A/N: Wow. I think, by an odd twist of fate, this story will be ending in seven chapters just like ATLL. Oo Oh, and this is musical-based, FYI. So Roger and Mimi's first kiss was at the lot, if I'm not mistaken. I know in the movie they made it clear it was in the back of Life, but they weren't so clear in the musical...Anybody wanna clarify which it is?
This chapter rated PG-13 for language.
Where Is My Life Going? – Chapter Seven
Even though I could not participate in the entire event, I was able to hear accounts of it from all those I had help me out.
The plan started a Saturday night, about three days after I had called everybody. Mimi and Roger were in her apartment, and (just as I had hoped) Roger was sitting around just doing nothing. Mimi says she was a good actress, but I heard others say that when they saw her earlier he probably guessed something was up early on.
"Hey, Roger, do you wanna play a game?" Mimi smiled at Roger expectantly.
Roger looked up from his guitar, his fingers still playing the song. "...What?"
"A game! Come on, you need to cheer up!"
Roger raised an eyebrow. "What kind of game?"
"How about a scavenger hunt?"
"...Scavenger hunt? Aren't those kind of for kids, Mimi?" Roger was obviously skeptical according to Mimi, but thank God Mimi doesn't take 'no' for an answer. (Otherwise it would have been kind of useless.) In the end, Mimi says she was able to get Roger to play, so she gave him the first clue, having written it down verbatim when I told it to her over the phone: 'Think of a place where cows can jump over the moon...'
According to Mimi, Roger had problems with the first clue. "Mimi, can you give me a hint or something?"
"I didn't make the scavenger hunt, I dunno what it is." Mimi couldn't help smiling.
Roger thought for a second, sitting on the couch, and Mimi says that he had to think for a minute or so. Finally, he got it. "The lot! Duh! Maureen's performance!"
"Well, let's go to the lot!" Mimi grabbed Roger by the hand, dragging him out of the apartment, taking him down the stairs.
"...Are they gone?"
"Yes, go in!"
I open the window, crawling into the old loft after Joanne has given me the OK that Roger and Mimi are safely on their way to the lot. I look around for a moment, amazed by how empty the place looks. It's a lot messier, too. I had thought Roger might have at least made an effort to try and keep the place tidy. I look out the window at Joanne, and see her watching me there. "What are you doing! You need to get to your spot!" She's dashes off down the fire escape, out of sight.
I take the bulky backpack off of my back, taking out a projector, a roll of film, and the picture. Time to get set up before he gets back...
Maureen actually did what I asked her to do and was ready at the lot when Roger and Mimi arrived there. After taking the more believable bits from each side of the story, I formulated a rough theory of what happened at the loft:
Maureen went right up to Roger, handing her a list. "This is a list for you to look at, and your clue is somewhere on here." She smiled at me.
Roger looked between Maureen and Mimi. "Did you two plan this?"
Mimi smiled happily. "Well, more than just us, even, ya know..." Maureen gave Mimi a hard elbow in the ribs before she said anything else. (This is one point I think Mimi's acting skills might have hinted at Roger something was up.)
Maureen had written the list based on all the events I could think of, and according to what I found later, this is what the list ended up containing. "A spectacular jump over the moon by Maureen Johnson. Roger and Mimi's first kiss. The famous riot that resulted in barbed wire being put up all around the lot. Party at to follow."
Roger had to read it once to remember immediately. "Life. Mimi, we gotta go to Life, now, don't we?" Mimi must have given him another big smile because he rolled his eyes. Maureen says he muttered something like 'God, she's enjoying this too much', but Mimi claims to have never heard such a comment. ('That's because you weren't supposed to hear, smart one,' Maureen told her later.)
"Collins? You're doing this, too? Wow, Mimi, what'd you have to do to get Collins to do a scavenger hunt?" Roger was obviously very skeptical when he saw Collins at the entrance to the Life Café.
Collins shrugged as Mimi began to giggle amazingly. (Both Collins and Maureen testified this to me, but Mimi denied it, of course.) "She's persuasive, what can I say?" (I thanked Collins later for covering up for Mimi's acting skills.) "OK, here's your list, and your clues there, too."
The list Collins gave Roger was pretty simple: "Angel's favorite restaurant. Night we were permanently banned from the café as a group. Something's waiting for you at home."
Roger had to think for ages about this one, according to those present. Finally, he realized how simple it was. "It says somebody's waiting for me at the loft, of course. Thought since it was Collins it'd be some deep thing." He turned to Mimi. "Is this thing almost over?"
