Copyright © 2009 A.Matheson. All Rights Reserved.
Feedback: good/bad/ugly, all welcome if constructive. Though flattery is sought.
by Antonia Matheson
Part Four: The first flight of fancy
July 8 - Flight to NYC
A mid-afternoon flight had suddenly turned into an evening flight, and this had made Kirstin increasingly nervous. The weather had grounded most of the planes, and it was Kirstin’s secret hope that they would be delayed until the next day. A night flight was the worst of all flights, a warm hotel room and room service seemed much more appealing. But here they were in the middle of a summer storm.
Just my bloody luck.
They were aimlessly wondering around the airport. Suze and Josh were trying, Kirstin could tell, to act as normally as possible but Kirstin almost lost it when Josh turned round for the um-teenth time to ask her if she was okay.
“You’re not frikkin’ helping Josh!” she shouted at him.
His face went bright red and she immediately wished she could take it back. He looked like he was going to cry.
Now look what you’ve done.
Josh suddenly flashed Kirstin a knowing look.
You wicked bastard, she thought.
“You’re bad…” he admonished with a tick of his finger. “You’re over tired too…”
Josh had been woken in the wee hours by Kirstin in need of a comedown aid, and had willingly obliged. He even rolled one for her and Meg to share.
“Shush! She’s like my mother,” Kirstin said referring to Suze who was walking just behind them, “I don’t need her telling me off right now.”
“Okay, okay, your secret’s safe. For now…”
“Fuck.” She sighed regretfully, “I’m sorry ok? But just when I forget where I am and what I’m about to do you ask if I’m ok and then I remember where I am and I realise, “No, I’m not ok”, and then it starts all over again.”
“I’m sorry, Kaye,” he shook his head almost mournfully.
“It’s okay. It’s not your damned fault I’m a nutcase!” she laughed. “C’mere,” Kirstin dragged him into hug. “Just don’t ask me that again ok?” she warned as she pulled away.
“I got it,” he replied through a goofy smile. “How bout I let you kick my ass at something by way of apology?”
“Let me? How bout I just kick your ass?” she responded good-naturedly, but then spotted the games arcade behind him. “Actually, you’re right, beating you emotionally would be way more satisfying!”
They both trotted off toward the flashing lights leaving Suze shaking her head. “I’ll be shopping if you want me,” she shouted after them. They waved her a half-hearted bye and continued on their way.
Suze rolled her eyes. “Kids.”
The airport was fairly busy due to all the delays, but that only made shopping more of a challenge for Suze who could spot a bargain at one hundred metres. She was sorry to have to admit that bargains were not often found in airports however, and since they were the most likely contenders for her time over the next few months she found herself slipping slowly into a retail coma hell. Ugh.
One of Kirstin’s favourite “I’ll kick your ass!” type arcade games was Time Crisis. It was a popular one of her generation, and the original was becoming increasingly hard to track down. Yet here it was.
Having spent a good few years at college perfecting her skills in the game, she had actually enrolled at the shooting range for a year or so with her dad, before deciding that guns should stay plastic. She was still a good shot however, even when the gun was plastic.
“I don’t know why I subject myself to this humiliation time after time,” Josh sighed as he noted he was on his last life. Kirstin smiled as she lined up to another target on the screen and let rip.
“How did you get to be so competitive?” he asked her as a bright red bullet headed his way cracking into the fake window of the computer screen and causing the game to thunder “Continue?”
He slung the gun back into its holster refusing to spend any more money on the futility of playing alongside Kirstin.
“This is a team game Joshua…”
“I know, and yet you still seem to win!”
“People who are good at games, like to play them…” she stated simply, not losing her focus on the screen. “And I resent the word ‘competitive’ because it seems to suggest I’m not a good loser. When in fact I rarely loose, so how would you even know?” she raised an eyebrow at his reflection in the glass of the game screen.
His ruffled blonde hair was only out-shone by the skinny-fit retro, lemon coloured t-shirt he was wearing. It was one that Kirstin coveted, but in three years she still hadn’t managed to coax him into giving it to her. He had flatly refused for it to be a competition prize on so many occasions Kirstin had lost count. The reason being, he knew he’d lose. And he was right.
Josh chuckled at her. “That’s very, very true,” he said shaking his head.
“The kinda people that say things like that are people who don’t play games because they’re not good at them. Or who pretend they don’t care if they loose because they are expecting to.”
She manoeuvred through the various levels with ease racking up points and bonuses along the way.
“The people I most respect are people like you Josh, who try to win, even when the odds are stacked against them. Now that’s competitive,” she smiled suppressing a giggle before shooting a fictional pixelated criminal between the eyes to get to the next round. She turned to look at him.
“So you think anti-competitive people are losers?” he laughed.
“No, I think anti-competitive people resent winners,” she corrected him, “and therefore are poor losers.”
Kirstin allowed the between-level storyline to unfold behind her, taking the opportunity to talk.
“I know you’re not a bad loser…” she teased. “And I don’t like to use competitive like it’s a dirty word. I’d rather loose a well-played game than win a poor one. Trust me.”
Her mind was cast back suddenly to an image of her oldest brother Danny pelting baseballs at her in the cage, tears dripping down her face. At the time she’d hated him, but a couple of weeks later the blonde little English girl that all the kids teased during school games had struck a home run to bring her team to victory. Her heart lurched causing Kirstin to shove the memory of his beaming face by the sideline to the back of her head for safekeeping.
Josh ran a hand through his shoulder length mane and scratched at the stubble he had let develop over the last couple of days. Kirstin smiled at him fondly. “It suits you,” she said, relieved that she was able to hold back the tears that had threatened.
“What does?” he asked, confused.
“The stubble thing you have going on,” she gestured, stepping forward to give his cheek a rub. “I think Suze likes it too…” she threw in, watching him blush.
“Did she say that to you?” he asked quietly.
“She doesn’t need to Josh,” she told him. He pulled half a version of his puppy-type face.
“Why don’t you just tell her?” Kirstin sighed.
“She’s not available,” he moaned, putting on a mock sulk.
“She’s still with Kevin?!”
Kirstin was shocked. It wasn’t often Kirstin had a strong negative reaction to someone, she usually either liked them or was indifferent, but Kevin was an exception. Kevin was what Kirstin would term as ‘a complete knob’.
“He asked her to marry him!” he said his facing growing sadder by the second.
“What?! When did this happen?”
“Before we came away.”
“Why wasn’t I notified?! Fuck…”
Kirstin breathed looking at him sympathetically.
“Aw shit Josh, I’m sorry.”
Putting the gun down she gave him a big hug before pulling back again in thought, “Did she say yes yet?” she asked him with interest.
“She said she told him she needed time to think…”
“Well that’s great!” she exclaimed, hitting him on the shoulder.
Josh looked at her.
“If she loved him what would there be to think about?” she pointed out.
“Oh, I don’t know Kirstin… life isn’t that simple.”
“Loife”, Kirstin mimicked his accent, causing him to smile, “is as simple as you choose to make it Josh,” she stated. “When you’re unsure of something you can create a million different reasons why to say no. Yet when you’re certain of something, even though those reasons still exist, they just seem to have less power; they feel like obstacles you can overcome. If the obstacles win, you don’t want it enough,” she finished seriously.
