The People Who Were Also Talking Pt. 2
The bar was a quiet shake’m up bar usually, however today was rowdy and packed. Stella and Jack were good and drunk they had hit the peak of it during dinner. Stella, who is usually so short for words, had told one hilarious story after another. With Arlington, who’s graduating dinner it really was fumbling to keep up with stories of his own. Now that they were separated from all of that Arlington was starting to reach the peak of his drunk while Jack’s was turning grumpy and Stella’s tired. They were sitting at a table towards the back with their eyes closed both laughing and whining at each other. It was only nine o’clock.
“Oh there they are!”
They heard Arlington’s voice and perked up considerably even though neither really liked him. As he approached Arlington had a pretty innocent looking woman under his arm and they were talking deeply about philosophy and politics. Behind him trailed his roommate Samuel who was sort of burley but really kind and wore contacts. Originally he was going to play football and wasn’t a bad linebacker but for some reason he changed his mind. Now he does set design for various theaters. His girlfriend was holding his hand and had black straight across bangs, a pointed nose, and was trying to be an actress. Her name is Carla but when she auditioned for roles she went by Blair Lacey. She wasn’t necessarily doing badly for herself. So far she had been in two commercials and an extra on three movies and a TV show. Anyway all of them miraculously found chairs to pull up to the table. Well except the nameless girl, she could only find room on Arlington’s lap.
“Hello cousin!” he shouts over the music.
“What the hell took you so long?” Jack responds.
“Something came up.”
“Yea I’ll bet,” Jack says glancing at the girl.
“Oh right, this is Sophie man. Sophie this is my cousin Jack Colby and the boy wonder Stella Charlotte.”
Sophie the innocent face lit up as she held out her hand, “I know all about you Jack Colby! Read both your books and the travel articles you did in Europe.”
Jack’s mood shifted immediately, it became more prowling and searching. “Oh did you?”
“Yes, I’m a big fan.”
“Which book did you like the most?”
Since Sophie is new she missed the subtle groans from everyone else. She pondered a moment, “The second book In this Place with Me. I know she was a brief toss away character but I really loved Liza. I wish you gave us more of her-but at the same time I feel like I really felt her.”
Everyone exhaled relieved. Jack wasn’t going to rip this girl a new one after all. He was never offended or annoyed when someone liked Liza because he loved her too. She was based entirely on someone so obvious and no one knew. Though a “toss away” character she made an appearance everywhere.
“Good. What do you do?”
Sophie squinted and smiled a little embarrassed and shy, “I take pictures.”
“Great pictures too Jack!” Arlington cut in, “Some of them are going to be featured in a little gallery in Venice.”
Now Stella Charlotte was livening up, “You wouldn’t be Sophie Ito would you?”
Sophie blushed a little harder, “Yes,”
Jack turned to Stella astonished, “Don’t tell me you know her?”
“Know of her. A friend and I were going to go to the opening.”
Stella’s eyebrows crinkled, “You’ve never met them before.”
Still baffled Jack says, “Mm.”
Thankfully a waitress appears and they all give their orders and make comments on each other’s orders. Samuel orders them all a shot of silver tequila and for himself a Moscow Mule. Carla orders rum and coke, Stella a margarita, Jack a Jack and Coke, Arlington a pitcher of beer for the table and the same as Samuel. Sophie too had a margarita. In the lapse of drinks Jack, Sophie, and Arlington go onto talk more about her work. She had been in two other galleries before this, one in Santa Monica and the other in Redondo. More or less she was locally known. She definitely sold a few prints-enough to get recognized by a small traveling magazine. It wasn’t really her scene but when she was through taking generic pictures it gave her time to take her own pictures. All in all it was a way to pay the bills until something better came along.
Stella was kind of listening to that but mostly listening to Samuel’s tales of the theater. Apparently two of the dancers have entered into a forthcoming relationship. It’s quite the scandal to anyone who happened to work with them through Cinderella. Samuel wasn’t there for that, he took the show off to go on a road trip with Carla. Lily, who was playing Mama Morton, told him about it, she said being in the greenroom was sometimes so damn uncomfortable. Then she would roll her eyes, take a breath, and walk on stage to sing Whatever Happened to Class with Christine who plays Velma Kelly. Well Christine is his friend too, but for some reason matinee’s make her nervous so she stays mostly to herself. It’s like the glare of day reminds her that this wasn’t Broadway. On top of that the director was a dick.
