Scott and Sonja had been a NY celebrity item for nine months, long enough to have had:
…four conversations about who was more famous: Sonja, the svelte 23-year-old fashion design sensation or Scott, the acclaimed musical enfant terrible with the shaggy hair and plaintive green eyes
…code names for at least three substances illegal in NYC
…37 cabs to and from gigs, dive bars, art openings, and fashion week events
…six drunken break-up fights
…two studio sessions when Sonja sang backup vocals on Scott’s most recent release (the producer buried her voice in the mix so only fans who read the liner notes knew she was on the record at all)
…one adopted cat they named Rufus after the disco band.
Scott pulled at Sonja’s sleeve and whispered: “Can we please go in the back. I’m in dire need of some Whitney.” Tonight they were drinking at The Salinger, a lower East Side haunt recently renovated and reopened by Scott’s friend Tim, a drummer with family money.
Sonja gave him a fake-disgusted look. “I hate when you call it that. Just say you are in dire need of…cocaine.” She whispered the last word, reached into her Louis Vuitton bag, and fished around, stopping with a grin when she found what she was looking for inside. “You love the cocaine, the c-c-cocaine,” she said, laughing. Sonja did the last bit in her best ’80s rock voice.
Scott hopped off the stool and followed Sonja to the vintage phone booth in the back that they used as their Whitney rendezvous spot. Sonja closed the door behind her and brushed Scott’s hair out of his eyes. “You are so fucking sexy,” she said.
Scott gave her a sleepy grin and kissed her on the mouth, tracing his hand down the back of her asymmetrical chiffon dress. It was one of her own designs, from the controversial “Allah-Cart” line, with plenty of fripperies and not a practical bone in its Holly-Golightly structure.
Sonja pulled out a baggie of Whitney and poured some on her palm. This was how they always did it: big, obscene bumps off her hand. Lines were for actors. Both high, they stood up in the booth and Scott grabbed her hands. He held them up above her head and pushed her against the wall of the booth, licking her lips with his tongue, swallowing the cocaine drip.
Scott turned Sonja around and began kissing the left side of her long neck while placing his right hand between her legs. “Easy there, tiger,” she said and took his hand away. “You always get like this when you’re high.” She straightened his denim jacket and kissed him, lingering, before patting him on the shoulder and exiting the booth.
Tim was pouring at the bar so the drinks kept coming. Scott returned to his seat holding court over a few bandmates and glad-handers while a Pandora classic country mix played in the background.
“The record is the best thing I’ve ever done,” he said, throwing back a Whiskey Sour. “Sonja is my good luck charm. We just make each other…better.” He leaned over to the stool next to him and kissed Sonja’s cheek.
She laughed and moved onto his lap. “Well, you’re a fucking brilliant songwriter. I have to work a little harder at what I do.” A Patsy Cline tune came on and Sonja began to sway. Inspired by the cocaine and the ache in Cline’s voice, she moved to the dancefloor, stretching her willowy arms out and twirling as colorful lights chased each other over her body. “I’m crazy for trying,” she sang, belting out the words with a preschooler’s confidence.
Scott’s current bassist, an oafish guy named Rex, snickered into his balled fist.
Scott, wired on Whitney, was on his feet, eyes flashing. “What the fuck was that?” Scott asked.
“I’m not a fucking idiot, Rex. I saw you laughing at my girl. Sonja’s a fucking artistic genius. What the fuck are you?” He pushed him with both hands and Rex stumbled, lost his balance, and finally steadied himself against the coat rack. “When have you done anything original? You didn’t even notice that I replayed all your bass parts on the record.”
Rex had a good six inches on his bandleader and was very drunk. Without a word, he walked to Scott and punched him in the face. “Fucking scenester,” Rex said as he ground the recent SPIN magazine cover boy’s cheek into the bar. Scott laughed as his face went numb, even more numb than the drugs had made it earlier. Under Rex’s massive hand, he saw Sonja spinning in her handmade dress, still singing at the top of her lungs.
Ari Rosenschein is a Seattle-based writer whose work appears in Stratus, Observer, PopMatters, Lunch Ticket, The Junction, From Sac and elsewhere. Ari earned a BA in Theater Arts from UC Santa Cruz and completed the University of Washington’s nonfiction writing certificate program. He is currently working towards his MFA at Antioch Los Angeles. A lifelong musician, Ari has released albums as a solo artist and as a member of The Royal Oui. He works at KEXP radio as Development Communications Manager.