This wasn't a place for a woman with tears staining her face and drenched clothes from a three hour walk in the rain. Although, this wasn't a place for anybody really. Everyone here would come to say in the morning they didn't know the place existed.
Maybe that's why Eve ends up here.
A rustic bar with one faded rainbow flag hanging beside the small stage. A small donation jar to pay for the medical bills of another silent victim. Men who smoke cigarettes and glance at the door every time the bell over the door rings. Women with cropped hair and a beyond tired look in their eyes.
A woman on stage. Long blonde hair falling over her shoulders. A chipped guitar in her lap. An oversized green plaid shirt, barely buttoned to expose a long pale chest, under a torn leather jacket and tucked into high waisted light washed jeans. Even in the middle of her song, she catches Eve's eye and nods with a small smile, stumbling over a word or two.
"You can't go on, thinking nothing's wrong," the blonde sings to Eve's soul.
Eve orders a beer and drops more money in the donation jar than what three beers would have cost. All the money she had. It'll never be enough. The thought burns in her throat.
She's alone. For the first time in her life. There's been countless times before she thought she was alone. When her dad died being one of them. But she wasn't alone because she still had her mom. Then her mom disowned her when Eve and Niko divorced. Niko had been understanding. A good man. He kept Eve's secret and wasn't even too surprised. That didn't mean they stayed friends. At the end of the day, he couldn't be friends with his ex-wife after she got caught kissing a woman. So she moved in with her best friend Bill. And now, Eve has no one.
Her hand burns from where Bill's hand was three hours before. She felt it the moment he died. How the strong grip weakened, then was limp. The screaming heart beat monitor not having anything on her own scream.
Eve runs that burning hand through her wet hair. Just cut it all off. Leave Connecticut. Go to Florida or California. Somewhere more accepting.
"Your hair is beautiful."
Eve drops her hand from her hair and jerks her head up to look at her guest. The woman that was singing. Now she has on a baseball cap and a beer hangs loosely out of her hand. Eve never even noticed her finishing her cover of Drive.
"Can I join you?" The woman asks with a striking Russian accent.
Eve nods, not trusting her words yet. She hasn't talked since…
"I'm Villanelle," the woman holds her hand out to Eve. With Eve's lack of answer or movement she drops her hand. "I'm just going to call you rude. Okay, Rude?"
Jesus. Eve snorts. Followed by a full on laugh than freaks Villanelle out.
"Are you okay?" Villanelle asks while drawing her strong brows down.
"The only person in my life died tonight. I'm homeless. Oh, and I spent all my money for food this week, tonight," Eve scoffs and puts her head in her hands.
"What?" Did she hear her right?
“If New Haven doesn’t have anything, why stay?” Villanelle repeats and puts her feet up on the table. The bartender yells at her and she flips him off without removing her feet. “Listen, I can tell you’re,” she makes a disgusted hand motion towards Eve, “going through something. I’m not going to pretend to care. But I’ll do this.” Villanelle takes a deep breath. “I got this little rag tag group of queers and gays. Eight or so people besides me. People come and go. Our next stop is outside Columbus. None of us have a home. We’ve all had someone important to us die. And we always waste our money on booze.”
Eve’s jaw drops. This was insane. There would only be one thing more insane.
“Okay,” she agrees without a drop of sanity.
Nearly sadistically, Villanelle smiles. “Alright, baby . Let me show you tonight’s casa.” She stands and pulls a pair of black leather gloves from her pocket.
Eve stands too. “Why are you doing this?”
Villanelle laughs and looks Eve up and down. “Because you are hot and I want to have insane sex.”
“Relax. I was just joking. Well not really. You are really hot. And I would love to have sex with you.” Villanelle holds the bar door open for Eve. “But I’m a gentlewoman, unlike you, Rude. I want you to beg me to fuck you.”
“My name is Eve,” she says and ignores the last comment.
“ Eve . You got a last name?” Villanelle asks and walks up to a white Harley-Davidson. She tosses Eve the single helmet.
Eve fumbles but manages to catch the helmet noticing the large dent in the side. “No.”
“Good. None of us do. Well except little Anna, but that’s just a small joke.”
“What is it?” Eve crawls on the motorcycle behind Villanelle and grips the leather jacket.
Villanelle lets out a sigh of a laugh. Eve thinks it sounds pained. “Astankova.”
More insanity drips into Eve’s skull. She remembers what she screamed at Bill when he told her the diagnosis.
“This is because you just have to say fucking yes to everything.”
Well, now Eve’s a hypocrite. The abandoned church has a spray painted school bus parked outside of it. Weeds and vines grow wild. Broken boards hang off shattered windows. The thick reek of wood smoke flows out of the building.
“You live here?” Eve asks after she pops the motorcycle helmet off.
“And where did you live? Under a bridge?” Villanelle counters and walks towards the front doors.
“No, that was still too expensive,” Eve responds.
Villanelle looks at her in disbelief. “That’s fucked.”
“Yeah well… my best friend had aids and all of our money went to his medical bills. Wasn’t much of a choice. Apparently straight homeless people can still be homophobic.”
Villanelle shakes her head and walks into the church. There’s a baby crying.
