Chapter 4 : Lily Is A Punk Rocker
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Lily is A Punk Rocker
As the final strains of London Calling died, Wendy leaned closer to Lily for a moment and shouted, "Are you having a good time?" Lily nodded so quickly and so emphatically that it looked as though her neck was going to snap.
"Okay," Wendy hollered, trying to be heard over the general din in the small concert venue. "I'm going for a drink, do you want anything?" Lily shook her head like she didn't care if her head snapped off and went sailing across the room. Wendy grinned at her friend's reckless happiness and began pushing her way through the crowd.
She surfaced some minutes later just shy of the bar. She'd learned years ago that it didn't take all elbows, just a few well-placed firm pushes and nudges and shoves. She'd also learned to dodge the elbows of the various less enlightened denizens of the club, which was helpful since some of them were huge and their various jabs resulted in enormous ugly bruises that were more purple then her hair. Wendy finally broke through the crowd and slammed both of her hands down on the bar, which would, in any other environment, have been the loudest sound in the room. The counter was made out of darkly stained, heavily beaten wood with rings where coasters should have been used.
"Hey!" she shouted, trying to get the barkeep's attention. She gave a little wave with her hand, trying to catch his eye. His eyes seemed to slip right over her. She moved to shout again, but someone stopped her.
"Love, he's not gonna see you like that," the stranger intoned, letting go of her right hand. Then he shouted, "Oi! You!"
The barkeep turned around immediately, "What'll you have?"
"Shot of whiskey," the stranger mouthed. It was hard to actually hear him speak. "You?" He turned toward her expectantly. He had grey eyes and the stubble of a beard had just started to spread over his face. His hair was straight and black, with a hint of a spike to it somewhere about the ends.
She turned toward the expectant bartender. "A beer, please."
"And polite too," remarked the stranger, "Ever been to a concert?"
"Yes. But my bartender back home just slides the drink when he sees me coming."
"My kinda girl," the man said with a smile, and he grabbed the whiskey that was just presented to him and up-ended it into his mouth without ceremony.
Wendy grabbed his drink and started to rifle her pockets for something to pay with, but the man just shook his head and yelled to the barman, "Her drink's on me. See you around, Lilac."
"Thanks," she answered and she returned to Lily with the faint beginnings of a full blown smile on her face. She took a swig of her drink and sang along with the next song, nearly shouting so that she felt rather than heard her contribution to the general din.
"Were you talking to someone back there?" Lily yelled in her ear.
"Yeah. He was really cute!" she replied, grabbing Lily's arm to keep them both steady with all the moving bodies around them. They still had a definitely perceptable sway as they were knocked into by the various surrounding concert goers.
"Oh! I couldn't see him," Lily remarked, able to be heard without shouting on account of the break between the sets. The frontman, Joe Strummer, seemed to be gargling something which Wendy suspected must be salt water, since that was supposed to be good for the vocal chords. She had tried it once or twice, and it did work, but only for short periods of time. She would bet anything that by tomorrow the man would be croaking like a frog.
"And," Wendy began, continuing the previous conversation, "the mysterious stranger at the bar bought me a drink." She raised her glass as if to show off 'exhibit a' in a courtroom.
"Oooooh, he must think your hair's gorgeous, and want to marry you so that all of your children can have the exact same shade," Lily teased, trying to keep her face deadly serious but failing. She never could keep her right eyebrow from floating up somewhere near where her bangs ended. It gave her expression a stretched look like a balloon about to burst. In Lily's case though, it wouldn't have been hot air but gales of laughter spewing forth.
Wendy gave her friend a playful shove, which sent her bumping into a nearby patron, but he didn't seem to have noticed. His eyes were fixed on the stage with rapt interest as Mick Jones did a quick tune up of his guitar, carefully judging the sound of it with a couple of experimental strums. "So, Tigerlily, enjoying the concert?"
"Oh, yes! I haven't had this much fun since -" Lily halted and went bright pink.
