“If you embarrass me I’ll just pretend like I don’t know you,” Cassie said, idling red eyes between me and a cigarette.
Dressed in all black like a bad omen, tastefully undressed in shoulders, arms, knees, and other non erogenous zones. Non-conformist and un-plus with a tattoo of Anubis coloring her forearm, eye-liner running at just the right angle to look more punk than it was depressing.
I loved to watch her leave as much as I loved to follow, admiring the fun and dire looks she threw back at me as I took a mental inventory. Another sixty bucks might mean a workweek full of tuna fish and sardines until the next direct deposit graced me. Rents a bitch, but more than anything, those bar tabs will kill ya. Bottom shelf shots are every New York booze hounds salvation, but even those start adding up when you’ve been at it long after twelve.
I should had gone home a while ago, on moral grounds and debit card balance considerations, but I find it so hard to act your wage when I’m in the face of good company.
“I mean it.”
Cassie stood neutral on the sidelines of chaos, and she made it so easy to forget that I should give a fuck about tomorrow. Like that manic pixie girl they make all those movies about, but way more toxic.
On the train ride she stared at a couple passionately trying to swallow each others tongues. And when the six-foot-something big spoon asked if there was a problem, she laughed and casually asked if there was enough room enough for two more. They sucked their teeth and left at the next station, long testosterone glares I half heartedly reciprocated. And when I asked Cassie why she had such a problem with PDA to be so embarrassing, she shrugged and told me Not-At-All. I-Just-Thought-That-Would-Be-Funny.
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” I said, shuffling my internal playlist of wisecrack and dumbass to best match what I thought would be her rhythm. “But one quick question: how do your friends feel about Syria?”
I thought Cassie was burning inside as bright as I was, full of that quiet crazy staring at strangers and waiting to socially erupt. I thought she was as fed up as I was with faux pas pleasantries, nominal living and the circadian rhythm. Ready to yell at pigeons in the park and be an island of revolution. Choosing yourself over this paper thin etiquette and simulated version of honesty. A half-assed mutiny against the workweek, civil disobedience without a reason and more for the fuck of it. Howling on the street and refusing to let our madness be private.
“I’m serious,” She said, stopping with a hand firmly pressing into my chest. “Do not embarrass me,” she repeated, red and wolfish eyes idling between me and the half finished cigarette nearly burning the wool of my jacket.
Thin and bright red letters dimmed against the darkness like an alarm clock ahead of us, neon shadows casting the words ‘The O D E O N’ looming on a marquee. The feint fragrance of shay butter and too much hairspray wafting by. A few seconds ago the click of our shoes against the sidewalk filled the aching creaks of our empty headspaces, but now there was only an odd and busy silence as New York revolved around our feet.
I had half a mind to bring up the problematic train ride that got us there, but her cute face and my aversion to conflict got the better of me. I trust no ones judgement, and my own much less. But when you’re morally bankrupt and already in enough debt to be thrifty on the last sixty dollars you have left in your bank account, it’s easy to overlook a little hypocrisy for a few free drinks with a pretty girl.
But she was waiting for an answer and the moment was so heavy and pregnant with anticipation. She was just so serious and I just didn’t know what to say.
“I’ll be good,” is what I settled on, and lied. She nodded, and we made our way into Odeon and the rest of the night.
Waltzing on drifting heels, those dark and looming neon signs ahead of us, I wondered about the cover charge we all pay for a night outside ourselves.