311. Stand Back

The next morning I climbed out of my bunk and realized I couldn’t bring myself to flush out my eye. I needed to get my courage up. That wasn’t happening without some coffee and breakfast.

You know you’ve been on tour for a while when you have no idea where your wallet is, but you don’t leave the bus without putting your laminates on your neck.

I walked into the venue, found the production office, and found Digger sitting there with the phone to his ear. He appeared to be on hold since he wasn’t saying anything and was staring into space. He waved me to come in and I sat down in a wooden chair against the wall. The walls were cinderblock, covered here and there with tour posters.

Digger was in a peach-colored polo shirt and khakis, like he just walked out of an ad for a golf course. Except something about Digger always made him look more like the guy taking bets on the shots than playing actual golf.

He hung up, apparently tired of waiting. “How you doing?”

I made a sound like “Ugh,” then decided that wasn’t the most communicative thing I could say. “I feel hungover and I haven’t even been drinking.”

He nodded like he knew what I was talking about. “Drink some water. Catering will be setting up in like two hours but there’s drinks in the fridge in the green room.”

I leaned back against the wall. “Any news?”

“I was just on hold for Mills. Patty’s got the number here, though. She’ll call if he comes up for air. Speaking of which.” He shuffled the scraps of paper on the desk. “Here. There’s a message for you.”

He handed me a pink message slip with the name field filled in: “Jonathan” And a phone number. And the time he had called. Nine a.m. I chuckled inwardly. Like I’d be awake then, even if we weren’t on tour. More likely he knew he could get the venue to take a message then.

By the clock on the wall it was almost noon.

I wasn’t about to call him back with Digger sitting there, though. “Water,” I said, sticking the message in my pocket and going into the green room.

The smell of fresh paint and new carpet filled the room. I guessed all the noise we’d heard the day before had been renovation. The smell was actually kind of headache-inducing, which might explain why the door was propped open with a box fan blowing air into the hallway. I wondered if that was secure and then I noticed Antonio sitting in a chair a few feet down the hallway.

We gave each other the “‘sup” sign, and I stood there and chatted with him for a few minutes before I went into the green room.

I took a bottle of water out of the fridge and sat drinking it. My eye didn’t actually hurt right at the moment, but the mere thought of getting in the shower was worrisome. Then I thought to myself, you think you have it bad? How’s Ziggy going to manage?

It suddenly struck me then that in three hours we were supposed to do a soundcheck and then tonight do a show. I mean, I know, it’s obvious, but with so much happening, it was almost like I’d lost sight of what was going on. I hadn’t picked up a guitar since the accident and I flexed my left hand inside the wrapped bandage around my palm.

It was one of those “oh shit” moments. My ring finger was stiff and the whole thing was painful. Would it be better or worse without the bandages? I started trying to strip them off, then realized scissors was probably the better way to do it, didn’t know where to find some, gave up with a bunch of the tape hanging loose and went to pick up the Ovation instead. The case to Ovation #2 was sitting off to the side of the couch.

Oh shit oh shit oh shit. I tried to play through a little of Candlelight and all I can tell you is it wasn’t good. My hand was weak, some of the fingers didn’t want to move right, and it hurt. My immediate thought was this: how the fuck am I going to get through tonight?

See, this is how my brain works. I didn’t think about all the people around me who were there to support me and help me. I thought about how I was going to hide it from everyone and have to come up with some kind of a solution on my own.

No, I don’t know why I think that way.

I tamped down the anxiety, trying to plot my way out of it. I could use the slide for the solos, kind of like I had that time I’d sprained my thumb. I could have a couple of belts of booze before going out there so I wouldn’t care about the pain. I could have Cain play some of the chords from the wings–I knew Colin wasn’t good enough. I didn’t even know if Cain could play the guitar but there was a good bet he could…

Totally fucking nuts, I tell you. I’m nuts.

Carynne came in about that time, carrying a huge take-out bag. She put it down on the side table where the caterers would be setting up later.

She came right over. “You okay?”

“I don’t know.”

She sat down next to me, perched on the edge of the couch. “Daron. Talk to me.”

I really can’t lie to her. “Every time I try to play it feels like the skin is trying to rip where my hand is burned.”

“Oh shit.”

“Yeah, that was my thought exactly.” If we had to cancel, after we’d already flown Miracle Mile here, after all we’d been through… I felt nauseous for a second.

She put a hand on my leg. “Look, just because it feels like that doesn’t mean you’re actually about to bleed all over. Should I get a doc or should we go to the ER?”

“No ER. We’d be there for hours.” I couldn’t imagine that the ER in Atlanta was a pleasant experience. “You’re right. It probably hurts worse than it actually is.” Maybe in another hour it would feel better, I told myself. “By the way, I had to practically force Zig to take a painkiller last night.”

