Hard Core at 20

Hard Core at 20

A Story by Christy Hauck

so... waking up in a new culture and spending the evening with Mankind Is Obsolete on my 20th birthday, this was everything that I could ever hope for a birthday.



I woke up at 5:49am, grabbed my phone, looked at the time, and if I had been raised any closer to Chicago, I would have chucked it across the room. Instead, I set it down, groaned, and went back to sleep to wake up at 6:30am. Grumbling that I would murder some of my genetics if I knew how to, I put on my glasses and turned on a light so I could read for a bit; my contacts solution takes at least six hours to completely work so that’s why I differed from my normal morning routine. When those six hours had finally passed, I took a shower and then went down to the breakfast area to see what I could have. All that was even vegetarian that was available was a fruit salad. I picked over the fruit while contemplating what I was going to do all day. MKIO was going to be in Tupelo all day and come down in the evening for the concert, so instead of possibly walking around the town and finally having my long awaited conversation with Scott, I was going to continue to be alone in a strange city until they got to Columbus. 

My mom gave me a call when I got back to my room and was using Ben’s lap top to look around the Columbus area for things to do… also to figure out where the hell The Princess Theater was since that was one of the things I hadn’t done back in St. Charles. I was getting very frustrated since Columbus has 5th St N, 5th St S, 5th Ave N, and 5th Ave  all in different parts of town that had no visible order or logic, unlike St. Charles which has the river to divide streets from avenues and 64 to separate north from south. My mom gave me the perfect idea of what to do; find the public library. It was so obvious that my mind went FLOP as if it was shocked it hadn’t thought of that in the first place. She told me happy birthday and we chatted for a bit and then she had to go, so I looked at the time and saw that it was 9:30 and after a quick check of Columbus’s library’s hours and very simple directions that deprived me of having to get a cab, I set out.

The library was very beautiful, BUT IT ONLY HAD FOUR BOOKS ON VEGETARIANISM AND NONE ON VEGANISM! I wasn’t as shocked as I thought I was going to be, but still plenty shocked. I looked around for a while, and took pictures of some things, and wanted to take pictures of some other things, but then the children’s librarian came out of her office and she looked like a perfect blend of Ellen from YS and Janie from CM. I felt my jaw drop and I tried to put my camera away as subtly as possible and still look around at the same time. I left the library and decided that it might be fun to check out the rest of Columbus since I was going to be staying there the rest of the day and partially into the following morning. On Main Street, I saw something that excited me and I rushed on over to it; a café coffee shop. Remembering the sweet hot chocolate and smoothies that Ragamuffin had, I had high expectations. They were crushed the second I was handed the menu and there was nothing vegan on it. I left the café and continued to walk around the city, realizing and grumbling that the heat that had been just bearable in the morning was beginning to make me sweat. I made my way back to the hotel and was shocked and pleasantly surprised when two people pulled over and offered to give me a ride. I politely declined both since I was only going a mile.

I stripped down when I got back to the room and gave myself a quick sponge bath using a washcloth. I felt dehydrated and very dizzy so I lay out on my bed and recovered enough to feel comfortable to move around 3:35pm. Finishing one of the books I brought along to Columbus, I went back to the frustrating quest of finding The Princess Theater. After 20 min of looking every place I could think of, I came across a phrase that jumped out at me and made me smile with that contentment that comes when you’ve been working so hard on something to get a certain result and it has been giving you every result but the one you want and suddenly you have no idea how it happened, but you finally get that certain result.

“The Princess Theater Mon June 9th Mankind Is Obsolete”

I was very happy and even happier to discover that the hotel I was playing at was only a mile away, on the exact same road as the theater. I looked at the time to see I had two hours before the doors opened at the theater. I decided to read my other book for a bit before heading downtown to see if there would be any place I could eat. The walk was rough since the mid day heat was still in full effect. It became rougher and my true Chicago nature almost leaped out my throat in a string of sharp and clipped curses when I found that the town basically closed down at 5:30pm…and it was 5:50. I choose a random side street and started walking down it to come across a gas station that I ducked into the cool off in. I stayed there for a few min before buying a bottle of water and heading back into the heat. My pocket buzzed at 6:20 and it was a text from Scott saying they were on they were about to leave for Columbus. I felt my heart do a quick flop and anger burned through me for a quick second. MKIO was in Tupelo and it had taken an hour to get from Tupelo to Columbus in the cab I had taken the previous night. Their site said the concert started at 7pm so I was confused and slightly worried. I was already sweating more than I ever had, even during swim season, and it was beginning to take its toll on me in the way things seemed to move, but couldn’t when I touched them. My feet were hurting as well, so I found a set of steps in the shade and sat down. I sent a text to Nicole telling her I was nervous about talking to Scott and waited for a reply. When 7 rolled around and I still hadn’t gotten anything, I got up from my strangely comfortable steps and headed towards the theater.

