The CIA provides Mom with a car when she needs one for work, so Mom doesn’t keep one in D.C. Even if they were loaning her one that day, I knew I couldn’t take it. I walked a few blocks and took the Metro, D.C.’s subway.
It was rush hour. Almost every seat on the train seemed to be full—men and women in suits, little kids sitting on their parents’ laps, tired maintenance workers still in their uniforms.
I hung on to a metal pole in the aisle, thinking maybe I should have gone for her car. As the possibly dangerous product of mad science, I probably had a thick file (or more than one) with an official assessment of my level of threat to the United States. That made my entertainment needs a matter of national security, and part of Mom’s job, right?
In short, Uncle Sam owed me a trip downtown, but I knew I wouldn’t get to take him up on it—not that night, for sure.
I kept an eye out, and when a guy in blue coveralls got off the train, I sat down. As the car hummed, my mind went back to the afternoon. Mom and I didn’t argue all the time, but sometimes it seemed like too much. I wasn’t even sure how the argument turned from the power impregnator and into a shouting match.
I didn’t want it to.
I switched from the Red Line to the Green Line, got off a Metro station, started walking, and got a sandwich at a Subway, still thinking about it. Would it have been better if Dad were still alive? Dad wasn’t so serious. You’d think that would have helped. Somehow.
When I got to “Vee Club” (it was on V Street), I put it out of my mind. Life’s too short, you know? And I was sick of moping.
I only knew about Vee Club because I did a search online, and now that I was there… Well, it looked like the kind of place Vaughn would drag me to. An old, brick building with boarded up windows, it didn’t even have a sign saying “Vee Club.” Only the people already lining up in front of the ticket window gave any sign that it was more than another warehouse.
So, too cool for a sign, plus people “in the know” already lining up? It reeked of hipster.
I checked my phone. It was a little after six. The doors wouldn’t open for two hours. I decided to get in line. I’d be bored, but I’d be bored on my terms.
I took my place on the sidewalk behind a heavyset girl wearing a black t-shirt decorated with a picture of a vampire and the words “Vincent Sucks!” She was talking with a blond, bearded guy in a red t-shirt with the same design.
If I’d had any doubt about being in the right place, that would have ended them. “Vincent Sucks!” was the name of the band Vee Club’s website was promoting.
I pulled out my phone, and checked email. I didn’t have anything. Then the phone rang. It was Mom. I answered. “Hi Mom… I didn’t get pizza. I went to that Subway down the block instead… No… Who’s talking? I’m watching TV… Bye.”
As we talked, the conversation next to me became quieter, and then stopped. When I hung up, the heavyset girl and the blond guy started laughing.
The girl said, “Sneaking out? Oh, she’s going to be pissed.”
“I don’t care right now.”
“Been there,” she said. “I’m Sam. This is Rod.” She nodded toward the guy next to her.
“I’m Cassie. You’re fans of the band? What are they like?” The less we talked about Mom, the better.
Sam said, “You’re not a fan, and you’re here this early?”
“I wanted out of the house.”
“Sounds like it. The band’s the best. It’s a kind of artsy post-punk—” she said, and kept on talking.
That got things moving, and it was a hell of a lot better than sitting there alone. A few other people joined in too, so in half an hour a bunch of us were standing around talking.
Sam had stopped to light a cigarette while Rod talked about the last time he’d seen them. “Halfway there,” he said, “the tire blew. I changed it in the dark and it took forever. We ended up in the back. Couldn’t see anything.”
He laughed. “That’s the last time we took her car.”
As he finished, a buzz cut guy wearing a “Georgetown University” t-shirt joined the group. He took off his backpack, and placed it on the ground.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but I’m in grad school. You heard about power juice in the news? I’m doing a paper about it. I’d like to test if it would work on any of you.”