I found it somewhat mortifying to learn that the entire time we’d been fucking, and arguing, and fucking again, Antonio was waiting around a couple of miles away.
Ziggy paged him, but I answered when the kitchen phone rang.
“Yellow. Tony, that you?”
“It is. You rang? Or was that Zig?”
“Zig.” Ziggy was gesturing impatiently for the phone. I held the cradle with both hands to my head so he couldn’t pry it away.
“Are you kicking him out, then?” Tony asked. “Or are you keeping him for a while?”
“I don’t know. Hang on.”
Ziggy hadn’t actually told me his preference when he’d paged. “Tony wants to know if he should come pick you up or not,” I told him, so I could find out myself.
Ziggy had gotten fully dressed–white jeans, black motorcycle jacket–but had washed his face and his hair fell in silky wisps, ungelled. “Well, are you busy?”
“Um….” How could I answer that? I knew how it would go if he stayed for a couple of days. If he wasn’t there I’d work non-stop, like I had been. If he was there… I’d spend all my time paying attention to him. I doubted I would have the willpower to ignore him. Whether we were fighting or not. “A little?”
“Do you want me to stick around?” he asked.
Argh. Why were we having this conversation while Antonio was listening? Of course what I should have done was hang up and tell Tony we’d call him back. Instead I said, “I’m afraid to let you out of my sight again. But what I’d like even more is for you to leave and come back in a couple of days.”
“A couple of days? Like Friday?”
“What day is today?” I had to ask.
“Tuesday.” He did a bad job of hiding his smirk. “You know Thursday’s Thanksgiving, right?”
“Next Thursday, I mean. Next week.”
“Okay, jeez, don’t scare me like that.” Although, truthfully, I hadn’t tracked on the fact that it was next week, either. That reminded me that I had plans to go to New York for Christmas to meet Remo and the guys. “Seriously, Zig–”
“You’ve got wheels? Meet me Friday at this thing.” He wrote down an address for me. “Come get me and I’ll come up here for the weekend.”
“Okay.” That seemed reasonable no matter how I sliced it. I handed him the phone then.
“All clear, Ton’. Come get me.” They exchanged a few more words and then Ziggy hung up, and said to me, “He’ll be here in five or ten minutes.”
“What? Where the hell has he been?”
“Drinking coffee on a patio somewhere nearby he said.”
“Whose patio?” I was thinking he had a friend in the neighborhood or something. “He’s just been waiting for you to be done with me?”
“Or you with me. It’s all right. He likes coffee.”
“Well, I wasn’t sure how long we’d be. And he didn’t want to drive all the way back to the city if things between us blew up.”
“Things between us did blow up.”
“Well, but not to the point where I had to storm out. Or you kicked me out.” He shrugged and opened the fridge. “Are you starving? I’m starving.”
“Now that you mention it…”
“Come with us. We’ll go get something to eat and then drop you back here.”
That was sensible. “If we just do one of the local places, maybe.”
“You’d know better than me where we should go.”
“I’ll put on a cleaner shirt.”
So I put on a cleaner shirt and Ziggy gelled his hair and gave himself just a touch of eyeliner. This wasn’t a pretentious area, really. The canyon had its share of hippies (both rich and poor) and throwbacks and generally was not a glamor spot. Which was why Remo liked it, I think. Not a glamor spot but not a slum, either.
We got in the car and I think it was the least comfortable I’d ever been in front of Tony. Thinking about him waiting around… all I could imagine was that he must have been wondering what we were doing. Fighting, having sex, or both? The entire conversation itself was about coffee, not sex, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
“There are two basic places to eat in the Canyon,” I said. “One has good coffee, the other has good pie.”
“I was at the one with the good pie,” he said drily, looking over the front seat at us.
“You were sitting at Four and Twenty this whole time?” My cheeks were flushed.
“Yeah. Come on. The pie’s worth going back for more.” Tony, for his part, didn’t seem fazed by anything we did or might have done.
