Occurs a week later, after securing herself a chance at the high end club to play one night to "prove" herself.
The days had passed painfully slow as she waited for Wednesday to arrive. She had played the Back Alley a couple nights and set the place on fire by taking over the bands completely each time, much to the chagrined of Joe who knew the front men were not likely to come back. Still, he couldn’t complain, she was lining his pockets, people were walking in off the street in droves both nights as she had pulled out Big Bessy to dust her off and get her back in tune ahead of the big night. The monster amp was vibrating the damn chairs along the floor of the hole in the wall bar and travelling nearly a block outside its walls. She was too much for the tiny bar but Bessy was going to be brilliant at Club Zio.
She had been born to do this….
Thick lashes sifted slowly open Wednesday morning as a tail itched her nose, the offending appendage plucked upward to hold the furry neck-warmer up off her chin, small paws grabbed her nose as the explosive chatter complained at the mistreatment. She chuckled softly, the sound deep and rich as she set him back down on her chest and stretched, not really wanting to get up just yet even though she was sure it was noon already.
It was Wednesday….. and she was incredibly calm.
When little claws pricked down the tight abs she finally relented.
”…ok ok ok…. I’ll feed you Caesar… ”
Long legs slid out of the sheets, bare feet curling toes on the battered wood floors before she stood, sheet slipping from her waist, light gray cotton boyshorts hugging low on her hips as she yawned and padded to the small pantry, fingers lightly tracing over the supplies before pulling out a can of tuna she had picked up with the money she had finally gotten from Joe. Of course stocking the pantry for Caesar had left her broke again, a fact that was beginning to be a little too clearly written on her lower ribs despite the tight abs.
Three fourths of the can was poured onto a little plate on the table for Caesar as she dipped her finger into the remaining to scoop it out and pop in her own mouth, not her favorite, but beggars couldn’t be choosers. Can was dropped in the trash as she walked by scratching the arched furry back on her way to the closet that was her bathroom.
Underwear was dropped to the floor as she stepped into the frigid waters. Strange, today the lack of hot water seemed…refreshing. God, she really was excited.
Two days ago she had pulled out the "Trunk”…..
The large dusty black container had been stored under her bed for the last two years, never once opened. It held her stage gear. Things she hadn’t used or worn since before the collapse of the world. Everything had been reverently pulled out, sensitive fingers running over every inch of fabric and leather to be sure nothing had decayed, the scent of moth balls still strong inside the trunk. She had spent the whole day washing everything inside, getting everything ready and laid out on the oversized chair that served as her couch, spread over the crates that were her coffee table.
As she washed the long layers of mahogany waves she inventoried the items she had prepared, only now selecting what she was going to wear. She wasn’t stupid, she had a fairly good idea the type of place Club Zio was beyond its knack for good music. This wasn’t a ripped jeans and faded rocker tee joint, but she wasn’t some Japanese pink pigtail girl type either, she needed a happy middle ground that was still all her but wouldn’t have the boss tossing her out before she hit the stage.
Hair was swept into a towel knotted on top of her head before she dried the rest off, feeling little beady eyes on her as if judging her for having even taken the time to shave … ”…oh shut up… ” the quip came with a faint smirk as she snapped the towel to lay over the sink before heading out to the strange array of items that now covered most of her furniture. Fingertips slid along inside labels for a small mark that had been left there long ago, all the things with a "B" pulled aside.
B… was for blue…..
She hadn’t always been colorless in her wardrobe. There had been a time that there was someone she had trusted to pick out things for her and label them correctly so she never made a fool of herself. Nowadays, well it was just safer with blacks, greys and browns, she always matched.
The cotton boyshorts were slipped over still drying skin, the electric blue color in high contrast to her lightly tanned skin. The black cargos went on next, drawstring at the waist letting her take them in a bit so they didn’t fall off her slightly starved hips yet not so much that they didn’t still hang low, the top ebony band highlighted by almost a centimeter of the electric blue cotton peeking above the top. The loose pockets of the cargos had thick electric blue ties pulled through the ring buckles. The blue socks were pulled on though she had never really understood why bother since they were covered by the black thick soled boots anyway. Jay had always said it was because SHE would know. He had been gay as the night was long but bless him she had never gotten on stage looking like an idiot.
Jay hadn’t made it through the world's death…
The thought drew a faint frown that she quickly chased away by pulling the boots on, carefully lacing up the fronts and then tying the extra lace around the top of the leather at her calf, the cargos snapped down over it. Thick soles gave her another two inches that her six foot frame didn’t really need but they were comfortable and broken in like old friends going on stage, their black leather glossed to a near latex shine from the polish she had given them the night before.
