Sally sat at the back of the room, sipping a beer and watching the crowd. She would go on in about a half hour, and she would be ready by then. For now, it was time to relax.
The bar was dim, and a little bit dirty, but she liked it. It was one of her favorites to perform at, though she wasn’t quite sure why. It was crowded that night—a larger crowd than she was used to, but that was fine. Hopefully it would mean more of a tip, and money was always a plus. She wasn’t in it for the money, though. She just wanted to perform, and hell if anyone was going to stop her.
“Hey, Sal,” a voice returned her from her thoughts. It was her friend Jimmy. He worked at the bar on nights and weekends. Well, technically only Saturdays, but that was still part of weekends.
“What’s up?” she replied, motioning for him to sit.
He shook his head, “It’s about time for you to go on. Are you ready?”
“I will be when I need to be,” she rose, draining the last of her beer and setting the glass back on the table.
“Want my help getting things set up?”
She waved him off, “No, I’m fine. I’ll take care of it.”
“If you’re sure,” he gave a slight shrug and took her glass.
She moved to the stage and started plugging things in. She appreciated Jimmy’s offer, she supposed, but she didn’t want to rely on anybody’s help. If anyone was going to be getting her through things, it would be her.
She didn’t actually even know Jimmy very well. They went to the same university and had a couple of gen ed classes together, but they didn’t really know each other. She had only interacted with him much in a group project, but she got along with him well enough. She enjoyed his company.
Sally shook her head. It wasn’t the time to get caught up in thoughts about some guy. She finished setting up her amp and guitar and, after a bit of sound checking and tuning, stood at the microphone. She didn’t bother introducing herself—they knew her well enough by now.
She played through her usual set of songs. There were seven of them, about half an hour total, most of them fast-paced and heavy. She played what she liked, and what she liked was heavy and metal.
Sally packed up her equipment and went back to the table she had been sitting at before. At a lull in service, Jimmy came over to talk to her again.
“Shouldn’t you be working?”
“Nah, my shift ended during your show.”
“Speaking of, how’d I do?” she asked, inviting him to sit.
“Just as well as usual,” he replied with a smile, “Your third song sounded even better. I think that riff you added in the middle really brought things together.”
She raised a surprised eyebrow, “You noticed?” She had been experimenting with some new instrumentals, but she didn’t think anyone would have paid that much attention.
He put a hand behind his head and glanced away, “Well, yeah, I did. You’ve played here during my shifts several times, so I know your songs pretty well.”
She narrowed her eyes a little and examined his face. It was hard to tell in the low light, but… was he blushing? “So you’re saying it wasn’t good before?”
A panicked look came over his face, “No no no, that’s not what I-”
She chuckled, “I know, I’m messing with you. I’m glad you noticed it, I’d been leaning towards making that change a regular one.” She could see the tension and fear drain from his face and held back a second laugh.
“Gah, don’t do that,” he shook his head, “That was not fair.”
“Sorry,” she smiled again, “You want a drink?”
“Hm? Oh, no thanks. I don’t drink.”
“You work at a bar.”
He shrugged, “It pays, and the hours work.”
“Well, I’m going to have one,” she got up and ordered a drink. “You know,” she started as she returned, “I don’t see you around campus much.”
“Oh, I don’t live on campus. My parents live in town, so I stay at home.”
“You live with your parents?” she laughed, “How lame is that?”
He gave a half smile, “I’m happy with it. I don’t have to pay for food or housing, and I don’t have to move.”
She couldn’t deny that he had a point. She decided to change the topic instead of giving him the satisfaction of agreement, “What’s your major again? I feel like you’ve told me, but I don’t remember.”
“Fiction. I’ve always loved reading, so I started writing stories, and it kind of escalated from there.”
“Alright, cool. It probably won’t surprise you to hear that I’m majoring in music. I want to go on tour someday.”
He laughed, “I could’ve guessed that. Have you ever thought about performing in a group?”
She shook her head, “Nah. I’ve always been a one-woman show.”
He nodded, “I could see that,” he paused, “I want to publish a novel. I want my stories to reach people.”
“That’s a big dream.”
“Maybe it is. But I think it’s achievable.” He looked determined, and she could see a fire in his eyes that she wasn’t expecting.
She checked her watch. It was almost one in the morning. “Geez, I didn’t realize how late it was getting. I’ve got a class at like ten,” she stood up.
“I know, that’s one of the classes we have together.”
“Oh, right. I can never keep track.”
He rose and glanced out a window. He sighed, then turned back to her, “Do you want to hang out sometime?”
The question caught her off guard, but she took a moment to consider it, “You know what? Sure. This was fun.”
His face lit up, “Great! I look forward to it,” he glanced at her guitar and equipment, “Do you want help carrying that out?”
“I’d like that.”
He helped her carry her things to her car, then turned to go, “See you in class tomorrow.”
“Yeah. See ya.” She couldn’t help but smile.