I met Zooey earlier this summer, at the best bar in downtown HB, Gallagher’s—an Irish pub and restaurant with brown wood and a halo of televisions, an internet jukebox that hangs on the wall by the bathroom, and a small stage in the back corner for music and stand-up comedy. Gallagher’s is off Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, a hundred yards from the HB pier. I can still smell the beer and whiskey, and their delicious roast beef wafting over the patio’s Plexiglas wall, and into the lurid streets of Surf City.
One Friday night a couple of months ago, Zooey appeared out of nowhere.
She was outside on the patio, at a roundtable with her legs stretched out. Her black, high-top Chuck Taylors rested on another chair, despite the place being crowded. Her hair was still bright red, not yet faded to pink, and cut just above her shoulders. She wore a black sailor hat that shadowed her dark blue eyes, and her pupils were no bigger than the end of a ballpoint pen. Under faded black jeans and a black Gun Club t-shirt ripped to shreds, her skin was pale like the summer moon and covered with more tattoos than most mothers would approve of.
I stood above her and drank my beer and smoked my cigarette. Then, she said a word I’ll never forget.
Now, it was my turn.
“Hey,” I said, not at all satisfied with my idiotic reply. Still, I was captivated. I had never seen such crass beauty.
“How ya doin’?”
“Good, I’m … ”
She stuck out her hand while I choked on my words. “I’m Zooey.”
“Hi, Zooey,” I said, with a dash of uncertainty in my voice, “I’m Jonny.”
She giggled. “You sure about that, Jonny?”
“Yeah, pretty sure,” I said and smiled an awkward smile.
Then Zooey leaned my way and whispered in my ear, “You’re loaded, aren’t ya, Jonny?”
I leaned away to get a better look at her, and she smiled adorably. “Why yes, I am, and so are you, I see.”
She winked. “So Jonny, got any to share?”
I thought she’d never ask. “Sure do.”
She laughed and told me she loved that movie—a movie that starred Paul Rudd, I Love You Man. And I love you too, I thought.
“So, you got any fresh needles, Jonny?”
“Yep, in my van parked over on Atlanta, not too far at all,”
I said, then realized how shady that sounded.
“Okay, well … I guess that sounds creepy enough,” she said and smiled, thinking I was harmless.
**You have just read a piece of chapter 2 from my very first book that is now on sale. Here are the links for Barnes and Noble and Amazon and Vine Leaves Press (my publishers’ site with even more links and more amazing authors)**