You know how in cartoons they often depict someone having an internal debate by putting an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other? And the little angel and devil each puts forth their argument?
I didn’t have an angel and a devil on my shoulders. I had two pathetic, ineffectual weak versions of myself. One of them was saying the following: what the hell is wrong with you? you’ve got people who love you downstairs, you’re strong, you’re over that shit, you’re talented, you’re good-looking, people like you, you wrote a hit song, girls faint when they see you, hot men would line up for you if you let them…
The other one was saying oh shit oh shit fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.
What the fuck is wrong with me, indeed.
You shouldn’t have been shocked by that, voice one said.
But I was! voice two insisted.
I went into the men’s room because I didn’t have enough brain power to think of anything else. I could hear the sound of the crowd starting to take their seats. I locked myself in a stall.
I wasn’t crying. I was kind of hyperventilating.
Voice one: There’s got to be a rational explanation, don’t jump to conclusions. You don’t even know who that guy was.
Voice two: fuck fuck fuck fuck shit shit shit.
You remember how thrown for a loop I was that time I lashed out at him and hurt my thumb? There’s a reason they call it “losing it.” It’s not just losing control, it’s losing your mind. And what I felt like right then was like I was losing my mind. Like every other time I’d lost it was happening to me again simultaneously.
No wonder I was afraid to talk to him. No wonder I’d been so chickenshit about calling him. I felt like I was having a heart attack or a seizure or something. It was like after having kicked the Ziggy habit, my resistance was at an all time low and a single look was an overdose.
Voice number one wouldn’t give up, though. Are you sure that was him and not some fan impersonating him? They do that, you know. Are you sure you didn’t just imagine it? Why the fuck would he be here, for this? He was in Los Angeles yesterday.
But that was yesterday. He could have taken a red-eye.
The thought struck me then that if Ziggy was here, Digger was probably lurking around, too.
Shit. That straightened me right up. Like hell was I going to let Digger see me like this.
I could hear applause, and I could make out the baritone squawk of the PA system. Someone was making some kind of introduction in the auditorium.
I splashed a little water on my face but like I said before I wasn’t crying. I dried my face and then slipped into the back of the main balcony.
Down on the stage they were introducing the director of the film and he was waving to the crowd. He was in a stylishly cut suit. Was that him? The one? In my mind I could definitely picture him in my memory, but I felt like maybe I’d gotten too quick a glimpse to be sure. I might have been retroactively adding him in.
But it would make sense, given Ziggy’s m.o. of using sex to control whoever held the creative strings.
The director was one of those guys who didn’t really know how to hold a microphone and who kept turning his head away from it so some of his words were lost. He said a couple of things about why he wanted to make the film. Then he said he had a special surprise for everyone.
He introduced Ziggy with a wave of his hand toward the balcony I’d been trying to get to.
Ziggy stepped out of the shadows and waved. There was a swell of cheers from down below and he threw some T-shirts, but up here in the balcony the crowd seemed to be mostly guys in their late teens and twenties whose “yeah”s were kind of derisive. Maybe I was being oversensitive. I supposed these were the guys who were there to see Jennifer Carstens’ tits and they were only grudgingly acknowledging the guy who actually saw them in person.
I doubt they were put off by Ziggy’s outfit, like the ET guy had been. This one was quite a bit more butch, though he did have on black lace gloves the rest was a long-cut tuxedo jacket with black satin lapels. When he was out of T-shirts, he sat down with as much dignity as he could muster.
The lights went down, plunging him into shadow as the film started.
He was hurting, that much was clear to me. Maybe you’re seeing what you want to see, I told myself. No. I knew him too well. This was the last place he wanted to be.
I didn’t last ten minutes into the film. The audience was not swayed by the angst evident in the first couple of scenes. Some of them were there because they were Ziggy fans, some were there because they wanted to see Carstens’ tits, and some were there because what the hell, they had won free tickets. The upper balcony wasn’t even full.
I wondered if that boded ill for the success of the movie. I had no way to know.
I went back to the men’s room to make a plan. Okay, what were my choices? Leave? Stay but hide in here? Leaving would probably result in Sarah and Jonathan panicking unnecessarily. I didn’t exactly relish the thought of hiding out in the bathroom for two hours, though. I also didn’t want to see Digger if I could help it.
Antonio. If I could find him, he could tell Sarah and Jonathan I’d slipped out. They could meet me in the lobby of the New York Hilton. Wasn’t that the place Jonathan had said the concierge was the best?
I prowled around a bit. If I knew Antonio, I didn’t think he’d sit through the movie. He’d be checking on things.
I was right. I met him coming up the stairs as I was about to go down. “Tony.”
“He still up here?” He meant Ziggy.
We were stage-whispering. “Far as I know. Why didn’t you tell me Zig was going to be here today!”
“I thought you knew!”
I shook my head, trying to think of what to say.
“I mean,” Antonio went on, “it was supposed to be a surprise for the people but I figured you would know.”
“I haven’t talked to him since the night he fell from the stage,” I blurted out.
“No! The show here in the city!”
“Oh, oh, oh, that one.” Tony looked pained. “I still don’t know what the fuck happened there, boss. I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault.”
But Tony took it like it was. “Look, it’s time for me to get him out of here.”
“Where are you taking him?”
“Back to the hotel.”
He looked around to make sure we weren’t being eavesdropped. “Carlyle. Room 408.”
“Downstairs. I’m leaving him here to gladhand afterward.”
I made a decision. “Get Ziggy out of here. I’ll catch a cab up to the Carlyle.”
“You got it, boss.”
Voice number one had won. You’re not a kid anymore. He’s not trying to hurt you. Sit down and talk for god’s sake. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
Just keep saying that. There’s nothing to be afraid of.