Fog City Summer pt. 3 – Fiction
Fog City Summer
a San Francisco Romance
Excerpt from a Novel by
Last time: Djuna and Julian have an intimate evening. Julian comes over to Djuna’s house for dinner the next day, but their night is interrupted by Scott, who bursts in, clearly inebriated.
Djuna gave Julian an apologetic look and went out in the hall to try to reason with Scott.
“Scott, what the hell? I told you to leave.”
“I left… I left… but then I came back.”
He looked so pathetic, crumpled drunkenly against the wall, she nearly pitied him.
“Scott, I have company. I can’t talk now.”
“There’s a guy in there, isn’t there? I saw him.”
“Scott, I’m going to call the police in a minute if you don’t get the fuck out of here.”
“Let me talk to him. I just want to see him.” His voice was going up and down in the way it only does when a person has had far too much whisky.
“No. You have to leave.”
Julian couldn’t make out any words through the door, but he could hear the firm tone of Djuna’s voice, and gathered that she might be able to use his help. He took a deep breath and opened the door to the hallway. Djuna immediately looked back at him, her eyes wide.
“Is everything ok?” Julian said.
“Scott was just leaving,” Djuna said, the muscles in her jaw furiously clamping.
“I just came to talk to Djuna,” the drunk man sputtered. “Just talk, that’s all.”
Julian tried to remain composed. “She clearly doesn’t want to talk to you. Please be on your way.”
Scott made a face mocking Julian. “Alright, I’m leaving. Why are you all being so serious? She must be fucking you or something.”
Djuna looked like a thin piece of glass with a crack running through it, a combination of embarrassment and fear. “Just go,” she said to Scott, and he turned and zig-zagged down the hallway with an annoyed look on his face. Djuna immediately ushered Julian back into the apartment and locked the doorknob and the deadbolt.
“I left… I left… but then I came back.”
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“We could call the police. They could arrest him for loitering and harassment. Maybe public intoxication too.”
“It’s ok. I think he got the message. He’s only like that when he’s drunk.”
They sat down at the kitchen table and Djuna’s face became hidden by her hands.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Julian asked awkwardly.
“Yes. And no.” She got up and turned away from him, leaning her hips against the sink. “Scott and I had a—turbulent—relationship that lasted two years. He was so charismatic when I met him, so sweet. But, like many very charming people, he turned out to be both an alcoholic and a cheater. We broke up two months ago. He moved to Santa Cruz with some girl. That’s that.”
When she turned back around, he could see that her eyes were filled with tears that hadn’t been released yet. She closed her eyes, and they fell down her cheeks. She immediately wiped them away with her sleeve.
Before she knew it, Julian had stood up and put his arms around her, holding her body against his. Her tears were flooding into the collar of his shirt, but she gripped him as tight as she could, her chest shaking.
He wanted to tell her that she looked beautiful with wet eyes. Some part of him knew he should be turned off by the whole scene, but instead found himself instinctually wanting to protect her from anything that might make her cry.
“This wasn’t how I pictured this night going,” she said.
“How could you have known?”
“I should have known. He came by right before you got here and I told him to leave. I should have known he would come back.”
“You don’t have to apologize for it.”
Djuna shook her head. “Why are you being so nice to me?”
Julian didn’t know what to say. “I just… like you,” he stuttered.
She looked as if she might shatter into tears again, but instead surprised him with a kiss. Her arms wound tightly around his neck. He lifted her up by her waist onto the kitchen counter and she wrapped her legs around him. The harder he squeezed her thighs, the more she pressed hers into him.
Every brush of his hand unleashed volts that traveled through her veins. The counter bruised her backside as he pressed her into it voraciously, a dull pain that only heightened her pleasure. His lips were like plum-skin against her neck, his fingers searching until he found her sweet core.
