“You going to Alex’s party?”
“Slow down, it’s not a party, just a few people. You should come, Jim.”
“He has a girlfriend to get to.”
“No, we broke up. What time?”
At 8:45 we halfway closed the big glass doors that separated Camelot Music from the rest of the mall. At 8:50 we turned off the music. By 8:55 Johnny had his necktie around his permed mullet like a bandana and was standing by with the vacuum. When 9:00 hit Alex locked the door and Johnny fired up the Hoover.
These are the universal retail hints for “get the hell out of the store.” If as a customer you have observed any of these behaviors, you have been called an asshole by a minimum wage worker with some place to be.
We caravaned to Alex’s house: Alex in front followed by Johnny’s Mustang. I brought up the rear in the Quincymobile. His place was nice — a single story home in an established neighborhood, yard well-manicured. We went inside, waved at his parents in the living room.
“Come on back,” Alex said, and he led us to his tiny bedroom packed with albums.
“Sweet collection,” I said.
“Not really. It’s all Bruce,” Johnny said. He still had his tie wrapped around his head.
“No it isn’t. Check this out.” Alex pulled out a copy of Public Image Ltd.’s Metal Box in the actual film canister-like metal box. It was the first copy I’d ever seen in person.
“But I do have a lot of Bruce. This crate is nothing but official releases, twelve inches, bootlegs, and related musicians like Nils and Little Steven.”
“Hey, what are y’all doing?” We turned to see Carrie standing in Alex’s doorway. She worked at Camelot, too, but this was the first time she’d spoken toward me.
“Hanging out,” Alex said.
She flopped onto his bed. “You’re not going to play Bruce, are you?”
Alex said, “She lives down the street.” That made sense. She was a Dorman High girl, the rich kids school located nearby. I didn’t know that rich people lived in small, single-story tract homes.
“You should play PiL,” I said.
“Shut up, they suck,” Carrie said.
“Can’t. It’s never been out of the can,” Alex said.
“Who is he?” Carrie asked.
“I’m Larry, Carrie,” I told her for no apparent reason.
“Don’t you work with us?”
“Yeah, for almost a month now.”
“I thought I knew you.” Her eyelids weighed heavily on her deep brown eyes — bee sting lips smeared bright red.
“Well not directly. I work for district. They’ve had me in your store for the last few weeks taking care of some things.”
Alex and Johnny laughed.
“You’re funny, Larry. Now shut up.”
“Okay,” I said.
“Hey, Larry, you like The Clash, right?” Alex asked.
“Totally.” Alex put on London Calling. Joe Strummer wailed about his brand new Cadillac. Johnny cranked up his air guitar, tie-bandana flaying wildly. Carrie bit her bright red lip and nodded her head. “This is a cover,” Alex yelled. “I have the original single on Parlophone. Vince Taylor and His Playboys.”
We played records and told lies and cut up until Alex’s parents knocked on his door and politely told us to get the hell out of their house. We walked to our cars together. “Is that what you drive, Larry?” Carrie asked when she saw the enormous station wagon that I called The Quincymobile.
“I work part-time at Smith’s Funeral Home.”
“Shut up, Larry. You’re funny.”
“Okay,” I said.
The next time we all worked together was a few days later. Carrie kept calling me Larry and no one corrected her. If Steve The Manager hadn’t called me to the backroom she might still think my name is Larry, if she thinks of me at all. When I came back out onto the floor she grabbed my arm. “Why did Steve call you Jim?”
“Because that’s my name.”
“Why did you say it was Larry?”
“Why didn’t you know who I was? I’ve worked here for a month.”
“That was a shitty thing to do.”
“No shittier than ignoring me for a month.”
“That wasn’t funny, Larry.”
“Okay,” I said.
She ignored me for the rest of the night. If I was with a customer at the cassette wall she’d go to the counter. If I walked to the counter she’d go straighten the children’s music. After hours we cleaned the store in silence, not even music. In the back room she punched the clock without looking at me. “Walk me to my car,” she said.
“Okay,” I said. We walked in silence.
“Because I want to talk to you.”
“Okay.” We drove in silence. She pulled into the Dorman High School student parking lot, turned off the engine but left the radio on. She got out of the car. I sat in the passenger seat, listening to Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life.”
There was a knock on my window. I turned. “Unlock the door,” she said, and she pointed to the button. Carrie opened the door, reached in and unzipped my pants. She climbed onto me, pushed those red painted lips to mine. She pulled her skirt up, reached down and guided me into her.
“This never happened, Larry,” she said.
“Okay,” I said. She was funny.