338. Lonely is the Night

(Merry Christmas everyone! It’s Tuesday, so here’s our regular Tuesday post, even though it’s Christmas…)

My wake up call came in the form of Courtney knocking on my door. I could see her through the peephole when I went to groggily look who it could be.

I opened the door and blinked as my way of saying “good morning.”

She breezed in with a very official-looking clipboard in the crook of her arm. “You’ve got 45 minutes to get an actual breakfast if you want one. I can get it delivered here or if you can be ready to go in twenty minutes we can still hit the buffet downstairs?” She gave me a dubious look, then, which she had clearly learned from Carynne.

“Did you eat yet?” I asked.

“I did.”

“Who else needs to eat?”

“Bart’s downstairs already.”

“Great. Go meet him and I’ll be there in fifteen.”

Her expression got more dubious.

“What? It’s not like I’m going to lie back down or do a line of coke and forget where I’m supposed to go,” I said.

“I’ll wait for you outside the door,” she said, one-hundred percent business.

I was going to argue, then I decided we could do that on the way down. “If you want to. I’ll have a quick shower and throw on something torn and arty-looking.”

She just nodded and let herself out.

I chuckled a little after the door closed. My little sister.

I had one of those showers where the temperature wavered up and down, but not enough to slow me down. We’d been in some hotels where it went from scalding to freezing and back again. I used the hotel shampoo. It smelled like oranges.

True to her word she was standing outside the door. We took the long walk back to the elevators.

“I take it that’s today’s schedule?” I said. “And that Carynne decided to leave you in charge while she babysits Ziggy’s mudbath?”

“Correct,” Courtney said. She had her hair up in a banana clip. “It’s my job to get you where you need to go, when you need to go.”

“You know, you could just give me the list and go see the sights if you want. Bart and I are responsible adults.”

She stabbed the elevator call button. “Oh, and I’m not?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Sure. You just told me to blow off my responsibility. That’s really a responsible adult thing to suggest, Daron.”

“I just meant–”

She cut me off. “Let’s get one thing straight here, big brother. You are the talent. I am in management. And management should never, ever assume that the talent will act like responsible adults.”

“Oh. Okay.” I tried very hard to keep a straight face. We stepped into the elevator together. At which point I said, “Management, huh?”

Which caused us both to start laughing.

“I’m serious!” she insisted, but that only made her laugh harder.

“That’s what makes it funny,” I said. “How serious you were. Are.”

“This is why you and I get along,” she said as the doors opened in the lobby. “We’re the only two in the family who don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

She was probably right about that. I followed her through the lobby and up a set of stairs to another set of doors into a restaurant. Bart had finished his run through the buffet already and was drinking a cup of coffee and reading the paper. Courtney sat down next to him.

“Okay, Miss Management, how many minutes do I have to eat before we have to be on our way somewhere?” I asked.

She looked at her watch. “About forty five.”

“Piece of cake,” I said.

“Those are over there.” She pointed to a table on the side, but she smirked at me.

“See if they’ll bring me coffee, too, and I’ll be right back.” I went down the buffet line and ended up waiting for a waffle to be fresh-made for me. I came back to the table with two plates, pretty much covered in food. Not that I had any trouble clearing it all down to the last lick of syrup.

While I ate, Court grilled Bart about electric basses. “What’s the difference between a bass and a bass guitar?” she asked.

“You mean between the concert bass–”

“The one that’s like a huge-ass violin,” she said.

“Yeah. So the bass guitar is the same four strings as on the big one, except it’s built like an electric guitar. So it can be played like one,” Bart said.

“And what’s the difference then between a bass amp and a guitar amp?”

“Well, since the bass plays lower notes, it needs more wattage to be heard. You can tell the difference by looking at the amp though, usually. Guitar amps are open in the back, bass amps are closed. Something about reverb.”

And so on. I wasn’t sure exactly why Courtney wanted to know everything, but I got the feeling it wasn’t just idle small talk.

