319. Telegraph Road

I finally understood why everyone had been in such an all-fired hurry to get us out of Durham, about ten hours into the drive. I remembered Carynne telling me we had to be on time, but I really hadn’t been paying attention otherwise. It was morning now, mostly everyone was still asleep or at least pretending to be, and I was sitting in the front lounge, fussing around with some lyrics in my notebook, when Carynne went to talk to Marty.

When she came back she looked sort of green and I thought maybe she was motion sick. “Hey, you okay?” I pulled her down to sit next to me and then got a Gatorade out of the mini-fridge.

“I’m a total and complete fucking idiot,” she said, her hands on her stomach.

“What, did you eat something bad?” I cracked open the bottle for her and sat down again. “What?”

“Remember how I told you yesterday it was an eleven hour drive?”


“That was the distance to Bloomington, Indiana. I think. Or maybe Illinois. No, I’m sure it was Indiana. But it’s not Indiana. Oh my god. I can’t believe I fucked up this badly.”

“Slow down and start at the beginning,” I said, putting a hand on her arm.

“We’re going to Bloomington, Minnesota,” she said. “Oh god. It’s like another eight hours.”

My skin began to prickle. “That’d have us rolling in at like four o’clock.” Which was two or three hours later than usual for the lights and stage setup to be rigged. “Can the guys even do the setup in that time?”

She leaned her head against the pole. “I sure hope so. Oh fuck, and I’ve probably got the drive time to Toronto wrong, too! Shit, I need to get on the phone.” She put the top back on the Gatorade and went forward to talk to Marty again.

I followed and stuck my head through the open pocket door. Marty was talking to one of the other drivers in our convoy, the main equipment truck. The driver handed it over to someone else.

“It’s not a big deal,” came Louis’s voice. “Don’t sweat it. We all knew, even if you didn’t. Over.”

Carynne took the radio microphone from Marty. “Then you think you can do it? Um, over?”

“Sweetcakes, we’ve got it. So long as we don’t hit traffic. We’ll be cutting it close, I won’t lie. If we have to, absolutely have to, we’ll have to cut soundcheck short, and we’ll have to tell the promoter that we have to open doors late. I promise you it won’t be the first time it’s happened to them. Over.”

“But it still makes me look like an idiot. I am an idiot.”

“I’m telling you don’t sweat it. I’ll call tech at the venue when we get to the next rest stop and tell them where we are. If he asks, I’ll say we had vehicle trouble. We’ll get there. I promise you’re not the first tour manager who made this mistake, either. It’s really okay. The crew knew where we were going. Over.”

“All right. Next rest stop I’ll make some calls, too. Over.”

“Now, you’re sure you actually booked the Met Center? Because what would really suck is hauling ass all the way to Minnesota when the gig’s in Illinois. Over.”

“Indiana, you shit-face!” she shouted, but she was laughing. “Yes, I’m sure!”

We could hear him laughing when he pressed his mic button again at that end. “Just joshing you. Rand says next rest area’s ten miles. See you there. Over and out.”

She and I went back and sat down again, and she finally drank some of the Gatorade. “God, I’m still nauseous about it. Such a huge fuck-up.”

“Hey, it’s like Louis said. You surely aren’t the first to make the same mistake. It’s going to be okay. We’ll get there. If we have to open a little late, are there penalties?”

She focused on the bottle in her lap. “If it’s only an hour, I don’t think so. Oh, and why did this have to be the show with the new bands, and new crews, and new everything. Thank god the guys were on top of it. They must have been thinking I was crazy a bunch of times, though.”

“How did you figure out you had it wrong?” I asked.

“Louis and Barnaby radioed over this morning after looking at the schedule memo I’d put in the trucks last night before we left.” She covered her eyes with her hand. “I still can’t believe I did that! I’m never going to live this down! And we’re going to have to rearrange or cancel some press in Toronto. Ick.”

“Hey, are you sure it’s your mistake and not Digger’s?”

“I wish I could blame it on him. No, I did all the nitty gritty logistics stuff.” She looked up. “I feel terrible.”

“I wish I could make you feel better,” I said, and tried to say something that would.”You know you’re awesome and I still think you’re awesome.”

She burst into tears at that point, which was the complete opposite of what I wanted, but she cried on my shoulder for a short time and then, apparently, felt better. So maybe it had the desired effect after all.

“I’ve never been this stressed out,” she said, after she had wiped her eyes. “But the whole thing with the Shithead Brothers…”

“And then the Righteous Brothers,” I joked.

“…and now this. Man, we better not have any more trouble or I’m going postal.” She stood up. “Rest area must be coming up. I’m going to tell the guys.”

