Pulling the car into the lot outside the club I took a moment to check it out. A dive. Easy assumption to make on first appearances. A flashing neon sign declared the name of this backwater bar to be Liv Den, when if all the letters were operational it would’ve read Olive Garden. A burley bouncer stood beside a door watching me. His arm muscles were thicker than my thighs, I noted.
I sighed and ran a hand through my hair. What was I even doing here? This was not the sort of venue I generally frequented. Normally I would be spending my Saturday nights with my mates at Houdini’s, a more upmarket place that was filled with the usual college crows, not ditching them to drive across town to a very seedy, very rough looking venue.
But then I wasn’t here to down tequilas and hook up with anyone, I was here to check out the music. Because I had heard that there was an amazing band playing tonight that I just had to come and see.
Opening the door I climbed out of my car, making sure to lock it. The other cars parked in the lot were pretty old, rusted and looked as if they had been sat there for a long time.
Now that I was out of the car I could hear the music and a steady beat coming from the bar. Music, I reminded myself, I was here to check out the music. My new roommate Toby had told me about this place and about the great new bands that played here. In particular he’d raved about an all-girl band called Moonstone and had pretty much insisted I check them out. He’d even found one of their tracks uploaded on the internet and played it in order to persuade me to come along. I had to admit, they sounded good. I’d expected some boppy, pop styled music but they played indie rock. I liked it. The lead singer had a voice that reminded me a little of Kate Bush’s. Interesting choice for a rock band.
I just taken a step when the sound of screeching tyres stopped me dead in my tracks and I had to jump out of the way as a car swung into the empty spot I was walking through. What the-? Crazy driver had nearly hit me.
Lights flickered out and the driver’s door opened. A tiny head emerged, covered in short white hair. I shook my head in frustration.
“Hey,” I called, my voice laced with annoyance, “who taught you to drive?”
She snapped her head around and blinked at me. It was clear from the way she looked at me and the way her mouth formed a perfect o that she hadn’t even seen me.
“You drive like a fucking maniac,” I snapped, “You nearly ran me down. You need to watch where you are going!”
Suddenly a light flicked in her eye and she stepped towards me, “You need to watch where you are going. If you look around you will see this is parking lot and you are standing in the middle of the road.”
She leaned forward, resting on the open door of her car and into the street light, her face illuminated. Fuck, were my first thoughts, she’s young for someone with a sarcastic voice like that. And then my next thought…. She’s beautiful.
Her face was pale and heart shaped, with a pointed chin. Long lashes framed eyes that were a dark blue colour I guessed, although I couldn’t see them clearly in the yellow light of the dimly lit parking lot. A tiny mole sat on her high cheekbones and her lips were drawn in a line, her chin jutted forward with attitude. Her head bobbed a little and I realised she was tapping her foot. For some reason that made me smile.
“You think its funny?” she snapped and then ducked her head, reaching into her car for something. I watched her climb across the driver’s seat and search through whatever was piled up on her front seat and then re-emerge. She frowned when she saw me still watching her before she slammed the door and stepped more fully under the street light.
And that’s when I saw it.
A dark, purple bruise wrapped around her left eye. It started on her cheek, which was swollen and then got darker as it reached her eye before disappearing under her bangs.
My smile faded.
Someone had hit her.
My mouth went dry and I felt my chest tighten as I watched her stalk to the door of the club, the bag she’d rescued from her car slung over her shoulder. She was tiny, I wondered if she’d barely reach my shoulders, and thin. I waited, expecting the bouncer to ask for her identification but instead he grinned at her with familiarity and opened the door for her like she was royalty.
Great, I thought, this was obviously the type of club that didn’t check identification and didn’t look twice at a young girl with a beaten up face. Thanks for the great tip Toby, I muttered. This was going to be a real quick visit.
I sucked in a deep breath and for the hundredth time reminded myself that I was here to check out the music. The music. I was just here for the music.