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In The Back of a Blue Thunderbird
by Elianna Lev

Kate wears an outfit consisting strictly of Italian names.

Her top half: Dolce.
Her bottom: Armani.
On her feet: Blahnik.

I am in shrunken Levi’s that barely cover my ankles and a stripped shirt that my mom bought me from Winners.

"Club’s past capacity," the thick, towering bouncer tells my friends and I as he looks over us. We stand in front of Storm Nightclub in Yorkville and watch as women slide past. They wave a quick hello to the bouncer and walk straight in.
Armed with fake ID and crop tops, we are no match for him and his criteria.

I turn to Jackie. Although she wears a catsuit from Le Chateau, she looks more the part than I do. I shake my head.
"This is fucking ridiculous," I say.

She shrugs. I put my ID back in my purse and prepare to leave. Kate turns from the bouncer and grabs my arm.

"Wait, don’t fucking go," she says. It was her idea to come to Toronto’s ritziest and most pretentious strip for the night. I agreed to join her, seeing as it was only going to be for one drink. Kate soon informs me it's actually going to be a night on the town.

I usually try to avoid Yorkville. Had I been around in the 60’s when it was a district bustling with vagabonds and hippies, I wouldn’t have stood out as much as I do now. Three decades later, it’s not the place for a 17-year-old with a $7 allowance and a minimum wage job who would settle for recycled beer if it meant saving two bucks. Yorkville is a romping ground for high-class pimps, arm-candy woman in all shades of tan and the occasional celebrity. It is a place to show off your money, be it through the $100 glass of champagne you buy or the woman you are buying it for. This is why Kate loves it here. Tonight Kate has $120 in her wallet. This is six times more than what is in my wallet (and bank account).

Kate doesn’t work. Neither does her mom. Her dad isn’t working this week since his "bridge club"—a rental room for out-of-work men to gather and gamble illegally—got shut down, although this isn’t an uncommon event. He still manages to stuff his daughter’s wallet with money every time she tells him to. Every other night.

"We have to get in," Kate says, with determination that could win a war. I nod, losing the battle. "What, do you have to be like 21 or something?" she asks the bouncer, staring up and batting her eyes.

"No, twenty-five," he says without looking down at her.

I step next to Jackie and roll my eyes. We sit on the curb and wait for Kate to plead her case. Cars that look like they’re being taken for a test-drive roll past, vibrating with heavy bass beats. A blue thunderbird with sleek chrome sides zooms past us but misses the light. Kate’s ears perk up, recognizing the sound of the engine. She turns around.

"It’s my dad!" she says, running toward the car, leaving the bouncer behind.

Kate had mentioned her dad might be around. He tended to come to Yorkville often. Apparently he had friends in the area. Jackie and I get off the curb and watch as Kate runs to the side of the car. I can’t see the driver but there are two blond heads in the back seat. I raise my eyebrows and let out a dark laugh. It seems too absurd. Jackie sees it too.

"Are there women in the back?" she asks me. I raise my eyebrows and shake my head. Jackie looks puzzled. Kate doesn’t see the women in the back yet and knocks on the car window. The lights turn green and the car skids off, leaving her on the side of the road, discarded. Slowly, she turns around and walks towards Jackie and me. Her eyes are wide and empty. They don’t see anything around or in front of her. She comes towards us, staring at nothing, eyes getting wider and emptier.

"That...was. My Dad," she says slowly. "He had. Two fucking girls with him. He looked. Right at me. He just drove right off."
Jackie and I stare at Kate, stunned and silent. Having just witnessed what she has described doesn’t make it seem any more real. I feel bad for laughing.

"Oh my God Kate, I’m so sorry," Jackie says because there really isn’t anything else to say. Kate looks at her, horrified. Her lips are parted in disgust, her eyes covered with a thick coat of tears. Her chest heaves up and down, faster and deeper.

"I have to find him," she says and turns around. "I’m going to find that FUCKING ASSHOLE!"

Her voice has turned into a screech. She is yelling at the top of her lungs. Jackie and I look at one another and immediately read each other’s expressions. Holy shit.

