FOOLS FOR LOVE
It was the summer of ’84. The four of
us were just as broke, just as drunk, but not as happy as the year before.
I’d “called in drunk” so many times,
my boss, Mike (a raging drunk, himself), blew up. “Monday morning,” he said, “I
want to see you, with the shop steward!”
Sandy, I thought.
Sandy was the shop steward, who
worked right next to me, in his
department. Once again, he forgot her name.
Freddy, my best friend and neighbor, had
lost his new job. On the first day! In the men’s room, he was pulling up his
pants, when a joint fell out of his pocket. Figures his boss was in the next stall.
a self-righteous fuck might say, brings a
joint to work?
And Francine and Nicky . . . Man, they
were worse off than us. But not with job shit. Relationship shit. Suddenly, with
no warning, generous, compassionate Francine turned into this clingy bitch.
“Where you going?” she demanded, each
time Nicky tried sneaking out the
Like he was up to something. Till now, everything
was cool with them. More
than anything—except maybe her—Nicky loved his music. Most of the time he sat,
strumming his guitar, singing, while the three of us listened. Just . . .
To Freddy and me, he was like Joe Strummer, from
the Clash. Nicky was a
huge fan, but he wrote his own stuff. Straight from the heart, he wrote, about
real-life shit: being broke. Losing someone you loved. Wanting stuff you just
couldn’t have . . .
Till now, Francine sat along with us, goo-goo-eyed,
as he played. Like time
had just stopped. . . .
But now. . .
“You check the paper, today?” She
meant the want ads. “I’m trying,” Nicky said.
“Every day I read it.”
“Not the funnies,” she said. Wiseass
Shelley, she’d told me,
you could make good
money. . .
you didn’t drink like a fish.
Out in the hall, last night, Freddy and I waited
“Where’re you going?” Francine
screeched, as he threw open the door.
“Nowhere,” Nicky half-lied.
We were just sneaking up to the roof. Since last
year, it was off-limits, ‘cos
Billy, the super’s drunk son, jumped off it. But Freddy busted the lock, and we
snuck up when we could.
And we knew what was coming.
“Rub my feet,” Francine said. Slowly,
Nicky shut the door.
We just stared at it. “Bitch,” Freddy
Who, she’d said yesterday,
joint to work?
An hour later, Freddy and I were on the roof,
sprawled on my sandy
blanket, drinking beers. It was dusk, so the sky was a hot, stinky orange. Toxic
waste over the filthy, depressing city. No wonder Billy jumped.
I thought, downing my beer, we all would.
Since Freddy busted the lock, only Nicky and us
came up here. But Nicky
was stuck home with Francine.
So, when we heard trudging footsteps, we got ready
Nicky, looking like a
giant bird had shit on his life.
“We know, man.” Freddy handed him
But as he cracked the beer, Nicky grinned. “Got
“You left her?” Freddy said.
Nicky sat right on the tar, not even the blanket.
“There’s this guy,
right? Front man for Fools Rush In. They need a guitar player, like A-S-A-P,
‘cos they’re going on tour!”
“Fuckin’-A!” Freddy said. We
both hugged Nicky. “When?” I said.
around, wildly, like the
roof was bugged. “Tomorrow. But the thing is, can I just . . . leave?”
Freddy crushed his can,
tossing it aside. “Why not?”
looked at his hands. They were
great hands, with long fingers, meant to strum guitar, to make music. But they
looked red and dried out, even in the dark.
Baby, I pictured Francine
that song, can you wash the dishes?
We listened. Someone was coming up. “Click-clack”
meant wooden high
Who, I thought, cringing,
heels up to the roof?
Francine. “I knew it!” she said. Like
she’d caught us with a zillion fucking
bucks. “You’re not supposed to be up here!”
“Neither are you,” Freddy said.
She walked out further. Disgusted, she studied
the heel of her shoe. “The
tar’s so soft. My heel’s getting stuck.”
Nicky scrambled to his feet. I was scared he’d
beg forgiveness. All he did, I thought, was
have a beer on the roof.
“There’s this band,” he said.
“Fools Rush In. I’m going on tour with
My heart raced. Freddy squeezed my arm. This was
the best, ever.
“Tour?” Francine said. “With
a band?” Then she yawned! “You?” she said, still
Nicky looked defeated. But he wasn’t giving
up. “For six months. We leave
tomorrow. On a bus.”
“A bus?” Francine said. “Are
you crazy? I’m not even packed.”
Freddy squeezed my arm tighter.
“And which hotels?” she said, sneering.
“I bet you don’t even know. There
are bugs, and thieves . . .”
With “thieves,” she looked right at
Freddy, who turned and walked off.
“I’ll be fine,” Nicky said.
“You stay here.” He followed Freddy.
Francine started after them. Then I got up, brushing
the sand off, and soon
we were all on the opposite side of the roof.
Billy had jumped.
“I can’t believe this!” Francine
said. “You would just . . . leave?
Without even discussing it . . .”
She went on and on. Nicky didn’t answer.
She was right in his face, like
she would smack him. Maybe she did, all the time.
Nick,” Freddy said, “Watch out.”
Close to the edge, Nicky stood. Facing the sky,
poisonous without it even being
that lethal fucking orange.
Like he was thinking about a dream he once had.
Or wondering if he really
did have a soul. And if he could lose it. . . .
As she raised her arm and lurched forward, her
heel caught in the tar,
He saw her coming. His expression was horrible,
like no matter what
happened, he couldn’t stop it.
And he wasn’t sorry.
He caught her, a moment before she—before
they—would’ve gone flying over. Like Billy. For a moment, they
teetered, then collapsed together onto the tar.
. . man,
I thought. Behind me, Freddy’s head sunk to my shoulder.
Then Nicky and Francine were grabbing each other.
Crying. Even Nicky. “I’m
sorry,” he said. “I’m so . . .
sorry.” Francine mumbled something I didn’t hear.
“That was close,” Freddy whispered
“My shoe . . . ,” Francine said, “it’s
ruined.” On the tar she sat, pouting
now, holding that ruined shoe.
Nicky smiled sadly at Freddy and me. “I’m
sorry,” he mouthed.
In my mind, it was dawn. A graffiti-covered bus
crept past our building. A
tour bus, headed for sleazy hotels and the cheapest food.
Loaded with punks, and equipment, minus one guitar
. . .
And the dishpan hands born to play it.
is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife & talks
like Anybody’s from West Side Story. She works out
5-6 days a week, so needs no excuse to drink or do whatever the hell she wants.
She’s been published in the usual places, such as Shotgun Honey, Hardboiled,
A Twist of Noir, Megazine, Beat to a Pulp, Out
of the Gutter, Mysterical-E, Dark Dossier, and Twisted Sister.
She is the editor/art director of the ezine, Yellow Mama. She’s a
Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights activist.