We eventually got off the topic of lights, and then Shiree had to get home to the kids. Not long after that, Louis decided to call it a night as well. “You want a ride back into town?” he asked, as we each put cash onto the table.
“I can take him,” Ziggy said. “No need for you to go all the way in and back out.”
“Sure.” Louis stood up and I couldn’t think of any reasonable way to say no to that.
So it was that a few minutes later I was in the passenger seat of Ziggy’s electric blue hatchback, trying to figure out the fancy seat belts. He went around to the driver’s side and slid in, putting the key into the ignition and starting the stereo before the engine. A soft glow ringed the ceiling, and the dash lit up in various places… I couldn’t quite figure the details but the car was obviously tricked out in some fashion.
I couldn’t help but smile when the song that kicked in was a dance remix of The Cure, “In Between Days.”
He looked at me. “Could I come over and dye my hair in your bathroom?”
“Yeah. I don’t need this ridiculous blue stripe anymore.”
“Oh, was that a film thing?”
“Yeah. It’s easier with two people, if you don’t mind helping.”
“I just need someone to do the parts I can’t see and help hold the plastic bag and stuff.”
“I’ll pretend I know what you’re talking about.”
“Great. Let’s stop at a CVS.” He put the car in gear and we zipped out into traffic.
“You know where you’re going, right?”
“More or less. The highway’s that way, and from there, your house is easy.”
So far so good, I thought. Not weird at all.
We came to a 24 Hour CVS before we got to the highway and Zig pulled into the parking lot. I hate sitting in the car, so I went in with him.
“So how was New York?” I asked, as we went up the cosmetics aisle.
“She’s great,” he joked, “and wants to know when you’re coming to visit. Well, well, look at this.” He pulled a bottle of nail polish off the shelf that was so dark as to almost be black, just not quite. “Normally you can only get the black stuff at Halloween.”
“That’s not quite black,” I pointed out.
“Under colored stage lights, no one will be able to tell that, anyway,” he said, and stuck the bottle in his pocket and continued down the aisle. “I tell you, I have a good feeling about this tour.”
“Yes. My press schedule was absolutely packed, but no one wanted to talk about the movie. The publicity people from the studio were getting quite angry with me, actually. But you know, I don’t control what the reporters ask. We’d talk about the film for like five minutes and then Moondog Three for twenty, and then they’d kick them out and the next one would come in.” He paused at another rack of makeup and pulled another bottle of nail polish out–this one silver. “Now we’re talking. Glam is definitely making a come back if we’re finding stuff like this in a CVS in the burbs.”
“If you say so.” I couldn’t help but glance around. A security guard had meandered to the end of the aisle and eyeballed us, then moved on. I couldn’t blame him exactly. We looked like two punk kids. I wondered if the guard thought we were queer because we were two men in the makeup aisle. Then I realized probably plenty of non-gay punks get bashed just because people suspect they might be gay. So what did it matter if I was, or not? “Can we find the hair dye, please?”
“Over there, I think,” he said, pointing a few aisle over.
He picked up a bottle of black, I didn’t even see which brand. “What about you? Want to try a little color?”
“Let me bleach a stripe or two down the side. Like highlights.”
“I don’t think so, Zig.”
“You could go to a spa to do it, you know. There’s a great one on Newbury Street. We could call the papers…”
“No, Zig, I said no, all right?”
He touched me on the elbow. “All right, I’m just pulling your leg, seriously, Daron.”
“You’re just pulling my leg, but seriously? Where does the joke end and the serious begin, Zig?”
“Calm down. I’m joking about it because you’re so serious. But your looks are serious, Daron. You’re going to have your picture on thousands and thousands of kids’ walls. I know you don’t want what you look like to matter, but it does.”
“Who said I don’t want–”
“And you’re gorgeous, you know that? You’re really a good-looking guy. Even to other guys. I mean, straight guys, you know?”
“Can we not talk about this here!” At some point I had seized him by the wrist and now I sort of shook it.
“Okay. Come on.” He pulled free and went to the cash register, paid, and then went straight to the car, me following.
Once we were in the car, and pulling out of the parking lot, he burst out laughing. “So you know that rent-a-cop who was keeping an eye on us to make sure we didn’t shoplift?”
“I forgot the two bottles of nail polish are in my pockets.”
“I just stole them.”
“You did not!”
“I did. I didn’t even really mean to, but I got distracted by you.”
“Didn’t even really mean to?”
“I mean, you know, serves him right for treating us like scum. Why not meet expectations? We looked like thieves anyway.”
“But did you mean to, or not?”
“I forgot. I thought at the time it would be funny to steal them, but thought I’d pay when I got to the register. Then I paid for the dye without remembering.”
“Does it matter?”
“Yes, it matters! Zig, there’s always ten versions of the truth with you and I never know which one to believe.”
His eyes were on the road, not on me, which was probably a good thing. But he said, “The important thing is which one you want to believe.”
“I want to believe you’re telling the truth,” I pressed.
“And I want you to believe I’m telling the truth,” he said. “So that makes it the truth. I forgot to pay. Should we go back?”
“Hell no.” I slumped back in my fancy, high-tech seat belt. There’s no going back. There’s never any going back.