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Microsoft Word - 2014_Great_American_Fiction_Contest-This_Elegant_Ruin-by_Erin_Bartels.docx

A burst of dissonance assaulted him and he would have shut the door again had it not been flung all the way open by a heavily tattooed and sneering young woman on her way out. Steeling himself, Garrison walked in, then fumbled a moment for his wallet to pay the cover charge. He searched the crowded room for somewhere to sit, then settled for leaning on a bit of wall where he had a fairly unobstructed view of the small stage. The music blared through enormous amplifiers stacked on either side of the band. To an ear attuned over decades to the slightest nuances of volume and tone, the sound spewing forth from the stage was painful. Behind the drum set, Garrison saw a man walloping each drum and cymbal as if he were cutting down a tree with an ax. The sounds that were being scraped from the lead guitar set Garrison’s teeth on edge, and the rhythm guitarist and the drummer seemed to be having an ill-timed dispute about tempo. When he finally caught a glimpse of Anna over the crowd, he hardly recognized her. Her eyes were lidded in heavy black makeup, her lips a deep red, her beautiful hair streaked with blue and gathered into two low pigtails. Instead of the elegant black dress she wore to performances with the symphony, she wore tight jeans tucked into tall black leather boots and a tiny black tank top that said “GIRL” in shiny purple rhinestones. Her bass guitar slung low across her narrow hips, Anna occasionally


Microsoft Word - 2014_Great_American_Fiction_Contest-This_Elegant_Ruin-by_Erin_Bartels.docx
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