I’d been so wrapped up in Colin’s guitar lesson that I had lost track of time. I’d gotten out of the habit of being onstage noodling around and playing before the crew was ready, and given how uncomfortable Chris said it made him, perhaps that was a good thing. It only just then occurred to me that the crew might have found it annoying, too. Then again, none of them said anything, and they weren’t the types to not express themselves.
I carried the guitar I had been playing with me toward the stage while Colin stayed behind to pack up the extra and move the cases.
Ziggy came with me. As we went down the hallway toward the stage entrance, he said, “I’ve learned more about music theory in your guitar lessons than I think I learned all those years in choir.”
“Was your choirmaster not into that stuff?”
“Eh, more like he only took certain students aside for special tutoring on the piano and such.”
“And you didn’t get singled out?” I was surprised to think that Ziggy wasn’t one of the more gifted singers in any choir.
He laughed a little. “Oh, that wasn’t it. It was that he was rumored to be a pedophile and I wasn’t interested. So I steered very clear.”
“Where was this? Baltimore?”
“Yeah. Actually, I guess I was only in that choir for a year. Then there was New York, but it wasn’t the same…” He shrugged. “Anyway, it’s kind of neat to hear you put into words what kind of goes on instinctively in my head.”
We had reached the stage. I plugged in and stood on my mark behind my microphone. “So what do you guys think about doing ‘Cross to Bear’?”
“Point of order,” Bart said. “Do you mean right this second, or in the show?”
“Possibly both, if we play it now and we like how it sounds.” I turned to Chris. “Everyone gets a say. I just thought we haven’t played it in a while and I still like it.”
Chris twirled a stick. “Yeah, we could go for it.”
“The motion carries,” Bart said.
“All right. Then that’s today’s song.”
Of course, we didn’t play it right away, because the crew wanted to get some levels checks on the bass and guitars before we played together, but we got to it eventually.
After soundcheck, Carynne and I sat on a couple of chairs all the way in the back of the venue while Megaton did their check, talking in between bursts of sound.
“Everyone seems relatively okay today,” I said.
“Maybe everyone just needed a night off?” she speculated.
“Did Ziggy have you call his doctor?”
“Yeah. She thinks it’s not a huge deal and adjusted his dosage downward, and said to check in next week if he’s still not sleeping or having panic.”
“So, by ‘not a huge deal,’ she’s not, like, worried he’s going to get suicidal or something.”
“The only reason Ziggy would attempt suicide would be to get attention,” Carynne said. “I think he’s getting plenty of that night after night.”
“True.” We had to stop talking then for a bit, while a very loud, bottom-heavy metal song was played. Which was what they specialized in.
When they had another break, I said, “They really aren’t half bad. It’s just too bad they’re jerks. Or their managers are. It would’ve been nice to get along with them the way MNB got along with us.”
“I know. Such a bummer. Speaking of asshole managers, Digger’s meeting us tomorrow in Pensacola.”
“I don’t even know where that is.”
“I think it’s the part of Florida Tom Petty’s from,” she said with a little yawn. “It’s about four hours from here.”
“That’s really all I needed to know.”
“Have you kept in touch with the MNB guys at all?”
“I hear from Tread once in a while. I sent him a tape of the album.”
“Yeah.” We were quiet then for a while as they mucked around with the two basses. Cain had at least made an attempt to be friendly, but with their management up our butt constantly none of us had followed up or made any further overtures of friendship. I pushed my earplugs a little deeper into my ears as the hall shook.
“It’s only four more shows with them,” she said, when we could talk again and I had pulled the plug in the ear closest to her out enough to hear her. “Maybe I should’ve told Digger not to worry about it.”
“It’s all right,” I said. “Besides, Courtney wants to have words with him.”
“Hah, I know.” A little smile snuck onto Carynne’s face. “Your sister is really something, you know that?”
“Honestly? You know her better than I do right now. Speaking of which, where is she?”
“I last saw her backstage where Ziggy and Colin were teaching her Rock, Paper, Scissors.”
I think I stood up partway before Carynne forced me to sit back down.
“She’s fine, Daron. Everyone heard you the other day. And really once they knew who she was, no one was going to touch her, anyway.”
“I know, but…”
“And besides, who the fuck says you get to dictate who she sleeps with anyway? Seriously, think about that for half a second, will you? If your parents don’t get to dictate who you sleep with, what the hell kind of right–”
“Carynne. She’s eighteen, she’s essentially a runaway, and by being here now she actually kind of is my responsibility.”
“I get that. And I totally get why you wouldn’t want any of us sleeping with her. But I don’t get the male relative protecting the female relative’s virtue thing.”
I chewed on that for a while. “I’m not sure why I acted like that. I really don’t care what her sex life is like as long as she’s happy and not with some douchebag.”
“See? Why do you even care about that? Can’t she date who she wants?”
“I don’t know. I guess. I guess I should just shut up about it. She’s not dating anyone right now so far as I can tell so why am I even thinking about it?”
“You’d rather think about someone else’s sex life instead of your own?”
Don’t ask me how I knew she knew what Ziggy and I had been up to, but I did. I turned to look at her. “So who told you?”
“Ziggy, when he told me we had to call his doctor. And then Bart, in case the two of us needed to tag team you.”
“Okay. That’s fair.” I rubbed my eyes. “I just kind of wish it hadn’t been right after my whole speech about no sex within the entourage, though. I feel like a complete idiot. And a hypocrite.”
She was silent a moment. Megaton were moving off the stage now, way down below us at the far end of the arena. I pulled my earplugs out.
Carynne turned to look at me. “You know, I think you’d enjoy life more if you didn’t always come up with some reason to beat yourself up about sex.”
“I don’t always come up with a reason!”
“Oh yeah? Name me a time you didn’t.”
“Well, for one thing, I still don’t regret that time with you and me,” I pointed out. “And that’s despite it seeming like a terrible idea at the time.”
She snickered. “It was a terrible idea. But a great idea. I don’t regret it either. Okay, that’s all of one.”
“I had a good time that night I stayed in Los Angeles and the world didn’t end.”
“And there’s Jonathan.”
She put on a skeptical face. “You have said barely a word to me about Jonathan, you know.”
“That’s because there’s nothing to complain about! He’s… he’s just… awesome. We get along great. The sex is great. End of story.”
She laughed at that. “Okay, I suppose three isn’t a bad start. Now, come on, let’s go make sure Louis isn’t getting chloroformed in the locker room or something.”
(I haven’t been picking many from this far back in the eighties lately. This song has a kind of crazy groove to it, though, doesn’t it? Apologies to everyone who has it stuck in their head all day. -d.)