Status: This story is the sequel to Washed Out Rock Song and is currently active.

Washed up Rockstar

Chapter Three.

“Here,” John retreated from the back room and handed me a beer bottle.

I twisted the cap off and threw it next to his. “You’re just allowed to hang out here whenever you want?” I asked, skimming through a pile of unsorted vinyl.

“Pretty much,” John said, jumping backwards onto the cashiers counter with his legs dangling over the side. “Jeff, the owner, he doesn’t give a shit what I do here.”

I faced him and leaned back on the shelf across from the counter. “I can’t believe you’re working here now.” We used to spend a lot of time here when we were bored. We’d just go through albums we haven’t listened to in years and talk about music. “You don’t work at the restaurant anymore?”

“I help my mom out when she needs it,” John shrugged, “But it just gets to be too much, being around my mom 24/7 like that. After I dropped out of school and started working full time, it was a lot. I can only take so much of her.” He let out a laugh. I watched as John brought his bottle to his mouth and swallowed the cheap alcohol. “What about you? What have you been doing all this time?”

I sighed and crossed my arms. “Well, I got my grades up at Harrington after two years, transferred to a better art school in the city. Graduated. And now I am working for a company called Trouvaille doing graphics. It’s a small chain of fashion boutiques,” I explained, "There are a few stores in Chicago, a couple in New York. One in L.A. It’s sort of Anthropologie meets Forever 21.”

“That explains the new wardrobe,” John said, pointing out my dress again.

I laughed. “Yeah, I guess it does.” I set my bottle on the counter and hopped up next to him. My feet dangled next to his and it reminded me of high school, sitting on the back of his truck.

“I’m glad you’re doing well,” he said, “You seem happy.”

“Yeah,” I smiled to myself and looked up at him. “I am.” His green eyes dug into mine and I realized that he didn’t seem as happy. “How are you?” I asked, “Really?”

John looked away and put his hand threw his hair. “Uh,” he started with a small laugh, “I’m okay.” He looked back at me. “Better than you think. Honestly.”

I looked away and sipped from the beer bottle as we sat there.

“So,” John said, breaking the silence. “What’s life like back in Chicago? Do you have someone waiting for you to come home?”

“I do,” I said. “My cats name is Fox.”

John laughed.

I smiled to myself and took another sip. “Um, I do though,” I said, serious now. “Have a boyfriend, I mean. Kevin.”

John nodded and brushed his hand through his hair again. It seemed like it was some sort of nervous tick he had now.

“What about you?” I asked, nudging him slightly with my shoulder. “Girlfriend?”

He shook his head. “Nah, not right now at least.”

I suddenly felt uncomfortable again. Like I was stepping into an alternate universe of my 18 year old self. When I was back in Illinois, I didn’t have to think about my past at all. Nothing there reminded me of home. And now here I was sitting next to John, talking about my boyfriend and our new lives. Being around him was so familiar, but so different at the same time. My life has changed so much since I last saw him, but at the same time it was the comfort of my old self that made me want to be around him right now.

“This feels like high school, having you here,” John said, saying exactly what I was feeling.

“Yeah, it does.” I said, “It’s weird being back here. You don’t realize how much you miss it until you’ve been gone for so long."

“You miss it?” He asked, surprised.

I nodded. “Of course. It’s always going to be home.” I jumped down from the counter and John followed.

“We should probably go,” he said, placing his empty bottle in a garbage bin. “I have to pick up Kennedy, he’s spending the night at my place. It’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding, you know.” He smirked.

I nodded. “I think I’ve heard that once or twice.”

John smiled. “It’s been really nice seeing you again.”

I smiled back. “Yeah, you too."