"I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?" —John Lennon
Snow. It was my first memory as a child, of that I am certain. I can remember the crispness of it, the refraction of light on its surface, and how it stung and melted away when I tried to teethe on it. Some how it felt comforting to me almost like a safety blanket. A fresh new snow could just wrap me tightly in its arms and I could become smothered in it. That's why I stay in this place. The snow, I mean. I couldn't see myself in any other place that didn't snow; it would seem foreign to me, almost like I stepped into another planet. Mom says that I stay because I couldn't be without her for one second of my life, I need her too much. Suppose that's true, but then that's just my mother's way of saying she can't stand to let her baby go. But I think it's the snow. I think the reason I stay here is because I can't stand the rust of the South, and I can't deal with the gray of the Queen City. I would miss my frosting covered evergreens, and I would morn the loss of not ever seeing my breath turn to steam and my fingers freeze up in the chill. I don't know what I would be able to do with myself if I didn't have this blistering lake affect snow, and I don't think I could live in any other city besides Rochester. I was born here after all, and it's the only real place I know.
"Kaden! Kaden Pe- Pet- Pe-something! You're on next!" Petrov, I thought in agitation, it's Petrov. How hard was that to pronounce? Letting my head rest aimlessly against the stone my back currently against, I breathed in the crisp winter air as I peered down at the end of my cigarette. The alleyway to the right of The Water Street Music Hall wasn't much of an alleyway at all, not in such a literal sense anyways. It was a gap in between the two large buildings, but on the right there was a larger lot where the money gobblers like to park out of town-ers and earn a little extra change. To the left, well there wasn't much to look at aside from a few trash collecting heaps of blackened snow, due to the plowing. I took in another long drag twisting the handle of my case tighter and tighter. I wasn't a wreck or anything; I had done these sorts of shows plenty of times before. I'd go in, listen to a bunch of rowdy 16+ kids who were excited for a cheep fest, and do my show. If I'm lucky I'll have a few kids who actually know some of my stuff, but I never really go in thinking any of them know me. And why should they? I'm a teenage college drop-out with a funky last name. They couldn't wrap their head around my last name much less my lyrics. Which is fine by me. My lyrics filled their purpose for me and that was all I needed to appeal to. Myself. Wasn't much of a living I'll tell you that, but I get by.
"Kaden!" She was getting annoying now, this stage woman. Flicking the ashes off the end of my cigarette, I peered up at her through my shaggy bangs letting my lips falter only slightly in agitation. The tiny woman was hanging herself from the side door and she was peering back at me, her own demeanor was far less inviting than my own. I sighed and allowed the last half of my cigarette to flutter to the ground before stomping it out. Raising my eyebrows to her she seemed to be satisfied enough as she disappeared through the door. I let out a slight grumble, following her inside, mentally preparing myself for a show that would no doubt be the lowlight of my career. Kids these days didn't appreciate lyrics anymore so much as they cared about a catchy line they could sing back to those on stage. It gave them a false connection to the band, something that could make the musicians on stage become more real in their eyes. I, on the other hand, had no such things. I don't believe in a catch, but suppose that could be where my downfall was.
The lights on stage flickered on and off, almost as if they too were irritated that I wasn't on stage yet. Mentally I cursed myself for wearing a turtleneck and pants to a gig, and especially my fedora. Of course, I could never actually do any of my gigs without that beat up old hat. Staring out into the open warehouse, I squinted as I set my guitar case down onto my chair. I could tell the little teens were getting antsy, because slowly they started to migrate into little groups and start chatting up little storms and laughing too obnoxiously loud. I cleared my throat into the microphone, testing the sound once over before I retrieved my guitar. A sharp noise rang through the air causing the rest of the kids in the warehouse to groan in discomfort; of course none were as close as I was to the speakers. I winced a little, jerking my head away. This was going to be quite the night, I could feel it. Letting my rough fingers strum the chords of my guitar, I sighed and cleared my throat. As expected none of the teenagers turned themselves around, they didn't even bother to acknowledge that I was on stage. Suppose they just wanted some screaming band like they had playing in the next room over. Over there I could hear the crowds cheering and jostling about in the large hall, the room so overcrowded with people that they were flooding into my room. Half the teenagers in here didn't want to be, and the other half (mostly the female half) stood blurry-eyed as they watched some new eye candy make his way to the stage. Another stigma I hated filling. I was just some attractive face, and it didn't matter what my music sounded like or what I was trying to say, all they would hear was that I was nice to look at. Of course, I'm not trying to toot my own horn I'm really not.