We took a cab to a radio station, and met a reporter from one of the local papers there, too. Then to another radio station, this one to meet the staff and the winners of a contest. Everyone seemed somewhat disappointed not to have Ziggy with us, and yet maybe not as crushed as I would have thought. They were all very sympathetic to the “sore throat” explanation, and I got to hear more secondhand war stories from people about how this or that singer had gotten sick or what have you. In fact I heard about how Bono got a sore throat and that meant U2 had to cancel some tour dates. Not only that, he was apparently prone to accidentally falling off the stage, too. I wondered if he had a guy like Antonio, who must have a heart attack every time it happened.

We met some people with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Up until then I had missed the fact that there was such a thing. Apparently they had started inducting people a few years back, but there wasn’t an actual museum yet. They were still working on the plans and fundraising to build it in Cleveland. We autographed some stuff for a fundraising auction, I think.

Talking to reporters made me miss Jonathan. We’d be in New Jersey in, what, eight or nine days?

It was late afternoon by the time we got back to the hotel, by which time I was beginning to feel very… irritated at the world. Not just stupid reporters, the whole world.

Bart assured Courtney that the problem was two-fold. I needed to eat and I was “peopled out.”

“I don’t get peopled out,” I insisted.

He and Courtney gave each other a look that was definitely the “yes-he-does” look.

We got room service. I considered taking a nap.

Carynne appeared then and gave the Ziggy update: “Out like a light at the moment.”

Okay, that was good. The other bands were off having adventures of their own of some kind, and somehow it ended up that me, Bart, Court, and Carynne all went to see a movie. Batman had come out while we’d been on the road and so none of us had seen it yet.

Good movie, though Michael Keaton struck me as a really weird choice to play the part of Batman. I mean, this is the guy from Mr. Mom. But whatever, I guess he didn’t like being typecast?

Of course the second the credits started to roll, Bart and I started talking about the music. “That is so weird, they got Prince to do the ‘soundtrack’ but Danny Elfman did the score? Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo?” I asked.

“Yeah, who do you think he had to blow to get that gig?” Bart shook his head. “I didn’t know Elfman had that kind of background.”

“Well, Remo doesn’t, but he gets by somehow. Though he didn’t do so much with like the full orchestra and stuff…” I would have to ask him about it, I decided. If I ever did that kind of work, I at least did have the experience from school.

The womenfolk decided to go get a drink then, and Bart and I decided to stay and see another movie. Ghostbusters II. Okay, sequels are rarely as good as the originals, I know, but, well… actually I can’t tell you if it was any good because something in the first fifteen minutes got me thinking about Ziggy, and then all I could think was that he would wake up from his nap and be all alone and this would inevitably lead to some kind of disaster.

You can see the logic in that, right? Or is it just me? I didn’t think him being on his own was a good idea.

The thought made me anxious enough that I told Bart I was going back. He patted me on the arm and off I went.

I paced inside the elevator in the hotel like a caged lion. I couldn’t even tell you what I was so worried about. It wasn’t like I had a specific worry about what might happen so much as just this general sense of dread.

But when I got to his door, I suddenly wondered. What if he was still asleep? I shouldn’t wake him up. What if he was out? Well, then knocking on his door wouldn’t hurt anyone. But… what if he was asleep?

I decided if I stood there any longer I was going to go crazy. As if I wasn’t already crazy, I know. I knocked.

Then I listened. Was that the sound of footsteps? I could hear the TV from a room down the hall, faintly.

The door swung open. Ziggy was wearing satin pajamas and a bathrobe. He gave me a bemused look and a crooked smile. He had no makeup on at all. I hadn’t seen him like that in… I’m not sure when. Months. Years, maybe. His hair was flat, too, and he’d taken his earrings out.

It’s probably a cliche to say that he was even more beautiful than usual. Beauty being in the eye of the beholder, I’d say he looked different, but equally beautiful then, how’s that?

“I just came to see if you were okay,” I said, which was one hundred percent true.

“I’m fine,” he whispered, then put his hand over his mouth and gestured which I took to mean he was still not supposed to talk.

“Um…” I wasn’t sure what to say or do now that I had seen he was okay. “Do you need anything? Do you need me to order room service for you or anything?”

He shook his head but reached out and took me by the wrist and pulled me into the room. He pulled me all the way to the dresser where he let go to pick up his notebook.

He wrote: Go get a guitar. I just want you to be here.

“Then why the guitar?”

He snorted and wrote: Because you’ll be bored without it.

He knew me well.


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