The shots came first so everyone toasted Arlington and said good things before the conversation jumped. Now Sophie was finding out about Stella’s life as an unpublished writer who was a rave amongst her friends. Jack and Carla were discussing the conspiracy behind Bana: one being in the corner of finding it impossible for a girl during wartime to have such a control over the English language. Proficient enough to not only be able to translate her thoughts but know their even bigger English implications; the other was in the same corner but nervous about how much power it meant the government actually had. How many countries were being fooled from a box in their home, pocket, and tablet? It made one of them feel a little sick to think what this implied for the rest of their lives. Arlington and Samuel were discussing the season finale of Flash and if Gotham’s two part finale will be better. Samuel said if Barry wasn’t back by the fifth episode of the next season he was going to quit the show. It was bad enough he was already dealing with the loss of Killer Frost, his current television crush was Kaitlin Snow.
After their first drink and all the beer everyone was comfortable enough with Sophie not to ask Arlington openly what happened to Lucy They ordered two more rounds of drinks and was having a fine time until some guy at the bar got too drunk and hounded their group to join his. Neither party wanted the merge so Carla claimed to be starving so they closed their tabs and met at the only ramen shop she knew of in Gardena. Which was a bit of a pain being as they were all the way in Westchester, but the idea of noodles sliding down throats sounded good to the majority.
Sen Shin Gumi was located in a small parking structure across the street from a small church so that one cross street was residential and the other Redondo Beach Blvd. They got seated in a booth in the back corner. There were a lot of people there for midnight but the right amount of people for Friday night. During the progression of the evening Sophie, Arlington, and Jack realized Sophie liked Jack better than Arlington. They seemed to have more in common but everyone seemed determined to keep quiet about the matter. Right before the meals came Stella excused herself to the bathroom where she had an uncontrollable breakdown. You see Stella had put a great deal of love and care into the two things she admired most and finally came to terms with how easily they could toss her aside. So she was crying over things that had been kept under lock and key for at least three years. Still, now that she knew where the source of her turmoil came from it made each moment a little easier, that didn’t defeat the tear spasms though. Only now instead of harboring them in the folder of out of site out of mind, she learned to put herself in private and deal with it there. Besides what was the worst thing that could happen?
She’d come back from the bathroom and someone would either ask her if she was crying or wouldn’t; and she’d either lie or she wouldn’t. Harmless stuff for the most part. But while we have Stella here in the bathroom it should be noted that she was really sobbing in there. It was the kind of cry that causes one to grip the sink and just wail. And though the current situation was a pressing matter she was also going through a break up with herself. Both knew it was a long time coming and since she was already dealing with one issue they both thought it best to put this with it too. All in all Stella was an emotional wreck who was playing her cards beautifully. When she came back to the table everyone was just breaking their chopsticks.
“Here put some of this in your ramen it’ll spice it right up,” Jack said pouring some of the red seasoning into her bowl. They looked at each other and he saw everything in her face though she went quickly back to her bowl. He continued on, “Also I saved you some onions and ginger.” He poured them into her bowl.
“Thanks,” she took a pause and took a bite, “I love ramen 20/17 am I right?”
“Right you are Steezy,” Carla says between slurps, “-wait, have you been crying?”
Everyone looked to Stella. She smiled.
“In life? Like have I ever cried in my life?”
“Sure, but also now.”
Stella made her smile really authentic and laughed as if she was about to let them in on a joke. “Yea I was,” she chuckles and doesn’t dare look at Jack. “Get this: We’ve all been drinking. I for one am really drunk, in the bathroom I thought I lost my wallet and started sobbing only to remember it was in my purse. So I started laugh-crying, and well now here we are.”
“Leave it to a drunken girl to end up crying in a bathroom.” Arlington says.
“Leave it to a dickhead to graduate college.” Jack defended.
“Speaking of, Carla and I are going to head out after this.” Samuel adds.
“Well we might as well bust up the crew then. Stella and I are going to bounce after this too.”
“Lame man, why?”
“Because Stella just cried in a bathroom over a wallet she had the whole time. Another drink in her body equals blackout and it’ll be me who has to deal with it.”
Stella slurped down more noodles, “Alright lay off already.”
Jack tried to quietly apologize; “Besides I’m tired.”
“Lame man but whatever, that just leaves you and me Sophie. Want to go back to my place?”
“No thanks, I’ve got a flight to catch in a couple of hours.”
“Some graduating party…”
“Arly don’t sulk its kid stuff.” Jack says. He smiles at Sophie, “Going far?”
“Japan,” again she blushes.
“A couple of weeks, three maybe.”
“That’s okay, come around again when you get back.”
Arlington stared at them, “I hate being called Alry.”