"How're you doing tonight, Rochester?" I asked, not really caring whether or not they were alright, or whether they had the nerve to respond back to me. I couldn't really hear them that well anyways with the racket in the next room. Sighing I decided to put my focus, rather, on the icons that lined the walls. They were the pictures of my idols, all of which would be so very ashamed to see me like this, as they watched me entertain some mindless youth. But so was the life of a musician. I'd have to slave myself away just to get onto a decent stage where I was playing to a crowd that actually understood my music.
To my surprise someone answered me back, causing my head to turn slightly in the female's direction. I could barely make her out over the lights, but I could tell she wasn't standing with anyone in particular. Her face was half covered by the dimmed lights, but I could make out a length of brunette hair, resting along her lithe frame and ending at her waist. I smiled a little and nodded my head in her direction. Letting my hands slide over the chords again I started to play the rift of my first song, a song I wrote for my mother. It's a sappy little tune, I have to admit. But suppose it does get crowds going, even if this wasn't much of a crowd to appease too. I started to sing, my voice still scratchy from the cigarette I had earlier. There wasn't really that much to sing in this tune, I basically wrote the piece for my Amazon of a mother who, she herself says very little but says so very much. So the song was made up of chords that I switched from, and hard to the point lyrics. Just like my mother.
The crowd somehow seemed confused, though I barely noticed their movements though my half-closed eyes. When I play, it's almost like I'm reliving the events that brought me to write my music. I never pay attention to my surroundings, I just lean into my guitar and play. I would feel, I would remember, and I would let my lungs expel all the emotions and all of the thoughts I had at that time in my life out onto the stage. And the audience would have a choice. They would either take what I was giving to them with stride, or they would push it away like some old backwards trend. Either way I would get my release and that was all that mattered to me. Whether or not they liked it was completely trivial. It seemed as though, however, they figured just that. They were quiet when I played, yes, but they weren't exactly paying attention to me either. It was like I was in my own universe; pictures and images seemed to surround me without much logic to them. I would see flashes of lives past, and lives I have yet to live. One could almost call this my own brand of LSD, without any of the nasty little side affects.
My set ended without so much as a hoot from the crowd, not that I really expected anything less. Even the brunette that I had long forgotten about held her tongue as I made my way off the stage. I hadn't even bothered to introduce the next band; I was in such a shitty mood. What I needed right then was a pint of something strong and a handful more of cigarettes. Though, what I didn't except was for that silence not to be a malicious one, nor any that had any ill contempt to my playing, but rather they simply didn't know what to make of it. I was far too consumed with bitterness to even realize as I slammed my form into the bar stool, tugged my pea coat tighter around my figure, and ordered myself a simply whiskey on the rocks. At nineteen, it was funny how used to drinking I was. My mother was never against the idea of my drinking, in fact she encouraged having a class of wine at dinner to help my digestion. Some may find that odd, especially given the current (and overly strict) twenty-one and older law. But my mother, born and raised in Russia, had little tolerance for American things, especially American laws. Here at Waterstreet, I could have very well produced a fake ID, and they would have given me a drink regardless, but suppose tonight I looked like hell, and maybe even older than what I really was.
