This is the eleventh 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

XI. The Fireside Bowl (8:27 p.m.)

As Randy’s lungs filled up with tobacco smoke and the thick and heavy humid night air, he felt sick and was unable to will himself to stand fully upright. Sick to his stomach and sick of these kids. They were all so damn young, too young to have screwed up their lives yet. The girls, damn they were young, unsullied. He coughed and held out his hand to the two young men arriving late, laughing freely.

“Five bucks.”

Thanking him, Martin and Arthur grabbed a beer in the bar and waded into the crowd. After looking around a moment they headed over to the merch tables in the back. There was a tall skinny kid who couldn’t have been more than 14, counting cash he took out of a homemade chain wallet that his father wouldn’t learn about until some time later when he went to his tool chest to lengthen the Tiffany lamp that hung over the kitchen table.

“Could I get one of each please, in small,” the skinny kid said.

“All six?”

“Yes, please.”

As the pink-haired man behind the table searched through plastic bins the boy laughed to himself, taking in the stale smoke, broken ceiling tiles and cockroaches that brazenly ran across the floor. It was real, just like they said. He couldn’t wait to check out the bathroom next, which he hoped beyond hope would live up to its reputation of utter filth.

“Oh, sorry kid,” Charlie said as he bumped into him, knocking the wallet from his hands. The kid didn’t make eye-contact, muttering a “that’s okay,” as he felt his heart rate increase nervously, but Charlie had already forgotten the incident, for, with Lewis facing the stage, Dawn, on the premise of adjusting her shoe, leaned over, her hand on Charlie’s shoulder, her cleavage and leopard print clearly visible through her low cut tank top.

“Thanks,” she said, a sly smile filling her face as she winked and turned around, looking back at him over her shoulder. Supporting herself this time on Lewis’ arm, she bent forward to fix her other shoe, in the process sticking her skin tight blue jeans within an inch of Charlie. Charlie swallowed and went back to the bar, passing Randy on his way, who was headed to the stage with bottles of water for the band.

“Excuse me, sorry, excuse me,” Randy said, gritting his teeth as he tried to keep his temper in check, finally forcing his way through the group of four who were so close they might as well have been a single entity.

“Geez,” Arizona said to no one in particular. Utah and DC briefly turned to look and then turned back toward the stage. They had their arms around each others waists but DC’s mind was thrown clear of his body, dwelling on thoughts of California. He had stopped by while she was working and, trying to be casual, invited her to the show that consisted of bands she had never heard of. She said she’d try to make it. He gave her the address. What would he say if she did show? What about Utah? Oh god, his arm was still around her. He’d pull it away to clap at the end of the song and not put it back, nice and casual, no big deal.

Randy stood at the back of the stage looking out on the crowd, pretending to be fixing some wires. His band had played here twice. If only they had gotten their shit together, but everyone else had more important things in their lives. Randy looked out and saw two pretty, young girls standing on the seats in the lane. One was looking directly at Matt Skiba, the other had her eye on a guy a few rows in front of them. Was that Brendan Kelly? No, just another wannabe. When did fashion take precedence over music? Fuck that shit.

“Goddamn he’s hot!” Stella yelled in Chelsea’s ear as she bobbed along to the music.

“Yeah,” Chelsea replied, staring at Mike. Mmmm those dimples, she could get lost in those dimples. He was wearing a wife-beater that showed off his muscular upper-body. She bit her lip. Stella felt eyes on her from behind and the feeling ran up her spine in pure pleasure.

“Move!” George shouted, pushing Mike out of the way so he could see. He was singing along to every song, yelling each lyric at the top of his lungs, why couldn’t they see how important this was to him? None of them could feel what he was feeling. This was it, this was his alter and this is what buoyed him up and kept him from killing himself, didn’t they know? He forced his way to the front, staring up as if into a lover’s eyes. He felt light, sweet pain draining from each cell of his body as he flailed about in and out of the pit.

“Watch it asshole!” the girl with the heart and skull tattoo said as she turned to push him away, still feeling the point of his elbow in her back. Her eyes met those of the customer. What was his name? Soy latte guy. “Yeah, I’m here,” she said in her head as she watched his face fall, “fuck you.” Turned away, resolved not to move till the rest of the place had cleared out at the end of the night, she hoped he would never come in for coffee again.

Crushed, Roger catatonically stared at the floor for a moment before something snapped and he forced his way into the mass of indistinct, sweaty bodies slamming into each other and dove into the middle of the fray. Laughing at nothing, he agreed to help a kid up to crowd surf and as a thank you took a resounding kick to the face which sent his glasses flying.

“Shit,” he said as he held one arm in front of his head to protect himself as he bent down, feeling around blindly. There was a tap on his shoulder and a hand with black and crimson fingernails held out the remnants of his shattered frames.

“What idiot goes into the pit with glasses on?” Randy said, making his way back to the entrance door, passing two guys hugging the wall.

“It’s cool man, go ahead, I know you want to,” John said.

“Naw, it’s alright,” Robbie said, smiling and patting John on the shoulder. John was right, he was itching to be thrown about, to let himself go and move without moving, but Robbie came here for him and he wasn’t going to abandon him, especially since it was clear that John wasn’t into the music. Robbie didn’t have many friends left and he didn’t want to lose John. John, meanwhile, kept himself busy checking out the girl in the leopard print bra who was acting strangely. First flirting, then pretending she hadn’t done a thing, and finally making out with the guy she had spent the night teasing. And then the fight ensued and the three were thrown out.

“She was cute,” John thought.

End of Part XI

Part XII