Copyright © 2009 A.Matheson. All Rights Reserved.
Feedback: good/bad/ugly, all welcome if constructive. Though flattery is sought.
by Antonia Matheson
Part five: The slippery slopes
Rooms with a vista
“Park Slope,” Meg muttered as Kirstin directed the cab driver off the main road and told him which street to head for, “You live in Park Slope…”
“Yes,” she answered, simply.
“Well that’s hardly Brooklyn at all…”
“I’m sorry?” Kirstin chirped. “What were you expecting, Vinegar Hill?”
Meg just smiled and shook her head as she looked out into the seemingly rapidly flourishing neighbourhood.
“It’s not as bourgeois as you think it is…”
“I never said I thought it was bourgeois…” Meg flashed her a cheeky look.
“Just here’s fine, thanks.”
She turned to Meg and pushed her, “G’wan, get out you!”
Out tumbled Meg onto the sidewalk as Kirstin handed her the bags and paid for the cab.
It was an hour before sunset and the sun cast a beautiful orange glow across the entire length of the tree-lined street. Meg stood and gazed, her breathing slowing unconsciously.
“Hey,” Kirstin gently broke into the moment, following Meg’s eye-line, “c’mon, I have a better view to show you…”
As the cab drew away she stole one of the bags from Meg’s unresponsive hand and when she had her attention Kirstin motioned for Meg to follow her.
Meg turned, looking at the stairway Kirstin was headed toward.
Very pretty, she admitted.
It was an old brick building that was obviously well looked after. The ironwork had flowers trailing through it, blues and soft yellows. It looked more Tuscan than Brooklyn. Meg set off after Kirstin who had powered past the first two levels heading for the very top.
As she joined her near the top she was hit once again by soft, orange light, this time flickering beyond the outline of a tree-lined hill in the distance, flagged either side by the almost silhouette of the buildings on the rooftop.
“Prospect Park…” Meg uttered, as Kirstin unlocked the wrought iron gate in front of them. It led out to the lower level of the top floor apartments lining the large roof garden ahead of them.
“Told you it was a better view…” Kirstin smiled as she stepped through the gateway. “It’s even better from the balcony…”
“You have a balcony as WELL as a roof garden??”
“We share the roof garden, the balcony’s mine…” Kirstin smiled, as if that were adequate explanation.
The top floor contained four apartments, each one toward the corner of the roof they occupied. The space between contained the garden Meg had just been looking across. From the brief glance she had taken she managed to note a large stone barbeque that took pride of place in the middle of the shared area.
Each top floor apartment was detached and very individual, all oddly shaped and made up of two to three floors. Kirstin’s definitely had three Meg noticed just before being ushered through the large, darkened doorway, and almost industrial looking front door.
“This used to be a factory…” Kirstin said, noticing Meg give the door a bemused look, “I liked some of the original features…” She pointed to one of them, a very old but solid looking bell complete with chain hanging just above the doorway to the right.
“Cool…” Meg smiled.
Kirstin beamed, “Thanks…”
Once inside Kirstin gestured for Meg to continue on in through to the lounge while she busied herself closing the large metal door with its slightly complicated round and spiky handle arrangement.
Having travelled down the entrance hall into the open space that appeared to be the main room, all Meg could do was stand there, in a little awe.
Ho-ly fuck, her thoughts repeated.
She didn’t think she had ever come across a living space that told so very much, so very quickly, about its owner.
Kirstin headed out into the main room to join her. She wasn’t at all phased by Meg’s dropped jaw, in fact she was accustomed to that kind of reaction.
“Go ahead,” she said waving her hand out into the large space before them, have a good look round, I’m not going to give you a tour, I’m all toured out,” she pulled a comical face. “What I will tell you is that you can throw your coat on a hook in the hallway,” she pointed back to where they had both entered, “and the bathroom is first door on the second floor if you need it. I’m just gonna go kick my shoes off and check for messages.”
And with that she made her way up a set of open plan, old paint-buffed, wooden stairs at the far end of the room.
Wow, Meg thought again, taking in her surroundings.
The main room was an eclectic mixture of past and present; clutter and space. It was a very generously sized room, yet it was warm in flavour and felt well lived in. The old brown factory wood floor made surprisingly little noise beneath her feet as she ventured further into the centre, her eye tracing the wooden beams and metal pipes above her head.
Not one, but three large, low, brown leather sofas neatly surrounded a chunky battered looking coffee table in the middle of the room. Their only accompaniments seemed to be a couple of books, some remote controls, and a set of coasters which looked to be made of some sort of pressed multi-coloured metal.
The late evening sun spattered through the half-drawn blinds of the two large full-length windows in front of her. Each window was made up of smaller square panes, another authentic feature Meg guessed. They clearly opened out onto the decked garden area, which was cluttered with all kinds of foliage, undoubtedly put there to create what was unexpected, but ample privacy.
There was precious little else in terms of furniture in the large lounge, apart from a few leather beanies, one of which, Meg noted, had traces of cat still just visible and a large variety of lamps.
Hm, wudda had you down for a dog person.
Then Meg looked around again. A very large variety of lamps, Meg corrected herself. All seemingly old lighting, from be-tassled nineteenth century standard lamps, to sixties style round headlight lamps. The main room light was by far the most impressive however, like something out of space, a definite seventies relic. It was the kind that you could adjust the hanging height of, Meg realised, with a big metal shade and a coiled flex, suspended from the wooden beam above by industrial looking wire.
But what most defined this room was not the interesting choice of its functionalities - which Meg quickly noted also included the biggest home cinema projector set up she’d ever seen, hanging from the back of the room and aimed at the gap between the main windows opposite - but the items Kirstin had chosen as adornments. Every part of every wall was covered in something. Not things that most households would consider ‘art’, but things that in this context couldn’t be considered anything but.
Meg suddenly understood why Kirstin felt so at home in places like the cowgirl hall of fame. It was organised chaos. The walls had been left in what she assumed was probably the original materials they had been built with; the external ones were bricked, and the internal ones were occasionally wooden, or some hybrid of the two.
The kitchen, whose breakfast bar separated the two rooms, had a wall awash with road signs, and metal adverts. It was a tidy, and well-equipped, but under-used looking kitchen. It sat partially under the stairway that was set against the far wall of the apartment.
Strapped to the ceiling, and mirroring the one she’d seen in the main room, was an old aircraft propeller, pretending to be a fan. Maybe it was a fan.
Meg’s eyes tracked across the kitchen to the wall that the stairs were set against. It contained what seemed to be electrical boxes, like old fuses boxes, of all shapes and sizes, and colours.
“You didn’t get very far…” noted Kirstin as she sloped back down the stairs, looking entirely more comfortable.
She idly flipped a switch on a large old panel at the base of the stairs, enjoying the clunk of the lever and instantly bringing all the standing lamps scattered around the space to life.
Meg laughed, “Now that’s impressive!”
