It’s early morning. I am always the first awake, so I can leave the apartment before any of my roommates wake up. Unfortunately, I have three roommates. Two of them are one of those traveling “get high on life” sort of couples. The other guy, Jared, is the worst. He just listens to Lil Wayne all day and cranks the heat up to an impossible temperature. He is like Ali G- he tries to be a gangster but he is a rich white kid trying to “make his way in the world”.
Anyway, I’m just here trying to figure out life in the big city. I am an intern at a law firm. I like it, but I’m working in criminal law, which was a big mistake. All the lawyers are just as bad as the criminals themselves. I chose the wrong firm; even though they are highly praised for their number of cases won, they are all power driven and conceded. But anyway, I go to the firm every morning and do what I have to do. I mainly just help the lawyers with projects they’re working on and get coffee and sandwiches for them. It doesn’t sound bad until you actually get to know the people there. It’s interesting work. I guess.
I leave my apartment and take the Blue Line to downtown Chicago, where the firm is. I do the same thing as everyday. I walk around the block and open the big glass double doors, and see the busy corporate people working away in their cubicles, after taking the elevator to the top floor. I am ten minutes early to the big meeting about Peggy Lawrence’s murder case. I pretty much just sit there. TV shows make this look interesting, but it is really just the same, mundane work I would rather not hear about, but I listen anyway. When these meetings start, it is hard not to just gaze out of the window and not care at all about what’s going on, even though I feel guilty not to.
“Shannon, can you get us some coffee? Brad and Suzy like decaf and I want two sugars and cream. Get four with cream, and one chai tea for Angela,” says Carol, she’s like my boss, the lawyer I work with most of the time. She lives in one of those huge penthouses that you thought no one could actually afford.
“Sure. That sounds great,” I say slightly sarcastically, Carol lacks common sense. She is smart, but kind of ditsy, so she can’t tell that I’m sarcastic at all.
“Thanks darling! You are just perfect,” She says. I throw up in my mouth a little. I am done with these idiotic people.
Our firm was just recently updated, so they can show all the other lawyers that come how rich they are. Everything is modern and clean, but it still feels stuffy. The only thing that is nice about it is the picturesque view of the city. Everytime I walk out of the doors, I breath a sigh of relief. I realize something. I hate this. I don’t just not like it. I hate it. I wished I liked it, I like Chicago, I want to be a lawyer, but not in this corporate firm with shallow yuppies. I’m leaving and not coming back. I walk out of that horrid hell hole of a firm and throw my ID tag on the ground.
“Oh no, someone won’t get their chai tea today!” I say rather too loudly. The busy people on the street give me a confused look.
“The shelter is that way honey,” an old woman says to me. She look concerned and hands me a card. It has “Carol Dingerwing: Psychiatrist” written on it. I laugh.
“I’ll give you a call,” I say sarcastically.
I decide to go to the Starbucks where I always get the coffee. I buy everything on the list, a chai tea, two decaf, one with two sugars and cream, and four with cream. It was busy, like usual, so it took awhile for my drinks to be prepared. Once they are finished, I dump every single one of them slowly on the sidewalk. I watch all of the tea and coffee run down the street and trickle into the sewers. There was something satisfying about it, even though I was out twenty dollars.
At this point I don’t really know exactly what to do. My phone rings, it was Angela from work. At first I just hang up, but after four miscalls, she then texted me twenty times.
“I need my tea SHANNON! Where are you?” All of the texts are the same.
“New phone who dis,” I reply. I block her contact, along with every other person at my old office. I decide to just go to my apartment, considering I’m broke and I have nothing to do. I take the L back home. Jared is sitting on the couch playing Grand Theft Auto and listening to Lil Wayne. The usual.
“Hey homie! What you doin girl?” He asks.
“I quit my job.” He pauses his game.
“What? Girl you damn good at yo job.”
“Yeah but it sucks,” I say, “Everyone is a jerk.”
“Bro you should come to da club wit me tonight!”
“Da club? Are you serious? I don’t want to go anywhere that you would call ‘da club’, ” I say. He looks at me disapprovingly.
“Girl, you don’t know what you missing. It’s lit man,” He seems pretty convinced.
“I guess I’ll go with you. Just once,” I know this is a bad idea.
“I knew you’d come around,” He smiles and winks, “You gonna have so much fun.”
I decide I should probably change into something Jared described as a “club essential”, which is pretty much just a sleezy dress, and don’t forget the stilettos only Kim Kardashian could walk in.
“Jared, I look ridiculous,” I say.
“Girl you look ready as a mo-fo!” He says enthusiastically.
