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Authors: Faith Winslow

Blast From The Past 1

BOOK: Blast From The Past 1
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BLAST from the PAST

Part 1

 

 

Faith  Winslow

 

Copyright © 2015

 

All rights reserved.

This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

~ Chapter 1 ~

 

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—home of the Three Rivers, Steelers football, and pierogis; bedrock of Iron City Beer and every fathomable Heinz product; backdrop to several Hollywood hits, including Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy,
Silence of the Lambs
,
Night of the Living Dead
(1990 remake), and, of course,
Flashdance
. Some folks call it a little big city; others call it a big little city. Whatever the case, I was about to call it
my
city… again.

About ten years ago, I left my home in Mason, Ohio, and traveled nearly three hundred miles east to attend college at the University of Pittsburgh. Four years later, I graduated
cum laude
with a B.S. in computer science, and I scored a pretty decent job back in Cincinnati, at a tech firm right outside my hometown. So, right after I earned my degree, I packed up my stuff and left Pittsburgh—and, I never turned back.

But, six years later, I found myself ‘Burgh-bound again—only, I wasn’t just
going
back. I was
moving
back, and I was about to make my former stomping grounds my home. I’d just landed a dream job at a dream company, and, even though it meant relocating and starting over in a not-so-new place, I would have been a fool to have turned it down.

And, since I had to start over, I decided to start over completely. Moving to Pittsburgh was going to be a new beginning for me, and it meant a lot of things were going to change—starting with my name.

My name is Patricia Williams, and, for most of my life, I’ve gone by “Patty.” But, when I took the job in Pittsburgh, I decided to switch things up a little. Call me crazy, but I decided to change my name, or at least what people call me.

Instead of going by “Patty,” I would go by “Trish.” Why? Well, first of all, it had a nice ring to it…
Trish Williams
. It sounded contemporary and cool, and it was just mainstream enough, but still kinda different. Second of all, I really didn’t want to be Patty anymore.

Granted, I had a lot of good memories of being Patty, and of hearing people call me that—like when my grandmother used to call me on the phone and say, “Hey there, my little sugar patty,” or when my little sister thanked me in her valedictorian speech at her high school graduation. But, I also had a lot of bad memories associated with the name “Patty” too.

“I love you, Patty,” is what my boyfriend Erik used to say to me when he dropped me off at home and kissed me goodnight at the end of the evening.

“I’m here for you, Patty,” is what my best friend Sasha used to say to me whenever I went to her to discuss my problems.

And, “Oh my God, Patty! Wait!” is what they both shouted when I showed up at Erik’s apartment unexpectedly one afternoon and caught them fucking.

You see, Patty was the kind of girl who didn’t know that her boyfriend had been sleeping with her best friend for over a year—and, Patty was the kind of girl who was completely devastated when she found out. She was the kind of girl who missed Erik after they broke up, and was jealous when she learned, six months later, that he and Sasha were engaged.

But, Trish? Trish was
nothing
like Patty. Trish wouldn’t have put up with their bullshit, and she wouldn’t have been so hurt by what they did. She would have been able to move on and overlook it, like water under a bridge. She would have been able to get past it.

Trish was a no-nonsense kind of girl—and, when I left Cincinnati, that’s exactly what I wanted to leave behind… all the nonsense.

So, with that in mind, I arranged for a place in Pittsburgh, settled my affairs in Ohio, and donated most of my furniture to a thrift store, and most of my clothing to my sister. I packed up what was left of my belongings, which wasn’t much, and started fleshing out my new life.

I ordered some dress-to-impress power suits and several avant-garde outfits from a department store website, got my hair cut and flavored it with some caramel highlights, and bought my first ever designer briefcase. These may have been little things, but they made a huge difference.

As far as bigger things, themselves, I took care of those when I got to Pittsburgh—and, by bigger, I mean in terms of size, not necessarily importance. Within two days of arriving in Pittsburgh and staking physical claim to my new apartment, I started shopping for furniture, decorations, small appliances, and key electronics. I had most of the items delivered and assembled for me, at priority rates, and my new home started taking shape before I’d even been in black ‘n gold country for a week—which fit in perfectly with my timeline.

I’d arrived in Pittsburgh approximately two weeks before my eagerly awaited start date at my new job. I’d planned it that way so that I could get things in order and get reacquainted with the city, and so that I could get comfortable with my surroundings, and in my own skin.

My new job wasn’t just any job. It was a
great
job. I’d be making more than twice what I made back at the tech firm in Cincinnati, and I’d be working my way well up the corporate ladder in half the time. It was a big step for me—and I needed those two weeks to myself in Pittsburgh to prepare for it.

~ Chapter 2 ~

 

I guess you could say I was always a “good girl.” I didn’t get into much trouble when I was younger, and I never did anything all that questionable or scandalous. I mostly followed the straight and narrow—though, of course, I did stray from the path from time to time.

I spent most of my time in college studying and doing schoolwork. My social life really wasn’t exciting, and I didn’t have many friends… but, I
did
have a boyfriend.

If I was a “good girl,” then Tommy was definitely a “computer geek.” He was pretty cute and very sweet, mind you, but he was also somewhat shy and incredibly mild-mannered—at least by conventional standards. Most of our dates consisted of going out for coffee, going to the computer lab together, or watching movies in one of our dorm rooms. We didn’t even kiss until we’d been together for over two weeks, and it took us a long time to get into each other’s pants after that. We were both virgins when we started dating—and we stayed that way until we’d been dating for almost a year.