“Yeh, I had them all wired to the main circuit so I didn’t have to turn them all on individually,” she said carefully adjusting the brightness down a touch with the dimmer switch. “It was becoming a little tedious.”
“Do they all contain switches that do stuff?” Meg nodded to the other couple of dozen boxes all hanging from the very same wall.
“Ah, no, not all of them,” she flipped open one of the larger boxes, a scruffy blue one, which lit up yellow from the inside as she did so, revealing glass shelves with old tin toys in it, from what Meg could make out.
Meg took another breath. “This could quite quickly become the coolest home I ever saw…” she smiled to Kirstin who grinned back.
“I’m glad you like it,” she answered moving over to open another fuse box, “I put a lot of time into it,” she said flicking another switch and putting an end to Meg’s speculation regarding the propeller fans as a light breeze fluttered over them both.
Meg just shook her head in pure disbelief.
“Where in the heck did you find time to create all this?” she mused.
Kirstin ignored what she considered to be a rhetorical question. “You hungry?”
“Yes, I do believe I am…”
“Ok, first thing’s first,” Kirstin said, striding over to the kitchen counter and picking up the bags she had deposited earlier.
She turned to make her way over to the long dark velvet curtains situated to the left of Meg. Pulling them open she revealing a smaller room with huge, curved patio doors at the other end. Here the walls were covered in records.
“I wondered where you were hiding them all!” Meg exclaimed.
“Yeh, I loosely term this my office,” Kirstin said indicating the desk and chair with a laptop and other electrical bits on it. “How bout we open some wine, play some records and then think about food?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Serve and swing
The kitchen was steaming and filled with wonderful smells that Kirstin couldn’t imagine her utensils ever being involved in making. In fact she had come across a few utensils she hadn’t even known she possessed.
“Everything here is too damn clean…” Meg jeered as she reached for another crisp metal saucepan from the hanging rack above her.
Meg had insisted that she cook, and Kirstin, though a little surprised, wasn’t about to stop her.
She took another guilty gulp of red wine and leaned on the counter from the living room side, watching Meg make a mockery of anything she had ever attempted to cook in her life.
Though she had gathered and thrown out six pots of various types of takeout from her large fridge in the larder room when they’d gone to see what food she had in, Kirstin still knew how to stock a cold-room. Her mother had taught her well. It had confused Meg somewhat to find she had so much food in and yet never seemed to cook it.
They were listening to a large array of old records having earlier stacked up a selection on one of Kirstin’s old players. “Little red corvette” was the next track to be piped through the house on the considerable collection of ever-varied speakers in each room. Kirstin leapt up to half-dance.
Meg tossed the onions that were lightly frying in front of her with an expert flick of the wrist, before wiping her hands on the cloth she’d thrown over one shoulder. The brown sugar sent a sweet aroma upward, which was promptly wafted around the room by airplane power.
She leant back on the steel unit behind her and grabbed her own glass of wine to lazily, and somewhat amusedly, observe the show Kirstin was affording her.
Kirstin was also half singing words to the song with her eyes shut. Sensing a lack of kitchen movement she slowed, peeping open an eye and then smiling openly back at Meg.
“I’m not drunk,” Kirstin disagreed through her smile, “I’m happy.”
And Meg could feel it. Kirstin directed those warm hazel eyes her way and a little bit of her melted. She held her gaze and nodded slowly.
Kirstin filled the gap that Meg had left, feeling the need to substantiate her declaration.
“I have a great bottle of wine on the go,” she said holding up the glass that contained a not inexpensive full-bodied red, “new music to dance to,” she waved the wine glass carefully to the ether, “and someone in my kitchen cooking me food that smells out of this world…” she breathed briefly before adding, “Someone who also happens to be fantastic company…” she raised her glass to Meg and smiled again.
Another bit of Meg melted. She wasn’t sure where, but she felt it. It sent a small shiver down her spine.
“Ok, maybe I’m a li-ttle tipsy!” Kirstin conceded with a half laugh.
“No. Don’t you dare take that back!” Meg cautioned her gently, “I like being in that picture,” Meg returned with equal candour.
Kirstin gulped nervously. She wasn’t used to sharing her life with many people, much less sharing her house, but it had been easy with Meg. Meg of all people. She found it very hard to allow memories of the gangly, gruff, bully that she had been back in Buffalo, sit beside the image of the woman she had standing in her kitchen right now.
Meg ran a slightly shaky hand through her mop of hair.
This is just as strange for her, Kirstin found herself realising as the blue eyes staring back tried hard to hold her gaze.
“What are those pulley things for?” Meg broke off suddenly and pointed up to a series of cords with metal like handles that were suspended securely from the wooden ceiling.
They seemed to be in a regular pattern spattered around the main room, but they were hung too high for even Meg to be able to reach.
Kirstin accepted the change in rhythm and grinned.
“They’re not pulleys…” she said putting down her wine and kicking off the sandals she had on.
She jumped up onto one of the sofas and carefully balanced on the back of it. Taking a moment to judge the distance safely she leapt onto a bar that was positioned in front of her, hanging from it by her hands.
“Holy shit!” cried Meg.
From her position Kirstin swung a hand out for the first hooped handle, and it suddenly became clear to Meg what their use was.
“You have a fucking playground set up in here…” Meg laughed as she watched Kirstin effortlessly swing from ring to ring across the room in what was undoubtedly a well-practiced routine.
“Most under-utilised part of any house Meg…” Kirstin breathed through the exertion of each swing.
“What are you, some sort of gymnast in your spare time??”
Kirstin looked at her while allowing her current swing to slow. She had a ring in each hand. The rings Kirstin currently had a hold of were a little larger than the others, and were coloured red, Meg noted.
“I wish,” said Kirstin swinging and attempting a full handstand, something she’d been working on for the last few months before the start of the tour.
Yet again she could only hold it for a few seconds before giving in to her lack of balance and coming full circle to dismount on the squashy brown matt Meg had just noticed beneath her.
She blew out a frustrated breath.
“I’ll make that one day…” she remarked, shrugging lightly, looking upward hopefully.
“Looked pretty good from here,” Meg admired, despite herself.
“Thanks. After dinner maybe I’ll get you on the climbing wall…”
Oh, that’s what they are…
“That was amazing.” Kirstin exclaimed falling back on the sofa she was sat on.
Meg did the same on the sofa opposite her.
“You have a few surprises of your own, don’t you?”
“Are you referring to my cooking abilities, or the art of my conversation?” Meg bantered.
They had been discussing the various merits of a vast array of comic book characters after Meg had discovered Kirstin’s papered hallway of graphic novels on the way to the bathroom; ceiling to floor of almost every superhero, or graphic tale she could think of.
“The foooood…” Kirstin rolled her eyes, rubbing her belly with a smile of satisfaction. “The kitchen suits you…”
Meg raised an eyebrow.
“Thank you,” she slurred.
“You can come and cook for me anytime you want… did your mum teach you?”