Towel was snapped from her hair as she walked around and unplugged everything from the walls. The ragged apartment was not exactly known for its stellar performance in the fuse box arena and she rarely used the blow dryer. Damp hair hung to the floor as she leaned over and began to run her fingers through the wet waves, chuckling as Caesar came bounding in to investigate.. hanging from the cord of the dryer as she moved it up and down. A lack of bleaching, dying, frying, curling or spraying had left the musician with a mane that had a fairly brilliant sheen when actually blow dried, long nearly straight waves billowed down the bare back by the time she was done. Fingertips shook though the front so the locks went back over her head, of course by the end of the night it would all be damp and glued to her face, neck and shoulders anyway…but for now.
The black leather vest was slid up her arms to hang open in front, leather cord threaded through the bottom two holes and pulled until the sides were even before she began to weave it up the ebony grommets in the front, the wide gap that exposed her chest beginning to shrink. The inside of the leather was lined to keep her from chaffing and to absorb the sweat, the telltale electric blue included in one inch wide stripes under her arms that ran the length of the vest which was cropped but not vulgarly so.. a nice three inch band of toned abs exposed between its hem and the top of the peek-a-boo electric blue cotton.
The vest knotted off she took a deep breath to test. It was snug, but not constricting.
This was hardly the androgynous figure that had been at the high end club last week. She was still a bit too tall, still lean with muscles that cut hard across her exposed arms and abs, but there were curves to be seen finally as well. Hips that rounded gently were highlighted by the bulk of the cargos hanging low, the leather vest laced high but not so much so as to cut off the sight of a bit of cleavage the lanky woman was sporting.
She sat on the arm of the oversized chair, hand sliding on the seat until she relocated the box of accessories she had left there, drawing it up onto her thigh only to frown as fingertips ran over the dragon carved across the top.
It had been a long time since she had done more than throw on a tank and go play. A long time since she had so ritualistically dressed to set foot in her “church”. The last time had been December, the year of the fall, for a concert that never started…
Shaking off old memories, the lid of the box was flipped open. She had pulled out and cleaned, polished or tossed everything inside yesterday so everything now sat pristinely waiting for her. The knit glove was pulled up her right hand, the fabric tight along her arm as it stretched to her elbow… the fingertips exposed through the holes as she gently scrunched the fabric back down until it came halfway up her forearm, stripes running around her arm in matte black and silky black yarn. It was a practicality that Jay had made a fashion signature of hers. Her palm tended to sweat too much and she hated when it dripped onto the fingers of her strumming hand, it made the strings wet and changed their sound, not that anyone else would ever hear it except her. She had originally wrapped her hand like a boxer but Jay found it tacky and pronounced it clashed with all the wardrobes he put together for her. He was probably right…..
Two leather bands were pulled around the left wrist before she pulled out the small box at the bottom and flipped it open. The silver inside glistening from the scrub yesterday. One by one the bars and studs were put in until six ran around the lobe of her left ear and two dotted her right. It felt strange to be all decked out for the stage again.
Thumb was thoughtfully chewed on before fingers hesitantly slid over the glasses in the box. It had been the big debate last night. She could just as easily wear her John Lennon opaque ebony circles that hid all her secrets. But tonight felt like all or nothing, the arms were flicked open on the blue rectangles that let the eyes be seen through. At first glance they made the white irises seem ice blue and the eyes perfectly sighted, but when one actually paid attention the pupils were only a few shades darker, clearly not black behind the blue veneer, and they never dilated, always a bit large and doe-eyed.
Long fingers ran her hair back as if to calm herself. This was it… all…. or nothing.
The black guitar case was slung up over her shoulder, base high as the neck stretched down her left hip. The remaining two cases were her footboard and of course, Bessy, the Marshall thirty pound monstrosity was ready to be on stage again.
Joe’s had been her first stop. It was long before the club would open for the night but the man lived upstairs so after enough banging he had opened the door with a grunt. It had only taken one look at her and knew his free ride on her talent was over. He could only chuckle softly and invite her in. He owed her more than four weeks pay still, but she settled up for a decent meal, if she passed out on stage Mr Dempsey was going to have her hauled out of his club like week old meat.
She spent an hour quietly chatting with the man before he came around to kiss her cheek.
•Joe• "… knock em dead kid…"
”…every damn chance I get Joe….. ”
The smile broad before she slipped out of his door for the last time.