The Night the Lights Went Out in Jersey

“You were flirting with him!” Simon yelled at Lydia as he drove.

“Simon, I wasn’t flirting with him,” she responded, looking out the window. “We were talking.”

“No! You were flirting!”

The headliner at the club this weekend was a super funny, friendly guy whom Lydia thought was great. She hadn’t flirted with him. She hadn’t even considered having sex with him. She just liked talking to him. She respected his talent. And he was nice to her. Simon’s staff made her feel like a pariah when she came to the club. They saw her as an extension of Simon. She’d had fun chatting with someone so talented and pleasant. But Simon was jealous at the way the headliner made Lydia laugh. 

“He’s not even attractive, Lydia! He’s stupid and fat! He’s not even that funny!”

“Well, if you think that lowly of him, why did you book him?” she wondered as she stared into the night. “We were only talking, Simon. He was giving me career advice. He’s been in the business a long time.”

Simon laughed obnoxiously. “You think he wants to give you career advice, Lydia? He wants to fuck you. That’s the only reason any headliner helps a new comic!”

Lydia didn’t think that was true. She’d been given helpful advice from a few different headliners since starting a little over a year ago. There were some really cool people in comedy who were supportive of newer comics. Typically, women and queer headliners, but some straight guy headliners were kind to new comedians, too. The guy she’d spent the evening talking with seemed kind, and she had a lot of questions. The female headliners around town didn’t give helpful advice to Lydia as much as they used to. Simon was known for not playing many women at his old club and he hadn’t booked one single female comedian at his new club. It’s not as if Lydia owned or booked the club, but she was the gatekeeper’s girlfriend. She didn’t have any control over what Simon did. Plus, Simon had promised to blacklist her if she left him. But they didn’t know any of that. All they knew is he didn’t book them. 

“Simon, he was being nice. He didn’t hit on me at all.”

“He didn’t even know you have a boyfriend, Lydia!”

“What?” she asked.

“You were talking to him all night, and he didn’t know you and I were together until that cunt Cordelia told him! She told me he was going to hit you up for your number when you came back from the bathroom. That’s when she told him you’re mine. Cordelia!” 

She hadn’t told the comedian about Simon because she thought he knew. Everyone knew! Gossip is the currency of comedy. What was she supposed to say to him? “Hey, it’s fun talking to you, you’re so talented! By the way, my boyfriend owns the place.”

“I thought he knew about us, Simon.”

“He’s been shooting his show in L.A., Lydia,” Simon said with a sneer. “He hasn’t been taking dates! He didn’t know we’re a couple! All he knew was some cute blond was hanging on his every word and probably thought you were going back to his hotel with him. He asked Cordelia if you were dating anyone and that’s when she told him you’re with me, you dumb slut!”

“I was just talking to him, Simon.”

“Yeah, well I bet the whole staff is talking about how you were flirting with him! This is great! You made a fool out of me in my own club! I don’t want you there anymore, Lydia. Not after tonight!”

“Simon…”

“That’s it! I have enough to deal with handling fucking Esmerelda and Cordelia and the rest of those twats. I have Tony and his bullshit to contend with. He won’t let me fire Cordelia, that lazy bitch. I think they’re fucking. Why else would he keep her slow, surly ass there?”

“Loyalty, maybe?”

“Shut!! Up!! Lydia!! You’re one to talk about loyalty, sitting in my club flirting with some goomba hack from Staten Island who wants to screw an open miker!”

“I wasn’t flirting with him, Simon.”

“Well, it isn’t going to ever happen again. You’re not coming to the club anymore.”  

“You’re banning me for talking to him?

“I’m banning you for flirting with him, you stupid puttana! There, you like Italian, huh?!” he screamed in her face as he punched the gas pedal and the car raced forward. 

“I’m sorry, Simon. I won’t do it again. Please slow down. I won’t ever talk to any of the headliners at your club. I’m sorry,” she said, crying and terrified.

“Oh, you’re sorry, now? Huh?” he laughed, continuing to speed along I-95. “You’re not going to flirt with the comics, huh? No more of that shit, you dumb slut?!?!”

“I’m sorry, Simon. I promise I won’t talk to any of them. Please slow down.”

“I won’t walk in and catch you laughing with them at the service bar?”

“No, Simon, I promise. Please,” she cried. “Please slow down!”

He’d had a few drinks before leaving the club and he was now barreling along at well over 100 miles per hour. 

“I don’t ever want to see you hanging out with any of the guy comics, Lydia! I’m so pissed at you!” he said as he jerked the steering wheel, angling the car toward the piling to her right. She thought he might slam the passenger side of his car into the concrete. He missed the piling by a couple of feet. 

“I’m sorry, Simon! I made a mistake! I promise I won’t ever do it again!”

“You better not!” he screamed as he continued along the highway. “I’ve worked too hard for some stupid slut to embarrass me in my own club!”

“I’m sorry,” she repeated.

“I should drop you at Kizzy’s. I don’t even want to see your face, you dumb whore.”

“Please, Simon. I’m sorry.”

“Stupid bitch”, he muttered under his breath. “I’m surrounded by stupid bitches. Stop crying!”

But she couldn’t stop crying. She was too scared. She was too angry. “Okay,” she said.

“I don’t want you at the club for a month!”

“Okay. I’m sorry. I should have made sure he knew I had a boyfriend. I’m sorry.”

“You’re damn right, you’re sorry!”

Simon began to slow to the speed limit as they neared the George Washington Bridge.

“Should I call Kizzy?” she asked, trying to sound like she wasn’t crying.

“No! I’m bringing you home. I don’t want you near me, though. You can sleep on the couch. Fuck you.”

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