The door was locked…

I circled the block and sat back down on a bench and enjoyed the cool breeze that was coming down the street. When 7:30 came, I got back up and went back to the theater. The door was still locked, but I looked over at the places on either side of the theater. In a bar to the left of the theater, a man beckoned to me. Thinking that this could be a repeat of the previous days pimp encounter, I went through the door cautiously and looked straight at him, trying to show him that whatever he wanted, I wasn’t interested. Instead he pointed at the table in front of him and two people who I hadn’t noticed were sitting there, one with a cash box in front of her. The man that had beckoned me into the bar pointed behind him to an open door that appeared to lead into the theater. “You here for the concert?” he asked and I nodded. The girl asked for $5 and I gave it to her and then she asked if I was 21. I said that I had just turned 20 and she took my hand to put an X on it. Once all that was done, I looked around and didn’t see any MKIO members or anyone else I recognized. Feeling an actual stream of sweat move down my back, I went into the bathroom and did a similar thing that I had done back at the hotel, only this time I just wiped down my arms with a wet paper towel. I went back out into the bar and was deciding my next move when my phone started buzzing. It was a text from Nicole telling me that I had no reason to be nervous. I sent a text back and her reply was a pleasant phone call that made me miss home and my insides squirm in a nice manner. As I was talking to her, I saw a familiar van and trailer pull up to the street corner. We continued to talk as I watched Jon, Brian, Gordon, and Scott load their equipment into the theater. Jon was the first to see me and he waved at me through the window and I gave a smile and waved back. Nicole noted that she had to go because her phone didn’t have that many minutes left so she hung up. Not five minutes later, Gordon came into the bar, gave me his charming smile, a hug and said “Happy birthday!” which made me realized that out of everyone I had talked that day, he was the first to say that to my face. I said that and something flickered in his face, but before he could say anything, someone came up behind him and started talking to him. Retreating since as much as I would enjoy to have MKIO all to myself {and I know every MKIO fan that has spent more than 5 min in their presence would say the same thing}, greed is not something I try to excel at. I sat back down and tried not to overhear Gordon’s conversation. He spotted someone who was sitting at the actual bar and went and gave him a hug. The man was wearing a MKIO crane shirt and once Gordon had left the bar to continue helping with the load in, I impulsively got up and sat next to the man. He gave me a cautious look over and I returned the favor.  Slightly awkward silence followed, but then we eventually started talking to each other and I told him that I was from the Chicago area and had traveled down to Columbus so I could see a MKIO concert on my birthday. He said his name was Bill and that he had come to see the band that was playing before MKIO; Cockfight. He then went on to explain that he had first heard MKIO a few years ago, when they were still doing their Rise tour and he had gotten addicted. We both agreed that you could listen to MKIO music on their CD’s and like them, but to have the chance to see a MKIO concert, talk to the band members, and just simply be in the same room with them, nothing else could addict you faster to a single entity. Our conversation went on like that, with Bill saying something or explaining something, me responding and possibly adding something and him possibly adding something and then a moment or two of silence until one of us would speak up again.

It was during that silence part of the conversation when I turned on my stool to be slightly looking over my shoulder and outside when I saw out of the corner of my eye Scott come up behind me. He hesitated and leaned a bit to get a better look at my face {I had always worn black clothes with blue jeans to all but one of their concerts with that single exception being white high heels, a black short skirt, white tank top, and black jacket to go over the tank top. Tonight, I was wearing very, very baggy pale army green pants and a light brown t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up to expose my shoulders} before I turned just enough to give him a smile, jump off the stool and give him a hug while he said “Happy birthday!” and then went back to help continue with the load in. My heart and soul floated in nirvana now that I knew he was around.

