It was after 2:30 when Rob returned home from his gig at the bar. There were lights on in the kitchen and bathroom. He had forgotten to turn them off again. At least he didn't have to walk
into a dark apartment. He hated the night. Mostly when he was alone.
A shiver ran up his spine. It was almost too quiet without Lucy. He hadn't known her long, but she was already a significant presence in his life. Her constant chatter, her exhilaration for life.
The sex. Oh, man, the sex.
He started to close and lock the door behind him when suddenly he felt as if he had dropped ten floors in an elevator. Letting his guitar case fall on the floor, he reached out for the wall to
steady himself. His feet slid out from under him, and he landed on the tiled floor with a thud.
Rob shook his head to clear the ringing in his ears and told himself he was merely tired. It had been a long night. The diagnosis from the doctor didn’t help matters. There was only one thing he
Slowly, he rose from the floor, testing his balance as he did. He was fine now. Whatever that was, it was gone. He made his way carefully to the kitchen and took a tall glass from the cupboard. As
soon as he opened the refrigerator, he slapped his forehead and cursed. Forgot the damn Coke again. Didn't matter. He poured the Jack Daniels over ice until the glass was full, took a long swallow
then plopped down on the couch.
Rob leaned back and stared at the ceiling. Why was this happening, especially now?
Because, a little voice inside of him said. Nothing has ever gone your way. Every time you are finally up, something knocks you down and knocks you down hard.
That was true. Rob’s life had been one disappointment after another. And they weren't small disappointments. These were huge, life-changing disappointments.
There was an expression his dad used to say whenever one of them would be acting the fool or laughing too much. Rob searched his mind for the phrase. It had to be there. How could he forget? He
heard it all his life--
Go ahead and laugh now. You'll cry later.
There it was. It sounded like an omen, and it haunted Rob. But instead of being an omen, it had turned into prediction after prediction.
He liked his job at the bar, but it wasn't something he wanted to do for the rest of his life. For now, it was steady work, and the money was good. He almost blew it when he had the sleeping
On the phone, Mr. Brown said the demo was good and wanted to talk to him about a contract. He should be jumping up and down with excitement, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. He was too
afraid. The rock that always sat in the pit of his stomach rumbled loudly. Rob felt deep inside that something would fuck it up. He was sure of it. It almost did already.
Rob took another long swallow of the liquor. It burned his throat, and he coughed.
His mind wandered to thoughts of his brothers and sisters. He wondered how they were doing. Strangely, he missed them. He missed the banter, the punching, the arguing, the little girls crying and
whining. He wondered if they missed him.
He wondered if they knew what Greta did to him and, if so, were they told that Rob was to blame? That he seduced her. He shivered at the thought.
He downed the rest of the whiskey and set the glass in the sink. It was now almost four o'clock. He needed to get some sleep. He wanted to call Brown again since he hadn't heard from him. The rock
in his stomach rumbled. Feelings of impending doom settled over him. He fought them off as best he could and turned out the light. As an afterthought, he turned it back on. It was better with the
# # #
He woke with a nasty hangover. His eyes looked like two piss holes in the sand. The rock in his stomach felt as like it grew two sizes larger in the night. He let out a loud groan and
rolled over in the bed.
The other side was empty. For some reason, Rob expected Lucy to be there. He searched his mind trying to remember how their last encounter went. His brain refused to cooperate. He was sure Lucy
would let him know one way or another how things had wound up.
It took a few minutes before he could crawl from the bed. He headed straight for the shower. Not bothering to let the water heat up, he jumped in. He sat down in the tub and gritted his teeth. The
cold water felt like sharp needles biting into his skin. He lowered his head and let the water beat on the top of his head. He learned this remedy for a hangover from one of the guys in the band.
He couldn’t remember now who it was that told him.
The headache started to ease, so he turned on the hot water to warm up.
Slowly things started to come back to him from the day. It was the visit to the doctor's office. The diagnosis the doc laid on him shook him bad. He played at the bar after, so to calm his
nerves, he downed a few Jack and Coke's before taking the stage. It helped, but his hands still trembled enough he broke two strings during his performance.
