A Different Rhythm – excerpt from Terminal Monday

13. A Different Rhythm

Tough Love
Wanda was quiet as they made their way up to the fourth floor and down the hall to her friend’s apartment. Electronic music was playing through the door, which only turned down shortly before the door opened and Terry waved them in. Not a word was spoken before Terry wrapped her slender, muscular arms around Wanda and kissed her full on the mouth, a kiss which lingered for a few seconds. Then she released Wanda and bounced back softly to smile and take Richard’s hand in a non-committal shake.

Terry was short, rail thin with paradoxically large breasts pushing into a baby doll tee, and narrow, girlish hips that barely held up her cut-off shorts. She had dark eyes and medium length dark hair, butterfly-clipped into high, bushy pigtails that looked black in the dimness of the doorway, but turned out to be a deep shade of purple once she moved under better light. There was a tightness to Terry’s face that marked her as an intense thinker, the sort of person that always put Richard on his guard because he just knew he would say something that would mark him as an idiot. She was remarkably pretty, in a severe sort of way, and she never seemed to stop moving.

“So you’re Richard. I read your book once. The one you wrote with Wanda’s other ex, the asshole? It was good. You should write more stuff like that. The rest of the series sucks ass. I used to have them all, but I gave them away.”

“You read Mender’s whole series?”

“Yeah, I was bored one week.” She looked at Wanda quickly and asked, “Do you remember when I had that fever and had to call in sick for a couple of weeks?” Wanda nodded. “Yeah, so I’d been home for a few days and was climbing the walls. So I got dressed and went to the Strand for something new. I remembered Wanda mentioning them and decided to grab the whole series. I was doing a lot of uppers in those days, and needed something to chill out with. Anyway, I still have the first book, but I started giving most of the others away as soon as I was better. The second was good and the third wasn’t too bad, but I got rid of those too, when Wanda told me the whole story. You should take him to court.”

“Everybody tells me that.”

“Everybody’s right.”

“I tried to, but I lost the case. By that time, he’d written seven more books, was on the best seller list, and I was writing commercials for radio. The court thought I was too incompetent to have created the series, and awarded the rights to him.”

“Ritchie was a mess in court,” Wanda offered. “The judge actually had him tested to see if he was on something. David made him look like an idiot, and poor Ritchie got stuck with the legal bills and a bad flu bug that took him months to get over. I tried to see him, but he was hiding out at Dana and Randy’s, and they wouldn’t let me anywhere near him.”

Terry nodded at Wanda, and then looked seriously at Richard and said, “Well, David’s an asshole, and you really should do something. His last few books are fucking awful.”

“You haven’t read the one he put out this year, have you,” Wanda asked. Terry shook her head with a look of disgust on her face. Wanda simulated an act of bulimia. Terry nodded and rolled her eyes.

Haven’t I Been Here Before?
“Well, come in and have a seat. I’ve nearly got your mix done, and the movies are on the table.” Terry bounced back to her work station and slipped her earphones on, and the room went silent as she began working in a mixing suite Richard didn’t recognize.

The first thing Richard thought upon looking around the apartment of Terry Whitmore was that it reminded him a little of his old producer Mike Guild’s place back in the mid-90s, only with less wood tone. The walls were dark and there were black lights lining the ceiling along both sides, which were mercifully turned off. The room itself was lit by track lighting which emphasized the left wall at the moment. There were racks of CDs lining the wall, interrupted by a home movie theater and a movie poster of the Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Score one point for Terry.

The kitchen occupied the far end of the apartment on the left side, just past the wall of CDs, and had checkerboard pattern in the linoleum tiles. The right half of the room was cut up with the bedroom and bathroom, with a music workstation against the short wall leading to the bedroom door. Terry had a G5 Mac with a large flat screen monitor and a shiny Korg synth he didn’t recognize between the monitor and keyboard. Along the far right wall were a series of low bookshelves, filled with paperbacks, that supported four small battered black road cases, which he guessed contained her DJ equipment.

Wanda hung her coat and scarf on the rack by the door, sat down on the sofa and patted the seat next to her. She was already picking up the movies and slipping them into her purse, but Richard thought he recognized one as Gothic, and he was almost certain the other was Prospero’s Books, from the bit of the title he could see under Wanda’s hand as she slipped them away. Weird, but nothing he hadn’t already seen back in his experimental days. Richard slung his coat over his laptop case beside the sofa and took a seat beside Wanda, and she moved closer and leaned against him, resting her head on his shoulder. He slipped an arm around her back and rested his hand on her hip. He sat breathing her in and trying not to let his mind wander. He suspected this would not be the best time to develop an erection.