Meg laughed, “Are you kidding, my dad used to cook in our house!”
“Yeh, but I didn’t really pay much attention to anything he told me about food until I went to college and had to fend for myself, on very little money. Considering how much you seem to enjoy your food I’m surprised you hardly use your kitchen?”
“Ah, yeh… I suppose I might have made more of an effort in the food department if I didn’t collect a multitude of friends who are good at cooking…”
Kirstin cocked her jaw feeling suddenly a little embarrassed.
“Um… yeh, I seem to manage pretty well for being fed. So you should watch it,” she warned, “I’m a sucker for a good cook. Offer me a decent meal and I’m anyone’s!” she laughed.
Meg felt her cheeks redden a little, the beginning of the second blush of the evening so far, or maybe that made it three?
It was something that didn’t bypass Kirstin.
“I didn’t mean…” she stuttered, “what I meant was, that now I know how well you can cook, don’t be surprised if I invite you over and the larder happens to be well stocked,” she winked.
“You provide the music and the wine, and the swinging entertainment, and I think that’s a pretty fair deal…” Meg answered, regaining her composure. “Superman!” she smiled, shaking the word out of her mouth suddenly, in excitement.
“Ah… yes!” Kirstin smiled.
“You don’t have Superman…” Meg trailed off.
“Nah, cos he’s way too obvious…”
Meg had been trying to think of a comic book that Kirstin didn’t have pasted up on the long length of corridor on the first floor landing.
“That’s why I didn’t consider it… I was thinking all ‘Suicide Club’ side of unlikely…”
“The weirder they are the more likely I am to have it up there somewhere…”
“Have you read them all?”
“Nooo… I’m far too superficial to care whether they have decent plotlines… I’m all about the artwork and the heroes… I mean there are some that I do read, but not the ones pasted on the wall.”
Kirstin drained her glass and pulled the empty plate sat in front of Meg across to settle on her own, which was spotless, before taking them over to the kitchen.
Meg watched Kirstin as she moved, through what were rapidly becoming drink-enhanced eyes.
“What time is it?” she asked Meg, disrupting any thoughts that might have started to develop.
“Uh… half ten?”
“Okay, well, we should probably leave all this and head out if you wanna catch the show…”
While Meg had been putting the finishing touches to her creation in the kitchen it had been Kirstin’s job to seek out their evening entertainment.
The options had been narrowed down by the minute as heading back onto the main island in time for anything interesting seemed more and more unlikely, and they didn’t want to be rushed. Meg had expressed an interest in seeing some local places, and a random googling for good music and beer had brought up a band name that Meg recognised.
“Where are they playing?” Meg had asked through the steam.
It was a band that would be supporting Grapple on some of the European tour dates.
“Is that nearby?”
“It’s only round the frikkin corner!” Kirstin had laughed. “You’re not too musack-ed out?”
“Nah, I can cope with them, they’re great. Are you?”
“I’m better than great…” Kirstin had joked, purposely not looking up to see what was to be the first blush of the evening from Meg. She had then smiled to herself before correcting her answer, “Sorry, no, I think can deal with a night of music that I actually get to drink and dance along to…”
Southpaw it was then. And with less than a ten-minute walk they could afford to be fashionably late.
Catching a show
As they made their way out into a now darkened street Meg followed Kirstin’s gentle shepherding across to the other side of the road, since she had no idea in which direction they were headed. As if answering Meg’s un-worded question Kirstin spoke.
“It’s just down the next street,” she pointed ahead of them.
“That’s ok, I like being herded…”
“You’ve never played herding before?”
“I don’t think I ever knew it had a name…” Kirstin said carefully, “but I’m clearly doing it right now, aren’t I?”
“Yeh. Non-contact herding. You’re pretty good actually. Subtle, but efficient.”
“So, wait, just let me clarify… Herding is where I try to ‘guide’ you in the street?”
“Very good little one…” Meg smiled.
“Okay, you’re going to have to cut that out, right there…” Kirstin shoved her at the reference to her height. “We can’t all be…” she looked at her sideways, “how tall are you anyways?”
“Hey, first off, you just broke the rules, this is NON-contact herding, remember? And secondly, I’m five foot nine, and to me, you’re little…”
Kirstin stopped in the street and turned to her, “I’m five-seven… I’m NOT short.”
Meg stopped alongside her, pursing her lips trying to smile, “Okay,” she nodded, “you’re not small…”
“I’m not!” Kirstin’s voice rose.
Kirstin looked at Meg, her eyes wide and her mouth hanging open slightly at Meg’s apparent mockery. They were less than a foot apart. Kirstin brought herself up to her full height and compared herself with Meg’s tall frame. Meg adjusted her stance to seemingly tower above her and smiled.
Maybe I’m not 5’7”, Kirstin shook her head.
Narrowing her eyes she looked up the alleged two-inch incline to meet the smug blue eyes that confronted her.
“I think you’d better teach me the rules of contact herding!” she sneered in response to Meg’s obvious attempt at humiliation.
Meg bit her bottom lip in interest, “Huh.”
“Or you’d better start thinking UP some rules!”
“I don’t really like rules…” Meg tried to act cool.
Kirstin moved closer to her.
“Okay, I can get down with that, no rules… I’ve got it.”
Her attitude was confrontational as she continued to close the gap between them causing Meg to fluster and step backward slightly.
Meg eyed her suspiciously noticing that Kirstin clearly enjoying her discomfort. She was not entirely sure what Kirstin was doing and stepped back again quickly as the other woman lightly began to lean forwards into her.
Then Kirstin’s aim became all too apparent as Meg wobbled for a second before promptly falling off the curb of the sidewalk.
Kirstin doubled up laughing.
Catching her breath again she scoffed, “Not quite so tall now, are ya?! Huh punk?!”
Having recovered from the brief shock of falling backward Meg stood in the street allowing a shamefaced smile steal its way onto her lips. Bowing her head slightly she pouted a little before not so gracefully shrugging off the comment.
“Shut up!” she said, climbing back up the curb.
“You should have seen the look on your face,” Kirstin giggled at her, eyes sparkling from tears of laughter.
“We’re gonna miss the band…” Meg obviously tried to divert her.
“Oh, oh… yeh…” Kirstin teased between breaths, “Now were concerned about missing the band,” she said taking hold of Meg’s arm and leading the way again, “now that Meg’s being laughed at…” she leaned into Meg again, almost causing her to slip of the pavement for a second time.
“Hey,” Meg squeaked. “Watch it, goofy!”
They both laughed as they fell into a natural stride, side by side.
Southpaw was packed. There was still a queue down the street, and it hadn’t really occurred to either of them that they might not be able to get in. Luckily the kind of crowd that was in tonight was the kind Meg couldn’t help but go recognised in.
The people in the queue allowed them to pass by without question. Kirstin heard a few people whispering as they went by. Having spent nearly all day with her, this was the first time she had been reminded that Meg was actually a well-known face. She was in fact more than just well-known on this scene.