When his set was finished, he'd stayed at the bar, intending to have one or two drinks before heading home. However, once he sat down, the nightly regulars started setting him up with
upside-down shot glasses that let the bartender know he had drinks coming.
He grabbed the soap and washed, letting the hot water take his chattering away. When he was done washing his hair, he climbed from the shower and dried off.
The coffee made, Rob poured himself a tall mug, drinking it black. He wandered over to the kitchen table and sat down. The card for the shrink still lay there. He picked it up, tapping it with
his fingers while sipping his coffee, reading the gold embossed writing. He ran his finger over the raised lettering. Pretty fancy card. It must cost the shrink a lot of coins.
He put the mug down and tore the card into tiny pieces. He wasn't going to see a shrink. He already made up his mind he wasn't going back to the doctor. Hell, the only reason he went in the
first place was to satisfy Lucy. It bought him a few weeks of peace until she realized there were no lab results. Then the nagging would start again.
He refilled his cup and took it with him to the couch. He pulled his cell out of his pocket, checking for missed calls. There were none. He should have heard something from Brown by
He dialed Capitol Records and let it ring. After the tenth ring, he hung up.
He dialed Lucy's number and got her voicemail. He left a short message.
It looked like it was going to be one of those days.
His phone was ringing. He lifted his head and listened.
It rang again. He looked around the living room, surprised he was still on the couch. He had dozed off.
The phone rang again.
Rob jumped to his feet, his eyes roaming around the room. His hands patted down the pockets of his jeans. No phone. It rang again.
"Dammit!" he swore.
It rang one more time before he spied it on the kitchen table. He jumped over the back of the couch to get to it and grabbed it before it rang again.
"Hello?" he shouted into it.
"Rob, Larry Brown here. I'm glad I finally got a hold of you. You're a hard man to find."
"I'm really sorry," Rob apologized. "It's been a little hectic. I tried to call earlier.
"Julie said you stopped by the office. Can we set up a time to meet and discuss a few things?"
"Yes, sure, anytime is fine. I don't go to work until nine o'clock."
"At night?" Brown stated.
"Yeah," Rob answered, "it pays the bills. I play a four-hour set at The Bar. I don't remember if I told you about it."
"I don't know, Rob, but it's not important. Can you come by the office tomorrow, say after lunch sometime? Is that too early?"
"No, not too early at all. I can be there by one if that's good for you."
"I'll see you tomorrow. Bring your guitar and any songs you've written that you think are solid. I'd like to hear them. Oh, and Rob, remember, it's Larry, not Mr. Brown."
Before Rob could say anything else, Brown hung up.
The phone was still in his hand when it rang again. He thought it might be Brown calling back. He pushed the talk button and spoke into the small mic.
"You called?" It was Lucy.
Rob couldn't remember now why he did. It was probably just out of loneliness. Then a thought struck him.
"Yeah, I did," he said. "I wanted to see if you would go with me tonight."
It was quiet on the other end. Rob thought she hung up. He was about to ask if she was there when she spoke.
"You mean to The Bar? To watch you play?"
She was going to turn him down. It was stupid of him to ask. Why would she want to come to an old bar to sit and watch? It would suck for her. He was about to tell her to forget it when she
"I would like that," she said. "I need a night off from karaoke anyway. You want me to pick you up?"
He'd planned on taking the usual route on foot, but her offer was too good to turn down. "That would be great, Luce, if you don't mind. I was going to walk, but a ride sounds good."
"Is eight-thirty too early? I usually get there around nine, so I can get set up."
"I'll be there," she said, then hung up.
Rob's heart lifted at the thought of seeing her. The happiness rose in him until he did a little dance in the middle of the living room, then he went to his room to see what he had to wear.
He rubbed the stubble on his face. He would shave, too. Maybe he would take another shower. Luce might come back with him, and they would have some really awesome sex. He felt like he needed to
hold her. To kiss her. She had the sweetest lips, the sexiest eyes. When they made love, she would look right into his eyes when she came. The thought excited Rob. He could feel himself getting
He realized he needed to change his train of thought. It wasn't an easy thing to do. The anticipation of holding Lucy, kissing her, and having sex invaded all of his reasoning.