She sighed. “But he did?”

“Half of one. Knocked him right out.” I had a sudden fear he hadn’t woken up. That was the kind of anxiety I was having right then. “We better check on him.”

“I just saw him a minute ago,” she said. “Trying to figure out how to wrap his arm in a plastic bag so he could shower the rest of him.”

I sagged in relief. “Okay. Yeah. I should do that, too.” Everything felt impossible, though.

“Daron,” she said, real quiet. “It’s going to be okay.”

“Is it?”

“It is. Let’s just get through one step at a time, all right? The accident was a major deal. We gotta deal with the fallout, but one thing at a time.” She stood up. “Oh, dammit, Marty’s supposed to take the bus for a paint job. Jeez. Look, for showering, why don’t I get you and Ziggy over to the hotel and see if we can borrow someone’s there.” She shook her head and chuckled. “Glamorous life of a tour manager. Everyone thinks it’s about show biz but some days my job is indistinguishable from a nanny’s. Is everyone fed? Clothed? Washed? Speaking of which: eat.” She pointed at the bag she’d put on the table and left the room.

The bag was full of cheeseburgers and fries and some other stuff. Within a minute or two, the rest of the band and crew came and dug into it, too. There was a lone salad at the bottom of the bag. No one actually ate it. I wondered if she had gotten it for herself and forgot about it.

So Zig and I ended up going to the hotel while the bus was off at what Marty jokingly called the “manicure appointment.” Adam, the bass player for Miracle Mile, was in nursing school, and we not only used his shower, but he helped us redo our bandages.

The showering came first. Adam went out front to have a cigarette while we showered.

Simple things get complicated when you have an injury. “The real trick is washing my hair with one hand,” Ziggy said.

“Stick your arm out from the curtain and rest it on my shoulder,” I said. “And do whatever you have to.”


I helped him get undressed. I won’t lie. Even hurting like we were and knowing he was having sexual issues, I got turned on doing that. He helped me out of my stuff, too.

We didn’t make eye contact. We both knew that in other circumstances us showering together would have been quite different.

He got in first, and I held his arm out of the water. He managed to get most of himself scrubbed and his hair washed and rinsed. Then it was my turn.

We unbandaged my head and then taped my eye shut so I wouldn’t open it by accident and get water or soap in it. Then he held my raggedly bandaged hand outside of the curtain while I got under the water.

Once that mission was accomplished, there was much mutual toweling and we helped each other into clean clothes.

I really wanted to do what we’d done in NOLA. Or something. My brain really wasn’t working at that point.

He didn’t aggravate the situation. Besides, Adam was sitting out there. I could hear the TV.

“Take a couple of minutes to yourself,” Ziggy said, and slipped out.

So I did. I can get off in under two minutes if I really focus.

If Adam thought it was weird that either Ziggy and I had been in there together or that I then spent some time in there alone, he didn’t show it.

He had a mop of blond curls and a red goatee, which I thought was curious and I kind of fixated on it while he snipped the bandages on my hand and arm away.

“Take a look,” he said, gesturing to the wide mirror in the bathroom with the bandage scissors.

I held up my hand and looked with my one good eye. The whole edge and some of the wrist was ugly-dark, and there were blisters. I tried to make a fist and the injured skin didn’t like that at all.

He slathered it in the burn cream they’d given me at the ER, and wrapped it in gauze, then a layer of stretchy black stuff that held it all in place. It was better than tape, though he did tape the end of it in the center of my palm. That didn’t look half bad.

Don’t ask me when Ziggy had time to do it, but he’d decorated the black eye patch with rhinestone studs and painted on a white skull and crossbones. I put it on. It looked a lot better than the bandages had, anyway. Looking at myself in the mirror I realized I had some pale red streaks–mild burn–on both cheeks, too. Nothing worth doing anything about.

And then it was Ziggy’s turn to get re-bandaged. I was a chicken and didn’t look. It was supposedly much worse than mine, and covered more of his arm, from what Adam said.

We went in Miracle Mile’s van back to the venue when it was time for their soundcheck. They were all pretty quiet, Christian included. He had his sunglasses on and didn’t say a word. Dave and Adam made small comments about the passing scenery. I wondered if they were nervous about the show.

And then we got back to the venue, and the van pulled up at the back entrance by the loading dock where it seemed like a lot of people were hanging around, and I was kind of wrapped up in my own thoughts about how I was going to make it through the show, and so I didn’t even realize who it was at first who ran up to me.

Jonathan threw his arms around me and kissed me and exclaimed, “Oh my god, thank god you’re all right.”

