This is the second part of a twelve-part story called Ten at the Trio. It takes place in and around the Chicago area in the Spring of 2000. It is dedicated to everyone I have ever gone to an Alkaline Trio show with. If you missed it, here’s Part I

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Ten at the Trio

II. Warmer than Piss

The first mouthful of beer hit him like a soft, loving caress. Eyes closed, he brought the bottle down onto the table with great force, the light brown liquid foaming up over the edge and down the side. He ran his rough hands over his shaved head and breathed deeply, the scent of indistinct fried food filling his nostrils. Staring out onto North Clark Street from the window of the Pick Me Up Cafe, his gaze fell on a woman on the other side who was pushing an empty stroller, while a toddler waddled behind. Throwing back the rest of the bottle, he ordered a zombie coffee without whipped cream. When he looked back the woman was gone, replaced by a gaggle of Cubs fans decked out in blue and white headed toward Wrigley for tonight’s game.

He grunted to himself then heard a familiar voice.

“Randy?”

His attention broken, he turned to see Steve, wearing a white dress shirt and gray tie, the outfit of a million paraprofessionals who had just gotten off of work. Randy looked down at the beer foam residue as it dried on the table, and eyed his Alley t-shirt, a good enough uniform for him.

“Hey,” he answered, “haven’t seen you for awhile.”

“Yeah, been swamped. After endless shit meetings all I wanted was to come here and get hammered.”

Randy nodded in agreement.

“So how’d it go today?” Steve said.

“Same shit different day. How you been?”

“Alright. You working the show tonight?”

“That’s the plan.”

“Who’s playing?”

“Alkaline Trio and some shitty bands from the suburbs.”

“No shit, that tonight? May have to go to that.”

“God. You and everybody else. Everyone loves ’em. I don’t get it. I mean, the first record was alright but this shit’s too poppy. At one point I swore it was Blink. Skiba should’ve stuck with the Traitors – more bands need to offer a spanking from a hot girl at their merch table.”

“I hear that,” Steve said as he flagged down the waitress and ordered a beer.

“How’s Eve?” Randy asked.

“Good. Turning one next week.”

“Holy crap, you kidding? That’s crazy.”

“You’re telling me.”

Randy chugged the coffee with a strained look, hating the taste, waiting for it to kick in. Fortified for the night ahead he stood up and stretched, contorting his face in the process.

“You leaving already? No food?”

“I gotta head over there. Come and find me if you do end up going,” Randy said, knowing Steve never would.

“Alright man, see you later.”

“See ya.”

End of Part II

Part III

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