Time Tables

This story is more of a writing project. I took a song I really enjoy, Time Tables, by The Menzingers, and expended it into a short story.  Enjoy!

I took some liberties. I moved the setting from Pennsylvania to Maine and decked out some characters with some new details.

It had been more than an hour since the fiery June sun had withdrawn below horizon, but an assortment of cheap, strewn about lights and makeshift campfires kept the rocky Atlantic shoreline lit. The night was sweltering, but the suffocating humidity of summer was not enough to deter the large group of delinquents from drowning out the sound of the crashing waves beneath a chorus of acoustic instruments and shouting. The summer would not last forever, and Portland’s youth was not about to let it go to waste. What the party lacked in luxury, it made up for with energy and alcohol.

The sea-side lot had once been an RV park, but was now abandoned. The motor-homes and tents were now replaced with empty beer bottles and the sickly-sweet smell of marijuana. Those who frequented the plot felt a sense of justice in “reclaiming” a spot where people would have to spend money to experience nature. It was now, they felt, a small paradise for those who valued freedom and anarchy. For that reason, the deserted RV park had become the ideal home for the largely voiceless punk community of Maine. On days like this one, they expressed themselves through the abuse of noise and substances, finding temporary gratification in their highs and joy from the chance to pursue happiness with like-minded individuals who understood them.

Theo felt some difference in that regard. Though he was one of the people who considered this place to be a second home, it was largely only because he had been dragged there so many times by his small clique of close friends that he had retained from high school. Tonight, like many other nights, he had joined the fray somewhat begrudgingly. He unstrapped his guitar from his back and joined one of several music circles which had formed, wordlessly performing with them as his friends went off to socialize with others.

He had not even completed a song before his eye caught the sight of someone new. The RV lot’s community had gone stale some time ago: the majority of people who would enjoy the spot had already found it, and it was oftentimes a congregation of the same people every day. To see someone new had become something unexpected.

It was possible that she was the most gorgeous woman that Theo had seen. She had short, black hair with the side shaven. Her bangs fell over her face, exploding in an array of colorful dyes which soared through the air as she danced. She was short, and a pale shade of white. Her large, gorgeous eyes were a bright, dazzling green, further compounded by a subtle and almost expert application of dark makeup. She was clad in a short, blue dress which would have been inappropriately elegant on anyone else. Somehow, the ornate dress only compounded her rebellious look, as though she were reclaiming the very idea of elegance. The dress drew the attention of one’s eyes to her subtle body movements as she danced; her actions were as smooth as silk, even in her clearly drunken state. It was clear to Theo that she was perfect, and that he needed to speak to her sooner rather than later.

Theo laid his guitar on the ground and moved toward her. He knew that his guitar would probably be stolen or otherwise missing by the time he returned to his spot, but he was so taken by the girl that he didn’t hesitate.
Theo approached her, and she turned toward him as he got close. Her stare pierced him like a spear, and he realized that she was even more intimidatingly beautiful from close. He was unable to speak immediately—he didn’t know what to say right away. After a moment of silence, she laughed.

“I’m Anna.” She shouted.

“My name is Theo.” He responded, still unsure of how to speak to someone like Anna.

Before Theo had a chance to ruin the conversation, there was a sudden shift in the music. The nearby musicians began playing a quick, energetic punk beat. As Theo opened his mouth to speak again, he was pushed. And then he was pushed again. Theo smiled, and swung at the nearest person.
Theo lost Anna in the mosh pit, but the adrenaline of speaking to her had sufficiently excited him so that he, too, became interested in the physicality of moshing. For about the next ten minutes, the two lost themselves in the moment, though Anna remained in the back of Theo’s mind the whole time. It would not be long before the separation would be reconciled, however.

As the song came to a close, Theo felt a fist bash his upper lip, and then continue up to his nose. Immediately his lip busted open and his nose began to bleed. Not too caught off guard, he looked up to see who had hit him. He couldn’t help but smile, despite the pain, when he saw that it was none other than Anna. She had her hands over her mouth, clearly not having meant to make Theo bleed, but when he smiled, so too did she laugh. The two made their way out of the mosh pit; Theo felt dizzy from the impact, and Anna followed because she feigned concern about his bleeding nose.

“Are you boxer?” he said to her, clasping his nose shut. “That was a hard hit.”
“No,” she smiled “I think you might just be a pussy.” He smiled again, and turned toward her.