Some of her nervousness had rubbed off on me and I didn’t want to stay long at the rest area. There were two pay phones between the men’s room and the ladies room, though, and Louis was on one and Carynne was on the other. I ended up standing there leaning against the wall, which meant I had to continually wave guys to go past me as they’d pause and wonder if I was in line or not going in there for a reason.

Louis finished his calls first. “I’ll roll ahead with the truck and the crew van,” he said. “If we can even shave off twenty minutes, we will.”

“Just don’t get pulled over,” she said. “Or you’ll lose that twenty minutes.”

“No problemo. Rand’s got it covered. You follow with the boys as soon as you can. For tomorrow, see if you can get us onto the Badger ferry. That’ll cut us across Lake Michigan and we can avoid driving through both Chicago and Detroit.”

“They’ll take something as big as a tour bus?” she asked, surprised.

“They take commercial eighteen wheelers and used to take train cars,” he said. “They can handle us. Stop worrying about tonight. We’ve got that covered.”

“Okay. Thanks, Louis. How did you know about the ferry?”

“Had to take it once before, going the other way. You should also see about sticking the talent on a plane, if they really need to make it to press gigs. The rest of us get a day off, haha.”

“Some day off, a twenty-hour drive…”

“Get us on the ferry and we’ll have a nice, four hour cruise on the lake.”

“All right, I’ll check. Now, go.”

He jogged out, waving to us as he went.

“Where’s your sister?” Carynne asked me.

“Courtney? I think she’s in the ladies…” Before I could finish my sentence Courtney walked out, as if summoned by her name.

Carynne beckoned her over, and the two of them began conferring. Carynne handed Courtney a phone calling card and a page from the day book. Soon they were both dialing numbers.

I decided at that point to take a spin around the tourism brochures. Looking at the map I realized that in my mind I had Indiana and Illinois reversed. I could’ve sworn Illinois was on the east side and Indiana on the west. It was just as well that I wasn’t in charge of where we were going and when.

Then I went back to the bus, which seemed eerily empty. All hands–Colin, Trackie, and our two security guys included–had gone ahead. That left just Marty and the four actual band members in the bus waiting for Carynne and Courtney to finish up.

They climbed in a little while later, and all four of us were waiting in the front lounge for them. Marty shut the door and put the bus in gear before Carynne even sat down. She held onto the pole of a dinette table and announced, “Change of plan for tomorrow. I was able to book the equipment and crew onto the ferry. To get you guys to Toronto in time, though, we’re flying. The six of us and a couple of the guys from the other bands will fly from Bloomington to Detroit, and from Detroit to Toronto. Instead of twenty-plus hours in a bus, it’ll be not even three hours in the air with an hour-long layover.”

There were general nods and murmurs of happiness at that news.

“However,” she said, giving each of us the “eye” in turn, “it means we’re going through airport customs, and it means you need to have clothes for the press party and potentially overnight if it takes the trucks a while to catch up with us. The bus is going with the trucks.” She looked around at all of us again. “I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will so there’s no misunderstandings. Do not under any circumstance try to take drugs you don’t have a prescription for across the border.”

“I’m not carrying anything!” Chris burst out, showing us his empty hands like he was proving something by it.

“And don’t pick up anything from anyone tonight, either,” she warned. “I’m serious, guys. I wouldn’t put it past William Bennett himself to be in our faces.”

Ziggy raised his hand to ask, “Who’s William Bennett?”

“The drug czar…?” Carynne answered, incredulous.

“He’s ‘The Man,'” Bart said sagely.

“And no trying to bring them from Canada back across to here, either,” Carynne said. “Louis was laughing it off a little, but I’m serious. This ‘war on drugs’ thing is really getting overboard. Let’s not make ourselves into an example, okay?”

“You’re sure prescriptions are okay?” Ziggy asked.

“You’ve still got the prescription, right?”

“Um… I’m not sure I ever had it,” he said. “The ER nurse handed me this bottle…”

“Fuck,” Carynne said, and sat down with a thump. “Does the bottle at least have your name on it?”

“Let me check.” He went and dug in his bunk and came out with the bottle. “Yes!”

“Okay.” She deflated and I sighed a little in relief, too. “Look. We’re only in Canada for like four days. If everyone can just hold it together that long, we can meet up with the rock doc in the Chicago and restock anything necessary. All right? Everybody cool?”

Everybody was cool.

(There are later versions of this with better audio and video, but this one does gussy it up too much with saxophone and other junk. Knoplfler on guitar talking to the piano. Gets me every time. -d.)


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