She's Not There

She's Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan Read Free Book Online

Book: She's Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jennifer Finney Boylan
Tags: Fiction
phone rang. I picked it up.
    â€œHello?”
    â€œHello? Is this Jim Boylan?”
    â€œYes, this is me,” I said. I didn’t recognize the voice. “Who’s this?”
    â€œIt is?” the voice said. There were other voices in the background, laughing. “It’s Boylan?”
    â€œYeah,” I said.
    â€œYou’re a fag, man.”
    He hung up.
    I stood there holding the phone. Somebody somewhere was having a big old time.
    I put the phone back in the cradle, picked up my orange Hi-C and bourbon. It wasn’t the kind of phone call you wanted to get, actually.
    Grampa looked at me from the wall.
That kid on the phone
, Grampa said.
He’s right.
    I walked across the room and sat at the piano. I put the glass on the windowsill behind me.
    â€œGood evening, everyone,” I said. “It’s great to be back here in Philadelphia.”
    I blew into a microphone that wasn’t there. “Check, check,” I said. “One two. One two. Check.”
    I looked out into the audience. “Well, all right,” I said. “I said, yeah.”
    The audience said,
Yeah.
    Then I started playing “Mrs. Robinson” in the key of G. I did a long crazy jam before I went into the main riff. When the audience recognized what tune I was playing, they went nuts. People in the front row were standing on their chairs.
    We’d like to know a little bit about you for our files. . . .
Thank you. Thank you very much.
    There was a screeching of tires in the front driveway, a car engine revving, then falling silent. Footsteps came up the stone stairs. The doorbell rang. A moment after that, the knocker that no one used was swinging.
    I got up and opened the door. A girl with nine fingers was standing there.
    â€œYou’re Boylan?” she said. “The piano player?”
    â€œOnion,” I said.
    â€œYou got it,” she said. She fell forward across the threshold. Onion was very drunk. I could see that her car was parked half off the driveway. One of my mother’s azaleas lay crushed beneath the tires of her Camaro. Snow had dusted the front porch.
    â€œI’m glad you’re here,” I said. My heart was pounding in my shirt. “I didn’t know if you were going to make it.”
    â€œSure I’m going to make it,” Onion said, annoyed. “Why wouldn’t I make it?” She took off her orange down coat and dropped it onto a chair in the living room. She sized things up. “Jeez what a place you got here. Gives me the fuckin’ creeps.”
    â€œIt’s creepy all right,” I said. I was still looking at her. She had long blond hair. Onion was wearing blue jeans and a tight black top. It was definitely something I’d have looked good in.
    â€œWas that you playing?” she said. She was looking at the piano.
    â€œYeah,” I said. The fruit juice and bourbon was sitting on the windowsill.
    â€œSounded good,” she said. “It’s good to play something.”
    Onion walked over to the piano and let her hands fall on the keys with a tremendous clang. The noise was startling, and I was annoyed at her careless disregard for the instrument.
    â€œHa ha ha,” said Onion. “What a hoot.”
    She banged the keys again, letting her fingers skitter randomly up and down the keyboard.
    â€œCan I get you something?” I said, trying to move her away from the piano. “Are you thirsty?”
    â€œYeah, sure,” Onion said. She got up again. “What do you got?”
    We walked into my parents’ kitchen. “I’m drinking bourbon,” I said.
    â€œWhoa,” said Onion. “Hard-core.” She looked at me as if for the first time. There was more light in the kitchen. “Hey, you’re cute,” she said. “You look like my sister.”
    I thought about this for a while. “Thank you,” I said.
    â€œYou know how to make a daiquiri?” Onion

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