Stone Church
Newmarket, NH. 04.05.23

image taken of graffiti in the bathroom of The Stone Church in Newmarket, NH. this night i saw performance by a local folk punk artist, shewhoweeps, and amalgamate mediocre but captivating musician brook pridemore. the headliner was rent strike, a band my friend willow is a big fan of and the reason we went. i was outside for most of their act, too drunk at this point in the night to handle the noise without my head spinning, and too caffeinated to sit idly. i went outside and met other patrons, regulars to this scene. a woman in her 30s with green hair greeted me, taking a break from the concert to hit her vape. she came almost every night, she said. it offered her a refuge and good company during a period of instability and she never left. the venue was under new management since she was a teenager, the last time she spent any significant time there. "they're great", she said as an older woman stepped from from the big wooden doors at the front of the venue. stone church was a fitting title for the building, looking rather medieval in nature and looming up through the wooded parking lot as a quaint monolith of dark stone. the woman, in her 50s or 60s, stepped down from the doors on sturdy wooden steps much newer than the rest of the building. she lit a cigarette and stood without greeting by the railing of the patio we all stood on. "there she is now," the regular spoke. alcohol in my system wearing off, i went to the car to warm up my throat before stepping back inside to warm my body.

the timeline of events is sensibly hazy now, but later that night i stepped outside again. this time two men stood on the patio, cigarettes in their right hands and beers in their left. they staggered slightly, one man much more than the other. i would come to find out that he was 44 when we struck up conversation together. he had just moved back in town, a native to newmarket whom had left for california in his 20s. his mother was sick and he acted as her carer. he didn't strike me as the most responsible man, having 3 or 4 previous wives and now a bachelor, i don't think he would've done it so easily if he had a life he was attached to back on the west coast. "you look young," he said to the man next to him, a blondish man in his mid thirties, stubble framing the cigarette dangling haphazardly from his mouth. a hat sporting the logo of an outdoor company cast a light shade over his bleary eyes. "but you look really young," he said turning to me, "like really really young." he chuckled. a month into being 19, i did and still do look young, though older than i actually am. i don't remember our conversation fully, but i do remember the feeling of lowered inhibition and alcohol acting as an aphrodisiac. his eyes lingered on me, and i knew what he was thinking about. flirting with older men is easy, especially ones frustrated with their life circumstances and looking for something exciting. i wondered if he had ever experimented with men before, i wondered if he had ever considered it before. he certainly seemed horny enough, desperate enough. he didn't seem the type that women were likely to chase. i was okay being his object of unsure desire that night, i don't mind admitting that i like the attention, and i know how to get it.

"what are you doing outside? shouldn't you be inside hearing the show?" his words came out slightly slurred, with the cadence of a man who had been drunk frequently enough to control his tone.

"i just needed some air, and i'm only really here for my friends. i like the music but i like finding conversation better," i stepped closer to him. i stood on one side of the fenced in patio while he was on the other, we were on equal footing as i had just come back from the car i had gotten another swig of jack from. the gravel underneath me crunched as i leaned my elbows on the railing.

"do you need a pep talk?" he said, clearly shy afterwards as he took a step back and a swig of beer. even in the innocence of his words, i think he was surprised by the candor behind them.


he contemplated his next move for a moment, sighing out a light hearted but heavy breathed "fine."

he leaned in close again. cupping my face in his hands, covering much of my cheeks. the roughness and size contrasted my skin and face, increasingly red. he slapped me firm on both sides, disguising any of my own redness with that which he inflicted. the eye contact between us was intense, and i wish he would know that it was okay. that i had done this before, as much as my demeanor demonstrated that already.

"Get back in there and have fun." he pushed me onto the patio with a slap on the back and i listened. his authority was as absolute as it was arousing.

go back.