Josh looked at her, thankful for the small bit of hope she’d just instilled in him, even if he thought it might be misguided.
“You’re used to playing the underdog, remember?” she told him, motioning to the game behind them which by now, lacking Kirstin’s gun power, had run out of credits.
His eyes narrowed. “Yeh, I guess…”
Kirstin mumbled back his almost droll tone mockingly, “Euuh, ahh eghs,” she intoned wordlessly.
He rolled his eyes and took a breath. Just then she saw a familiar face behind him, headed their way.
“Hey Meg, you fancy a game?” she shouted over.
Meg had been on her way over when she realised that perhaps the pair were having a private moment, but Kirstin had caught her eye just as she was about to turn around, thinking she had gone unnoticed.
“Heyyy, sorry, am I interrupting?” she asked carefully.
Kirstin still had her arms unashamedly around Josh’s neck. It took her a moment to realise why that might be strange.
“Oh, no,” she said jovially pushing Josh away. “His pride keeps getting bruised is all…” she smiled brightly.
“I see… well, do you think you can handle some real competition?” Meg offered uncertainly. “Only I fell asleep for like one minute and everyone upped and left me!”
“I’d relish it!” beamed Kirstin. “Off you go now Josh, go find Suze ok?” She patted him like a puppy and he took the hint.
Meg smiled and took off the shades she’d been hiding behind in order to better view the arcade.
“Ooh, you look as bad as I feel…” Kirstin said looking up into the grey-blue eyes, noting they were tinged with a little red at the edges.
Meg narrowed the aforementioned eyes, “Thanks.”
“Do you drive?” asked Meg spotting a big Grand Prix game in the corner.
“Do I drive indeed!” Kirstin mocked, already headed for the game in question.
Slightly messy, wavy mahogany hair bounced around as Suze tried to subtly seek the origin of the shout, hoping she wasn’t the target.
“Suuu-zie Queue!” came the almost southern call again, moments before Suze discovered the actual source as it bounded into her.
“Look what I found?!” Jess grinned pulling Josh behind her. “I think this belongs to you?” she enunciated.
Ben snickered behind him. Josh frowned and shot a fist backward into his stomach, narrowly missing a lower target on the tall frame.
“Hey, dude…” he winced. “Mind the jewels ok?”
All three of them swung round to regard him.
“The what?!” his new Australian friend asked incredulously.
Ben just let out a low rumbling laugh and smiled coyly.
“Benjamin you’re SO crude…” Jess stated through half lidded eyes, “I love it!”
Josh bent round to lean into Suze’s ear, “I’ve been kidnapped…” he whispered, “save me?”
Jess had stretched up and thrown her arms around Ben. She smacked her lips against his. “You wanna fuck tonight?” she asked without any inflection, like she was asking if he needed a drink.
Suze’s eyes widened and she looked at Josh sweetly, “Sure I’ll save you,” she smiled fondly squeezing his arm lightly and shaking her head at the singer’s brashness.
Ben cocked his head for a second before answering Jess.
Jess noticed the conspiracy occurring behind her, “Stop plotting you two…” she turned to regard Josh and Suze, “I’m bored, you’re not sloping off together, okay?”
Suze sighed lightly. “There’s not a lot of entertainment to be had, trust me, I’ve been wondering around aimlessly for hours now.”
“I’ve got scrabble…” Ben offered.
Having spent a good couple of hours playing, Meg and Kirstin had accepted they were fairly evenly matched when it came to arcade games, though secretly they both conceded that Meg was a better fighter/dancer and Kirstin was a better shooter/driver.
Kirstin felt a little woozy from the 3d video-car roller-coaster ride Meg had insisted they get on. She was silently cursing herself for allowing Meg to drag her into the damn thing, knowing full well she would feel sick afterwards. But somehow she’d discovered she just couldn’t say no to the excited little grownup girl that pouted when she’d shook her head unwillingly.
Kirstin shot Meg a quick glare at the thought.
“C’mon, it was fun!” Meg shrugged, feeling a little guilty at the green tinge that had swept over the blond women’s face.
“I need to sit down,” Kirstin said dourly, rubbing her stomach a little.
“Okay. I’m sorry. Why’d you let me haul you onto it in the first place?” Meg hitched her head in the direction of one of the more comfortable looking cafés she’d spotted.
Kirstin silently nodded in agreement, and they both headed towards it.
“You didn’t give me much choice. It was the crappy graphics that did it. Almost as bad as the Odeon’s film intro nonsense…”
“Ha, yeh, it is a bit like that I guess. All eighties neon…”
As they neared the half-lit airport café Kirstin heard some familiar voices.
“Well, look what we found…”
Meg followed her eye-line to find Josh, Suze, Jess and Ben seated in a large round booth, being rather animated.
Back to reality, thought Meg.
“Hey you guys, mind if we join?”
Jess looked up, ”Hey crappers, how you doing?”
Kirstin’s brow furrowed. If this was her being accepted into the fold she wasn’t sure she was ready for it.
Meg jogged up to their table and leapt over the large bench seat with ease to settle down next to Jess who head butted her affectionately. She ruffled her patchy dyed hair fondly in response.
“Hey,” Meg said, acknowledging the rest of the table.
Even if Kirstin’s stomach hadn’t been reeling, she doubted she could manage to vault the round bench. She settled instead for walking relatively conservatively round the booth to the entrance on the other side.
“Hey guys,” she said, a little less enthusiastically as they all shuffled round to accommodate her.
“That’s not how you spell it!” Jess piped up noticing Ben take his turn.
“Sure it is!”
Kirstin cast her eye over the game that was currently in play, suddenly realising that not only were they actually playing scrabble, but that it was no normal game of scrabble. Her eyebrows hiked when she read the word Ben had placed down.
Jess laughed loudly, “It’s ghetto scrabble, Kaye…” she purred before cracking the gum she was chewing.
“Where in the Hell is my camera when I need it?” Kirstin sat back against the velvet upholstery and peeked a look at Suze’s hand of letters. She shook her head. “And who wudda thunk it?” she laughed at the rude knowledge her assistant showed.
Suze had the word “Minge” laid out and ready to go, with an ‘R’ at the end to open up the possibilities. Kirstin leaned over and re-arranged the letters R-I-M-space-I-N-G, and pointed at the available ‘M’ on the board.
Suze’s jaw dropped, “You are dirty!” She growled. “Thanks!”
Grinning, she patted Kirstin’s leg before revealing her word to the group, neatly taking a triple score in the process.
They all looked at Kirstin.
“Well ain’t you just full of surprises?” Jess piped up, a glint in her eye.
“Knowing the word doesn’t mean you participate…” Kirstin rolled her eyes.
“Aha,” Meg clucked reaching for Jess’s drink and taking a swig.
Kirstin’s eyes met hers.
“Yes,” she stated with no uncertainty.
Board the chunk of metal
The moment Kirstin had been dreading since the start of the tour had finally come. There was no escaping it.
