Fake Book

He doesn’t say anything but grips the steering wheel tighter.

“I’m teasing,” I tell him. “So why this one?”

“Oh,” he breathes out. “I dunno really. It’s what my dad had. We were real close, you know? He taught me to play when I was twelve.” He shrugs. “When he died, my stepmom packed all of his stuff up and gave it away without even telling me. Guitars, books, posters, everything. So I went out and bought one just like his. A Real Book. I like it cuz that’s what I’m used to.”

“What a bitch. Your stepmom.”

“Yeah, she was no prize, that’s for sure. It’s cool, though. They were just things, you know? I’d rather just remember the two of us hanging out and jamming. That’s enough. He used to do this thing,” he smiled at me, “this tapping on the pick guard. A strum and tap.” Joe made the sound on the steering wheel, strum-tap-tap, strum-tap. “Meant c’mon, let’s play. He’d call out a key and we’d just improv, follow each other until we got in a groove. He’d take a lead. Then, I’d take one. He’d nod or smile when I did good.” I see how bright his eyes get, the smile that stays on his face as he remembers. Made me wish I had stories like that to tell.

We pull up to my house, a crazy-looking, lopsided double that someone decided to paint lemon yellow with royal blue trim. It is so bright, it glows stronger than the moon, and looks like it is either sinking or rising up out of the ground.

“Hey, you want to grab dinner one night this week?” Joe asks as he leans across me to open my door.

“Yeah, sure, let me know.” I’m trying to extricate my bag and myself from the mess of his car.  As I step out, a piece of paper is swept away by the wind.

“Uh oh, you lost something,” I say.

He just grins and shakes his head, “Probably wasn’t important anyway.” He just looks at me, so I just wave and tell him goodbye and thanks for the lift.

Inside the house, there’s a tangle of bodies, some I know, but a few I don’t. Everyone knows they can crash here—the only rule is not to destroy the place, but otherwise, I don’t care. Even though this neighborhood isn’t the safest, I usually leave the back door unlocked, so my friends come and go. I step over people and instruments, kick an empty whisky bottle out of the way, until I find my bed. Stripping down to my underwear, I get into bed, next to a girl I’ve never met before and put the TV on low.

My mother would die if she saw this house. Oh, it’s got some charm and she might appreciate the architecture—not the paint choices, of course, but the structure, the gingerbread on the outside, the tall windows that line the front of the house, the old screen door in the back. The inside, with high ceilings with textured plaster walls, thick wood trim around all of the doors. Lots of natural light coming in. However, she would not be thrilled with the naked couple sleeping on Granny’s tapestry sofa. I am, though, and am sure that if Granny was here, she’d be just fine with it because that’s how cool she was. I’m not sure how mom turned out so uptight—doesn’t seem like the same gene pool really.  But she has never seen my insane house because I’ve worked very hard to keep her at a distance. She doesn’t even know where I live; I only see her a few times a year, and every time is disastrous.  Somehow she manages to push all of the wrong buttons. As soon as I was able to get the hell away from her, I did.

The girl next to me throws her arm around me, pulls me close. She smells like summer. Suddenly, I’m tired, and I close my eyes.


The brass horns of Bonerama wake me up, and it sounds like Mardi Gras in my house. Charlie and Reid are in the kitchen making a massive breakfast with groceries they must’ve gone and bought because my cupboards are usually bare.

“Morning, sunshine,” Charlie says and hands me a cup of coffee.

Reid takes my hand and twirls me around. Everyone else seems to have vacated, and the place looks decent, which means they also must’ve cleaned up.

“Not yet, I need two minutes,” I tell him as I curl up in a chair, hold my coffee close.

“Here, honey,” Charlie says, sliding my phone to me. “That thing has been buzzing all morning. It’s your mom, by the way. Must be serious. Some kind of crisis.”

“Or not,” I say. “That’s just her.”

“A little intense, is she?” Reid asks.

“That’s putting it mildly. Can’t even deal with her this morning.” I toss the phone onto the sofa, where right on cue, it buzzes with a new text message.

Breakfast is delicious—grits and grillades, French toast, and bacon—and I’m glad I’ve got nothing to do today. Although I’m wishing that girl was back in my bed now, and am damn sorry I fell asleep last night. After another couple cups of coffee, I feel ready to jump into the abyss that is my mother. The boys have gone and I’m alone, so I guess best to get it over with.

She answers on the first ring, “Lydia. I’ve been trying to get you.”

“You have?” I can’t help myself.

“Only since last night! It doesn’t show up on your phone? Don’t tell me that it doesn’t.” Her voice is shrill, and I have to lower the volume.

“Oh, it must have been off,” I say.