Erisa sat at the bar of the club and stared at a beer that was well since warm. She was supposed to have a date that night to see her new favorite band at a trendy rock club near PMU, but was apparently stood up. She dressed up a bit too, wearing black stockings you could could see the garter straps at the top of beneath her tight wine red miniskirt, and a low-cut, body-hugging top with her former favorite band's logo on it. Her black leather biker jacket sat on the stool next to her atop her purse, a small black handbag. There was no sign at all of that guy, no messages on her phone, and the opening bands stunk. She sighed and pushed the beer away. The bartender, a slender, handsome guy who appeared about college-aged walked over and pointed at the glass.
Bartender: You're not drinking this?
Erisa: *sighs* Nah. Lost my thirst for it a while ago...
Bartender: What's the matter, I seen you in here before with some other kids. You usually have a good time. *absentmindedly cleans a glass, fills it with water and sets it in front of Erisa in exchange for the undrunk beer*
Erisa: Well, I was supposed to have a date tonight. Dane, that's his name, told me to meet 'im here and we were gonna watch the Red Hot Blizzards together. He's not here, I got no messages, and the opening bands, well, they sucked.
Bartender: *nods* I completely agree with you. I've seen plenty of acts through here, and that first band was one of the worst.
Erisa: *sneers* Totally. How can you come out and play when your guitars are so obviously out of tune?! It looked like the lead singer couldn't even remember the words. They should go back to being a cover band at weddings or whatever. *drinks half of water in one pull* Hm, musta been thirstier than I thought...
Bartender: Yeah, just not for beer, eh?
Erisa: Nope, not for beer.
Bartender: Well hey, listen, I can bugger off my shift now and we can go get a cup o' coffee or something near here and you can cry on my shoulder.
Erisa: Well, I don't even know your name...
Erisa: Okay, Erisa.
Bartender Cray: Nice to know your name, Erisa.
Erisa: Yours too, Cray.
Cray got his friend to finish his shift (the Red Hot Blizzards were still relatively unknown and the crowd was small) and they walked about a block to a diner that was pretty clean and really cheap that Cray said had great eggs.
Cray: *grins* Scrambled, sunny side up, omelets, they do it all, and it's all good.
They took a seat and ordered some eggs and got to know each other.
Cray: So Erisa, you go to school at PMU?
Erisa: *slightly embarrassed* Ah, no, I'm actually a junior at Mt Plains.
Cray: Oh, a junior? So you're 16, 17...
Erisa: 17, my birthday's in early November. How old are you?
Cray: 21. Tending the bar at Remy's is how I pay for food and rent at college.
Erisa: Did you go to high school in Port Matthew?
Cray: No, I'm American, actually.
Erisa: Wow, a foreigner!
Cray: Haha, you're the foreigner to me!
Erisa: So, Mr. Foreign Guy, why did you choose Port Matthew for school?
Cray: I'm from South Florida originally, and there are two things about South Florida that I needed to get away from.
Erisa: Two things? Now what could push you away from white sandy beaches and beautiful weather all year 'round?
Cray: Ah, three things, thanks for reminding me. First is old people. Americans seem to love to retire in two places: Arizona and Florida. So the roads are full of old people driving huge cars 10 miles per hour under the speed limit.
Cray: Second is Spanish. I can't speak it, and neither do I have any desire to learn.
Erisa: But Spanish is such a pretty language. Why not learn it? Everyone in Port Matthew is bilingual.
Cray: Well yeah, but that's because half the population is Japanese.
Erisa: And half of Florida comes from Spain?
Cray: No, actually only 20%, and mostly from Latin America or Cuba.
Erisa: Alright, what about the third thing?
Cray: You mentioned weather, and Florida gets hurricanes.
Erisa: Like, winds and wooosh and floods and like, biblical stuff?
Cray: Just like that. They suck, let me tell you.
They laughed and fell quiet for a few minutes.
Erisa: So, you enjoy bartending?
Cray: Yeah, it's not bad. I get to meet plenty of pretty girls. *quick smile* Plus the tips are good, and occasionally a really rockin' band plays.
Erisa: Any favorites?
Cray: I do like the Red Hot Blizzards, but obviously not enough to stay and watch them. I also like some mainstream stuff, and even a little bit of pop music they play on Kiss FM.
Erisa: Pop music? That stuff's churned out like it's assembled on a- uh, an assembly line. I need a bit more creation in my music. I need to be able to feel it.
Cray: Yeah, that's why I like some pop music. There are a few songs out there by a buncha different singers who I think nail it. You know, not all their stuff, but, you know...
Erisa: I guess...
