Hazy Days and Cloudy Nights

How It All Got Started 015: Alex
Free serial fiction from author and creator Matthew Wayne Selznick.

Monday, June 18, 1984

Alex and Grant played guitars together. They hoped to form a semi-acoustic group, maybe like the Violent Femmes or their favorite band, the Alarm. So far, it was just the two of them cutting their teeth on covers and a few things Grant had written.

Grant was two years older than Alex. A few months ago, he’d found a tiny one bedroom apartment not far from the boardwalk in Huntington Beach. The place was a grungy shoebox Grant treated like a palace, but Alex was grateful for a place to hang out that gave him a little taste of the independence he craved for himself.

Two more great things about Grant and his apartments were his his fake ID and his refrigerator. Alex drank a Corona; Grant had a Heineken to pull from when he didn’t have a clove cigarette hanging from his lips.

They sat cross-legged on the living room floor with their songbooks between them and hammered out the Alarm’s “We Are the Light.” Alex didn’t think of himself as much of a vocalist, but it felt good to strum simple chords and sing simple words. Crap disappeared from his mind when he played.

To his ears, at least, he and Grant made pretty good music.

Light applause and the sound of two female voices whooping it up came through the closed front door when they wrapped it up. Alex looked at Grant.


Grant sucked on his clove. The tip crackled and glowed. “Mindy.”

He stood up and gently laid his guitar, strings-down, on the thin, stained carpet. “I didn’t know she was coming by.” He didn’t sound particularly pleased.

Grant opened the door. Mindy leaned into him for a hug as she came in.

She was Alex’s age, just out of high school. She took the fair hand puberty had dealt her and played it well, favoring tight jeans and sweaters.

A few weeks ago Grant, with considerable pride, told Alex he’d taken Mindy’s virginity and that she took to sex “like a duck takes to water.”

Alex had been mildly appalled at his friend’s attitude… and not a little envious. In all the time he’d gone with Eve, she had treated sex like a necessary evil. Or a weapon.

Alex thought it would be great to just do it for fun, for once.

Mindy’s friend came in behind her. She had a round face and thick, straight, strawberry blond hair. Her own sweater was as baggy and loose as

Mindy’s was clinging. She smiled at Alex, who nodded to her.

Mindy said, “Heather, Alex.”

Alex nodded again. “Nice to meet you.”


Mindy ran her fingertips across Grant’s chest as she moved past him toward the tiny kitchen. “Any beer left?”

Grant looked at Alex and rolled his eyes, but he had a smile on his face. “Yep.”


“Sure, thanks.” She looked around. Other than the floor, the only place to sit in the small main room was a loveseat currently crowded by Alex’s open guitar case.

He stood up. “Here, let me make you some room.” He closed the case and put it on the floor near Grant’s stereo cabinet.

“Thanks.” Heather sat down and smoothed her skirt. Alex thought she looked a little at sea, but to be fair, anyone might have trouble doing more than tread water in Mindy’s wake.

Mindy came back from the kitchen holding two bottles of Corona. She sat next to Heather and handed her one. “Somebody was too busy playing rock star to do the dishes,” she winked at Grant, “so you’ll have to drink out of the bottle.”

“That’s okay,” Heather said.

Grant gave Mindy a crooked smile. “Somebody didn’t know he was going to be entertaining tonight, either.”

“I just can’t stay away, lover.” Alex watched Mindy put her lips around the mouth of her beer bottle and send Grant a salacious look.

Heather lowered her head and looked mildly embarrassed. Alex caught her eye when she looked back up. They shared a very quick “can you believe it?” moment.

Heather covered for them. “You guys sounded really good.”

“Oh, yeah,” Grant said. “We sound great through doors and walls. The more the better.”

“Dude,” Alex said. “Take a compliment.” He raised his beer to Heather. “Thanks.”

Mindy leaned forward, pressed her breasts between her arms and looked at Grant. “Were you guys finished? What do you want to do now?”

Grant looked at Alex, defeat in his eyes. Alex shrugged.

Grant tapped ash into an empty beer bottle. “Whatever!”

Alex tilted his head and took a drink. He brought his head back down. Heather smiled at him.

“Whatever!” Alex agreed.

Mindy trotted down the short hall toward Grant’s bedroom. “Heather, you and Alex get to know each other!”

Grant’s labored look was unconvincing. “I’ve created a monster.” He followed Mindy down the hall.

Alex looked at Heather.

“Well,” she said.


She laughed. “So…”

“Yeah,” he said again. “Um… I better turn on the stereo.”

She nodded in the affirmative. “Better turn it up, too.”


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