In a way Kirstin was a little saddened by it. All day they had been in a non-tour bubble, getting to know each other a little better. Now she’d have to share. She stopped herself from lingering too much on the thought. Content with a short sulk.
Meg made a bee-line for the door girl in order to call in a favour with the bands singer, whom she apparently knew.
“Come on…” she smiled twisting back to see Kirstin frowning at the line of people they were passing. She reached back and grabbed her hand.
Kirstin looked at her, accepting the contact easily, and the gentle tug that followed.
They were intercepted at the cash register by a tall gangly looking, longhaired guy coming back from the toilet. Kirstin thought he looked like a bass player. And indeed he was.
“Heeeeyyyyy… Meg! I didn’t know you were in town?!” He breezed jovially.
“Oh hey, Dr Bass! Um, I’m not… well I mean I am, but it was unexpected…”
“You sticking round for the show?”
“That’s the only reason we came…”
“Excellent!” he sneered rather like Mr Burns. “We’re just hanging around out front. Come - join usssss!” he beamed at her.
Kirstin couldn’t help but notice his rather northern English accent.
They both accepted the invitation and Meg looked at the girl on the door as they passed, “Uh, you guys don’t need to pay…” she winked as they were both ushered through into the main band room.
There’s that look again, thought Kirstin. I wonder if she ever gets tired of it? Being lusted after by strangers. She laughed out loud.
“What?” Meg quizzed.
Kirstin hadn’t realised she’d been so vocal.
“Ah, I was just wondering how it must feel to have every girl in the vicinity give you the eye…” she answered honestly.
“Not every girl gives me the eye…”
Meg just shook her head. “Some of them are straight…” she waggled her eyes at Kirstin jokingly, who cringed a little internally.
Is she referring to me, or being arrogant? Kirstin wondered.
Before she had time to think of a witty coming-out line combined with a neat put-down, something along the lines of; “Well even if I were straight… I…” no that’s not right… her thoughts were interrupted.
“I should hope so! Or I’d never get a look in!” said the man known as Bass.
“Dr Bass, this is Kirstin, Kirstin - Dr Bass…”
They were squeezing through a large crowd, heading toward the rather colourful bar. The noise level had risen quite considerably. Kirstin thought better than to question why the tall man ahead of her didn’t seem to have a real name. So she just smiled and nodded.
“Hi!” he smiled back, shooting Meg an eye-widening look that meant he thought she was a hottie.
Thankfully Kirstin had missed it. Meg shook her head at him sharply, clearly indicating that she was out of bounds. He pouted briefly before continuing on his mission.
“Voila. Ladies, this is the bar… the others are over there,” he pointed vaguely to some people a few feet away.
Meg looked over, but Kirstin couldn’t see through the crowd, there was barely space to turn and she didn’t even know what she was looking for.
“Now, what can I get ya?”
Kirstin had been introduced to the members of the evening’s headlining band, who we’re also in the middle of their own tour. Since she and Meg were so late in getting to the venue however, the band only had time to hang around for a short while before having to go backstage to get ready. Kirstin was a little grateful for the fact because although the band, and their apparent entourage, seemed very nice, the shots Meg had insisted they both down we’re beginning to kick in.
Having commended Meg’s taste in music, and despite the fact that neither of them had wanted to miss any of the show, needs had be met. This was their second joint trip down the stairs.
“I can’t believe I need the toilet again…”
Kirstin was holding the curtain of the toilet cubicle shut and keeping a look out. She decided to think of the toilet ‘curtains’ as cute, rather than weird.
“Well, you know we’ve drunk quite a lot between us…”
“Mmm… yeh, I’m feeling it…” Meg reached through the curtain having finished, “You need to go?” she asked Kirstin.
“Ah sure, why not, since we’re here…”
The bathroom was essentially an open plan floor split into girls and boys. It was even darker downstairs than it was upstairs. She squeezed past her as they exchanged places, leaving Meg to hold the curtain shut.
On the other side of the curtain Kirstin could hear some people start talking to Meg. She only heard snippets, but she got the gist.
The first voice was nervous and shy.
“…I just wanted to say I really like your band…”
The second was chirpy and loud.
“…will you sign this for me?”
Kirstin could hear Meg squirming a little.
The last voice was low and sultry.
“…are you here alone?”
She didn’t catch Meg’s response to the last comment, she was too busy hitching up her jeans in an effort to sneak a peek at the sycophants.
“What’s happening out here?” Kirstin asked pulling the curtain back as nonchalantly as she could manage.
“Hey…” Meg looked apologetic, her eyes pleading.
Four or five girls and a couple of guys had surrounded her. The girl who Kirstin assumed was responsible for the last line looked Kirstin up and down slowly, a smile edging at her lips. She was dark and broody, much like her voice.
Kirstin also noted that she was one of a couple of the girls that had been hanging at Meg’s heels all night, just looking for a way to talk to her.
Kirstin cocked her head in an aggressive manner. She didn’t like being sized up, least of all by someone hitting on Meg. She was insulted, though not entirely sure why, and decided to play up to it.
Meg noticed the exchange between the two women, and tried to think of something to say, but she quickly found the situation turned around.
“You signing stuff again?” Kirstin smiled sweetly, slipping an arm around Meg’s waist.
It took a moment for Meg to realise what Kirstin was doing. She looked at her for a second watching Kirstin avert her eyes to direct them firmly at the dark, broody girl, looking back at her. Kirstin allowed her smile to stiffen in warning. The girl got the message and sniffed, turning her head away.
Huh. Pathetic, Kirstin scoffed internally.
“Uh. Yeh, sorry…” Meg answered her, a giggle making its half way out, “I think we’re done…”
“No, no, that’s okay, you stick around, I’m just gonna go wash my hands…” she removed her arm and began to turn in order to head off.
Meg’s face was the picture of confusion as her heroine suddenly threw her back to the hounds.
Kirstin suppressed her own laughter as Meg frowned and flustered.
“Uh, no…” she rushed. “No, I need to do that too…” she edged away from the group and sidled closer to Kirstin, reaching for her.
“Oh, okay…” Kirstin smiled innocently.
“Sorry guys, have a good night yeh?” Meg said to the gathering.
They all seemed fine about it apart from the now even darker, more broody one.
Kirstin purposely ignored the girl’s glare as Meg followed her through to the sink area.
“I can’t believe you were going to leave me there…” Meg hissed, shoving Kirstin as they neared the basins.
Kirstin finally laughed out loud.
“Why? You’re a big girl… plus, I thought I should give you the option… I mean she looked pretty up for it…”
Meg let the water run over her hands as she watched her in the mirror.
“You’re evil…” she drawled.
“Ah…” Kirstin smiled, “a little maybe…”
Without thinking Meg playfully flicked water at her.
“Hey! Now come on…”
That only spurred Meg to do it again.