“Oh, thank god you’re back,” sighs the woman holding the crying baby. A black woman around Eve’s age. She charges at Villanelle and shoves the small baby in her arms. Almost instantly it stops crying.
“Are you being bad?” Villanelle asks and pokes the baby’s nose. “Are you just the worst fucking baby?”
Eve’s eyes widen and she looks at who she assumes to be the mom.
“It’s fine. I don’t care what Villanelle says to Anna right now because for some reason she won’t cry when Villanelle’s holding her and we all need to sleep before the drive tomorrow,” she explains.
Villanelle bounces the baby with her own child-like grin and walks toward a broken down crib away from Eve and the woman.
“I’m Jess, by the way. I take it you’re riding with us to Columbus?” Jess asks.
Eve shrugs. “Till you guys kick me out I guess.”
Jess takes one hard look at Eve. And she knows. Eve's in this for the long haul. “Come here. I'll introduce you to the family."
The family is a group of people that are definitely not related. Jess leads Eve to a small fire right in front of a statue of crucified Jesus. Eve doesn't feel like she owes him an apology. If anything he owed her one.
A young woman, maybe a few years older than Villanelle, jumps up, and steals Eve. "Hello there, I am thee Elena and I will be your guide today."
Eve looks at her with shock.
"I'm fucking with you. But you should come sit beside me before Hugo over there, asks you to fuck his boyfriend while he watches." Elena points out to men sitting beside each other. One has curly hair, a little scruff, and winks at Eve. The other one looks like a deer in headlights. His straight brunette hair is falling down into his eyes and he bumps the other man with his knee. There's something familiar about him. "The asshole is Hugo. The sweet one is Kenny." Elena doesn't need to point out which one is which.
Hugo coughs into his elbow and Eve fills with dread. She doesn't need to ask because everyone quiets down for a moment.
Elena speaks up again. "If you recognize Kenny it's because his mom is the government official pretending to care about us. Carolyn Martens. Total babe but also a total bitch if you ask me. Pretends to care about us but kicked her son out when he told her that Hugo was positive."
"That's… terrible," Eve replies and let's Elena pull her down on the sleeping bag. Jess sits on her own bag in front of them.
"We all have it rough here… I don't think I've gotten your name yet," Jess says and tilts her head.
Jess nods. "Well, Eve, as I was saying. None of us are here for no reason. I'm sure you aren't either. There's no one upping each other on the tragedy scale."
"Although if we were, Villanelle would definitely win," Elena says and eyes the woman holding the baby above her face, saying something in Russian.
"What happened to her?" Eve asks without thinking.
"That's not really-"
"Her girlfriend's husband gave her girlfriend HIV and then the girlfriend still choose him over Villanelle," a posh British accent says above them. Eve looks up to see Hugo's walked over. "The last time Villanelle saw her was the day before she died and she told Villanelle, 'it was because of her kind.' Villanelle still loves her though. Probably always will." He shrugs with his hands in the pockets of his pants.
Eve doesn't say anything this time. Instead she watches as Villanelle sits the baby down, peels her leather jacket and flannel off, leaving her in a ripped tank top. She picks the baby back up and wraps her in the flannel before placing her in the crib for the night.
"Hugo, why are you such a damn gossip," Elena groans and throws a shirt at him.
He catches it and playfully snaps it back in her direction. "Because I'm bored, babe. Which speaking of babe…" he turns back to Eve. "I don't think I've gotten your name yet."
"Eve," she sounds like a robot when she says it. She's sure she'll have to say it a dozen more times tonight.
" Eve , you are just beautiful-"
"Hugo, piss off, the woman's had a long day," Jess says.
He holds his hands up and turns back to Kenny who waves now.
The two women point out others in the church to Eve. The other two in the group that sticks together are Nadia and Diego, a couple who are already asleep in their own little tent. There's a group of five that they really don't know the names of that's hitching a ride to Columbus. A couple people that live in the church full time and are letting them stay tonight and the past few nights.
At each of these stops, they try to make money. Villanelle plays in gay bars or races her motorcycle. Elena sells clothes she buys from thrift stores for outrageous prices. Kenny and Hugo take a large chunk of money and try to buy drugs then flip them. Nadia and Diego do handy work for people, appearing like a poor straight couple that just need a couple bucks. Jess stays at wherever they are to take care of her baby, Anna and most of the money that Kenny and Hugo don't need for investment goes to the baby. Whatever is left after the baby and food goes to gas and lets them figure out how far they can go.
Jess snuffs out the fire and lays on a foldable cot next to the crib. Kenny and Hugo crawl into their own tent.
"You can stay in mine until we steal or buy you one," Elena offers as she picks up her sleeping bag and walks towards her tent.
Eve doesn't answer too busy watching something-someone.
Villanelle walks out of the church with a single glance at everyone. She catches Eve's eye and smiles before slipping outside.
"She stays on the bus. If the police show up to kick us out, she'll make a scene so we can get out."
"What about her? If she gets arrested?"
Elena laughs. "Villanelle doesn't get arrested. Things don’t go bad for her anymore. I guess it’s his way of apologizing.” Elena points at Jesus. “I wouldn’t get too close to her though. That luck doesn’t spread.”
Eve wonders what that means. She has the feeling she’ll learn quick enough.