Gina locked herself in the count-out room where it all happened. Tears were already rolling softly down her sorrowed face as she thought of what she'd done. It was in this room that she betrayed the person closer to her than anyone; this is the room in which occurred her ultimate defilement of self. God, even after these few months and the divinity of forgiveness on Corey's part, she still hated what she'd done. She quickly wiped the streams of salty water away from her eyes and focused hard on the paper in front of her. She was no songwriter, but she knew that she had to write this. She needed personal vindication... she needed forgiveness from herself. The white, rubber-shafted Bic pen shook in her hands as she remembered what happened and how she felt after... and during. Never in her life did she EVER feel like a whore until that moment. Sex for payment: revenge. FOCUS!!! She beat herself up again, getting more and more angry with herself. Good, she thought, I need the anger... the hate... the rotting disgust. She sat upright in the comfortable, black office chair, leaned over the table and began to write. She wasn't a big fan of punk, metal, or anything like that... but she had a feeling that this would only fit that sort of music. She laughed out loud as she pictured her song being sung onstage by Enya. Finally the words formed in her mind. Theywerestreamofconsciuousness...madenosense... hurtpainangerhateI'msorryCorey imsorryimsorryimsorrygodforgivemecoreyforgivemeohgodohgod.... "Say No More... EVER AGAIN!!!" By Gina Coulette. Why do I talk? Why do I scream? Just 'cause I listen to you again!! "Say No More"... you're Goddamned right! Next time we meet there'll be more'n a fight! I used you and you used me; can't stand the fucking hypocrisy! Can't believe I let you inside me, I'm rotting in my core 'cause of one bad deed... You'll know pain... You'll know hate... If I had to do it again, I'd just masturbate!!! Say no more... EVER AGAIN!!! The World's a better place without your pain!! Say no more... EVER AGAIN!!! We look at you with total disdain!! "Lips are for Kissing, Baby"... that's a joke! Your lips'll turn blue when you fuckin' choke! The sacred parts of me I let you touch, I'll never hate myself again so much, As I did that day when I betrayed a friend, Just to get even... you're just means to an end!! I'm lucky she loves me... I'm lucky she forgives, But you... YOU!!! I'LL HATE AS LONG AS I LIVE!!!!!! Say no more... EVER AGAIN!!! The World's a better place without your pain!! Say no more... EVER AGAIN!!! We look at you with total disdain!! I've got no "Canopy Bed" so suck on this!! "Run every red" if you like... you can fucking piss!! You're totally washed up, a stinking "Fuck Me", You'd turn a punk or a skater onto Country, You're a joke, a loser, a total fraud... Your death would prove the existance of God!!! The worst of it is, when all's said and done... You aren't worth the paper this song's printed on!!! Say no more... EVER AGAIN!!! The World's a better place without your pain!! Say no more... EVER AGAIN!!! We look at you with total disdain!! Say no more... EVER AGAIN!!! The World's a better place without your pain!! Say no more... EVER AGAIN!!! We look at you with total disdain!! Say... No... More... Say... No... More... Fuck you, you dirty whore!!! The tears were gone now, her black, silk blouse was wet from them, but she could care less. It felt good to let go... to be free of the guilt. At least it's a start, she thought calmly to herself. Trying to rise, she noticed her legs quivering with anger and fear. She sat back down, quickly, to gather her wits about her and take another breath. Then she started thinking of Corey and AJ. God I miss them. I can't wait 'till they catch a long enough break to come see us. All of these thoughts lifted her spirits enough to stand. Straightening her skirt in an act of dignity; an act made to spit on the object of her ire, she slowly unlocked the door, smiled to herself, and thought: I think ************************* Taking his hand, AJ used it to make a big circle on the mirror, clearing the enormous amount of steam that had accumulated after his shower with Corey. Still in complete rhapsody of the events which had occurred over the last several hours, AJ just couldn't wipe the smile off his face. He turned to look at the still running water trickling from the showerhead. But more importantly, he was gazing at his "muse", his reason for being... the beautiful, glistening body which was still wrapped in it's own arms, enjoying a moments peace from her schoolwork. Eyes closed, Corey, just rocked back and forth underneath the steady stream of hot water... letting it clean her soul; purify her. She hated her classes... and she hated that AJ knew it. She smiled, though, as she thought of how they just couldn't seem to keep secrets from each other. It's as if they thought as one. He was there the whole time and I was too blind to see him, she chastised herself. She shuddered at the