This is the third 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. For previous parts go here.
Ten at the Trio
III. Tonight I’ll raise my glass to us
Written in large black letters over the upside down National Geographic map of Europe, which showed Germany forever split into East and West, were the words FORT OF DOOM. The map was safety pinned to a series of bed sheets, which were draped over two metal bed frames angled and balanced against one another, creating a bastardized tepee/tent. Below the map hung a large black pirate flag of a skull with glowing red eyes over crossed bones. The early morning sun was just starting to make its way through the cracks of the venetian blinds, softly illuminating the blue sheets, when a stirring was heard from inside, where two mattresses laid on the ground, side-by-side.
On top of the mattresses were Hawaii, Arizona, Utah and DC. DC felt Utah’s hand on his stomach, her fingers gently tensing and relaxing. He breathed in deep the scent of her shampoo, relishing the nearness. In stark contrast, his mouth bore the remnants of a night of drinking navy grog, the recipe for which they found in an old cookbook some previous tenant had left in the apartment, and which consisted of no fewer than three kinds of rum. He was just happy he hadn’t thrown up, but kissing her awake seemed out of the question. Because of the foulness of his breath, yes, but also because he didn’t love her. His beloved, however, made no sign of returning his feelings, and so when Utah smiled and flirted and agreed to his absurd suggestion of building a fort, he found his willpower wane and his base desires take hold. He knew if he was smart he would make a play for her and forget the other, but he had never been smart when it came to the opposite sex. He wondered how Arizona and Hawaii were doing. He couldn’t see them and heard no sounds. Utah’s hand had stopped moving and, figuring she was asleep again, he gently maneuvered his way out, treading lightly lest the whole thing come crashing down on all of them. How it hadn’t already was beyond his knowledge. Maybe he should seek out a career in drunken engineering – no, that would mean setting up rides at Downers Grove’s Heritage Fest.
Closing the pirate flag flap he found his legs unsteady and, as his gaze fell upon the empty pitcher in the kitchen, knew why. Good god, had they finished it all? He whispered a note of apology to his liver and head, peed, brushed his teeth, and took a seat at the kitchen table to wait for the others to get up.
“Hey D.C.! How you feeling today?”
It was his roommate, Maryland.
“That good, huh? Don’t mind me, just gonna get me some Apple Crackles and then I gotta run.”
Maryland glanced in the bedroom and stopped dead.
“Woah, wha’d you guys do last night?”
“Oh, you know, built a fort.”
“Man, I gotta stop going to bed early. I miss all the good stuff. Wait…you and Hawaii sleep in there? Together?”
“Well, technically, but…”
As he trailed off, Utah made her way out of the tent, rubbing the sleep from her eyes and pulling her messy brown hair into a chaotically ordered ponytail. Her eyes only opened halfway.
“Hey Maryland,” she half whispered, tossing a labored wave in his direction on her way to the bathroom.
“Woah. So it’s like that, huh?”
“No, no, nothing like that.”
Just then Arizona walked out.
“Yeah buddy! You guys are crazy!”
“Calm yourself. Nothing happened, we all passed out.”
“You all still gonna make it to the concert tonight?”
“Hell yeah, it’s the Trio. Besides, it’s the last show we’ll all be able to go to. Finally gonna get Hawaii out to the Fireside.”
They had each taken a semester off to come to the internship program in Chicago. It had nothing to do with any of the fields they were studying, but all found it necessary for one reason or another to get away. They had been there since late January and the program was coming to an end. Soon they’d be on their respective ways, the last few months quickly becoming a handful of frozen moments trapped between a series of blurs that would evoke wonder for years to come.
DC moved to the couch. Utah came and sat beside him, kissing his cheek. She felt him pull away but chose to ignore it. Realizing what he had done, he quickly put his arm around her and pulled her into his chest and stroked her hair, his eyes all the while fixed on the building out the window where California lived.
End of Part III