Lovin Touchin Squeezin
Four oíclock Friday, when every guyís fancy turns to getting off of work and thoughts of the weekend. And Steve Perry was no different in that regard. He gets back up into the forklift and starts it up. He has to move it to the other side of the warehouse and hook it up to the charges and then he will be ready to get the hell out of dodge. This warehouse is big and itsí a good ten minute drive to the other side. As he drives by, people wave at him and he waves back. Everybody yelling at everybody else to have a nice weekend. Steve has been at this warehouse for a year and a half now, and driving this forklift for six months. He was talked into it by his boss. His boss told him he would make more money if he drove a forklift so why not. Money is money and itís not hard, push the lever forward and it goes forward, push the lever backwards and it goes backwards. Simple.
Driving a forklift is alright, but itís not his lifeís ambition. Thatís why he joined the band, Alien Project. Heís known these guys for sometime and he wants to be a singer. Heís been trying but it is difficult. Stymied at every turn it seems, but this time might be the charm. They have allot of material, allot of songs and their manager, God bless him, got them a chance to record a demo in Los Angeles this very weekend. The minute Steve heard he was so happy he ran though his apartment celebrating. He was sure he woke up the whole neighborhood. He knows that he woke up Nancy, his girlfriend, she was none too pleased.
Steve rounds the corner and he sees Tony standing out in the middle of the floor holding his jacket out to the side like a bullfighter. A routine they do everyday about this time. Steve stops, he pulls the lever forward and backwards like a bull getting ready to charge. Then he pushes the lever forward & he heads towards Tony. Tony is doing the bullfighters dance holding his jacket out in front of him. Steve goes passed him and Tony pulls the jacket back.
"Olay!" Tony says.
Steve turns around to make another pass at Tony when Jerry, their boss comes out of his office and he takes the cigar out of this mouth long enough just to say.
"Hey you two characters! What have I told you in the past!? Thou shall not play with the equipment!!! Steve! Tony!"
Jerry puts the cigar back into his mouth and he goes back into his office and he shuts the door. Steve stops and backs the forklift into its spot. He and Tony hook it up to the chargers.
"Steve do you want to go out and grab a beer or two?" Tony asks.
"Sorry Tony but I am going to Los Angeles this weekend. You remember the demo record! Iím leaving right after I leave here." Steve says.
"Steve, man are you driving your car to LA?" Tony asks.
"Come on Tony! I donít think my car would make it that far! No Iím going to Rogerís apartment and Iíll ride with him." Steve says.
"Good luck man! Hey are you going to do that song called ĎIf You Need Me, Call Meí?" Tony asks and Steve nods his head. Tony pats Steve on the back as he says,
"Thatís a good song man!!! I love it. I better go! Have a great weekend in LA. Hey is Nancy going?"
"I wish she could go but she canít get away from work." Steve says rather sadly.
"Bummer man! See you on Monday!!!" Tony waves goodbye as he walked out of the door. Steve puts his gloves in his back pocket as he turns and walks over to Jerryís office. Steve knocks and he sees Jerry motion for him to come in through the glass. Steve goes in and sits down. Jerry was a good boss, easy going, east to talk to. He didnítí mind if you played around as long as you got your work done, and if you needed to take an hour for lunch that was fine with him. Jerry used to be a football player for the San Diego Chargers. There are pictures all over the all of him and old teammates. Jerry is a big guy and he takes no crap from anybody. He looks scary but heís not really. Heíll shake your hand until y our shoulder is dislocated and heíll look you straight in the eye and tell you how it is. Steve knows, heís been on the receiving end of allot of his handshakes. Jerryís favorite saying is ĎDonít worry about ití.
"Jerry, I may be late on Monday. Is that alright?" Steve asks.
"Just take Monday off Steve." Jerry says as he leans back in his chair. Steve fidgets and he runs his hands through his hair.
"Jerry, I couldnít afford to doÖ.."
"Steve, donít worry about it. Iíll take care of it. Good luck in LA by the way. See you Tuesday, alright?"
"Yeah, thanks, Jerry. You have a nice weekend!"
"You too Steve."
Steve stands up and heads for the door, but before he gets to it he stops and points to the picture on Jerryís desk.
"Hey Jerry howís your daughter?" Steve asks with a grin on his face. Jerry looks at him and he removes his cigar and he points to Steve and he says
"The same as yesterday Steve. Sheís fine and sheís still too young for you! Try back in about eight years maybe. Give or take."