"I HAVE TO FIND THAT FUCKING ASSHOLE!" Kate is yelling and screaming as if she is a child who’s just fallen down the stairs on her head. She bolts down Yorkville Avenue, in the direction of the blue Thunderbird.

Kate is a bank of gossip. She knows everything about everyone else’s lives and holds it against them. This is why I’m her friend. It’s good to have her on your side. Strangely, nothing leaks out about Kate. She’s too busy basing her existence on other people’s lives. She is the one who sits in the corner at a party, arms folded across her chest, whispering to the person next to her about how ugly so-and-so’s skirt is and how so-and-so gave some guy anal in the bathroom. Kate never leaves the house without makeup. She once stayed home from school for a week because she had a sty on her eyelid. She missed another when she was getting electrolysis done on her upper lip.

Right now Kate doesn’t care what people around her think. Her makeup is smeared down her face. She is screaming wordlessly, pushing people out of the way, searching for her father’s car.

Jackie and I follow, a dozen steps behind. Kate turns on to Bay Street and stops in front of the subway station. She slams her Prada over-the-shoulder bag on the ground, her compact and wallet spilling out onto the concrete. She crouches, hugging the back of her knees and sobs. We are still paralyzed with shock. We don’t crouch on the ground with Kate or rub her back. Jackie and I stand there and watch as she cries. I realize that in the four years I have known Kate, I have never given her a loving hug.

"I have to call my mom," she says, getting up.
Her mascara has streamed down from her small beady eyes. It drips off her chin. We stay silent. Kate runs down the subway stairs and tears the pay-phone receiver off the wall. She sobs into it

"I can’t believe this," Jackie says to me. "This is so fucked."
I start to think about when I was in middle school. Most of my classmates came from poor and abusive families. All my friends’ parents were divorced. I had come home one day and complained to my parents about how perfect we were, how boring. I asked them why couldn’t we have crises like everyone else. They looked at me and laughed.

Kate hangs up the phone and walks back up the stairs, staring past us. We keep silent. She brushes off the tears from her face. I ask her what her mom had to say.

"She was sorry I had to find out like that," Kate answers. "She wants me to come home, but I have to fucking find him."

We walk outside, into the summer night. We walk aimlessly through Yorkville, past Remy’s bar and patio, on Bellair now, past Sazzafras and Hemingway’s. The streetlights give off a glow, giving the illusion that the roads are paved with gold. Defeated, we find some boutique steps and sit in silence. Kate has stopped crying.

"Katie what’s your problem?" A short man with a ponytail and a bald head walks up. He’s dressed for the area, in a shiny button-down shirt and dress pants. His smile is tight and stunted. He greets us with a small hello and then turns to Kate.

"What are you doing? C’mere. Let’s talk." He pauses and nods hello to a couple walking by. They greet him by his first name. Kate gets up and hesitantly walks away with her father. I watch them. Both fold their arms across their chests. Kate’s father spits out his words. He chuckles slightly when he talks. Kate focuses on the ground. She doesn't talk back to him. They walk further away. Jackie and I sit there for a few minutes. We talk about our families and how we both never imagined our fathers would ever cheat on our mothers. Jackie’s parents have been together since they were 13. Their family goes on yearly vacations to places like Egypt and Thailand. My parents are the best of friends. They hug me daily. Kate’s parents give her money when she asks for it, let her smoke in her room and don’t know where she goes at night.

"My dad’s going to take me to Storm for a drink," Kate says to us when returns. "He knows the bouncer."

The next morning I call Kate to hear about what her father had to say.

"He didn’t know why I was freaking out so badly," she says. "He was just giving those girls a lift up the street."

She doesn’t want to go into it but tells me about the expression on the bouncer’s face when she had shown up again with her father.

"He let us right in, the asshole. He couldn’t believe that my dad was my dad," she says. "But it was worth it. That place is fucking awesome inside."


Elianna Lev prefers you to call her "Elly" over "Eli." If you don't she'll get you. Get you good.You don't want that.

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