The Costa Mesa show was fun. The venue was smaller than a lot of the ones we’d been playing and it felt to me like the intensity went up as a result. People were very very into it.
Or maybe I was more energetic since I’d gotten a good night’s sleep. Whatever the reason, we burned with really high energy right out of the gate and the crowd pushed us to keep it up. I had a solo in the middle of the set that I usually played at the very front edge of the stage. This time totally spur of the moment I took a beer from a fan in the front row, drank it, and then used the neck of the bottle as a slide.
Good solo. Good show. Afterward, when we were getting ready to board the bus, Louis handed me a cassette. “Thought you might appreciate this, if not now, someday.”
It was labeled with the date and venue. “Is this from the mixing board?”
“It’s a dub of that.” He shrugged. “Don’t tell Remo.”
“Wait, what? You think he doesn’t know you’re the source of the high quality bootlegs going around?”
“Shhh. Plausible deniability. He knows they’re good for the band’s reputation and the fans, but he can’t say that to the record company.” Louis patted me on the shoulder. “I’m keeping a copy for myself, too. That is, unless you outdo it at Shoreline. Sound there’s great. It’d be hard to beat tonight, though.”
When someone who has seen your show eery single night seems impressed, it’s a sign you did good.
Thus I was in a good mood when we got in the bus. I stowed my notebook with Miles the unicorn, and got a beer and hung around in the back lounge with Remo. It was at least a six hour drive to Shoreline and we’d be spending the overnight in the bus.
Carynne had come along with us. She kissed me on the cheek goodnight. “I’m still on East Coast time,” she said with a yawn and then got into a bunk.
Remo was holding in a laugh, I could see it.
“What?” I demanded.
“And you wonder why people think you’re a couple?”
“People think we’re a couple because they think everyone is straight,” I said, completely seriously. “Speaking of couplehood, how’re things at home? Looking forward to a couple of weeks of diaper changing?”
He got out another beer for himself, asked with a gesture if I needed another one and I answered with a gesture I still had plenty. “What’s funny is I kind of am. I mean, I can’t really explain it but when it’s your own kid’s shit it doesn’t seem as bad.”
“Uh huh. I’ll take your word for it. I don’t think parenting is something I’ll attempt.”
“That’s what I used to say. Now, though? I can’t wait to see the little guy.” Remo stretched out on the banquette bench. “Not what I expected.”
We drank in silence for a little while, listening to the drone of the bus engine.
I put my bottle into the box of empties. “Hey. I could use your advice about something.”
“Anytime.” He sat up a little.
I took the seat closest to him. “Ziggy wants to hire me as music director when he does a non-US tour this fall.”
Remo took a measured swallow of his beer waiting for me to go on.
“If there were no other factors it seems like a no-brainer to take the job. Top dollar, bonuses, excellent gig. But, you know, there are other factors.”
“Like if I go out on the road with him am I going to fuck up what we’ve got going now.”
“What, if it’s okay for me to ask, do you have going now?”
“Well, I guess that’s part of what I’m trying to figure out.” I scrubbed my hair back from my face. “It’s something more than nothing, and I don’t want to lose what it is, that much I know.”
“It’s funny, you’re having almost the same question people who are in long-distance relationships ask about moving in together,” Remo said. “Like, will the relationship actually survive day to day contact or is being apart and then coming together for these short, passionate interludes, what makes it work?”
He shrugged. “I think the only way to know whether it’ll work is to test it, unfortunately.”
“But I look at it this way. If the relationship’s at a point where you’re contemplating moving in together, it’s at a kind of make or break point anyway.” He looked at his hand instead of at me. “Where you can’t really just keep it going the way you had been. So you may as well try it, even if it hastens the inevitable.”
I suddenly realized he was talking about himself and Melissa. “Is she moving in with you?”
“Yep.” He let out a long sigh. “And I’m ecstatic about that but worried that, yeah, we’re going to discover we can’t actually make it work. And with a kid in the picture, well, you know we have to come up with something. Neither of us can just walk away.”
“You don’t sound ecstatic.”
“Honestly? My one worry is that she’ll be lonely and she won’t have the help or support she has in Georgia. Her mother, grandmother, sister, cousin…you met them. I lost track of all the relatives we had on the guest list in Atlanta. She’s used to a whole clan around her.”
“Have you thought about moving there?”
“That’d be tough in a lot of ways, but I’ve thought about it. Thing is, I think being around a clan like that all the time I’d be the one going crazy. I dunno. Until he’s in school we can move around at will. She’s at the house now but she spent most of the last month with her folks. She’ll go back to them when we leave again and then move back in with me in September.”
“Is this why you said this might be the last big tour for a while?”
“Maybe? I said that before I’d even thought it through, but it felt right, and it still does.” Now he looked at me. “Still doesn’t answer your question, though.”
“I know you don’t like him.”
“I’m an overprotective old bastard who doesn’t like to see you get hurt,” he said. “You know him better than I do.”
“He’s grown up a lot recently,” I said.
“So have you,” Remo conceded. “Not to change the subject but you know if Digger follows us to Mountainview I’m going to have to look into, I dunno, a restraining order or something.”
“Jeez, yeah, did Court tell you–?”
“She told me.” He shook his head. “I feel bad, and yet.”
“You and I both gave him a lot of chances to do things right,” I said. “If his life’s going down the drain right now it’s entirely his fault.”
“I’m glad you think that. I was worried you’d be ripping yourself up with guilt.”
“I try not to do that about much, anymore.” I spread my fingers out and looked at them. I needed to file the nails on my right hand. “Mostly by trying to make the right decisions before I have a lot of regrets.”
Remo cracked a wry smile. “Yeah, don’t we all.”
(Can you tell who’s playing lead guitar here? No, it’s not me, it’s another guitarist who got around a lot in those days. My hair ain’t that curly.-d)