Chapter 1

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1975

I’m sitting here on my back stoop clutching a paper bag of Band-aids and some other stuff I stole from the medicine cabinet, trying to psych myself up to do something that scares the crap out of me. This is the second time tonight I’ve managed to sneak out without getting caught. I must be getting good at this–maybe I got this whole sneaking out thing down to a science. Ma momma didn’t raise no fool, but she seems to think so because she always telling me what a useless little whore I am.

About an hour ago, I snuck out to The Regis to see my favorite band, Crank, but found out the show had been cancelled. My friend Scotty, a bouncer at the club, told me that Adam the guitarist, lost it when some drunken jerk got in his face before the show. The whole thing got crazy real fast and turned into a big mess of swinging fists and flying beer bottles, which got so bad the cops had to be called in. I heard rumours about what scrappers Adam and his band mates were, so I wasn’t all that surprised. Scotty was going to let me in for free to see the replacement band, but I wasn’t interested. My mind had already started racing with brilliant schemes and possibilities, and my chest was so tight I could barely breathe. I knew this was my chance. I had to do it–especially after the vision I had about me and Adam being together.

Even though he lived right across the street, I decided to play it safe and take a roundabout route through the shadows to avoid being spotted. The whole band lived in a massive old house that they rented together, and like usual, it was rockin’ again tonight. It didn’t seem to matter that the show had been cancelled–the band and all of their friends were still partying hearty, blasting music out all of the windows, every light in the place blazing. I was attracted to the crazy scene like some dumb bug to a porch light.

As I crouched down between a parked car and the big oak tree on their front lawn, trying to figure out how to get in, I spotted Adam standing with his back to a window on the second floor. At least I knew where he was and where I had to get to. But I also knew he might not be there for long. So, taking a deep breath of night air for courage, I snuck towards the front door, jinking my way through the mess of cars, vans and motorbikes parked all over the lawn. To my surprise, the front door was partly open and I thought to myself, “No way, it can’t be this easy.” Cautiously I made my way inside. A few people glanced at me as I did, which set my nerves on edge. So I tried to make myself look cool and told myself, “Okay, just calm down and pretend you belong here.” One guy with beautiful, long blond Roger Daltrey hair, who I’m pretty sure is Crank’s lead singer, welcomed me with a “come on in and grab yerself a drink, luv”. I was super-relieved when nobody seemed to care that they’d never seen me before, but I knew I couldn’t take any chances.

A wicked tribal drum beat and screeching guitar erupted from the stereo, which caused a whoop to go up through the crowd, and then practically everyone in the room shoved their beers into the air in appreciation. I recognized it as one of Crank’s songs, Hot Head. Scanning the smoky room for a staircase to the second floor, I slowly excused and pardoned my way through the wall-to-wall mass of leather and jean jacketed rockers towards my destination, almost wiping out on a log jam of empty beer bottles rolling around on the floor. My nostrils crinkled at the sweet smell of pot mixed with the stale stink of spilled beer. As I passed a tattered, red armchair with gross, yellow stuffing busting out of its sides, I found myself staring in fascination at a couple totally making out on it, oblivious to everyone and everything around them. Not realizing how long I’d been standing there watching, I was smacked back to reality when the guy eyed me in mid-tonguing, turned to me with lipstick-smeared lips and murmured sexily, “Feel free to join in, darlin’.” Feeling my face turn a million shades of red, I glued my eyes to the floor and pushed my way through the crowd.

Suddenly, there I was in front of the staircase. Omigod.

Nervously I glanced around to see if anyone was looking at me. In the kitchen, three guys were gathered around the stove. I watched them remove two blackened knives that were stuck under a burner, put what looked like a rabbit turd between the knife tips, and then all of them took turns inhaling the smoke. I didn’t know what they were doing but figured it had something to do with drugs. When one guy wearing a Thin Lizzy T-shirt caught my eye, my heart leapt into my throat and I was terrified I’d be stopped after making it this far. After a few seconds of holding each other’s gaze, he winked at me and nodded an encouraging chin for me to go upstairs. I could feel my face getting all hot again as I rushed up the stairs–but the trip seemed to go on forever. My legs could barely move they were shaking so bad, and I had to keep one hand tight on the banister or I would’ve wiped out and fallen back down for sure.

When I finally reached the landing, I glanced back one last time to make sure I wasn’t being followed. In the darkness, I saw a warm, yellow light leaking out from under what I guessed was the door to Adam’s bedroom. That’s when I heard a moaning coming from inside the bathroom and could hear its door banging rhythmically. I hoped whoever was in there was okay, but I didn’t dare check.

Taking a few steps forward, I reached my hand out to grasp the door knob to Adam’s room but then pulled it away, like I’d been burned. My rattled nerves just wouldn’t let me, so I fell back against the wall. As I was standing there trying to suck up some courage, my eyes drifted up to the ceiling and noticed it was stained this gross brown colour, probably from all the cigarette smoke floating around the house like a ghost. Taking a few deep breaths of the smoky air, I tightened my grip on my bag of supplies. This sent a super-deafening crinkle echoing down the hallway, so I panicked, grabbed the door handle and pushed the door open. I was super relieved when didn’t squeak or do anything loud and annoying.

