I don’t know what time it was when I went to sleep. I woke up what felt like hours later, and lay there feeling sort of stiff and uncomfortable, so I got out of my bunk. Everyone else was asleep, or at least in their bunks with their curtains closed. Walking up and down the bus wasn’t such a great idea, since if we turned or changed lanes you could get knocked around. So I only walked up and down a couple of times before I settled in the back, paging through the magazine Christian had left there.
It was still pitch dark out, or at least it looked like it through the tinted windows.
I went back to the storage drawer where I had my stuff. My writing notebook was there. I scratched out some lyrics in it, leaning back with my feet crossed. The AC was so strong I had to go get the blanket from my bunk and then settle down again.
It’s not that easy to just sit down and write song lyrics. At least if you’re me. I get a kind of tune running through my head, but the words are only part of how it sounds. Figuring out what’s going to fit without a guitar to fiddle around with is tough. So I didn’t just sit and write like this very often.
But it’s kind of an interesting challenge at the same time. And I realized while sitting there that Ziggy didn’t play the guitar, so he had to do it like this. I wondered if he sang aloud, or how loud, when he was working stuff out. I could picture him there in his living room that looked like a cross between a bordello and a funeral home, belting it out. Or maybe just sitting in a corner like some romantic poet. Both. Knowing Ziggy it was probably both.
Anything can be the basis for a song. Anything. A sandwich. Shoes. A white shirt. The weather. Everything can be a metaphor. Anything can end up being a great hook. Some bands take that to more extremes than others. They Might Be Giants and R.E.M. were high on the list of the bands I thought most likely to write a song about a shoe or a sandwich.
I wrote about a poet. Then I tore the page out and crumpled it up. I wasn’t really writing to write something good. I was writing because my brain was too restless to sleep. I yawned to see if it felt like I was getting sleepy again. I wasn’t. The sound of the bus seemed loud. I wondered if I could sleep with my earplugs in. Then I wondered where they were. Colin would know.
I was telling myself I shouldn’t wake him up, yet contemplating doing so, when someone else climbed out of bed.
Christian. He used the head. I wondered if he was going to climb back into bed then. But he didn’t. He came and sat down across from me, looking pretty wrecked.
Which meant I again got to ask someone else, “You okay? You look like you got run over.”
He groaned. “I don’t sleep so good in these coffins. Its getting to me.”
“It’s too bad we can’t take a foot off mine and add it to yours,” I said.
“Yeah, thanks for the thought, though.” He rubbed his rumpled face. His hair was all over the place. He let out a sigh, then turned the conversation to business. “So we meet up with Megaton next show?”
“Have you heard the album?”
“I haven’t. I meant to try to pick it up along the way or ask for one from the BNC folks but I forgot.” I shrugged. “Are they as heavy as their name suggests?”
“Not sure. Maybe CB has a copy.”
“One of us should ask her when she gets up.” Carynne had acquired another nickname, CB for “Carynne, Busy-bee” I think. Nicknames didn’t have to make sense.
Then we sat there in the road noise for a while, neither of us saying anything.
“You think they did the painting yet?” I asked.
“Back home? Yeah, probably. I should call Lars when we get to Dallas.” Then he put his head down on his arms on the dinette. “I’m exhausted.”
“We’ve got a long way to go,” I said. “Is it aftereffect from the peyote?”
He looked up. “Shit, yeah, probably is. I’m probably not drinking enough water, either.”
“Well, there’s a ton of Gatorade in the fridge.” I pointed to it. “It isn’t all for me.”
He pulled out a bright orange bottle and took a deep swig of it. “Thanks. You’re being so nice to me.”
“Wha–? Why wouldn’t I be nice to you, Chris?”
“Forget it. That didn’t come out like I meant.”
I waited to see if he’d try to explain what he meant, but apparently he’d really meant it when he said to forget it.
He guzzled back the rest of the bottle, chucked it into the trash flap, and then stretched. “I’m going to try sleeping again. G’night, Daron.”
“Nighty night,” I said.
Once he had climbed back into his bunk, I paced up and down the bus a few more times, waiting to start feeling sleepy again. No luck.
I sat back down with the notebook and wrote another crap song about Ziggy, again with the goth poet image, only this time I could picture the video to the song, too, Ziggy in a white poet’s shirt, while someone drew angel wings in Sharpie on the back of it. I wrote a bunch of notes about that, just jotting down the images that came into my head, until the images got too incriminating.
And then I had a different problem from insomnia. Well, I had limited choices. Jerk off as quietly as possible in my bunk, or try out the shower.
I decided to try the shower. The water was lukewarm, which was fine with me. I didn’t need the water anyway, except to mask the noise and then to rinse away the evidence. Which it did.
And then I slept.