Wednesday, October 13, 2010




Seamus was losing his patience. “Where the hell is Vinny?” Standing outside the venue on this warm summer day waiting for their friend to make his appearance was becoming annoying as shit and ruining what could be a perfect evening. They’ve had these tickets for weeks. Heather, too, was becoming increasingly pissed with the heat of the day threatening to dissolve all the Aqua Net she sprayed on her perfectly brown feathered hair. “Look, if he’s not here in two minutes, I’m going in! I didn’t spend an hour with the hair dryer and curling iron just to stand out here to wilt and frizz waiting for Vinny!” Caleb rolled his eyes. “Ever since you got your braces off you act like every day is a damned beauty pageant. You look good, now shut up already!” Charlie, Heather’s boyfriend -- and relatively new to the gang -- knew the dynamic of the group and usually didn’t interfere if Heather had a slight beef with one of the boys. Being the only girl of the gang allowed room for forgiveness and understanding in what they referred to as “female meltdowns”. Charlie knew this to be perfectly normal. Besides, Heather could take care of herself. “You shut up, Caleb -- and thank you for saying I look good.” she said with a slight pleased with herself attitude and a mock sticking out of her tongue.
Cameron, too, wasn’t happy with what the heat was doing to her natural curls. She already hated her curly hair as it is, although, Heather and Gwen had both told her over and over; “Cami, women everywhere pay good money to get curls put in their hair like what you were born with naturally.”
Cami received no sympathy from Heather and Gwen and learned to just stop complaining about her hair. Lucky for her, Seamus was the kind of boyfriend who always made her feel good. Had she been high maintenance, he may not have been so. However, Cami wasn’t too terribly girlie and took things as they came. He liked that about her, that and the fact that Cami was pretty easy-going about his love of concerts and his friends. She also didn’t take any of their shit, that included Seamus’. She’s only 5 foot 2, but man, is she ever feisty. Then, there was her softer side -- her infamous cupcakes. She was known for her love of baking and showered them all with her homemade baked cupcakes for every occasion; birthdays, holidays, beach trips, and mostly those ever present munchies after a day or evening of partying. She didn’t mind, though. She had come to love all of them as much as Seamus did.
Damn. Still no Vinny. They knew Finn and Gwen would be late coming from work but what could be Vinny’s excuse? They all knew the answer, of course. He was likely caught up playing pinball again.
Everyone’s patience was wearing thin except Murphy’s, who was already inside holding seats. Nothing much ever bothers The O’Neil brothers.
Finally, Caleb pointed down the street with relief. In unison they all turned to look; in the distance was Vinny’s dark, sweat soaked skin reflecting the sun as he rode his skateboard with his long, dark hair flying back, his recognizable aviator shades firmly rested on the bridge of his nose. Clickety-clack. Clickety-clack. The noise from the skateboard on the sidewalk cracks became more prevalent as he neared closer to the others.
“Am I late?” He asked breathlessly to the group.
“Are you late? Are you kidding me?” Seamus asked in mockery with slight annoyance.
“Okay, I’m sorry -- I had to do something first”.
Vinny took off his sunglasses and was faced with blank stares.
Painted around Vinny’s eye was a silver Paul Stanley star.
Seamus hated to be the one to point out what was obvious to everyone except Vinny but he was not only the biggest but also the oldest -- with the exception of his brother, Murphy -- and was quietly the leader of their group. The O’Neil house was just the one where everyone came to hang out when they weren’t at The Shack and it was Seamus who bound them all together through mutual friendship. He was 20, six foot two and weighed about 250. An injury his freshman year of high school prevented him from seeing his love of playing football through. He still walked with a slight limp but no one even noticed it anymore, least of all Cami, his high school sweetheart. His long dark brown, slightly curled hair suited him as did his goatee. And while Seamus’ appearance was intimidating as all hell, those who knew and loved him saw a different side. Especially Cami. He was smart, soft spoken and always rooted for the underdog.
Seamus faced Vinny, placed one hand on each of Vinny’s shoulders and looked him square in the eye; “Vin. The Kiss concert isn’t until next week, dude.”
The others tried desperately to hold back their laughter and snickering.
“What??? Then who the fuck are we seeing tonight?”
“Van Halen.”