Bill and I continued to talk for a while and I noticed Brian was sitting in a booth behind us. Not wanting to be rude, but wanting to say hi to Brian since I hadn’t seen him since April 1st, I stopped starting up the conversation again. Bill suddenly excused himself to go to the bathroom and I spun on my stool to face Brian. He looked at me and gave me a wave which I returned and then got up to plop right next to him. Unlike the awkward or near awkward silences that had been passing between Bill and me, the silences that Brian and I had tend to have are those of two introverts who recognize each other for what they are and don’t care about talking. We sat like that, the silence growing, but not uncomfortably. I heard a familiar voice talking into a mike and leaned a little to look through the door into the theater to see Scott testing mikes.  Wondering why Scott would be testing mikes and Brian would be sitting when it looked like the stage was a mess and nothing was completely set up, I watched Scott for a moment. He tripped over some bins and I prevented myself from giggling by licking my lips and locking them together. I looked forward, thinking Bill would have returned to his seat at the bar by now, but he wasn’t there. I looked back into the theater and saw that he was leaning against a stool. I hoped Brian wouldn’t be offended with me not saying anything, and got up to step into the theater. This was where I found out that Bill and I were about the same height, give 1 or 2 centimeters.  He was holding onto a beer bottle and looking at the stage. I saw people that I didn’t know…and then…the horror…

“Key tar..”

I whispered the word and then went into full panic mood. If you grew up in the St. Charles area, you know why. That one band whose name eludes me… the guy that would put Jon’s and I’s combined hippy behavior to shame…  The Strand had proved to make me less apprehensive of key tars, but I still quivered with fear and embarrassment at my fellow city mates whenever I saw one.

Bill looked over at me and I grasped around for an excuse to leave before I started really freaking out. I finally found it in the smoke clouds floating around and headed outside to take a few deep breathes and look up to stare right at the moon, whose crescent shape made me completely pause in everything but my heartbeat. When the brief moment passed, I saw Jon standing outside and a few yards away from me. I went over to him and we started talking. Jon mentioned how much he wanted the tour to end so he could get around to writing some new material and as much as I wanted MKIO to come back to Chicago sometime within the next few weeks, some new material would be nice to listen to.  We talked a bit more before I went back inside to stand next to Bill again while Cockfight continued to get set up.

The guitarist for Cockfight starting tuning and playing around with his instrument and I listened with a curious ear because what he played sounded familiar, but not. If what he was playing was what the band was going to actually sound like, then I was going to love this band with more passion than I could ever have shown for the local bands I listened to on the occasion that I made it out to an ICBM or ATD show.  When it sounded like they were ready to begin, Bill and I moved up towards the front of the stage.

Just like every time I listen to a band I’ve heard for the first time, their music has slowly slipped out of my mind, but left a very pleasant memory that I would like to return to. One thing that I would like to touch upon since it confused me is that after a few of their songs, the smoke was honestly beginning to get to me so I tuned tail from the front of the crowd, squeezed through the narrow gaps between people and escaped to the outside where there were more people smoking. Grumbling, but wanting to enjoy the Mississippi air while I could, I moved away from the smokers and walked down the block and then back to the theater.

I slipped back into the theater and moved through the crowd to be back in the front of everyone again, pretty close to the MKIO booth and where the last time I had looked, Gordon had been working sound. He had Scott had traded off doing sound back in Indianapolis, but Scott had disappeared just before Cockfight had started, so when I felt my pocket buzz, I was thinking that maybe it was Nicole wondering how it was going. Pulling my phone out with a smile on my face to text her back saying that Scott had disappeared and that now we would have months, possibly years, to help me get over my nerves, I was extremely shocked when it turned out to be a text from Scott asking where I was. Something told me to turn towards the sound board. One person blocked my view of it and I took one step around him, one step towards the board to be right in front of Scott. People moved closer to me and I took an involuntary step towards him and he took a step back. When this happened once more, I moved across the space to be next to Bill again. I tried to figure out the reasoning behind Scott asking where I would be and puzzled over it for the rest of Cockfight’s set.  I had been to Champaign, Berwyn twice, Milwaukee, Madison, Indianapolis, and now here to simply see MKIO. I had spent two days leisurely traveling down to Mississippi so I could see them for my birthday. There was no way in this lifetime or any other realm that I would just get up and leave before they had performed. That and I had never texted him asking him where he was when he went off and disappeared. My belief is that saying “if you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it is yours, if it doesn’t, it never was”. I don’t like chasing people and try to not do it unless it’s for something really important and has time boundaries, such as a job, asking a teacher for help on a paper, and public transportation. Yes, what I would like to talk to Scott about is important, but just to me.  As much as I would like to chase him down, pin him against a wall to get him to talk to me, I’m not going to do it since that is not the type of person I am and it’s becoming a tradition at MKIO concerts for me to play a mental mind game with myself trying to guess where Scott is.