She smelled like oranges. He bit her neck and sucked the honey skin between his teeth. She drew the air sharply into her lips. Their bodies disrupted the small population of jars and dishes on the kitchen counter like an earthquake rolling through a city. If he had been able to press himself so tightly against her that no atoms separated them, he would have, but as before an invisible barrier divided them. It was as if he stood next to the ocean, smelling the salt and hearing the crashing of waves, but a dense, impenetrable fog covered the magnificent sight of it.
Djuna’s fingers found Henry’s number, and he picked up after three rings.
“What’s up, lady?”
“Do you remember what this weekend is?” she said excitedly.
“This weekend… Oh.” His voice dipped when she expected it to rise. “Honey, I’m going to be in Chicago this weekend.”
“What! No! How could you schedule that the same weekend as the People’s Music Festival?”
“It’s a work thing. I can’t get out of it…”
“Henry, you have failed me. Failed me, I tell you.”
“It’s not that big of a deal. Next year we’ll do it right. I promise!”
“I will hear none of this. It is a tradition for us to wear all the clothes we couldn’t get away with at work, participate in drum circles and dance on a crowded field to amplified music. How dare you break this tradition!”
Henry laughed. “Djunafish–”
“Moreover, I was going to invite coffee house guy.”
Henry gasped. “The eyes like rivers? Oh no, I really wanted to meet him!”
“Well now you can’t, because you are officially a terrible best friend.”
“How about I make it up to you by buying all your drinks for a week?”
“That will be acceptable,” she said, and abruptly pressed the end button on her phone.
Julian discovered that he felt oddly conflicted about his date with Djuna the night before. As the milk in the metal pitcher bubbled, he wondered if Djuna saw him only as a distraction from her scary ex-boyfriend. After their passionate escapade in her kitchen, they had barely exchanged words. She had fallen asleep on the couch with her head resting on his lap. As she lay there, the factories in his brain had started churning out thoughts of doubt and insecurity.
He wanted to tell her
that she looked beautiful with wet eyes.
After he handed the café au lait to the man on the other side of the counter who seemed completely absorbed in his iPhone, Julian pulled out his own phone, carefully holding it below the level of the counter, and looked at the message from Djuna:
People’s Music Festival?
He typed a few different versions of a response, looking back and editing them as he wanted to try to convey the proper tone. He finally settled on: Sure. Meet at my place or yours?
The phone buzzed excitedly only a few seconds after he sent it: Yours is closer to the park. How about 11 AM?
He considered playing the game of waiting to respond so as not to seem overly eager, as so many women had done that to him in past scenarios, but deemed it unfair as she was clearly not playing this game. He looked up to make sure no customers were waiting, and then typed: Sounds perfect.
He wasn’t exactly sure what the People’s Music Festival was, apart from what it sounded like it was. Hawai’i had its share of music, as did New York, but he had a feeling that a San Francisco music festival was bound to be a unique experience. Knowing that Djuna had probably attended many of these festivals made him feel much better about delving into something he had never experienced. Why else had he come here, but to experience new things?
Djuna smiled to herself as she read his last message: sounds perfect. She quickly put her phone in her pocket as Shayna walked by.
Djuna stared at her computer screen. She really had very little work to do. She would have to stretch out two or three tasks over four hours. At one time she had had real career ambitions beyond just finding something tolerable that paid the bills. She had hoped to review books or theater, and write novels and poetry on the side. But once she graduated from college, in one of the worst economic years for the country since the Great Depression, the “you can be anything” wore off quickly.
She had been casually perusing Craigslist for job opportunities for a few months now, but nothing that she found seemed worth her time. Her current job was just convenient enough that she didn’t have much motivation to leave unless something really perfect came up. She looked around to make sure no one was nearby, then pulled up Craigslist and clicked on the “writing jobs” section. Usually the pickings were slim for that type of work, and today was no different. As she scanned the page, she noticed one posting that said “Columnist.” She immediately clicked on it out of curiosity. For a moment she couldn’t believe it—it was as if someone had paraphrased her description of her ideal job.
