Colin came back from his workout a little while after that. I’d gotten as far as half-filling the tub with hot water and getting in it. He, naturally, came to check on me.
“You look like you gave a chimney sweep a blow job,” he said.
“What? Oh.” I apparently had a sooty-looking mouth after Ziggy’s impromptu kiss. I splashed my face with water but didn’t really try to scrub it off. “Colin, can I ask you something?”
“Of course.” He sat down on the lid of the toilet, the knobs of his knees showing through the worn out holes in his jeans.
“I know I’m barely keeping my head above water.” Metaphorical water, I meant; there was only about ten inches worth in the tub. “But tell me what you think about Ziggy. Is he doing all right?”
He thought for a moment. “I really haven’t paid too much attention to how he’s doing, honestly. I’ve been focused on you.”
“But your impression?”
He shrugged. “My impression’s not worth much. If you’d asked me how he was doing the week before he ended up on suicide watch I would’ve told you he was fine.”
That week in New York. “Really?”
“Well, okay, partying a little too hard, but last time I looked that wasn’t a reason to commit someone. How do you know when someone’s playing too hard versus when it’s actually overcompensating for hidden pain or whatever?”
I thought back to that night at Madison Square Garden, when Ziggy’d barely been able to move earlier in the day, but he’d given his all at that show, then collapsed in tears afterward, exhausted and relieved. I remembered holding him and tasting his sweat in my mouth.
That wasn’t the moment I realized how deeply I was in love with him, but maybe it was the moment it sank into my subconscious. I met his mother a little while after that.
I hugged my wet knees. “I didn’t see the suicide thing coming, either.” We’d talked about it–me and Ziggy, I mean–a few times now. Sometimes less directly, sometimes more directly. I’d still never gotten him to come out and say he actually had a conscious death wish when he climbed up that speaker stack. My conclusion was that he didn’t. A subconscious one, though? Maybe.
When you add drugs into the mix it’s even less certain. Ziggy says he doesn’t really remember what he was thinking while on the drugs. Sometimes he thinks maybe the drugs made him feel invincible, like he couldn’t die, and other times he thinks maybe they just tore away his inhibitions… it’s really not possible to figure it out now. “His whole personality changed when he was on whatever he was on.” I couldn’t even remember which drug it was. Some painkiller. The one he had said made him feel beautiful.
“Ziggy’s personality changes as often as his nail polish color,” Colin said seriously.
I didn’t argue with that, although I at least believed I knew the unchanging core of Ziggy at that point. “What about me? Does my personality change when I’m on drugs?”
“Not these drugs, anyway.” Colin picked up a washcloth and started carefully scrubbing at the scab in my hair above my forehead. “Vitamin F does kind of put you in a fog, though.”
Fog. That’s what I’d said I’d felt like. But I’d been calling it the fog of depression. What if the fog was the drugs themselves? The same drugs that kept my hand from tangling like overcooked spaghetti left in the bottom of the colander.
“It does?” I asked, just to see what else he’d say.
“Yeah. Like you check out right in the middle of a conversation. You just stare off into space and it’s like nobody’s home for a while.”
I hadn’t realized I was doing that. “Do you think that’s because I hit my head?”
“No, I think it’s because you’re much more stoned than you realize. It’s pretty much what you’re like when you smoke weed, too.” He was nodding his head like I should know this. I suppose he was right. “Remember when you ate the hash brownie at Bart’s?”
“Um, no, not really.”
“Which proves my point.”
I couldn’t argue with that.
(Today’s song title is partly just an excuse to share a song from one of my favorite bands of the 1980s. -d)