Jade had dragged her to that club. Jolie didn't even know if Jade was her real name. She had only known her for a few hours.
Jolie had been quietly sitting in her dorm, typing away on her laptop. Her economics term paper was due at eight o'clock sharp the next morning. And if Jolie didn't hand it in she was sure to fail the course. The paper was worth about fifty percent of her overall grade.
"Work comes before play!" her mother warned her. And, until that night, Jolie had heeded her mother's warning to the T.
But around nine o'clock that night Chelsea, Jolie's roommate, had opened their dorm room door. There stood Jade, in a bright pink top and baggy black pants covered in zippers and a face full of body piercings.
Well, well, well. And this would be?
Chelsea had introduced her as Jade Pierson, an old friend of hers from high school. Chelsea had come from Nebraska. I thought people in Nebraska just wore overalls. Interesting…
"Hey. You're Julie, right?"
"Oh, yeah. Chels here has told me about you. You're the chick plays, right?"
Okay, Chelsea. Who the hell is this?
"Um, play?" Jolie was in confusion. This gothic looking girl was just standing there in front of her, her high pigtails slightly moving.
"Guitar. Chels told me you play guitar."
Oh. Now this made some sense. Back in high school, Jolie was probably the best in the entire school. But then again, her high school had a grand total of two hundred and fifty kids. Barely even sixty kids in a class. But her talent on the guitar was never questioned. A number of local bands had asked her to play. But Jolie wasn't into the whole "band" scene. She was just a girl who could play the guitar.
But high school was two years ago, and Jolie had barely touched her guitar since college started.
She had learned from her grandmother. Old Marie, as Jolie often referred to her, taught her the basics on the guitar up until the day she died. After that, Jolie taught herself.
"Yeah. I can play…" Jolie let herself drift away. Why the hell was this girl even talking to her?
"Well." Jade plopped down on the seat next to her. Her chains and zippers clanked together. Jolie straightened, hoping this wasn't another offer to join a band.
"Look," Jolie started. "I'm not interesting in joining a band."
JUST GO AWAY! I have a term paper due in eleven hours!
"Who said anything about joining a band? Chelsea, what are you doing to this girl?
Chelsea giggled a little. Chelsea was always giggling. She pulled her voluminous, curly blonde hair back behind her shoulder. "It's just that Jolie gets a lot of offers."
Jade turned back to Jolie. "Well, I'm not even part of any band. I just listen to them…which brings me to my next point. I know Chelsea has a term paper due, but do you wanna go see this new band I heard about down at Nisa?"
Jolie knew about Nisa; it was a local club that the local bands were always trying to play in. Even though, she had never been to the club. She assumed it was all drugs and group orgies while the band played. And Jade's appearance wasn't helping change her opinion of it.
"Well, I have a term paper due tomorrow, too."
"Oh. But Jolie! You only have what? A page to go? You can whip that up when you get back," Chelsea said.
No I can't. I have to stay here and not go to some stupid club to hear some stupid band I probably won't even like.
"Really, Chelsea. I need to finish this. My scholarship will be gone if I fail Eco."
Chelsea sighed and rolled her eyes. Jade clamped down on Jolie's wrist and pulled her to a standing position, nearly causing Jolie's laptop to crash to the ground. "Come on Johanna! This will be fun. Te band is amazing! There's a rumor that they've been offered a record deal!"
"My name is Jolie." And what do I care if some band has been offered a record deal?
But Jade had talked her into it.
And now Jolie was here, being pulled very harshly by the wrist by Jade, at Nisa.
The first thing that hit her upon entrance of the small club was the smoke. Heavy gray smoke that threatened to blacken her lungs. Jolie had never smoked and swore that she never would. But this was ruining her goal. She held her breath for as long as she could. Finally the smoke was gone for a moment and Jolie could breathe.
Drugs. Marijuana. I thought so.
But she couldn't see any drugs. Only cigarettes. No crack pipe, no weed. At least, from what Jolie could see.