After Cockfight was done, Bill and I waited around in the bar area for MKIO to get set up. We waited just a tad too long since instead of getting front row center, which was where I wanted to be so I could get some good photos and videos of them, only the side areas where available. Tash saw me and waved me over to her. She threw her arms around me and rocked us back and forth as she sang happy birthday. When she let go I found myself and Bill a space between MKIO’s LED Pars and a monitor on the floor, right in front of Scott. It had become a somewhat traditional place for me to stand when I was in a mood to simply listen and taken random photos and videos whenever I felt like it instead of like what I did in Milwaukee and Madison where I bounced around the area and took photos every three seconds. I looked down at Scott’s pedal board and noticed that he was missing something. I made a mental note to first figure out what the hell the thing was that he was missing, and then ask how it became missing.

I looked up at Jon, who had just sat down at his drum set. My eyes bugged out of my head and I tried not to trip over anything without moving; he had plopped down and pulled off his shirt. Okay, so I had seen much better looking guys than him {high school swimmers… varsity swimmers… nothing beats that in physical beauty} but still, it had been so long since I had seen anything that could rival him. Taking a mental baseball bat and smacking it down on my senses, I realized that yes, Jon was nice to look at, but his mindset was so much more beautiful and that I loved his music and respected him, so I took my gaze off him and put it back down to the monitor in front of me. Using the side of my shoe, I wiggled it next to some cables and pushed them up against the monitor so I could have an area to move around without worrying about pulling a cable out of anything. Irony came back to bite my later.

MKIO played all of my favorite songs, “Still Right Here”, “Puppet”, “Angel Disease”, “Parasite”, “Standing at the Edge”, and “Fading”, plus a few others. When I heard “Victory” start up, I almost ran out the door since it is the only MKIO song that makes me want to run to the nearest big body of water, jump in and stay under the water until the song is over.  Instead, I steeled myself and pulled out my camera to make a video of it. When “Angel Disease” started, I also pulled out my camera, but that was simply because Gordon had lifted his string bass over his head after taking his shirt off and was playing it that way. When he put it down, I turned off the camera because I wanted to feel as well as listen and watch Scott during the song.  During my favorite part, he was right in front of me and inside I melted while on the outside I went still and tilted back my head as if the notes were a lover’s caress that had brought me to climax. Around me, people were moshing, making out, and doing all sorts of things, but I was in my own place and all I could hear was Scott’s guitar, all I could feel was the emotion and passion he put into his music, and all I could see were two pieces of smoky quartz that turned me into an echo of them. I’ve tried to find the right way to describe my reaction to Scott in “Angel Disease”, but the best way to put it is that it makes me realize that I’ve always loved his music and I feel a pull towards him because of what I get from his music. It’s like saying you are a sugar addict because you love candy.

During MKIO’s set-up, I noticed Scott had brought out his acoustic guitar. That could only mean one thing; they were going to play “Fading”. Now, don’t take me wrong, I love the song. It’s just my meaning of the song is a bit on the sad side.

Two years ago, a friend of mine, Nicole Alaniz, had been killed in a car accident. She has visited me in my dreams twice since then. Once, it gave me the chance to say good bye to her, the other it gave me the chance to see her and remember her as she was when she was alive. The day after the second dream was a week before the anniversary of her death.  I had my itunes on shuffle when it started playing “Fading”. At first, everything was fine, but then a phrase jumped out at me and it was instant tear fest; you are fading and I can’t let go. Nicole was just a fading memory now. She was the reason I continued to do swimming in high school, someone who was able to keep everyone’s spirit up when they were down and her death had been something that had been eating away at me ever since. My birthday had no longer been a happy celebratory day for me; it was a day where I continued to remember her and honor her whenever I could.