“That’s our call guys,” Suze declared.
Most of the crew had gathered in the same area of the departure lounge and people began to get their stuff together.
“Do you think we can wait ‘til the rush has gone?” Kirstin asked quietly.
“Oh, sure. Sure, of course we can,” nodded Suze, “Whatever you want.”
Kirstin smiled a little sheepishly, “Thanks.”
She watched what seemed like two hundred people pile down the corridor toward their gate. All of them busy checking they had their documentation, most of them seemingly happy and excited, and the occasional few clearly disgruntled by the six-hour wait. It certainly had been a long time. But she was used to sitting around, waiting.
Suze was unaccustomed to seeing her boss so… vulnerable, she realised.
Kirstin was the doer, the person who made things happen, who got stuck in, who stood up to be counted. And yet here she was nervously fingering anything she came into contact with.
Suze and Kirstin had become very close in the four years they had worked together. Kirstin had insisted that she have her as her assistant when she took over at Idleworld. Even though Suze was a little older than her it had never been an issue because in Suze’s eyes Kirstin was the hardest working, most talented director and producer she had ever worked with. And she had worked for a lot of people. It was rare to find yourself working with someone whom you actually respected and liked.
And as far as personality had gone the two had clicked from the first day they’d met. In fact from the very first words Suze had heard Kirstin speak, she knew she was going to like this plucky young English woman. She had balls.
“You’re wrong Craig, I don’t mind telling you that. If you put her in the picture the audience will come, sure, but the reviewers will slate it. She’s wrong for the role and she can’t bloody well act! And I’m not going to sit back and let you ruin this fantastic script!”
“What the fuck are you going to do Kirstin?!” Craig had glared, “It’s my project and ultimately I choose.”
Kirstin’s voice had dropped an octave, “I’ll tell you what the fuck I’m going to do,” she had said, looking at the director evenly, “I’m going to call Hilary Macy and tell her that not only are you set on destroying your own career, as well as the writer’s, but you’re also intent on dragging down the reputation of her very select and well-renowned film company! And if she’s still happy to let you make all the decisions then I’ll tell her she needs to find herself another frikkin’ producer!”
“You wouldn’t dare…”
“Try me, arsehole.”
That had been Suze’s first week of secondment to Idleworld, which to her back then, was nothing more than a subsidiary of the company she worked for, Crater films. Kirstin was working as a freelancer with the company at the time, but within a year she had made the biggest leap of her life, and Craig had been blacklisted by the company.
Now that’s justice.
It was only later that Suze had learned Kirstin had been bluffing that day. But to her it didn’t matter whether she’d had any intention of quitting, just talking back to Craig Petty like that, who had a reputation for being a prick, was impressive enough.
The film in question had been shelved. But both she and Kirstin were resolute in bringing it back to the drawing board, just as soon as they could get the funding for what was now a controversial, if very good script.
In fact that was why they were sat here now wasn’t it? Because Kirstin had seen a way to put right what they had both conceded was a travesty.
Suze was one of the few people that truly understood why Kirstin had a problem with flying. She was also aware that Kirstin didn’t share the reason for her fear with very many people, and she had to respect that, even though she felt her blood boil when people taunted her for being a wimp.
They had left it as long as they could, the final call came and Kirstin agreed they should start making their way. She ditched the light reading she had bought to pass the time, knowing full well she’d not be able to relax enough to read during the flight, and followed Josh’s lead.
Kirstin was surprised at how at ease she felt as she joined them on the travelator. She worked on staying focussed on the fact that she HAD to get on the plane, she had no other viable options.
I can do this, no problem.
Then she saw it. As they turned the corner to face the entrance of their gate there it was.
Suze turned around to see Kirstin frozen to the spot staring at the big jumbo she could see flashing ominously through the terminal window.
“Shit,” she cursed under her breath. “Kirstin?” she ventured. Kirstin didn’t move.
Josh spun round to see what was going on as Suze moved towards her.
She tried again. “Honey?”
It was dark outside beyond the terminal building with the remainder of the storm clouds that had clearly prevented their earlier departure. The rain was hitting the panes in rhythmic sheets. Of all evenings to be taking a nervous passenger flying, this was a bad one.
Kirstin was finding it hard to focus. She was aware of how illogical she was being, but she couldn’t move. The sound in the room had gone a little fuzzy. Her feet rooted to the spot as she felt a familiar ice-cold tingle down her spine. She tried to physically shake herself out of it but only her head twitched in response.
Suze stood in front of Kirstin and tried to get a hold of her hand, which was bright white and clenched tightly around the mineral water bottle she was carrying.
Kirstin shook her head from side to side almost imperceptibly.
Suze was worried, she turned around and asked Josh to go ahead and tell the others there was a problem, which he did immediately. Kirstin gulped, but remained silent. There was something Suze could see in Kirstin’s face that really worried her. It wasn’t the wariness or even terror she’d faced before with friends that hated flying. It was a calmer desolation, something more fundamental.
“Honey, it’s ok.” She realised she didn’t sound too convincing.
Kirstin took a step backward, followed by another, and another, until she hit something solid.
“Shit!” She cursed, momentarily snapping out of the fear to deal with the obstacle. Half turning around she suddenly felt a warmth around her.
The obstacle whispered in her ear.
“What?” she answered, a little confused.
“It’s a Boeing 747. That’s what you were wondering, right?”
Kirstin turned back to the plane outside.
“Oh. Yeh. I know that,” she answered half irritated.
The warmth leaned in closer over Kirstin’s shoulder.
“Did you also know that it cruises at an average height of about 35,000ft and at an average speed of over 550mph?”
Kirstin found her senses returning, she realised she had spoken a little out of turn, “That’s pretty fast…” she commented almost inaudibly.
“I know. I also happen to know the entire safety procedure routine by heart.”
“You do not!” Kirstin said, half smiling.
“I do too,” Meg nodded in contradiction. “And if you promise to sit next to me I’ll even do it for you.”
Meg’s face was open and earnest. Kirstin found herself frowning at her in despair, realising that she was being placated with nonsense, but that strangely it was working. She felt a little tension release in her back and she turned back to regard the plane.
Meg found Suze’s gaze, her eyes full of admiration, “Go ahead and save us a couple of seats,” she whispered to her.
Suze nodded and hurried off.
“You know I really don’t want get on that plane right.”
Kirstin looked at Meg seriously. Meg nodded gently.
“I also know that you’re more likely to be swept away in a flash flood than fall out of the sky in an airplane.”
Kirstin didn’t appear to have heard the previous comment.
“Do you know what happened?” she asked Meg quietly.
Meg hadn’t considered there might be a real memory that had stimulated Kirstin’s fear.
“No,” she admitted.
Kirstin took a deep breath and nodded apparently satisfied with her response and evidently happy to leave it at that. She also seemed prepared to get a little closer to the plane, and taking hold of Meg’s arm made a slow start toward the gate ahead of them.
Kirstin explained, “I’m just gonna hold on to you for a bit, is that okay?”
“Sure,” replied Meg, at first a little shocked at the sober intimacy.
Kirstin was clearly concentrating on breathing.
