I stopped and looked at the two of them. Serena, who was tuning her guitar across the room from them, sat her guitar down, slid out of her seat and walked toward me. Her hips swayed as she walked, and she caught my eyes. She was an attractive girl—long, flowing black hair, milk chocolate skin and a body that just wouldn’t quit. When we performed, she wore heavy mascara, black leather, spike heel boots, and usually a camisole or tank top that highlighted the tattoo that rose from between her breasts. Another small tattoo above her eyebrow depicted a small butterfly. When we weren’t doing a show, she leaned toward loose flowered dresses and flip-flops.
“How long have they been going on like this?” I asked.
She frowned. “All afternoon. I’m going out of my mind.”
“Sometimes I think all of us living together is a bad frickin’ idea.”
“You’re just realizing this now?”
I shrugged. Her words always had double meanings, and I was sure this did too. She’d been hinting at wanting to be more than friends and band-mates for a year. I wasn’t interested. It’s not that she wasn’t a wonderful girl and a good friend. It’s that I didn’t want to lose one of my only friends. Not to mention, risk blowing the band up just as we were starting to get some traction.
“Guys!” I shouted.
They looked up for all of about a quarter second, and then Mark started bitching again.
“Guys!” I shouted again. “Knock it off. We aren’t going to resolve this argument today. We’ve got a show to get ready for.”
“What?” Mark said. “When?”
Pathin shook his head in disgust. “If you hadn’t been drunk the other night, you’d know, asshole,” he said.
Serena sighed. “Friday night,” she said. “Metro in Cambridge.”
“Crap, I hate that place,” Mark said. “The acoustics suck.”
“They pay well,” Pathin replied.
“I know, I know…” Mark said. He looked at Pathin and said in a mocking voice, “We have to pay the rent. Whatever.”
“Will you two just shut up for five minutes?” Serena demanded. “We’ve got work to do.”
I muttered a curse, collapsing into a ratty couch we’d picked up off the side of the road a year before.
“What’s your problem?” Serena said.
I shook my head and rubbed my hand across my temples. “Just tired, it’s been a long day.”
“Well, it’s time to man up. We’ve got a show to get ready for. Half the reason these two won’t stop bickering is we were waiting for you.”
I loved these guys sometimes. Emphasis on sometimes.
I got up, broke out the guitar, and started tuning it up, ignoring the quieter than before bickering between Mark and Pathin. Finally finished, I cranked up the amp, ran a couple of scales, and said, “I want you guys to hear something. It’s a little different.”
Serena looked up, and Mark and Pathin turned toward me. “Go for it,” Serena said.
So I started playing. Actually, it was a lot different. I’d spent most of the drive up from Washington, DC, in the back of the van, playing with some licks, then wrote lyrics after getting home from my dad’s Sunday night. The sound was different—more compressed, somehow, than the stuff I usually wrote. Still plenty of grunge, but it had kind of a catchy beat. The lyrics…well, the song was about the girl I’d met in Washington. Julia.
I was about a third of the way, belting out the chorus, “Julia, where did you go?” and all three of them were staring at me, stunned expressions on their faces. I stopped right in the middle of a measure.
“What?” I asked.
“Don’t stop,” Serena said, waving her hands at me impatiently.
“Yeah, keep going,” Pathin said.
I looked back at them, feeling a little alarmed by their reaction, then backed up a few measures and picked up the song again.
When I finished, the warehouse was dead silent.
Finally, Pathin said, “That’s bloody brilliant.”
Serena nodded her head quickly, a huge smile on her face, eyes shining.
Mark said, “Frickin’ sell-out. It sounds like a pop song.”
Pathin shook his head. “No…it’s brilliant. That may be the best song Crank’s ever written.”
“Who the hell is Julia?” Serena asked.
A Song for Julia will be published December 15, 2012.