“An up-and-coming website looking for an opinionated writer with a unique voice to write reviews of local shows, events and venues (includes cafes and businesses). Ideal person would be a San Francisco native (or have lived here for many years), with a background in creative writing. Please submit resume and writing sample to email address below.”
She scanned the list of tasks and requirements and found that she miraculously met all of them. The image of her walking out of the office triumphantly after having flipped her desk over and watched all the expensive equipment crash to the floor with papers snowing all around it passed through her mind. She spent the next hour picking out a writing sample.
Djuna shut off her computer, finally, at five o’clock sharp and walked swiftly out the door. The festival was tomorrow and there were preparations to be made. On the bus ride home, she made a list on her hand of things to pack: snacks, joint, flask, water bottle, festival schedule, umbrella, scarf, gum, toilet paper, towel/sheet.
When she got home, she immediately went about packing these things into a small Guatemalan backpack that one of her moms had given her for Christmas last year, which she left by the door. She even circled the names and times of bands she most wanted to see, working out something of a schedule, and hoping that Julian would not argue with her choices. Some she chose arbitrarily, but with other bands, she would have to rethink her relationship with him if he disagreed.
The sky glowed white with summer fog as she left the house, but Djuna suspected it would clear up later. She waited nearly fifteen minutes for the N at Van Ness Station, then squeezed onto a crowded train filled with young people in cut-off shorts with backpacks full of cheap beer. She rolled her eyes at a group of girls wearing tacky hippie headbands that looked like they had been bought in a department store. The music festivals in the City had become more and more populated with frat-boy and hipster suburbanites using the event as an excuse to drink in public, but Djuna had never let this ruin her time. She and Henry usually made a sport of trading witty remarks about this crowd.
Their bodies disrupted the small population of jars and dishes on the kitchen counter like an earthquake rolling through a city.
Julian had never put so much thought into getting dressed. It was foggy now, but it would be sunny later, and the fog would come back by five. The only thing to do was wear layers and bring a pack to contain them.
He was still finding a way to fit all his things into a messenger bag when Djuna knocked on his door. He opened it and couldn’t help immediately smiling when he saw her. She wore hiking boots with corduroy shorts and a woven pullover made up of various fading colors, and her hair was pulled back messily with little strands framing her alabaster cheeks. She must really look good in everything, he thought.
“You look… prepared,” he uttered.
“This isn’t my first time at the rodeo,” she said. “You ready to go?”
“Yeah,” he said, continuing to stuff his jacket into his bag as he followed her out the door.
“The weather should be pretty good today,” she said as he locked the door behind them. “I think it’ll be sunny later, but with a nice breeze.”
“I hope you’re right,” Julian said.
Djuna turned to start down the street and felt Julian catch her hand. She tried to hide that it had startled her at first, but he noticed and they both laughed. She squeezed his fingers between hers and felt a burst in her chest when he squeezed back.
“I have a schedule for the bands—there’s a lot of good people playing, so I kind of mapped out the day.”
She reached into her pocket and pulled out the schedule on which she had circled bands and times, and handed it to him. He scanned it and she watched him nervously.
His eyebrows went up. “Freudian Slip is playing? I love them!”
“Me too,” she said, some of her anxiety dissolving.
“And Richter Six? We have to see them.”
“But I have to say, at 2:30, you selected VaporKaiser, but I’d rather see Woton at 2:35.”
“I couldn’t decide. But I think you might be right. Woton probably puts on a better show. And I don’t know about you, but I like to dance.”
“I’ve been known to do a few dance moves. If the mood is right.”
Djuna’s eyes were clear blue crescents when she smiled. As they got closer to the park, they saw more and more people headed in the same direction as them. The entrance from 9th Avenue was lined with signboard directing them towards the festival, as if it wasn’t obvious. They passed the arboretum, the Japanese tea gardens, the AIDs memorial grove, Stow Lake.
“How many people come to this thing?” Julian asked.
“A lot,” was her reply. “That’s why you have to come early.”