“Why haven’t I seen you here before?” His heart raced, excited to finally be speaking to her. She didn’t answer for a moment, instead looking at an empty beer bottle in her left hand. It was clear that the contents had spilled out while she was in the mosh pit.

“I bet you’re glad I hit you with my fist, and not with this bottle. Then you’d really have something to complain about.” Theo smiled at the comment, but it faded quickly. He was worried that she hadn’t answered his question. She took another moment to examine the bottle before tossing it over-hand toward a paved section of the RV lot. The smashing of the beer bottle was met with a few scattered cheers.

The pair stood there for a moment, and Theo feared the silence once more.

“Are you still bleeding?” She asked, seeming oddly patient with Theo’s lack of conversational skill. He moved his hand from his face to check.

“Yes.” He smiled.

“Good.” She took his hand and led him back into the crowd. The two jumped around and danced, but this time did not separate. With every song they found themselves getting closer to one another, allowing their physical chemistry to dictate the night, rather than trying to force idle conversation. For more than an hour they stayed together wordlessly in the crowd.

The musicians who had gathered around had either run out of original content or become too intoxicated to play their own tunes well, and had begun simply playing covers of more well-known songs. Referring to the track being played, Theo commented, “I love Bad Religion!”

Anna once again smiled, clearly ready with another witty response. “Find me someone around here who doesn’t.” She brought her body closer to his, making it clear that she hadn’t meant the statement maliciously. Their faces were now only inches apart.

“Maybe I love Bad Religion more than everyone else does. I’m one hell of a lover.” He smiled, unsure whether his statement was smooth or awful.

“Yeah? What’s your favorite song?” He took a moment to think.

“That’s a trick question, I like them all.” He brought his lips even closer to hers.

“No it’s not. I have a favorite.” She said.

“Which is?”

“I asked you first.” Every time Anna smiled, Theo felt his heart skip a beat.
“I like the whole No Control album.”

“I liked The Empire Strikes First.” She said, he eyes locking with Theo’s.

“New stuff? Are you serious?” Theo’s face broke into a giant grin, splitting his lip open again. Anna smiled too, but she pulled her body away from him.

“Yes!” She got flustered, “I mean, I like No Control too, but I think their newer albums show maturity.”
“No way. I’m not having this conversation.” He began to jokingly walk away and she chased after him.

“So, what?” She continued. The pair was now walking aimlessly, leaving the crowd behind. “You don’t like their new songs? How can you say you like them if you don’t like what they’re doing now? You don’t like them, you liked them. Past tense.”

“I still like them.” He said, allowing Anna to catch up to him. “I just don’t know how you can say that it compares to their golden age between Suffer and No Control.”

“Their sound is more full and mastered now. It’s the same feeling, the same energy, just with an extra twenty years of experience. How can you say it’s worse? The album did way better–”
“Justin Bieber did better. He’s pretty good, right?” Anna stopped.

“I’ll hit you again.”

“Okay, okay.” Theo turned around and took Anna’s hand. “You’re right, just don’t hit me again, please.” Anna pulled on his hand and dragged Theo closer to her.

“So, you are a pussy, then?”

Anna and Theo spoke and jested as they wandered around the lot, eventually reaching a large pond at the center of the RV park, further from the shore. Overlooking the small body of water, which the local youth sometimes referred to as the lake, was a hammock. It was dingy from neglect, but the two weren’t very concerned. They laid in it, and enjoyed the relative silence of the spot as they watched the Sun rise. Anna smiled as the Sun peeked its head over the horizon, and began to hum a tune to herself. Theo recognized the moment for what it was, and leaned in. The two locked lips and kissed until the sun blanketed its light and warmth over them. Tired and drenched in sweat, the couple could not have been happier in that moment. Eventually they returned to the empty party grounds, where Theo was unable to find his guitar. He considered it to be a fair trade. With another kiss, they parted.

The next few days emulated the same joy of that night for Theo. As the newly-found Anna integrated herself into the society of punks and delinquents, she found herself to be quite popular. Theo followed where she went. But time took its toll.

Anna’s popularity brought her to the forefront of the RV Park’s society, and they returned daily. The second day had been as glorious as the first, but with each passing day Theo could feel their bond depleting. Anna was ready to meet new people, whereas Theo had decided a while ago that most of those people weren’t even decent. While Anna went off to claim her endless offers of free drinks and to get high, Theo would wait and play his old guitar.

