326. Vacation

Ziggy ran a block over and flagged down a cab. I slid in after him like something from a spy movie, and the cab pulled away as Ziggy stuffed a wad of money into the little plastic flip drawer, urging the cabbie to “just drive.”

The next thing I knew he had my fly down and me in his mouth. My performance high had given way to anxiety while he’d been crying and then had come back in full force when we’d made our escape, adrenaline coursing through me, redoubled as I sank down a little against the door of the cab and let him have his way. Was I thinking about how we might end up spending a night in jail for public lewdness or something? No. I wasn’t thinking anything at all, unless you count the way my brain made indelible memories of how hot his mouth was as thinking. He made this little sound in his throat while he took me in, almost a hungry sound, like he was getting as much out of it as I was.

I didn’t last long. Not at all. And then he kissed me, and made that hungry sound again. There was no mess, none, unless you count what happened to Ziggy’s makeup.

I made a comment when he pulled back. “Water-proof, but not sex-proof. It’s all messed up.”

He shook his head. “No, it’s perfect where we’re going.”

“Where are we going?”

“Let me find out.” He said something to the cabbie in French.

The cabbie answered in French, but then said, “I speak English, you know.”

“I know, but I need the practice,” Ziggy said. “Anyway, you know what I’m talking about?”

“Yeah, but the Silver Crown, they’re only open Thursday, Friday, Saturday.”

“Isn’t there somewhere?”

“There is. I know the place.” The cabbie made a right.

“So, where are we going?” I repeated.

“Somewhere fun.”

“Aren’t you hurting?”

“Honestly? I don’t want another pill. I’ll try a strong drink. If that doesn’t do it, I promise you, our next stop will be the hotel.” He licked his lips, which were red except in the little cracks where the black lipstick had clung.

“Am I going to be underdressed where we’re going?”

“You’re in black. That’s good enough. It’s a weeknight anyway.”

We didn’t go much further, and the cab dropped us off in front of a place that I didn’t notice a sign for. Apparently it had been okay that Ziggy paid the cab driver in American cash. There was no cover at the door to get into the place, and although the bartender resisted taking US dollars at first, Ziggy basically convinced her by saying he was fine paying a little extra to cover the currency exchange. He then ordered me a Manhattan and himself something I couldn’t make out over the very loud music. Sisters of Mercy, dark and soothing.

She was very done up, with silver rings on every finger, even her thumbs, and eyeliner even thicker than Ziggy’s. Her hair was jet black with rainbow streaks in it, sprayed askew, not like the violent axe-like simplicity of a mohawk at all, more like a force of chaotic nature.

She got a bottle of something green down from a high shelf, poured some into the glass, then balanced a spoon on top of that, put a sugar cube on that, and then dripped water onto it, dissolving the sugar cube and turning the green liquor white.

I very distinctly heard her say, “I’m not going to set it on fire, you know.”

“No?” Ziggy shouted back. “For safety?”

“No. Because this is the good stuff. You only do that with the cheap crap.”

“Ahhh, I see.” He picked up the glass and swirled it.

We clinked glasses and each took a sip. Mine was good, though I wondered how he’d known to order it for me. “So what is that?” I asked in his ear.

“Absinthe,” he said back into mine. He took a rather large gulp of it and then sat still, as if letting it soak in.

The beat of the music was as heavy as the bass. I let that soak into me. The next track was something industrial I didn’t recognize. I have a soft spot for industrial music. The Revolting Cocks “You Goddamn Son of a Bitch” is one of the best live albums ever even if it was nearly impossible to buy in a record store. I’m sure some clerks at Tower thought it was a joke someone from Candid Camera was playing just to get them and the customer to say the words “cock” and “bitch” as many times as possible. Now that I think about it, that’s probably why the band named themselves and the album that.

Ziggy downed the absinthe faster than I would think was recommended. Then again, he was medicating.

I was only halfway through when he said, “Let’s dance.”

“All right.” I left the glass on the bar and we went out onto a small dance floor where there were just enough other people dancing that I didn’t feel self-conscious. It was darker on the dance floor than the rest of the club, which I suppose was a goth thing. The same KMFDM track we’d heard over at MuchMusic came on.

We skirted away from a big guy with a shaved head doing the meathead dance. If you’ve never seen this, it’s hard to describe. It’s usually big guys with big biceps who do it and you have to sort of imagine that they’re mashing hamburger with their bare fists while dancing. Possibly bashing their foreheads against the hamburger, too, which is maybe where the name comes from. Or maybe it just fits. These guys often don’t really match the rhythm of the song, either.

