220. Pretty Persuasion

I was sitting crosslegged on the crappy shag carpet in the basement when the phone rang. The cordless phone had a kind of shrill yet anemic sound to it. Incentive to answer as quickly as possible. “Moondog HQ, can I help you?”

“Jeez, where have you been? And did you know it was me or do you always answer the phone like that?”

“I figured it was you or a telemarketer,” I told Carynne. “And I’ve been at the Sheraton fucking Jonathan McCabe’s brains out. Go on, tell me it was a bad idea.”

She snorted into the phone. “Unless he turns out to be a) psycho or b) blackmailable, that’s a terrific idea,” she said. “Well? Is he psycho?”

“No. He’s remarkably sane. But you don’t think it was a bad idea to sleep with a member of the media?”

“Not one like him, anyway.”

“Like him?”

“I.e. he’s not a muckraker, not a celebrity himself like a veejay or something, not a full-time employee somewhere and therefore not about to get fired if anyone finds out. Not a golddigger.”

I thought about how I’d paid his bill, how Jonathan would have gladly spent hundreds of dollars out of pocket just to see me. But I argued anyway because I wondered why she thought that. “How do you know he’s not a golddigger?”

“His family’s got money. He told me in DC. They floated him until he started getting enough gigs to pay his own bills. I was asking him about student loans and can you believe the motherfucker didn’t have any? Shit. I’m going to be paying mine off for years.”

“Oh, come on. No you’re not. We’re going to make enough to clear them. Aren’t we?”

“Well, maybe. I hate counting chickens before they’re hatched, you know?”

“Maybe we oughtta be paying you more, then,” I said. “Maybe you ought to be taking Digger’s share, too.”

There was silence at the other end of the phone. I wondered for a second if we’d gotten disconnected, but then I heard the sound of a siren. An ambulance or firetruck must have been driving past her apartment.

“I’m serious, Car’. Remember what we talked about in San Fran?”

“Yeah.” She was silent again for a bit. Then, “I’m not ready to take over in July though.”

“You read my mind!”

“Your mind is easy to read, Daron! Haven’t you been obsessing over the whole July first thing for weeks now?”

What was funny was I had put it out of my mind for quite a while, but last night it had resurfaced. I guess some part of me was gnawing that bone in the background all the time. “Yeah,” I said.

“I’ve been thinking. The middle of a tour is a crappy time for a management change anyway. And does Mills know that Digger was only on a six month contract?”

“No. We didn’t want him to think he could ignore Digger because he’d be out of the picture soon.”

“I think you’ve got to at least extend the status quo until we get off the road.”

“When’s that again?”

“Are you pulling my leg? Or are you really not paying attention? First show’s on June fourteenth. You’ve got four dates as headliner and then we hook up with Megaton for ten shows, and then you headline a de facto best-of-alternative lineup–”

“I know, I know that. I just don’t remember the exact dates.”

“The last show’s at Great Woods. On July 25th.”

“So if I just extend his contract until August fifth, we’re only stuck with him an extra month.”

“Don’t joke like that, Daron. If you tell him you’re going to can him as soon as it’s over…”

“You’re right. Bad plan. So what should I do?”

“Tell him you’re re-upping him for another six months, that the band voted or something. Just make sure that contract has the clause in it where you can fire him.”

“I’m pretty sure the contract says we need a reason, though.”

“Playing fast and loose with band money before isn’t enough of a reason?”

I was sure Digger hadn’t left himself quite so vulnerable. “It’d look pretty bad, though, if we fire him in later for something that I knew about back in April, and he sues us for wrongful termination, and the judge asks, ‘why’d you take so long to get rid of him if that’s the reason?’ What do we say then?”

“I dunno. He’ll probably have done something else to warrant getting fired by then, though, don’t you think?”

“If we’re so sure he’s going to do something bad enough to warrant firing, we’re keeping him… why?”

“Because we can’t handle Mills without him and you’re going to be ON THE ROAD when his contract’s up, remember?”

“Right. Fuck.” I rubbed my eyes. The interrupted sleep was starting to catch up with me.

“Listen to me, Daron. I know you hate his guts because he’s a sucky Dad, but…”

“I don’t hate his guts.”

“You don’t?”

“That’s a little strong, don’t you think?” Maybe it was true, but somehow hearing someone else say it rubbed me the wrong way.

“Whatever. Look. He’s not my favorite person either. I’m just saying… don’t fire him in the middle of the tour, all right?”

“All right. You coming to rehearsal tomorrow?”

“Yeah. I want to have a look at Ziggy. Then I’ll leave you guys alone. I’m going to be sick to death of these songs by August.”

“No, you won’t,” I said, though what did I know? She might be right.


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