“So tell me some more thoroughly useless facts and statistics about planes that you can use to lure me into a false sense of security…”
Meg smiled warmly at her.
“You sure you want to get me started? You’ll have to shout at me to stop once I get going…”
“Don’t worry, I’ll make you fully aware when it’s time to stop,” Kirstin assured her, not taking her eyes off the plane ahead.
“Something tells me you’re not kidding…” said Meg carefully.
With that they headed to their gate with Meg in full flow.
Kirstin had made it on to the plane, and thanks to Meg the two and a bit hours of flight time had passed by fairly easily. But as Kirstin knew, the worst was yet to come. Her fear wasn’t about getting on the plane, and she could already feel the descent being made.
“Does it have moving parts?” Meg stirred her tomato juice thoughtfully.
“No.” Kirstin’s stomach lurched again.
“Is it bigger than my hand?” Meg asked, but Kirstin was busy pre-empting the safety belt sign. Meg tried not to make a point of looking at her.
She and Kirstin had an aisle to themselves, and Kirstin had elected to take the window seat. She had thought this would be a good idea since the last couple of times she’d flown she’d been able to lose herself in the clouds for long enough to shut her fear out. But this had turned into a very late evening flight, and even in the middle of summer, midnight was pretty black. She estimated they were still at least twenty minutes off landing.
Meg wasn’t sure how to reassure her. Distraction had been her best technique so far, but two hours of waffling and playing games was bound to run into the ground at some point. She raised an eyebrow at her own inappropriate internal language.
Run into the ground, don’t fucking well go and say anything like that out loud, dip-shit.
Bing. The safety belt sign popped up.
“Good call,” she remarked to Kirstin.
Kirstin looked at her, “Sorry, I didn’t answer you’re question did I?”
A blond lock fell into her face as she turned.
“That’s ok, you can just tell me, I’m getting a little tired of it now anyway.”
They had been indulging in a few games of ‘What’s in your toilet’, but Kirstin had a very vivid imagination indeed, which had a tendency to draw the game out somewhat.
“It’s a good game; weird name, but good game,” Kirstin said, evidently trying not to seem slightly freaked out by a sudden drop in altitude.
“Yeh, we got it off this bands website, it’s great for keeping your head engaged on long trips when you’re driving.”
She looked over at Kirstin whose eyes widened slightly with a further jolt in the aircraft.
“That’s normal,” Meg said trying to reassure her.
“Mmm,” she replied, squeezing her lips together.
Here we go.
“If I had a cotton reel, a pin and some paper, I’d show you how this thing stays up…” Kirstin flashed Meg an almost patronising look, “but… I’m sure you already know that…” Meg added a little flustered, thinking she’d said the wrong thing.
Kirstin sighed, “Well, I’ve never heard of the cotton reel thing but I sure as Hell know a lot more about airplanes than I really want to.” She took a deep breath. “Maybe some day I’ll tell you,” she added looking at Meg gratefully, pulling the hair out of her face. “You’ve done a really good job pandering to me today, I honestly appreciate it. And just so you know, when we land I may grab your hand and squeeze pretty tight…”
Meg smiled at her openly. “Grab away.”
“I’m stronger than I look…” she warned, a smirk at the edge of her lips.
“Like I said,” Meg confirmed, quietly reaching over and taking a hold of Kirstin’s hand, “grab away.”
Meg’s kindness was evident and touching. Kirstin felt herself blush just a little, but she accepted the contact, inter-lacing her fingers with the other woman’s. A warm sense of calm and security passed over her.
Meg clenched her inter-locking hand briefly, “Want my peanuts?” she asked.
Kirstin shook her head gently, “Peanuts are like rocket fuel, I don’t need any more nervous energy right now!”
“How bout a vodka?”
Kirstin smiled and rolled her eyes before closing them in preparation for her own personal kind of Hell.
Alcohol won’t help, trust me.
Meg flexed her left hand. “You weren’t kidding…” she whispered into the microphone fastened to her jacket and catching Kirstin’s eye, knowing that probably only Kirstin could hear.
They were backstage at The Late Show in New York City. Kirstin had been granted permission to continue filming since they already had an agreement that the final show footage could be included in the documentary. She was down a sound operator however, and so at such short notice she had to take over the duty herself. Suze would usually be first choice but Kirstin had conceded that she needed to be on the floor anyway and so it made sense for her to take over.
Kirstin’s forehead crinkled in sorrowful apology.
“Sorry,” she mouthed across the room.
Meg snarled at her light-heartedly before continuing with her hand-stretches. Kirstin pushed her headphones down to neatly rest on her shoulders and sat down, pulling open the engineers satchel in order to route around in it.
The band had already been through makeup, and were seated in the studio’s green room, which was more than comfortable. Kirstin had taken the opportunity to ask them a few questions about the tour so far. Josh kept trying to get her in shot, but he had eventually backed down by the third glare, which was beginning to look pretty fierce.
Kirstin was one of those filmmakers that wasn’t keen on being in front of the camera. Josh had to quickly remind himself that he was glad of that fact, since the other kind of director was a particularly annoying breed.
Meg just thought that Josh was deliberately antagonising her.
Kirstin watched them all as she unwrapped a fresh digital-audio tape. They all looked very Hollywood, she thought. Jess of course was leading the way, naturally. Effortlessly. She was fiddling with the torn-up twenties style dress she was wearing, agitated that she wasn’t allowed to smoke. The dress was fairly short, but Jess had great legs. Her look was completed with big hefty biker boots that Kirstin thought probably only Jess could get away with. The singer sighed heavily, clearly bored with waiting, and kicked Ben who was sat opposite her. He looked up and smiled.
“Wanna fight?” he growled.
Kirstin quickly readied herself to flee the room, but to her surprise Jess shook her head.
“No, but you could do with muddying up, boy,” she smiled, looking him up and down.
This was becoming a familiar pre-stage conversation Kirstin had noticed: The messying up of her band mates.
Both Meg and Ben were wearing different versions of evening suits, their dark hair slicked back. Kirstin liked the look, it suited them both. They strangely looked at once more gay, and more straight than she’d seen either of them look before.
A-sexual even, Kirstin mused, then quickly changed her mind, no far TOO sexual for that.
Ironically, Meg was the one who looked straighter wearing a suit. Kirstin couldn’t quite work out why. Perhaps it was because it was SO gay, it was almost straight. Whatever that meant. In any case, no matter what, she was sure the camera was going to love all the black and grey, especially under the studio lights.
Kirstin let her eyes linger a little. Meg suited dark colours, they brought out her quite startling light blue eyes. Blue eyes that suddenly flicked to her much darker, hazel eyes. Again.
Shit, caught out.
Kirstin dropped the tape she was holding and leant down to pick it up, acutely aware that it was her turn to be watched.
“What are you doing tomorrow?” Meg asked her as she fumbled with the tape.
“Well, this is your home town right? I mean, are you going to be busy?”
“Oh, well, you know,” Kirstin sat back up and checked the tape for damage. It looked okay. “I have a few things I should get done at the office, but it shouldn’t take long, why?”