"Since?" she prompted, leaning closer to her English pen pal as if trying to catch something that Lily might have mumbled. She gave her a hard stare of the kind a teacher gives a pupil to make them understand that there really is nothing for it but to tell the truth.
Lily sighed and relented, answering very quickly and breathily, "Since seventh year, when James and I went skinny dipping in the lake at school."
"What?! You! Breaking rules?" Wendy exclaimed incredulously. "I don't believe it. This from the girl who lectured me on the dangers of skipping class."
"Yes, well, as I recall that letter was sent in fifth year and I'd just been made a Prefect and I admit, I was a little condescending, but you really should've known better."
"A little condescending? You sounded like my father on a tirade after a bad day at work, only my grandad didn't interrupt you mid speech and remind you of the time you bought home a report card of all 'D's," Wendy rambled back, but her voice was drowned out by the music that had suddenly cranked up around them. Everyone standing by them, who had suddenly become a bit lethargic, hummed with energy again, dancing from foot to foot, excited to see more.
Lily danced along with them, and when the chorus came around the second time, she sang along. Wendy laughed, her voice lost amid the general confusion of noise in the place, but her happiness still shone through. The corruption of Lily Elizabeth Evans had begun, she thought. Her friend would be a punk rocker yet.
"Whew," breathed Lily, sitting down in the driver's seat of Wendy's uncle's BMW. "That was a good time." She threw it into gear and started to back out of the parking spot as Wendy buckled her seatbelt.
"Really?" Lily inquired a little disbelievingly, her eyebrow performing its famous face stretching trick, "Miss Rule Breaking Rebel wearing a seatbelt?"
"Safety first!" Wendy answered flippantly, flapping her hand at the wrist as if to wave off the teasing. "Shall we abscond blindly into the night?"
"Well, you'd better hope that I'm able to see, since I'm driving," Lily pointed out in an exceptionally smart allec-y tone. She flicked her hair over her shoulder in a prissy know it all way. Wendy felt that she might mention this thought to her somewhat high strung friend but she ultimately decided against it.
She just smiled and said, "Thanks for that. I don't think I'd have managed to get here otherwise and that would've been awful given I bought the tickets with my last pounds."
"What?" Lily replied quietly. "You did what?" She repeated it louder as if that would prompt a quicker answer from her still-silent friend.
"I used almost all of my savings just to get here, Tigerlily," Wendy answered guiltily, wishing that she hadn't revealed her newly poor-house status.
"What were you thinking? Were you even thinking? Wendy, how are you going to stay here for any length of time without money?" Lily's voice was becoming higher and more alarmed by the moment and Wendy turned up the radio, perhaps in a somewhat transparent attempt to drown her out a little bit.
"Well?" Lily demanded, raising her voice yet again and reaching over to turn the radio down lower.
"I told you. My uncle and I went to the government office and now I have permission to work in England and I've got four job interviews on Monday. I'm not completely irresponsible, Lily. And I did make it here in one piece. The tickets were cheap and will I remember buying groceries or going to a Clash concert in twenty years?" Wendy reached over and turned the radio back up, humming along to the tune of an older song by The Kinks.
Lily smacked her hand down hard on the wheel, "That's it!" she harped shrilly, and she punched off the radio with her left hand. "You've got to be more sensible, Wendy. You should think before you jump into these situations! You show up here with no story, with nothing but a guitar and the clothes on your back and you expect everything to pan out but that just isn't how life works! God! You've always been like this! Do you ever think about how your uncle will have to pay to keep you around? What the Hell were you thinking?"
"My granddad died, Lily."
Lily floundered for a moment, opening her mouth and closing it like a suffocating fish; finally she worked up the gumption to say, "What?"
"Yeah. He died." Her voice broke a little bit as she said it.
"Oh," Lily breathed, simply because there really wasn't much else to say. "I'm sorry." She'd added that almost as an afterthought.
"So am I, Lily." And there was no other sound but the road passing beneath them and the wind winding its way around the car. Wendy closed her eyes and leaned back until her head collided softly with the headrest, trying to summon a song from the track list in her brain that might make her feel better now.