Not even the argument we had when we got to the pie place. “Wait for us in the car, willya, Ton’?” Ziggy asked him.
“What? Don’t be silly. He can come in with us.”
“Daron, it’s not a big deal. We can handle being in there by ourselves. We don’t need a bodyguard–”
“No no, I mean, you’re going to make him wait out here while we eat? He should come eat with us.”
Tony cleared his throat. “I’m fine to wait in the car.”
“I gotta say, though, that feels so wrong to me.” So here I was arguing for Tony to come in with us despite the fact I was so uncomfortable with him at the moment. I guess I was less comfortable with us treating him like a footman or carriage driver than I was with him overhearing more of our possible crap.
Tony said, “Boss, relax. I’m an employee–”
“You’re a friend,” I insisted.
“I’m a confidant, certainly. I mean, I get it. You feel weird telling me to wait in the car when we’ve been close. So close I’ve seen Z-man here crawl all up in your lap when he was high as a kite on Ecstasy.”
Ziggy laughed. “God! I forgot about that night. You!” He pointed at me. “You pawned me off on Colin. Fucking hell that guy can fuck. I could barely sit the next day.”
I had kind of forgotten about it, too. “Yeah. Okay. Confidant. That doesn’t mean you should get left in the car like a dog.”
“I did already have pie,” Tony pointed out.
“Yeah, but.” I folded my arms, unable to make a rational argument. It simply felt wrong to me.
“This is why I knew Tony was the right guy to hire,” Ziggy said.
“Because he already knows all about you and me. And I know you trust him.”
“I thought the important thing was that you trust him?”
“You know me. Always multiple motivations.”
In the end I won, though, or maybe you could say pie won, as Tony admitted there was a pie of the day he hadn’t tried yet. So we went in and had pie, all three of us. We were the last three customers to come in, and we were the last three to leave, too.
While we were eating, Ziggy said, “If you had to chose between us being boyfriends and being bandmates which would you pick?”
“That’s like those stupid questions people ask like if you had to die which would you pick, being drowned or in a plane crash?”
“You’re comparing us to a plane crash?”
“That’s not what I meant and you know it. It’s a fake hypothetical choice. I’ll tell you one thing. We’re never going to be ‘boyfriends.'”
“I tried the boyfriend thing, remember?”
“So you did. Hey, one thing you can say you’ve done that I haven’t,” Ziggy said, looking a little scandalized to realize that I was “ahead” of him on something.
“And let me tell you. After three months I was bored. And I am betting you’d get bored even faster.”
“Okay, so not boyfriends.” Ziggy was being kind of relentless about this, I noticed. “What, then.”
“That’s what we’re going to figure out,” I told him. “But we sure as hell aren’t figuring it out tonight.”
He pouted but didn’t argue the point. I guess the mere fact that we could discuss the existence of a relationship even if we didn’t know what to call it made both of us feel better. We both walked away reassured that there was something worth chewing on there, even if eventually we ripped it to shreds. Insert visual of two dogs playing tug of war with a moon-like Frisbee here.
By the time they left me off at Remo’s again I was feeling pretty mellow about the prospects in front of me, even if I didn’t decide to join his band. Of course Ziggy had hired a guy I trusted, I thought, if he wanted me to come work for him.
When we parted I told Tony to look after him, and I meant it. “Don’t let anything happen between now and when I tear him a new one next time I see him,” I said through Tony’s open window.
“Hey!” Ziggy said, but really couldn’t protest. He rolled down his own window. “Does that mean you’re thinking about my offer?”
“You haven’t made me an offer yet,” I pointed out.
“Tell me what you want,” he countered.
“Maybe I will. Friday.”
“Heh.” He blew me a kiss and rolled up the window and I stood there watching while the town car backed down the driveway and then sped away.
It felt inevitable that I was going to take the job and I did not like that feeling of inevitability one bit. This was going to take some thinking.