Short Story: “Street Spirit”

Street Spirit

1

As if in a trance, Paul meditatively scanned the rows of LPs, vinyl by vinyl, until finally plucking out Joy Division’s Closer. After paying, he lingered in the doorway, considering the album’s cover. He left the record store and got inside his car that was parked beside the War Memorial.

“Do you have my bracelet?” asked Alyson. Paul furrowed his brow in a mixture of surprise and confusion. “Well?” she asked. “Do you have it or not?”

Paul checked his pockets. “Yeah,” he replied. “You want it?”

“No, not yet,” she answered. “Are we going to the show?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied.

“C’mon,” she said “it’ll be fun.”

Paul conceded and started the car. He drove down Harbour Drive. As he passed by, Alyson scanned the docked ships waiting to leave.

“Are you nervous about driving?” she asked.

“What do you mean?” he replied.

She smiled, leaned over, and kissed him on the neck, just above a snowflake scar. He came to the intersection underneath Pitts Memorial. In the gauzy late winter/early spring night, the yellow light hung in the air, its glow appearing detached from its fixture. Paul was too late and it changed to red. He waited. It didn’t change.

“Maybe it’s asking for something,” Alyson said, grinning. Seeing that no one was looking, Paul drove through.

4

He drove into Mount Pearl and reached Topsail Drive. When he came to Mary Queen of the World, Alyson held her breath as he passed the graveyard.

“They might get inside you,” she said giggling.

Paul drove into the parking lot and got out of the car. The band members were outside in the playground drinking with a number of his friends. He went to the entrance and paid the five dollar cover. Paul caught the girl staring at the scar on his neck, and she looked away. Inside, the school gymnasium floor was slippery with the water dripping from Doc Martin’s that had been sloshing around in the little snow that was left outside. Paul hated snow this time of year. No longer a soft, white crust, the snow hung around long past its due. A lifeless, grey-like substance, stained by asphalt, congealed into stone by rain and salt.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” said Alyson.

The opening band – sufficiently drunk by now – set up and began to play. The cold gym quickly warmed up with sweaty bodies bouncing and colliding into each other. Paul stood along the periphery, trying to avoid all the crashing. He could feel the eyes of people walking by. Some flashed benign smiles; others quickly hid their gaze. One of his friends came over and patted him on the back.

“Dude, good to see you,” said Mark. “We need to hang out soon,” he said. “Feels like forever since I’ve seen you outside school.” Paul agreed. Mark smiled and ran back into the pit.

A few hours later, the last band was coming to its final few songs. Alyson tapped Paul on the shoulder.

“Do you have my bracelet?” she asked.

Paul checked his pockets. He pulled out her MedicAlert bracelet. She hated wearing it. Whenever they were out together, she asked him to hold on to it. He always told her that one day she’d regret not having it on.

“Do you want it?” he asked.

But, she was already running into the crowd, making her way towards the stage, gliding through effortlessly. He followed her, but struggled to penetrate the wall of bodies. He pushed and elbowed his way to the front, but he could not see her. Stuck now, he decided to wait until the end to find her. He began to let the music get inside him. He saw Mark and they charged at each other. Together they descended into the pit for the final beat down of the night.

19

The show was over now, and Alyson was nowhere to be found. He stepped outside to see if she was hanging out with their other friends. She was not. He walked up the steps onto the parking lot and looked across the street. He saw her standing in front of the graveyard, waving. She was playing one of her games, he thought. Mark came over, his arms wrapped around his stomach.

“I’m so sick, dude,” he said. “Can you give me a lift home?”

“Yeah, just a minute,” replied Paul, walking towards the graveyard.

“Sure, man, of course” said Mark. “Take your time.”

Paul crossed the street and walked towards Alyson. She took off and ran into the graveyard. He lost sight of her in the darkness. He paced along the walkways, trying to see with the little light that was there. He heard a gush of wind coming up from behind: leaves trembling on their branches. Fingers crawled across the back of his neck and up into his hair. He turned around. Nothing. He heard whispering. He looked around the graveyard, around at all the tiny blue balls of light that shone in front of the headstones. He spotted Alyson standing in the distance. He ran to her. She was turned back on to him. He spun her around.

“Alyson,” he said. “What the hell are you at?”

Her hair was sticky with blood and her face was dusty and shiny with glass. Paul stumbled backwards and fell to the ground. He stood up and saw that she was gone once again. He looked down at where she was standing and recognized a headstone illuminated by glowing blue light. ALYSON O’KEEFE 1996-2011. He was roused by a heap of fractured memories: screeching tires, busted glass; blood, tears; flowers, a coffin. He then realized he was clinging to her MedicAlert bracelet. He opened his fist and saw that it was digging into the flesh of his palm. He laid it amongst the flowers. He slid his hand along the top of her headstone, stood up, and left.

He came back to the school and saw Mark over by the playground, hunched over, vomiting. A few of his other friends were standing around drinking with members of the bands. They said hello and told him it was good to see him. Paul helped Mark back to his car. They got inside and drove off.

“What happened to your stereo?” asked Mark.

“That was in the old car,” answered Paul. “I haven’t replaced it yet.”

“Oh man, I’m sorry,” groaned Mark. “I totally forgot. I’m such an idiot.”

“Don’t worry about it,” replied Paul. “I’m going to get a new one tomorrow. You want to come with?”

“Yeah, dude. For sure.”

The End

I posted this awhile ago, but took it down because I wanted to submit it to a competition. I’ve now tweaked it a little and put it back up. The images are photographs taken by my friend Stacey Croucher. You can check out her work here: staceycroucher.com

Cheers,

-B

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~ by braddunne on February 11, 2013.

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