thought of AJ never confronting her on the rooftop those months ago. I wonder what would've happened? Would he have given up on me? I wouldn't blame him. All these thoughts floated about her psyche as she heard a voice part the pleasant darkness and let in the beautiful light. "Hey, how long you planning on being in there, Corey?" AJ asked her with a smile on his face. His long dark bangs were still wet and looked black through the steam. She stared at his deep brown eyes and realized that it was as if staring into the sun without being blinded. This can never end, she thought. Pulling the shower curtain back, revealing just enough of her slim features to AJ, she flashed a smile and tilted her head. "Forever, silly," she teased him, her hand moving slowly across her moist, shiny skin, "if we never left this room, it would be too soon for me." AJ, heart pounding in his chest, had to hold back an exclamation at the show being put on before him. "Jesus, Corey, are you trying to kill me?" With that, AJ stepped slowly into the shower, his smile replaced again by the look of absolute love. Corey shifted slightly, letting the water stream down her flat stomach, as AJ kissed her navel softly, then he kissed her an inch or so lower, again, and again... lower and lower. Corey closed her eyes and bit her lip in sheer exctacy. Her head leaned down, dark brown hair falling over her face and breasts as she held AJ's head in her arms. "Never..." she gasped, "never ever in the world." ***************************** Lucas straightened himself in the chair across from his boss and best friend, Joe, and glanced around. He looked at the posters, the messy desk, the well-worn drum set (which he had, earlier that day, been thrown into), and finally at the man across from him. "Joe, you have got to learn to contain that aggression. I say this as both employee and friend. One of the most common causes of early deaths is heart failure, Joe. You need to channel that anger into a healthy outlet - maybe a hobby - knitting or crocheting perhaps?," looking up at Lucas, Joe raised a single eyebrow in dazed amusement. He loved Lucas as his own son, but sometimes wondered why. Shifting through papers and ignoring Lucas' diatribe on aggression, Joe, finally found what he was looking for. He leaned back in his big, comfortable, leather chair, put his hands behind his head and kicked the file over to Lucas across the desk. "What's this," Lucas pondered, "another promotional idea?" "Nope," Joe stated, he spun once in his chair, and came back facing Lucas, "this is our new employee," he stated with a finality Lucas knew all to well. Lucas flipped through the resume, the file, and the small criminal record. Perusing the information and locking it away in his near perfect memory, he gently slid the documents back into the folder and placed it perfectly square in front of him. "She's cute," Lucas said softly, wondering where he fit into this. Then it hit him, "not me?" Lucas nearly stood, started at the revelation. "Yes, you. I'm going out tonight with Jane, we've been planning this for weeks and it's time you started learning more about this business. All you have to do," Joe continued as he stood up and slipped on his leather jacket and shoes, "is interview her, get a feeling if she'll fit in, and welcome her to the 'family'". Joe smiled, knowing Lucas was quite uncomfortable with such responsibilities (got 'im). He started out the door and Lucas veritably threw himself at Joe's feet, "Please don't leave this up to me, Joe. Let Deb or Gina do it... why me?" Joe looked at his friend with a caring smile, bent down to face Lucas and simply stated, "Because I know you can do it; I believe you can do it; I want YOU to do it. You saved the damn store and now your nervous about hiring a new clerk? It's time to step up to the plate, Lucas," he put his hand on Lucas' shoulder and squeezed, "I know you'll hit a homer," he smiled and walked out the door. Lucas pulled himself up and sat down in Joe's big, comfy chair. Looking at the file again he read more closely. Minor rap sheet, he said to himself, Hell, mine's worse. Assault, resisting arrest, solicitation, assault... poor kid, Lucas thought. I think she's just the kind of person we could use here; another one of Joe's "reclamation projects" right from City Lockdown. "Hmmmm..... Lisa Dannolit." ************************* "Gina, this is... this is unbelievable!!! You wrote this just now?" Mark was staring at the words with a look of awe. He new how much Gina hurt Corey and how much she hated what she had done to her best friend... but he had no idea it went this deep. Gina, biting her nails while looking over Mark's shoulder, stepped back and started pacing in the back room they occupied together. "So you like it?" she said, almost pleadingly. "Like it? Hmmm... hmm ..hmmmm... heh... it's totally rad! I thought I'd have to write all the songs and you turn out the best one we've come up with yet! This is great!!!" he was so excited, he