pairing. I had four hours between my lunch shift and my gig. I could squeeze Jonathan in. Making plans with him before the show was foolish and reckless, but I wanted to see Jonathan Drazen almost as much as I wanted to play.
two L il waited out front, leaning on a grey Bentley in a loading zone. When she saw me, she opened the back door. “Hi. Uh…” I felt weird getting into the car without knowing where I was going or who was driving. Lil spoke as if reading my mind. “I’m Mister Drazen’s driver. I’ll take you there and back. If you’re going to be out late, you can give me your car key, and I’ll take care of your car for you.” “How?” “Take it back to your house.” “How would you get back to your car?” Lil smiled as if I was a seven-year-old asking why water floated down, not up. “I’m not the only staff. Don’t worry. Please. I do this for a living.” I smiled at her, broadcasting pure discomfort, and slid into the back seat. I’d never been in a car like that before. Darren and I had taken a limo to prom, but it smelled of beer and vomit and the carpet was damp from a recent shampoo. I’d ridden in Bennet Mattewich’s Ferarri down the 405 at two a.m. He thought the ride bought him a blow job, but it almost bought him a slashed tire. We’d stayed friends, but he never took me out in his dad’s car again. The Bentley was huge. The leather seats faced each other and it had brushed chrome buttons I didn’t understand without a crumb or speck of grime anywhere around them. The paneling was wood—real wood, dark and warm—and though the ride took about ten minutes, I felt as if I’d been transported from one world to another via spacecraft. The car stopped on a dead end street in the most industrial part of downtown, somewhere between the arts district and the river. Next to the car was an old warehouse with a top floor made exclusively of windows. The side of the building facing the parking lot was painted in matte black with modernist lettering listing each tenant. No mention of a Loft Club or anything like it. I’d seen enough movies to know I should wait, and Lil was at my door in two seconds flat, as if I was incapable of opening it myself. “Go on in to the desk, and the concierge will take care of you.” She handed me a cardboard rectangle the size of a business card with a few numbers printed on the front. The word LOFT was printed on the top, in grey. “Thanks,” I said. I walked up the steps and inside. When I showed the card to the Asian gentleman behind the lobby’s glass counter, I was still convinced I was either in the wrong building or the whole thing was a cruel joke. He checked the card against something written in a leather book in a way that wasn’t rude but was somehow officious. I shifted a little in my waitress getup: a black wrap shirt and short skirt, from Target and the thrift store on Sunset respectively. I felt as though my clothes exposed me as an outsider or worse: a liar and sneak. But he looked up with a smile and said, “Down this hall behind me. Pass the first elevator bank and make a left. I’ll buzz you through the doors. There’s another elevator at the end of the hall. Take it to the top.” “Thank you.” My heels clicked on the concrete floors. I shrugged my bag close. I passed the first set of elevators and made the left. A pair of frosted glass doors stood in my way, and I noticed a camera hovering above them. A second later, a resonant beep preceded a click, and the doors whooshed open. Beyond those doors, the hallway changed. The lighting was softer and came from modernist chrome sconces. The walls were a softer white, and when I got close, I saw the texture was silkier, somehow more nuanced. The oak and brass elevator didn’t look like a refrigerator, as most do, and it hummed in D minor and dinged in the same key before it whooshed open. I stepped onto the floral carpet and hit the button that said Loft in