He rummaged through his clothes, picking out the cleanest, least offensive-smelling ones to wear. He laid them on the bed. When he was satisfied with his clothes, he stripped naked, strolled to the
bathroom, and turned on the hot water in the shower. While the water heated up, he lathered his face and shaved a little closer than usual.
He started to whistle once he stepped under the warm spray in the shower. He rewashed his hair, conditioned it twice. He left most of the conditioner the second time around because it made his
hair soft. He wanted it to be silky for Lucy when she touched it. She loved running her fingers through his hair. She always commented on how velvety smooth it was.
This made him grow hard again. He gave up on letting it die on its own. Grabbing the bar of soap, he lathered himself in bubbles and took care of his little problem. Then he rinsed, turned off
the water, grabbed the towel from the hook on the bathroom door, and wrapped it around his waist.
He glanced in the mirror as he left the shower. Christ, he looked happy. His eyes sparkled; there was a smile on his face. He felt joyful. In fact, he was starting to embarrass himself. He
felt...bubbly...like a teenage girl.
He left the bathroom and went to the kitchen. The clock above the sink told him it was only seven-thirty. He had to wait a whole hour before he could see Lucy. He decided to have a drink. At least
he remembered to stop on the way home and buy the Coke.
The bottle of Jack Daniels was almost empty. Perhaps that was a good thing. He felt too good right now that he could have sworn he was high. He put the bottle back in the cupboard, opting for
just straight Coke. Alcohol might take away the good feelings he had. He wanted to feel good for Lucy.
He decided to warm up a bit before his gig. Still wrapped in the towel, he sat down and placed his guitar in his lap. He turned the keys to tune it up, then strung a few chords and tested his
Damn! He sounded great! His voice was hitting every note perfectly. He had all kinds of wind. His vibrato was dead on. He just knew his performance was going to kick ass tonight.
Lucy arrived right on time. He was still running notes up the neck of the guitar and singing when the doorbell rang. He glanced up at the clock in surprise. It was already eight-thirty. When he
answered the door in just a towel, her eyes grew wide.
Rob snatched her by her hand and drew her into the apartment, wrapping his arms around her. "Lucy," he whispered, burying his face in her hair. "I've really missed you."
"Are you high?" she laughed.
"No, yes, maybe." He breathed in the scent of her hair. He was getting hard again.
She felt it up against the thin skirt she wore.
"Luce," he murmured. "I need you. Do you want me?"
"Yes, now. I can't wait."
He unbuttoned her blouse and let it fall to the floor. Then he unhooked her bra and let it fall to join her blouse. "You're so beautiful, Lucy," he sighed, caressing her petite breasts. His hands
were warm where he touched her. He rubbed the nipples while he pressed his mouth gently to hers.
When he dropped to his knees in front of her, his towel fell entirely off, and he left it where it lay. He slid her skirt down past her tiny hips. Once again, she wore no panties.
"Oh, Luce." He pressed her up against the wall and gently spread her legs. "I want to kiss you there."
"Oh, God, Rob," she whispered. "Do we have time?"
Lucy squirmed as his lips sent a vibration through her.
"So sweet," he mumbled, pulling her on top of him as he lay back on the floor. She helped guide him inside of her. They rocked gently together for just a few minutes. And as the orgasm hit them
together, Rob cried out in release and loneliness.
# # #
They hit the first bar at ten minutes before eleven. It was not quite as crowded as they would have liked, but it was a Monday night. Not a good night for bars unless it was a sports bar. And they
would never be allowed to sing during a football game
They sat at the bar and had a few drinks, Lucy finally deciding the crowd they had would be the only bunch they would get.
A little after midnight, Lucy fired up the karaoke machine she owned and plugged in the first song. Rob insisted that she start them out. He had never heard her sing. He was uncomfortable with this
situation and wanted to get a decent buzz before singing with a machine that gave him all the words to songs he didn't know.