“I thought being a mo-fo was a bad thing. Who says that anymore anyway?”
“I’m bringin’ it back bro,” he says, “You ready to go? Our ride is here.”
“I thought we were going to take a train.” He looks at me like I’m stupid.
“Homie, my bro Jerry has a Ferrari. Don’t go looking broke girl,” he talks to me like he’s a teacher and I’m in grade school.
“Uh yeah… sure.” We leave our apartment and I turn the heat down as we leave. I have a bad feeling about this.
The car ride there feels like it is taking forever and the only thing we are listening to is new, kind of bad rap music. It smells like vodka and cigarettes.
“So, are we going to get there soon?” I ask Jerry.
“Yeah,” Jerry shrugs, “It’s pretty far from da crib.” Jerry is a little too much like Jared. They both have blonde hair, similar brown eyes and have the same sort of feeling when you talk to them. Which isn’t necessarily a good one
“Alright,” I reply, “Sounds good.” That was a lie.
We start to drive a little slower and Jerry parks the car. I turn my head to the left to gaze out of the window. The building in which “da club” is located is huge. It has a big glass door and there’s a bouncer at the front door that looks like a professional wrestler. As I get out of the stinky sports car, I examine the building more closely. It seems so, well, gross.
“Here we are girl,” Jared says.
“Wow, I’m truly blown away,” I say sarcastically.
“Bro, dis is da club dat 50 cent came to last year man,” Jerry says.
“Oh, now I’m really impressed,” I continue my sarcastic tone.
“You know what, I’m taking you to da hottest club in Chicago, deal wit it. People spend months trying to get in here.” I roll my eyes. I know I’m overthinking, but I can’t really imagine having fun in there. The kind of superficial people that enjoy this aren’t the kind of people I want to talk to.
“Hey Jerry!” The bouncer says. He has a surprisingly high pitched voice.
“Hey bro,” Jerry says. He smirks and you can tell by the look on his face that he thinks knowing the bouncer makes him king of the world.
“Go on in,” He says, winking at me. I just look at him weirdly and keep on going.
I decide to sit at the bar. I’ve been mostly talking to Jared’s “homies” and I decided that I needed a break. The music is so loud I can’t hear most of the people talking to me, so I just nod and pretend to laugh whenever they try to make conversation. The bar stool is oddly warm.
“Can I have the, uh… Eminemerita?” I ask the bartender. All of the drinks are the names of rappers that have come to the club before. The bartender laughs.
“Sure. Is this your first time coming here?” He talks just loudly enough for me to hear him.
“Is it that easy to tell?” I ask.
“You don’t seem to be enjoying yourself, which is a telltale sign.”
“That’s true. I doubt people would spend all this money to come in twice, because the first time for me isn’t looking so good.” He hands me the drink.
“You should just try to ignore the fact that everyone here sucks. It helps me have a little more fun.” I decide to take his advice and dance for a little while. I think I blend in, but I’m not nearly as trashy some of the other people around me. I see a man approach me that looks really familiar, but I can’t tell where I know him from.
“Hey, what’s up?” He asks, he seems nice, and I’m still confused from where I’d seem him before.
“Nothing much, I came with my roommate and his friend.”
“Cool, let’s sit down.”
“Uh, okay.” We make our way back to the bar and he orders me a “Hail Bloody Mary”, which is apparently a reference to a Tupac song.
“Thanks.” We talk for awhile. He’s a little boring, but he has a lot of stories to tell.
“... And that’s when Kanye West and I sang karaoke together before he was famous,” he says, finishing another one of his lavish tales.
“Wow.” I turn my head for a second and I see something I know he doesn’t want me to see. He taps a paper container and the white powder falls into my drink. ‘Did he just spike my drink?’ I look back at him and pretend I didn’t notice what he had done, but I have this indescribable feeling in my stomach. Not fear, anxiety or disappointment, but something else. I still can’t figure out where I know him from.
“Oh my god! Is that Rihanna?” I point away from the bar and at the other side of the club. I know that all of the materialistic people hear will respond to a celebrity’s name. Since we both have the same drink I quickly switch them. The strange man who still hasn’t introduced himself properly is still searching the room.
“I don’t see her,” he says. He seems really disappointed.
“Oh, nevermind. I thought the girl with the pink dress was her,” I say, it’s seems rather obvious I’m lying, I sound nervous. He takes a sip of my old drink, and watch him soon act incredibly drunk, from the strange drug he put inside. I don’t drink any of the “Hail Bloody Mary” that is now mine.