"When did it happen?" Lily questioned, her voice was hardly any more then a whisper. Even in the quiet car, it was difficult to hear and decipher what she'd said.
"A few months ago. Just after I sent you that last letter about my new gig," Wendy droned. She sounded like that teacher with a monotone, stating the facts of some historical battle as though reading a grocery list.
"How did he -" Lily hesitated, not really sure if she should just go ahead and say it.
"Die? I'm not some china doll, Tigerlily. I can hear that word without absolutely breaking in half. He died in his sleep. The doctors said it was a stroke. He didn't wake up and if it hurt, he probably wasn't really aware of it."
"Well, that's good, right?" Wendy could almost feel Lily's eyes as they slid to look at her passenger. She put one hand in front of her face, as if shielding her eyes from a bright sunny day, but actually to protect it from the inquistion.
"Yeah. I guess."
"So, you ran away?"
"Don't play with me, Lily. You know exactly why."
"He didn't soften up any?"
"My father is a good for nothing prick."
"I'll take that as a no," Lily concluded. Once again, silence permeated the car, as Lily could seemingly find nothing to fill it and Wendy had absolutely no desire to help her out in that department. Both girls, though for different reasons, were exceptionally grateful when Wendy flicked the radio back on.
Lily, for her part, focused her eyes on the road, seemingly comtemplating what had just transpired. Wendy turned her face toward the window and tried desperately not to think about it at all. She tried to listen to the song instead. There was a scratch on the record that the station was using to play it or it sounded that way to her. It came in the form of an intermittent screeching noise. It was soft at first, but then it got a little louder and a little more besides. She pushed herself up out of her habitual slouch as if sitting up would make her a better listener.
"Do you hear that?"
"Hear what, Wendy?" Lily's tone had acquired a sort of softness to it.
"That shrieking in the engine. I think maybe we should pull off." Wendy fiddled with her rings, pulling the one on her index finger off and putting it back on again. She couldn't quite remember when she'd gotten this particular ring but she'd been wearing it so long that her hands felt incredibly bare without its familiar weight.
"I don't hear anything," Lily's brow had furrowed as if in concentration. For once, Wendy turned off the radio. The wheezing noise remained and it seemed to be coming from the engine.
"Pull off," she ordered more than requested. And strangely, Lily didn't look like she was going to argue. She just did as she was instructed. Luckily, she spotted a phonebooth on the next corner. She parallel parked next to it with a precision that Wendy could never have managed, even in a car with the driver's seat on the correct side.
"Stay here," Lily requested and she got out of the car, produced some coins from her pocket, and started to dial. Wendy couldn't hear what she was saying over the increasingly loud squealing from the engine. She watched as her friend shook her head no, seemingly arguing with the person on the other line and then as she smacked the palm of her hand into the window pane. Lily listened for a moment to the person on the other side and then suddenly opened the door and held the receiver out to the sound, scrunching up her face because she could hear it even more loudly now. Snatching the phone back, she put it up by her ear again and listened. They talked for another few minutes and then Lily beckoned to Wendy, obviously trying to get her to come to the phone.
"What? What is it?" Wendy asked, half talking to Lily and the other half to the receiver.
"Look, I'll send a wrecker for the car in the morning. You and Lily just Floo yourselves home, got it?" It was a grumpy male voice on the other side and there was something a little familiar about his voice, but Wendy couldn't place it. Instead, she smacked her hand over the receiver and turned to face Lily.
"He wants to send a wrecker for the car!" she whisper shouted.
Lily raised her eyebrows. "Is there a problem with that?"
"Yes," Wendy hissed, leaning closer to her friend.
"Why?" Lily asked, pushing her hair back behind her ears.
"Um," Wendy searched for words to explain this so that it didn't sound quite so bad. "My uncle kind of doesn't know that we borrowed the car."
There was a soft sound that followed this statement but neither girl could really determine its source. Finally, Lily grabbed the reciever and held it between their ears. The sound of someone barking out laughter could be heard on the other end.
