“Okay guys... I have an announcement to make!” Dylan said.
It was six o clock on a Sunday evening and Dylan had gathered all the staff together for a meeting. Brett was there, beaming like an idiot, because he knew what the announcement was going to be. They had ordered Thai take-out for everyone and the entire crew was looking at Dylan expectantly, some still chewing their food.
Danny started a drumroll on the table, which was met with a look of utter annoyance from Tim, who was clearly pissed no one had told him about the announcement first.
“We have gotten a permit to extent our opening hours on Fridays and Saturdays from 4pm to 4am, and Sundays from 4pm until the usual 2am. They called me Friday with the OK and I’m gonna sign the paperwork tomorrow at city hall.”
“Whoop!” Danny yelled, and was met with loud cheers from Brett, Karim and Jacco. Chan was silent.
“What are we going to do with dinner?” Tim said, nibbling on a piece of chicken.
“You’ve got Thai food in your mouth and you’re asking about dinner?” Danny replied before Dylan could say anything. He picked it up fast, before Tim could voice any more complaints. Dinner was actually something Dylan had been thinking about.
“Well actually, I thought it would be a good idea to create extra shifts in the weekend. Some of us will start at 15.30 to open up, and work until 20.30. The evening shift will be 20.30-4.30 on Fridays and Saturdays. I would like one person to get in half an hour early, or stay half an hour late, so I get a break too, because the first weeks I’ll be here all the time. If everything goes well, I would like to take the Saturday off, and put Tim in charge, if he wants to.”
Tim looked at Dylan, then at Brett, and when they both nodded, he smiled slyly. “Will I get a raise?”
“We’ll discuss that at the end of the year, Tim.” Dylan said sternly. “Now, what I’d like you guys to do is build a roster that would work for you. I need to see if there are any blanks, we’ll have to fill in. At this moment I think the extra afternoon shifts could be done by 3 people, but we’ll have to check out how busy it will get. Also, I’d like to kick off the first Friday afternoon opening with a special craft beer and live music party to celebrate our new opening hours. Let me know if you want to help.”
“I’ll make a poster! And I can do Facebook and Insta updates!” Danny cheered enthusiastically. “Do you already have a live act in mind?”
As a matter of fact Dylan did, but he wanted to keep quiet about it, until he had asked Ian properly. He dropped an empty schedule on the table and watched how Danny enthusiastically stared writing his name in. He knew the guy was a little tied for cash, so he was probably happy with the extra shifts. Dylan scanned the faces at the table and noticed Chan looking incredibly uncomfortable.
“Chan, what’s up?” Dylan said, taking the empty seat next to the small Chinese guy.
“I don’t know what Sin-Wa will be okay with me working until 4.30.” He said, shyly.
“It’s okay if you just call him and ask. But Chan, it really is about what YOU want. If Sin-Wa loves you, he will respect your wishes.”
“You don’t understand.” The little guy said. “He loves me very much, but he doesn’t like me working as it is… I don’t want to get in a fight with him. I owe him everything.”
This didn’t sit right with Dylan. He tried pleading with Chan, saying he’d been in a similar situation, where his rich boyfriend didn’t want him to get a job. Explaining that he had wanted to be able to take care of himself, same as Chan. Telling him that when he had found a job anyway, his boyfriend had accepted that. It was all true.
“And how did your relationship turn out after that?” Chan asked. And Dylan really didn’t know how to answer that in any way that wouldn’t completely undermine his point.
Chan seemed to be able to read his face and sighed. “Yeah, thought so. I’ll just go home and talk to him. Send me a picture of the roster these guys come up with. I’ll check the blanks with Sin-Wa and we’ll see what he says, okay?”
“Okay.” Dylan said. Defeated. So far for emancipation.
As expected, there were more holes in the new schedule that Chan would be able to full up, even with the full collaboration of his man. Danny promised to go ask around for a part-time bartender and Jacco said he would do the same. Karim proposed his new boyfriend for the job, but Dylan got the feeling that that would be getting very awkward very soon, so he politely sidetracked that idea for the time being.
When it was almost opening time, Dylan cleaned up the mess from the food, bid everyone a good evening and promised to send them the new schedule within three days. Danny and Tim stayed, since it was their normal workday. Both of them were insanely cheerful. Danny kept on spewing idea’s for next Friday’s party and Tim’s happiness was expressed by his choice of music. When it turned out to be a rather slow evening, both of them took turns in dancing with the regulars.