Steve nods his head and he laughs as he goes out of the door. Steve goes over to his locker and he takes his stuff out, his jacket and his lunch box. He puts his jacket on and he takes his car keys out of his pocket as he heads for the door.
Steve gets to Rogerís apartment at about 5:30. Steve pulls up into a visitorís parking space and he takes his stuff out of his car just as Roger comes out of his apartment carrying his bags and such. Steve asks if he needs any help.
"Where were you about an hour ago?" he asks and Steve shrugs his shoulders and laughs. They put everything in the trunk of Rogerís car and they head out for LA.
They take turns driving. Roger drives first then Steve takes over for the last half of the trip. Steve has the car radio on low as not to disturb Roger who is sleeping in the back. As the miles roll away, Steve thinks back on how crazy his life has been for the last two years. It has been allot of hard work just to get to this point. Damn. He never thought he would ever see it progress this far. A real band making a real demo, in LA no less. How their manager was able to pull this off they had no idea. They were all stunned. Their manager said that he had no friend that owed him a favor.
For as long as he can remember singing is all he wanted to do. Actually music in general is all he ever wanted to do. He caught the bug early he guesses. He remembers a time in school when they had career day. They ask you what you want to do and of course the other kids said stuff like fireman, doctor, lawyer, the usual stuff but then the teacher asked Steve and he said he wanted to be a singer. Well of course that gained allot of laughter form the other kids. The teacher didnít laugh though. She encouraged him, as his family has, especially his Mother. If that is what you want to do, then you should do it. And he has been trying ever since. Steve can play the drums, the bass and the piano. His very first bank he played the drums but now he has moved up to being the singer. Steve rolls down the window a little to get some fresh air. His friend, Roger got him in this band. When he auditioned for the guys, he thought it went well, but when he had finished singing, there was silence. He looks out into the audience and saw wide-eyed expressions then all of a sudden the applause started. They hired him right there and from there it has been a wild roller coaster ride. They have been playing mostly nightclubs, heck, anyplace they can play they play. Some good places and some bad places. Places that were so bad Steve was booed off the stage. One place was actually a strip club. Steve was distracted numerous times and the people only cared about the girls and not them, and certainly not about him singing. Roger even covered Steveís eyes a few times. Telling him he was too young and innocent to see some of this stuff. Steve would laugh and tell Roger that he was years too late. Hostile crowds. He was no stranger to them. Most of the time he didnít feel like a lead singer, he felt like a human target up there on that stage.
The last six months have been real crazy. All he has time for is work and the band. He has to make appointments with himself to breathe thatís how busy he has been, and Nancy is not liking it one bit. Sheís not subtle, she speaks her mind, she is not one of those shy, retiring types. Thereís been a few times that Steve has been off daydreaming and for Nancy to get his attention she would have to slap him on the back of the head a few times.
They have been together about a year and a half now. Almost two years actually. It has been many things but never boring. They have yelled and screamed at each other, ranted and raved, and did the usual stuff that couples do. Steve knows that he is not easy to live with sometimes, but who is. With his job and the band and her job, an assistant manager at a restaurant, they hardly have time to see each other. Most of the time they end up seeing each other only in bed or the occasional scene in the shower. Well thatís not too bad. Steve, around the apartment is known as the Ďstrangerí and Nancy is referred to as the Ďstrangerís girlfriendí. He tells her to, Ďhang in there Nan, itíll get better.í His favorite saying of the month.
They met purely by accident. Steve was going home from work one day, it was winter and it gets dark early. It was 5:30 and the lights on the highway were starting to come on. He was two exits from home when he passed, stopped on the shoulder, a car with itís hood up, he really didnít pay any attention until he saw the woman standing next to it looking under the hood. Winter. Dark. Broken down car. Damsel in distress. So Steve being Steve pulled up onto the shoulder and backed up until he was right in front of her. He knows from experience what itís like to be stranded.
He was kind and polite. She was surprised that anybody even stopped to help. He introduced himself, Steve Perry. And she was Nancy Collins. He looked her car over, had her try and start it. It was reluctant, bordering on wouldnít and finally it didnít. Steve determined the alternator was shot.