An older bearded man in neon colors with a ponytail coming out of the hole in the top of his bowler hat brushed past them.
“You know what I like about this city? I feel like I can wear whatever here because I’m never going to be the weirdest person on the street,” Julian said, watching the man as he passed.
“What are you planning on doing now that you’re here, anyway?”
“Besides making coffee?” he said. “Well, I’d like to eventually own a café. I’ve always wanted to, but I was looking for the right place to do it in. And I want the walls to be covered in books that anyone could read if they bought a cup of coffee or pie or whatever.”
“Pie?” Djuna’s eyes got wider at the mention of her favorite dessert.
“Yeah, I love baking pies.”
“I love pie. Apple pie. Pecan pie. Pear pie. Just pie in general.”
“Well, one of these days, I’ll bake you a pie.”
“I would love that. I can seriously sit down and eat a whole pie. Although I shouldn’t.”
Julian laughed. “I’ll bake you a small one.”
“Well, I dunno– better bake a full-sized one. You know, so I can have leftovers.”
He laughed. “Done!”
They reached the mouth of the park, where groups of people were already filing in.
“I guess we should follow the crowd?” Julian asked.
“The festival centers around Speedway Meadow, so we should head there. People will be handing out maps around the vicinity, which you might need it if we get separated.”
“I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen,” he said, squeezing her hand.
She snuck a glance at his handsome profile, but he noticed her staring and turned, stealing a quick kiss. Everything was perfect. An intense calm buzzed through her.
“So how do you plan to acquire this café?” Djuna was saying. “Sounds like a place I’d like to hang out in.”
“Well, I’ve been saving my money since I was fourteen—every allowance, birthday cash, tips, anything I could put aside. I’m actually only a few thousand away from theoretically starting a business. Which I could acquire in the next year or so if I continue to live in a garage and no big expenses arise. So I’m getting close.”
“Wow, really? That’s so… organized. I mean, I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t think to save up my money from that young an age.”
“Well, I guess it’s because I saw all my friends in Hawai’i just hang around and do nothing, and I always knew I wasn’t going to be like that. So, I just made the decision that I was going to find a way out.”
“That’s really impressive. Man, it must just drive you crazy the way people treat you at the café. When I was a waitress, I always wanted to yell at people ‘I’m a person! I don’t only exist to refill your water!’ Because so many customers treat people in the service industry like they must be stupid if they’re working a job like that. But you’re really smart– I mean, you have a plan.”
“Yeah, it does bother me sometimes, but oh well. People who treat waiters and stuff like that do it because they’ve never had to work a job like that before, so they don’t know how it feels. And I honestly just feel bad for those people.”
“Yeah, the world would probably be a better place if everyone was required to work a low-level customer service position at some point in their life in order to be a member of society.”
Julian looked at her sideways. The light bending around the trees and flowers lining their path made her look ethereal, her skin glowing.
“So do you have your eye on any locations for your café?” she said.
“I’ve done a little scouting, but rent is really expensive here. I’ll have to find a really good deal.”
“You should start out with one of those little food truck type things that are so popular now. Then you wouldn’t have to pay rent. You could get a big trailer and put tables and chairs in it and line it with books like you wanted. That stuff is all the rage right now. People would love it!”
“Huh. I never thought of that before. It would be a lot less expensive. But would I need a permit of some kind?”
“Probably, but it can’t cost more than rent.”
Djuna could see the gears moving in Julian’s head. For a few minutes as they walked he seemed completely absorbed in his own thoughts, so she didn’t speak. He was still looking at the ground, seemingly making calculations in his head, when they turned the corner and saw the entrance to the festival.
“Look,” Djuna said.
Julian looked up and she witnessed his return to the present, and a look of wonder form on his face. Ahead, they could see a colorful crowd that seemed to go on forever, globs of earth-tones and neons and rainbows, people gathered around stages, sitting in bushes, and selling various products ranging from wholesome to illegal.
