By Scott Garson
She didn’t believe that anyone could believe that she was this person. This person had a weighty face. It looked weighty. Full of bone. The name was “Danna”—Danna Hollenfar.
Danna was, by printed date, twenty-two years old. In the photo her mouth and nose were pulled to the left, as if she was resisting a joke. But her eyes looked frank and hard.
“Danna Hollenfar,” she said out loud. She was doing her eyes in the mirror. “1311 Rand Boulevard.”
The boy at the door of the club, however, was too coked up to ask questions
The warm-up band, X-25, was not a band but a person. He had a long, creased face, he sat on a wooden stool and messed with an electric guitar.
Because her friend, Janette, was drunk, and because she wasn’t friends with anyone else in the surrounding darkness, she listened to the songs that X-25 sang. In the light of the stage, which was hard and square, he looked tall and bent and tired. Between songs he said things, though.
She had the idea that he had the idea that no one was there listening. In fact, no one was. In the giant black-walled space, voices rolled and boomed.
Janette—her friend—got sick in the alley just as the second band came on.
She pilled Janette’s blonde hair from her face and secured it with her own black tie.
“She’s fine,” said a person named Rolley after Janette rose and left for the restroom.
She knew the line from the chorus of the song the second band was playing now—”Gonna hop a star.” But through the walls of the building the song was muffled. “Danna Hollenfar,” she heard. “Danna Hollenfar.”
Rolley had a backstage pass and got her in to look for Janette because Janette could not be found.
“Who are you looking for?” X-25 asked.
“Her name is Janette,” she said to him. “She lives at 26 Old Peach Road with her parents, who are happily married. She plays violin. She was on the swim team until two weeks ago. She didn’t like it. She quit.”
X-25 sat blinking at her.
She gleamed with the odd magnificence of her lie, of how she’d told it. All of these things were true, in fact; all of them were true about her.
They didn’t stay for the headliners. They walked to a sliver of park and claimed a slat bench across from another bench where a shirtless man lay sleeping.
X-25 rolled cigarettes and pressed hashish in the tips.
“People weren’t listening to you,” she said, and watched the roll of smoke she breathed as it pulled toward the flickering streetlight.
“Big black box full of assholes,” he said. “I told them. You all look like assholes.”
“You didn’t say that.”
“Are you assholes? You’re assholes, huh?“
“You didn’t say that,” she said. “I’d have heard.”
He nodded in a slow and private way, as if he were harboring a menace.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“What’s your’s?” he countered.
She nodded, a little like he had.
Then they were in this overgrown field surrounded by huge apartment blocks. In fact, it had been a baseball field. A chain-link backstop, ten feet high, was chiming in sudden wind.
She watched the moon, which was crisp and round and pulling from layers of fleet, gauzy cloud. She said, “The moon.” She thought it was beautiful but thought that was beside the point. She thought it was real. It was wild and actual. It was pulling her out to sea.
X-25 had the right idea. He stretched himself out like an X on the rise where the pitcher’s mound had been.
“Probably your friend took a cab,” he said.
“I’m sure she did. I’m sure she’s home sleeping in bed. Can I call you X?”
“You can call me whatever you want.”
She knelt and then lay down next to him and put her right hand on his chest.
“Say something,” she told him.
“What,” he responded.
“I want to feel your voice.”
“I like you. You’re somebody in this world who I like.”
“That could be a song.”
She lifted her hand to shutter the light of the moon. “I could feel it,” she said.
Scott Garson is the author of Is That You, John Wayne?—a collection of stories. He lives in central Missouri.
Originally appeared in NOR 8