“I was hoping for the offer of a tour guide? Though I totally understand if you just wanna go home and chill,” Meg stated firmly.
Finally managing to get the tape into the DAT recorder, Kirstin gathered her thoughts quickly.
The band had already had their five-minute call. The others were all watching the show on the monitor in the room. Kirstin could hear Mr Letterman rounding off an interview with an A-list celebrity in his usual quirky manner.
“Well, sure… of course,” she smiled warmly, “I mean after yesterday it’s the least I could do, right?”
“Well, no, technically the least you could do would be nothing…”
As Meg was speaking the runner came through to guide them onto set, “If you wouldn’t mind joining me, you’re almost up…” she stated, cutting the conversation short.
Kirstin signalled to Josh to start rolling again as they discussed, in order to get a shot backstage of the band going onstage, which would provide them with some good through-shot continuity.
The pair of them followed the band down the corridor. Kirstin had sound already rolling and was holding the boom as close to the action as possible. Even though there was no dialogue to pick up of note, it was important to get some good atmospheric sound to cut with later. She could hear the runner declaring how much she loved the band and asking if they’d sign something for her.
God, is everyone in this industry gay?
Kirstin thought as she distinctly caught the girl flash Meg a wanton smile. Meg smiled back at her and winked, promising rather suggestively that they’d sign anything she wanted. But the moment was disrupted as Meg heard them being announced and headed out into the lights after the other two, to rapturous applause.
The girl bit her bottom lip. Kirstin frowned. Josh was ahead of her still shooting footage from the side of the stage as per instruction. He stepped aside slightly to let the previous guest pass by. Kirstin stopped her tape rolling and lowered the boom, her job was pretty much done for the time being.
As she looked back up she noticed that the previous guest had been Clayton Morris.
Wow, thought Kirstin.
She hadn’t really paid much attention to the monitor, though she suddenly remembered she knew he’d be on the same show.
He was a flourishing, and terribly handsome, young American actor. Kirstin found herself star-struck for a moment, as he headed towards her down the corridor.
It certainly wasn’t a feeling Kirstin was used to and she shook it out of her head with a small laugh as he passed her by, smiling.
Smiling. Fucking talent, she thought, what an ego.
But she couldn’t help turning to watch him go, only to realise that he had also turned back to regard her. He smiled again, shyly, and almost collided with the green room door.
Kirstin had to let out a laugh. He seemed quite sweet. Or was it just the flattery that had made her change her mind in an instant?
Still, she could turn the head of an A-lister, even in her civvies wearing a body-full of sound equipment. That was quite heartening.
Reasoning there was no need for her to stand around waiting for Josh, she headed back to the green room, not really caring whether the young gentleman in question thought she was following him or not. She had to watch the show anyway, and that was the nearest monitor. As she entered the room there were a few of the younger studio employees stood around pandering to him. Kirstin slumped down in one of the chairs and watched the show, ignoring the sycophantic behaviour.
She had no real idea what to expect from the band, or from Jess in particular. She figured Ben and Meg would probably follow her lead. Jess seemed to be behaving from what she could see. None of them were high, and they were all seated for the time being. It boded well, though Kirstin couldn’t help but hope for some theatrics.
The room quietened down suddenly and Kirstin was aware that ‘fans’ were being ushered out. A member of security headed her way, she anticipated him by holding up her pass. He nodded and held a hand up by way of apology. She smiled and re-focussed on the screen ahead of her.
“You know these guys?” the young man in question asked from across the room.
She looked around quickly to note they were alone so he clearly was addressing her.
“Oh, yeh, we’re cutting a documentary on them,” she answered casually knowing her accent was bound to prick his ears.
“Right, right.” Taking on board her nationality just as Kirstin had suspected he would. “The singers pretty hot,” he remarked informally.
“Ha, yes, she is hot. Why, are you interested? I can get you her number, if that’s what you’re after?”
Clayton opened his mouth slightly about to say something, but then clearly changed his mind. Kirstin smiled. He probably wasn’t used to trying to chat up girls that weren’t even remotely interested. Unfortunately Kirstin hadn’t betted he’d be one for a challenge.
At that moment she saw Jess hit Ben pretty hard for something he had clearly said. That’s my girl, Kirstin smiled.
“So are you from the BBC?”
Oh for fucks sake, you’ll have to be a little less clichéd than that boy.
Wednesday free in NYC
The show had been a success; the band had played a couple of numbers and Jess had been outrageously sexy in a fucked-up kind of way. Mr Letterman had taken it all in good humour, and Kirstin had a phone number. In fact Kirstin had gotten more than just a phone number. She shook her head.
The things we do…
But for now she was glad to be home for a while. She and her crew thankfully had a much-needed day to go to their own homes and re-boot themselves. She had unpacked and re-packed her suitcase for the next leg of the tour and Kirstin suddenly found she had nothing much left to do.
The next show wasn’t until the following evening. She had already been to the office to check on everyone, which was precisely what they had all accused her of doing before shoo-ing her away to get some rest. Not before pressing her for gossip first of course.
Ok. Bored. Bored now.
Picking up the phone she dialled.
“Good afternoon, The Warwick Hotel, how can help you?” came the crisp and well-spoken voice.
“Good afternoon,” Kirstin’s English nature kicked in making her feel obliged to return the formal politeness, “Can you put me through to Megan Roger’s room please?”
“Certainly, I’ll just check the line now. May I ask who’s calling please?”
“It’s Kirstin Hart.”
“Thank you, one moment.”
Hold music clicked into the earpiece.
Vivaldi. ‘Spring’, if she wasn’t mistaken. Typical.
Kirstin was familiar with the Warwick, she had entertained many a client there. It was very lush indeed, and well situated for her requirements. She was glad she didn’t have to pocket the bill however.
“I’m sorry, Miss Rogers is unavailable. She has left a cell phone contact, may I check if she’s available to speak with you?”
“Please do,” Kirstin chimed.
She was fully aware that the Hotel would not give out a guest’s mobile number. They would simply call the number and check if the guest was willing to take the call.
“Hello, Miss Hart?”
God they must write down every name as they hear it, thought Kirstin. Why do they always call me ‘Miss’ though?
“Miss Rogers is willing to take your call, may I connect you?”
I mean I COULD be married…
“Thank you, yes.”
“Hello?” came a slightly amused inquiry.
“Hey Meg, it’s Kirstin,” she breathed. “Or should I say,” Kirstin clipped her tone and imitated the telephonist, “Miss Rogers it’s Miss Hart, she’d like to know,” then sharply dropped the impersonation, “you still looking for a guide?”
Kirstin thought she heard Meg smile down the phone.
“Yes! What took you so long?”
Meg had been out roaming the streets of New York City looking for something better to do, and suddenly she’d found it, bursting through the door, making quite an entrance.
“Hey…” Kirstin panted, pulling up a chair and sitting opposite Meg, turning her back to the large window that looked out on to 5th Avenue.
She distinctly looked as though she might be hiding.
“Did you run?!” Meg asked a little surprised.
They had agreed to meet at the one place Meg thought she could remember her way back to without the aid of a cab. According to the sign in the window the café boasted the best hot chocolate in town.