“Ey! I see Ronald Reagan over there!” The man says. He stumbles out of his chair and collapses. The mystery drug must have been powerful. I know that I should be feeling relief, knowing this man got what he deserved, but I still have that guilty feeling inside. This is not what I want at all. This is not what I want in my life, I want to do the farthest thing away from this club lifestyle as I can get.
A crowd forms around the man’s limp body on the floor, he is still alive, but unconscious. I quickly run away from the scene. The heel of my shoe breaks and reality hits me hard, along with the ground. I need to leave, who knows what this horrendous man could have done to me. I frantically go around the large room that makes up the club, but Jerry and Jared are nowhere to be found. I enter a room labeled “VIP”. I see Jerry and Jared playing pool.
“We have to leave now,” I tell them with the utmost seriousness I can, which is hard considering the setting.
“Nah dawg,” Jared says.
“GET ME OUT OF HERE NOW,” I start to get angry.
“I’ll take the girl home bro,” Jerry tells Jared, “I’ll meet you at the hotel.”
Jerry looks at the broken shoe I’m carrying and looks confused. His facial expression always looks dazed and confused, mainly because he is, but right now he looks especially unaware.
We arrive at the apartment. I walk alone up the stairs. When I open the door, I notice my two other roommate’s backpacks next to the door.
“Evelina? August?” I call out their names. Evelina walks out of the bathroom in her bathrobe.
“Hello Shannon! What seems to be the matter? I just got home and was about to take a shower,” she claims to be psychic and can read people’s emotions.
“Well, it’s a long story, but if you really want to know…” I decide to tell it all to her, because I knew she would just figure it out anyway from Jared, or her “psychic ability”.
“I’m glad you’re home. I think the best thing to do is to get out of the city. August and I are leaving to go camping tomorrow. Join us!” She is convinced that this is the thing to do, I can tell. At this point, I don’t know what to do, and I think it may be a good idea.
“Ok, anything is better than what happened today.”
The next morning, I have everything packed. I decide to make breakfast for everyone, Jared still isn’t home however, thank goodness. When we finish the meal, we walk to the garage in which August’s Volkswagen van is parked.
“Here it is! Shannon why don’t you sit in the back?” August directs me. He loves this car and has strict rules about it.
They both make crafts and soap as a profession, and sell them to local stores. I always wondered how they could afford living where we do and constantly going on vacations and trips, but they inherited a large amount of money from Evelina’s grandmother. Little remuneration is necessary to live their lifestyle. They live modestly in terms of possessions, but are hardly in town and are constantly traveling the world.
The car ride to the campsite is long and boring. The music they’ve been listening to is usually in tribal languages, unless you’re talking about the cassette tape with twenty different bongo-drum solos they’re currently playing. How many can you have?
“We’re here!” Evelina said, shaking me awake. It is truly a miracle I fell asleep during that last banjo and trombone duet from Cambodia.
“Oh, it’s beautiful,” I say, looking out of the window. The trees are tall and magnificent and the lake is crystal clear. I still had a bad feeling in my gut, and I think Evelina could tell. She didn’t say anything, but she had a look in her eye that said it all.
“This place reminds me of where my uncle used to live. I always visited as a young child,” I say.
“We’ve been several times, Evelina’s grandmother passed down this land to her years ago,” August says.
“Whenever we need a break from city life we come here,” Evelina continued.
“Wow, I wish I had land like this to myself,” I say.
Later that night, we were sitting around an impromptu campfire. The sky was full of stars.
“I think I’m going to go for a swim,” August says. Evelina decides to join him.
“That sounds fun, but I’m exhausted,” I reply. I go to my little tent and fall asleep instantly.
When I wake up in the morning, I quickly get dressed and brush my teeth. The air is cool and the sun is rising. Evelina told me yesterday that we were going to leave tonight, but I desperately want to stay. There is something so warm and cozy about this feeling of being free. My job held me back, but here, I feel like I can do anything. August is now awake.
“Good morning!” He says.
“Hey. I wish I could stay,” I say, I told him exactly how I was feeling.
“I’m sorry Shannon. Maybe we could stay a day longer?”
“I think I’m going to find a way to live out here.”
“Are you serious? Have you thought of money? Maybe a job? I mean, you know how expensive law school was.”
“I could be a park ranger, or I could-”
“You could what? You’re buried in student loans, how could you afford living here by yourself? In Chicago it was different, you paid one fourth of an inexpensive rent.” I have never seen him this sort of, concerned, about something I wanted to do.
“I’ve saved a lot of money. I can live out of my car and I’ll just drive.”
“Where the road takes me.”