Lucy's voice surprised him. She had a lot of power for such a little person. The only thing wrong was she had too much power. Her voice was loud, overbearing. Opera would be better suited to her.
Rob decided then that he would not be singing karaoke with Lucy at bars in the area. It was probably a bad idea anyway. He had his gig at the bar where he worked. He shouldn't be out here making a
fool out of himself when he had already established himself as a serious musician and songwriter. It could give him a bad name.
Also, he had a demo appointment in the morning that could turn into something huge for him. It was too important to miss. He should be getting some more sleep. Along with his body, his voice had to
He was undecided about how to handle the situation. He was glad Lucy had driven to the bar. That way, her car would still be in the parking lot. He could hail a taxi with no problem. He had a
dilemma, though. Should he let her know he was going home or just leave and not say anything? She was so involved with her singing that she would not notice him leaving.
He liked Lucy and didn't want to ruin the relationship, but he also had to take care of himself. He was pretty sure his leaving was going to piss her off no matter what. He figured coming clean
with her was the best decision. A feeling that he needed to handle her with kid gloves gnawed at him. Underneath her cute, bubbly exterior, he sensed anger hiding deep within.
Rob ordered another Jack and Coke and waited for Lucy to finish her song. By now, he had a decent buzz that relaxed him. He pulled his wallet out of his jeans' back pocket, pulled out a
fifty-dollar bill, and tossed it on the bar. That should take care of the drinks he'd had and anything Lucy would be drinking. The rest would just be, I'm sorry, money if she
would accept it.
She finished her song and almost floated over to Rob. Her face was flushed, and her eyes sparkled with elation. "So, what do you think?"
"You want the truth, or do you want me to lie."
Her face fell as she studied his eyes. "What do you mean?"
He smiled to ease his words and spoke carefully. "You can sing," he said. "You have a big voice for such a little person. A lot of power. That's a plus in your favor, Luce."
The bartender strode by and pointed at Rob's glass. Rob nodded and then pointed to Lucy's empty glass.
"Okay," she dragged out the word. "So, what does that mean?"
He took a deep breath, wishing the bartender would hurry up with their drinks. "Lucy, you're wonderful. I like you a lot. I don't want to damage our relationship if that's what it is, but I can't
sing with you."
She crumpled onto the barstool next to him. He felt awful, letting her down that way.
Their drinks arrived. He took a long swallow from his before speaking again. Then he set his glass down and gathered her hands in his. "Lucy, I already have a gig," he said. He proceeded to tell
her about his job at the bar, the man in the pajamas and slippers, the trip to Capitol Records, meeting Larry Brown, and the offer of the demo.
"Why didn't you tell me this before?" she asked.
He shook his head. "I don't know. I guess your excitement rubbed off on me. The money was attractive too."
"But you were fine with it last night."
"I was shit-faced last night, and I don't even remember." He was hoping she would understand and accept the facts. "I need to go home. It's late, and I'm exhausted. I need to get up early in the
morning, so I need to rest my voice tonight. I have to be ready for the appointment."
"You're going home?"
That's all she heard? He thought. Okay, so there was no easy way to play this. "Yeah," he said. "I need to get some rest."
She thought about what he said for a moment. Suddenly, her face grew dark. "Go home then," she said. "I don't care what you do."
"Luce," he didn't want to beg or plead, but he didn't want her angry. "Please understand how important this is for me."
"And this," she waved her hands around the bar. "is important for me. Don't you care?"
"I do care. I care about you, I care about me, but I care a lot more about a contract with Capitol Records. There's nothing that means more to me."
"I get it," she said. "Go home then. I'm going to stay here and make money."
"Will I see you tomorrow?" he asked.
"I'll see you when I see you," she stated bluntly. She grabbed the glass from the bar and finished her drink in one gulp. "Bye, Rob."
The bounce was gone from her step when she left him sitting at the bar and went back to her machine. She picked up the microphone and angrily hit the button for another song, glaring at him the
entire time. The song she chose to sing was Randy Meisner's version of Love Me Or Leave Me Alone.
Rob took the hint and left the bar, calling a taxi service on his cell on the way out.
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