My whiskey didn't soothe me as it usually did. The light tingling in my veins only seemed to infuriate me more. What a horrible prospect, this whole concert was, having to perform in front of people who didn't understand my music, who didn't listen and pay any attention. It wasn't until I was eyeing the empty bottom of my glass that a figure slinked into the seat next to mine. I barely noticed her, her tiny form seemed to blend in quite well with the rest of the surroundings. I had taken her for one of those scene children at first, pretending to be twenty-one when in actuality they were only fifteen. But then her voice, her dark soothing voice, ordered a vodka tonic and I couldn't help but turn my attention over towards her. I was face to face with the brunette, the cute one from before. I hadn't noticed how blue her eyes were, nor would I have ever if she hadn't turned to me at that instant and smirked.
"I know." She started, and honestly I hadn't the slightest clue what she was talking about. "My eyes, they're breathtaking. My figure is supple. I have a nice rack. My ass is fantastic." It was like she was running off a string of compliments ... to herself. I was puzzled, visibly puzzled, which I never was in my life. But she simply smiled softly and placed her hand on the counter, letting her antique rings clank against the oak finish. "Well, now that that's out of the way love, the name's Charlie. Just Charlie."
I was stunned. She was so very forward, I had never encountered such a woman, let alone one at a pre-teen scream fest. Letting my eyes fall to the empty whiskey glass in front of me I tried to gather my senses. I knew how to talk, that much I was certain, but I couldn't formulate words. After all, what was one to say to such a comment like that? It was blunt! It was honest! It was unbelievably attractive. "I ... I'm Kaden." I managed to squeak out once her attention was turned towards the bartender. All she did was smile, bringing her glass to her lips.
I was a bit taken aback again. She knew me? Was she a stalker? Oh lord, please make her a stalker. She would be far easier to avoid if she were, I couldn't take those eyes in any more than one sitting. At that moment those sharp cerulean eyes would not let me go. Then it hit me. Of course she wasn't a stalker. I was at a bar, at a show none-the-less. She had watched me play. She had been responsive to my playing ... of course she knew me.
"I must ask you and this may be personal..." she started her inquiry, but I was far too eager to please her that I didn't care what the nature of her question was. I would have answered it in a heart beat. "Where do you get your ideas ... you know for your songs."
It was at that moment that I realized something. I had no idea. I didn't know where those songs came from that I sung so passionately. I had tricked myself into believing they were some life experiences, but they weren't. I never remembered any of the things I sang about, and that caught me off guard. But I couldn't lie to her, I just couldn't. It came so naturally to me, lying, and yet I couldn't do it to her. I tried to open my mouth but even the thought of lying to her made me sick. "I..." I started, but I didn't need to finish. She understood. She nodded her head and finished the rest of her drink. She understood what I was saying even though I said nothing. To say I wasn't intrigued would have been a bold faced lie.
"Well Kade, mind if I call you Kade? Welp, Kade as much as I just loved talking to you," at this she laughed, "I really must go." Before I could protest the spunky brunette disappeared into the crowd. I was in awe. Staring for a good hour and a half in the direction the woman went, my features seemed frozen in place. Not even the cries from the bartender for 'last call' awoke me from my daze. I was instantly infatuated, deeper than I had ever been with a single human being. And yet at the same time I couldn't be more turned off by her. She was so blunt, so forceful, and so very butch. I couldn't find words for the rest of that night. It was almost as if she had muted me, stole my voice right from under me.
As I walked home that night, the bitter cold biting like termites at my hardened flesh, I kept turning over that woman's name over in my mind. Her name was Charlie. A name that would not have suited any other woman quite so well, I think. Had she been any more upfront she would have been perceived as rash, any less vocal and she would have never lived up to her name. And her name was Charlie. Charlie! Like her parents didn't have a clue what to name a girl ... or maybe they knew the boisterous sort when they saw it. Maybe they realized just how peculiar she was going to be as an adult. I cursed lightly under my breath, watching as it instantly froze in the chilled morning air. It had only just occurred to me: I never even knew her last name...