Walking along the deserted main street, Joshua Hoff feels as if he's standing on a precipice. Behind him are his family, his lover, and his friends. Below him is a free-fall of self-discovery, followed by the hard ground below. Having taken that route before, he decides to deal with his problems, and face them maturely. Being only eighteen years old, with very little experience, (both in life and in the work force) his struggles seem all the much bigger..
As he rounds a corner, both literally and figuratively, he sees a club down the street, with the sign "Replacement Bouncer Needed" in the window. As shabby as the club was, he decided to give it a try. As he pushed the doors open, a new song started playing.
It will rain,
There'll be pain,
(Only for a little while)
Troubles will come
(Yeah they will)
Counting on joy
(You gotta count it)
Morning will come
(After the rain)
The sun will shine
Keep your head high
`How appropriate...' he thought.
As he walked deeper into the club, he decided it wasn't as bad as it appeared.
In fact, it was much more attractive on the inside than it was on the outside.
A rather large raised dance floor was in the center of the room, below
which were nice tables and chairs, and in the far corner was the bar. To
the left was the DJ, and behind it were stairs that led up to another part
of the club, probably the manager's room and such.
"Hold up there," Someone had put their hand on Josh's chest and prevented him from going farther into the club. "There's a cover charge. Five bucks."
"Actually, I'm here for the bouncer position." Josh said, looking up at the person who stopped him.
"Heh, you? I don't think that's going to work. You're kinda scrawny. And you still gotta pay the cover charge to see the manager."
"All right." He pulled out his wallet, and handed the large man a five. "Where is the manager."
"He's the bartender. Good luck skinny."
`What nice people...' he thought, walking to the bar. Before he reached the bar though, someone caught his eye, and diverted his attention. On the dance floor was one of his best friends. He thought he'd go say hi.
"Boo!" he said, grabbing her from behind. A major mistake that was. The next thing he knew, her foot was planted firmly in his groin, and he found myself crumbling under the pain. "Nice... kick..." he gasped, between groans of pain. People around them were laughing.
"ACK! I'm sorry sweetie, I thought you were someone else. Are you ok?"
"Well, now I'm sterile for sure. What are you doin here, Lez? I didn't know you went to clubs."
"I don't." the tone of her voice sounded exasperated. "Can we sneak out of here? Did you drive?"
Glancing back at the bar, Joshua took his friend by the arm and led her out of the club. "Ok, what's wrong? And, no we have to walk, I never drive anymore."
"Yeah, I'm glad you didn't cause we need to talk. Don't look at me like that, it's nothing bad. I think I'm gonna break up with Sean. He dragged me to the club, then left me on the dance floor while he went to get a drink. He didn't come back for about a half hour."
"So you just left him there? He's gonna be worried!" before Joshua could turn around, Leslie grabbed his arm and made him look at her. Now, out in the open, under a streetlight, Josh could see the damage done to her face. She had a large bruise on her cheek, and her eye was almost completely shut.
"He beat me" a master of the obvious she was. Her strength just didn't match Josh's this time, and he broke out of her grip. He stalked back to the club, and walked inside. Again, the bouncer stopped him.
"Five dollars, little man." Josh wasn't in the mood. He reached back, and punched the guy square in the face. For a little guy, he had decent muscle mass. The bouncer flew backwards a few feet, and landed on the floor. He walked deeper into the club, and standing on a table, spotted Sean on the dance floor. He pushed and shoved through people until Sean saw him coming
"Dude, have you seen Lez? She disappeared." The poor guy didn't know what was coming. When Josh was in range, he pulled back and punched Sean and pushed him onto the floor, where he began pummeling him. Suddenly, four strong hands pulled him off. It was the bouncer he had trouble with, and someone else.
"He fucking beat her!" Josh hissed, pointing at Leslie.
"Take it outside, we don't want blood on the dance floor. It's quite slippery." the bouncer said with a smirk. "By the way," he whispered to Josh, while he was pulling him outside, "I think I underestimated you. Nice punch."
All Josh could manage was a growl. As his ass hit the cold, wet concrete, he became aware of the clouds looming overhead. He stood up in time to see Sean dumped outside, right into a huge puddle in the street. The bouncer smiled at Leslie, and she looked please, though there was a hint of concern in her eyes.
"C'mon sweetie, lets get away from this maniac," Sean said, standing up, and moving towards her.