“No, no… well, kinda…” Kirstin waved the suggestion and her subsequent denial turned admission away, “It’s a long story involving me, a subway, this particular guy that likes to follow me, and a few years of good humour that’s turning really sour…”
“O-kay. Good, well… good.”
Meg wasn’t sure what to say, she lifted her cup from the steel table she was sat at and took a sip.
It was a little colder outside than it had been for most of the tour, and in comparison today was ever so slightly dreary. Kirstin was wrapped up in a well-cut, three-quarter length, black woollen coat, with an equally elegant black scarf thrown round her neck and over one shoulder.
Not a scarf, Meg thought, it’d be a Pashmina, or something… right? No, wait they’re huge right?
She shook her head. Sometimes a scarf is just a scarf.
“You have your fair share of admirers it seems…” Meg noted, placing the cup back down.
She was about to feel severely under dressed until Kirstin undid her coat a little and loosened off her scarf, revealing rather more casual attire of grey sweater and jeans beneath. She was flushed from the cold, her cheeks slightly pink. Meg thought it suited her.
“What?” Kirstin asked, shifting in her seat having undone her jacket.
“Well, I’m presuming I was stood up this morning because you had a late night…” Meg suggested.
“I did not stand you up,” Kirstin said gesturing her existence in the space, “and I did not have a late night…” she refuted.
“So you didn’t spend the night with Mr Morris?” Meg teased.
“Oh, yeh, well… I had a drink with him, he’s a pretty big name, y’know…” Kirstin was dismissive.
“Plus, it won’t do my credibility any harm to be seen hanging around an A-lister. He knows a lot of other big names…”
“And he totally fancies you! Did you…?” Meg left the notion hanging.
Kirstin twisted her head sharply, “What do you think?”
Meg considered the question carefully, “I don’t think you’re the star-fucking type,” she said lowering her voice.
“Hm.” Kirstin looked at her, not sure whether to be flattered or not. “I also have other priorities.”
A waitress found herself lingering by the table, “Would you like a drink?” she asked courteously.
Kirstin quickly noted that Meg had just finished off what looked like it may once have been a hot chocolate with an abundance of marshmallows.
“No, thank you, we have a morning to catch up on.”
The waitress nodded and left.
“So, do you like modern art?” Kirstin asked, leaning across the table towards Meg. “I feel like I’d like to show you some of my culture…”
“Your culture?” Meg chuckled, rubbing the back of her neck.
“Ironically, yes…” Kirstin smiled, her eyes showing a little excitement. “I can’t believe you’ve lost touch with New York. I mean I thought you guys were based in Toronto? That’s not that far.”
Meg affected a southern country accent, “Wahl, when you don’t got much money you don’t go too far, Ma’am.”
“Staying at the Warwick I doubt very much money is that big an issue for you nowadays…” Kirstin breezed. A thought occurred to her, “You don’t have the Cary Grant do you?” Meg looked puzzled. “Nevermind… C’mon,” she instructed, standing up, “it’s not often I get to see my own town either. There’s plenty I want to show you.”
Meg stood up and lifted her blue parker jacket off the back of her chair. It had an orange lining and a fur trim.
“That original?” Kirstin asked.
Meg nodded as she slipped it on and zipped it up, right to the top, almost Kenny style, smiling broadly.
Meg was glad she thought so and grinned all the more.
You’re such a kid, thought Kirstin heading back out into the bustling street, Meg hot on her heels.
The cowgirl hall of fame
In the grand scheme of the world New York was a Tardis, and travelling through it with your eyes open could be exhausting. It helped to know a little nook or cranny here and there.
“I like this place…” Meg told Kirstin as they were seated in a booth, “It’s got character…”
Kirstin laughed, “Yeh, you could say that,” she responded, tapping the shade of the wall lamp that lit their table, causing the small tassels to ruffle.
Having shown Meg the more interesting exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, including a season of short films that she’d been itching to see, Kirstin had announced that she was hungry. Even though The Cowgirl Hall of Fame was a little out of their way, she knew it would be fairly quiet at this time, and the service would be quick.
Most of the walls were covered in newspaper clippings, pictures, or old advertising signs. There was certainly enough to look at, including deer antlers and chandeliers.
Meg had widened her eyes at the restaurant shop they had to pass before being seated. Colourful wasn’t descriptive enough. But she sure had liked the look of the large curved bar with a huge ten gallon hat pride of place.
Kirstin was more interested in the BBQ chicken range however, and the curly fries. She was cooing over the menu, as she always did.
“You should’ve been born Texan…” Meg scoffed.
“I like meat,” Kirstin stated without apology.
“You should re-phrase that…”
Kirstin glared at her playfully.
“Want some beer? Or a Margarita?!”
“What time is it?” Meg answered her own question by looking at her cell phone. “Fuck it, lets have both!”
Kirstin grinned at her giddily. The waitress came and took their rather large order of meat and alcohol, and arrived moments later with a fresh Orange Margarita and a beer for each of them. Kirstin pulled a face as she took a sip. Meg snorted at her.
“I don’t like Margarita…”
“What the Hell did you order it for then?”
“I don’t know, I sometimes forget…”
“You forget?!” asked Meg somewhat sceptically.
“Well, yeh, or rather I think that maybe someone’ll mix it different.”
Aha, not afraid to re-trace past mistakes eh?
“You really are a case Miss Hart, I have to hand it to you…”
“I hate raisons too,” she said, her eyes widening a little, “but every now and then I get this craving for one of those little yellow packets, you know the boxes…?”
“The sun ripe ones?”
“Yeh, something like that… anyway, the point is sometimes I get a craving for something I wouldn’t usually like, I can’t explain it. Mostly I get to enjoy whatever it is for a bit, before I realise I hate it again, but not today, obviously!”
“You’re cute,” Meg stated. “Odd, but cute.”
Kirstin sighed, “Thanks,” she said ungratefully.
“I always wanted to be a cowgirl,” Meg announced, feeling that idiosyncrasies had been laid out and she wanted to join in.
“Really? Do you ride?”
“I never knew that…”
“Why would you?”
Kirstin opened her mouth, shook her head and said, “Good point…” she slid her Margarita across the table to Meg, “I can see you in hat and boots actually, it’d suit you. Maybe you should suggest it to Jess as an on-stage theme?” her eyes lit up at the thought.
“Well mebbe ah will…” Meg slurred, sounding a little like the bands manager Al. She enjoyed the fact that Kirstin was enjoying the thought. “You trying to get me drunk?” she asked as she took note of the Margarita that had been shoved her way.
“What, I need to try now??”
Meg smiled, “No, but if I’m drinking this then you have to play catch up…”
“Okay,” Kirstin accepted with a brief shrug.
In the four or so weeks since they had been touring most evenings seemed to result in bars and restaurants or clubs. There was not much escaping it. Drinking was a staple, and Kirstin was perfectly able to match any of them.
When the waitress came back she ordered two Sambuca’s which were neatly downed.
“What?” she looked at Meg whose mouth was hanging open in disbelief.
“You mean business!”
“Nah, I mean NO business. Day off, remember?”
