Are you going to buy me a drink, or not?
The voice chills the back of my neck and raises the hair on my arms. It’s one that, for many reasons, I haven’t heard in years. Our past together, though brief, was eventful, energy-driven, and passionate, but we were always a broken pairing. Neither complimentary or even subtractive; instead existing as some kind of mutually destructive division symbol. We parted ways without so much as a discussion about it, naturally polarized by the life that we were stealing from each other.
I should have known better than to think that just because this city is home to so many millions, I wouldn’t run into her on my short visit. It was predetermined by fate. After all, even if Bonnie & Clyde had parted ways earlier in their lives, they were always bound to die together.
Hello, darling, I say, turning around, dry martini in hand. What are you doing here?
That’s a question better posed for you, isn’t it? She rebuttals.
I signal to the bartender without breaking her eye contact. A pair of alphas engaged in their first subconscious battle in a long time.
The bartended aids me in my little game and slides the fresh glass into my hand with my back still turned. I pull my arm around and present the cocktail to her.
Martini? I pry.
Of course, she says predictably. Vices served up always were her obsession.
She sits down and the natural course of catch-up begins to play out. 20 minutes turns into an hour and a half, and the light outside turns into the soft pink that always hangs over New York at dusk, just before the bright blue and white lights overload the senses and skew one’s ability to make sound decisions.
Our stories of the past have brought us to the present moment, and with new stories now to be written, we clink our glasses together and throw back the remaining drinks.
What are you in the mood for? She asks as she stands and starts pulling her coat around her shoulders.
How about a show? I answer in question.
She nods, turns, and heads out the door, knowing just what kind of vibes I’m in search for and, being a local, knowing just where to find them. The next length of time is spent meandering the cold sidewalks under the continuously evaporating daylight. She was never one for cab rides, but I’m shocked she holds true to her stubbornness even when back in her hometown. But, having absolutely no idea where we’re headed and having absolutely no time table to arrive there, I follow blindly.
We pass beneath an endless forest of architectural innovation. Some modern and built of steel and glass, some seemingly ancient and hewn of marble, but most early last-century, modernist, and carved of the rest of the world’s stolen gold.
Soon enough, we arrive underneath a classic sign of a cinematic concert hall originally constructed of red brick which has since aged colorlessly. It’s long dark now and illuminated signs such as this one act as the undeniable draw of curiosity and wonder within us all.
Who’s playing tonight? I ask.
I never know, she says. I come here every Friday and it’s yet to let me down.
It’s statements and underlying quirks of the personality such as this that make me question how it was that the two of us could never make it work. With somebody so artistically curious and unshakably accepting of good music, I have to wonder, could this be love?
But no. Of course not. As much as I wish to so easily fall in love, my lack of ever unearthing anything remotely resembling it has left me very much doubting its existence. But, music has the power to change such things about ourselves, if only for the short term.
We buy a pair of general admission tickets – the only type available at any venue worth its weight in underground intrigue and mysterious crowds. Upon entry, and after coat check, the bar becomes the obvious next destination.
Martini? I pry.
Of course. But make it a well, she replies. The overpriced drinks have us both feeling stingy.
We grab a two-person high-top, hang our coats on the back of the chairs, and climb into their perches. This venue, though bubbling with energy, is not necessarily a standing room only type of hall, so we get comfortable with our martinis and wait for the band on stage to finish setting up.
But something about the night – particularly the smooth coincidence of it all – is making my mind go crazy. How is it that we came across each other? That we seamlessly reconnected? That we ended up in an underground Tribeca music club sipping on cocktails like old times? Needing a moment to clear my head, and knowing I have a few minutes before the show begins, I excuse myself.
I walk back past the bar and into the entryway. An underlying drive to explore my physical surroundings may provide me the mental clarity necessary to explore my inner thoughts and emotions. I walk upstairs and down and come to a final ultimatum.
Right now, I say to myself. I have to choose.
I choose to walk back to the bar, pick up two more well martinis, and meander my way back through the main hall to the two-person high-top. But when I arrive, she’s no longer there. In her place, is a used cocktail napkin with some scribblings on it.
Before I can read it, the kick of a drum and strum of a guitar ignite the energy in the room and draw everyone’s attention stage-side.
Good evening, everyone. My name is Mack Wilds.
I stand there confused, idiotically double fisting well martinis with an overwhelming sense of deserved abandonment running through my mind. I take a sip and read the note.
It's a crying shame
We been losing our minds
Just to move and rewind
And crash anyway.
I guess she did know who was playing tonight. Until next time, my dearest Bonnie.