337. I Drove All Night

(Saturday bonus post! Thanks to the donations that have come in “lobbying” for favorites in the Character poll–please vote if you haven’t already–there will be Saturday posts for the next two weeks as well! And look at the bottom of this post for a little video surprise. -ctan)

The Detroit venue was another indoor sports arena. From the outside it was round. From the inside it looked like basically every other place of this type we’d played. The light show was designed for places like this. They blur together after a while.

I remembered to drink some water and some Gatorade during the show. No sense in me being the next one to take a dive. But I was, as you might imagine, much more worried about Ziggy than myself.

Ziggy played with the vocals. He did more sliding into notes, more dropping into a kind of lounge conversation voice, reminding me constantly of what was going on. At least I knew he wasn’t forgetting it either. It made for what felt to me like a very cautious and self-conscious show, but the audience seemed to love it anyway. It was different, but it was good.

The encore went off pretty well, even Topher’s zither solo in the jam section. And then we didn’t hang around long after final bows because word was that staying within Detroit city limits overnight in a tour bus was asking for trouble.

Ziggy had reached the point where he could put Saran Wrap around his bandages and shower by himself.

I waited until we were in the bus and rolling to try to pump Carynne for the answers I wanted from Ziggy, but which I didn’t want to stress either his throat or his mind by asking him directly. We were in the front lounge, looking through the day book. Antonio had his headphones on and his eyes closed. Everyone else was in the back.

“Okay, so, the details. He’s off painkillers?” I asked her.

She stretched and put a hand on her neck, working out a crick. “The doctor agreed they were making the problem worse, because he couldn’t feel what he was doing. Meanwhile, his shrink changed his meds again, but she basically said it might be difficult to get his sleeping to improve while we’re on the road. I said ‘no kidding.'” She looked into my eyes. “So, how’s he doing?”

“I don’t know. Why are you asking me?”


I shrugged. “I don’t think he’s told me anything he hasn’t told you.” I didn’t want to go into the whole thing of how I felt certain he was lying to me in order to make me feel better. “So what’s the plan for our rest day?”

“Well, you’re doing some press. I’m going to send you and Bart. I’m keeping Ziggy in bed and booking him an afternoon spa thing with massage, sauna, and soak.”

“Hm. I suppose he would like that.”

“Yeah, though he doesn’t want to go alone, says that’s no fun.” She eyed me. “I don’t suppose I could convince you to do it.”

“Having a total stranger touch my skin is about my idea of hell,” I said. “Not to mention being forced to sit still while listening to smarmy New Age. Hell, I tell you.”

“That’s what I figured,” she said. “Besides, there’s press, as I mentioned.”

“What about you? You look like you could use some relaxation, honeycakes.” I used a nickname she’d taken to throwing around at other people and she cracked a grin.

“Okay, maybe. If I don’t find someone else to take me up on the offer,” she said.

“What about Madge?”

“Hah. She told me she’s like a feral cat. Doesn’t like to get wet or be petted by strangers.”

“Fair enough. Seriously, Car’, speaking as your boss, I think you could use the half-day off. Bart and I can get ourselves where we need to go.”

“I’ll think about it,” she said.

I moved to the back lounge, where Courtney was just making a face and saying “Yuck!” as I came in.


She wiped her tongue with a napkin. “You remember that nasty stuff mom used to force down our throats when we were sick?”

Ziggy held up a bottle of fake-cherry red Chloraseptic with a spray pump top. He grinned and shook it at me. He was back to not talking.

“I do remember. I also remember it being awful. Here, gimme.” I held out my hand and he passed the bottle to me as I sat down.

Okay, so why is it that whenever someone tastes something awful the people around are like, “let me try it!” Or is it just the people I know?

I tried it. I coughed. “Wow. It’s like… licking the back of a metal spoon or something.”

“An artificially cherry-flavored spoon,” Courtney said. “Now my tongue is tingling!”

“What’s in this, anyway?” I tried to read the label, but we had the lights in “night” mode, and the words were printed too small for light that dim.

“I’ve never had it,” Bart said. “Let me try.”

See? Pretty soon everyone in the bus had tried it and agreed it was horrendous. This somehow left Ziggy looking quite smug.

It was the wee hours of the morning when we checked into a big old hotel in downtown Cleveland. Maybe that’s why the lamp in the shape of a woman’s leg that was in the grand lobby and reception area seemed normal instead of totally weird. Most of the crew were at some place on the outskirts where they could park the trucks, but all three bands checked into the downtown hotel.

I must’ve been tired. The hallways seemed extra long and I’m convinced we had to make four turns to get to our room, which shouldn’t be possible, should it? Unless the hotel’s a spiral, which this one was not. I don’t think. Or five-sided, which it wasn’t either.

I was all prepared to make sure Ziggy got in bed and slept well, but when I actually got into my room and sat down on the bed I did that thing of lying down for just a minute, you know? And didn’t wake up until the next morning, in my wrinkly clothes.

(Here’s a video of me reading a section from back in chapter 322, the “Fortress Around Your Heart” conversation. A reader who made a donation requested it! I recorded this late Friday night after getting home from the Torrent Engine 18 Gala, which is why I’m still wearing eyeliner. The necklace I’m wearing is from Heavy Metal Picks and the design on my shirt is by Salvador Dali from the Dali Museum shop. –ctan)

(And now native New Yorker Cyndi Lauper’s “I Drove All Night”…)


  • cayra says:

    Yay bonus chapter! Carynne should really take that mini vacation, managing all those troubles must be pretty exhausting.

  • deb h says:

    loved it ,I have to admit I am with Daron on the spa stuff ,no way in hell .I am worried about Ziggy though.

    • daron says:

      It’s not that I don’t like “relaxing” it’s that those things aren’t relaxing to me. A hot tub, that I can understand, but I get bored after ten minutes. Being bored isn’t relaxing!

  • JB Starre says:

    Is it terrible that I want Daron to go on the spa day with Ziggy just so that we can read about them sitting in the sauna together, naked, alone, vulnerable? *grin*

  • wrendancing says:

    I’ve stayed in that hotel. It’s beyond confusing. I was there for a conference and it took me the entire first day just to find my way back and forth to my room. 🙂

    • daron says:

      I’m not making it up, right? Even when I wasn’t sleep deprived I couldn’t figure it out. And what’s with the leg lamp?

      • wrendancing says:

        It’s from the movie “A Christmas Story”. Apparently the movie was filmed at a house nearby. I gather you can go for tours now. Of course, librarians are geeky enough that everyone recognized the lamp, and more than a few people had their pictures taken with it. 🙂

        • daron says:

          That’s the movie where the kid licks the pole? Never saw it, but pretty much everyone else I know has, so I can see why people would be nuts about it.

  • Sara Winters says:

    Ugh. I remember that horrible fake cherry stuff. Did everyone’s mom torture them with it? I don’t even think it helped me.

    Oh, and I wanted one of those lamps. Actually, I think I still do. Heh.

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