I was in a pretty foul mood when Remo knocked on the door the next day. I had been awake for hours, watching TV and staring out the window.
“Want to sit in on the Musician interview?” he hollered through the door.
I went and sat in the suite and kept my mouth shut while Remo and some guy with elbow patches talked into a tape recorder. I listened to it all, listened to Remo try to explain music, things about style, his playing, all kinds of bullshit. It went on for hours and he never repeated himself. If it had been me, the interview would have been a lot shorter. That night we went to some music business reception at the Hard Rock Cafe. We returned to the hotel around ten pm and I paced around my too empty room until I was giving myself static shocks on everything I touched. I opened the window to let in some noise but it came from so far away I felt more isolated than before.
I went into the hallway and stood there for a moment, my mind blanking. I went to Carynne’s door. I stood there for a while, trying to get up the nerve to knock.
Then I heard her laughing, giggling, that special high-pitched laugh reserved for flirting. She wasn’t alone. I retreated to my room again. I thought about going back to the place I had been last night, but even if I hadn’t been afraid of getting fag-bashed, I didn’t have the stamina to spend another night alone in a crowd, pretending to be someone for the sake of sex, always under the shadow of rejection and disappointment. I thought about going down to the hotel bar and getting smashed, but I didn’t want to make trouble for the entourage, their underage pet roadie running up a huge tab and then probably doing something stupid. This crew was too clean for my own good–even Martin had given up pot. I needed to soak my head in something, though, I needed something bad.
I knocked on the door to the suite. Waldo pulled it open like he was getting ready to slam it. “Remo here?” I said.
“Naw. Try again later.” And he started to close it.
I put a hand on the door. “Where’s his Ovation.”
I pushed past him and searched the floor for the telltale curved outline of the semi-acoustic guitar’s case. It was at the foot of Remo’s bed. He always kept it handy in case he got an idea. I hefted it in my left hand and went toward the door.
“Where you going with that?” Waldo stood in front of me, his jaw mashing his gum like an industrial piston, never stopping, never breaking rhythm.
“Matt’s gone, that leaves me in charge of the guitars.”
Waldo didn’t look like he bought that, but his brain wasn’t giving him a way to stop me. I brushed past his pot-belly through the still open door and went back to my room.
This was not just any guitar. Ovation makes a bunch of different models, but the primo tasty ones they had just come out with were a roundback acoustic with the electronics for live sound wired in. They sound bright like a polished knife blade, and it sinks into your gut and sticks there. And talk about fucking beautiful, instead of one round soundhole in the center, these have a series of small holes in the sound board along the top curves of the guitar, flanked by sweetly carved wood of varying browns in the shape of leaves. Remo played this one through most of the show. In the encore he often played this one and I played a twelve-string version, similar model but with a traditional round sound hole.
I let my fingers fly up the neck and back down, the fingerboard silky to the touch and the strings so close to the frets that it was easier than falling down stairs. I started to play.
I wrote a song without any verses, just a fragment of a chorus about fire and flight, and I played it over and over until I couldn’t sing anymore and I fell asleep with the guitar still in my hands.