Go West

I was driving in the late morning the next day, my sunglasses greasy from being worn so long and the Rocky Mountains trundling along on our left like the world’s longest skyline, when we pulled into Boulder, Colorado.

There were no tall buildings here, as if the mountains used up all the tallness. Office buildings were three stories at most, and spread out long with gleaming mirror windows as they were in suburban industrial parks everywhere. Strip malls. Houses with redwood decks. Kinko’s. Taco Bell. The sunlight seemed brighter, sharper, than it had in Texas, like the dry air was too thin to slow it down (which I suppose in a way it was). Otherwise, being a mile above sea level didn’t seem to make much difference.

When we had settled into yet another room with two double beds, a TV, and a desk, Bart lay back on the bed and said “Are you okay?”

“Just dazed from the drive.”

“You’ve said maybe two words in two days. Just checking.”

“Nothing to say.” I lay back on my own bed and we both contemplated the coffee cake crumb-style plaster in the ceiling. “I’m sorry.”

“What are you apologizing for?”

“Because this sucks, and I know it sucks for everyone, not just me.”

“Nobody said this was going to be fun.”

“Yes they did. We did. We always thought this would be fun, didn’t we?”

“Is that why we’re doing this? Fun?”

“Stop. Stop right there. Don’t get into wondering why we do anything or you’ll end up like me.”

“I think you need a nap.”

“You’re probably right.”

I woke up sometime later still on my back on top of the bedspread, stiff and weirdly cold and alone in the room.

The message light was blinking and I called the desk. A perky clerk told me to call Digger, and then gave me a phone number and a name, Dave, to call, here in Boulder. I recognized the number from the day book as the venue. I called and asked for Dave.

” ‘lo.”

“Yeah, this is Kevin Altman,” I lied, “from Moondog Three. We got a message you called? What time would you like us there?”

“Uh, yeah, one sec.” There was the crackle of him shifting the phone from one ear to the other. “Yeah, well.”

“Is there some kind of problem?”

“I sincerely hope not. Um, look. We’re having some problems here, technical problems, and I thought you should be aware of them before you got here.”

“What kind of problems?”

“We blew a power transformer and it’s dark.”

“Dark.”

“The power company said it might be a while before they can get somebody down here. We’ve got an emergency generator running, but it’s only really got enough juice for like office lights and phones and stuff. I’ve got somebody trying to get another generator online, but it’s looking iffy right now, getting one this late in the day.”

I glanced at the clock. It was 4:30. “Should we come down there, anyway?”

“Yeah, I guess. If we do get power back, I guess you’d better be set up.”

Yeah, I guess. “We’ll be there in a little while.”

If it was already 4:30 and this guy was that blasé about how soon we arrived he was either on ‘ludes or he was naturally very laid back.

I tried to hang on to some of that laid-back-ness when I got on the phone with Digger. “Hey, kiddo!” he said, sounding just like himself. “Long time.”

“We’ve done nothing but drive for two solid days,” I replied, and sounded more defensive than I should have. Old habits.

“So hey, I’ve got some financial stuff I want to go over with you in San Fran. Moondog Three as a multimedia property.”

“‘Scuse?”

“I got all kinda opportunities shaking up here, kid. I’d wait until you got home but there are some things I want to move on right away.”

“Like what?”

“It’s better if I go over everything when I get there.”

Yeah, I guess. I gritted my teeth a little, after we said goodbye. So here’s something that’s really urgent but, oh, I won’t tell you what it is right now… it was just the kind of weird shit he always pulled. Well, I had more immediate things to worry about, like no electricity at the venue. I went to gather the troops.


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