“Oi… You’re such a kid,” Kirstin winced, water drops hitting her face as she was washing her hands.
“Exactly! I’m not grown up, and I can’t look after myself, so you were mean leaving me back there…”
Kirstin’s grin worried Meg somewhat. It was the kind of grin that would accompany some sort of well-executed plot.
And here it came; she was totally unprepared as Kirstin threw the water she’d been allowing to fill her cupped hands.
Meg stood there, still, her face dripping, her shirt looking patchy, her eyes rapidly narrowing.
“Ok, now that was uncalled for…”
A couple of girls that had also been washing their hands stood back from them, laughing, but not willing to be caught in the crossfire.
Meg calmly moved back over to one of the sinks and turned the tap back on.
Kirstin was anxious, but she wasn’t ready for the perfectly judged spray of water that was directed at her by Meg’s finger neatly plugging the tap.
“Fuck!” she yelled, not moving quickly enough to avoid the current.
Meg snickered. Kirstin pulled the wet hair from her eyes and shook some of the water from her face. She looked at Meg with a glint in her eye.
“You are so dead…”
The water fight that ensued gathered a few bystanders and left them both soaking wet.
Kirstin raised her hands, admitting defeat, having been chased around the venue numerous times and eventually being cornered by Meg brandishing bottle of water that had been sneakily passed to her.
Meg creased up with laughter as she looked at Kirstin’s sorry state.
“Okay, okay, truce… yeh?”
Kirstin nodded, “Yeh…” she breathed, “…and I don’t know why you’re laughing…” she pointed at Meg’s similarly bedraggled condition.
“Oh, yeh…” she put down the bottle and reached down to give Kirstin a hand up.
“I don’t think that was entirely fair…” she muttered accepting the offered hand, “You had help…”
Meg just smiled at her.
Their fight had made its way quickly back up the stairs to the main venue where they had ripped through the crowd to the amusement of the band on stage.
The band had quickly identified the culprit and freely embarrassed her, giving Kirstin a little time to stock up on liquids. One of the bar maids had also thrown her a couple of bottles for good measure.
Now, however, they had to go back into the main area and face whatever music they had coming. Surprisingly no-one had thrown them out yet.
They headed to the back of the lower level crowd, to hide. The band were still playing and the pair of them agreed in silence to stand in the only available pocket of space.
Kirstin could still feel the eyes that were on them, and was mildly embarrassed. Her t-shirt was dripping on the floor despite attempts to wring it out. Yet she was too drunk to really allow herself to care. Thankfully the venue was very low-lit anyway, so she could ignore most of the attention she and Meg were getting. Well, the attention mostly Meg was getting, she corrected herself.
As the next song ended Meg whooped out loud and shouted, “You’re my whore! You’re my whore!”
“And you’re my whore!” the singer smirked at her through the applause. “Nice to see you made it back, have fun?”
Meg smiled and repeated herself, “You’re-my-whore! You’re-my-whore!”
Kirstin was confused, but it began to make sense as Meg continued chanting and other members of the audience joined in.
“You’re-my-whore! You’re-my-whore! You’re-my-whore!”
The singer pulled a face.
“I fucking hate you Miss Rogers…” she spat good-naturedly over the mantra.
The bass player smiled, “I think we should play it…” he murmured over his mic.
The singer looked at him, then turned to the drummer who was grinning, the crowd quietened a little, eagerly anticipating the outcome of the onstage discussion.
“FINE. Okay. You’re ALL my fucking whores!” she breezed.
The crowd went mad with cheering and the drummer kicked into a dirty drumbeat.
“I’ll get you back for this,” she looked at Meg.
Meg just smiled all the more.
“I liked them. A lot.” Kirstin said as they made their way back down the road to her apartment.
The evening air was doing a good job in drying out the last of their water fight.
“Well good, cos you’re gonna see a lot more of them.”
Grapple had made a conscious decision not to have a permanent support band through the American tour. They had wanted to give the slots to local bands from whichever city they were playing in, but they knew this band pretty well and had scheduled a few dates with them.
“I can’t believe we’re both still standing…”
Meg giggled, “Me either.”
The world was swaying just a little.
It was way past two a.m. and they had been drinking for at least twelve hours. It wasn’t something Kirstin was exactly used to.
Kirstin pulled a mournful face, which was broken by a further hiccup.
“Where can I get a cab round here?” Meg asked.
It caught Kirstin by surprise. She had just assumed given their alcohol intake, and the time, that Meg would crash over.
“Oh, hey… you can stay over, a cab at this time’s gonna cost a shit-load…”
They rounded the corner that lead up to the stairs of Kirstin’s block.
Meg was sorely tempted, but something in her told her she ought to go back to her hotel. Something that felt a little bit like fear.
“Hey, like you said, I don’t really need to worry about money, least not at the moment…”
In fact that something was telling Meg she should leave as soon as she possibly could. There was a strange kind of tension that had seemed to be building between them on the short walk back.
Kirstin looked a little disappointed, but she said, “okay,” very lightly.
The last two Sambucas were blurring her thoughts. As it turned out she had little chance to argue since heading down the road toward them was a big yellow taxi with its light clearly blazing.
Meg felt thankful that the decision was taken from her as she raised her arm to flag it down.
They both halted on the sidewalk, standing there, a little awkward. It was odd Kirstin remembered thinking later, because they had been so comfortable all day.
Meg avoided looking at her, willing the cab to stop, relieved when it eventually did. She turned to Kirstin to say goodbye, and thanks, or something like that, she was unsure, but instead found herself suddenly speechless as Kirstin’s face beamed back at her brightly.
“Do I get a hug?” she asked her, drunkenly squinting through one bashful eye.
Meg kicked herself.
“Sure,” she nodded gently. “Of course you do,” she said returning the warm squeeze that the filmmaker lavished on her, allowing herself for a misguided second to inhale more deeply than she intended.
“Hey, don’t you want your records?” Kirstin remarked pulling back quickly and pointing up to her apartment.
Meg relinquished the smaller woman’s embrace as quickly as she’d accepted it.
“You know, maybe you should hold on to them for me?”
“Okay,” Kirstin agreed, “I can do that.”
“Right, well. I had a lot of fun today, tonight, whatever…”
“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Yep. And the day after that, and the one after that…” Kirstin laughed easily.
That thought made Meg happy. Giving a brief nod she turned, climbing into the cab and holding a hand up as it pulled away.
Kirstin watched the yellow light blink off as the car headed down the street. Somehow she felt oddly cheated.
Having climbed the stairs Kirstin entered her apartment and immediately began peeling off damp clothes. She got it into her head that rather than make her normal way to bed she’d give the climbing route a go, half naked.
Meg liked my climbing wall, she thought as she reached easily up the first few handholds.
The wall ran alongside the staircase enabling the climber to get off at any point. It was a good job because Kirstin quickly dismissed the idea as a bad one when she failed to make the third foothold.
There was a time and a place for everything, she conceded.
