Chelsea George is an oblique but important character in Pretty Waste. Dead long before the start of the novel, her role is that of narrator. Her attitude isn’t what anyone would consider sweet or pleasant—it’s rare for Chelsea to have a nice word about anyone, but she shares a special sort of aversion for one character in particular. In this short story, you’ll learn more about the why.
Youthful beginnings. They’re less aww-inspiring when you’re dead.
The woman sitting beside me isn’t someone I’ve met, but I still recognize her. And what she’s doing. Ever heard of the phrase two whores is too many?
Didn’t think so. I just made it up. Not one of my best. And I was feeling so quippy yesterday.
She’s pretending she can’t hear my delicate little ahems. Maybe she’s deaf. With earrings that look like doorknockers, I suspect all sorts of ear-related havoc is afoot.
“You’re poaching,” I tell her. Loudly.
Suddenly her hearing works, and she looks me full in the face. “Excuse me?”
“Yes, you’re excused.” I hook a thumb toward the exit. “Try across the street.” And good luck with that. This is the only bar around that doesn’t card religiously. My fake I.D. puts my age at twenty-one, three years off the mark, and I doubt she’s much older than me.
She flicks a brown wisp of hair off her forehead and gives me a look of phony bewilderment. Who, me? Whatever do you mean? I love this dive.
“I’m sure you’re a swell person, but I don’t need another distraction hanging around.” I point at the TVs in the corners of the bar and sweep the rest of the place with a hair flip. “I didn’t come to a sports bar to watch the Mets get their ass kicked. These tards can hardly take their eyes off the game. When they finally come up for air I’d prefer to not watch them have an internal struggle over whether they prefer blondes or brunettes.”
Too many options would be confusing. Hello, I’ve got rent to pay.
“Blonde?” She laughs, fingers her godawful earrings, and turns back to the television. “That’s the brassiest blonde I’ve ever seen. Steer clear of the drag queen salons. They’re not your friends if they send you off like that.”