Heart Like a Wheel

So the first thing that I did when I got to LA was eat. Remo took me through an In and Out Burger drive-thru (or was it Fatburger? not sure, he was driving, I just did the eating…) and then we went home and drank bourbon while sitting outside by the pool while I told him bits and pieces of everything that had been going on with me. So he eventually pieced together what all was going on with me and Ziggy and BNC and the various messed up situations intersecting there. He didn’t say much about it, though. Yet.

I slept until one in the afternoon the next day. I crawled out of the guest room to the kitchen and stared at the contraption that I thought might be a coffee grinder and pondered whether I had enough brain cells to operate it without breaking it or maiming myself.

“That’s my new juicer,” Remo pointed out, when it was clear I did not have the required degree in rocket science to make it go.

So I sat at the counter while he juiced things and gave them to me in a suspicious-looking brownish-greenish liquid.

“You let me sleep late,” I said, steeling myself to take a sip.

“Sleeping late is good,” he said. “Come on. People like us need to be at our peak at eight, nine, ten at night.”

“You have a point. Although to my body it’s like four PM right now.”

“Just proves you needed it.”

“I’ve been sleeping for shit lately, now that you mention it.” I tried the drink. It was pleasantly carroty. Huh. “So, when do you leave again?”

“Couple of days. We’re packing the equipment tonight. You want to come help?”

“Sure. Wait. What are the chances I run into Digger there?”

“He moved offices to somewhere swankier a while ago, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“Ah.” I had not kept up. “Well, sure.”

So that night I got to see the guys, all of whom assumed when they saw me that I’d decided to come along on the tour with them, and I had to explain that no, I was actually house-sitting.

House-sitting is a great euphemism for licking your wounds. Quick, someone write a song about it.

Martin had a girlfriend there. She very reluctantly left before we were done messing around with equipment: as I might have mentioned before, drummers have more stuff than anyone. Martin seemed really sad to see her go, too.

Confession: I didn’t remember her name. And I know I’m crap with names but I think Carynne’s right when she says I forget women’s names more easily than men’s. Then again it turns out I’m terrible at remembering the names of people’s significant others. Like somehow I got it in my head that Matthew’s boyfriend’s name was Dennis, when it was Archie. I apologize if at some point I call him Dennis. In my mind he’ll always be “Matthew’s boyfriend _______” and the last bit is the part that gets lost easily in my brain.

When we were done, Martin and I broke off from the others and went to get something to eat. Late night at the deli was an L.A. thing, you know. This was not the same deli where me and Jonathan used to go, it was a different one. That’s how much of a thing it was.

“You seem like you’re really into her,” I said, when we were settled and had ordered.

“Yeahhhhh,” he said, making the word extra long so that it was more a confession than simple agreement. “Going away’s going to be hard this time.”

“This time?”

“Well, you know, usually it’s time to move on when a tour comes up anyway, whether we’re admitting it or not. This one… I’m going to be wrecked if things can’t be the same after I get back.”

A busboy plopped a tumbler of seltzer down in front of me. It was hard to imagine Martin wrecked over a relationship. I’d never seen it before. “Matthew said something similar to me the other day.”

“No shit? You’ve seen him?”

“I was in New York. He’s doing great, and kind of amazing, Archie is doing great.” (I might have said Dennis. If I did, Martin didn’t call me on it.)

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah.” When Matthew had first introduced us had been over a year ago, in New York that time we… you know which time I mean. At the time Matthew had said he was getting off the road because he wanted to enjoy what time Archie, who was HIV+, had left. I said what Martin was avoiding: “I didn’t think he’d still be around this long.”

“No kidding.”

“He’s been doing well, apparently. Some of it’s better drugs, some of it’s nutrition and supplements and it all sounds pretty complicated, but it’s working, I guess.”

“Did he have it full blown?”

AIDS was the word Martin didn’t say but I heard it loud and clear. “I don’t know. They didn’t dwell on the details and I sure as hell didn’t pry. But yeah. Matthew felt like even though he’s doing way better, he feels like he doesn’t want to hit the road because a lot can happen in a couple of months. At the same time, I think he’s starting to feel a little trapped.”

“Yeah?”

“He didn’t say that, but that was the feeling I was starting to get.”

“You sure it isn’t that you feel like you want to hit the road and so you ascribe those feelings to others?”

“I suppose that’s a possibility. But anyway, what about you? What are you going to do to keep the flame burning when you’re not home?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean are you going to, like, send her postcards from every city to let you know you’re thinking about her, or what?”

Martin looked at me with a stunned expression. “That is a fantastic idea. Wow. How did you think of that?”

“Uh…”

“I mean, that’s brilliant. I wonder if I can get one of the roadies to do it for me.”

“Doesn’t that kind of negate the point?”

“Isn’t the point to make her feel like I’m thinking about her?”

“If you actually write the postcards, though, won’t you be?”

Martin had a little while to think as then food started landing on our table. While I was busy dipping my french fries in my chocolate shake, he tried to explain. “See, the thing is, on the road, there’s so much to think about, I really don’t think about home. It’ll go completely out of my mind. She will go completely out of my mind. But if I deputize a roadie to do it, at least it’ll remind me? I wonder if that would work. I mean, I know it’ll work to make her feel like I’m thinking about her, but wow, that’s a revelation, maybe me thinking about her on a regular basis while I’m traveling would actually have a really good effect on me, you know?”

“Gee, you think?”

He sighed. “Everyone’s got to deal with this somehow. Every one of us. Unless your relationship is with someone you tour with. But hardly anyone has that.”

I had a pang of thinking about Ziggy. What I thought about wasn’t the sex. I thought about that night in Pittsburgh (was it Pittsburgh?) when we stayed up all night talking in the bus parked outside the motel where we had perfect good beds to sleep in.

I missed him. Plain and simple. I missed him.

Something was simple, at least.

(Site news: We’re officially started a re-read of Daron’s Guitar Chronicles over on Wattpad! Right now you can read posts 1-30 starting here: WATTPAD! On September 15 we’ll start adding one new post a day! Please come join the discussion on Wattpad and encourage your friends, who might have felt intimidated by starting such a long serial or like they missed the boat, to join in this time around! -ctan)

(You get two different songs with this song title! One that was a hit from 1990 and was part of the last gasp of synthpop having any remaining freshness wrung from it by the commercial machine, the other a classic guitar track from the Steve Miller band. -d)

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