Vinny would know this if he had even bothered to look at the ticket that had been in his wallet since Caleb passed them out to everyone weeks ago after volunteering to pick them up.
Caleb also had to point out one thing; “What are you going to do with your skateboard?” as he motioned to a sign on the outside wall: “No Skateboards, bikes or Roller skates allowed inside.”
The snickering from the others was getting harder to contain.
Vinny threw down his skateboard and watched it break right down the middle.
“Fuck!!!!” He yelled even louder this time.
This time the whole gang broke out in laughter -- and after a moment, even Vinny found the humor in it all, too.
Seamus patted his friend's back in sympathy; “C'mon, you can wash off your face inside. Now, let’s go hear some kick ass music.”
Marianne understood the battle of hangover versus work. She kept that in mind when working out the schedule for Finn and Gwen the morning following the concert. The Shack didn’t open until 11:00 but she usually had the kids arrive around 10:00 to count out the cash register and do some prep work in the kitchen. Since Mondays were typically slow anyway, she told them noon would be okay for their arrival. Richard, The Shacks cook, was always on time and his wife, Mackenzie, was more than happy to help out and earn a few extra dollars. Mackenzie was going to nursing school and worked only part time as a medical assistant, so, she took the hours where she could and was pleased to help out when Marianne needed an extra hand. Richard and Mackenzie were both twenty four years old but were just as much a part of the group there. They occasionally joined the others for concerts and other outings and both loved spending time with Susie.
“Munchkin, where you off to so quickly?” Richard called out to Susie. “Oh. Hi, Richard. Hi, Mackenzie”. Mac -- as Richard liked to sometimes call his wife even though she hated it, which is part of the appeal for him, naturally -- in her soft voice said to Susie; “Good morning. Where are you going in such a hurry?” She continued counting change while talking. She had that ability to do two things at once and, even while counting money, could carry on a conversation without skipping a beat or miscounting. “Your hair’s still wet.”
Susie’s red hair was indeed wet and dripping on her red California Angels T-shirt that she paired with 501 Levi cut-off's and white Keds sneakers.
Susie replied; “I’m going to go see Seamus and Murphy. I want to know how the concert was”. Mackenzie wished she and Richard could’ve gone with the others but she had school that night and Richard didn’t like going without her even though she said he could. “Babe, just go. Have fun. No point in both of us missing it” she had told him weeks ago. But all it took was for Rick to look at his wife’s angelic face of blue eyes and surrounded by long blonde hair for him to know that he never wanted to do anything without her. After five years of marriage they were going strong -- and with their recent good news, he had plenty of reasons to be happy without going to a concert. “Nope. I’ll be right here when you get back. Besides, those assholes make fun of me for being short when you’re not around.” Mackenzie laughed. “Honey, they make fun of you for being short whether I’m there or not, and besides, you give it right back to them.” They both knew it was true and they both loved every minute of the banter.
Marianne overheard her daughter's plans to go see The O’Neil’s. “Don’t you think it’s a tad too early to go knocking on their door? It’s only 10:15 and you know they got in very late and are likely still sleeping.” Susie took a deep breath of frustration before answering her mother. “Lynn said I could go over anytime. She likes it when I’m there. Said I’m good company.” Marianne couldn’t argue with that. Besides knowing that Susie is indeed good company, Seamus and Murphy’s Mom was estranged from her daughter from her first marriage and suspected that Susie reminded her of being a Mom to a little girl again.
“Okay,” Marianne said reluctantly as her daughter had one foot practically out the door, “but I want you to listen at the door first before knocking to make sure you hear the T.V. or the radio. If not, you come straight home. If anyone’s up, you be back here at 12:00 for lunch. Understood?” Susie in her excitement to see Murphy would have agreed to anything at that moment just to get going. “Yes, Mom. I got it.” Susie quickly hugged her Mom's middle and waved bye to Richard and Mac. Marianne managed to squeeze in a “Be careful, I love you” before her daughter sprinted out the door and hopped on her bike. Susie loved the freedom that summertime afforded her.
Richard and Mac looked at each other knowingly and smiled. In about 13 years, they’ll be dealing with this themselves. No one else yet knew of their news and they hadn’t quite decided when, where or how they would tell everyone. Soon, though. They knew Marianne would be excited. It’s been a long time since she’s had a baby around.