Saturday, December 11, 2004

misery of the indie rocker

This is my first work of fiction to be published in the blog. Thanks to Cub for proofreading.

misery of the indie rocker by Warren

Karen was back in town and Daniel was on his way over there. Though it had been a long semester since his last visit, there had been a time when a drive over to her house was a daily routine. That was two years ago. Then came college at two different schools, two different states. No promises to keep it together were made, but it still hit like a ton of bricks when she did not want to get back together over that first Thanksgiving break. Since then, just friends. It hurt to think about her with other boys in that other state, but if you don't ask a lot of questions, it's not so bad.

Karen's Dad opened the door. "Hey it's Daniel!" hey said with a smile and reached out to shake his hand. It still felt funny, shaking his hand like an equal. Daniel felt more like a boy then a man.

Karen was coming down the stairs behind her father. "Daniel!" she squeaked and trotted up to him. He was in an embrace before he knew it. "It's so cool that you are back, I thought my school was the only one to get out so soon."

"Yeah, I didn't expect you to be here when I called. I was just going to ask when you were getting back.". He felt okay, all the knots in his stomach from the ride over unwound in three or four seconds. It was always tough to see her at first, but he could literally feel the tension dissipate. Now Daniel was confident that he could play it cool, no, not just play it cool, but be cool. Karen's Dad was already headed back into the kitchen and they were on the way up to her room. Daniel thought about how many hours he must have spent in this house during the three years of high school that they went steady. He could handle Karen's stories, right now she was talking about her plane ride home, nothing bad in that tale, it was even a little boring. Yes, Daniel felt comfortable in this house, it was familiar, it could be trusted, Karen could be trusted.

Her room, it was not the same. The posters, the photos on the bulletin board, the clutter on the desk, all gone. Her room had never changed that much before, not even since they stopped dating. During each break and during the two summers, he would come and hang out, bring her CDs that he burned, and everything was familiar. It was the same room she'd had in high school, with the memories of a lifetime filling it. Tonight it looked barren by comparison. Well, that's not bad, he thought, it wouldn't remind him of the old times.

"So your parents are going to rent out your room?" he laughed. So did she.

"No... they did some cleaning when I was gone. They just need to keep busy. I was going through all the stuff they sorted for me when you called."

"Oh, so they didn't just put a dumpster under your window and toss everything out?" Daniel chuckled.

"No, so what did you do this semester, tell me a story."

"I got on radio station staff. Oh.. you're gonna be pissed. We got Jimmy Eat World to play our fall concert!"

"Really!.. That's cool, you must have been so happy. Were they as good as they used to be?"

"Well you know the new album is the best!"

"No" She looked at the ground "I haven't heard it."

"Well, I'll burn you a copy... and get you a new poster to replace the one your Mom threw away!" That was funny, at least she could smile at that one.

"Look, my Mom didn't throw anything away." Karen seemed kind of cold, but a moment later there was no tension at all. It could have even been his imagination. She let Daniel tell his stories about the school radio station. He wished she seemed a bit more interested, but it's cool, he realized he was talking a lot and she was being a good sport. When they were dating she had hung on his every word. He showed her the world, took her to her first show, burned copies of all his CDs for her. This was before indie rock, it was, you know, an emo time, and they did silly things. Now she probably had other things on her mind. You get serious about your major in junior year. Without Daniel, it could only be expected that Karen would not be following the same exact scene. Different states, different bands, who knows what's cool there.

"Karen, you should go with me to RPM Records tomorrow, I'll show you what new releases to pick up." Daniel offered. They used to always go to that record store. Even if you bought a CD once a week, you'd always find something that you need there the next week. If you hadn't bought a CD ALL SEMESTER, well, then you'd probably have to fill up a trash bag at that place.

"No, Daniel." She looked down again. "I've kind of got to save money for this semester."

"Oh whatever. Look, I'll buy you a CD. It's on me. No, two CDs, you can't argue with that and it's just the beginning of what you need...!" Daniel was smiling, already thinking in his head. Which two would be the best. So many essential albums came out this fall. The Garden State Soundtrack. The Killers CD. Maybe she didn't even have that. So much.

"Um, well.. actually my friend Troy is coming to visit tomorrow. He's gonna stay for the rest of break."

Bam! That brought Daniel back to the room. He instantly regretted what came out of his mouth in the voice of a grade school brat. "Who is that!?! Your boooy frienddd?" Oh my God that was stupid. He should not have said that.

"Um.. sort of. Yeah."

But no answer was necessary. Daniel did not storm out the room or burst into tears. "Oh that's cool." he said and changed the subject. The damage had been done. You win some, you lose some. He wrapped up the conversation, gave her a hug and said "see you next break". It wasn't funny, but they both laughed for a millisecond anyway.

On his way down the driveway he put it all in perspective and saw that it wouldn't be so bad. "This guy Troy, he may have her now, but I dated her for three years. We shared it all, I'll always have that, and so will she." That's the way to think. As he was getting out his car keys he noticed a pile of trash he'd paid no attention to when he showed up a little under an hour ago. So her Mom had thrown stuff out!? No, Karen had thrown stuff out. It was probably some baby junk and none of his business or interest. But why shouldn't he look, he was the one who dated Karen for three years, not some dork named Troy who probably is just an indie wannabe. Daniel was there first, he was on the fuckin radio station, he fuckin hung with Jimmy Eat World at their show, and if he wanted to dig through someone else's trash, is there a problem with that!?

His heart stopped when he saw the converse shoe box on top of the trash can Not because he it said "Converse" on the side, that's not really something to get emotional about, but because of what else it said, something written in sharpee on the top. "Daniel's Letterz". That box was the one she would he put his love notes in right after she read them. She even printed out his live journal entries about her and put them in there. "If Y3K ever happens.." she used to say "I'll still have this box."

So fuck'n what. She got a folder, a file cabinet, doesn't need a box. Well he was looking anyway. The box was still full of his letters.

"That's fucked up! That's fucked up!" Daniel was pounding on his steering wheel, driving home way too fast. He didn't even remember getting in the car. "I gotta go see. I gotta know."

Daniel was back on Karen's street. He was no longer driving fast. He pulled up slowly, normal. He was just going to see, you have to see sometimes and that's how it is. Daniel parked on the street, not in the driveway, got out, and calmly walked over to the pile of boxes. Underneath "Daniel's Letterz" were scattered CDs and scattered CD cases. They were not prerecorded, no, some person had taken the time to duplicate their own CDs, to write out track listings, to draw hearts and stars on them with a paint marker. Someone had made these CDs for a road trip together, for a birthday gift, for a rainy afternoon. Someone had taken the time to give these discs titles. "Music to Rock Our Socks To", "Songs that Remind Me of You" and "Daniel and Karen's Anniversary Mix".


The junk pile sat there for two more days until Wednesday, the day the trash truck comes around. Karen did not think about the pile during those two days. After all, her new boyfriend from school was there and that is pretty exciting. She would not think about the junk pile until a week later, when she ultimately heard the horrible news, and even then she wondered, if perhaps the pile had nothing to do with what happened at all.


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