Remo and I were still sitting on the couch backstage in comfortable silence when Digger came in.
He had a piece of curled-up paper in his hands. “Feast your eyes on this.” He handed it to me–that soft, strange paper that came out of fax machines, smudged black on the edges where he’d held it. At the top was the BNC logo and then a long list of dates and cities.
“Are these all shed and festival dates?” I asked. There had to be thirty five cities, at least.
“Almost all. You’ll note the date at Radio City.” He pointed down the list.
There was one in New Jersey, too. “What’s… oh, this must be Garden State Arts Center.” Practically in our old backyard.
And Mansfield, Massachusetts, that was Great Woods. I hated seeing shows at Great Woods, crappy sound, bad seats, and the traffic getting out of that parking lot was hell. But maybe playing there would be different. Chris and Kevin abandoned their game and came to look over my shoulder.
“Shit,” I said appreciatively.
Digger was beaming even though the dates were probably BNC’s doing as much as his. “Have you been watching the European charts?”
“Heck, no. I’ve been living out of a suitcase for weeks already.”
“Candlelight’s hit number four in France, number seven in the UK. Mills wants a six week European tour after this is done.” Digger’s expensive shoes tapped the concrete floor.
“Great. Good. Vun-der-bar.” I handed him back the fax.
“Nothing like steady work, eh?” said Christian.
“You said it,” said Remo, who clapped me on the shoulder and smiled.
Everyone was still kind of clustered around me, having their own conversations now. I held the Ovation by the neck and parted the crowd with it.
As I put the guitar back into its stand I heard again that same sad sound of the body’s hollow echo. I sat on the stage’s edge, then, swinging my feet into the front row’s airspace, looking into the empty seats wondering, who’s going to sit here tonight? Did they buy the tickets? Win them from a radio station? Get them in graft from a rep or promoter’s cousin or program director? Or did they shell out top dollar? Will they come with their girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse? Will they be younger than me, or older? Do people take their kids to see concerts?
Digger never took me to a big arena show or music hall like this. We went out to honky tonks and bars where the bartenders would let me have a root beer while Nomad or some blues band or whoever played. And of course I’d never asked him if he’d want to go with me and whoever I was scamming a ride with to the Meadowlands or the Capitol Theater in Trenton–it was unimaginable, me in the back seat with a couple of burnouts or whoever, rolling joints for them on our way to see Rush or Styx or Journey, trying to imagine bringing Digger into a situation like that. I didn’t go to a lot of shows. I wasn’t really friends with these guys and their souped up Camaros or father-borrowed Cadillacs. But I knew where the parties were, I played the guitar, and I never made a move on their girlfriends, so they took me along.
What were those guys doing now? They’d be mid-twenties. I could picture, for some reason, myself backstage at the Garden State Arts Center, then walking out from a soundcheck, the sun still up in the sky, out to the parking lot all divided by little banks of evenly spaced trees, and finding them sitting around the tailgate of a car, in baseball shirts with three-quarter sleeves, the stereo still playing Pink Floyd “The Wall,” passing a joint and arguing over where were their seats, anyway.
(Admin note: Not sure what we did to break comment notifications, but I just noticed a bunch of comments we haven’t replied to yet… will try to fix! What is this, Livejournal? Jeez.)