Meg chuckled, “Yes ma’am, no business!”
They spent a good couple of hours tucking into their feast, and washing it down with beer. Meg as ever was astounded by the sheer amount of food the smaller woman could consume at one sitting. They chatted about the museum pieces they had seen earlier that day, and Kirstin was pleasantly surprised to find that Meg was not only genuinely interested, but also had a lot to say. It wasn’t long before the questions turned more specifically to the films, which lead to further, more personal, inquiries.
“So when you’re not making stupid Rocku-mentaries,” the word was spoken with a touch of disdain, “what do you work on? I mean, I’m asking because I doubt very much with the amount of filmmakers in this city, that every director gets the kind of attention you enjoyed earlier today…”
Meg was talking of the private viewing they had been afforded of some very rare film footage at the gallery. It hadn’t been scheduled for that day, but all Kirstin needed to do was bat an eye at the curator whom she already seemed to have wrapped around her finger.
“Oh, no, well the special ‘attention’ as you put it, was probably more due to the fact that I try to put a lot of work their way whenever I can. As opposed to me being all that important.”
“Well, that kinda makes you sound important…” Meg pointed out.
“Huh. Yeh. Well, I’m not un-important,” Kirstin clarified.
Meg strongly suspected that Kirstin was deliberately selling herself short. Taking credit wasn’t her style, unless she was in front of the boardroom, or trying to win a bid. That was an entirely different affair, where arrogance could actually work in your favour. But in the real world, she was far more reserved. In the real world her achievements were superficial, Kirstin knew that, and that was part of what kept her grounded.
“C’mon…” Meg raised her beer, “tell me what you do! What you’ve worked on… You can see what I’ve been up to the last seven years, you can read every grubby little detail, but what have you been up to?”
Kirstin smiled at Meg’s apparent sudden interest.
“Ok. You really wanna know?” she frowned, “If you don’t watch much cable, you probably won’t have seen any of it…”
Meg raised her brow, “Trust me, I’ve watched my fair share of cable… what do you think I do when we’re not gigging?? I play a lot of Playstation games too…”
Kirstin laughed, knowing she had seen plenty of evidence of that in the arcade a couple of days ago.
“Ok. Well, after I finished studying in England I messed around as a freelance runner for a few terrestrial companies before landing a job working the floor for an auction station…”
Kirstin didn’t seem too keen to linger on this topic.
“What, like QVC?” Meg asked genuinely.
Kirstin narrowed her eyes, “A little… except English and not quite so glitzy,” she snorted. “Then I worked on a couple of small features as assistant D.O.P…”
Meg butted in, “D.O.P?”
“Director of Photography…”
Meg nodded, “That sounds important too…”
“Kinda. Anyway, after a couple of years I got a little frustrated with the close-nit community of filmmakers,” Meg detected some disgust, “and decided to head back over the water…”
“This is a crash course in Kirstin’s life isn’t it?”
“Aha… a little required exposition,” she nodded, “I’m trying to skip the boring bits.”
“Right…” Meg drawled, “that’s like the first five years frittered away right there…” she indicated.
Kirstin ignored her by talking over the end of her comment, “I managed to weedle my way into the New York branch of Crater Films almost by default as a production manager. My uncle is pretty high up, in fact he’s now almost my boss, but at the time no-one batted an eyelid because I’d worked with their English sister company, Pocket Productions.”
“You’re missing out something vital…”
“Didn’t you work in California for a bit?” Kirstin visibly blushed. “The internet is a wonderful thing…” Meg explained.
“Oh God…” Kirstin scrunched up her face, and took a big swig of beer.
“You weren’t going to mention it?”
“I try to forget it!” Kirstin squinted.
It was an understatement.
Meg started to grin, and then she giggled like a kid. “Lucky for you I’m pretty discreet…” she poked a finger at the blonde woman opposite her.
“Well, okay, stay that way would ya? And I’m glad you’re so amused.”
“But you looked so cute…” Meg pouted.
“Oh, god, there you go with that word again!” She took a short breath. “Okay, yes, I did work in California. But my time in front of the camera was very brief.”
“Yeh, I thought you looked really good, what happened?”
“It disagreed with me.”
“The job - Reporting - Being made-up everyday and doing stories about the Golden state!”
There was a much more real reason for Kirstin’s sudden departure from part-time reporter back to full time newsroom floor manager, but she was still a little wary of the woman in front of her. Kirstin didn’t divulge things like that too easily, and she reasoned the truth about California could wait.
“But you looked good out in the sun.”
“Ok, shut up now,” she warned playfully. “The one thing I will say is that it gave me a lot of respect for the ego’s that can stand to do it. It’s a tough job.”
Even tougher when you’ve got something to hide.
Meg wasn’t sure why but she sensed she should leave the subject ball in Kirstin’s court, making a mental note to have the topic revisited at a later date.
“Ok, well what have you worked on since you arrived back in New York?”
Kirstin was very proud of the body of work she had produced over the last few years, it was a lot easier to talk about.
“Well, my subsidiary works all kinds of jobs, mostly TV ads and corporate videos, some short sponsored films, and the occasional mini series.”
“What ads have you made?”
Kirstin tried not to let her business pitch kick in but it was hard to leave it completely out of her tone.
“Currently our biggest contracts are with Honda, Diesel, Crank and Adidas. They’re not strictly exclusive, but they might as well be,” she smiled easily.
Meg was a little stunned, her research of Kirstin hadn’t yet extended into her current job and she was suddenly a little more impressed than she had expected to be.
“They’re really big players?”
“Yeh,” Kirstin nodded.
“Wow.” Meg blinked. “Wait, did you say Crank?”
“You’re responsible for that ad?” It was a statement more than a question.
“Probably, which one?” she answered coolly.
“Don’t gimme that, you know which one, the one that’s all like matrix/csi, with the fighting and the heart beat and the pulses and the girls?”
Kirstin laughed. “Trust you to pick that outta my back catalogue…”
“Are you kidding? That was amazing!”
Kirstin blushed again, “Thank you.” It was an odd reaction that she didn’t quite understand. She had received plenty of praise for that advert, not to mention the odd bit of fan mail, as well as an award. And yet the fact that Meg had applauded it made her blush.
Must be the drink.
“It’s also very gay…” Meg sneered.
Kirstin looked at her, willing her to twig.
She can’t be THAT naive? Surely? No, c’mon.
“Uh, ya-ha…” she imitated Jess, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed, “Girl on girl sells Meg, so long as it’s safe and still open to male fantasy. We both know that.”
“Well it certainly works for me! And most of the gay girl population I imagine!” she smiled easily.
Kirstin opened her mouth to speak, but something had a hold of her windpipe and her throat dried up. She let out the breath she realised she’d been holding and nodded, taking a huge gulp of beer.
Then she paused for a moment, deep in thought.
Why is it such a big deal? Kirstin asked herself. Why can’t I just say “You’re not the only girl that likes girls Meg”? It was weird.
