FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Current Essays FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Contributors FRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//About FRESH YARNFRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Past EssaysFRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//SubmitFRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//LinksFRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Email ListFRESH YARN: The Online Salon for Personal Essays//Contact


Some Great Reward
By Elise Miller

"Great show," I say.

"Thanks," he says. The old lady gets up to join a different conversation.

"I like your jacket," I say.

"Thanks," he says. His jacket is black leather, textured like a reptile. It looks expensive. It looks English. I want to ask him how much it cost, but I have the feeling that would be rude.

"Do you like any American bands?" I ask. He squints and tilts his head, pondering the question.

"I don't really like too many American bands, except for The Doors," he says finally.

"Wow," I say. "Me too. I hardly listen to any American music, but I love The Doors." I feel my load lightening, loosening, maybe even floating away. I think to myself, I can do this.

"I've always wanted to go to England, but I haven't had the chance yet," I say.

"Hmm," he says.

"Have you ever heard Rock over London?"

"No," he says.

"Oh. Well, it's this really great show, on the radio. And it plays all this great music, from London, which they don't normally play on the radio here."

"Hmm," he says, this time with more emphasis. I can't tell him how badly I wish that I was English, or that I pretended to be English with Karen and this other girl, Dana, who looks just like Robert Smith from The Cure. We were downtown, pretending we were in a band whose bus broke down, and we were panhandling to get the money to fix the bus so it could take us to Great America where we had a gig to play. The guys that Dana stopped were all flirting with her and asking what part of London she was from, but every person I stopped laughed at me and asked if I was for real. One guy said my accent was so bad that he gave me a dollar and told me to take lessons.

The old lady returns to tell David goodnight. Her eyes flicker over me and I can see she disapproves. I wish she would leave us alone. David shakes her hand and she puts her other hand on top of his like they're the best of friends and smiles and nods a lot. What a phony. I could puke.

David turns to me and says, "It was very nice to meet you. I hope you get a chance to come to England someday." Then he excuses himself and I look for Karen but she's gone. I pick up my coat and rush out to find an empty hallway. But then Karen comes running in and shouts, "I'm on the bus! Come on!"

Oh my God, I think. I have to get on that bus, but my mom, she'll have a fit if I don't turn up at home by midnight.

"I have to call my mom," I plead, my eyebrows weaving themselves into frantic knots.

"Okay, but hurry!" she says, and runs toward the door, black trench coat fluttering behind her like bat wings.

I jam a dime into the pay phone and dial home. The phone rings three times before I hear the receiver tumble to the floor, a distant, "Oy Vey es meer" and my mother whisper a groggy, "Elise?"

"Mom?" I say, oblivious to the fact that I've just woken her out of blissful unconsciousness. "Hi. We're at the Depeche Mode concert and we met the band and they've invited us to a party, can I go please?" This rouses her. I hear the flick of her lighter, the pause of her inhalation, and on the exhale she says, "Oy, Elise. How do you know it's really them?"

I say, through gritted teeth, "I just saw them play Mom, I know what they look like, I'm not stupid."

She says, "Boys will impersonate famous people to get at girls."

I say, "Mom, I am positive it's the real band, I just met them. Can I please go to the party? Karen's with me, and can I sleep over her house?"

She says, "Let me talk to Karen."

I kick the wall and say, "Mom, she's already on the bus."

"The bus?" she asks, as if I'd said the hot air balloon, or the space shuttle.

"Yes! The Bus! Jesus Christ, Mom! They're going to leave without me and then I'll be all alone, is that what you want?" I shout.

"Elise, don't shout at me, I am your mother," she says. "Are you sure it's safe?"

"Yes! Jesus!" I say. "Okay, so I have to go, I'll see you tomorrow?"

"Oy, Elise," she sighs, defeated.

"Thank you! I love you you're the best mom in the world! I'll be so safe, you don't have to worry one single tiny bit." I hang up and run outside.