Not tonight Kirstin, not tonight.
The hole is closed - CBGB’s?
The next evening it was Grapple’s turn to wow New York City. And wow they did.
Although the gig had already been sold out since the day the tickets had gone on sale, the touts were rife. It almost made Kirstin mad. Grapple didn’t charge much for their tickets as it was, Jess was very opinionated about how much people should pay to see them, and she’d be pretty pissed to hear the price that some of their tickets had gone for outside the venue. Kirstin suspected that the Tuesday’s TV slot had created an even larger furore than usual.
The gig itself was blazing, people were screaming, fainting, it was almost unreal. Kirstin had seen over the first leg of the tour that the band always got the crowd onside, but there was something in the air tonight that had propelled their performance beyond the usual theatrics.
Jess had thrown a few things at Ben as per usual, but she’d also grabbed a guy from out of the audience and made out with him onstage. Meanwhile Ben, who had been guzzling liquor from many a bottle, set off on his own bass solo as Meg contributed more on stage banter than Kirstin had ever heard her make all tour. The crowd loved it.
And that was only after the fourth song in. From there on it got worse, or better, depending upon how you looked at it.
By the end of the show the audience was roaring for more. They had slipped over their scheduled slot by a full forty-five minutes, and the license for live music in the venue was more than up.
The venue manager had told them they couldn’t go back on. Problem was you didn’t tell Jess she couldn’t do something. You might ask her politely not to, but you certainly didn’t tell her she couldn’t.
Jess nodded at the greasy looking middle-aged guy currently standing backstage, full of self-importance.
She smiled amiably, and promptly strode back up onto the stage.
“What the fuck’s she doing?” he snarled, looking at the other two as if they were supposed to stop her.
Meg and Ben just looked at each other, not sure if they were expected to be as rebellious. But Jess didn’t seem to care if they were joining her or not. Meg just shrugged.
The guy turned to Josh who was on roaming camera and capturing every second.
“Do something!” he hissed.
Josh also shrugged.
“That’s not my job,” he said simply.
The man was getting more and more irate, he began making his way onto stage himself, not entirely sure what he was going to do. Fortunately for him, Jess was a whole lot cleverer than he gave her credit for. He stopped in his tracks when he heard what she was saying.
The crowd had been whooping loudly as she’d made her way back on stage, and there was a hush as she reached the microphone.
“Hey, hey… ok,” she growled into the mic, cutting through the sudden silence, “I’m sorry you guys, it seems were not allowed to make any more noise tonight…” there was an audible moan from the crowd. “It seems the venue can’t afford a later license…” she mocked. “So, I reckon we should all stop buying beer from here, to line their cowardly little pockets, and we should all go somewhere else, whaddya say?!” she shouted.
The crowd roared back at her. The manager’s face went white. Josh giggled. Meg smiled. Ben whistled.
“And you know what? We’ll come back to NYC and play a better venue, and everyone who came tonight can get in for free…”
The crowd went wilder.
Al Riley, who was sitting in the live truck outside with Kirstin, spat his bourbon all over the monitor.
That was how they’d ended up here, in another club, with the majority of the audience. Though Al had cursed his beloved Jesse, he could pull a few strings at a moments notice. And with a crowd that size about to turn, he didn’t really have a choice.
Meg shook her head. It had been one hell of an evening, non-stop since they’d entered the venue. Three interviews, a couple of promo shoots, the gig, and now this. She was totally hyped, but somehow felt a little frustrated.
Nothing seemed to be cutting it. She was pensive. The place was cool, the people were cooler, they were the stars of the evening, but she felt something was missing. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but for the first time all tour, just being wasn’t enough.
Meg wasn’t usually the kind that particularly relished the attention she got, but she certainly did get a lot. She had her own way of coping with it. More often than not she would slink away into the shadows of the bars and clubs that most of the after show events were held in. On occasion however, she would do what Jess termed as ‘prowl’.
“I’ve been trying to figure out what’s gotten into you the last couple of days, and I just got it. You’re horny. Look at you!”
Meg stopped drinking and thought about it.
“Ya-ha! You’ve got them dark brooding eyes going, I can always tell…”
Jess flicked open her zippo and lit the cigarette she’d been fingering. The light from the flame illuminated her face momentarily before being snapped back out again.
“You can’t smoke here…”
“Sure I can sweetie… take a proper look around, if they can, then ah sure as Hell can!” The drunker Jess got, the more her slight southern twang sang out.
Sure enough Meg began to notice other people blowing smoke here and there, even the DJ.
Jess smiled at her as she caught Meg’s eyes lingering on a girl who was stood to one side of the dance floor. The girl was staring right back at her.
“She’s cute…” Meg didn’t respond. “Why don’t you go over?” Again silence. “From what I gather you’ve not been laid since, what, Salt Lake City?”
“You’re so brash Jess.”
Jess ignored her.
“Well if you don’t have her, I will…”
Meg turned to look at her, frowning, but Jess was already crossing the dance floor.
Meg and Jess had, on more than one occasion, made a sordid game of getting laid. Sometimes, when Jess was in the mood, targeting the same girl. Meg had even kissed boys, just for fun, or to prove a point. But she only slept with the girls.
Jess on the other hand was all over the world like a sexual rash. It didn’t matter to her; beauty and sex appeal were her only prerequisites. She had always been that way. People of all persuasions found her irresistible. It was the secret of her success. It was what kept their message boards rife with accusations and stories, which had definitely helped with their success as a band. Meg wouldn’t have her any other way.
Watching Jess stalk over to her selected prey in a manner Meg was all too familiar with, she felt the rush of competition wash over her, and with it, - yes, she’s right… again - the arousal of her senses with the familiarity of this deeply dangerous game.
Meg headed to the bar to gain a gift advantage over Jess.
“Hey, hustler…” it was Sally, the bands instrumental engineer, and Meg’s old college roommate.
“Wot-cha doing?” she sang at her.
“Me n Jess got ‘game-on’” Meg raised an eyebrow.
“You guys still do that?” Sally shook her head.
Meg saw the disapproval in her eyes, but old habits died hard. She could take that judgement. It was a relatively minor one.
“Jealous?” she asked jokingly.
“Noooo…” Sally elongated. “Looks like you lost,” she remarked, gesturing over to where Jess was now kissing the said girl.
Meg looked over. Fast work.
“That’s not the end of the game Sal, you should know better than that,” she scolded lightly, turning back to the bar to scoop up the three drinks she’d just bought. As she did so she caught a glimpse of Kirstin heading over in the mirror behind the bar.
Meg stopped suddenly, something pulling her back from her newly found mission. Then she saw Kirstin’s hand linked with Josh’s and dismissed to notion of loitering any longer.
Kirstin, yes - Josh, no.
She headed off toward the prey.
Kirstin spotted Sally at the bar and sidled over to her, dragging Josh with her, who in turn was dragging Suze, who was looking a little worse for wear.