Meg’s sexuality was out there for everyone to see, not just the people she worked with and dined with, but for the whole frikkin’ world to see. And though Kirstin didn’t like to hide who she was, she had never been one to make those kinds of bold statements. She had always felt it was no-one else’s business with whom she chose to sleep. But suddenly she found herself resenting the ease with which Meg seemed to live her life. She mentally kicked herself.
You have no fucking idea who this woman is, or what she’s been through. Don’t judge her. Watching Meg intently she corrected herself, it’s not resentment, stupid, it’s envy.
For Kirstin on more than one occasion her choice of bed buddy had been a major issue in her life professionally. She had learned to be careful about her choice of words, as well as her choice of friends. California had been a huge learning curve for her in an industry that she had once believed had grown up. It had made moving back to New York easy.
“I’ll drink to that!” Kirstin smiled, referring to Meg’s previous comment and taking another swig.
“To what? Pleasing lesbians?” Meg snickered.
Kirstin very nearly choked on her beer. If only Meg knew how very close to the mark she was.
Discovering the dens of second hand places
After their meal Kirstin showed Meg the rest of the neighbouring area, dragging her into all kinds of strange and wonderful shops. Meg took to the second-hand shopping dens located downtown with relish, and in wonder. This was the kind of shopping she’d been hunting for earlier in the day.
Judging by Kirstin’s generally well-styled appearance she would never have guessed the other woman was into this kind of retail. She found herself wondering what Kirstin’s apartment must look like, based on the items she’d been cooing over all afternoon.
Let’s see; There was an old fifties bubblegum machine, a couple of brown metal chests, some cowboy boots, various old lamps from every era imaginable, a juke box… And now we come across a vinyl record shop.
Meg lingered back little in the street, waiting to see if Kirstin would go in. The day, though it was now beginning to fade, had eventually brightened up, but what it hadn’t done was warm up. She could just about still see her breath.
Kirstin didn’t seem to notice Meg hanging back and sure enough, she took one look at the next shop in the row and picked up her pace. Turning briefly to smile at Meg, checking she was behind her, she sauntered in.
Ok. Now lets see what aisle she picks.
A couple of hours later and Kirstin’s purse was a whole lot lighter.
“So. You have a vinyl addiction…”
Kirstin laughed, “Well if I do, it’s no worse than yours,” she scoffed, slapping her shoulder neatly with the back of her free hand.
The pair of them had left the store with a bag or two, and skipped to the next, and then the next, until they’d both admitted they really needed to unload their bags, find some more food and somewhere comfy to sit.
Meg was delighted to discover that Kirstin had headed pretty much straight to the Elvis section, though her purchases had been, in Meg’s opinion, very well balanced across numerous genres. The choices consisted mostly of rare editions, including a 7” red vinyl copy of ‘Little Red Corvette’, and a rare press pack copy of ‘Broken English’ that they’d both fought over. But Kirstin had made her a deal, and Meg was more than happy with the copy of Doris Day they’d found.
“Look, I even named my car after her, so clearly I DO love her as much as Marianne, and therefore I am just as jealous that you have that,” she pointed, “as you are of me having this…” Kirstin had stated, shaking the blue cover with the emblazoned cigarette burning in the corner.
Kirstin had almost been exasperated, Meg thought, or as close as she’d seen her come in the last four weeks or so.
She’d lowered her voice to Meg, “Can I have it?” she had asked quietly, leaning into her stooped figure as they both stood, half bent over the row of ‘M’ rock and roll records in front of them.
Meg had looked into the pleading, and pleasingly bright, hazel eyes, and had given in to the gentle passion she saw there.
“Sure, okay,” she had smiled, her voice soft, mirroring the warmth that became her reward. She felt the woman next to her relax with delight. “Can I have visiting rights?” Meg had asked, her brow furrowing with the unexpected need to share this memory again sometime, with Kirstin.
Kirstin had looked at her thoughtfully. This was the first mention of the possibility of any future meeting, beyond the tour, that the two might share. She decided in that moment she was definitely not apposed to the notion.
“I think that’s only fair.”
They were now heading towards the subway. Meg had insisted on carrying more of the bags, promising she had no intention of pilfering any of the more coveted contents.
A memory had suddenly hit Kirstin, prompting a conversation that caused Meg a little discomfort.
“Didn’t you get done for that?”
The liquor they had consumed earlier was still coursing nicely through Kirstin’s veins, and the ease with which they had been associating for most of the remaining afternoon had lulled her into territory that meant she hadn’t really thought about the fact it might be an inappropriate conversation.
“What?” Meg asked uneasily.
“Shop lifting? Am I totally making that up? Maybe it was someone else…” she shook her head and looked apologetic.
“No, no…” Meg groaned, “that was me alright…”
Meg’s tone reminded Kirstin of the confines she had established and applied earlier that day when a topic she didn’t want to discuss had been brought up. She immediately regretted having spoken.
“Well, that was a long time ago,” she said hurriedly as she surveyed the street for a passing cab, deciding she couldn’t face the train. “I guess you don’t have time for that now…” she laughed trying to make light of the subject as she raised her arm to hail.
Meg accepted the unspoken change of plan easily.
“For a second there I thought you were going to say something more along the lines of ‘now you’re rich you don’t need to do that’…”
The cab driver indicated that he was going to dangerously swing across the two lanes of steady moving traffic to come and pick them up, so they halted on the sidewalk in anticipation.
Kirstin took a breath. “Actually I almost did,” she said candidly, “but then I realised how patronising that sounded, and remembered that shop lifting isn’t necessarily about not having money…”
Meg was a little taken aback at the admission, “You’re just full of surprises aren’t you?” she wasn’t used to Kirstin’s direct nature, it was refreshing.
“Why do people keep saying that to me?”
“Maybe it’s because the first impression you give is a little off-balance in retrospect…”
She had meant it to be a compliment.
“Maybe it’s the judgement you make based on appearance that’s off balance,” Kirstin chided.
Meg cocked her jaw, “Huh…” and thought about it briefly from this new angle, “Yeh… you’re right. That told me…” she admitted.
No, I rather think it didn’t, thought Kirstin ruefully.
The cab pulled up and the pair of them climbed in, bags and all. They both sat there realising they hadn’t actually discussed the next plan of action.
The cab driver asked, “Where to?”
They both looked at one another in confusion, neither one wishing to leave the other, yet both a little uncertain as to what to suggest.
Kirstin was aware of the immediate pressure to make a decision and bit the bullet,
“I’m not ready for the day to be done yet,” she said hurriedly.
Meg sighed relief internally, “Me either…” she quickly agreed.
“Okay, well, how about we go back to my apartment and play a few of these records, grab something to eat and see if we can’t find something in town to amuse ourselves with a little later on?”
“Ladies?” the driver was being beeped from all sides.
Meg avidly nodded her approval.
Kirstin smiled, “Brooklyn please,” she directed at the cabbie.
Meg looked at her.
“You live in Brooklyn?”
“Yeh. You didn’t think I still lived in Buffalo did you? I wasn’t about to get a cab there…” she teased.
Meg snorted, “No, no… I just… I don’t know…” She paused, not sure why she was surprised really. “My Mom still lives in Buffalo…” she said eventually, almost whimsically.
Continued in Part 5
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