I could tell Ziggy was tired and out of it because he danced more like he was trying to fit in than stand out. Which suited me fine, I suppose.

As that song was ending, I was going to suggest we take a rest, but a loud buzz shook the floor, and then the lights came up and there was a bass player and a guitar player on a stage I hadn’t even noticed before, staring at each other. A heavy drum machine kicked on, and the guitarist bounced on his heels waiting to come in, nearly made a false start, and then they both came in together.

They were terrible and yet there was something kind of endearing about it. Most of the crowd seemed to be friends of theirs. We edged our way back to the bar. My drink was still there. Ziggy got two glasses of water from the same bartender, tipped her copiously, downed his glass and asked for another.

He went more slowly through the next one, while I polished off another half of what was left of my drink, which was plenty, let me tell you. My ears were starting to hurt from the terrible sound system. I hadn’t brought earplugs with me: they were in the pocket of the jacket I wasn’t wearing. Toronto in July was hot.

Ziggy jerked his head toward the door. Out we went.

He leaned on me dizzily. “Whew. That was fun.”

“Had enough?” We couldn’t have been in there more than forty five minutes total. Maybe an hour.

“Yes. Just wanted to check it out.” He stepped back then, and I caught him before he could tip over backward. “Strong stuff.”

“Does that mean your arm feels better?”

“I can’t even feel my arms,” he said. “In other words, yes. Come on, let’s walk for a while.”

I followed him. He seemed to know where he was going. We got onto a main street which seemed to have a lot of interesting clothing shops and such. It took me a while to catch on that we had made our way back to Queen Street, though now we weren’t near to MuchMusic–at least, I don’t think we were. I was tipsy enough that my sense of direction was screwed.

We eventually got in a taxi, though, back to the hotel. He seemed subdued now, tired, wiped out. I tried to think of a way to ask him if he wanted me to reciprocate, but in my head every euphemism only sounded dumber than the last and I couldn’t quite make myself be direct with the cab driver glaring at me in the mirror every few minutes. I hadn’t drunk enough to ignore that and after walking I was pretty much sober anyway.

I settled for “You doing okay?”

“Tired,” he said, and leaned against me. I put an arm around him and I think he dozed off then.

His eyes fluttered open when we pulled up to the hotel. He looked at me. “Thank you.”

“I haven’t done anything for you.”

“Yes, you have. Look, there’s Carynne.”

I looked out the window and there she was, standing on the curb, looking at her watch. A doorman opened the door and I got out. She took a step like she was going to get in as soon as we got out, then did a double-take as she realized who she was looking at.

“Oh, thank god,” she said. “I was about to go over to Queen Street to tear Toni a new one for losing you two.”

Ziggy waved his hand in the air like a visiting dignitary. “That won’t be necessary. Come on, Carynne, we can take care of ourselves. You didn’t get the message?”

She ignored that. “Are you guys okay?”

“Fine. Just wanted to see a bit of the city and we’d had enough. Sorry about the sneaking out but the whole front of the building was a mob of fans. It was pretty amazing, actually. Had to be a thousand people there, maybe two?”

He led her straight into chatting about how the party had gone, and we walked inside and got in an elevator. Upstairs, the after-party afterparty was in full swing in the suite. This was much more my speed as parties went. Courtney and Colin wanted to tell me all about the boat, Louis had some stories to tell about previous gigs he’d done in Canada, Carynne wanted to grill me a little about the reporters. There were new people–the rest of the band members for our opening acts, for example. But there was no one there who wasn’t part of our entourage. Magenta even spoke to me and I got to tell her about some of the shops I’d seen while walking around. It was a good party.

Ziggy crashed early, which wasn’t a surprise. I made sure he was tucked in and the door to his room shut. Carynne then wanted the details of where we’d gone. I told her about the goth bar and Queen Street.

I ended up sleeping on a couch in the suite. It wasn’t really a conscious decision to let Ziggy sleep and more of that’s where I was when I ran out of steam. By then pretty much everyone had gone to bed or to their rooms and I had MuchMusic on the TV with the sound turned down low and was making some notes in my notebook and at some point it just seemed like a better idea to be lying down than sitting up.

The next thing I knew, it was morning.

(Site news: remember the Kickstarter packing party is at my house, Thursday November 29, 7-9pm. If you’re in the Boston area, drop me email at ctan.writer @ gmail and I’ll send you directions to get here!)


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