Alas, Tommy and I didn’t last long. We broke up halfway through spring semester of our junior year. I was upset about it, but I distracted myself by focusing even harder on my schoolwork. Every now and then, there were parties, boys, and booze to distract me, too, but they were just road stops on a much greater highway.

The reason I bring all this up now is because, when I explored Pittsburgh during my two weeks of pre-work downtime, I discovered a lot of cool places and things, and I realized that I’d really limited, maybe even sheltered, myself the last time I lived in this city. There were many different neighborhoods I never knew about, and countless hot spots I never knew existed.

Naturally, Pittsburgh had changed in the six years I’d been away, but a lot of it was the same—and it was like I was seeing most of it for the first time.

One thing I was definitely seeing for the first time was the extent of Pittsburgh nightlife. Like I said, I’d been a bookworm in college, so I never really had the chance, or desire, to go out and hit the bars all that much, and, when I did, it was usually one of the overpriced joints located along the sprawl of Pitt’s stretched-out urban campus.

But now that I was back in Pittsburgh—and now that I wasn’t a bookworm, and wasn’t confined to a campus—I went around and checked out what else was out there… and, more or less, I liked what I found.

In particular, I was drawn to a part of Pittsburgh known as South Side. It’s one of the more happening neighborhoods, and its streets are filled with a wide variety of stores, restaurants, and businesses, including everything from hair salons and tattoo parlors to fortune tellers and pawn shops.

Believe it or not, according to recent statistics, there are more than eighty bars included among South Side’s various businesses (if you don’t believe me, look it up on the internet). And, believe it or not, out of all eighty of those bars, when I chose to go out for a drink one night, I actually chose to go to exactly the right bar, at exactly the right moment.

I couldn’t have even been at Carson Café for ten minutes when, out of the blue, someone came over and said something to me as I was sipping my draft beer, alone in a booth.

“Holy shit,” the voice said. “Patty? Patty Williams—is that you?”

I looked up to see a voluptuous, large-chested woman in front of me, with a mop of pink hair atop her head and a bull’s-ring piercing through her septum. Her arms and décolletage were covered with tattoos, and her face was gussied up with makeup. But, still… something about her looked familiar.

I felt a smile creep across my face as I registered hers. “Yep, it’s me,” I said, “but I go by Trish these days… And, I’m sure you still go by Julie.”

Julie Benson had lived down the hall from me in the dorms at Pitt. She was a year younger than me, and was one of my more casual acquaintances—and, suffice to say, back then, she was
much
different. She was thin and had dark blonde hair, and was kind of an all-American party girl, if you know what I mean; nothing like the plump punk princess that stood before me in Carson Café.

“Wow, I’m surprised you recognized me,” Julie said, sitting down in the booth across from me. “I look a lot different than I used to.”

“You sure do,” I admitted. “It took me a minute to realize it was you.”

“I knew it was you the second I saw you,” Julie chimed back. “You look the same as you did in college. You haven’t aged a bit—you still look like you’re twenty.”

“Well, I feel like I’m forty,” I laughed.

“So why Trish now? And when did you get back to Pittsburgh?” Julie asked. “I haven’t seen you around here for—what? Six years? So, where’d you go, and why’d you come back?”

“That’s a lot of questions,” I said, laughing even harder.

“Asking questions is what I do for a living,” Julie said. “I’m a journalist. I write for the Arts & Entertainment section of the
Pittsburgh Metro
. So, what’s the scoop, Trish? Tell me your story… I swear, everything you say is off the record.”

I went on to tell Julie about how I moved to Cincinnati after graduation, and about how I recently got an awesome position in Pittsburgh. I even told her about my relationship with Erik, and about his relationship with Sasha.

It was really easy to talk with Julie—and it was just as easy to listen. She filled me in on what she’d been up to over the past several years and explained how she’d inadvertently stumbled into a career in journalism, which was a rather interesting story.

Apparently, Julie didn’t have a job right out of college, so she spent most of her time partying. She went to a concert one night, then read a review of it in
Pittsburgh Metro
the next day. She didn’t agree with the review at all and emailed the A&E editor about it. He responded by writing, “Think you can do better?”—and, the rest, as they say, is history… She wrote back and accepted his challenge, and he was so impressed with the review she wrote that he gave her a trial run as a reporter and, eventually, hired her, despite the fact that her undergraduate degree was in biology.

Julie and I sat and talked for about three hours, and we probably could have talked for three more. But when the bouncer came around for last call, we knew it was time to call it quits—and Julie bought us another round, to drink as we concluded our conversation.

We exchanged contact information and made open-ended plans to hang out again soon. I could tell that this wasn’t one of those fly-by-night, random run-ins. When Julie and I said we were going to hang out again, we meant it. Julie and I both knew that, just like Julie had stumbled into her career in journalism, she’d just stumbled into a friendship with me—and, it was obvious from how smoothly our conversation went that she’d made it past the trial run. She was in it for the long-run now—unless, like Sasha, she decided to sleep with my boyfriend.

Could Julie ever do that? Eh—what did it matter anyway? I didn’t even have a boyfriend! But, now, I
did
have a friend—and, I had her because, out of the eighty bars in South Side, I chose to walk into exactly the right one, at exactly the right moment. I don’t know what the odds of that happening are, but I’d imagine they’re pretty slim, though not entirely unheard of.

Whether you wanna call it a little big city, or a big little city, Pittsburgh isn’t
huge
, by any means, and having lived here before, not too long ago, I was bound to run into someone I knew at some point. If it had to run into anybody, I was glad it was Julie Benson.

I couldn’t say the same for some of the other people I encountered back in the day.

BOOK: Blast From The Past 1
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