"Alright, Lily," he chuckled finally, "But only because I'm awake already and because you're my best mate's fiancee. But no one gets told I worked on a stolen car. I run a reputable establishment, you know. Mustn't have the lovely constables sticking their noses where they don't belong..."
Wendy furrowed her brow, her expression clearly showing that she nearly believed that he was crooked. Lily giggled suddenly, "You're such a joker, Sirius."
The man on the other end cleared his throat, as if feeling awkward, and responded, "Great. See you soon, I guess." There was a click as the phone disconnected.
"Well, I guess that's that. Lily, how does one Floo?"
"I don't know what you're on about," Lily responded brusquely, "And shouldn't we be talking about the fact that you've stolen your uncle's car?"
"Did I really? I mean, if the keys were clearly out in the open and he didn't ever say I couldn't borrow the car, then why couldn't I?" Wendy put a heavy emphasis on the word 'borrow' and she put on her sunglasses, even though it was far past dark.
"Because it was wrong?" Lily argued, her tone once again taking a left turn at whiny and heading straight on to high pitched.
"Who says? If we get this thing fixed before dawn comes and my old uncle wakes and gathers his morning sludge, by which I mean coffee, and dresses in his drab librarian wear and gets his briefcase and looks for his keys and wakes me to help him look for his keys and doesn't succeed in getting my help and finally finds them and walks out into the drive way, we'll be fine."
"Is that you saying that we have plenty of time, because I feel like that's what you're saying or what you're trying to say," Lily speculated. "You know, I really wish you hadn't done this."
"My gramps used to say that all the time. But he always said it as he fixed whatever it was I did that was outrageous and crazy."
"Well, I've got this one. This, I can fix. But you're going to have to find someone with more patience if you intend to need cleaning up after all that often."
Wendy just shook her head, "We wouldn't have been able to get here if it weren't for my uncle's car. It was a sacrifice, but a necessary one."
"Finch, you are a mess. And absolute, unqualified mess."
"You know, Tigerlily, life is messy and complicated. And I may be a slob, but you, you are a neat freak. We just have two different points of view on the same issue, you see. It's a double edged sword."
"I don't think you used that phraseology correctly. I think you meant that it's a two sided coin. A double edged sword means it's dangerous on both sides," Lily pointed out, her tone didactic.
"Okay, so you know what I mean, when I don't? How is that even fair?"
"Just the way of the world, Wendy. You know, ever since you started calling my Tigerlily, I've been trying to come up with a nickname for you. But Wendy doesn't lend itself to that, exactly."
"Sorry, sugar. Can't help you there. Many have tried and failed. And some failed in an even greater way than others. Listen, is that wrecker coming soon, because if not, we're not making home before the crack of dawn when my old fashioned dinosaur of an uncle wakes up for his morning constitutional."
"Getting impatient? Shouldn't have stolen it then, eh? Now do you understand? At least we'd be assured of not getting caught."
"Really, Tigerlily? Because I feel like that wouldn't work out at all. We wouldn't have made the concert I spent my last dime on. And we wouldn't have the absolutely beautiful feeling of the adrenaline rushing through our collective veins."
"Collective? Who's collective, you and the frog in your pocket? Wendy, if we get caught, I'm telling your uncle it was all your idea. And I didn't even know about it until it was too late."
"Your word against mine. Who's gonna believe you?"
"Me?" Lily laughed, "Who's going to believe you? You're the one with the record of running off to strange and exotic places. Surely, you're uncle's going to think something's fishy. "
"Fishy? He never pulls his nose out of his books. He probably wouldn't even notice if I tattooed Rolling Stones lyrics on his forehead."
"Which ones would you pick?"
"The Stones have a lot of good songs. Which lyrics would you pick?"
"Probably a couple of lyrics from Paint it Black."
"Classy," Lily complimented. "Come on, then. Let's get to Sirius's."
"Why do your friends have such funny names?"
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by margo gabor