At one point, Dylan had to intervene into their celebration, pointing out to Tim that getting a blowjob in the toilet wasn’t the type of behaviour that was expected of someone that would be in charge on their busiest day of the week.
Tim had apologised profusely and promised it would never happen again, but Dylan couldn’t quite shake the feeling that he couldn’t let these guys out of his sight.
The next morning Dylan was woken up by Apple, who had seemingly ran out of Cat kibble. He tried to go back asleep after he fed his cat, but the sun made too great of an impression. It had been grey and drizzly for weeks, but the weather almost looked like a summers day from inside the apartment.
Dylan stepped out on the balcony to take it in fully and was almost swept away by the cold breeze. Had it been freezing over night?
Completely awakened, Dylan grabbed himself some fruit for breakfast, then went for a run. He hadn’t done that in ages, but it was sure good to get some exercise. As he ran through the narrow streets, he glanced at the various monumental buildings. The experience was completely different from running in the forest, like he used to when he was still living down south. People were also looking at him like he was crazy. Probably the people in Amsterdam took the car out to some green spot and ran there, but Dylan didn’t care. Running through the streets was as rewarding as running through the forest, the smell was just worse.
Monday morning Amsterdam smelled of fumes and cars and polluted canals, with the faint smell of urine that seemed to linger everywhere. Being 9.30am on a normal workday there wasn’t much traffic though. Not compared to early mornings and weekends, that was. And there was a lot so see.
Dylan remembered a map he had obtained in his first week that showed all the architectural highlights of the inner city and decided to run that route. When he came home two hours later he was drenched in sweat and happily exhausted. He still had an hour and a half before he was expected at city hall, so after he had taken a much needed shower, he made himself an elaborate extra breakfast, which kind of made him feel like a hobbit. He put on Ian’s ‘Enjoy Your Day’ setlist and smiled.
‘Hey, I put some new shoes on, and suddenly everything is right. I said, hey I put some new shoes on, and everybody's smiling, it's so inviting’
It reminded him to go ask Ian about playing at Mercury on Friday. He would do that after the signing, since it would be rude to wake Ian up too early. Dylan smiled as he thought of his neighbour. He never thought living next door to a musician would be a good thing. It didn’t bother him to hear him playing once in a while, and the guy had given him an entirely new appreciation for music. It had done a lot for him so far, made him feel again.
It seemed he really had made a friend here. A real one. Not just being tolerated into some existing group of friends, but a person that wanted to spend time with him, just because of him. Ian loved the stories he told, said he used them as writing material. Oh, right. He was his muse.
They had kept that joke since the mushroom accident, and hearing either of them say it always made him feel warm inside. Who would’ve thought I’d ever be someone’s muse, he thought as he smiled happily.
When Dylan came back from a successful signing session at city hall, there was a note on his door. It said: ‘Celebratory dinner for successful muses 19.00 at 2B’.
Successful muses? What was that all about? Was Ian throwing him a dinner party now? Dylan knocked on the Ian’s door. He needed to know what the hell was up. Last time someone wanted to celebrate something with him, didn’t end so well. Besides, it was getting weird how much Ian was doing for him. It was starting to get awkward.
“The note said seven! I’m not nearly finished yet!” Ian shouted out as he opened the door ajar. He was wearing an apron and was covered in batter of some sort. There were even pieces of it in his hair. He was looking a little frazzled.
“Why am I getting yet another gift Ian? What on earth could I have possibly done…”
Ian beamed. Dylan could swear his eyes actually shone. “They took it! They ran with the song! Dylan! The studio loved Mania. They’re recording it with Christine Baker! I met her this morning and she even wants me to write her more songs! I’m so happy! And since your story inspired the song, and you helped me recover from writing it, I’m throwing us a celebratory dinner. I’m cooking now, so be happy and go do your thing. I’ll see you at seven!”
The door closed in his face. Dylan smiled. Ian looked so excited. He had no idea what any of it actually entailed, but it had something to do with the blood-stained lyrics Dylan had found when cleaning Ian’s place weeks earlier. And apparently some popstar who was going to pay him handsomely for it. Something like that probably. Dylan wondered why Ian couldn’t just get famous singing his own songs. He was so good…
Then again, if Ian was happy selling his songs, then Dylan was happy for him too. He smiled and went out to buy a bottle of champagne. You can’t show up to a dinner empty-handed, now can you?