Chapter 3 - Lindy

Lindy slouched on the couch in the basement with her spiral notebook in her lap and acoustic guitar in hand. The sweaty handles of the bubble hockey game sat silently drying, having served their purpose to spark her imagination. She was lost in thought while she worked through song after song. The open ceiling joists above her revealed the exposed sub-floor that did little to insulate or muffle sound. A few feet above those joists, the music of Lindy’s guitar and vocal chords floated up into Billy’s room. That, plus the aroma of eggs and cheese from Kassi’s takeout beside the bed slowly lured Antje from her sound sleep.

Billy felt a hand running down his body, and fingers running through his hair and thought, “This is a much better way to start the day.”
“I smell food,” Antje whispered into Billy’s ear.
“I picked-up your favorite, a fried egg, Swiss cheese, and bacon sandwich plus half a garden salad with blue cheese dressing,” he replied while planting a kiss on her forehead.
Antje giggled, “Scheisse, you have no more idea what my favorite food is than what my Deutsch screams mean in bed.”
Now it was Billy’s turn to laugh. He briefly thought, “Excellent, a third and fourth word in German. I think ‘Scheisse’ means ‘Shit’. And, ‘Deutsch’ must mean ‘German’. I’ll be fluent in no time, at least familiar with the important words anyway.” Then he processed the rest of her sentence and replied, “Well then, I guess I have some homework to do before you get your breakfast.”
“You’d withhold food from your captive?” Antje tried her best to put on a pouty-face.
Billy slowly ran the back of his hand from just above Antje’s knee all the way up the side of her body while gently exhaling a long breath across her exposed nipple. She shook almost imperceptibly. He looked up and into her eyes while inhaling through his nose then challenged, “If you can reach it, you can have it: breakfast in bed. But be warned, I run a strong defense. We play a much more physical form of football here in my country. And, we use our hands.” Billy’s hand continued its journey up and along Antje’s body until he reached under her arm and started tickling with his fingers, “I thought Euro gals didn’t shave these.”
“I’ve been corrupted by your nation’s customs. Besides, our goalkeepers can use their hands too. Here, let me show you!” Antje grabbed above Billy’s knee and started to squeeze, hoping it would tickle. The battle of breakfast had begun.

Billy and Antje worked themselves into a rhythm, their own matching the rhythm coming up through the floorboards. Billy’s mind drifted from the music to thoughts of Lindy as she sang and played louder below them. “Damn her professionalism,” Billy thought. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to rush down there to practice.”

If by professional, Billy meant that she was making money playing music, then yes, Lindy was a professional. However, Lindy believed she needed her original songs to support her before she considered herself to be a professional musician. Performing other artist’s music at The Fallout Shelter a few nights a week for tips and a small stipend did not fulfill her musical aspirations; although she did love performing, even covers, much more than her day job waiting tables. Her first album Slices of NightLife had been fun to put together, even if it was self-produced and sales were limited to word of mouth. It was an amusing experiment: a collection of silly songs about nightlife and misadventures that were crowd pleasers in the bar as comic relief. She wrote those songs in the height of her romance with Oso. But now that Oso was gone, comic relief was about the furthest thing from her mind as she worked on her new album. Since Oso died, she had deeper things to chew on. She had lost the love of her life and was also lost in her thoughts, lost remembering how they first met.

Lindy became friends with Oso and Billy in their junior year at Greenwich High School at the early winter Ice-Breaker Dance. Neither Oso nor Billy were brave enough to approach a girl, much less ask one to dance, so they stood in a corner. Partially concealed by the DJ booth, Billy poured vodka into cups of Pepsi. It tasted awful, but they didn’t know any better. Billy’s dad had put all his liquor into decanters so Billy wouldn’t know what they were, hoping that would discourage him from taking any. Grabbing a clear liquid, Billy had hoped it was rum as he poured it into an empty soda bottle to sneak into the dance. The ‘vodka and Pepsi’ was not quite ‘rum and Coke’ but it had the desired effect on his and Oso’s low tolerance, underage bodies. Billy finally challenged Oso to ‘Rock-Paper-Scissors’ to see who would brave his fear and ask a girl to dance. Paper covers rock, but Billy squirmed-out of his loss by demanding, “Best-two-out-of-three.” He was a natural born negotiator. Rock crushed Scissors in round two, and for the final insult, rock crushed scissors again. Billy lost in three-straight. Unaccustomed to losing, he held up his cup and stalled, “First let me finish.”
Billy sipped the warm drink. Exasperated, Oso finally said, “Let me show you how this is done,” and strode off with vodka-induced confidence, that lasted at least for the first few steps.

