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Vampyrs Anonymous Chapter Two
James Meets Felicity
James took a cautionary glance around the street as he left the alley. No one had seen him exit or leave.
Without thinking James found himself entering Eve’s Garden. He showed his ID to the bouncer at the door and took a look around. There were a few tables placed here and there with plenty of room to walk around. There were two pool tables in the middle of the room and an arcade game against one wall. The shelves behind the bar were lined with bottles of liquor empty glasses and mugs, photos and sports memorabilia.
There was a typical crowd for a Saturday evening. Teenagers, a few couples in their early to mid twenties, and the occasional adult here and there. The bouncer did a good job filtering out the bad elements, but even still most grown-ups didn’t like going into a bar with allowed children. And the fact that there was no alcohol on weekends didn’t help.
Most of the tables were empty as the crowd gathered near the stage. The band was half way through a song and the lead singer was putting all of her energy into it. Spinning around on the heal of her foot and dancing up and down the stage. Pretty from what he could see, she wore light gray hooded sweat jacket over an auburn tank top. From the looks of her James guessed she was in her early twenties. She was backed up by a guitar player and a drummer who seemed to be equally as passionate as she was.
“Give me your hand/Let me into your heart/Let me melt the ice and heal the pain...”
James noticed a white board leaning on a chair next to the stage. It read:
He held back a condescending snort. The lyrics were all right and the music was almost of professional quality. But the name was too generic.
James ordered a soda and sat down at one of the tables. The ambience irritated his eyes and he was nervous being in a place with so many people. Ordinarily he would have left, but something about the lead singer’s voice kept him planted. But he wasn’t so entranced that he didn’t notice the rest of the audience. All of the guys in the bar seemed to be paying particular attention to her, while the girls danced in time to the music generally having a good time. One girl was becoming impatient with her date, and it seemed like she was ready to either clock him or leave-maybe both.
James turned his attention on the singer. The stage wasn’t all that big. The girl was in constant danger of tripping over equipment, or bumping into her guitar player. But she still managed to work as much style and movement into her act.
For a second it seemed like she was looking right at him. James averted his eyes suddenly, feeling like he had just been caught staring at her chest. Uncomfortable and feeling a bit geeky he was ready to get up and go. But he just sat there staring at his drink.
He looked up again when Teenage Angst finished the song. The audience applauded.
“Woo!” The girl shouted. “Man, you guys have been awesome but we need to take a breather. Chill out, have some soda, eat some peanuts and we’ll be back at it in about fifteen!”
The bartender handed the girl a towel and glass of iced water.
“You guys are great,” The bartender complimented. “Anytime you need a gig just give us a call.”
“Thank you Ben. I’ll let the guys know you said so.”
“Hey, let them know also that drinks are on the house.”
James pretended not to notice her as she drifted towards the table, towel over one shoulder and drink in hand. If she was just there to give him a hard time for staring he could save face and apologize before leaving. But somehow it felt rude to just bolt without knowing what she was going to do..
Are you forgetting something James? The logical side of his brain asked. You can leave now and it doesn’t make a difference what she thinks. In another century she’ll be dead.
Even several miles from home he could hear Oldman chastising him.
“Hi.” James looked up and saw the girl standing beside him.
So much for not noticing, he thought.
“Hi,” He said, nervously.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before. Are you new?”
James smiled and shook his head.
“I’ve been through the neighborhood a couple of times,” he said. “But I live outside the city.”
“Mind if I join you?”
“My name’s Felicity by the way.”
James shook her hand. “I’m James. James Cross.”
Felicity giggled. James figured out what was so funny and couldn’t help but laugh himself.
“Sorry,” she said. “I just suddenly pictured you in a tuxedo drinking vodka martinis.”
“Well if I could come here during the week maybe,” James joked. “I don’t introduce myself like that normally.”
“Hey, I like it. James Cross. Simple and easy to remember,” Felicity sipped her water.
Suddenly it felt like he was possessed. His natural instincts told him to leave now and return to the safety of his home. But Felicity’s personality was infectious and he found himself crushing those instincts.
“So…how long have you guys been practicing?” He asked.
“Well our band has only been together about four months. I’ve been singing since I was five. Eddy, my drummer has been practicing for about a year now and Cole’s been playing the guitar his whole life.”
Felicity pointed to a table nearby, where Eddy and Cole were sitting. Eddy was stick thin with a barely a muscle of fat on his body. His clothes were torn and faded, and they seemed to hang on him like the ones the homeless man in the alley wore. James wondered if this was a part of some manufactured image or if this kid was genuinely that bad off. Cole, on the other hand obviously had a day job. He was clean, well nourished and his clothes were decent and well kempt. Though they were chatting with each other and the occasional fan he could feel their eyes on him.
Don’t worry guys, he wanted to tell them. I’m not going to touch her.
“We all grew up on Everland Terrace,” Felicity explained. “Cole’s a member of the national guard and Eddy…well, he’s struggling just to keep a roof over his head.”
“I know what that’s like.”
“So do I. Believe me,” Felicity looked around the bar. “This part of Orson has a pretty bad rep. You can’t get around it really with all of the drug dealers and the street gangs that live here. But Cole, Eddy and me grew up all right. So long as you have your head on straight it is possible to get somewhere. That’s why we formed the band. We wanted to show these kids that there is hope.”
James felt a bubble of warmth inside of. Now a days kids started bands to make money. Felicity’s band had a mission.
“I had a band once,” he said, stirring the ice around with his straw. “Well, not a band so much. A couple friends and I used to get together and jam out.”
“That’s how a lot of bands get started.”
“Yeah, but we had it all wrong. We thought it would be cool to make millions of dollars off our music. We wanted the fancy tour busses and the groupies. Some mission, huh?”
“I think it’s cool to know what you want,” she said, sincerely. “What kind of music did you play?”
“Mostly metal,” James said. “I’m a big KISS fan so I was trying to be a lot like them.”
“Really?” Felicity’s eyes widened. “Oh my god, my dad used to have every one of their records. I spent my first five years listening to KISS and every other hair band.”
“I never listened to too much else,” James said. “I had a lot going on back then and I just couldn’t keep up with the times.”
“Back then?” Felicity said, raising an eyebrow. “What were you twelve? You can’t be that old.”
“Well, okay, not that long ago.” He lied. “But basically it was a lot of crap to deal with.”
“I know what you mean.”
There was an awkward pause. It was such a sobering feeling for James as he wondered how much of his life he should share at this point. Felicity was really the first person he’d spoken to in thirty years.
A part of him wanted to tell her everything. But that would have been stupid. And even if he told her half of the truth he didn’t like the idea of lying to her.
He looked up at the bar, pretending to check the time. “Whoa, is that how late it is?”
Felicity checked her watch. “It’s only 7:30.”
“I’ve gotta get back home. My-er-parents asked me to run a few errands.”
“Ah, parental struggles,” Felicity nodded. “I feel your pain.”
“Can I call you?”
“Yeah, that’d be great.”
Felicity got a pen at the bar and wrote her number down on a business card from her pocket.
“We had a bunch of these printed out.” Felicity said. “I haven’t made a new batch yet so I had to put my cell number on the back.”
James promised to call soon and said good-bye.