I was shaking so bad I was sweating. Adam was sitting on his bed with his back to me, strumming a blood red guitar. He hadn’t heard me, so I crept quietly into the room, leaving the door open in case he freaked out and I had to make a quick getaway. I figured if he was still in a crappy mood because of the fight he’d had earlier, I could easily get it double-barrel, especially me being this total stranger who had the nerve to just come into his room without even asking. I hoped he was as nice as I imagined in all those embarrassing, lovey-dovey dreams I kept having about him.

I forgot my frazzled nerves when I looked around, weirded out by how clean his room was. The bed was made with all of the corners neatly tucked in, and there was nothing on the floor, except an empty guitar case and an open pack of cigarettes. I expected a rising rock star’s room to be this big mess of kicked-in TVs, porn magazines, mounds of dirty clothes, food-caked dishes, stained carpets littered with empty beer bottles, and Everest mounds of cigarette butts overflowing from ashtrays. Well, the full ashtrays were there, so I wasn’t totally wrong. But I wondered… did he grow up with a mother like mine, who would actually break your arm if she found anything out of place? Or was he just super-clean? I was about to come closer to finding out.

Bravely I made my way towards him, wincing when I stepped on a squeaky floorboard, which startled him.

“Who the hell are you?” he asked, in a voice that seemed more confused than angry.

“Um,” I said, taking a few cautious steps forward. “I heard you got in a fight and I wanted to make sure you were okay.” I was surprised that I could actually speak, and in such a calm voice.

My heart sank when I saw his face. It was a mess of dried blood, cuts and bruises. He had what I knew was going to become an impressive shiner because one thing I knew the varieties and development of, was black eyes. He watched me warily as I made my way towards him, but he didn’t stop me, so I sat down on the bed beside him and nervously opened my paper bag. I could feel his eyes burning into me.

Tearing open a medicated wipe, I reached out to wipe his bloody brow, which made him withdraw cautiously. Courageously keeping my focus, I began to dab at his brow. He winced at the initial sting, but let me continue. As soon as my fingers made contact with his skin, a bolt of electricity zapped through my arm up to my neck, making me gasp. A bemused expression crossed his face. He was so beautiful I thought I was going to die. My hands shook in realization that I was not only this close to him, but I was actually touching him. I felt my breathing getting so fast that I almost closed my eyes and passed out. Luckily I didn’t.

As I carefully wiped the dried blood from his cuts, he kept staring at me but I couldn’t look back at him because I thought if I did, I’d probably start crying or something. Instead, I stuck to the task at hand, making sure I didn’t stick around too long in case he got fed up, but at the same time not rushing through the process so I didn’t rob myself of this chance to be alone with him, which was super thrilling and scary and amazing all at the same time.

When I finished cleaning him up, I told him I was going downstairs to get some ice. Arching a slit brow, he replied cautiously, “Do what you gotta do. I’ll be here.”

I could feel his eyes following me out of the room.

The experience totally freaked me out, but in a good way, and I can’t believe I actually had the nerve to go back downstairs to the party and get some ice from the fridge – and then come back upstairs! To tell you the truth, I don’t really remember much about the trip down, but when I was going back up, I overheard someone say, “Ice, eh? Heh heh, I’ve heard about that little trick. I tell ya man–it’s the quiet ones that surprise you.”

When I got back to Adam’s room, I was shocked to find he’d taken off his bloody T-shirt and had gone back to playing his guitar. I was so excited seeing his incredibly gorgeous, naked chest, but immediately stopped these terrible thoughts when my mother’s words smacked me in the head, “You’re one of those girls who could easily turn into a slut.” I always thought she might be wrong, but I didn’t want to take any chances.

Taking a deep breath, I approached the bed, this time keeping a safe distance. “Here,” I said, thrusting the bag of ice towards him. “Put this on your…um, eye.”

Placing his guitar on the bed, he took the bag of ice, wrapped his bloody T-shirt around it and gingerly put it against his eye with a whispered “yeowch”. I scanned his body, making myself focus on the task of finding other injuries I could fix, instead of just drooling over him, which was kind of hard to do because he was so amazing looking. He smirked when my eyes spotted his bloody, slashed thigh.

“You, uh… want me to take off my jeans so you can fix that, too?”

Embarrassed, I cast my eyes to the ground. “Uh no, I can…” , my voice trailing off as I nervously ripped open another medicated wipe. Making sure I didn’t get too close this time, I knelt down beside him and started swabbing the wound.

“Fuck, that stings!” he yelped, grasping the bed covers. “What the hell’s on those things?”

Apologizing, I continued with my work, cleaning and bandaging his cuts. He didn’t take his eyes off me the entire time, and didn’t say a word until I gently took his hand to wipe away some blood that was caked on his cracked knuckles. The whole time I was doing it, I was fantasizing about how one day he’d hold my hand, just because he wanted to.

“Look, I gotta tell ya,” he said, shaking his head. “I’m finding this whole scene really fucking weird. Why are you doing this?”