almost forgot to ask her a very important question, "Gina," he looked up at her with sad blue eyes, "are you gonna be okay with this, I mean, you know, like, with all the things that happened and stuff?" Seeing the true concern in her friend's puppy-dog eyes, Gina smiled, leaned over and kissed him on the cheek gently. "You're sweet, Mark. Thank you for asking; yes it's something I need to do," she smiled again as he grinned from ear to ear. Leaping up he grabbed her by the waist, spun her around, and as they both laughed, he spoke, "Alright!!! We got ourselves our first song! Yeah!!!" *************************** "Okay," Chris crumpled his brows in concentration, "from fifty, the change is thirteen seventy-three," he handed the cash over to the pretty young girl in front of him, and smiled at her, "you have yourself a good day, 'kay?" "Thanks... I will... thanks a lot," the young brunette stammered as she blushed, backing away from the counter, turning to her friends; all four of whom started to giggle profusely. Chris wasn't paying any attention, though, as he scratched his goatee in confusion. Now, he thought... nine ninety and seventeen twenty... his thoughts were interrupted suddenly by a smack on the head (this was becoming somewhat of a signature greeting). Debra, having skipped up the till and seen the transaction, had to tease the poor lad. She leaned over and said, while staring at the small throng of teeny-boppers that were finally getting ready to leave, "Looks like you got a fan club," she grinned and waved at the girls as they quickly exited the store at Deb's appearance by Chris' side. Squinting through the light of the midday sun, he stared after the girl he'd just helped. "She's, like, fifteen, Debra, that's sick! I'm almost ten years older than 'er," he replied in a tone of voice that would suggest a spider had landed on his food. But Debra couldn't resist, "Yeah, she is now, but wait five years, she'll be twenty, you'll still be your studdly self...." she stopped and laughed that low throaty laugh that made Chris weak in the knees. This time, though, Chris was ready. "Yeah, maybe you're right. Five years ain't that long after all... I mean, Berko only left like, what, three weeks ago, and I know you'll be waiting for 'im when he gets back from his tour," this time it has his turn to laugh. Chuckling under his breath he continued, "you could be his main groupie!! Think of the possibilities, you could..." he stopped instantly as he looked up and saw the expression on Debra's face. It was hard, cold, and void of any emotion. She just stood there, arms crossed over her chest, staring at Chris for an uncomfortably long time. In time she stepped right up to his face, looking him straight in the eyes. "Don't ever talk to me about that again... it's none of your fucking business," she said in a low, harsh monotone voice Chris had never heard from her before, "we broke up months ago and I'm not his 'chippie', waiting desperately until he comes back. I'll never be like that again... EVER!!" she yelled, punched her terminal, grabbed her till, and walked off. Chris watched her leave, even after she booted open the doors to the back room, almost knocking over a poor, and highly confused, Mark. Almost losing his till, Mark, spun around, looked after Deb, then looked up at Chris with a "what-the-hell's-the-matter-with-her" expression. Chris, trying to force down the lump of regret and mild anger in his throat, just looked down at his keyboard, and then smiled at the next customer. The man was buying gifts for his daughter and just wanted directions around the store as to where he could find a compact disk by some group called "The Spice Girls?" By the time he'd pointed out the whereabouts to the next brilliant British Invasion band, Mark had reached the counter and was cashing into his till. "So, like, what happened to Deb, huh?" Mark asked in a concerned voice. Often playing the roll of the "Store Peacekeeper", Mark was always worried about his friends. He had a cheery and happy-go-lucky disposition, which belied most people into thinking he was just a burnt-out goofball. But his pals knew him better. He was one hell of a smart guy, and he could see right through a lie as if it was a glass pane. He looked up again at Chris, who hadn't said a word, and simply shrugged to himself. Chris finally answered, clearing his throat first, "I dunno, I think I pissed her off. She was teasing me about this group of high-school girls, and then I tried a comeback: telling her she could be Berko's..." "Oh, hmmm.. heh.. you shouldn't talk to her about him, Chris. There's some really bad mojo between them and, in case you haven't noticed, Deb isn't the type of person who you can just, like, spark up a personal conversation with. She has to start it, you know? Otherwise, she feels put on the spot and trapped, 'n stuff like that. She's always been like that, though. But she's gettin' a lot better. Just a hard habit to crack is all." Seeing Chris look