Mikey leaves his number on the cover of a Batman comic.
Smiling to herself, she kicked the small pile of snow sitting on the edge of the sidewalk. New York was always busy and she was bumped slightly as she walked the streets, sometimes in the day she would get annoyed at the business of it all, but tonight felt different. Good, different.
She turned into the small family owned comic book store, unlocked the door and walked to back room, getting ready for her shift. The best part of this job was the free hours she could spend reading her favorite comics. Batman was usually the book she picked up, when a new issues was out. Sometimes, just because she loved it. The store never seemed to be terribly busy, even during the holiday season it was pretty deserted.
She walked to the bookshelves skimming for what she looking for only to find the newest edition’s shelf spot empty. Maybe Wynter had put it behind the counter for her this morning after she had finished her shift. As she walked to the front she slid her fingers over the small radio, turning it on to hear Cream being played. Oldies were on today and that put a smile on her face. The only other guitarist that trumped Clapton was Jimi. Today’s music was sometimes too extreme for her taste, but she definitely looked like that was her scene. Excluding the red lips. It was her signature trait and made her feel like a rebel from the forties. It also matched her favorite shoes. Red converse were her everyday shoes because they looked good with skinny jeans, and she always wore skinny jeans.
Her grey eyes skimmed under the counter, finding the newest edition of the comic, but it had a sticky note on top of it. It read “Hold for Mike W.” She ran her fingers over the cover and played with her lip piercing, debating whether or not to read it anyways. Just when she was setting it back, the door chimed, a late night customer was actually very unusual, but here they were.
Jessalyn looked at the man as he walked to the book shelves. His coat was buttoned to his neck and he had a hat on, she didn’t think it was that cold, but as she got a better look at him she realized the bundling wasn’t because of the chill in the air, but because of the unwanted publicity his outing would undoubtedly cause. She smiled and as she waited for him to come out from behind a shelf and propped her head on her hand leaning against the wooden frame of the counter.
As he wandered through the store he would pick up a few comics and glance through them, then put them down, the pick one or two up again and focus on the cover for a few seconds before deciding to leave it. He did this about three times before he picked one up, looking like he had made the decision to get it.
She almost laughed at his weird little process, but simply stood and watched. She didn’t care if it seemed creepy, because he didn’t notice her. Not in the slightest. When he walked around to the back of the rack she occupied herself by sliding Contest onto the counter and opening the book to where she had left off earlier today. About six pages in she heard someone clear their throat on the other side of the counter. She didn’t bother to close her book as she glanced up to look up at the customer expectantly.
“Don’t you find it a bit redundant that you’re reading a book about a New York library and you work in a book store in New York?” His lips stretched into a smile as he laughed once or twice.
“Actually, it’s not about a library, it’s more about kicking some alien ass." She paused and looked down to his small stack of comics.
"Are you ready to buy those or…” Jessalyn trailed off allowing him to ask her for the Batman comic and he did.
As she rang up his few items he asked for a pen and the Batman comic. Thinking nothing of it, she handed him a pen and the book. He jotted something down on the front cover. She thought it was a waste, but it was his now. He could do what he pleased. He looked back up after he was done, handing her the pen and making eye contact. His eyes were the warmest shade of chocolate.
“So, who can I thank for my new comics?” He asked.
“I’m not sure if I need a thank you for knowing how to operate a register and plastic bag, but I go by Jess.” She was smirking now, hoping he would just take his things and go so she could have the store to herself again, but she wasn’t going to rush the musician out. He was, after all, pretty cute. Now that she could see him more closely.
“Well, alrighty then Jess. Thank you for the lovely reading material.” He winked and made his way quickly out the door. She watched him leave and after a minute of just staring out the door after him, she looked down to find that he had left the Batman comic on the counter. She quickly grabbed it and pushed her way out the door and into the street looking for him, her feet were moving quicker than she thought they could, but as she emerged onto the cold pavement she couldn’t spot him anywhere. It was like the man had vanished into thin air. She turned around a time or two, dizzying herself and making sure he wasn’t just sitting on a bench or standing, but he wasn’t there or anywhere.
Jess walked back into the small store and set the comic back on the counter off to the side, waiting for him to realize that he had forgotten it and come back, but he never did. All night, she waited for his return. She wouldn’t be able to re sell it now that he had written in it, she thought with a sigh. Suddenly, though, she wanted to know what he had written. She reached for the book, but as her hand was on top of it, she hesitated and thought maybe it was private, but in the end she found that she didn’t really care. After all, how private could it be if he left it. She quickly swiped it closer and flipped the cover open to reveal what he had left behind.
“To the most beautiful comic enthusiast:
I saw you looking at this as I walked in; consider it an early Christmas gift from a friend. I hope you believe in what goes around comes around, because I sure do. I left my number below, call me sometime…?
-Mikey (322) 543 2109”
Wynter was just coming home from doing some retail therapy as her phone rang. She dropped her bags on the couch, hearing her best friend’s ring tone go off.
“Well, hello to my better half. I was wondering how you were today. It’s a shame about the comic, love. I know you like to read it when we first get it in… how’s the shift going tonight?” Wynter talked, finding the remote for the TV, getting ready to veg out and watch some quality reality shows. It was her guilty pleasure.
“Wynter, shut up and listen for one sec. Mikey Way just came in and left me his number. I promise I am not fucking with you, it happened. I promise.” Jess’ voice was calm, but she was hurrying to get every word out.
“Jess, I want to believe you, but if you really are fucking with me, I will be so pissed, woman. So pissed!” Wynter’s favorite band was My Chemical Romance and she hated that was the one thing she and Jess didn’t share, Jess was stuck on the old shit. Like The Doors, Steppenwolf, Hendrix, and The Who, but she had come to a concert with her, and she had heard her obsess about them, so she definitely knew who they were. Of this she had no doubt.
“Should I call him?” Jess’ voice drug her back to reality and Wynter surprised herself with the pang of jealousy she now felt.
“It’s really tour call, Hun. If you want to talk to him, do it, because he obviously wants to talk to you. Why else would he have left you his number, right? And maybe you can hook me up with his sexy older brother.” She chuckled, half hoping.
“I don’t know. Maybe I will, I’m just so confused, because he barely spoke to me when he was in the store...” She trailed off leaving Wynter feeling bad for her, she really was confused. Wynter told her to do the only thing that she could think would be the best option.
“Call him. Just hang up after we’re done and dial his number. Wait for him to pick up and don’t chicken out. Then just go from there.” Her voice was reassuring and she hoped she was helping Jess, but it would happen or it wouldn’t. Jess had all the power here.
“Okay, Wynter. Okay, I’ll call him. I just hope he picks up, because I’m only doing this once. I don’t like being made a fool of. I’ll talk to you later, babe. Thanks a lot.”
“No problem, Jess. Just... If he doesn’t pick up now, maybe you could try one more time. Second chances are always a good thing. Okay, so I will follow up on this later, bye!” Wynter hung up, hoping it would work out; Jess needed something fun in her life. Maybe a musician would be that spark, that someone who could make her happy.
Jess waited a few minutes; silently panicking before she dialed the number Mikey had left for her. Her nerves were on edge and her hands were shaking. She had to work up some sort of courage before she spoke to him or else her voice would sound as shaky as her hands. Deciding that it was now or never, she typed in the digits and forced herself to lift the phone to her ear.
It rang. So far, so good, she thought. After the fourth ring, she heard a familiar voice on the opposite side of the line and quickly spoke.
“Hey Mikey. It’s Jess.”