I got drunk that night with Bart, after watching Louis’s “dailies.”
Louis finally said more than two sentences in a row, and actually went on quite a bit while pointing at the screen and describing various nuances of the effects.
“It looks awesome,” I told him. “Seriously.” This was before the drinking really started, so this was not one of those “I love you, man” kind of things. I just lacked the vocabulary to tell him in greater detail how much I appreciated what he did.
If I was surprised by anything it was how much he used white lights, actually. “Champagne-colored” he called them, but you know what I mean. Not all the way to being a color like yellow. And there were some stark white. It was mesmerizing watching the video, like driving through a snowstorm. Not that colored lights couldn’t be mesmerizing, too, and not that there weren’t some blue and red and green in there also, just…
You see what I mean about lacking the vocabulary. There was as much to know about lighting tech as there was about music and my head was pretty well crammed with music. Plus this is why you hire someone else to do your light design. Hire a professional and let them think about it.
Anyway, two jacks and coke and a beer later, I was lying on the floor of Bart’s room, playing the Ovation and trying to work out the riff to “Thin Ice.”
“What’s that?” he asked.
“Just something I’m working on. I might hate it, though. They can’t all be winners.” I opened my eyes. “I really shouldn’t play lying down. It’s like the one thing that aggravates my thumb.”
“That still bothers you?” He sat down on the floor next to me and took the Ovation and started to play something himself.
“Not really. Well, only once in a while.”
He shook his head, and his curls moved on his forehead. Bart had grown his hair out somewhat for the tour, trimming it short in back but letting the curliness spill out the top of his head. It was a good look on him, if a little bit sheepdogish.
“Hey, is Colin my sherpa?” I asked.
“Yes. Well, maybe, depends what you mean by sherpa.”
“I dunno. Something Ziggy said.” I thought about it. “Sherpas are the guys who climb Mount Everest with you, right?”
“I think they’re actually a whole native culture, but yeah, the Everest thing is probably what Ziggy’s referring to.”
“Huh.” I thought about it some more. “Then I wonder where he is.”
“Colin? Playing cards with Christian, or possibly getting up to some other trouble,” Bart said. He was playing “Girl from Ipanema.” “Why, you need him for something?”
“No, just thinking.”
Bart sniggered. “You’re drunk-thinking, though, which hardly counts.”
“Fair enough.” I sang for a bit but didn’t really remember the words. “What time do we leave tomorrow?”
“Dunno. Early. It’s not that late yet, though. Remember the days when we didn’t go on stage until midnight?”
“We didn’t have too many of those.”
And it was true. We’d played the clubs around Boston mostly as an opening act before we got anywhere, then boom. We weren’t like some bands who reached a plateau as local headliners and then never got anywhere above that. I couldn’t help but feel we’d cheated somehow. Skipped a few steps.
Michelle came out of the shower then, toweling her hair. She was in a tank top and shorts, but the underthings sort of tank top and shorts, if you know what I mean. “You okay?” she asked me.
“I’m fine. Just enjoying gravity,” I said.
“Well, I’m going to get in bed and read,” she said.
“No problemo. I can take a hint.” I got up.
Bart stood up and handed me the guitar. “Yeah.”
I went back to my room, a little unsteady but not that bad. What would it be like touring with someone who was there just to be my lover, boyfriend, whatever you want to call it? Michelle was just along for the ride. She seemed like she was enjoying herself, too, but she’d told me she wasn’t planning to stick with us long. It’d get boring just being a hanger-on, she said. I also think she didn’t think too highly of overnights in the bus.
But I lay in bed and tried to really imagine what it would be like to have Jonathan along for the ride. He’d be doing something, though, I thought. He wouldn’t be able to just tag along. He’d be writing a story, or multiple ones, and…
I hit on an idea. What if we hired him to be an actual press agent? Did people even do that anymore? Have him just write about us and send it out to all the magazines. Once I thought about it I realized it probably didn’t work like that, not in this day and age anyway. And besides, then I’d be obligating him to be with me. And what if we didn’t make it? What if we were a flash in the pan? Then it’d be my fault he didn’t have the gigs he had before.
If none of that made sense, well, blame alcohol and my own ignorance. But for a few moments there I had imagined he was there and it was comforting.
I’d see him in New York. There were many, many miles between here and there. I wondered how Ziggy and I would be getting along by the time we got there.