I forgot which song it was, but afterwards, Scott turned his back to the audience gently took off his guitar and to my shock, pulled off his shirt in a somewhat casual manner. Like Jon, the first thing I thought, and the mental baseball smacked me multiple times for it, was that I had definitely seen better. I remembered with each mental smack that Scott’s mind was more beautiful than any of the varsity swimmer’s bodies and that that was all that mattered. I saw that he had two tattoos; one on his arm that looked like a bunch of bright colors in a circle and one on the back of his neck that looked familiar, but in that deja’vu way.  Trying to continue to be respectful and not run onto the stage to rip off the rest of his clothes, I looked over at Brian, wondering if he was going to be the next member to take his shirt off. That was when I noticed that out of all the MKIO members, he was the only one not sweating. Even though the space was hot, he was probably the only person in the entire space without any drops of sweat on his body.

I had noticed that during the entire show, I kept getting quick glance-overs from Brian, Gordon, and Jon. It was a strange thing since at all of their other shows that I had been to, I had never gotten that many looks from them. Then again, I could just be thinking that when they were really looking at the people around me. But, what I’m thinking is that they were making sure I was still there… still okay. After telling Gordon and Jon about my experience in Memphis where a pimp came up and asked me if I wanted to become a prostitute, I could understand why they might be worried about me and might want to make sure that I was still in one piece. The only time I got worried about probably ending up in pieces was when Bill was in the corner, I was next to him, and suddenly I started getting smacked in the arm. I turned slightly and saw that a mosh pit had started right next to me. I was shoved up against Bill and he put his arms out and kept pushing the people away from us. I hate mosh pits so much. I don’t mind being in a crowd, but so much skin to skin contact with so many people, it sets me on edge to the point where I want to hunker down in a corner, put my hands over my ears, squeeze my eyes shut, and stay like that for maybe an hour.

MKIO had just finished playing “Still Right Here” when I heard Tash announce that they had one more song to play for someone’s special birthday. Scott went over to his acoustic guitar, and in my head, I dropped the baseball bat and screamed as loud as I could “NO! NO! NO! HOW COULD YOU MAKE ME LISTEN TO IT THIS SOON? HOW COULD YOU MAKE MY HEART BLEED AGAIN? THIS IS GOING TO MAKE ME CRY AND BE IN SO MUCH PAIN!!!!!!” I drew in a shaky breath, turned to Bill and showed him how to work my camera because I wanted to ‘enjoy’ this gift and get it on film as well.

I did cry. I saw Nicole in my head, went over every moment I had lived with her. Remembered her and whispered her name so many times that it could have been a mantra. Around me, the crowd talked or laughed and I wanted to yell at them. Not that they were ruining my gift, but because to me, they had no respect for the dead. Tears stained my cheeks and as the last note hung in the air, I threw myself into Bill’s arms and heard behind me Tash say in a sweet and caring voice, “Happy birthday, Christy.” Then, Gordon in a confused and happy voice say louder, “Happy birthday, Christy!” The unspoken words whispered in my mind in their voices:  “your friend is dead.”

