Goodbye Cruel World

Life felt very unreal for the next few days, like I was in a cellophane bubble. That feeling was uncomfortably similar to the way I’d felt while we were in South America. Like I could go through the motions but I was somehow walled off from everyone else by glass.

I mentioned this to Court and Remo. I think we were in a Denny’s after we’d met with the funeral director. I was like, hey guys, is this normal?

Remo nodded and called it the “Twilight Zone.” And that’s what it felt like, like we were in an off-kilter reality that’s not quite here and not quite there. A reality where someone who had taken up a lot of real estate in our emotional maps was no longer present.

Speaking of no longer present, Ziggy’s absence was noticed. When Remo asked where he was, I just said he had something to do. When he still wasn’t back a day later, Court asked, and I tried to say the same thing.

She wasn’t as easy to brush off. We were at the hotel by then, where he’d left the car in the parking lot and the keys in our room. “Did he go back to New York?”

“I don’t know where he went. Not exactly.” I went to my room and she followed me. I did not mind this at all. Being with someone accentuated the cellophane-wrapped distance between me and other people, but being alone was worse.

“What do you mean, not exactly?”

“I know he went to talk to Digger. To keep him away from here.”

Court opened my fridge and found the little bottles of ginger ale I had stashed there. She opened one for herself, and poured it into a glass with ice, like a civilized person.

(I drank mine from the bottle and got fizz up my nose.)

“You think Digger’s around here somewhere?”

“I don’t know. Maybe you should ask Lilibeth.”

Court sat by the window with her feet on the coffee table. The Miller was in its case right next to her. “Lilibeth, whom I haven’t laid eyes on since.”

Since Claire departed this life. “Shit. Do you think she’s tag teaming Ziggy with him right now?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. I think I convinced her Digger was full of shit, but I also think she wanted to keep her options open. The fact that he didn’t show up… I had thought it was because she never told him where we were. But now you think Ziggy said something to him?”

The timeline seemed stretched, like the day or two before Claire’s departure had actually taken a week. And yet it seemed too short at the same time. “He only told me he was going to head Digger off that day, on our way to the hospital. So… maybe you’re right. Or maybe Digger’s timing was just bad and he didn’t make it here in time.”

She cocked her head. “Or maybe the DA told him not to travel out of California?”

“I… have no idea about that.” You had to wonder, though. His bail hadn’t been cheap, from what we’d heard. “I wonder if my lawyer can find out.”

“If they can find out where Digger is, maybe you’ll find out where Ziggy is,” she said.

“I don’t need to know where he is.”

“You’re looking around like a lost cat,” she pointed out. “Don’t you think he would at least call and give you an update?”

That sounded reasonable. So if he hadn’t called, did that mean he was being unreasonable? That thought didn’t sit right with me. “He said to trust him.”

“Hm.”

“Yeah, I know.” I guzzled the rest of my ginger ale and rinsed the bottle in the sink. There was a tiny blue waste basket with a white recycling symbol on it, and I dutifully put the bottle in there, even though I’d seen the maids empty it into the regular trash. “But now you have me kind of worrying he got in over his head or something.”

“He’s talking to Digger, not some mafia boss,” she reminded me. “What do you think he’s saying? Is he blackmailing him or what?”

I had a sudden chill, wondering what kind of compromising information Ziggy could have on my father. It was that cold flash that hits right before nausea sometimes, you know the one I mean? There were things that were beyond contemplation, and was that why he didn’t want to tell me what he was going to say? I mean, this is Ziggy we’re talking about.

Court put her hand over her mouth like her brain and stomach had come to the same sickening realization. “You don’t think Ziggy slept with him, do you?”

“Jeezus, no, I don’t.” I was pretty sure he’d told me he hadn’t, just like he hadn’t slept with Mills, even though it was his modus operandi to seduce anyone with power over him. But my mind was in second-guess mode. Had he definitely told me that? Or only implied it? Just stop. Stop right there. “He wouldn’t lie to me.”

“But he would keep his mouth shut if he didn’t want to hurt you with the truth,” she said. “You want to know what he told me scares him sometimes?”

I sat down next to her, on the far side of the guitar. “Sure.”

But her brain had skipped back to something she’d said earlier. “It’s got to be some kind of blackmail. Don’t you think?”

“I really didn’t give any thought to what he might say. He and Digger pretty much lived in each other’s pockets for a couple of years. I can’t guess what he might have on him.”

Court set her glass down and the ring of condensation pooled on the non-wood surface of the coffee table. (I think it was some kind of laminate.) “Maybe something to do with Janessa or that Galani chick?”

“Huh, maybe.” Hearing her speculate like that made me feel better. Knowing that there was plausibly dirt to be dug that wasn’t as outlandish as what my worst fears could imagine–or at least that wouldn’t impact my life and relationship as directly as finding out my soulmate got it on with my father–set my mind slightly at ease.

But why hadn’t we heard from him? Maybe he was with Digger, I reasoned, playing some long con, and calling me would blow it.

I looked at the guitar case. The main problem with him not being here now was that I only had the barest grasp on the song we’d written for Claire’s funeral and in a matter of days I was going to have to play it. “When’s the memorial service?”

“Thursday night,” she said.

Which would have been a perfectly good answer if I’d had any idea what day of the week we were on. I let it slide. She hadn’t said “tomorrow” so I had time to figure it out. “You still didn’t tell me what he told you scares him.”

“Oh! Right. Yeah.” She stood and stretched like she was going to the other room to sleep. “He told me it’s confusing and scary but he is pretty sure he loves you more than he loves himself.”

Wow. Coming from Ziggy, that meant a lot.

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