6 :: message received ::
Hey, she says.
Oh, hey, he says, feigning surprise. Jesus Christ she's gorgeous, he thinks.
Freya remembers him: he's that guy from the Rainbow last week. He didn't say much, but she caught him looking at her a couple of times. She'd thought this guy digs you, and it was OK; it felt good to feel hot. It had been a while. She chalked his interest up mainly to the alcohol in his bloodstream and the semidarkness of the barthe makeup of half-light can help anyone look beautiful. But now he's here. Coincidence?, she wonders.
You're Freya, right? Fletcher's friend?
She wonders if this guy is a stalker, and she feels a vague sense of alarm. But this guy doesn't seem the type.
That's right, she says. And you're . . . help me out here?
He feels a pang. This is a mistake, he thinks. If she was interested, she would have remembered my name. Oh, uh, my name's Jakob.
Cool, she says. He nods. She nods.
She has a pile of CD cases in her hand that need to be shelved. And her body wants to follow the routines of work. But she feels like she should be making chitchat. She shifts from foot to foot, begins to look around the store.
He sees her glance down at the pile, and this gives him a direction. So, he says. Anything good come in lately?
Depends, she says. What kind of thing are you looking for?
Um, he says. I dunno.
He doesn't. Music has somehow become irrelevant to him. He is twenty-nine years old and he has lost interest in young people's observations about love. That rules out a lot of music.
The last band he really liked was the Smiths. At age nineteen, he drove through the streets of Columbus, delivering pizzas, Louder Than Bombs jammed into the cassette player. He sang: I know I'm unlovable / you don't have to tell me / message received, loud and clear, loud and clear / message received. Ten years have passed since then, and in those ten years no new band has really come along and grabbed him. Instead he has come to like older music, anthologized music, the music that critics like to write about. Elvis Costello. Bob Dylan. But he's afraid to say Bob Dylan. He wants to give an answer that she will think is cool.
Girls just want to have fun, he thinks, helplessly. Oh girls just want to have fun. He can't even remember how the hell that even got in his head.
Wellll, she says. She stretches the syllable to indicate that time is passing.
What have you been listening to?
Hmm, she says. That new Queens of the Stone Age is pretty good. It's kind of like a stoner rock thing, if you're into that.
Uh huh, he says. Stoner rock? He has no idea what that is, or whether he's into it or not. He imagines that it might be like Pink Floyd. Listen, he says. I should probably get moving. But, um, Fletcher and I and maybe some other people are going to get together at the Rainbow again next Friday. If you maybe felt like joining us again, that would be cool.
Yeah, she says. Sure. That would be great.
I'll give you my number, he says. If you want to call to get, uh, the details.
Or I could just call Fletcher, she thinks. But she doesn't say that. She says: Do you need a pen or something?
No, I think I've got one: and he has one. He pulls a Walgreen's receipt out of his pocket and on it he writes his name and number.
So maybe I'll see you then?
Sure, she says.
Great, he says. Well, see ya.
See ya, she says.
And he goes. That wasn't a coincidence, she thinks. He didn't look at even a single CD. She wonders if Fletcher ratted her out, told this guy where she works: it seems like something he would do. She'll talk to him, get the scoop what's going on with this guy. She looks at the guy's name on the receipt, and thinks it. Tries out the mental ring of the noun. Jakob.
He's not half bad looking.