Chris drove, I rode, which was a good thing since I still hadn’t really figured out the best way to get to the rehearsal space yet.
“When are you buying a car?” he asked, while we sat in traffic at some intersection I didn’t recognize. Chris hadn’t figured out the best way to get there yet, either, apparently.
“Soon, I guess.”
“They say you ought to buy something with high resale value.” He had his sunglasses on, and his hair was still wet in the back but fluffed up in front, like he’d given up blow-drying it halfway through. He drummed on the steering wheel without realizing he was doing it.
“I’ve heard that before. Right? So when we crash and burn and aren’t making money any more I could sell it to live on?”
“Something like that.”
“I think I better start with a car I can actually drive, instead of one I’m afraid of scratching, don’t you?”
“Suit yourself.” He eased us out into traffic, scanning left and right.
“What about you? When are you trading this van in for a better one?”
“Soon, man, soon. I just haven’t had the time to go out looking.” We made a right, and I suddenly realized we’d reached an on ramp to the highway. Huh. “Well, okay, that’s a lie. I’ve had the time but not the motivation.”
“Is car shopping as much of a pain as furniture shopping?” I asked, as we gunned it onto the freeway.
“Worse. You have to drive around to all different dealerships and once they figure out you have any money at all, they want to keep you there for four hours, trying to pry it out of you.”
“Lovely.” I wasn’t kidding when I’d asked if we were making enough to hire someone else to shop for us. “Well, I’m not buying one of those ridiculous sports cars with no room for people in it like that one.” I pointed at something small and red as it sped past us, then hit the brakes as it caught up to the knot of traffic.
“No. Anything I buy needs room for at least one other person and two–no, three–guitar cases. And that person might be someone your size instead of my size.”
“You got your eye on someone my size?”
“No, no. It’s actually you I’m thinking of. When it’s my turn to drive to rehearsal, you’ll have to sit somewhere, right?”
“Daron, I think most people, when they dream of buying a car… how should I put this. It’s not rehearsal they’re thinking about.”
“But it’s the place I’d need a car for the most. When else would I drive? Seriously, Chris, if I want to… like… take a road trip up the coast of Maine or to California or something, wouldn’t it make more sense to rent something?”
“You take all the romance out of it,” he groused. “Cars are supposed to be fun. Especially when you can afford a really nice one.”
“Maybe when we can afford to live somewhere with an actual garage. If I had a super expensive car I’d probably be all anal about rain and snow and just ugh. You know how I can get.”
“That I do, bro. That I do.” He honked and moved us into the right lane, and then we were getting off the highway we had just gotten onto.
I gave up trying to figure out how we were getting there. “If traffic’s this bad for everybody, we’ll all be late.”
“Not like we’re in a hurry to get somewhere after,” he said. “Unless you’ve got a hot date or something?” Then he coughed. “That didn’t come out right.”
I sniggered. “Yes it did. Has Colin been telling tales out of school?”
“It’s not a secret. You remember that writer who did the Spin piece?”
“The one from New Jersey?”
“Yeah. How’d you know he was from New Jersey?”
“He had Jersey plates on his hatchback.”
“Wow, you really do pay more attention to cars than I do.”
“Yep. Anyway, what about him?”
“He came up for the weekend and we went out.” I didn’t know what to call it really. Spent the weekend “partying?” Not really. We weren’t “dating,” and calling it that felt like a bad parody.
“Nice,” Christian said in a neutral voice. “He seems like a nice kid.”
“Yeah, very Ivy League. But, you know, that means he never runs out of things to talk about.”
“Yeah, he told me so himself. Half the point of going to a big name liberal arts college is they teach you just enough about everything that you can keep up cocktail party talk on thousands of subjects. Politics, science, art, you name it.”
“So what you guys talk about?”
“I don’t know shit about that stuff, so music, mostly.” It was the truth, but I said it as a joke, and he laughed.
He pulled the van out of a side street and I was surprised to recognize the street the theater was on. “Hey, how’d we get here?”
“Magic,” Chris said with a laugh as he rolled us to a stop at an empty parking meter just behind a bright shiny, bright blue hatchback. As he pulled the keys from the ignition, the driver of the blue car got out.
Ziggy. Before I even realized it was him I had a kind of knot in the back of my throat. The moment passed, though, and I got out, too, dropping down from the van’s high passenger seat to the curb.
He was exchanging hand-slaps with Christian. His hair was short and completely white except for a blue stripe down the middle that matched the color of the car. He was wearing pencil-thin jeans and a T-shirt so thin and worn I couldn’t make out what it used to say on it.
I wondered if he would shake my hand, too, or what. I had my awkward greetings with Jonathan in the forefront of my mind suddenly and wondered why this was so hard to figure out. I’m just a space alien from another planet who doesn’t know how to get along with humans, I thought.
No, wait, I reminded myself. Ziggy was the space alien. I wasn’t the one with blue hair.
I dodged the issue by getting the guitar out of the back, and when I wasn’t looking he just clapped his hand on my shoulder.
“Come on,” he said. “Carynne’s inside already.”
And that was that. Welcome home, Major Tom.
(Admin note: I owe you guys an extra chapter, possibly two, thanks to all the recent donations! I’ll tally them up. I don’t think I’ll get the extra up this week, but I’ll make sure to give you the extra post(s) later this month! -ctan)