I drifted back into the bar after taking my camera back from Bill. I sat in the booth closest to the door to the theater, pulled my legs up to my chest and let the full feeling of pain settle into my heart. Yes, it was my birthday. Yes, Nicole was dead. It repeated in my head, Nicole was dead. It was almost as if I was still in denial about her death. Though, I could almost watch her last moments of her life in my head. She and her friend in the car in the left turn lane. Nicole had probably just found a song on the radio or CD that she liked and was dancing a bit to it while her friend got a smile on his face and glanced over at her. She probably sent a smile back and bobbed her head a bit. He looked up to see that the light was turning yellow, saw the semi-truck in the other lane, and hit the gas to turn since the semi looked like it was slowing down. Nicole probably let out a gasp as she was sent back in the seat and then a scream when she threw her hands up to prevent the light from the semis headlights from hitting her eyes. She probably continued to scream when the semi hit and stopped only when she had become unconscious and her life began to slipping away. I played those possible moments over and over in my head while I sat there. As much as I wanted to think about all the beautiful times I had had with Nicole, the week before and after June 2nd had become that where all I could think of was that she was gone and dead. It was enough to almost send me into a tearful fit when Bill came up to me. Hoping that I could put a happy face on and not look like I had been mentally crying and about to do so physically, I put my legs down and scooted over to give him a place to sit. We sat there for a while and then Scott and Tash came over and Scott sat next to me. Bill got up after a few moments and then so did Tash. In my head, I ran over some of the stuff Nicole had told me about how to get over my shyness towards Scott. I also started beating myself mentally with the bat again since I had to say something and nothing could come to the tip of my tongue. Scott turned to me and asked, “So, how old are you now?” Slightly disappointed that he hadn’t tried to find out himself, but shrugging it off since that’s the type of person I am; used to disappointment and no longer caring when my heart gets stomped on by those I care for and try to never disappoint, I told him. He nodded his head and then said “So, I’m sure we’ll have time to talk later.” I felt my face light up and I nodded. I was thinking of what to say next when someone came up to us and looked at Scott and asked in a drunk voice, “So, how do you get the ‘fro? Do you style it like that or is that natural?” Scott nodded, “Well, first off, you have to be Jewish.” My mind went into a whirlwind. Jewish wasn’t a nationality, but Scott had some physical characteristics that had me wonder if he was Polish or Israeli. That one little comment out of his mouth solidified my thoughts on that. But, he couldn’t just be Polish/Israeli. There was something more to his build that said there was something else in his blood and part of me wanted to say Italian/Greek and possibly a hidden Celt gene thrown in there somewhere. If he were to say he is pure Polish/Israeli I would step on his foot and say “LIAR! Learn genetic traits before speaking to a gene-loving freak!”

I was thinking about the next day and my journey back north to home and my jobs and a world that had no clue the amazing people around me existed. I felt sticky and thought that when I got back to my room in the hotel that I was going to take a shower or bath before going to bed. It was then that I remembered that Tash and Jon had been talking about driving through the nigh all the way to Houston in Texas. Thinking that if it was me, and I had sweated as much as they all had, I would wish that I was clean before making that 12 hour drive. I found Tash and offered my hotel room’s shower to MKIO to use before the drive and she went off to tell the guys, who readily agreed. Jon drove Tash and I back to my room and she instantly dove into the shower. I pulled out my ex-boyfriend’s lap top that he had let me borrow for the trip and something told me to work a bit on VR. I brought up the third chapter and tapped my chin, wondering how to make it dark. As I was tapping my chin, a pure note floated out of the bathroom and gently uncurled in my ear. Looking over in the direction of the shower, I felt my jaw slowly drop. Tash was singing in the shower. After a few moments of staring in the direction of the sound, I thought that even though she sounded amazing on stage, she sounded so much more beautiful at that precise moment. She was putting so much more into the notes she was singing in the shower than I had ever heard on stage. Listening intently, I tried to not think that unless she sang like this on the stage, there was no point in listening to her again, I felt the words I want to write come to my fingertips. Unlike the darkness that I wanted installed in the third chapter, I was putting emotion into my words. Tash’s voice breathed life into characters that I had never realized had never really had life. It was amazing experience. Tash came out of the bathroom wearing a beautiful brown dress, hair down, and a happy smile on her face. She looked around and said that she had thought the guys would have been there by now and grabbed her purse to go see if the vending machines had anything. I continued to type and she came back a few minutes later. We waited around for the guys to come and when they did, they all hopped in to take their showers. Jon and Brian came out fully dressed, but Gordon came out without a shirt on and I slightly turned away from him since I didn’t want to look at him and let him or anyone else know how little I see of the male body.  Brian had plopped down next to me on the bed and lay back. I picked up a pillow and put it over his head. “Can’t breathe.” Was his only response and I removed the pillow hastily.  When Scott was taking his shower and the last one in, Jon looked over at me and asked, “So, how are you getting to Jackson?” Knowing he was going to chew me out I meekly answered, “cab?”. His reaction was predictable in that he looked over at Tash who had her lap top out and said “Hey Tash, look up our route and see if we go through Jackson.” Looking over at me he said “We’re taking you.” I tried to hide my excitement.   More time with MKIO? Damn, it was no longer my birthday, but this was the best present I could ever receive. I quickly went around the room and started unplugging things that I had brought along and packing up my bag. I pulled out the clothes I was going to wear the following day and the second Scott came out of the bathroom, I quickly went in. Not even thinking about or caring that not even five minutes ago that he had been naked in the same place I now was, I took a shower quick enough to rival the ones I had taken during swim season at the pool, pulled on my clothes and went outside the bathroom to comb my hair and put it up in the style that was quick and apparently elegant if I wanted it to be. I didn’t care if they all watched me do it or completely ignored me; I honestly don’t give a s**t about what people think about me. I turned around to see that they all had found places that were not the bed. Scott or Tash had pulled out the jar of jalapeños that I had given them and were eating them. Both of them looked amazed and in heaven and Tash explained that they had been looking for some good ones, but hadn’t found any. She said that the ones I had given them were the best. I tried to remember where I had gotten them, but wasn’t sure. Suddenly, Gordon grabbed a bag of cheezits that had appeared sometime during my shower and put a pepper on it. He took a bite and looked amazed. “Oh, whoa, you have to try this!” Scott and Tash quickly did and he looked down at me, and bent down to offer me one. I looked back up at him and didn’t take it. “That’s a cheezit.” I said and he nodded. I pointed at myself. “I’m a vegan.” He nodded again and then stopped, “oh..yeah… You don’t know what you’re missing.” I looked behind me at Jon, who had a pained expression on his face. I looked back and Brian was now sitting in front of Tash, nibbling on a cheezit and jalapeño mix and then went on to say that they would be a great thing to have at parties or serve as snacks somewhere.