And I know I should have said something else in response–though I’m not sure what–besides what came out, which sounded entirely wrong: “What the hell are you doing here?”

(Is this where I admit that I was in junior high when this video came out and I fell in love with Stevie Nicks, which made me think I might turn out “normal?” -d.)


  • sanders says:

    Oh, Jonathan. I know you have great intentions here, but way to out Daron to anyone on the tour who didn’t already know and add to the general stress level.

    I’m glad Ziggy and Daron are continuing to be tender with each other, but I really can’t help but wonder what Jonathan being there is going to do to that. I’m kind of dreading Thursday’s post, as much as I want more of the story.

    • ctan says:

      I think Jonathan let his emotions get the better of him. And I’m sure watching the explosion on MTV news a hundred times probably made him a little hyper.

  • 8o

    Oh my gosh he was totally not thinking that through…!

  • Treasure says:

    Wait Johnathan kissed you? On the mouth? Out in public for the world to see? Lols what the hell its wrong with him. Did he forget that you guys aren’t dating. I know ya have a agreement that when you all are together its just about you two, but I don’t think that moment falls under that agreement. I think you said the right thing what the hell is he doing there? I get he’s your friend so he’s worried but buddy a simple phone call woulda done the job just fine. Which he already did so all he had to do was wait for you to call back. He’s you’re friend not your boyfriend. Now its gonna make things awkward for Zig but since you two think each other are mind readers he won’t come out & say its bothering him he’ll just act out.

    • daron says:

      Yeah, he did. And this is what I get for not talking about things — I’m pretty sure from his reaction that he considers us boyfriends, just kind of long-distance part-time ones.

      I know, I know, the bigger question is what is he to me? I’ve never had a boyfriend but he’s the closest thing to it I can imagine.

      But I still wanted to smack him upside the head for that. In front of everybody.

  • cayra says:

    Oooh, this is going to get interesting.

  • Jude says:

    Poor guy was frantic. Poor, poor Jonathan. Maybe you can pass him off as having spent too much time in France during his formative years or something?

    • daron says:

      I, um. Yeah. It shouldn’t have been that big a deal given that after the graffiti and me blowing my top at Christian everyone knew (well except the Miracle Mile guys…) but holy crap I’ve never wished so hard for the superpower to just rewind about 20 seconds and do-over than I did right then.

  • Peter Wilcox-Pisz says:

    Maybe “What the hell are you doing here”, will translate into “Now what the hell am I going to do?”

  • deb h says:

    loved it ,poor jonathan I had a bad feeling about him getting hurt,but then I had a bad feeling about being with ziggy too.Daron should have called him,he should have known that he would hear about it and worry.(bad daron).

    • ctan says:

      Daron couldn’t have called him before this because he doesn’t have his number memorized and didn’t bring it. 🙂 And by the time he got the message, Jonathan was already on his way.

  • Janie Friedman says:

    Gah! Also, argh!

  • Jaime says:

    God, I love Ziggy! How sweet of him to decorate the eye-patch for Daron.

    I like Jonathan, too, but dang, that was a dumb move.

    I think J would definitely be the more stable option and maybe, if they spend more time getting to know each other, Daron could develop deeper feelings for him for sure, but Ziggy seems to be changing for the better and, maybe one day, he could be a good thing for Daron.

  • Huehueteotl says:

    Is that supposed to be Megaton’s van or Miracle Mile’s van in graf 61?

  • Eliza says:

    Oh my gosh. He was worried I’ve had a bad feeling he’ll end up hurt he’s the good guy in this story poor Jonathon. This for sure will make Zig act out but that’s not really a question he’ll be hurt and since he’s already all side effects he might get worse and become more unbalanced like a danger to himself sort of thing but my question is where is Digger in this? Oh my gosh! he will flip if brought out in public I think.

  • - says:

    Daron’s totally forgotten the antibiotics.

  • Sand says:

    YESH!!!!!!! I’ve been waitting for him to come back!!!!

  • Songquake says:



    There’s gonna be some ‘splainin’ all around, I think.

  • s says:

    Oh damn. And here I thought Ziggy would find the message and be upset. Poor Zig…he seems so fragile right now. Please don’t hurt him.

    Fwiw I don’t think you can possibly live up to J’s requirement of only thinking about him when you’re together…but I’m sure you’ll try.

    • Bill Heath says:

      Jonathan knows Daron is not out, and that doing so pubicly could sabotage his career. Ambushing Daron in front of his own band, and his father, and the Miracle Evangelists does not count as “together time” in the world of the sane.

      This is a gigantic red flag. Jonathan may be too needy for his and Daron’s good.

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