Without looking at him, I said quietly, “I just… really like your band and I’ve seen you play a bunch of times. Part of me knew you’d be an okay person, so when I heard what happened, I felt bad and wanted to… um, make you feel better.”

He paused for a few moments, and then a sly grin crossed his face. “Oh, I get it. So, uh… what else you got in mind?”

I stared at him in shock. “Omigod, nothing! I just wanted to…”

Grabbing my paper bag, I hurried towards the door. “I-I gotta go.”

Just as I was about to leave the room, he called out, “Hey–relax. At least tell me your name.”

“Catherine,” I replied. “Just… Catherine.”

After I left the room, I felt super relieved that he didn’t follow me out. I can’t believe I was that dense to put myself in a spot where he could’ve easily locked me in the room and did anything to me that he wanted. I guess I did come across as some moronic groupie. I’m such a dolt. Maybe my mother’s right. Maybe there is a stupid slut inside me, trying to get out.

The rest of the night ended up being a total blur, probably because the massive burst of adrenaline I was running on had zapped my senses and helped me sneak home without my mother catching me. This was amazing considering the noise coming from Adam’s place. But then again, the sound of partying from that house had become a regular experience on our block, so my mother and some of the other neighbours eventually gave in to the futility of the fight and just bought ear plugs. Thing is, I found the noise weirdly comforting because it gave me hope that there was actually life outside of my stupid, useless existence. This hope lulled me to sleep, at least on nights when I wasn’t in too much pain.

Before going bed, I stood on the toilet seat and peered out the bathroom window, hoping to catch one last glimpse of Adam, only to find two cop cars pulling up to his house. My whole body slumped in relief that I’d managed to make it out of there in time. If I had been caught in, what my mother often referred to as “that filthy hole inhabited by ne’er-do-wells”, I would for sure have a mound of dirt and a cold tombstone over my head before dawn.

Comments
  1. paul says:

    I like this one…good work on being inside the protagonist’s head in this chapter, good descriptive details and memorable phrases like “like some dumb bug to a porch light.”

  2. Dan says:

    Very engaging and accessible writing style. Really draws you in and makes you want to read more.

  3. Hey Ginny…i really like this…it’s written in a “Basketball Diaries” kinda fashion and i’m starting to get to know the characters…..i wanna know what happens next – you got me!

  4. Chapter 9 is even better…i need to know what went on in between and after chapter 9!

  5. Andy says:

    I dunno if I want to read ahead to chapter 9- I want the story to unfold perfectly.
    Great job – I swear I was at that party!

  6. Sign me S says:

    Nice!

  7. timewaster says:

    Engaging voice and sympathetic main character. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to flash back so early though. It’s a good opening but in my opinion it would make more sense to begin when the story begins – earlier ‘About an hour ago.’

  8. Amber says:

    Very good opening & well written, felt like I was right there next to her. Excellent job!

  9. Stepehen says:

    Liked it. Felt weird reading one after nine, but now I am more intrigued to see what happens.

  10. Excellent work – can’t wait for more!!!!

  11. Dave Faught says:

    Read Chapter 9, and #1 is just as good! Very believable character, and excellent attention to detail – really takes the reader into the scene. Really want to read the book back-to-front, tho’.

  12. T. says:

    Very good! I love the characters!!! Will you be posting more chapters?

  13. Randall Eckerich says:

    I got to know what happens to Catherine. Good job – you pulled me right in.

  14. Giselle Uhrig says:

    Would love to read more, thnx.

  15. Scott says:

    The writing is very good. The imagery is strong. There were a few lines that didn’t work for me, but they didn’t actually pull me out of the story, so I’m cool with them.

  16. sleazy johns says:

    Not bad…quite rough lingo….but those were the times, weren’t they??!!!:):)
    Rob

  17. Amber Dane says:

    You’re a very talented writer. Good luck in your publishing pursuit – you have what it takes 🙂

  18. SjP says:

    You’ve done a good job developing Catherine’s character and rounding her out in this opening chapter. I have some sense of her own internal conflicts with trying to cope with her adolescent hormones and being between a child and an adult. I also have an idea that she is terrified, even resentful, of her mother. The rock music setting is interesting, but I don’t know yet why it’s 1975.

  19. Logan! says:

    Good stuff here! And great ending! The allusions to the abusive mother are well done, nicely scattered about the narrative.

  20. BlackFlag says:

    I thought it was really interesting and would love to read more.

  21. L. Bartlett says:

    I want to say first off that this is not the type of story I am in any way interested in reading…

    But I was drawn in completely by the story — and by Catherine, who I liked very much as an MC.

    You completely nailed the era and kept me engrossed in the story — so much so that I got annoyed when I discovered you only posted 2 chapters. I was looking for more.

    Good luck with it. It’s got the potential to be a great read.

  22. Debbie Bryer says:

    Love this, Jammer! makes me want to read more! going on to the next one now… xoxo

  23. Ryann says:

    Totally got into this. Awesome story so far. Best of luck finding a publisher. I’d read more. 🙂

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