Broken Frames, Torn Pictures Chapter 22

“We have listened to your demo, and are proud to say that we would like for you to finish the album.” Everyone in the band exchanged an excited look. “You have until January 5th to provide us with a finished product, congratulations.”

“Holy shit!” Johann wrapped everyone in a bear hug. “We actually did it! Our album got picked up!”

“I can’t believe we actually managed to do it…” Jove mumbled.

“Well you better believe it!” Anna pulled him into a headlock, and released a torrent of noogies upon his head. “Now all we gotta do is write the other half of the album and we can possibly quit our day jobs!”

“I thought the band was our day job…” Jove mumbled.

“It was a figure of speech.” Anna thumped him on the forehead.

“We have to do something to celebrate.” Nate said. “I suggest going to that bar that opened up recently. You know, the one on Main Street?”

“Ooh, good idea!” Johann said. “I’ve been meaning to check it out.”

“Sounds like fun.” Anna said. “Let’s go.”

The band piled into Jove’s car and drove down to the Tavern Bar.

“So who’s gonna be the designated driver?” Nate asked.

“Pfft, the cab driver.” Anna said.

“I’ll do it.” Jove cut in. “I probably shouldn’t get drunk because Apollo’s going to be home tomorrow.”

“Oh right, I forgot he’s coming home early. Thalassa’s going in for a sonogram tomorrow, right?” Johann said.

“Yep. Gonna find out if she’s having a girl or a boy.”

“What does Apollo think about everything?” Nate asked.

“He seems excited about having a sibling. Told me he’s been lonely when he visits Thalassa.”

Anna cocked her head to the side. “Why only when he’s with Thalassa?”

“They don’t live around a lot of kids. Apollo probably just doesn’t have any friends over there.”

“Poor thing.”

Jove shrugged and moved to get out of the car. “Either way, he’s happy, so I’m happy.”

The bartender greeted the newly employed group with a nod. His bar wasn’t anything like any of them was used to. The seats weren’t sticky, the floor was clean, and the air didn’t smell of piss. The sheer cleanliness and actual atmosphere screamed that this was going to be a splurge. At least for everyone who was drinking alcohol anyway.

“What can I get you all?” the bartender asked. Everyone except for Jove ordered alcohol. When the drinks were served, a glass was slid over to the man. “Gotta make sure you aren’t dehydrated, eh?”

Jove smiled and sipped his glass. “Appreciate it.” This bar even served Coke. How does it not have people lined down the block?

His gaze traveled to the cup in Johann’s hand. He had ordered some fancy drink that almost looked too pretty to down. Almost. Jove wanted to ask for a sip, but he knew that a sip would lead to a drink, and a drink would lead to a chug, and a chug would lead to alcoholism.

So Jove stuck to his Coke.

The TV mounted on the wall switched from the endless stream of commercials to a flashy news channel graphic where a man in a sharp suit started reading the traffic report.

“Geez… must be a slow day.” The bartender muttered. “There’s gotta be something more interesting going on…”

“In other news, a staff member of La Sierra High School has been arrested on molestation charges,” the band exchanged worried looks. “Guy Dance was a guidance counselor accused of molesting students over the course of his 25 year career. The victims were allegedly boys, mostly sophomores and freshmen who were bullied and came to Dance for help. While they were there-”

The bartender finally changed the channel. “God, when I asked for interesting, I didn’t mean that. How can those newscasters say all of that so calmly?”

“They’re just reading whatever’s on the teleprompter.” Anna remarked. “They probably just zone out while they read.”

Nate furrowed his brow. “But you’d think they’d at least read something that terrible with some emotion.”

Jove gripped his drink, his hands shaking. “The police need to round up all the pedophiles like him and throw away the keys.”

“Amen,” Johann muttered. “I hope he gets what’s comin’ to him.”

“He better.” Jove sloshed the contents of his glass, somehow managing to not get anything on the counter. “Manipulating kids who trusted him…”

“How do you think he got away with it for so long?” Anna asked.

“Kids can’t fight back…” Jove muttered. “Especially against people with good reputations. Must’ve been someone really important that ratted him out.”

“What has our world come to?” The bartender shook his head and finally turned the TV off altogether. “That guy was running around for years hurtin’ kids that couldn’t do a damn thing. That’s gotta mess with their minds.”

“Yeah…” Johann chugged his drink. “Wonder how those kids are reacting to the news?”

. . .

Jove returned home exhausted. It was fun to get out of the house and celebrate such a monumental occasion in his life, but he couldn’t help but feel that the evening was cheapened by the news report.

Was it selfish to say that? Probably, but Jove couldn’t change how he felt. Stuff like that stuck to him like duct tape on a freshly painted wall. It made Jove sick, made his hands shake, too.

All of this stress was making the allure of alcohol harder to resist. Why had Jove bothered to volunteer to be the designated driver? Johann probably would’ve done it, and right now Jove could’ve been on his way to forgetting what his name was.

Enough of that. You’re doing well now. There’s no need to sabotage yourself.

Jove went back to thinking about his album getting picked up. That seemed like a safe topic. After all these years of rejection, the band could now proudly say they had a contract with a record label. Hopefully their album would sell well and get Jove out of his shit hole apartment. That was something to look forward to. Right?

I need to go to bed. Alcoholism may be dangerous and self destructive, but I’ve never heard of people dying of a sleep overdose. Besides, I could use a good night’s sleep to clear my head. Apollo’s gonna be home tomorrow, so I won’t be alone then.

Jove’s internal crisis would just have to wait until tomorrow.

. . .

My father said he would pay for our wedding.” Thalassa said quietly.

I narrowed my eyes.”Why?”

“He said I shouldn’t have to postpone such an important event in my life just because you and I can’t afford it.”

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