I just get past the door girl at Juke when there was scream from an electric slide guitar that sends a chill down my spine and ignites a sensation of excitement in belly, of which would cause the Evangelicals back home to wave their Bibles and preach fire and brimstone of the evil inherent in the Devil’s Music. Those doomsday voices in my head are drowned out by another kind of preaching; a dark and smoky voice of a man who has been to Hell and back and maybe has a party bungalow along the river Styx. Morgan Zayne. Thankfully, I made it just in time to catch his first set. Hobbs isn’t so lucky.
My eyes scan the crowds for a familiar face. I half wonder if Carmen Jordan, that cute redhead over at the Twelfth Street Co-Op is here. When I was picking up supplies for work and my own groceries, I’d mentioned Thursday Night Blues at Juke and how fun it was, even saying she should check it out. Especially if Morgan Zayne was playing, like he is tonight.
I quickly dismiss the thought. The Co-Op, where I get my own food and the order for work at the restaurant, is not the type of place I go looking for a date, no matter how attractive some of the staff is or how much we sometimes flirt. I was starting to let my imagination run away with me. After all, I might know Carmen’s full name, but she only knows me as Southern boy.
Then I see Kisshandra. She’s dancing up by the stage, and looking quite flattering in her tank top and jeans. Suddenly my silly little crush on Carmen, if it could be called that, is out of my mind. I work my way through the crowd, coming up behind Kisshandra. My arms wrap around her waist and I pull her close to me. She smiles as my lips brush against her ear.
“Hey, baby,” I say. She leans back further, the grin on her face is serene.
“It’s getting to be that time of year already?” She asks, her breath is hot and seductive in my ear.
“Quite possibly,” I reply. “Unless you have some prior commitments.”
“We’ll discuss it later,” she says flippantly, looking at her watch. Then, she pulls away. “Now, go find Rio. She’s at the bar getting our first round.”
“That girl is too kind.”
“And, oh! John just texted.”
“What did the Jazz-Cat say?”
“That when he gets here it’s shot-thirty.”
“Oh, mercy me. One those kind of nights?”
“Maybe,” Kisshandra says, starting to sway again. “Now, go find Rio. I want to dance.”
And so I work my way through the crowds in the direction of the bar. Rio might be one tough little chick, but trying to manage three drinks on Thursday Night Blues at Juke, especially when Morgan Zayne is playing, could be problematic. Although, grabbing my beer from her will hardly count as a gallant rescue, she’ll at least appreciate the effort.
Rio has just finished procuring our drinks when I get to her. At five foot three-and a half! she’d add-there is something doll-like about her. Well, if there was a doll in existence that would kick your ass for calling her short, cursing in Spanish, Portuguese, and whatever indigenous dialect her family’s people speaks, while doing it. She was the first generation of her family to be born in the States, but she still has many relatives somewhere in South America that nobody has ever heard of unless someone with money is kidnapped by members of a drug cartel.
When we first met, she had already had a few involvements with Kisshandra. I worried about there being jealousy or some sort of weird competition. Rio seemed to find this funny. She explained her relationship with Kisshandra was much like mine, and, in fact, Kisshandra was not the type to belong to anyone, as it were. It made sense and Rio and I agreed to not sleep with Kisshandra at the same time, literally or figuratively.
“Thanks for the drink, dearheart,” I begin, grabbing a bottle of beer. “Reckon I owe you a round.”
“That’s usually how it works,” Rio says with a smile. “Has anyone heard from Hobbs yet?”
“Kisshandra got a text,” I reply. “Shot-thirty.”
“Ai!” Rio exclaims, but then shrugs and toasts my beer with her own. “I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have any plans for tomorrow. You?”
“It looks like my plan might include recovering from tonight, but no work, thankfully. Do you need help with the drinks?”
“I’ve got Kisshandra’s,” Rio replies before shooting me a sly smile. “Unless you were trying to be romantic.”
“Well, if you already had your own plans…”
“Joshua, it’s okay,” Rio says, bumping me with her hip playfully, which reminds me of what a great friendship I have with her. “The night’s young. After all, Hobbs isn’t even here yet.”
We make our way back to Kisshandra through a writhing mass of humanity, bumping and grinding to the dirtiest of blues. Out of my peripheries, I occasionally think I see someone I recognize. I never bothered to ask Rio or Kisshandra if anyone else was meeting us other than Hobbs. The four of us made up something of a nucleus of evolving and revolving characters. Thursday Night Blues at Juke was one of our main focal points.
The Jazz-Cat is dancing with Kisshandra as we walk up. Hobbs is tall and skinny with frizzy light brown hair. His glasses are tinted square things, as opposed to my John Lennon’s, as he often calls them, and he’s always smartly dressed.
Kisshandra twists around him like a serpent, and he moves in kind. Once more, I find myself curious about the history those two may have had. Even Rio raises an eyebrow, which further intrigues me, seeing as she’s known them longer.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d be a little jealous,” she says. “I haven’t seen them dance like that since right before you started coming around.”
Hobbs sees us first, and all but shoves Kisshandra away from him. The two of them walk up, Kisshandra taking her beer from Rio with a kiss on the cheek and calling us both her loves, which is nothing new. Hobbs gives Rio a hug and shakes my hand.
“I’m glad you made it, Stormy,” he says.
“It’s Thursday and Morgan Zayne’s playing,” I shoot back. “You think I was gonna stay home and read and miss this?”
“My man!” Hobbs declares, grabbing a sip from my beer. He’s pulling me away from the girls, who have gone back to dancing like we were never even there. “I’ll help you finish this on the way back to the bar and get you another. Kiss might’ve told you what time it is.”
“Shot-thirty,” I say, having a drink of beer. “Reckon it’s a good thing I don’t have no plans for tomorrow.”
“God would laugh at you if did,” Hobbs chuckles, taking my bottle, and having a swig.