Jade pushed her onto a stool. Jade sat next to her and ordered a beer. Jolie's mouth dropped. Jade couldn't have been twenty-one yet. She barely looked older than Jolie, who was nineteen.
"You want one, Julia?"
Jolie snapped her head to see Jade chugging her beer. "My name is Jolie."
"Jolie, Jolie. Right. That's it." Jade said, pulling the bottle away from her face. "So, you want one?" She held out her arm, as if to give the bottle Jolie.
"No," she said, holding her hand up to block the bottle. Then she turned back to face the back of the bar. This was crazy. Jolie had only been to one other club before. And she clearly remembered that everyone had to have their hand stamped, so the bartender could see if the kid ordering the Miller Light was actually twenty-one or not.
But Nisa had no stamp system. It barely had anyone working the door, except to handle money. Jolie cringed at the thought what other types of people got in here. As if to demonstrate the lax security, a drunken man fell into Jolie's lap.
"Hey beautiful!" the man said sluggishly, the effect of alcohol apparent. "Maybe later tonight you and I could…"
"Not tonight Louis," came a voice from behind the bar. Jolie looked up. It was the bartender, a younger guy, maybe a little older than her.
"C'mon man…" the drunkard slurred. "I just want to talk to her…" Then he drifted off to sleep, all while lying in Jolie's lap.
The bartender leaned over the bar and slapped Louis. "Hey, Lou! Wake up!"
With no response to the bartender's orders, the bartender put both hands on the bar, hoisted himself over and landed right next to Jolie. He grabbed Louis by the shirt collar and pulled him off of her. Jolie sneaked a quick look at Jade. She was out on the floor, talking to some guy. Sure leave me here with the drunks so you can go boy hunting.
"Are you alright?" It was the bartender. She snapped her head back to see him. He sat down on the seat that had recently been vacated by Jade. "He didn't throw up on you, did he?"
Jolie couldn't help but snort a laugh. In this better, albeit bad, lightening she could finally see the man's face. He had a handsome face, with dark brown eyes and blonde, almost shaggy, hair. He smiled and Jolie found herself smiling, too.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine." Jolie squirmed in her car. It was a nervous habit she had and it was in full swing now. "May I know the name of my rescuer?"
Now, Jolie Rousseau was not a flirt. She never really had a chance. In school, she was the quiet, obedient student that didn't really have good friends, just acquaintances that she spoke to. And she had never really dated, so her experience was limited to the movies she saw and the books she read.
But with this guy, she really wanted to learn. He was cute, and she hoped that she didn't look that bad.
She wasn't ugly, but she knew she wasn't beautiful, contrary to Louis's opinion. Blue eyes, brown hair. If for some reason she had ever been kidnapped her description would be: normal height, average weight, average face. Nothing was truly remarkable about her.
"I'm Tim Gallagher. I'm the bartender here. And you?
He stuck out his right hand, obviously wanting to shake. Jolie did the same and she prayed silently that her palms weren't sweaty. "So, what's a pretty girl like you doing in a dump like this?"
"You just saved me from a drunk pervert and now you're sexually harassing me?"
"Of course not. Sexual harassment implies I am only thinking about sex. And I'm not. At least, not anymore."
Jolie laughed. He was funny. She liked him. He asked if she wanted a beer, but she assumed that he asked the question to learn her age.
"I can't. I'm nineteen."
So cute! Maybe tonight won't be a bomb after all…
Tim and Jolie chatted for another few minutes. Tim told her he went to Haynsworth (the college Jolie attended), too. Jolie answered his question of current relationship status: not dating, not married. Tim wasn't seeing anyone either.
Finally, another bartender came over and yelled at Tim for slacking off.
"Sorry, got to go." Tim jumped over the counter, amazingly without spilling anything. He must have been doing this for a long time. "Maybe I'll see you later?"
"Sure," was Jolie's response. He walked away and Jolie smiled. She hoped she would get to see him again.
"Jodie! Hey Jodie!"
Will this girl ever get my name right?!?!?
"Jade, I'm over here!"