Jon and I left the room when we were planning on leaving; him to clean out the front seat of the van and me to check out of my room. I was walking up to the van and feeling a sense of ease that I always seemed to get when around it when I saw Jon go towards the trailer holding two bar bells. Thinking that those were so awesome, I was going to say something when Jon saw me and said “I know; I’m such a dork!” I shook my head in disagreement and looked into the front seat of the van to see that it was probably as clean as Jon could make it with nothing but his hands. I jumped in and moments later, he jumped into the driver’s seat. I made myself comfortable and looked over at him. He was looking in the direction of the room I’d been staying at and I glanced over at it to. The door was still closed and I looked around to see that no one was outside. Jon started talking about how he’d do the driving to Jackson and then pass it off to someone else. He gave me a quick glance and went on to talk about how he sort of did the raw food diet on tour and it mostly consisted of apples and carrots. We causally chatted until everyone else got to and into the van. I looked back while continuing to listen to Jon talk and it looked like Gordon had gotten into the van and had quickly fallen asleep. Scott had turned on a light and was reading a book. Tash had settled down to sleep, but not as quickly as Gordon. Brian, who was in the seat right behind Jon and I had pulled out his lap top and a set of ear phones. Jon pulled the van out and we were on our way to Jackson. It was 3:34am.

Jon continued to talk and I listened while constantly looking into the back of the van. I once saw Scott lean over the seat in front of him with his camera and take a picture or two of Tash. After about an hour, all of them were laying down and asleep. Jon kept talking, though his voice was full of uncertainty. He had never seemed like a shy person, but as I listened to him and learned more about him, I saw that yes, Jon Siren was an uncertain person. Uncertain about what, I couldn’t tell. He had mentioned that the ipod adapters had broke, so we’d be listening to a song on the radio and then as the next song would come on, he’d lean forward and hit the tuner to find a new station. A Blues Traveler song came on at one point and since it was the first song out of all of the other songs we’d listened to that I recognized, when Jon asked if I liked I said I did and his uncertainty became a sense of distress. Curious about why, but not wanting to ask, I still got my answer. Jon’s sister had been a fan of Blues Traveler and she had died. When Blues Traveler came to Columbus, OH, they played a tribute to her. He lapsed into a long silence and I almost begged him to change the station. The pain I saw on his face and in his body posture mirrored mine when it came to Nicole. I didn’t, though. I just sat back and shared his pain.

We stopped at a gas station and I felt a lil sleepy, so I put my head on the seat and waited for Jon to fill up the van’s tank. Scott, Tash, and Brian got out of the van to go into the gas station. I watched them with sleep filled eyes and almost got out to follow them, but decided not to. When Brian got back into the van, he started looking for a binder and asked me if it was around my seat. I couldn’t find it and when Jon peeked back into the van, Brian asked him and Jon said he thought he saw it in the trailer. Brian went out back and Jon went into the station. Once Brian had the binder he was looking for and everyone was back in the van, we started out once more. Wondering how much gas and how much it had dented their pockets, I looked over at the dashboard in front of Jon. Finding the gas meter, I saw that it was at half tank. Brian asked Jon how much money he had used and Jon said $60. Brian continued doing whatever he was doing and then put the binder down and went back to sleep.