Terry slipped the headphones off of her head and bounded into the living room, a blank CD case outstretched in her hand. Wanda sat up and took it, smiling. Richard noticed that it was actually a blank DVD, and suspected Terry had been working all day to put it together, whatever was on it.

Terry caught his look and replied, “It’s just something I like to do for close friends. It’s kind of how I got into DJing, actually. I used to make mixed CDs for friends when they wanted to throw summer parties and stuff. I had some friends who used to play tabletop RPGs, and I used to programme their sessions with spacey soundtracks and stuff.”

Shop Talk
“That’s cool. I used to make a lot of mixed tapes for friends as well.”

“Yeah? What music did you use?”

“I used to listen to a lot of progressive.”

“Oh? What DJs were you into?”

“Sorry. I’m a little older than that.”

“Oh, so you mean like Pink Floyd and that.”

“Yeah, I’m a dinosaur.”

“That’s okay. I sometimes slip bits of Tangerine Dream and King Crimson into my weirder mixes. DJs can never figure out what samples I’m using when I do that.”

“I’m trying to imagine using samples of Crim on the dance floor.”

“Oh, their early 80s stuff works great in breaks and stuff. You really have to use it sparingly, though. The polyrhythms are hard to beatmatch.”

“I can see that.”

Flying the Flag
“So, do you ever go clubbing?”

“I haven’t been on a dance floor since the 90s, except for a couple of times when Julia took me to a gay club with her friends.”

Wanda piped in, “I didn’t know Julia was gay.”

“She’s not. She just liked to drink and dance, and she was dating a guy whose sister was a regular there. I sort of suspected his sister wasn’t the only gay in the family, but Julia assures me he was straight, if a little odd. I’m waiting for him to come out of the closet, so I can see the look on her face.”

“Sets off your gaydar, does he,” Wanda leered.

“He was fairly butch, but in a pretty sort of way that always made me look twice.”

“Did you ever fancy him,” she smirked.

“No. Not my type. He put on a fair act, but he was a little too simple for my tastes. Too much hockey and cheap beer.”

“No, that wouldn’t do at all.”

Terry added in, “He sounds familiar. What’s his name?”

“Oh, Jeffrey McSomething, I’ve forgotten.”

“Tall, square jaw, short black hair, soft eyes, wears a lot of Tommy Hilfiger?”

“That sounds an awful lot like him.”

“Yeah, I think I’ve seen him around. I think he’s still on the fence, though he spends most of his time schmoozing beers off of cougars.”

“Oh yeah, that definitely sounds like him. Small world.”

Flirting with Disaster
“Yeah, he tried hitting on me a couple of times. A girlfriend bailed me out. You should have seen the look on his face when we kissed. Priceless.”

“Well, having seen you kiss a woman first hand, I can just bet you were fulfilling one of his biggest fantasies.”

Wanda quipped, “More like one of yours, Ritchie.”

Terry chimed in, “Oh, it’s like that, is it? Well, I’m not an exhibitionist, so don’t get your hopes up.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t dream of it. Wanda has a way of making everyone want to kiss her the minute they see her, regardless of preference.”

“Ritchie, I’m flattered.”

“Yeah, but he’s right. I’m not even gay and I like kissing you.”

“You’re not,” he asked, his head tilting to the side.

“I like to play now and then, but I’m usually between boyfriends. Wanda and Candice are just good friends I come to when I need to get over someone.”

“Well, you can’t do much better than Wanda for friendly commiseration.”

“Ritchie, two for two. Are you getting sweet on me, after all this time?”

“Nah. I know my place. And anyway, I’m sure I’d be a disappointment to you after all this time.”

“Is he always like this?”

“Pretty much.”

“Maybe we should tag team him right here.”

“Don’t give him ideas. I’m saving him for Andy. She has first dibs.”

“Oh, well. Keep me updated. I’m looking for a new project. Haven’t had a writer in a while.”

“I’m probably more of a raze-and-salt-the-earth campaign than an urban renewal project,” he interjected.

“Right. You better get him out of here before I drag him into the bedroom or throw him in a cold bath. He’s depressing me.”

“Sorry. It’s been a strange week,” he confessed.

Terminal Monday

© 2001 Lee Edward McIlmoyle

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