Jade made her way from the increasing crowd near the stage. Jade was holding another bottle in her hand, yet she wasn't really drunk. "Jodie, c'mon. The band is starting."
"Jade, my name is Jolie."
"Oh, sorry! C'mon! Chance Nancy is starting!"
"Who?" But Jolie never got an answer because Jade had already grabbed her still sore wrist and pulled her into the crowd.
Jade was an expert. She knew exactly how to get to the front of the stage. But poor Jolie was hit by bodies with every turn that Jade made. A large man had slammed into her side, a petite blonde had bumped into her back. By the time both girls had made it to the front Jolie was surprised she wasn't bleeding.
Immediately Jolie felt out of place. Everyone around her had on similar attire to Jade. Not everyone was wearing Goth, but most everyone had more than three piercings. Jolie self-consciously felt her own ears. One hole, one earring in each.
Three guys behind her, all wearing black shirts and baggy jeans, had their arms raised and their hands in a weird shape. They were in fists, expect their pinky and pointer fingers were pointing out. Jolie noticed that Jade was doing the same.
"Jade, who's Chance Nancy?" Jolie asked, but Jade didn't hear her.
But that was alright. Because in the next moment, Jolie learned who Chance Nancy was. They were the band.
The crowd erupted into screams. Jolie quickly clamped down on her ears, but it was all in vain. The shrieks permeated through to her brain. Why is everyone screaming? It's not like this Chance Nancy is famous or something…
Five guys jumped onto the stage. Jolie saw the drummer sit on a stool behind the drum set. It was broken, and was missing the back leg. She was surprised he didn't flip over from it.
Two guys with guitars came from the left. One had spiky brown hair and the other was a redhead. The brunette did a guitar rip. It all sounded like noise to Jolie, but the crowd seemed to recognize it.
From the right came the bassist. He had messy black hair and dark brown eyes. He had on a baggy pair of jeans and some kind of reddish, tight sweater. Everyone screamed again. What is with these people?
Finally, the lead singer, who had been standing next to the drummer, walked towards the edge of the stage. "Are you ready?" he said into his microphone.
The crowd erupted. Jolie was running out of patience. She was not into the whole "rock" scene. She was more of an "alternative" girl, but that was when she actually listened to music. Her studies were more important to her now. This type of music didn't really interest her. And she really didn't want to be in the front of the crowd, being forced to listen to it.
"I said, ARE YOU READY?" The singer yelled, tearing the microphone from the stand, running over to the left side of the small stage.
The crowd answered him with even more cheering. "Jade!" Jolie screamed, trying to get Jade's attention over the crowd. "Jade, I'm leaving!"
Wait…why do I need Jade's approval if I leave? I don't even know her. I could just sneak out and she'd probably not even notice. I mean, she doesn't even know my NAME!
She turned to leave, but was immediately confronted by the three teenagers. They wouldn't let her pass. So, she sighed and returned to watching the stage.
The redhead guitarist was on his knees, his fingers racing down his guitar. He screwed up that chord, she thought. Her past with a guitar was coming back to haunt her.
The brunette guitarist was over near the drummer, banging his head along with the beat of the drums. She smiled. The drummer was a beat off.
The singer was all sweaty. They had only been playing for ten minutes. How long was there set? Was he going to need Gatorade?
Jolie stayed like that for the next forty minutes. Chance Nancy played their very popular songs "Death on a Subway" and "Lost and Found". Jade, who amazingly never got lost in the crowd, was screaming the loudest for "Jumping to Conclusions".
Finally, the lights on the stage went out and the crowd stopped screaming. The set was over. The five guys went offstage and everyone filed off the floor.
"Oh my god!" Jade screamed in Jolie's ear. "That was amazing!"
Jolie nodded, just so she didn't have to listen to Jade tell her why it was so amazing.
About half of the club's occupants left and there was finally room to move. "So, Joanie, what did you think of Chance Nancy?"
Jolie rolled her eyes. Not just because Jade had screwed up her name again, but because it had all sounded like one giant blur of loud guitars to her. It was sad that so many people accepted that as music.