It was okay, he thought. This guitar needed constant retuning anyhow, seeing as how his good guitar had gone missing. While she was gone, he would work on trying to find a method to keep it in tune. But, each time, he found himself waiting longer for her to return. By the time July came around, sometimes she wouldn’t even return at all. Theo never said anything. Anna loved to party, and he just wanted her to be happy.

It was the third of July, and once again Anna and Theo made their was to the RV Park. Theo sat in the passenger’s seat of Anna’s car, staring out the window. He had no desire to return there. He was hung over and exhausted. Anna, however, seemed to have an infinite readiness to party. They stopped at a gas station, and she wordlessly got out of the car to refill its gas tank.

Theo felt frustrated. They hadn’t had a night like the first one for a long time now. It had been a week since they kissed, and he wasn’t even sure of what kind of relationship they had anymore. They traveled together to the RV park daily, but it seemed to be a reluctant chore for Anna now. He was trying to figure out how he could reinvigorate their romance. His line of thought was interrupted by Anna re-entering the car. They looked at each other for a moment.

“I’m a bit low on cash.” She stated. “You wouldn’t mind pitching in a few dollars, would you?” It was an odd request to Theo, they hadn’t made each other pay for rides since they met, despite both being low on funds since day one. They sat there for a moment, before he realized she was serious. Somehow, the mundane request made the past few days clear to him: they weren’t anything more than friends. He knew for a fact he would sooner have stolen the gas than asked her to pay for it. He opened his wallet without saying anything. There was only a single dollar in it; the constant purchasing of booze had drained his already-low bank account. She took it.

The night went by without even a hug.

The next day, Anna somehow managed to convince him to go out once more. He knew that he was a sucker—that he was smitten for this gorgeous woman who viewed him as a dead weight. But he couldn’t resist. He justified the night out to himself: it was the Fourth of July. There would be fireworks, and it would probably be more fun of a night that usual. That’s what he kept telling himself. He drove her there, maintaining and uneasy silence. He, too, needed to refill his car’s gas tank. After he did, he looked at her for a moment, trying to build up the courage to ask her to “pitch in a few dollars.” It was futile, however. Her eyes still made his heart jump, and he wasn’t sure if that feeling would ever go away. The rest of the ride was spent in silence.

Just before the sun went down, as the local boys were setting up a small fireworks display for the party-goers, Anna touched Theo on the arm, and the warm feeling of her skin sparked a moment of hope. He looked at her and smiled. She smiled, too.

“Can you pass that?” She said, pointing as the smile slowly disappeared from her face. She had been pointing to a bottle of rye whiskey. He picked it up, and slowly handed it to her. She mixed a generous portion of it into he drink, and handed it back to Theo.

“A rye and coke girl, huh? I didn’t take you for one.” He said.

“Yes.” She responded, facing forward toward the men setting up the fireworks. Theo opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. He faced forward.
Cheering erupted as a haggard man brought a lighter toward the firework rockets. With a high-pitched shrill, the fireworks blasted toward the sky and erupted, ringing out in a fantastic display of colors. Theo turned once more toward Anna, seeing his final opportunity to woo her.

But instead, Theo found Anna already lip-locked with another man, just three feet from where he was sitting. Immediately his chest tightened and he choked up. He stood, and made his way to his car. He was going home, Anna could find her own ride back. It was clear she wouldn’t have any difficulty.

Theo started his car and turned the radio up with hopes of drowning out the fireworks.

“Here’s one we haven’t played in a while.” The voice on the radio spoke with great emphasis and excitement. “This is one of my favorite tunes; it’s not so popular these days because it’s kind of old, but it’ll always have a special place in my heart: Here’s ‘Los Angeles is Burning’ by Bad Religion. I love this track.” It hurt him, but Theo turned the volume up even louder, desperately not wanting to see or hear the fire in the sky.

Days passed. Weeks passed.

Eventually, Theo couldn’t take it any more. He picked up his phone and called her.

“Hello! This is Anna! I’m not here. Leave a message.”

He didn’t say anything for what felt like an entire minute.

“Hey. Anna. It’s Theo. Maybe, if you want to wander around outside tonight, you can meet me at the lake, after midnight? Or, really, whenever. I only want to talk.”

He only wanted to relive what was lost.


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