Mimi only giggled some more, and Maureen had to answer for her while Collins whispered in her ear furiously to try and act a little more natural. "Actually, we're gonna stay here and grab a bite. We may not be allowed to go in as a whole group, but just three of us can have a good meal. You join us when you finish, 'kay?"
Roger was slightly confused, but he shrugged, leaving the rest of them in the Life Café as he made his way back to the loft.
"You nervous, Mark?" I hear Joanne's voice coming from beyond the door.
I finally find the place in the film that I want and rewind it about thirty seconds. He should be finished with my distraction soon. I tried to make it seem as purely Mimi as possible, and a scavenger hunt created by Mimi would never arouse suspicion. And it assured he left the building.
I hear Joanne hiss at me through the door. "Turn it on! He's coming!"
My heart hammering like a drum, I flip on the projector and put the old chair in the correct position, then duck behind the couch, out of view of anyone who didn't physically walk around the couch.
I hear voices in the hallway. "OK, Joanne, am I almost done?"
A pause, and I assume Joanne must be smiling. "Just come on in, and the movie's about to start."
I hear the door open, and I hear Roger say the word, 'Movie?' in confusion. Then he sees the projector. I hear his footsteps freeze. Joanne's voice from the hallway. "Just have a seat in that chair."
I hear hesitant footsteps, and then the sound of Roger sitting in the old chair. I hear Joanne shut the door, and I know I am now alone in a room with a man I wasn't sure until a few days ago I ever wanted to even look at again.
The sound of my own recorded voice floats through the room. "February 14th, 4...Oh, you always hated it when I did that stuff anyways, so screw it. Anyways, it's two days before you're gonna see this that I'm making it."
I hear Roger say softly, "What the fuck?"
"OK, so right now you're probably wondering firstly why Mimi just took you on a scavenger hunt that went to the Lot and the Life Café. Probably wasn't that hard. It was a time-staler. Well, it was so that this film could be set up. I'm worried I'll mess this up if I say it in person, so this'll do."
"...He did the stupid treasure thing? What's going...? He stops talking abruptly as I resume.
"Roger, remember when you asked me why I was going through all those clips, about a month ago? I gave you a reason. It's because I wanted to face my fears. Sure, I wanted to. But I was such an idiot, I didn't think I could. Well, not to point fingers, but I didn't get a moral booster or anything." A cynical laugh from Roger. He has no idea I'm right behind the couch. "Roger, if you're laughing, you have a right to. If you've already thrown the projector across the room, I'll understand. Because I was an idiot. And I'm offering up my pride for you to forgive me. I'm trying my hardest, I really am. And just when I really had no idea what I was supposed to be doing in my life...you showed me exactly what I needed, without a single word of writing. See the picture next to the projector?"
There is a scrape as Roger gets up and takes the picture frame from in front of the projector. "My, God..."
"Yeah. Mimi told me I need to remember it. And I did. I remembered that we are a family. And I realized, right about when I realized I had a family, that you needed to know that too. Roger, we have so many people around us that would do anything for us. They're psychos, Rog!" A soft laugh from Roger. "But psycho or not, they stick by us. And you need to see that, too. We both have something we can rely on. I don't have to live in solitude behind my camera, and you don't either! Because we're family, Roger...well, more of a family than I am with my parents or anything." Another laugh from Roger...is he crying? "Roger, I want to ask you...from the bottom of my heart...to look to your left right now..."
With that, I stand up, just at Roger turns to look at me. I shrug weakly. "Can you forgive me for being an idiot?"
Roger blinks multiple times before saying something. "You went through that much shit to ask if I could forgive you."
I shrug again, smiling like a child who has to defend his lowly science fair project. "Yep." A long pause. "Did it work?"
Roger stands up, and I can see tears in his eyes. "Man, you're always my best friend, no matter how much of an idiot you are."
I walk around the couch, and the two of us are in each other's arms immediately, hugging each other happily. "And you're my best friend, Rog. No matter how much of an idiot you are."
Suddenly, I hear applause from the hallway. Both of us pull apart at the same instant as I go to the door, opening up and revealing a hallway full of excited friends. I laugh light-heartedly. "What the hell are you guys doing here?"
Mimi is smiling really big now. "Well...we couldn't wait to see you to make up."
Maureen nods energetically. "I was going to be so relieved when you two were finally finished fighting.
Roger laughs and comes up to the door beside me. "What if I ended up saying he was an idiot and that he went waaaay over the top and we got in another fight?" I roll my eyes. "Which he did go way over the top, and he'll always be an idiot, but that's beside the point." There is laugher all throughout the hallway as I grab Roger around the neck and ruffle his hair with his knuckles, as he begins to protest, "Ow! Mark, come on!" I end up doubling over laughing with the others, and Roger eventually is laughing with us. Somebody shouts out 'Party in the loft!', and everything else is mostly history.
