It’s All I Can Do

(Are you joining in the re-read from the beginning? Posting again now at Wattpad! http://www.wattpad.com/story/49160-daron%27s-guitar-chronicles One chapter a day is appearing there from now until it’s caught up! If you do start reading again there, please note you can vote for each chapter! Click the star in the upper right corner on each new chapter page to help upvote it so other Wattpad users can discover it!)

When I turned on the engine the radio came on, and the first thing I heard was Ziggy’s voice.

Universe, I thought, now you’re just fucking with me.

He was in the middle of some kind of on-air appearance. They were blathering about some charity–I eventually gathered it was some kind of fundraising event they were broadcasting live from. I wondered if I could drive to wherever they were.

“So are you going to play a song for us?” the deejay asked.

“He’s going to play it. I’m going to sing it,” Ziggy joked.

Who, who’s going to play it? I thought. I heard someone else’s voice count off in the background and then an acoustic guitar came in.

And then Ziggy started singing. The song started off kind of folky, almost like a sixties-style protest song, but when it came to the chorus I thought, jeez, that deserves to be done with some serious heavy noise, like Nine Inch Nails level or Metallica, but, you know Ziggy, he could be singing a grocery list and he could fill it with drama.

Looking at the words, you could think of it as an environmentalist song, in which case it was actually a little flat or dull, but that almost abstract chorus…

I knew him. It was about fucked up parent-child relationships. And/or maybe ex-lovers.

Fuck.

Here’s pretty much the version he sang:

they say it’s acid rain
eating away the finish
eating away the cold hard edges
ruining the varnish

they say it’s toxic waste
poisoning the water
poisoning the food we’re eating
killing our sons and daughters

words burn
hate churns
leave me
free me

they say it’s a legacy
given to the children
living today through all our messes
inherit the world we’ve built them

words burn
hate churns
leave me
free me

Then the deejay came back on and they nattered a little more, laughing and joking, and then they went to commercial. When they came back from the break they had moved on to their next segment and Ziggy was gone.

I wondered if they’d given the name of the guitar player earlier, before I was listening, or if Ziggy felt he didn’t rate a mention. I was aggravated on the guy’s behalf if the latter.

I turned the engine off and stared at the pay phone. What would happen if I paged him now?

I dug a quarter out of the ash tray where Remo kept them and went to the phone, slotted it in. I dialed again. I punched in the number when prompted. Hung up.

Stood right there. Waited. Tried not to look around for that police car, which would only make me look suspicious.

When the phone rang I nearly jumped out of my skin. I steeled myself for disappointment. It was probably someone looking for a drug dealer or a pimp. I answered it. “Hello?”

“Oh my god, it’s you.” Ziggy. “You’re in Los Angeles.”

I decided not to tell him I’d been here for two months. “Um, yes. Hi.”

Silence from the other end.

Shit. “Zig–” I couldn’t make words come out. I couldn’t think of what I was trying to say. “Can we talk?”

“I don’t know, can we?”

Words burn. His voice dripped with bitterness.

“I… I just…” Argh. What could I say? “I’m sorry.”

“So am I,” he said, which sounded completely wrong. As if what I had meant I was sorry for was that the relationship was over, not for being stupid. Maybe those two things were ultimately the same, though.

“Can I see you?” I sounded pathetic. I thought about the way I’d snuck away from Digger and Mills that time, to find him at the Carlyle Hotel. How both of us had made off for Central Park. Where was that rapport now? Could I get it back?

“I don’t know, Daron.”

“I’m signing the fucking papers today. To close our end of the deal.”

Silence. Jeezus, Ziggy throw me a bone.

“I just want to talk.”

Again, silence. Then, “Welllll, there is one thing I could use your help with.”

“What?”

“I can’t discuss it now.”

“I’m on a pay phone outside a bar. But I’ll be at Remo’s in a little while. You can call me there.”

“Page me the number when you get there.”

“All right.”

He hung up without saying anything more.

I probably deserved that, I told myself.

I drove home in a lather, as you can imagine. Fortunately I did not get into a car wreck. And I paged him the second I got in the house.

An hour went by. Then two. I wondered how I could be sure that Remo had call waiting, still. Eventually I gave in and called Carynne.

“I’m home safe,” I told her.

“Good. So about those papers.”

“I’m signing them and faxing them back. I never want to see them again.”

