189. Papa Was A Rolling Stone

At noon I went around to Digger’s door and knocked, figuring I’d maybe get in the driver’s seat for once. The too-loud voices of daytime TV came faintly through the door and then it opened. He stood there in a white undershirt and boxers, bloodshot and unshaven. If the can in his hand had been beer instead of Sprite he could have passed for a trailer park movie extra. “Hey, kiddo.”

“Just wondering if you wanted to have some lunch.”

“Feeling sorry you blew me off last night, huh?” He gave me what could only be called a loving sneer. As a matter of fact, I did feel kind of weird about yesterday, but I wasn’t about to apologize and his remark made me want to tell him to go to hell. He backed up, his way of inviting me in, and in I went. I probably should have said something like meet you downstairs or whatever, but hey.

The room was on a corner of the hotel, a half-suite with windows on two sides and the bathroom around the bed from the door. He went directly into the bathroom and began running the water. Digger always shaved with the water running very hot, which used to drive Claire crazy because he could use up almost as much water in one long, painstaking shave as a normal person did in the shower. Once my sisters got to be teenagers there was never enough hot water in the house. I sat down in a chair by the window. He could talk while he shaved.

“Did you know Remo came in last night?” I said. I could see him when he leaned forward to be close to the mirror.

“Sure did,” he said. “At least, I found out this morning. Good thing, or I’d be at the friggin’ airport now.”

I thought you said he could take a cab. That was what I was thinking. But if I said it I knew it would be pointless antagonism. If he was nervous about my having talked to Remo, he didn’t show it.

“Oh hey,” he said, feeling under his chin. “You know that new James Bond movie?”

“No, what new James Bond movie.”

“It’s coming out at the end of the year.”

“Uh huh.” Like I’d know about that.

“They’re trying to update the old Bond franchise, make it appeal to the younger crowd. Do a soundtrack album of hip songs. A radio-ready thing.”

“Great idea,” I said, not sure where this was going, but guessing.

“I brought the idea to Mills, you know the studio owns BNC now anyway, and it looks like it’ll be a go. Mills a’course wants you to do a song.”

Aha, relevance dawns. “Something new, or use something old?”

“Something new. Increase your radio presence, give fans one more thing to go out and buy.”

“Who else would be on this thing?”

He moved the razor with small jerky movements, not smooth like you’d expect. Maybe this explained why he cut himself so often. I was once again glad I’d trained myself onto the electric shaver, even if I only used it like every third day. “Pretty much all from the BNC roster. Mills can tell you more.”

Uh huh. I thought about what Remo had said last night, about Digger wanting to be a deal maker. I was going to wait until we were sitting down eating somewhere to bring this up, but this opening was too good to pass up. Some time in the past few minutes I had finally decided on my strategy to get the most out of him. “Pretty sweet,” I said, nodding. “So what else is cooking with DMA?”

“Ho ho!” he said, and put the razor down to rub his hands together. “Just a sec.” He bent over the basin and began rinsing his face, filling up his hands with water and thrusting his face into them. I tried hard not to wonder if that was what I looked like when I rinsed my face.

He sat on the bed, drying his face and neck with a towel. “Things are moving faster than I thought.”

“Yeah?” Here it comes, I thought.

He went to the closet, where his polo shirts and slacks were hung and picked one of each. “What will really make things work is the interaction between the different types of entertainment–movies, music, TV commercials.”

TV commercials? Or should that be: TV commercials! I stifled any outrage, though. I had a point to make.

“I figure if I can manage a few talents in diverse areas I could, you know, maintain that same kind of, of…”

“Synergy.” A word I’d always liked, after discovering a band named that, Larry Fast and Peter Gabriel doing electronic movie soundtracks.

“Yeah. Synergy.”

“So what’s the next step?”

He was putting on his shoes. “Plans are all in place,” he said, thudding his feet on the floor.

“Like the LA office you opened?”

“Yeah.” He didn’t give even a hint that he knew that I knew he’d fudged the truth with me on the phone yesterday. He picked things up off the dresser and put them in his pockets, loose change, keys, etc. “Hotel restaurant okay? Or do you want to go somewhere else?”

“Up to you. I’ll eat anything.”

“Not from what I remember,” he said, but amiably. “Let’s just go downstairs.”


We walked to the elevators and their fake-gold doors, neither of us saying anything as we moved through the hall, making me feel conspiratorial somehow. I couldn’t just call him on the little white lie, could I?

A hostess seated us by wide windows overlooking a busy street. While I tried to figure out how to ask him what I wanted, we chit chatted about stuff like soundcheck and other things Digger didn’t really know jack about. Tour small talk. Instead of “How’s the weather,” “How’s the set up?” or what have you. It wasn’t until we each had an overpriced burger in front of us that we began talking again for real.

“So tell me what the dirt is with Carynne flying home.” He hunched over his plate, grease and red meat juice dribbling from his pinkies as he held the burger in both hands.

“What’d she tell you?”

“Something about a family member being sick, but come on, everyone says that when they mean something else.”

I took a bite to give me time to think before I answered. “It’s her personal business.”

“Do you know?”

“I don’t think we should discuss it any more.”

He looked hurt. I wanted him chummy right now, so he’d tell me more about his schemes, but I couldn’t be so chummy that I’d spread dirt about C. “Let it drop, alright? Jeez, she’s just a kid.” Yeah, and older than me, but hey.

He took another bite as if he were saying oh, alright–and we were back on an even keel. We ate for a while. He asked a passing water-refilling boy for a bottle of ketchup. I didn’t wait for the ketchup to start eating my fries.

Finally I just gave up. “So how much of DMA do I own?”


“Where’s the money coming from, Digger?”

“Aw, c’mon, it’s not like that…”

“Did you get some ‘adventure capital’ after all?” There it was–my face was reddening as I talked, I couldn’t help it. “How deep into the till are you, Dad?”

He sat back, his hands in his lap. I kept eating my fries, wondering if I’d ever learn to play nonchalance as well as he usually did–or if I really wanted to.

“Look, things started to move really fast. I had to take the chance. It’s not that much, only maybe twenty thou–”


I was amazed to see him blush. “Well, you know I established a line of credit for the band, too, so it’s not really like I’m taking your money…”

“Not really?”

“I mean, it’ll all be paid back.”

I put both my palms down hard on the table. “No. This doesn’t happen.”

“Really, kid, it’s okay. I haven’t taken any of your actual money. I’d never do that without your okay….”

“So instead you’re running us into debt?”


I took that as a yes. “It stops now, Digger.”

“What, what stops? The ball is rolling, it’s all right. I don’t need any more.”

“When were you going to tell me? Or did you figure as long and the bills got paid back, I’d never have to know?”

He grimaced. Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought.

I was out of things to say at the moment–my plan had only gone so far as to confront him about it, and now I wasn’t sure what to do. I took another cue from Ziggy’s book and walked out without saying anything more. There was a new guitar waiting for me upstairs.

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