"I need something to drink," Jolie informed her. Actually, I kind of want to see Tim again…
"No! I want to introduce you to my boyfriend!"
Why would I want to meet your boyfriend? I barely know you…
Instead of arguing, Jolie nodded and followed Jade down through the club, past the three rowdy teenagers she was stuck in front of. "Jade, where are we going?"
"I told you. To meet Dan."
Jolie assumed that Dan was her boyfriend. Was he some kind of bouncer or something? Why was he in the back of the club?
"Jade, I really should get back to my dorm. I have my paper…" And I want to see Tim. But you don't have to know that.
"This will only take a sec!" Jade continued to pull her, and they continued their journey to Dan.
Once they finally made it to the back, Jade whispered something in the ear of a large, bulky man with a laminated card hanging from a lanyard around his neck. He nodded curtly at her and then spotted Jolie. "What about her?"
Jade smiled and said, "She's with me."
Apparently that was good enough for the man. He stood aside to reveal a door. Jade opened it and grabbed Jolie wrist yet again. "C'mon."
They walked down a long hall. Some girls in very revealing clothing were standing off to the side next to a red door. One of them was talking about a show that was coming up.
"Here," Jade said, once they had reached the door farthest down the corridor. Jolie scrunched her face in confusion. Can we hurry this up so I can go see Tim?
The door opened and it was like walking into another dimension. The lightening was dim, casting reddish shadows all over the unruly room. Clothing and lamps were strewn everywhere throughout the small room.. There was one small couch, but it was ripped to shreds.
Jolie was staring the couch with a look of disbelief. "What the hell…"
She was cut off by Jade's high shriek. "Dan!" Jolie looked up and saw the lead singer of Chance Nancy.
"Jade!" He embraced her, kissing her on the head and then on the mouth, once she lifted her head.
Jolie watched this display with a slight feeling of disgust. Dan was the lead singer? So, that's why Jade was so obsessed with this band.
"Who's the chick?" The redhead guitarist asked, hopping off the couch to stand next to Jolie. She eyed him suspiciously. She knew better. "Men only have on thing on their minds!" was her mother's favorite saying. It was the last thing she had told Jolie before she left for college.
"Oh, this is Gabby."
"It's Jolie," she corrected her. This whole not-remembering-her-name thing was really starting to get old.
"Right. Jolie. She's Chelsea's roommate." Dan nodded.
Jolie was beginning to feel a little bit uncomfortable. Uncomfortable? This is beyond uncomfortable.
"Well, I'm Dan," Dan said, introducing the band. "He's Roy." Dan pointed at the redhead.
"Um. Hi," she said nervously. Roy was eying her, like she was a piece of ass. "I really have to go," she told Jade.
"Oh, c'mon. Stay." Jade pushed her forward, so that she was now in the middle of the small room. She made her way to the couch, careful not to sit on any springs. She could feel Roy's eyes on her.
Dan and Jade made out while Roy sat next to her. "So, doing anything tonight?" he asked.
She scrunched her face again. Oh, just leave me alone!
"Hey, Roy, leave her alone," piped up the spiky brunette guitarist. Roy rolled his eyes and leaned back into the couch, away from Jolie. "Ignore him. He's an ass."
"Shut up." Roy picked up a empty McDonalds cup and threw it at the brunette. He caught it.
The brunette smiled, and raised the hand holding the cup to Jolie. "I'm Brandon." He threw the cup behind him and stuck out his hand in the same fashion that Tim had earlier.
She shook it, glad that he had come to her rescue. They leaned back away from each other. The drummer walked over to the couch and nodded his head. "Hey. I'm Wilson."
She forced a smile and nodded in acknowledgement. There. She had met everyone. Wait…have I?
She met Dan, Roy, Brandon and Wilson. What about the bassist? Where did he go?
Like I even care. "I really have to go," she told the three band members in earshot. "I have a term paper due tomorrow." Well, at least she had a legitimate reason to leave.
They nodded, and Roy tried to get a date. She politely turned him down and he snickered. So, this is what a rock band does after a "gig". Hang out with annoyed college girls and try to ask them out.