over to the back room, then out the window towards the sun, something dawned on Mark, that had been nagging at him for a week or so, about Chris, but he couldn't nail it until now. "You really love her, huh?" "WHAT!?!?!?" Chris spun around looking to see if anybody noticed his nice calm reaction. Satisfied that everyone was ignoring the two clerks in search of the perfect CD, Chris just gazed at Mark in awe, "how... w.. what would make you think that, man? I don't even know her that well? Why would I fall for some chick who keeps smackin' me on the head back of the as a 'hello, how are you'? Who constantly teases me? Wh... who... is so absolutely beautiful, sweet, and perfect that I can hardly speak in her very presence?" he said as he let his head fall against the monitor of his register. Banging it again and again, Mark finally grabbed, Chris' head and lifted it off the monitor. "Don't, like, freak out about it, dude. It's not like anybody knows or nothin', and I sure as hell ain't gonna tell anyone - even if Debra asked me to my face," he looked over at Chris, with an upturned eyebrow, and said, "unless you wanted me to tell her?" There was silence for a bit, Chris looked at Mark and smiled a crooked smile, replying, "ONLY if she asks you!" "You got it, dude," Mark wore the biggest grin Chris thought possible of a human being, "Ah love... Thou dost call me..." Both young men started laughing so hard the customers, once again, wondered if they shopped at Empire Records for the prices, the great service, or the great entertainment on the part of its staff. *********************** "Fuck!! Fuck!! Fuck!!!" Deb was hitting her head hard against the mirror repeatedly. Hard enough, in fact, that when Gina locked the door behind her so they could be alone in the bathroom, she was afraid Deb would break it. God knows she's had enough bad luck, Gina thought, seven more years would kill her. Gina came up slowly, behind Debra, taking soft deliberate steps as not to frighten her. This situation would have been unheard of three months ago, but since "the day" - the day Lucas threw away $9,104 in a desperate (some would say insane) attempt to save his favorite place on earth - the day Debra came in, shaved her head, and revealed the attempt to kill herself - the day they all pulled together and helped Joe and Lucas get the store from that asshole, Mitch - since that day, Debra and Gina had steadily been growing closer and closer together. When Corey left, all three of them had been friends, but Gina was Corey's best friend forever. Debra and Gina gradually became even better, then the best of friends. They understood each other. The darker side that seemed to follow them around. Debra understood why Gina did what she did with Rex; Gina understood why Deb shaved her head and tried to kill herself. Both understood that self-destructive side of themselves, the hidden secrets and shames - and neither judged; they just accepted and offered support. So when Gina finally had gotten behind Deb, who had stopped banging her head, and was just holding it against the mirror, cradles in her arms, Gina knew what had happened. "What'd you say to him?" Gina asked calmly, sitting down on the toilet seat lid. Deb shook her head as if to avoid the question and the reality of what happened. Gina pressed. "You know he won't hold it against you, Debra. He's too sweet. He never says anything bad about any of us, even when we're complete jerks to each other, and to him." Deb let her arms fall. Sighing, she turned around, head still leaning against the mirror and faced her new best friend. "I think I scared him off. He brought up Berko as a joke, 'cause I was teasing him, as usual. But hearing Chris say his name just didn't sit right. It fucking sucked! Berko is not a bad guy, but he really hurt me Gina, you know that. I just don't want to fall into any traps again." Deb closed her eyes, thought softly of Chris' beautiful crooked smile, his sweet sense of humor, his honesty... I don't want to get hurt again, she thought. Rising off her seat, Gina strode towards her friend and brushed back the newly growing brown hair, she smiled, "It's coming in nicely, Deb," she mused, but continued with what she new needed to be said. "You know damn well that you're going to get hurt one way or another, if not here then somewhere else," Gina reached her hands out and Debra fell into them, her head resting on Gina's shoulder, "that's why we have friends to look out for us and love us." The two friends rocked back and forth in their embrace until Debra's soft sobbing came to an end and she could smile again. ************************* Lisa came up the side of the store she'd been "recommended" to work at. Her shiny, black Doc Martins, clumped in the dusty gravel, as she looked up at the structure. From the alley it didn't look like much, that's for sure, she thought. Several paintings caught her eye, however. At first she had thought they were just graffiti, but upon closer inspection she