I saw my first concert in eighth grade. It was The Who's final world tour. I was in love with Roger Daltry and when it was over, I stood in the parking lot and watched their giant tour bus recede into the distance. My ears throbbed, my body shivered with cooling sweat, and my mother hollered for me to get in the car, but I was forever changed. Since then, whenever I've seen a luxury bus barreling through town, or parked outside the Ambassador East Hotel, I've always stared, wondering who's riding inside, behind those smoked windows and lavender airbrushed desert scenes.

Now, right in front of me, parked outside the Aragon Ballroom, with my best friend and Depeche Mode tucked inside, a gleaming, rumbling tour bus is waiting for me. I climb aboard.

The seats on the bus face each other in the front. That's where I sit. That's where David is. Andy Fletcher and Alan Wilder are further back, drinking Heinekens, and singing along to Chubby Checker, the last person I'd expect Depeche Mode to be listening to, not that I'm disappointed. Actually, I think it's charming. Karen is sitting in the middle, next to Martin Gore, who is still talking nonstop, and waving his painted nails around. We nod to each other.

David opens a cooler built into one of the front seats and asks me if I want a Heinekin. I say sure and he opens two.

"Thanks," I say, taking the bottle. "Where are we going?"

"Back to the hotel," he says. "Is that alright?"

"Sure," I say, pinching the undersides of my thigh, to prove to myself, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is truly happening. I silently pray for a welt to rise, to remind me of this moment, even if it only lasts a few days.

David leans into me, sniffs, and says, "Mmm. You smell nice."

"Magie Noire, thank you," I answer, grinning slyly. I am like greased lightning with the comebacks.

For the rest of the ride, David laughs with Andy and Alan, who are slapping their knees to The Twist, but his elbow is resting in my crotch. David Gahan wants me.

We ride out of the city limits, to almost the airport, to a Holiday Inn. The bus pulls into an underground parking lot and drops us off near the elevators. I am so impressed, but I try not to show it by keeping my head more or less facing ahead of me and not swiveling around like a bar stool. I wish I could take a picture to show my mother.

We take the elevator to the seventeenth floor, the age I'll be in two years, the age I should say I am now in case anyone asks. I wish Karen and I had gotten a chance to confer about age, but she is oblivious to me, talking to Martin as if they were twins, reunited after a lifetime of forced separation. Maybe I should reintroduce myself.

We all go into a room with two matching queen-sized beds. Andy Fletcher and Alan Wilder lie on one bed, flipping through channels on TV. They don't even take off their boots. I sit at the bottom of the other bed, both feet on the floor. David is on the bed next to me, lying with his head on the pillow, one foot on the floor. I'm not sure what I should be doing. Maybe I should scoot back, lie on the bed, and lean against a pillow. I don't know what his one foot on the floor means. Is it a signal that he wants to leave? That he wants me to leave? The wire from my rings is digging into my skin, so I pull at them.

I think about his foot on the floor and then I feel like I should contribute to the conversation, but I don't know what to say and I don't want to say the wrong thing that will tell them they never should have brought me all the way back here. Karen and Martin have been standing in the corner and now they're backing out the door, yammering away in serious, hushed tones, leaving me alone in a hotel room with three British rock stars. I stay right where I am, waiting.

Andy Fletcher and Alan Wilder stop turning channels at Star Trek, then turn the channels again until a naked woman appears, moving around in slow motion with her lover. They stare at the screen, suddenly solemn, and then start hooting and rolling around with each other. I wonder if they are gay or just pretending, and if they always act like children, or if it's only when they have company. Maybe they just want to be alone. Maybe they can tell I'm just a kid.

Then David says, "I want to show you something, would you like to see?"

I look at him. Our eyes meet, briefly. "Yeah," I say, and he gets up. I don't know if I'm supposed to wait here for him or not, but he motions with his head and a smile that I should follow.

Down the hall he inserts a key into another door. I stay right where I am, quaking in my golden shoes.

PAGE 1 2
3 4

-friendly version for easy reading
©All material is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission

home///current essays///contributors///about fresh yarn///archives///
submit///links///email list///site map///contact
© 2004-2005