Cray: Anyways, I like to give all music a shot. I'm an equal-opportunity music lover. *smiles at Erisa and tries to gauge his chances with her* Anything you wanna do after this? We could go back to my place and watch a movie or something.
Erisa: I know what you're hinting at now, and I gotta put the brakes on.
Cray: *innocently* What do you mean?
Erisa: Well, you're 4 years older than me, we're at different places in our lives, and I suspect that you have some experience with girls and will want a lot more than I'm willing to give out.
This seemed to irk Cray whose face lost a lot of its earlier friendliness.
Cray: So you dress like that and come out to the bar and then when a handsome guy like me gives you some attention you slap him in the face? That ain't right.
Erisa: Dress like this?? Here, I'll pay for my eggs, Mr. Awesome, and thank you for talking to me tonight, but this isn't how I envisioned my night ending. Good bye.
She pulled a few dollars out of her purse and set the on the table and stormed out, leaving him sitting there alone with the eggs.
The phone vibrated on the nightstand, sending its buzz reverberating through Marv's room. He reached over and picked it up and peered at the name on the screen.
Marv: It's Erisa, I thought she had a date?
Marv sat up and Nina sat up with him, hugging him from behind.
Marv: 'Ris, wassup?
Erisa: *sniffles* Marv? Can you pick me up?
Marv: Oh, uh, sure, give me an' Nina a second to get moving. Where are you?
Erisa: I'll be at Mt Plains Central, whose car will you take?
Marv: Nina's, you'll be more comfortable in that. See you soon, 'Ris.
Erisa: Bye, Marv. *click*
Nina: What's wrong? Is 'Ris in trouble?
Marv: Sounded like she was crying. Probably had a bad night. Let's go take care of her, okay?
Nina: Yeah, we gotta stick together.
Nina drove them quickly to the train station where they saw Erisa waiting out front. She was standing with her arms wrapped around herself as though cold. Her face was downcast and shadowed under the streetlights in front of the station. She barely looked up when she saw Nina's SUV roll up. She got in the car and sniffled again.
Erisa: *voice still quivering* Thanks guys. I'm really sorry if I interrupted your night or whatever.
Nina: *leans between seats, puts hand on Erisa's knees* Erisa, what's wrong?
Marv: Hey, Nina, why don't you go back there and talk to Erisa and I'll drive?
Nina crawled back over the center console, and Marv got out and walked around to the driver's side.
Erisa: *embarrassed for putting her friends out like that* I'm really sorry you guys. I just had a crummy night and didn't want it to end the way it did.
Marv: *adjusts seat* Don't worry about it, 'Ris, we're always here for you, you know that.
Erisa: Thanks, Marv.
Nina: So tell us what happened.
Erisa: Well first, date jerk number one didn't bother to show up at the club to watch the band with me. I told the bartender (who was actually pretty cute) and he offered to have some eggs with me and talk for a while.
Marv: *looks into rearview mirror* Eggs?
Erisa: Eyes on the road, Mr. Man. But yeah, eggs. They were delicious. I'd take you there, but I'm currently associating it with jerk date number two.
Nina: I'm assuming you mean the bartender? What made him jerk date number two?
Erisa: He made a pass at me, asked me to go to his room after we ate. I told him I didn't want to 'cuz he's like four years older than me (and really, that's kinda gross) and I wasn't like that kinda girl. Then he made a crack about my clothes and I walked away.
Marv: What's wrong with your clothes? You look hot.
Nina: *snaps at Marv* Shut up, Marv. *sweetly to Erisa* Well, you're with friends now, so don't worry about jerk dates. Just be thankful that Marv's not quite as sarcastically witty as Dan-O and know that we're here for you.
Erisa: Thanks again, guys. I really appreciate it. I hope I didn't interrupt anything really, uh... Important.
She watched them both carefully for a reaction, but they didn't give the reaction she was expecting.
Nina: I can't tell her what we said tonight, not with what she just went through...
Marv ignored her comment and watched the road.
Marv: Anywhere you wanna go?
Erisa: Well, I think that I'll just go home and shower and go to bed. Thanks again you guys, I really appreciate it.
Nina: *pats Erisa's shoulder* You're our best friend, Erisa, we'll always come and rescue you.
Marv: It's really no problem, 'Ris. We love you, you know? *glances in rearview mirror*
Erisa: *smiles warmly* Rescuing me is becoming habit now, isn't it?
Marv: *laughs* Someday you're gonna have to learn to fend for yourself in the wild.
Nina: Or at least find a radioactive spider to get bit by!
Marv dropped Erisa off at her house, and then let Nina drop him off as well, ending their night.