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chapter 3

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Johnny Slipknot

Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 39
Location: The Burned City
chapter 3  Reply with quote  


In his silver Isuzu Rodeo, heading into Midtown, Seth tried to work up some anger towards Jay and couldn’t come up with any. True, Jay had brought up two points that were sore subjects, but…Seth could only be angry if he hadn’t known where Jay was coming from, and he did. Actually, both sore points were on the same subject. The past.
Keeping his on-air persona separate from his personal life had seemed like a matter of privacy at first. But the more popular ‘Ringer & Jay’ became, and the more he had to defend the decision to Management (and Jay) the more he had came to realize what he was really doing; keeping the door to the past slightly ajar.
He had gotten good at stepping around the issue of work when he met new people, especially women.

“So, what do you do?”
“I work at the Big FD.”
“Oh my God! You’re not Ringer are--”
“I do promo spots.”

And so on.

He glanced over at the morning paper sitting on the passenger seat. It was written in blue ink like a promise.

Eileen 404-867-1807

He had written a song about an Eileen once.
He didn’t realize he had become so lonely. Meeting women wasn’t a problem for Seth. Forming a relationship was. Keeping things going while hiding half your life was a serious impediment. He had once come close with a woman at his favorite bookstore. Claudia. She worked nights and had helped him locate three out-off print books. Seth started coming in and loitering at the checkout counter till closing. Walking her to her car one night, she turned to him and said, “So, you going to kiss me, or not?” They spent the next four weeks together, in the afternoons and after the bookshop closed. Every morning he went to the station to do ‘promos and stuff’, and in the evenings she went to the bookshop. Then, on a Saturday morning, waking up at her place, about to fool around, the radio started playing ‘the Best of Ringer & Jay’. She nearly knocked him out of bed to shut it off.
“God, I hate those guys.” Seth took his hand off her breast.
“Really? Why?”
“Are you kidding? They don’t have two brain cells between them. I know you work there and all, but those two are just stupid.” Seth, erection a thing of the past, was about to explain that the two in question were actually well read and pretty nice guys all in all when,
“Especially that Ringer guy. What kinda cowardly fucker hides behind a microphone AND a pseudonym, then criticizes the likes of Dr., Laura?” Ranting complete, she snuggled into his chest. “Why? Do you know them?”
“Just the other guy.”
And that was the end of Claudia.

He walked into his condo, put his cell phone to bed on its recharger and popped on Sportscenter. Throwing his gym bag on the couch he grabbed a jug of water from the fridge and went to his computer. As the screen came to life, clicking and whirring, he pulled the folded up crossword from his back pocket and laid it out next to the keyboard. The computer, awake and ready, asked him if he wanted to download email. He clicked the mouse button without even thinking. His eyes kept going back to the name above twelve across.

He had nine e-mails waiting in his mailbox. Six were junk from work, one was from Bull reminding him about basketball on Sunday, one was from his mom, and the last was from Trip in New Orleans, but when he clicked on it, it asked for an authorization password. Seth tried his account name and was rejected. He’d worry about it later. Trip was always coming up with new and improved ways of confusing him.

Seth picked up the crumpled crossword puzzle and studied that blue ink for the hundredth time that day. When the ESPN announcers introduced the Plays of the Week, he hit the mute button on the TV remote, and pulled out a cigar box from under his desk.
They had only made about a hundred copies of the CD. The cover was a black and white photo of an old barn in South Carolina where the four of them used to go and drink. Bull’s then girlfriend (now wife) had taken the picture. Printed across the top, in plain black letters was the name.


He popped the CD into the hard drive and point/clicked his way to track number 5. “Eileen’s Eyes”. After a few seconds, his voice drifted out of the speakers, soft and impossibly young over the music. Soon, Bull added his own to Seth’s as they went into the chorus,

‘She comes to my room in the middle of the night,
She always dressed by moonlight.
At my window, she wears my heart,
When she speaks, I fall apart.’

Seth picked up the phone and quickly dialed the number before his brain could catch up with him. It rang three times before an answering machine picked up.
Perfect. He was good with answering machines. Years in radio had honed his ‘leave it at the beep’ skills...

“Hi. I’m not able to come to the phone right now, but please leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”
“Hi Eileen. This is Seth Slocum. We met today at the coffee shop. I was the one who made a complete fool of himself. Maybe you remember it? Anyway, I was glad that you left your number. You took off before I could…”
Click. “Hello?”
“Hello? Seth?” She sounded like she had just woken up. It occurred to Seth that it was after midnight.
“Hi! Eileen. Hi. I was just leaving you a message.” He winced. A more idiotic statement had never left his mouth. “I’ve woken you up. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize what time it was when I…”
“No. It’s okay.” He could hear her smile. “I’m glad you called.”
“Oh. Good.” He stood there for a year waiting for something to say. He tore through his desk looking for a cigarette and a clue. “So... what…how are you?”
She laughed gently. “I’m fine Seth Slocum. How are you?”
“I’m good. I’m a lovely shade of red at the moment, but good.”
“So, what were you doing calling strange girls in the middle of the night?”
“Well, in truth, I was going ask your answering machine out on a date.”
“Gee, my machine’s busy all week. But I’m free, if you’re interested? Interested?”
Seth smiled so hard his cheeks cramped. “Very interested.”
“Woo-Hoo.” My God, she likes the Simpsons, he thought. “So, when did you have in mind?”
He was about to suggest dinner on Tuesday when something stopped him in his tracks. He felt an unfamiliar urge welling up inside him. A start with no secrets, Ringer and the show on the table from the start. To hell with it. He decided to step off the ledge.
Seth cleared his throat. “Look, Eileen, before we go any further, there’s something I want to tell you.”
“And what would that be?” She sounded totally unafraid. Seth envied her.
“It’s…I guess you could say it’s about who I am.”
“I know who you are.”
He was stunned. That was not what he had expected. He could tell by the way she had said it, she knew exactly what he was talking about. Then relief washed over him and it began to make sense. She must have a friend at the station or something. It was certainly possible. THAT was why she had been so bold with him, leaving her number for him to find. But, cool at the same time. Not blurting out, “Hey. I know you! You’re RINGER the DJ!” This was going to work out fine.
“You know?”
“Of course I do.” She made it sound like the silliest thing she’d ever heard.
“Good. I’m glad that’s out of the way.” He said.
“You’re the lead singer for WiseMagic.”

…and the world fell out from under him.



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