As we got closer to Jackson, the sun began to rise just beyond Jon. I wanted to take a picture, but the flash would have blinded Jon and/or woken everyone up, and even though I wouldn’t have taken it with a flash, I was so tired that I knew that I would probably forget to turn the flash off if it was on. I just continued to stare past Jon and listen to him talk about the different bands on the radio. I felt really sleepy and even though the sun was rising and I normally couldn’t sleep with the sun out, I put my head down and listened to the radio with my eyes closed. Jon went quiet and part of me did a sleepy happy dance that he was one of those rare people who knew and respected people when they wanted to sleep. I stayed like that for 20 min, trying to relax my muscles and calm my mind. I had been known to attack people in my sleep, or scream, or show more strength then I thought I had. Anything could happen the moment I went to sleep, and I didn’t want to wake to find that something I had done in my sleep had forced Jon to get into an accident. That, and Insomnia was creeping through my veins with a gentle caress.

When I looked back up, we were pretty close to Jackson. I glanced behind me to see that Scott was awake and had propped his head and arms on the seat in front of him. I looked away before we could make eye contact; Scott’s eyes creped me out in their strange beauty. Jon and I talked a bit more and then Jon gave a deep sigh and asked me to ramble on about something. My brain went THUD and flipped onto its back to wave its legs about helplessly. What to talk about with a vegan pastry chief, drummer, and overall sweet guy? Volcanoes came to mind, but I wasn’t sure if he would understand half the words out of my mouth. I could chatter about the worlds I had created in VR or my werewolves’ stories. But nothing would come out of my mouth and let me talk about it. After a few moments of strangely awkward silence, Jon started talking again.

In Jackson, I looked around the city, but saw nothing that I couldn’t see or find much better in Chicago. My ex-boyfriend and I had joked about how St. Louis was a ‘mini-Chicago’. Jackson was a mini-St. Louis. I made sure that I had everything I needed in my bag, and then remembered that $60 had filled up only a portion of MKIO’s van. I pulled out $40, then hesitated and pulled out another $40. If I had taken a cab from Columbus to Jackson, it would have been $160, so giving half of that to MKIO instead of wandering about Jackson with over $160 in change in my pockets, less than $100 made me feel just a tad safer. Jon pulled into the front of the greyhound station and we both jumped out. Scott jumped out as well and he gave me a quick hug. Though I had been planning on whispering something in his ear, something along the lines of “See you next time” or “I’m patient, I can wait forever to talk to you”, my mind and body went numb the second his arms engulfed me. I wanted to hold him forever, but he loosened his grip on me too soon and I pulled back from him. He went around to the driver’s side of the van and I gave Jon a quick hug, too. Before he could duck into the van, I held up the $80 that had been in my hand. “Take it, for gas money.” He shook his head, but I said “I’m not leaving here until you do.” Something changed in his eyes and he took the money.

I went into the station and knowing that I had hours before my bus got there, I would a seat by a window that had the shade partially lifted up. I looked through it and could only see Scott sitting in the driver’s seat of the van. I watched him look behind him and either make sure everyone was there and safe, or talk to Jon, I don’t know which. He took a swig from a bottle and started driving the van out of the parking lot. I watched it until the back of the trailer was no longer in my sight.

I didn’t realize I was crying until my head lifted from my tear soaked hands and over an hour had passed. Unlike all the other times that I had seen them, “good-bye” had meant “see you next time”. Now, good-bye meant just that. When would I see them again? The single thought sent me into tears again and I continued to cry for another hour, a pair of smoky quartz marbles laughing in my head. 

© 2008 Christy Hauck

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This one is cool. I am surprised you haven't got this story published yet, but yeah keep plugging away you got something here as a short story writer. You did St. Charles proud with this short story, and if you have something you want to submit for issue seven of the magazine I am doing a local author issue (and want exclusives in print for this if you want to give it a go.)

Posted 12 Years Ago

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Added on June 13, 2008


Christy Hauck
Christy Hauck

Sun Prairie, WI

I tend to write Urban Fantasy, but that is because everytime I sit down to write anything but that, I always end up brainstorming some weird fictional thing that does not factor into the environment o.. more..