She offered Sal a drink, despite noting the full glass in front of her.
“No, thank you… Good to see you out!” she remarked cheerfully.
Being the instrument engineer meant that Sally spent most of her time just off stage during shows, re-tuning guitars and basses. She made sure everything was ready in the event of a string-bust emergency, or if any of the band needed to change equipment during songs for any reason. All this meant that she had become familiar with a lot of the film crew, who also lurked back stage.
Kirstin raised her brow and laughed at the comment for all the wrong reasons.
She lazily leant into the bar and caught the barman’s eye.
As he shook around the various combinations of liquor and juice she’d ordered, she tried not to look too impressed. He was a handsome man, and very skilled, but she was sick of men flirting with her on this tour. She looked past him into the mirror staring into what she thought was the middle-distance, only to find a vision of Meg cutting into a kiss that Jess seemed to be sharing with some girl. She squinted. And then abruptly turned round in disbelief.
No? That’s not what just happened.
She looked at Sal who was also watching the quest in progress.
“Did I just see that right?” Kirstin asked her.
Sal leant a little further back on the edge of the bar, tucking long brown hair behind her ears, “Oh yep… she sure is slick, huh?”
“I thought Jess and Ben had a weird thing going on, but I didn’t realise Meg was in on it?”
“Oh, no, this is an entirely different version of fucked up events. They’re playing a game.”
“Seeing who the girl chooses…”
Just when Kirstin thought she had gained some sort of measure, the rule slid once again.
Jess had extracted herself from the situation and was heading their way, leaving Meg and the girl entangled.
“You gave up?!” Sal shouted to her over the music.
Jess swaggered mockingly.
“Nooo,” she answered as she neared them, “I was trying to get her laid…”
“Oh, God, you’re so perverted!” Sal laughed, slapping a hand to her forehead.
“Thanks!” Jess smiled, clearly pleased with herself.
Kirstin was nonplussed. She just shook her head at the notion and offered Jess a drink. Jess nodded and thanked her.
As Kirstin turned back to order again she caught another reflection.
Well this mirror certainly is revealing a lot of surprises tonight, some good, some bad.
She caught Suze watching Josh further down the bar with an intensity that made Kirstin’s heart fill up. If only he could see it, but he was too busy chatting to the beautiful woman who was fingering his golden locks.
Jealousy. Good. That’s a good sign. The first sign of many.
As she handed Jess her drink she caught the latter end of their conversation.
“Yeh, but what line did she use?” Sal was saying.
“Kissing girls is my job…” Jess imitated Meg.
Sally burst out laughing.
Kirstin looked confused and Jess clued her in as she accepted her drink with a smile.
“It’s the line Meg just used on that chick…”
“Yeh, I kinda worked that out…”
“Well, she has a heap of em, but most of them are better than that! I guess she thought she was an easy target…”
“Well she wasn’t wrong was she?” Sal pointed out.
“Agh… I was just giving her some incentive, I wasn’t really trying.”
“Shut up!” Sally half shouted.
“So, Miss Hart, I’m glad we’re seeing a whole lot more of you recently… How’s that guy that fell?”
Kirstin found herself having to drag her mind back to the present.
“Oh, Gerard? Well he won’t be rejoining us for a while, but I made sure he’s going to get a hefty payout.”
“Hey, that reminds me… you and I need to go do some pool hustling! You up for it??” Jess was suddenly very excited.
“Oh… they have tables here?”
“They have a whole room full of tables!” she grinned. “C’mon… Sal, you wanna join?”
“There gonna be a showdown? I hear you’re quite a player, Kirstin?”
Kirstin spared a quick glance over the dance floor to where Meg was now talking to the girl. She looked back at Sal.
“In the pool sense, I’m fucking shark,” she stated before turning back to Jess. “Show me the tables, I could do with kicking some ass.”
Jess whooped with glee.
“Excellent, gather the troops!”
The rest of the evening had been spent with Jess and Kirstin slowly gathering a major crowd round a pool table of illegal wagering.
Having duped a number of guys out of money, Jess had begun pimping Kirstin’s skills for double or quits, until eventually the men involved agreed they couldn’t afford to bet any higher; Jess had refused a car as collateral, offered by the guy with the big rings, on the basis that she couldn’t drive.
Kirstin was simply happy to revel in her newfound status. Every crew member was there cheering them on: Suze had perked up a bit, and seemed more than happy to be propped up by a now fully-attentive Josh; Sal had essentially become the drinks waitress for the pool lounge, which was, by that point, almost entirely focussed on Jess and Kirstin’s table; and Ben had made himself busy looking for the most testosterone-pumped guys, hoping they would take the bait. The only person missing was Meg.
Kirstin hadn’t actually spoken to Meg face to face since the evening before. She’d seen the whole night’s activities from the truck of course, but it wasn’t the same. She’d been looking forward to hanging out with her again but Meg clearly had other plans for the evening. Kirstin could hardly blame her for sloping off with the cute girl she’d seen her with earlier, no-one had mentioned it, but it was fair conclusion to come to. Yet Kirstin couldn’t deny she had been a little disappointed.
In the end she had gone home with $760 stuffed in her pocket, a smug grin, and a Josh and a Suze. Correction: A drunken Josh and a slightly soberer Suze. Actually, a besotted, drunken Josh and a Suze who, if Kirstin wasn’t mistaken, seemed to have the beginnings of a glint in her eye.
A Josh and Suze who had both done a very bad job of trying to hide the fact that they were each looking for an excuse not to go home separately.
It had almost been painful. And if it weren’t for the fact that Kirstin thought Suze needed to reach her own epiphany, and that Josh needed to be braver, and less drunk, then Kirstin would have just turned to them both and told them to go home together. As it was she offered them the neutral territory of her apartment, under the guise of continued drinking.
Her true intention of course was to flake out and leave them to it. But when she woke the next day she was greeted by a frowning Suze who had slept in the spare room, alone, and one hung over Josh who couldn’t remember being a perfect gentleman and electing to take the sofa.
Kirstin found it hard to contain her surprise and frustration, which only served to raise Suze’s brow.
“Josh slept down here?” she asked, padding down the stairs with Suze behind her.
“Oh… um… no reason…” she could feel Suze’s eyes behind her narrowing and boring into her. Josh was evidently in the shower. She changed the subject, “You want some eggs?”
“What does that mean?” Suze asked, following Kirstin over to the kitchen.
“It means: I’m hungry, and you’re worse a cook than me, so I’m actually considering cooking you some breakfast…”
Suze just stood there and crossed her arms sternly.
“You know what…”
Kirstin sighed. “Why didn’t you go home last night, Susan?”
If she had to play devil’s advocate, she would.
“I don’t know…” Suze breathed, sounding genuinely distressed about it.
Kirstin smiled kindly.
“Okay. So, eggs?”
Suze groaned heavily, “Mmm.”
She stood and watched Kirstin busying herself with breakfast things.
“I broke up with Kevin,” she blurted quickly.