“Ok, our first stop is the Old Faithful Stage to see Rebel Pulse at 12:35, but we may want to leave a little early to get a good spot for Mickey Mao at 1:30 on the Speedway Stage.”
“I am so glad I’m here with you. I would be so lost.”
“Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing. So we’re heading… this way.”
Julian’s relative inexperience made Djuna feel like she was seeing the festival through new eyes, something she hadn’t felt in nearly 10 years. She skillfully maneuvered her way through the crowd and Julian mimicked her every turn like a game of follow the leader. They passed bearded men selling brownies out of old suitcases, girls with long pink hair and piercings through the middle of their noses, men in tight ripped jeans with waxed mustaches, topless women with painted nipples and groups of twentysomethings drinking cans of Four Loko before arriving at their destination. It smelled like weed and dirt, the smell of summer in San Francisco.
“Everyone is so free,” Julian remarked. “People just do whatever they want here.”
Djuna just smiled, feeling more appreciative than ever of Julian’s wide-eyed astonishment.
They had arrived a few minutes before the show was meant to start, and it was still very early in the day so the crowd was relatively thin. Djuna led Julian towards the front, but stayed close to the right side.
“Since we’re leaving early, we want an easy escape route,” she explained.
“I’m not familiar with Rebel Pulse,” Julian said dreamily, over-stimulated by the diverse crowd around him.
“It’s a pretty chill, mostly instrumental reggae band. I always like to start out the day with something low-key, since we’ll be rocking out to Freudian Slip and Richter Six later.”
Djuna pulled her tattered old bedspread out of her bag, which she had long ago ordained as the official music festival/picnic sheet, and Julian helped her lay it out on the already partly trampled grass.
“Wow, you really did come prepared,” Julian said. “This sheet looks like it’s seen a few shows in its day…” He smiled at the faded bears in tutus riding unicycles on the sheet.
“Yep. It’s always good to bring one of these unless you like getting your pants wet with lawn water and spilled beer.”
They sat cross-legged next to one another, looking towards the wooden stage, scattered with tech guys in black setting up equipment. Julian put his hand on Djuna’s waist and pulled her closer to him. Her head fit perfectly in the nook of his shoulder. The fog was clearing and the sun started slipping through the mist. It felt like being under a heat lamp immediately after coming in from a storm. A special kind of relaxing warmth unique to San Francisco’s strange weather. A euphoric sizzle came over him.
A man with a baseball cap and a clipboard came on stage and announced the band, and then a group of middle aged men with long grey dreadlocks came out and the crowd screamed. Julian and Djuna hollered along with them. They started playing a song that sounded like a mixture of reggae and Big Band. The crowd swayed. Some people stood, but most people sat and let the music flow over them. Djuna pulled out a little piece of paper folded into a rectangle and unwrapped it. Inside was a long thin joint, impeccably rolled.
She pulled a lighter out of her pocket and lit the twisted side, the other end between her pink lips. She slowly exhaled a thin stream of smoke. She held the joint out towards him, an inquisitive look in her eyes. He took it between his fingers and put the crutch to his lips, inhaling only slightly the first time.
“Don’t worry,” Djuna said, her moon-eyes smiling. “It’s very mild.”
He watched her put it to her lips again, her fingers gently touching them as she inhaled, watched the smoke go in and out of her mouth, curling as she let it drip upwards towards the blue sky. She smoked like a movie star from the 30s. He imagined her in creamy black and white with waves in her hair.
“I like this band,” he said. “Relaxing. Good way to start the day.”
He took one more hit, and then started to feel a tingle in his forehead and decided to quit while he was ahead.
Djuna extinguished the end of the joint by pinching the lit tip, and folded the rectangle of paper around it again. She had become a very moderate smoker in recent years. She remembered in high school how she had been able to smoke five times a night and feel fine, sitting in foggy parks next to yellow lamps with her friends on old wooden benches, or jumping the arboretum’s fence. She turned her attention to the band on stage, and felt as if she were experiencing the music one second at a time, both listening passively and dissecting every note all at once. Thank you Henry, she thought. She looked over at Julian, who had a calm smile on his face and seemed to be enjoying himself immensely. He fit into her world.