Oso was as nervous as Billy about approaching a girl, but he wanted to show-up his buddy so he could hold it over Billy’s head and tease him later when he got out of line. In Oso’s opinion, “It’s always good to have one in the bank.”
Lindy and her friend Gail were pretending not to notice the less-than-sneaky guys who were conspicuously mixing drinks behind the DJ. Lindy stood with her back to the boys and Gail was telling her the play-by-play happening over her shoulder and trying hard not to giggle. As Oso took his first step towards Lindy, he noticed how beautiful she looked in a solid dark blue dress with crossing straps that revealed her shoulders and upper-back muscle tone. Her dress hugged her firm rear end then ended just above her knees, revealing chiseled calves held firm by the angle of her high-heeled, matching blue shoes. When he got close enough to tap her shoulder for her attention, she turned ninety-degrees and revealed her blossoming profile. The timing of her turn also caused Oso to poke her breast by mistake. He momentarily froze, and then almost retreated in pure shame. Lindy smiled, mostly with her eyes, then reached out and grabbed his arm before he remembered to pull it away. He hadn’t fully recovered and his words came out in a whisper, instinctively in his native Spanish, “Señorita, permiso!” Then he recovered in English, “You are most-beautiful this evening, a thousand apologies!”
From a nervous beginning, Oso and Lindy became inseparable. And, with Billy, they became like the Three Musketeers. Gail had to ask the young, shy Billy to dance that night, even though he finished the rest of the vodka straight when he saw Oso poke Lindy’s breast. But, magic moments are rare and none were to be found between Billy and Gail. Lindy vaguely remembered that Gail met someone else later that winter and slowly drifted away from the trio.

Lindy smiled at the recollection of her introduction to the embarrassed Oso and shy Billy, quite the opposite of who they turned out to be, and then refocused on the guitar in her lap and the notebook in her hands. Lindy continued working through her newest song created from two-year-old notes and personal issues in the expanded basement. This song would be the anchor for her second album. Having been taught to write from the heart, her deepest feelings came pouring out now that it was broken.

Watching Billy ride Oso’s bike was common enough, but climbing onto Phoenix herself last night had been quite another matter. Her riding skills were still intact, but she hadn’t expected the flood of emotions that grabbing Oso’s, then Billy’s, well-worn throttle would bring. Lindy was already crying while she resurrected of the pieces of the eulogy she had tried to deliver a couple of years ago to the best of her recollection, which all of a sudden seemed like just yesterday. Speaking to Oso’s family and closest friends at his service after he died was the hardest thing she’d ever been asked to do in her life. In case he was listening way up there somewhere, she was doing it again for him now, just for him, only better this time, and to music. She titled this, Can’t Say Goodbye.

Out of respect we dress in black
Goodbyes under a sky of grey
Time to speak, no words to say
Tired of faking, “No, I’m not ok”

‘Can’t say goodbye
‘Can’t bear to say goodbye to my buddy Bear
For you my Bear, for you I cry
Can’t understand why you had to die
I wish you could be here today

Out of respect we dress in black
Out of respect we’re here to pray
Out of respect these words I say
My loving, gentle giant
Forever in my heart you’ll stay

‘Can’t say goodbye
‘Can’t bear to say goodbye to my buddy Bear
For you my Bear, for you I cry
Can’t understand why you had to die
I wish you could be here today

Out of respect we dress in black
We drop this dirt then can’t look back
But tears still flow ‘cause I can’t let them go
Out of time for me and you
I hope you knew I love you too

‘Can’t say goodbye
‘Can’t bear to say goodbye to my buddy Bear
For you my Bear, for you I cry
Can’t understand why you had to die
I wish you could be here today

Billy lay in bed through at least a dozen revised verses, listening while Lindy struggled through her new song downstairs by herself. Her short, well-chosen lyrics spliced into guitar chords, a little finger-picking, and even a couple harmonics. Lindy’s struggle came from the subject matter, not from her instrument. A guitar in her hands was like a scalpel in a surgeon’s.

Meanwhile, Antje wolfed down her now cold breakfast like a hungry coyote. Billy briefly hoped his performance had something to do with her appetite. Then, he went back to listening to Lindy wrestle her way through her chords and verse. He knew he should be down there for her but he couldn’t bring himself to get up and go do it. He had his own issues with losing Oso. Lindy kept telling him that her counselor called it ‘Survivor’s Guilt’ and he needed to work through it. Billy refused to talk about losing Oso, and he didn’t want anyone rooting around inside his head; not some professional, and often not even Lindy. When they did talk, Billy knew she was more there for him than he was for her. This only added to his sense of guilt.

Billy finally rolled out of bed, “Come on Antje. Let’s grab you a helmet and I’ll get you back. Where exactly is it I’m taking you?”
Lindy heard them walk out the back door and start up the bike. A part of her wished he would have come down to see how she was doing first. A single tear ran down her cheek and she wasn’t sure if it was only for Oso. She wiped it with the back of her hand and thought, “Big girls don’t cry,” though she knew she couldn’t help it sometimes.

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