Kirstin looked up and attempted to hide her elation by responding casually.
“Good, I never liked him. Did you tell Josh?”
“Why would I do that?” she asked defiantly, trying to bolster her own denial.
Kirstin cracked a couple of eggs and smiled at her again.
“Agh…” Suze moaned.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Good, cos I don’t really want to get involved…”
Suze frowned sadly. If it was reverse psychology, it had worked a treat. Unfortunately Kirstin really didn’t want to get involved.
It seemed to Kirstin she only knew one side of the story; Josh loved Suze. This was clear. He’d tried not to let it show, and he and Kirstin had never spoken about it in so many words, but she could tell. Suze couldn’t possibly not realise that he fancied her, but she probably had no idea quite how much he really liked her.
Similarly, it was clear to Kirstin that Suze really liked Josh, but she had no idea how much, and in any case Suze was fresh out of a rather tumultuous relationship, and apparently, a potential engagement.
She wanted them both to be happy, and she wouldn’t have a problem as their boss if they became a couple, but they were both her friends, and when friends got together loyalties were split. Kirstin wanted to make it clear from the start how things were going to be.
Suze nodded, “Sure, I understand.”
“As your boss, I have no opinion, Suze. What doesn’t interfere with work is no business of mine. But as your friend, talk to him.”
Kirstin’s voice was soft and kind, full of the love she clearly had for them both.
“Has he said something?”
Kirstin repeated herself more sternly, “Talk-to-him.”
“Is that a yes?” Suze pushed, a smile edging across her face.
Kirstin lowered her voice, not willing to play ball, “How do you want your eggs, Yankee?”
Kirstin had been glad to note that despite the conversation she and Suze had almost had earlier that morning, there was no strange atmosphere brewing between her two employees. Still content to let the issue resolve of its accord she had left them to it.
They were back on the bus again, headed to Montreal. Kirstin closed her eyes, trying to ignore the hum of the air conditioning unit above her. It rattled each time the driver switched lanes. It was only mildly irritating, but Kirstin didn’t have much hope of grabbing any sleep. She could head to the front of the bus and sit with everyone else, but they were being noisier than the machine above her. Plus she needed some timeout.
Though she had quite a lot of new footage to work through from the previous gig, as well as Tuesday’s TV slot, Kirstin, like the rest of the documentary crew up front, was far from feeling up to working en-route today.
Kate had offered to go back onto the band’s bus, which was now travelling just in front of them, to get some more journey footage, but Kirstin had told her to catch up on some rest instead.
It wasn’t an instruction that was entirely motivated by concern for Kate. If Kirstin was honest with herself she still had a little residual resentment from being passed over by Meg the night before. She didn’t think that watching footage later of Jess teasing Meg about her sexual exploits would help her humour any.
It was a silly thing she knew, and thoroughly unprofessional. But as she sat and thought about it in the chill of the bus, spread across the four back seats she had hijacked, Kirstin realised that she was not only disappointed that she hadn’t had chance to spend any time with Meg the day before, but also, and more importantly, she was disappointed to find that the behaviour Meg had displayed that evening had lowered Kirstin’s opinion of her.
That was it. Meg’s behaviour had displayed a kind of weakness in her, something that ate away at the new persona she had brought to light; the new Meg that Kirstin had decided was a wonderful, and exciting new person she wanted to know better. She could easily accept that kind of behaviour from Jess, or Ben, and would think no less of them, but from Meg it stung. Why was that?
What had she done? Kirstin assessed the facts: She’d played a game, she’d kissed a girl, she’d gotten laid. Most likely. But so what?
It wasn’t the first time on the tour that Kirstin had seen Meg go home with a random girl, and she was certain it wouldn’t be the last. So why was this time any different?
Meg didn’t owe Kirstin anything, she hadn’t promised to meet her, they hadn’t made any arrangements. Kirstin had just hoped to see her.
No. That isn’t right, she reprimanded herself. You expected to see her, and you just assumed she’d want the same.
She heard some words resonating somewhere in the back of her head, “I change my mind all the time, don’t count on any consistency from me…”
Kirstin snorted gently at herself. Who the hell did she think she was? She was judging Meg all over again. This was Meg’s life. This was who they all were. Wasn’t that what she’d told herself at the start of the tour? Travel with them, let them be who they are, let them tell their own story. Don’t try to steer things.
Sure she had gotten to know a side of Meg she had really grown to like, but deep down she was still the same Meg she had always been: A loner, a part-time friend, someone who abandoned a moment as quickly as she’d created it; Someone who left your life just as quickly as she’d entered it.
All Meg had done was be herself, and show Kirstin that sometimes she needed something, even if that thing was the thrill of the game, the buzz of the chase. Even if that game seemed a little depraved to Kirstin. It made her human, and Kirstin was shocked to suddenly realise that she found that disappointing.
All of her thoughts were beginning to make sense. She could accept Meg as human, it was a distinct step up from what she had thought of her when they were kids. She laughed again at herself, thankful she was far enough away from everyone for anyone to notice or care.
Opening her eyes slightly Kirstin was greeted by the sunshine that had been warming her face for most of the journey. She manoeuvred herself to lie horizontally along all four seats, her feet stretching in a vain attempt to reach the other side of the bus. She was glad the bus was so plush and comfy, it was really appreciated today.
Watching the distant view slowly changing for a moment, her head propped on a coach pillow, she noted they had already covered a good portion of the journey. The landscape changed for the better, she thought, the further north they travelled. Yet despite the wonderful vista her eyes had to gaze upon, her mind kept returning to the subject of Meg.
Something still niggled at her. Kirstin found herself struggling with the fact that she almost wanted Meg to be a bigger person, or better, or something… Now she was almost angry with her.
To have more morals?
Was that what she wanted? No, Jesus, Kirstin was hardly Miss Innocent. She frowned. She couldn’t judge her on that score. And yet she had to give in to the fact that she wished Meg hadn’t kissed that girl.
But it was more than that. It was more than accepting that Meg had chosen a nameless physical escapade that evening over nurturing a burgeoning new friendship with Kirstin. That had merely served as a lesson that she was now aberrantly sore from, but there was something more. It had something to do with Jess.
It wasn’t the fact that they played this sordid game, but… yes, the fact that Jess had let Meg win. This would seem like a competitive mind gone crazy, Kirstin realised, but in her head Jess had engineered the whole event because she had decided what it was that Meg should need, or want. And that actually bothered her.
Meg was rendered weak in Kirstin’s mind not because she had given in to a physical need, which was natural, and totally understandable, but because she had allowed Jess to manipulate her, and dictate who, and what, and where that need would be satiated.
Phew. Ok. Good. Well at least I know what’s bothering me.
At that precise moment Kirstin heard a very large bang and the tour bus swerved severely. She was thrown with force against what she assumed to be the window she had just been gazing through. From experience she expected the world to go black. But it didn’t.
Continued in Part 6
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