Jolie made it to the door when Brandon stopped her. She hadn't even known that he had moved. "Hey, if you're leaving you might want to take the back door. Nisa is crowded as hell after we're offstage."
Hmm…a little egotistical? "Okay. Thanks." He smiled. Now that she could see him in better light she saw that he was pretty good looking. He wasn't gorgeous, but he wasn't too bad on the eyes.
Two guys in one night, Jolie?
Brandon pointed to the door at the very end of the hall. She nodded, smiled at him and walked over to the door.
It was after one, she knew that. I guess Tim will have to wait... She needed sleep.
"Hey, watch it!" came a deep, loud voice, from behind the wall, after Jolie opened the door.
"Oh, sorry," she said, quickly closing the door. "I didn't know you were-"
"Be a little more careful next time!" She could now see the silhouette of a man. He seemed young, by his demeanor. She also saw that he was smoking a cigarette.
"Look. I said I'm sorry." Normally Jolie was a peaceful person, but the way this guy was acting was brining out the pissed off side of her.
"Yeah, I heard you the first time." He took another drag off his cigarette.
"Whatever. I don't have time for this. I have to go." She descended down the steps, two at a time. She was almost past the dumpster and the employee cars when she heard him speak again.
"Enjoy the show?"
She stopped and spun around. If I annoy him so much, why is he still talking to me?
"I said, 'Enjoy the show?'." He flung the burnt out cigarette past his shoulder and headed towards her.
This was Jolie's worst nightmare: her and a strange guy, alone in a dark alleyway. "How do you know I saw the show? I could work here."
He was closing in on her and she still couldn't make out his face. "Because I saw you in the crowd and I know everyone who works here. I'm positive you don't."
He could be bluffing it. How do I know that he knows everyone? And why am I still here?
"Fine. I was in the crowd. And no, I didn't enjoy it." She turned to leave. I'll have to catch a bus. Who knows when Jade is coming out or IF she's coming out?
"Really, why?" Stopping, she pivoted around to see that he was now right in front of her, but his face was in shadows. All she could see was his hair. His shaggy, messed up black hair.
"Because it just a lot of noise with some random words thrown in. I prefer real music. Chance Nancy sucks." Now that you know my views you can let me go.
"Oh really? They suck?" He stepped forward slightly, and she could finally see his face. He was the bassist! This was not something she needed to deal with right now.
"You're the…" Jolie trailed off. He had taken her by surprise, and now she couldn't take her eyes off his face.
"Yep. My name's John. Nice to meet you."
She bit her lip to keep from screaming. Another one of them. She really needed to get back to her dorm. As it was she'd have to pull an all-nighter.
"What are you doing out here? Aren't you supposed to be in with your band mates?"
"Well, I was going to go back in, but now I'm curious." He paused to show off a shiny white grin. What about the grungy rock star look? "So, why do we suck so bad?"
Just then Jolie was saved by the voice of Jade. "Hey! There you are! C'mon, we have to go!" But Jolie couldn't take her eyes off of John's face. There was something about him that…that what? Annoys me, she decided.
Jade raced down the stairs and over to the pair now standing next to a beat up old Neon. "Oh, John! Will you leave her alone?"
"She says Chance Nancy sucks." Jolie mentally slapped herself. She didn't need to listen to Jade tell her why Chance Nancy was amazing.
"I didn't mean the entire band," Jolie quipped up, hoping to avert the attention. "I meant you. I saw you miss the same chord four times."
"You were watching me?" he asked, very interested.
"C'mon, Josie. We have to go." Jade grabbed Jolie wrist again and pulled her behind her, headed for the parking lot.
Jolie's mind raced. She had been watching him. Why? He wasn't even the lead vocals.
"Alright," Jade said, unlocking her car. "Let's get you back. Chels will kill me if I let you fail that paper."
Jolie nodded, but looked back at the alley/parking lot she had just vacated. She could see John standing there, watching them leave.
At least I never have to see him again…