Kool Thing


Last time with Helene Troy: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/breath/

One song moved into four. Applause grew after each of the first three. Helene Troy turned her discontent with the bar, its clientele, and her mood by blistering through an acoustic version of one of her favorite songs, Sonic Youth’s Kool Thing. She looked into frowning faces. Few in attendance appreciated her choice. She finished and muttered into the microphone “thanks, that was good for me.”

Helene left the stage and walked behind the bar to put away her guitar. Mickey the owner stood at the draft beer taps with his arms crossed.

“Helene, next time, let me tell you when to entertain. It’s Saturday night. We’re low on whiskey, the fourth beer spigot is broken, and the kitchen is backed up with food orders.”

Mickey the owner was under the impression Helene liked and respected him. He was wrong. She rolled her eyes and imagined punching her myopic boss in the face.

“Right, I just thought….”

Mickey the owner turned his back to her.

“No time to think tonight, Helene. Get whatever is written on that piece of paper, next to the register to the table of college kids. They’re spending their parents’ money hard and fast, tonight. I’m going to kick somebody’s ass in the kitchen..”

Helene unclenched her fists and grabbed the paper. She poured five Patron shots, slyly drank one, and filled six mugs of Guinness. She walked over the table, expecting trouble. She went two chairs over from the guy she thought molested her. A large male hand grasped the middle of her back. After delivering the drinks, she moved her body in front of the man, blocking his view of his friends. She pulled his hand from her sweaty back and placed it on her left butt cheek and whispered into his ear.

“Tell me what you feel?”

Embarrassed, the blonde haired, blue-eyed guy in his early twenties, stammered.

“I, I… hope that’s a weird shaped chapstick. I’m really sorry. You were about to step in the beer we spilled.”

Helene took his hand off her rear end and flared her nostrils.

“It’s a knife. If you or your buddies touch me again, I’ll show it to you. Got it, asshole?”

She walked away from the table, headed for the shelf under the bar to hide her knife and get a mop for the mess.

“Hey, it’s Helene, right? Please, hear me out.”

Helene turned around, stone-faced and ready to fight. She shrugged her shoulders, gripped the metal tray tight and mouthed “what?”

He put his hands in his blue jean pockets. Then struggled to speak.

“Listen, um, my friend back there, Kenny, he’s a stupid drunk. His girlfriend just broke up with him and he’s….”

Helene stared at his blue eyes with a look of insouciance. Her body language screamed “I don’t care”.

“I’m apologizing for him groping you. It was wrong. I told him if he ever did that again, I’d throw him out myself.”

Helene put her left hand in the air, which stopped him from continuing.

“I don’t need your help. I want you to ignore me forever and the day after that. Go away, douchbag!”

Startled and embarrassed he followed her as she stomped to the bar. One of her co-workers, the new girl, looked at Helene and said  “he’s hot”. Helene shot back “shut up.”

He took a napkin from the bar, wrote something on it, and gave it to the new girl. Helene looked away and took the knife out of her pocket. She rolled it into a towel and shoved it behind her guitar. Before she could make it back to the table to clean the spill, the new girl handed her the napkin.

“If I were you, I’d be all over that. He’s sexy as hell and has nice handwriting.”

Helene glared at the new girl and read the napkin.

“I really am sorry. I love Sonic Youth. They’re amazing. So are you. Xander 412-483-4596.”

The area code was from Pittsburgh. That sat well with her. He was from her hometown. Helene walked over to the table with a mop. Xander’s back was to her. She cleaned up and leaned into him.

“What’s your favorite Sonic Youth CD?”

He turned around immediately with a large smile and stuttered.

“Uh, um, Daydream Nation. Goo’s more accessible, I guess, because of Kool Thing, but Daydream is their piece of art, I guess, maybe.”

He was scared of her. She liked it.

“Good answer. If you promise to not speak to me or touch me the rest of the night, I’ll call you tomorrow. Deal?

Xander was paralyzed. Helene liked the way he stared at her. He breathed an audible sigh of relief.

“Cool, I mean Kool Thing.”

Helene turned around, smiled, bit her lip, and carried the mop back to the bar, She checked her phone. Ramona Gallery had texted her. She would be at the bar in minutes.

****blogger’s note****

This is a new story episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. You can find the story, so far, here: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/the-ballad-of-helene-troy/ 

I’m driving to Nashville for work Monday and Tuesday. Then I’ll have to write my Indie Ink piece while finishing Crazy Robot Stories for Nanowrimo. Expect this to be fiction week at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog.

Today’s song is one referenced in the story. In college, I played Sonic Youth so much, every roommate I had stayed thoroughly annoyed. Here’s Sonic Youth’s Kool Thing…great video, too…



11 thoughts on “Kool Thing

  1. freaky man, you are inside my head. (1) daydream nation is my favorite (2) i am from pittsburgh (3) i worked slinging drinks at Graffiti, a rock club there, where i had to deal with drunk patrons touching me and demanding my phone number. you totally took me back there, it was exactly like this. whoosh! also, wah. oh but i never played music there 🙂
    were we star-crossed pals in a past life???? i am starting to think so.

  2. I can get why she’d be pissed but she could have been a bit nicer to the guy, especially since he was trying to apologize. If he’d been totally arrogant and “apologizing” just ot get in her pants…well, she’d be justified. But you had him nervous and uncomfortable which says he was genuinely trying to make amends.

    A little rough in spots, there can definitely been some slashing of unnecessary words here and there…I’m hoping this college kid turns out to be a good thing for her.

    OT: I have done NOTHING on my NaNo all weekend. Thank god I had all day tomorrow to write 🙂 My indie ink piece will fit in quite nicely with my story. Yay for prompts that work 🙂

    • Like the edits. Flows better. One more small critique: lose ‘the owner’ after Mickey’s name. You’ve mentioned the name of the bar enough times previously, the reader will know he’s the owner.

  3. I read this first from my email, which didn’t have any of your edits. The edits were perfect, and covered just about anything that came to mind. So, I read it again, this time just to read it. I like to do that sometimes too.

    I have to say that your edits definitely made the piece stronger. A lot stronger. All I have to give you now is that I think maybe she melted a little too quickly. She was all tough as nails with attitude, even brusque, than all the sudden she’s whispering conspiratorially in his ear? I mean I like that she’s melted, it was just kind of sudden. I was fully expecting her to wrinkle the napkin up or something.

    I’m 100% ready for more. I want to know how their first date goes, and what happens with Regina. You’ve got me caring about Helene and even Slipper Socks Medium at this point. That’s a good thing!

    It’s moving along really smoothly.

    • hmmm, i like hearing people’s intepretations. Helene has heart. She felt guilty for threatening to kick a nice person’s ass. I don’t think she melted, plus, she treats men roughly (you’ll see that later)….cool though…love it

  4. I particularly like the line, “He’s sexy as hell and has nice handwriting.” It’s such a girl thing to say and I could see why it would irritate Helene. I also love how she asks him about his favorite Sonic Youth album–as if she’s testing him.

    Can’t wait to hear what happens when Ramona shows up.

  5. This gets the romantic sap in me all excited. I like how Helene didn’t just swoon. I like how she stayed mad for a bit (because that’s probably what would really happen when we realize we’ve made a mistake and yelled at someone for the wrong reason and we feel embarrassed and guilty – or at least, that’s how I am), and I like how she was able to have a conversation with him anyway but keep up the strength.

    I also like that Xander was willing to take a chance despite her rude treatment of him.

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