She kissed him gently on the cheek. His skin felt like suede on her tingling lips. He turned and pressed his lips against hers. Only his lips touched her. The music floated around them. Lightning danced on the inside of her eyelids.
On the bus ride home, she made a list on her hand of things to pack: snacks, joint, flask, water bottle, festival schedule, umbrella, scarf, gum, toilet paper, towel/sheet.
Julian had eased into a trance, listening to the band with Djuna’s head on his shoulder. The temperature around them was so perfect that he couldn’t tell the difference between his skin and the air. Djuna, too, seemed to melt into him, a phantom limb restored. She sat up all of a sudden, rubbing her eyes as if she had slept for hours.
“What time is it? We should probably head out.”
“It’s 1:20,” Julian said, after fumbling to find his phone. “Mickey Mao’s at 1:30.”
“Ok, let’s make our escape.”
She rolled up the sheet and they walked in front of the crowd, politely pretending to stoop so as not to obstruct anyone’s vision, which was impossible to avoid. They got out to the main path, and the most wonderful barbeque smell floated across the air. Julian looked around and noticed its source, a small stand with bacon-wrapped hot dogs.
“Look,” he said.
“I see it. Look at the line, though.”
“Yeah, I guess we could go later.”
Djuna reached into her backpack and pulled out some beef jerky. “Will this do for now?”
“Yes. Yes it will.”
Djuna smiled as he struggled to open the plastic package, then started trying to rip off a piece of jerky with his teeth. Somehow it seemed more difficult than ever to do this. He felt ridiculous.
They headed to the Speedway Stage, and found that it was much more crowded than the previous one, and that everyone was standing.
“Hold my hand,” Djuna said, and she once again led him through the tightly packed crowd of hemp-clad long-haired, hoodied young people. She finally settled on a spot in between an older woman with heavily freckled skin and a shirt that looked like a butterfly across her chest, and a flamboyant young latino man with glitter covering his half-naked body.
“Well, this is intimate,” the sparkly man said to Julian. “I guess we’ll all get to know each other a little better.”
Julian laughed. The man standing next to the sparkly man, whom Julian would never have pegged as gay, nor in any way associated with the sparkly man, but now appeared to be his boyfriend, said: “Don’t mind Donato. He’s a little high. You want to hit this?” He held out a mathematically rolled blunt.
“No thanks,” Julian said. “I’m good.”
Julian was now in the midst of some kind of absurd conversation with the men next to them, so Djuna turned her gaze towards the stage. She could see that off to the sides were groups of people hanging around casually. Probably VIP guests, she thought, who knew the artists or the people who ran the festival. Her eyes were continually drawn to a woman in a tight turquoise dress, schmoozing on the right side of the stage with the other members of the in-crowd. Something about her long thin figure looked familiar, but in spite of squinting, she couldn’t decode the woman’s face. She thought for a few minutes about whether it was someone she knew personally or from TV. There was definitely enough familiarity that it could be someone she had met a few times.
