microfiction · short stories · wording

Not Anyone I Knew

26 Jan 2010


She wasn’t anyone I knew.

I met her once, in a bar on fifty-second street.  You know, one of those places where everyone orders gin & tonics, because at least you know that will taste bad in a way you’re used to, and all the other stuff behind the bar has labels you’ve never seen before, tequila complete with a worm five years dead.

We were dancing to the jukebox, Iggy Pop was playing.  He’s really hard to dance to, I don’t know if you know that. We gathered up all our pennies, poured them into our two pairs of cupped hands; we fed them into the aged jukebox one by one by one. She flipped through the options, even though there were only five and four of them were Travis Tritt or someone who looked and sounded just like him. The little mechanical arm extended, plucked up the album, fed it into the slot, and those vomitous guitars and arrhythmia drums started up: a musical tribute to late nights, too much drinking, sickness and decay.  The kind of explosive life that never comes easy, because you’d never ever want it to. We looked at one another, and I saw we both liked him for the same reason.  Iggy Pop wasn’t afraid to let brilliance be something ugly and disgusting.

We were both  tired of pretty things and pretty music, see.  I think that’s why I remember her: she rolled her eyes at Cyndi Lauper, she had nothing good to say about any of the pop starlets that put out videos on MTV, no matter how creative or original they were.  She wanted her music mainlined, she wanted it to make her afraid. She wanted to live and die running for her life. It could be something told me that, even then, but I doubt it would have changed anything.

In the end, we decided that Nightclubbing was too hard to dance to and oozed our sweaty bodies into a booth, the cracked naugahyde catching on her lace skirt and leaving long scratches on my bare thighs.  We ordered a pitcher of some disgusting mexican beer, and drank it fast so we wouldn’t have to taste it. The stuff still made bile rise in my throat. I slid a few safety pins across the table, for her skirt. She asked if I wanted something to eat.  I looked her straight in the eye and said “Maybe you.”

She wasn’t anyone I knew. We danced to Iggy Pop, this one time, and the only picture of her in my head is her smeared mascara as she let the early morning chill hustle her onto the train. I still vomited when I heard the news; I didn’t cry.  I like to think she would have approved.