noticed it was much more. The back entrance, or at least she assumed that's what the door with the wastebasket full of cardboard boxes was, looked steel, solid, and grey. It was surrounded by many paintings of various things, one was a cartoon devil, and she could make out celebrities, musicians actually, that had been rendered in perfect form. Wow, I'm no fan of Gloria Estefan but whoever painted that is amazing!!! she thought to herself. By now she'd stopped, her travel pack slung around her shoulder, and was standing in the dust she'd recently kicked up. She reminded herself that it was only an interview... there'd be more if she blew it. But something inside her was really scared, scared she wouldn't get this job. Fuck this, she thought, and started even faster around the corner, to the front of the building. Again she was taken by surprise. Now this place has style, she mused again, and smiled inwardly. Just the sight of the huge, somewhat ominous, neon sign at the top: "Empire Records" and just below that "Since 1959", made her both scared and excited. She hitched up her faded bluejeans, which were too big for her slim 5'4" frame, straightened her dark red T-shirt underneath her large long-sleeved over-shirt, a dark grey piece, almost a sweater in fact, that was also too big for her. She'd also noticed that her stupid, cheap underwear was riding up, so she had to subtly deal with that situation as well. In fact, she smiled, the only thing that really seemed to fit her was her bra and boots. "Oh well," she said out loud to herself as she edged around the corner and peered in through the window to grab a look inside. The midday sun made it difficult, shining off the glass plate as it did, but she managed to catch some shadow that allowed her to look in. "Holy shit...." she murmured to herself in awe, "this place is great!" Too loud, she knew she'd said the words as a couple, an older lady and man, gave her a look of disdain. Lisa just smiled and ignored them. She looked in again, searching for the people she hoped she would be working for. A couple seconds later her eyes fell on the front counter area. It wasn't too busy so she got a good look at the three people standing around it, doing various chores to kill time. First she saw this huge black dude. He had dreadlocks down to his shoulders and a well-trimmed goatee. As far as similarities to most of the "home-boys" she knew went, that's where they ended. His muscular frame was hidden underneath a large red T-shirt that said something she couldn't make out. What she could make out was the bleeding cross and the death heads. I wonder what band that's from? Lisa pondered to herself, interested in many forms of music, she thought it looked like a death metal band shirt. Another look she could see his black combat-style pants (cool! she thought), and as he came around the front of the counter, she noticed his big, shiny black boots. A pair of black suspenders, that hung down around his knees, and a large silver chain that went from his belt to his pocket, with all the slack falling in a half ellipse past his pocket completed the ensemble. Man, she grinned, at least they seem cool. The next person she came across was possibly the most beautiful young woman she had ever seen in her life. She held her breath at the sight of the very slim blond with a gorgeous red skirt and a stunning black, silk blouse. The top was almost a lacey-type pattern, the fabric covering just enough, but also subtly revealing more. She wore big-soled, open toed shoes, which probably added an inch or two to her height. Lisa just gazed at her. The blond girl was so beautiful she wasn't too sure if she could even work with her. And then she saw the kicker of them all. A skinny, smiling, hyper guy who was constantly laughing and keeping the other two in stitches! He was wearing a blue and green psychedelic shirt that hung almost to the middle of his thighs, with long, wide jeans and white skater-style shoes. He had beautiful red-brown hair and she could see the gleam in his happy, green eyes from here. Lisa found her pulse veritably racing! She was breathing very deeply and too fast. She felt almost as if she'd pass-out, but soon she got her hyperventilating under control. "I think I'm in love," she said aloud, not caring at the stares she collected for the comment. Now she was truly scared. I have to get this job!!! She stood in the shadow for a couple more minutes, building her courage and forcing up her "I don't take shit" attitude she always used for protection. She'd been hurt too many times to let her guard slip now just because of a beautiful blond and the most handsome, cute, and friendly-looking guy she'd ever seen. No fuckin' way! she yelled at herself inside. Hiking up her pack, she went towards the doors, pulled them open... and started into what would be the most interesting part of her life. *********************** end chapter 2 ************************
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