a living, which is not exactly what she had in mind when she was six and decided to be a writer when she grew up, but still it’s pretty fun.
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