So that was how Cain got a ride to Atlanta when the rest of his band never even got there. They stayed put in Pensacola until the morning, and so did Digger, when a lot of phone calls went back and forth. Carynne had come with us, and set up her office at the venue, even though our show wasn’t until the next day and none of the equipment was here yet either.
I got to miss all the phone stuff because I stayed in the dark. A tour bus bunk is the perfect place to recuperate an eye injury: no windows. I took the bandage off and flushed it out like I was supposed to and put the antibiotic drops in, but I was hammering on the wall of the bus bathroom with my fist afterward, waiting for it to stop hurting. Have you ever had bloodshot eyes so bad it felt like you had sand in them? Up that to broken glass and that was about how it felt. Then I just stuck the bandages back on and went back to the nice, dark bunk.
It was probably a good thing the show wasn’t that night or we might have had to cancel anyway, given how I was feeling. I was like a wounded fox hiding in its den.
I came out for lunch, because Carynne came looking. She knocked on the wall next to my curtain.
I pulled it back a little.
“You need to eat, don’t you?” she asked.
“Ziggy, you too.”
Ziggy poked his head out from behind his own curtain. “I could eat.”
“Do we have to go anywhere?” I asked. “I don’t want to go anywhere.”
“You don’t have to go anywhere. I’ll get whatever you want brought here. Next question, are you up to talking to a reporter after that?”
“Mmmaybe?” I hedged. “Who, how, and where? No photos, obviously.” I patted the bandage over my eye. “How long am I supposed to wear this again?”
“Keep it on until soundcheck tomorrow. We’ll change you to the eye patch then,” she said. “The paper is Creative Loafing. It’s like the Boston Phoenix.”
“I can do it if Ziggy can do it with me.”
“I was going to say the same thing,” Ziggy said. “Can we sit outside? I’m feeling a little cooped up, now.”
We climbed out of our bunks while Carynne flipped through the pages of the daybook. “Fried chicken okay?”
With Marty’s blessing we took two cushions from the front lounge outside and made ourselves seats in the parking area on top of small road cases. None of the heavy equipment was there yet. They were still figuring out at that point who would be going where.
Zig and I sat there watching tall clouds sail overhead like big ships.
“Gonna thunderstorm I bet,” he said.
“Probably.” I squinted with my one eye. I couldn’t put a pair of sunglasses on with the bandage the way it currently was.
“How’s it feel?”
“Everything’s starting to itch,” I admitted. “But anything so long as it doesn’t hurt like it did. How about you?”
“Hurts like hell.”
“Where’d you get it? You haven’t even shown me.”
He raised his right hand, which was bandaged from most of the way way down to his elbow to covering most of his fingers. His pinky and ring fingers were completely gauzed, while about half of his other fingers stuck out. My own burned hand seemed nowhere near as bad.
“It wasn’t the firework that did it so much as my sleeve catching on fire. My shirt partly melted.”
“Yeah, the people at the ER were joking with me about it being like napalm.”
“That’s no joke, Zig!” Half of me wanted to get the bandages off and see how bad it was, while the other half hoped to never see it.
“It’ll be fine, I’m sure.” He shrugged, but I could see a stiffness in the shrug and in how he moved that made me think he was hiding how much it hurt.
No, wait, he wasn’t hiding anything. He’d said he hurt like hell. “Didn’t they give you some painkillers?”
“Yeah, but I figure I’ll wait to take them until I need them.”
“Okay.” I looked at the bandage on my left hand and wrist. I’d had that beaded string bracelet on my left arm, I was sure. “I don’t suppose that bracelet is under there.”
Ziggy started to answer. “It’s–” But then turned his head in the direction of the sound of Bart’s high-tops slapping the concrete. He jogged up behind us.
“Food’s here?” I guessed.
He shook his head. “Better. Megashit are gone. And Miracle Mile are doing the gig.”
We exchanged high fives. Ziggy did it with his left. And THEN Bart told us food was there.
When Carynne had said “fried chicken” I’d been expecting a bucket and some napkins. Apparently it was more involved than that around here, and the desk of the bare-bones production office we had taken over had been turned into a makeshift buffet table, with not only fried chicken, but mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, collard greens, some other fried things, and I don’t even remember what else.
