AN: Can't sleep. Still coughing, so here's a new chapter! P.S. I did a ridiculous amount of research. My memories of the early nineties needed verification.
P.S. it's a total coincidence that this morning I posted a chapter where Cate tells her mom she's pregnant and tonight they finally discussed it on the show. It's like I'm psychic, over here...except that I did not predict we'd get to season 2. Go, us!
"So did Dewey Johnson ever wake up?" Lux asked. She'd just gotten Cate to explain why Laverne had believed that someone other than Baze was the father. In truth, Lux wanted to know what it'd been like: the brief time before Cate gave her up.
"Yeah, but I didn't see him much after that. He had some brain damage, and some of his muscles atrophied from being in a coma so long. He had to go through a lot of physical therapy and training. But everything turned out fine for him. He married a nice girl he met in college, and I heard he was one of the developers of Farmville."
"So Baze, seriously, you can't do math?" Lux asked later that week while dishing up some Chinese food at her father's apartment.
"What do you mean?"
"Cate told me when I as born, she disappeared all summer, then had to miss the first few weeks of school. You couldn't do the math that she was missing nine months after you conceived a child?"
"No, I could do the math. I thought she was mourning you, when you would have been born."
"Oh. I guess that makes sense."
"And not long after, she got back to normal. She was studying really hard, blowing the curve in every class. Driving me crazy in student council."
"Like nothing had happened?" Lux asked, trying to sound casual.
"Actually, one thing was different. She always had a Walkman."
Interesting, Lux thought, that there was a change. That it was so small, but Baze noticed it.
"Those things that play cassettes?"
Baze laughed, because Lux had a singular talent for making him feel ancient. "Yeah, although most of them played the radio, too. Fall of our junior year, she suddenly always had a Walkman, and she listened to it between classes, or when she was reading. I always used to wonder what she was listening to."
Kate's senior year was spent listening to KPSU, the new radio station started by Portland State University, but junior year was harder.
Postpartum depression hit Cate hard. During the first five months she was pregnant, Cate had drawn away from her friends and family. Once her mom and Abby found out, she got them back, but their attention was not the most comforting. Cate had this space around her—this silence. While she was pregnant, though, she had the baby to keep her company. In her head, she would talk to the baby, and it was like she was never alone. After giving her little girl away, though, there was nothing but dead air.
Kate had always loved the radio. She loved music, but since her dad left Laverne, there wasn't a lot of extra cash around to buy cassettes. Listening to the radio was free. After the winter formal, though, Cate couldn't even listen to the radio anymore. The Spin Doctors were everywhere. "Two Princes" reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, so every time she turned on the radio, it was playing. In January, the band was on the cover of Rolling Stone. One afternoon, she tuned in to PBS, and they were performing a version of the song on Sesame Street.
"IS NOTHING SACRED?" Cate screamed.
She threw down the remote control, scrounged for a little cash and stomped out of the house, bound for a record shop downtown instead of the one she usually frequented at in the mall. All Cate knew was that she needed some new music: something that was nothing like The Spin Doctors.
She found a place that looked perfect. A half-dozen grungy college kids leaned against the front of the building smoking. When she entered, most of the place was milk crates full of vinyl, but there was wall of cassettes. The other walls were covered with tattered fliers for local bands— either advertising gigs or soliciting new band members. Cate wished for the millionth time that she could sing better or play an instrument.
She was relieved that the music playing on the shop's sound system wasn't Top 40. Anything by The Spin Doctors could cause her a nervous breakdown, but the #1 song of the year, "I Will Always Love You," could also make her cry. Other songs, like "Boom! Shake the Room" and "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" were just wearing her nerves. The only problem was that Cate didn't know any of the bands in this awesome store. She was lost.
Then she fell under the trance of the song playing, and all her anxiety faded away: "I want to hold the hand inside you. I want to take a breath that's true. I look to you and I see nothing. I look to you to see the truth." The guitar was beachy, but the singer's voice was echoed and haunting.
"Who is this?" Cate wondered aloud.
"Mazzy Star," replied the cashier. "Their brand new album, So Tonight That I Might See." She picked a copy out of a rack and handed the cassette to Cate. Cate gazed at the cover art, which looked like worn pink fabric.
"I need this, and more like it," Cate said. "I just…I can't take it anymore."
"Top 40 got you down, kid?" The cashier flicked back a red dreadlock. Cate had never met a white girl with dreads before. The cashier also had a silver nose ring; a fitted work shirt with "Steve" embroidered on the breast pocket; highwater pants with millions of skinny orange, yellow and red horizontal stripes; and heavy Doc Martens. Her skin was porcelain-pale, and she wore matte red lipstick, a look that would be all the rage in a few years. At the time, Cate found it intimidating, yet fascinating.
'Kid.' I wish I felt like a kid. "I just can't take any more of the Spin Doctors!"
"For me it's that 'How Do You Talk to an Angel' song. The Heights isn't even a real band! They're a band from a TV show that was canceled a year ago! Can we please stop playing it? Okay, musical guilty pleasures: mine is 'Rumpshaker.' Yours?"
Cate laughed before admitting, "'To Be With You' by Mr. Big. "
"But I'd love to listen to more music like this," she said, gesturing to the tape in her hand
"Let me get you something," the cashier said before pawing around in the overflowing Eastpack she kept behind the counter. She drew out a stack of cassettes with hand-written covers, selected one carefully and handed it to Cate. She skimmed the scrawled names: Yoko Ono, The Cure, Ani DiFranco, The Pixies, Dar Williams, Barenaked Ladies, Indigo Girls, The Beatles, Pearl Jam, Nirvana. "It's a weird mix of folk and rock, but I think you'll dig it."
"Thanks, but you don't have to do that," Cate said.
"I want to! Someday, I'll have my own radio show, but until then I'll use mix tapes to bring quality music to the masses."
"Thanks, Steve," Cate said.
The cashier laughed before ringing up the Mazzy Star cassette. "Actually, it's Margo."
Margo was one of the founders of KPSU, and she gradually guided Cate into the world of independent music, playing cool tracks for her and making her mixes. Later, when Cate attended Portland State, Margo got her a position at KPSU.
During Cate's last two years of high school, Margo's music got her through the loneliness and inspired a future career. It killed the dead air and guaranteed that Cate never had to hear "Two Princes."
Two chapters in 24 hours? Crazy Talk! And where did this Margo chick come from? My imagination has a life of its own. Like I don't have enough to deal with between Cate, Baze, Lux and Ryan!
Thanks for the feedback, 0Twisted-Symphony6. All comments are welcome and appreciated.