"No, I'm not going home with you, I'll walk with Josh." she muttered, pulling away.
"Let's get moving, so we don't get soaked," Josh said, taking Leslie's hand.
Cuddling together walking down the street, the sky above grew a darkened blue. A crack of thunder and a flash of light were all it took, and the rain started pouring. The two ran for their lives, happy to be out in the open, but scared of the terrifying night sky above them. When they got to Josh's house, he grabbed the key out of his pocket and ushered Leslie inside.
"You ok sweetie?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Do you mind if I stay here tonight though?" Leslie asked, knowing that she didn't need to.
"Of course you can honey. What'd u wanna do tonight?"
"I dunno. Have you gotten the Pearl Jam tics yet?"
"Nah, they're supposed to be coming tomorrow. Want something to drink or eat? Want a sleeping pill? Opium? You name it, we probably have it." Josh asked, entering the kitchen.
"No, I think I'm just gonna crash on the couch, I'm pretty tired." Leslie replied with a yawn.
"Ok, cya in the morning then. Bright and early. Or at noon, whatever."
"G'night sweetie." Leslie mumbled, already half asleep.
The next morning, Josh was
greeted with a loud yelp from downstairs, followed by a loud crashing sound.
He grabbed a robe and put it on, and grabbed a baseball bat from inside
his closet. As he walked down the stairs, he smelled something burning.
`Leslie,' he thought. `Please don't tell me she's trying to make breakfast.'
As he pushed open the kitchen door, the site before him was more terrifying than any storm could ever be. Leslie was standing in front of the stove with a pan full of scrambled eggs in her hand, trying desperately to stir them, while pancakes were burning on another pan still on the stove. Burnt toast was sticking out of the toaster, and egg yolk was on the floor, as well as other ingredients needed in making pancakes. When Leslie turned and saw Josh in the doorway, she jumped in fright, spilling the eggs all over the floor.
"Ok, let's go out to eat." Josh said grabbing Leslie's hand.
Later on in the day, after
breakfast and dropping Leslie off at home, Josh was cleaning up his kitchen.
When he was about finished, he heard the mail man dropping mail through
the slot in his front door. Finishing up in the kitchen, he walked to the
`Junk, junk, bill, junk, ticket master. There we go.' Josh thought, flipping through the mail. Opening the mail from ticket master, he saw two tickets and two backstage passes. Looking closer, Josh noticed that the tickets weren't for the Pearl Jam Concert. `N'sync?' Josh thought. `You've got to be kidding me.' He found the number for the help desk at ticket master, and got on the phone immediately.
After a half-hour of waiting, he finally got a living person.
"Hello?" the voice on the other line asked sweetly.
"Hi, I'm calling about a mistake. I ordered Pearl Jam tickets and backstage passes, and I got N'sync tickets instead."
"Could I have your Purchase Number?"
"Yeah, its 34-6566434/WDC"
"There's the problem sir. When you registered for the backstage passes, whoever entered the information entered the wrong arena. They entered the RFK stadium's code number, and Pearl Jam is playing at Marriweather pavilion."
"Ok, so you can fix this right?"
"I'm afraid not sir. All the tickets for the Pearl Jam concert are sold out. We won't charge you for the tickets you have though. We'll refund you fully."
"No, but I don't like this music, there has to be some seats left at the Pearl Jam concert."
"I'm sorry sir, all we have are lawn seats, and the lawn is pretty filled up. You'll get a full refund, and you can keep the tickets. That's all we can do. Thank you." CLICK!
`That was rude,' Josh though, hanging up the phone. Looking at the tickets again, he noticed that the concert was tomorrow night. `I guess I might as well...' He thought. He better call Leslie.
The next night...
"You ready?" Josh yelled
from his bedroom. He had just finished getting himself ready for the upcoming
concert. He wasn't looking forward to it, but there was no use in looking
bad in a public place.
"Almost, give me a few minutes." Leslie yelled back.
Looking in the mirror, Josh surveyed his features. Grayish blue eyes, reddish purple hair (not his natural color) a strong, defined face accented by a peach fuzz goatee. His body wasn't perfect, but it wasn't bad. Nicely defined pecs, strong arms and legs and a flat stomach were enough to keep him from being self-conscious. He had weight problems all through his childhood, and around when he turned 16 he started to shed off the weight, and lost his inhibitions in the process. He was always a self-conscious child.