“That’s a very mature attitude, Daron.”

“Okay, then, seriously. Am I obligated to do anything as a result of these?”

“Well, this part isn’t in writing of course, but we’re going to team up with BNC to sue Digger.”

“Wait, really? Ziggy said Digger would get screwed but I didn’t realize he meant like that.”

“Daron, seriously, Digger doesn’t deserve your sympathy. I think we’ve actually got a pretty strong case.”

“Based on what? Evidence BNC provides?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Carynne, those are the fuckers who doctored their books to screw us in the first place! Yeah I want Digger to get what he deserves but not if it means lying, cheating–”

“Whoa, whoa, I think that’s too strong a way to put it.”

“Now you sound like Ziggy. Are there multiple versions of the truth?”

“There are always multiple versions of the truth when it comes to contracts, dear. That’s why there are courts to decide which interpretation is valid.”

“Ugh. I deeply deeply hate everything about this.”

“Including the million dollars you and the guys are getting.”

That might have made me hate it all the more. But I knew getting the house paid off would be a load off Christian’s mind, and I wasn’t about to let him go back to framing houses or something. Just because I had some heroic ideal about truth. “It feels like… extortion somehow.”

“Bribery, but point taken. We might not end up in court-court. It might go to arbitration.”

“Is that better?”

“In an ideal world, Digger settles with us before it has to go that far.”

“That makes it feel even more like extortion!”

She sighed. “Daron, for fuck’s sake, there is no universe in which Digger doesn’t actually owe you money, whether morally or because of specific fiscal shenanigans. I’m sure of that.”

“I don’t like greed.”

“You’re not being greedy. You’re not even being vindictive, particularly. Maybe I am a weensy bit, but only a bit.”

“Fine. I just better not have to testify or anything.”

She didn’t say anything about that. I signed the papers and fed them into the fax machine one by one.

And still no call from Ziggy. The motherfucker was making me wait.

(P.S. Originally the last line of this post was the entirety of the next post. Then I decided that was just cruel. So Ziggy’ll make Daron wait extra-long, but I won’t. See you on Thursday… -ctan)

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Comments 4

  1. Kunama wrote:

    *cackles* maybe you paged Ziggy the wrong number. Because you were in such a lather.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    oh jeez yeah. But then I don’t want to page him *again* and just make it seem like either I’m nagging or like I’m going nuts.

    He knows I’m going nuts. Who am I kidding.

    [Reply]

    Posted 16 Sep 2014 at 10:27 am
  2. Amber wrote:

    Thank you for not making us wait even though that would have been a very impactful post with just the one line. I’m grateful that you’re not that sadistic.

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    If it was just a novel, I would have. :-)

    [Reply]

    Posted 16 Sep 2014 at 11:52 am
  3. Connie wrote:

    So glad you’re not making us wait. It’s long enough b/t now and Thursday!

    [Reply]

    ctan Reply:

    And especially since then there would be a long wait until Tuesday! I thought about sneaking it in as a one-line chapter on Wednesday, but… nah. :-)

    [Reply]

    Posted 16 Sep 2014 at 7:24 pm
  4. Janie Friedman wrote:

    Oh, thank you so much for not doing that to us, ctan! It would have been extraordinarily effective, but truly diabolical and I’m very grateful that you chose a different path.

    Daron, it’s not greedy to get what you’re owed from Digger, it’s just…justice. And hang in there on trying, again, to communicate with Ziggy. I have a feeling that in the long term he will turn out to be worth all the pain in the “present”. Of course, I’m a hopeless romantic, so this opinion should be taken with a large dose of salt…

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    Still feels greedy. I trust Carynne, though.

    I hope I’m not a hopeless romantic. I hope I’m a hopeful one.

    [Reply]

    Bill Heath Reply:

    He embezzled your money to start his own company. It is glaringly obvious he embezzled some or all of the tour support money that is the crux of the financial issues with BNC. He tried to pimp you out to Jonathan and then to Ziggy. He lied to keep you and Ziggy apart at Betty Ford and to poison Ziggy against you. He conspired with Mills to kill your only child.

    He owes you a suicide, two if that’s possible. The money is only a tiny downpayment.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    Well when you put it that way…

    Really all I want is his absence. I don’t give a fuck if he succeeds or fails. I just want him out of my damn life.

    [Reply]

    Posted 16 Sep 2014 at 9:39 pm

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