The woman raised her hand and pushed her perfectly tousled black hair off her shoulder in a distinct movement that Djuna suddenly recognized. She couldn’t believe it. Naya. She looked a little different, but Djuna could clearly tell that it was her. The tall, exotic, skinny, fashionable socialite that Djuna had spent years secretly envying. Her long dainty fingers and irritatingly flirtatious laugh, the way she got every man around her to want to buy her things and take her out and hang on her every word. Djuna herself had always avoided interacting with her because she was the type of woman who found subtle ways of making the other women around her feel undesirable. Djuna despised that feeling, and although she knew that it was likely garnered from Naya’s own insecurities, she hated herself for succumbing to it. The only reason Djuna had even come into contact with someone like Naya had been through Scott—he had always defended her character and though Djuna suspected otherwise, always claimed that his relationship with Naya was purely platonic. Towards the end of Scott and Djuna’s deteriorating relationship, Scott had spent more and more time going out with Naya and her friends, which Djuna had always found creative ways to avoid. In fact, after Djuna’s break-up with Scott, she was pretty sure he had stayed friends with Naya, because she had spotted them walking drunkenly down the street together one night, only a week or so after the split, and had ducked behind a tree so as not to have to interact with either of them. The horrible thought that followed was that maybe Scott was there with her somewhere. Not only did she not have any interest in laying eyes on him, she felt a sickening twinge at the thought of how uncomfortable it would make Julian. If she were in Julian’s position, seeing the slightly-crazy-girl-you’ve-been-dating-for-a-week’s alcoholic ex-boyfriend for the second time in that week would probably have her running in the opposite direction. Moreover, Scott could be very aggressive when he was drinking, especially towards other men.
She looked over at him. He was no longer talking to the couple, and was now excitedly looking towards the stage.
“Are you ok?” he said.
“I’m fine,” Djuna said. He recognized her tone as being not fine.
“I’m so excited to see Mickey Mao! I’ve heard he’s great live.”
“Me too,” she said, but her voice was still distant. He had had enough interactions with women to know that something was bothering her, but apparently not enough to know whether he should ask her about it or let her have her thoughts. Asking might only result in her becoming more distant, but not asking could also escalate into disaster. She seemed anxious—because of the crowd? Or, was he over-analyzing? He did tend to do that when he smoked. He had known women that became angry when men didn’t know exactly what to say when they were clearly distressed, but Djuna did not strike him as one of those women. She had always been relatively straightforward with him, even about her drunk ex-boyfriend that night. He had now gone too long without saying anything, when he had acted like he was going to say something. She was looking at him, confused.
“Ok,” he said, “if something is wrong, please tell me if you want to tell me, because I’m hopelessly bad at reading minds.”
To his surprise, Djuna smiled warmly, and put her hands on his shoulders, her thumbs touching his neck. “I’m glad I’m here with you,” she said mysteriously. Apparently he had said something right.
“Are you ready for Mickey Mao!!?!?!” someone yelled into the microphone on stage. The words were muffled by the space around them.
The crowd was letting out a collective shriek. Julian and Djuna both chimed in, and he could feel the voices of the crowd sync into a single high-pitched note, as if they were all one organism.
Mickey Mao came out dressed in his signature look: a fifties greaser getup, complete with slicked back hair, jeans folded at the cuffs, and a leather jacket with a huge drawing of Mickey Mouse, fashioned to look like a classic depiction of Mao Zedong. He strummed his guitar, and sections of the crowd erupted.
Djuna motioned for Julian to look at the sparkly man and his straight-edge boyfriend twirling each other and doing some imitation of swing dancing.
“They’re the best,” Julian said.
Djuna seemed pleased and back to normal. He caught her waist and they joined in on the dancing trend. She moved gracefully, smiling and bouncing to the music happily. He twirled her into his arms and held her there, feeling the smooth skin of her white arms and brushing his lips against her warm neck. Her hair smelled like cinnamon. Mickey Mao finished the song, and she toppled into Julian, lazily giggling.
“I love dancing,” she said, breathing heavily.
She squeezed his waist, her face comfortably pressed into his chest. She felt him kiss her hair, and it felt like someone had cracked an egg on her head. She shook it off and laughed again. Mickey had begun his next song, a cover of “Working Class Hero.”
Djuna opened one eye and peered past Julian’s shirt to the stage. The long slender strip that was Naya’s body moved from side to side, her hips swinging above her six-inch heels.
featured in Literary Foolery, as well as occasional appearances with Hubba Hubba Revue, and Crescent Moon Theater. She co-hosts Poets Upstairs on the second Sunday of every month at Overland Books.
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