"Let's go!" Leslie said from his doorway, startling him out of his reverie.
Hopping in the car, Leslie flipped through the music stations.
I get kinda shaky when they mention you
I just lose my cool
Will the real slim shady please
Losing my sight, losing
Wish somebody would tell me I'm fine
"Oh, I like that song." Leslie
"Urk, can't you pick something not depressing. It makes me wanna commit suicide."
"That's why I like it," she mumbled quietly, almost as if she meant it.
Josh had started ignoring Leslie when she talked about suicide. She never meant it, and talking about it seemed to get them nowhere. The girl just got depressed every now and then. `It didn't mean anything,' he kept rationalizing. `She was just like everyone else our age. We have mood swings. That's all it is.' Or at least he hoped so.
As they pulled into RFK stadium, they realized they're mistake at getting there on time instead of early. People were all over the place, mainly young girls, all with big posters and way too much makeup. Josh and Leslie looked completely out of place. They went in anyway, thinking that it couldn't hurt any.
They're seats were right in front, and almost center to the stage. Almost immediately after they had taken they're seats, the lights dimmed and the music begun. The boys went through they're songs and dance routines, and Josh was hardly impressed. Hopefully it would get better. At the end of the concert, Josh had decided that he really thought it best not to hang out with the guys backstage. He really didn't like they're music, and probably wouldn't like them either.
"You ready to go?" he asked Leslie.
"Don't you have backstage passes?" she asked.
"Yeah, but I don't really feel like it."
"Oh please. What better do you have to do? Your parents have the little monster for the weekend, and you have tomorrow off. So let's just go back there. If you still wanna leave after ten minutes, then we can. Come on, puhleezzzee?" Leslie begged.
"All right, but ten minutes. That's all I'm spending." Josh figured it was better to go along with her than argue. They made they're way backstage, and pushed through hundreds of screaming girls until they came to the area where the bodyguards were. The pair showed they're passes and made they're way to the lounge area where everyone was. And everyone included a lot of people. There were reporters, fans, people who looked to be the stage crew, dancers, bodyguards, management, and the five guys. Leslie immediately went up to the guys and started mingling. Josh still didn't feel like it and sat down on the couch. He started nodding off after a few minutes, and slipped farther down into the soft fabric.
"Hi! My name is Leslie, it's so nice to meet you guys finally." Leslie said introducing herself to the five members of N'sync. "This is my friend..." she said, turning to introduce Josh. "Or should I say that bum sleeping on the couch is my friend Josh." Leslie easily fell into conversation with the guys, but she wasn't sure she had all of their attention. Lance's eyes kept darting between her and Josh, who was still fast asleep on the couch.
"You know," Lance said, interrupting Leslie in mid sentence, "Your friend doesn't seem to be having much fun, I'm gonna go wake him up." He said, walking towards the sleeping young man.
"Wonder what that was about..." Chris said, looking towards his friend.
"I could venture a guess..." Justin mumbled inaudibly.
"Excuse me," Lance said,
sitting down next to Josh. When he got no response, he tapped Josh lightly
on the shoulder. "Excuse me," he said, a little louder. When still no response,
he hit the man forcefully on the arm and exclaimed "Wake up!"
"Wha? What the hell?" Josh stuttered, startled. "Who are you?" he asked, not in the mood to talk to anyone.
"I'm Lance," the young man introduced himself. "You saw me onstage. Unless you were asleep then too," he said smiling.
"No, my headache was keeping me awake. I'm sorry, I didn't mean that. I like your music. I'm just not used to being woken up like that."
"I would have woken you up differently, but we're in public," Lance said with a evil grin.
"I'm sorry?" Josh asked, genuinely confused.
"Nothing. So, why did you come tonight? Your friend drag you along with her?"
"No, there was a mix up a ticket master. I uh..."
"Hold on," Lance interrupted, "You've got sleep in your eye." Lance raised his hand to Josh's face, and ever so gently wiped the sleep out of his eye. He let his fingers linger on his face a little longer than they should have, but neither of them really cared at that point.
"Uh, I think Lez and I need to leave, we've got a lot to do tomorrow," Josh said, getting up. "We gotta go Lez," he whispered when he got close enough.
"But the guys invited us to go clubbing with them. They're gonna get all disguised so no one recognizes them and we won't have a mob around us. We need a ride. Pleeeezzzzeeee?"
