23. The Cure

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She was at my door within minutes, her hair still wet from a shower with some flowery shampoo.

"You okay?" she said, and I wished she hadn't. "You seem really jittery."

"Anxiety is my normal state," I said, which came out sounding serious rather than a joke. "Let's go out somewhere, see some bands or something."

She eyed me with a crooked eyebrow. "And you're not going to disappear on me when I turn around?" 

I blushed. I suppressed the urge to stammer something stupid and untrue. "I promise I won't," I said. "Let's go down to Lansdowne Street and see what's up." It was the one part of Boston I knew.

We took the subway there, coming up in the middle of an area busy with pizza shops and convenience stores. We could have been any one of the college-age couples walking around on their first date. I led her over the highway to where a string of clubs inhabited the block opposite the big green wall of Fenway Park. In Boston, the same real estate mogul owns almost all the clubs. On Lansdowne Street there were half a dozen places, some large, some small, changing names every few months as fads allowed, but remaining basically the same. I knew what we'd find there -- some places where no matter what was going on it would be too loud to talk. If I could, I'd get too drunk to do anything later but pass out. I was glad she was with me, it made me feel safe, somehow. But I dreaded what might come later if I didn't play my cards right.

"How about here?" I stopped in front of a place with psychedelic murals on the walls. A sign read "Tonite, 18+" so I knew the door wouldn't be a hassle. We showed our IDs and they fastened a plastic bracelet around Carynne's wrist. They stamped the back of my hand with a smudge of ink. "I guess this means you're buying," I said, once we had cleared the entryway.

I don't really remember what bands we saw. I mostly remember circulating from one bar to another inside the club so we wouldn't seem like total lushes, posing ourselves under black lights as we watched the crowd go by, and nodding and smiling at each other a lot in the din. By midnight I thought I should have been good and buzzed, but mostly I just felt edgy and nervous.

Carynne was trying to say something to me.


She put her mouth against my ear. "Hungry! Want to get some pizza?"

"Not really," I said, but she acted like she didn't hear me and started for the door. I held my ground. She turned back. I saw her mouth You-Promised. I followed her.

We went back to one of the pizzerias near the subway stop and had slices. We sat in a Formica booth next to the window. "I think I could live here," I said, watching people coming out of the pub next door.

"Are you going to move here when you finish school?" 

I shrugged. "It seems better than New York, and there's lots of clubs. Maybe I will."

She chewed on the ice from her soda and watched me watching the people. "Well, if your band ever needs a road manager, give me a call."

The neon sign made crazy stripes in her shiny red hair. "I'll do that," I said, surprised by my own sincerity. I did like her, I realized, I just didn't want to sleep with her. "Thanks, by the way, for trying to cheer me up the other day." I liked her smile. "I'm really sorry about... losing you in New York."

She smiled. "That's okay." She offered me some ice, I shook my head. "But you have been acting really weird the past couple of days."

I shook my head. "Wait, how do you know what's weird and what's normal for me? I mean, I might be like this all the time for all you know."

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