Nancy looked at her watch and gasped. She was going to be late for work. Steve offered to drive her anywhere she needed to go. He didnít want to leave her stranded out there on the side of the road. She looked skeptical. Nancy looked at Steve and thought that he looked cute. Long, dark hair past his shoulders, hazel eyes, dressed in jeans and an old t-shirt, wearing a jacket, hands in the pockets. She was cute he thought. Medium length light brownish blonde hair, light eyes, a nice figure. Wearing a pullover shirt, with some sort of logo on it, and khaki pants. She probably has me pegged as some sort of psycho he thinks. A strange guy, stopping to help her, and offers to give her a ride. Steve puts the hood down on her car and tells her he understands if she feels uncomfortable about leaving with him. She could always stay here. Thereís a call box just a few feet up. Itís up to you, Steve says to her.
Nancy thinks about it. She looks at the car. She looks up the highway at the call box. She has no way to call work and tell them what has happened. She looks at Steve. She picks Steve.
Steve takes her to the restaurant where she works. A family diner sort of place. Nancy gives Steve a card with her name on it and tells him to come back anytime and sheíll see to it that heíll get a free meal as her thanks. He said she didnít have to thank him, he liked helping, he can relate. But he said he would come back. She shuts his car door and she goes into the restaurant. Steve heads off for home.
Friday the band was playing a gig not too far from the restaurant. So when they finished, Steve went to the restaurant. It was late but according to the card that Nancy gave to Steve, they have late hours. Steve doesnít usually eat before a show, itís not nerves itís just having all that food in his system, so he waits and eats after.
Steve goes in and finds a booth. The waitress comes over and he asks if Nancy is there. She says yes and goes off into the kitchen. A second or so later Nancy comes out of the kitchen with the waitress. Nancy points in Steveís direction and says something to her. Nancy goes back into the kitchen and the waitress once again comes over and hands Steve a menu. She tells him order anything on the house and Nancy will be out shortly. Steve orders and awhile later Nancy brings it out to him. Nancy sits with him and they talk, finding out a little bit more about each other.
They are about the same age and she was born and raised in California, just like Steve. He tells her that he works in a warehouse and heís in a band. She asks what instrument does he play and he says heís the lead singer. Steve tells her that they are playing right up the street and if she wants, she can come tomorrow night and listen to them. Steve will walk over and take her there. Nancy laughs and Steve looks at her. Was he asking her out on a date? Already? Steve laughs and says that he guess that he was, so she agreed to go. Steve asks about her car. He was right, it was the alternator and she had it fixed. It was expensive but she needs her car. Steve agrees, but he can usually fix whatever is wrong with his.
She asks him about his band. What kind of music do they play? Everything. She likes music. Steve looks around the restaurant; he asks how long sheís been working there. Two years now and business is slowing down. That worries her she says. They talk for another hour or so. Nancy tells Steve that itís closing time. He had no idea that they have been talking this long. Steve tells her heíll come by tomorrow and take her to the show.
Saturday night and Sunday night Nancy goes to the nightclub that Steve and his band are playing at. After one show Nancy pulls Steve to the side and asks him why, if he can sing so wonderfully, does he work in a warehouse. Steve replies because he likes to eat and have a roof over his head. Steve tells her when this band Ďgets discoveredí he will quit the warehouse job, but for nowÖ.it pays the bills.
Before both of them know it, four months have passed and Steve goes to see her when he can. Mostly at the restaurant. They go to the movies and to see Steveís band play. Heís been to her apartment a couple of times. Thereís nothing romantic about this, yet, but Steve doesnít mind. Heís too caught up in the music thing right now, and Nancy is preoccupied with her job situation. One night Steve goes to see her and Nancy tells him what she has feared is going to happen. The restaurant is closing. In about two weeks she will be out of a job. To make matter worse, they are raising the rent on her apartment, she can barely afford it now. Her neighborhood is not rent controlled.
Steve gets a crazy idea. It pops in and out of his head. She wonít go for it, forget it Steve. Nancy knows something is going on. What she asks him. Steve takes a deep breath. Steve tells her that he has an extra room at his apartment. Actually the room is a big closet but the apartment people called it a den or extra room. Anyway, you can more in with me and we split all the expenses in the middle. There was a guy at work that was suppose to move in with him but the guy reneged leaving Steve hanging. If it makes her feel any better, he can put a lock on the door to the room. He tells her that heís not there very often anyhow. He is either at work or with the band, playing or rehearsing. Here lately all he does is sleep there.
Purely platonic. Friends. Roommates. Itíll help you and itíll help me. She promised to think on it.
(to be continued)
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