"You said ten minutes." Josh said through gritted teeth, "And I'm really weirded out, can we leave?"
"Excuse us for a minute," Leslie said to the guys, pulling Josh away from the hubbub of people. "Ok, spill it, what's up?"
Josh then told Lez about the comment Lance made and when he had wiped the sleep out of his eye. He had never had a guy be interested in him like Lance seemed before, nor had he ever really been interested in guys.
"So tell him you're not interested, and come out with us," Leslie said, exasperated.
"But I am interested I think. Hell, I don't know, I'm confused."
"Then come out, figure out what's wrong with you, and have a good time. We can dance the night away. Come on, it'll be fun."
"Ok, but you better be right."
At the club, Josh spent most
of the time on the dance floor. Ever now and then, he felt Lance's eye's
on him, and locked eyes with him. Lance beckoned him closer, and Josh slipped
between people. As he approached, Lance put his hands on Josh's hips and
moved him to the music. For a minute, Josh was completely lost in the music.
Then, realizing what he was doing, he pulled away. Looking at the confusion
in Lance's eyes, and sensing the confusion in his own, he turned and headed
for the bar.
"Long Island Ice Tea" he said when the bar tended decided to pay attention to him. At about the same time, he felt a hand on his shoulder. Spinning around, he almost fell out of the barstool looking into Lance's deep green eyes.
"What just happened up there?" he asked, concern and confusion in his voice.
"I don't know, I just don't know. I have this strange attraction to you, but I'm not gay. I mean, I never have been before, and I just don't know. I'm just out of a very long, very painful, horrible relationship, and I have a lot of emotional baggage, and I just don't know..." Lance cut him off by putting a hand over his mouth.
"We're not talking marriage here Josh, just a drink. I just wanna get to know you better. Come on, a drink?"
"I really should be going. I have to get up early." Josh said, getting up out of his seat. Lance grabbed his arm, but he shifted out of his grasp. "Look," he said, turning around, "I don't know what is going on right now, I'm really not interested, and I think you should just back off. It's really kind of pathetic, you barely even know me." He searched out the crowd to find Lez, and when he saw her, he grabbed her and drug her out of the club.
"What the hell is up your ass?" she said, pulling away from Josh in the parking lot. "What's the rush?"
"I just can't be doing this right now. I haven't gotten over Kris yet, and until I do, I need to lock myself up. And I don't know what the hell is going on. I'm not gay, but I can't take my eyes off that Lance guy. And I think I was rude to him, but I don't need this right now. I need to just go home, take care of what and whom I need to take care of. I can't get into a relationship."
"You wanna get over Kris, but you can't do that if you don't move on with your life. You need to go back into that club, have a drink with a guy you're obviously interested in, and have fun. Screw `gay,' it's just a damn label. Who cares what it is. Do you wanna see if there's anything there? Of course you do. Now get your ass in there."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. Ok, here goes everything." Josh slowly walked back to the club, and pushed through the doors. He looked to the bar, and Lance was still in the same place that he was when Josh left, but he had his head in his hands on the bar. Josh took a seat next to him, and when the bartender approached, he asked where the Long Island Iced Tea he ordered had gone. Lance slowly raised his head to glance at who was next to him.
"Oh, I thought you left. Figured you wouldn't wanna hang out with us pathetic people." there was a large amount of resentment in his voice. "It's not like I do this all the time you know, I just saw something in you. Call it interest at first sight. What's so bad about it?"
"Nothing, and I'm sorry I was rude to you, but I'm going through a rough time. Not that it gives me an excuse, just an explanation." The music playing changed to one of his favorite songs, and he took Lance's hand in his own. "Dance with me?" Josh asked, looking at Lance, trying to read his face. Lance stood, and let Josh pull himself to the dance floor. As they danced, they let themselves be wrapped up inside the music, like it was a blanket.
You're just too good to
Can't take my eyes off of you
You'd be like heaven to touch
I wanna hold you so much
At long last love has
And I thank God I'm alive
You're just too good to be true
Can't take my eyes off of you
Pardon the way that I
There's nothing else to compare
The sight of you makes me weak
There are no words left to speak
And if you feel like I
Please let me know that it's real
You're just too good to be true
Can't take my eyes off of you.
Josh never did drink the Long Island Ice Tea.
So, what do you think? Should I continue? I dunno, I need you guy's response. Email me at Fricklor@aol.com. Thanks!