Chloe pulled another tiny bottle-this time gin-out of her jacket pocket and popped the top. “It sucks to wait, though,” she said, taking a sip of it. “I mean, for everything to begin.”
There was the sound of a horn beeping, loud and then fading out as it passed on the road behind us. That was the nice thing about the Spot: you could hear everything, but no one could see you.
“This is just the in-between time,” I said. “It goes faster than you think.”
“I hope so,” Chloe said, and I eased back on my elbows, tilting my head back to look up at the sky, which was pinkish, streaked with red. This was the time we knew best, that stretch of day going from dusk to dark. It seemed like we were always waiting for nighttime here. I could feel the trampoline easing up and down, moved by our own breathing, bringing us in small increments up and back from the sky as the colors faded, slowly, and the stars began to show themselves.
By the time we got to Bendo, it was nine o’clock and I had a nice buzz on. We pulled up, parked, and eyed the bouncer standing by the door.
“Perfect,” I said, pulling down the visor to check my makeup. “It’s Rodney.”
“Where’s my ID?” Chloe said, digging through her jacket. “God, I just had it.”
“Is it in your bra?” I asked her, turning around. She blinked, stuck her hand down her shirt, and came up with it. Chloe kept everything in her bra: I.D., money, extra barrettes. It was like sleight of hand, the way she just pulled things from it, like quarters from your ear, or rabbits out of a hat.
“Bingo,” she said, sticking it in her front pocket.
“So classy,” Jess said.
“Look who’s talking,” Chloe shot back. “At least I wear a bra.”
“Well, at least I need one,” Jess replied.
Chloe narrowed her eyes. She was a Bcup, and a small one at that, and had always been sensitive about it. “Well at least-”
“Stop,” I said. “Let’s go.”
As we walked up, Rodney eyed us from where he was sitting on a stool propping the door open. Bendo was an eighteen-and-up club, but we’d been coming since sophomore year. You had to be twenty-one to drink, though, and with our fakes Chloe and I usually could get our hand stamped. Especially by Rodney.
“Remy, Remy,” he said as I reached into my pocket, pulling out my fake. My name, my face, my brother’s birthday, so I could quote it quick if I had to. “How’s it feel to be a high school graduate?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said, smiling at him. “You know I’m a junior at the university.”
He hardly glanced at my ID but squeezed my hand, brushing it with his fingers as he stamped it. Disgusting. “What’s your major?”
“English lit,” I said. “But I’m minoring in business.”
“I got some business for you,” he said, taking Chloe’s ID and stamping her hand. She was quick though, pulling back fast, the ink smearing.
“You’re an asshole,” Jess told him, but he just shrugged, waving us in, his eyes on the next group of girls coming up the steps.
“I feel so dirty,” Chloe sighed as we walked in.
“You’ll feel better after you have a beer.”
Bendo was crowded already. The band hadn’t come on yet, but the bar was two deep and the air was full of smoke, thick and mixed with the smell of sweat.
“I’ll get a table,” Jess called out to me, and I nodded, heading for the bar with Chloe behind me. We pushed through the crowd, dodging people, until we got a decent spot by the beer taps.
I’d just hoisted myself up on my elbows, trying to wave down the bartender, when I felt someone brush up against me. I tried to pull away, but it was packed where I was standing, so I just drew myself in a bit, pulling my arms against my sides. Then, very quietly, I heard a voice in my ear.
It said, in a weird, cheesy, right-out-of-one-of-my-mother’s-novels way, “Ah. We meet again.”
I turned my head, just slightly, and right there, practically on top of me, was the guy from the car dealership. He was wearing a red Mountain Fresh Detergent T-shirt-NOT JUST FRESH: MOUNTAIN FRESH!-it proclaimed, and was smiling at me. “Oh, God,” I said.
“No, it’s Dexter,” he replied, offering me his hand, which I ignored. Instead I glanced around behind me for Chloe, but saw she had been waylaid by a guy in a plaid shirt I didn’t recognize.
“Two beers!” I shouted at the bartender, who’d finally seen me.
“Make that three!” this Dexter yelled.
“You are not with me,” I said.
“Well, not technically,” he replied, shrugging. “But that could change.”
“Look,” I said as the bartender dropped three plastic cups in front of me, “I’m not-”
“I see you still have my number,” he said, interrupting me and grabbing one of the beers. He also slapped a ten down, which redeemed him a bit but not much.
“I haven’t had a chance to wash it off.”
“Will you be impressed if I tell you I’m in a band?”
“Not at all?” he said, raising his eyebrows. “God, I thought chicks loved guys in bands.”
“First off, I’m not a chick,” I said, grabbing my beer. “And second, I have a steadfast rule about musicians.”
I turned my back to him and started to elbow my way through the crowd, back to Chloe. “No musicians.”
“I could write you a song,” he offered, following me. I was moving so fast the beers I was carrying kept sloshing, but damn if he didn’t keep right up.
“I don’t want a song.”
“Everybody wants a song!”
“Not me.” I tapped Chloe on the shoulder and she turned around. She had on her flirting face, all wide-eyed and flushed, and I handed her a beer and said, “I’m going to find Jess.”
“I’m right behind you,” she replied, waggling her fingers at the guy she’d been talking to. But crazy musician boy kept after me, still talking.
“I think you like me,” he decided as I stepped on somebody’s foot, prompting a yelp. I kept moving.
“I really do not,” I said, finally spying Jess in a corner booth, head propped on one elbow, looking bored. When she saw me she held up both hands, in a what-the-hell gesture, but I just shook my head.