Long after everybody else has left and Mimi had gone downstairs to her apartment to go to bed, me and Roger are sitting on the couch, which is now turned so that we have a clear view of the temporary screen as we watch old footage.
"Haha, that's you are the lot, helping Joanne..." Roger points at the screen as I laugh with him. After a moment of silence, Roger finally decided to be the one to venture on a limb. "Hey, Mark? Do you really think you'll never get better?"
I cast my eyes downward. "I'm trying. But I dunno...it seems to be a circular motion. I have a night of connection with the world on Christmas Eve '89, but I dive into my camera, then Halloween." Roger makes a noise as if to say something, but he cuts himself off at the last second, allowing me to continue. "Then Christmas, I feel connected again, happy. But I slowly start to get scared...So I watch the clips, trying to face those fears. And I...run across that stupid clip."
Roger sighs loudly. "I still can't believe I did that..."
"You don't have to worry. I kinda threw it away and thought of burning it."
"That would have been too noble a death for that shit I said," Roger says, his eyes narrow with distaste.
I sigh. "It was ages ago, yeah. But it hurt back then. But then I thought I had it again, connection. For about two weeks, I saw the world around me outside of my camera. And then..."
"Circular motion," Roger grumbles.
There's a silence between us. Suddenly, Roger speaks up. "Maybe there's a way to break the circular motion. Is there something we can change about the circle?"
I laugh softly. "You can get some anger management classes, and you tell me right now if you made any more tapes while I wasn't looking."
"Well, there was that time when you were sleeping, and you had this major case of bed head, like you always did, only it was really bad this time..."
"Joking!" Roger is laughing his head of now, and after a moment of being thoroughly annoyed with him, I give in, and start laughing too. A voice suddenly comes wafting up from below us through the open window. "Hey! Can you two up there keep it down? I'm trying to sleep!"
Both of us try very hard not to stop laughing, but the sound of Mimi's voice is just too much. We fall over each other and on the floor, suddenly laughing our heads off. I can faintly hear Mimi mutter something like 'Boys...', but I don't care.
Once Roger can breathe again, he smiles up at me from the floor (I managed to stay on the couch). "This the kinda stuff that breaks that circular motion?"
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's about right..." The flushed look of his face from laughing so hard gets me going all over again, and we both laugh to ourselves for a minute longer. Finally, I calm down first. "Hey, tomorrow night?"
"What about it?"
"Come on. I'm not letting you waste that money you spent on your 'jewelry' still. Tomorrow night?"
Roger groans. "I dunno..." Honestly...
"Do wanna do it or not!" He's impossible sometimes.
"Well, yeah, but why does it have to be so soon?"
"You've had the ring for a month! Ask her to dinner tomorrow night, get on one knee, and give her the ring!"
Roger bites his lower lip as he looks at me. "It's not easy, knowing I'm going to completely throw myself at her mercy. What if she says she won't?"
I raise an eyebrow as him, smirking. "Come on. A loveable guy like you? Who wouldn't say yes to that little bundle of tantrums and fits?"
Roger rolls his eyes, but he laughs anyways, and soon I'm laughing as well. We laugh, without a care in the world, as we think of how stupid the other is and laugh ourselves to sleep.
February 17th, 3:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time. Roger's currently fussing over whether Mimi would like a fancy Italian restaurant or just a trip to Life. (I tell him that it might be hard for Mimi to hear a proposal over the racket the Life usually comes with.) He's begged me not to tell anybody, even though I'm just dying to let Collins, Maureen, and Joanne in on the secret. He wants to be able to break the news to Mimi first before anybody else knows. (I point out that I'm just a nifty exception, and tells me to shove it.) Speaking of Maureen and Joanne, Joanne might be able to buy a new apartment soon, a little bigger than the tiny one-room-one-bathroom thing Maureen and Joanne have been sharing. It might actually have two rooms now. Collins was able to return to NYU this morning, and I received an excited phone call from him to check the news. We're all impressed that his override of the computers made the 11:00 news, and even more impressed that nobody has traced it back to him. As usual, or as usual as life is, everybody is doing wonderfully in the Alphabet City Avant-Garde.
And I feel like I've got my life figured out. Not quite, but I'm getting there...I think.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed this story! Leave constructive reviews, please!
Part III of Mark's Life series, 'Figuring Out My Life', can now be found at http/