Sometimes you gotta say ‘What the fuck’
A Friday night shift at The March begins at 9:00 pm and ends around 5:00 am. It was a long subterranean night and felt especially so in nice weather. By June, the night staff will have taken to convening outside in advance of their shifts, sitting on the stoop leading up to the neighboring apartment building or standing near the door. They’d chat, sip cokes and smoke cigarettes, watching the regular folks walk by.
The 9:00 pm shift was a killer, but it had its charms too. It separated The March staff from the regular working stiffs, who’d finished their workday hours ago, and were already well into their cups by before the March bartender had rung up her first drink. They felt a little cooler than the rest of the world sitting on that stoop, watching the others go by, their day just beginning.
Brooke pulled up to The March at about 8:30 and locked her bike up. She was surprised to see Rosie sitting on the stoop. She was even more surprised to see that Rosie was wearing the same thing she was: bike shorts and an oversized March tee-shirt with Chuck Taylors. It was Brooke’s standard bartending attire. But, Rosie looked practically un-feathered.
“I’m going down for a coke, Rosie,” said Brooke. “Do you want one?”
“Diet,” said Rosie. “Thanks.”
Brooke brought the drinks up and sat next to Rosie.
“Are you OK, Rosie,” she asked.
“No,” said Rosie. “Tré broke up with me and I’m depressed. I’m sick of all the soap opera shit with my father. I’ve had it with this stupid place and this stupid town.”
“Yeah, people suck,” said Brooke. She’d heard what everyone said about Tré and Bulstrode and Will and even her. People were loud. And stupid. Blah blah blah Rosie’s scumbag father had been in some kind of cahoots with Tré. Blah blah blah new uniforms. Blah blah blah the March rebrand. Karl Rafferty blah blah blah. And somehow she herself was some kind of money-grubbing whore because she was the former girlfriend of the relative of someone Bulstrode had defrauded. Blah blah blah. None of it made any sense. It was all just so much sacrificial lamb at the altar of gossip. People sucked and people loved to feel victimized. As best she could tell, somehow everyone who’d been part of The Lightweight Group had been victimized somehow by the situation. It was contemptibly ridiculous. Honestly, the planet was on the verge of destruction and people wanted to distract their selves with the most idiotic stuff.
Still, she was sorry for Rosie who seemed as depressed as she’d ever seen her.
“Are you upset about Tré or your father,” she asked.
“Fuck, I don’t know,” said Rosie. “Both, I guess. And other stuff.”
“What,” asked Brooke.
“New York,” said Rosie. “I’m upset about New York.”
“Why?” asked Brooke.
“I have this audition at Lobo next Sunday,” she said. “If I do well and impress the owner, he’ll send me to New York.”
“But if you’re so sick of Chicago, isn’t that good,” said Brooke. “You’ll totally kill it.”
“I know I will,” said Rosie. “But I still want Tré to go with me and he won’t.”
“I thought you guys broke up,” said Brooke. “Why do you want him to go to New York?”
“I love him,” said Rosie. “I’m scared to go by myself.”
“You’re scared,” said Brooke, incredulous.
“I know,” said Rosie. “Ain’t that a pisser?”
“I don’t get it,” said Brooke. “That just doesn’t seem like you.”
“Pffft,” said Rosie. “It took me years to convince people that I’m not like that. I cultivated this shit. But I cultivated it among a bunch of Midwestern yokels.”
“Yokels,” said Brooke. “I’m no yokel. But I remember the first time I met you. I was totally intimidated by you.”
Rosie laughed bitterly. “You were supposed to be.”
“Yeah, I know. But I don’t know why you’re scared about New York,” said Brooke. “You can intimidate people in New York just as easily as you can intimidate people in Chicago.”
“Oh, Brooke,” said Rosie. “No offense, but it’s easy to intimidate some enviro-girl in a message tee who probably…. I don’t know… cuts her own hair or something. New Yorkers are different.”
“I think you’re probably overestimating New York. Or underestimating me,” said Broke. “People are people. And the thing about you is that no matter how much show you put on, you never seem to care what people think. That’s what makes you cool. You can pull off that don’t-give-a-fuck thing just as well in New York. Besides, even if it all goes to shit there, you can always come home. Planes fly both ways, right?”
“I guess they do,” said Rosie, thoughtfully. “I guess I never thought about coming home.”
“Nobody’s gonna hold you hostage there,” said Brooke.
They sat silently for a bit, sipping their cokes, watching the regular people.
“You know what, Brooke,” said Rosie. “You really are a nice person.”
“You don’t need to sound so surprised,” said Brooke, grinning.
“When you first started here, I kind of thought you were an asshole,” said Rosie.
“I kind of was,” said Brooke. “I used to be less nice. But I like it here. I like the people here.”
“People like you too, you know,” said Rosie.
“Well, sure,” said Brooke. “Caleb and Mary like me. And I know Gio likes me. I guess you like me too. I’m starting to fit in.”
“No,” said Rosie, meaningfully. “People like you. Really like you.”
“Thanks, I guess,” said Brooke.
Rosie took a good, hard look at her. Brooke really didn’t know what the fuck she was talking about. Well, Brooke didn’t have to be the only nice person here. Rosie could be nice too.
“I’m talking about Will, dumbass,” she said. “Will likes you. He likes you more than he likes me, which is quite a shocker, I know. But trust me: that boy’s got it bad for you.”
“No, I don’t think so,” said Brooke. “There was this night a little while back where I all but jumped his bones at 3:00 in the morning outside The March and he went for a drink at Scottie’s instead of home with me.”
“Will’s an idiot like they all are,” said Rosie. “He was probably being chivalrous or some bullshit like that. He’s into you, Brooke. And I think you make sense with him.”
Brooke took a minute to digest that.
“Well, if he likes me so much, why doesn’t he do anything about it,” she asked.
“He probably just needs a push,” said Rosie. “Stick your tongue down his throat or show him your ass or something. All that bike riding is working, by the way. Your ass is almost as nice as mine. And that, my friend, is saying something.”
With that, Rosie stood up, brushed off her shorts and headed downstairs.
Brooke followed her, smiling.