Ziggy skipped getting a plate and just took a drumstick with his good hand and ate it standing up. I got some of everything and he got another piece and we sat in the hallway on the floor eating and listening to the sounds of screw guns and power tools coming from somewhere nearby. I never did find out if the reason we weren’t in our dressing rooms was because they were under unexpected renovation or if we were a day early to the venue or what. I didn’t really care. The floor was fine with me.
Carynne brought over a tall, thin guy, his blond hair haphazardly gelled into what looked more like messy straw than spikes, his glasses so dirty it was a wonder he could see out of them. He was wearing a Dead Milkmen T-shirt with three-quarter sleeves and jeans so long the soles of his sneakers had frayed the bottoms.
He sat on the floor in front of us without hesitation. “I’m Guy. I’ve got a few questions.”
By this point, neither Ziggy nor I felt the need to introduce ourselves to journalists anymore. “Anytime, man,” Ziggy said.
“Well, first of all, it’s all over the news, about the accident. What the hell happened?”
“Are you asking for you, or for the story?” Ziggy asked.
“Well, kinda for me, except it’s probably true it’ll end up mentioned in the story.”
Ziggy and I looked at each other. We hadn’t come up with a plan about what to say or not to say. “So, on the record, then,” I said. He nodded. “Did Carynne brief you or anything?”
“Not really. She said she’s getting me a press kit on the new band you’re adding to the lineup, so that much I know.” He had to hold his notepad up to his face to read them name. “Miracle Mile.”
Ziggy took a breath and I let him talk. “We’ve been on the road so we haven’t seen the news. What have they been saying?”
“There’s fan video. MTV got hold of it. Playing it every hour. Just saying pyrotechnic accident. Looks like something blows up in your faces, basically,” he said.
I tried not to laugh at how funny it was we were asking a guy who looked like he could barely see the pen in his hand to describe what something looked like. “Well, that was basically what happened.”
Ziggy shrugged. “We really can’t say any more. Off the record: you know, like our lawyers might want to sue the manufacturer or something like that, and so we can’t say shit or it might muck that all up.”
“Ohhh, right. Yeah, that makes sense. Well, I’m glad you guys are okay, anyway. Man, Atlanta is losing its shit over you guys right now.”
“How are they going to react to the cancellation of Megaton?”
“Eh, some longhairs will probably be pissed, but really, they got no traction here.” Guy pushed his glasses up his nose. “So what’s the story with Miracle Mile?”
“They’re old friends of ours from Boston,” I said. “And they’re metal, but they’re kind of… inspirational.”
“Oh, you mean Christian.”
Took me a second to realize he meant Christian the religion, not Christian the drummer. “Yeah.”
“Well, so here’s a question. If you could go on tour with any band, who would you pick and why?”
Ziggy and I looked at each other and while I blankly searched around in my head for an answer, Ziggy took the ball and ran with it. “Any band? Living or dead?”
“Um, yeah, I guess I did say ‘any.'”
“I want the Beatles then. In 1964. Was it ’64 when they came to the United States for the first time?”
“I dunno, I wasn’t even born then,” I said.
“Neither was I,” Ziggy said. Guy seemed to agree it was 1964, though. “That had to be the craziest most exhilarating tour ever.”
“Some of the places we played, the Beatles played,” I added.
Guy moved us on to the next question. “What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you on tour?”
“Funny haha or funny strange?” Ziggy asked.
“Either one. Your pick.”
Ziggy thought for a second. “The strangest thing, I mean besides the explosion, was one day we stopped at a campground in the Southwest and this Indian Shaman Woman came and told me and Daron that we’re soulmates.”
I’m pretty sure that’s not what she said. But I didn’t interrupt him.
“Soulmates?” The reporter asked.
“Kindred spirits,” Ziggy amended. “Maybe that’s a better term. She didn’t actually speak any English, just walked up to us and gave us these friendship bracelets. Just us two, not the other people with us.”
I finally got my tongue working. “Her daughter was with her and she said she just gives them to all the guys she thinks are cute.”
“What about you, Daron?” Guy asked. “What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you on the tour?”
Well, let’s see, my drummer’s girlfriend who is way more famous than any of us almost died from a drug overdose, my sister I haven’t seen since she was thirteen showed up out of nowhere, we had to kick our opener off the tour because of raging homophobia and incompetence, I met Stevie Ray Vaughn for an MTV publicity stunt, my drummer just turned into Mr. Hyde…
I shrugged. “Other than the explosion, you know, it’s just business as usual.”
(I didn’t know it was possible to eighties-ize Dusty Springfield. Wow. -d.)