372. Peek-A-Boo

(I’m nearly done with the Colin/Ziggy bonus scene. It’s coming out longer than I expected! Remember, anyone who wants it, you can get it for a donation OR for helping out by reviewing/recommending DGC! Click for details in earlier post. The recent Daron/Jonathan bonus scene is also still available. If you need both, please just make your donation a smidgen larger and remind me to send both, or make two recs/reviews! -ctan)

In the end, we had to do the press conference at the Garden. Carynne set up a reception in the hotel to get all the press in one place while we were doing our soundcheck, to keep them out of our hair, but it was too difficult to move us back and forth. Too chancy, I guess. We went over to do our checks, and then they sent the press over after we were done. So it wasn’t quite the plan I’d thought it was going to be, but it worked.

Getting us across the street required a delivery van that pulled up to the kitchen loading dock at the hotel, and managed not to attract the attention of the fans milling around at the Garden either. I don’t know whose idea that was or if it was strictly necessary, but it worked and we got over there without incident.

Ziggy had emerged from his room with not only his hair redone in blond and red streaks like flames and scultped into a sort of off-center peak, but with his face fully made up, a green streak across his eyes that made it look like one of the Palladium laser lights had shone onto him and stuck. He swanned into the suite right about the time I was starting to get nervous about him, and then they whisked us over there.

“How are you doing?” I asked, in the bumpy, dark back of the van as we went.

His voice was soft and overly smooth, like he was stoned. “I’ll make it.”

He probably was stoned. I didn’t ask. If it got him through tonight, that was what mattered right now.

My first impression of standing on the MSG stage, looking out at the hall, was that it wasn’t that big. But then while they were working on Bart’s monitors, which weren’t working right, I realized that I was looking at a janitor or someone, so far away I couldn’t quite make out what he was doing. Okay, first impressions can be wrong. Madison Square Garden is big.

Way up in the tippy top were luxury boxes, something a lot of the other arenas didn’t have. Most of them were for our own VIPs, and BNC’s. Bart’s parents would watch the show from up there. It occurred to me then that Dot was dressed up like you would for a Broadway show, if you were the sort of person who dressed up to go to the theater. I supposed there was a sense in which this was our big debut. Everything before was a kind of lead-up to this.

Mills’s comments gnawed at me, though. How could we be selling out the Garden, and Garden State Arts Center, and the LA Forum, and Red Rocks, and all those other places, and have thousands of fans massing outside, and the record not be doing well? Didn’t “Wonderland” just hit the Top 40? That had to count for something, right?

“Daron. Daron.

“What?” I blinked. Barnaby was trying to get my attention.

His hair was coming loose from his pony tail and his shirt was untucked from his jeans, showing a little of his paunch. We were all looking a little tired, I think. “Hey,” he said. “I thought Ziggy was the space cadet, today.”

“I’m here, I’m here,” I said and struck a chord. “Come on. Let’s do it.”

Ziggy was in fine voice. He didn’t move around much, but for a soundcheck he didn’t have to. And knowing there were no reporters snooping around, I didn’t feel we needed to do anything during soundcheck but check. We weren’t just checking that the equipment was working, but that everything with us was working. It seemed that it was. Check check check. Thank goodness.

We gave the stage to the other bands then, and went off to do the press confab.

I don’t know who started calling it a confab. I picked it up from someone. But I’m always picking up words and expressions from people without realizing it. It took place in a side room that was actually kind of crowded by the time we got there. I quickly sussed out that Mills and Belle had worked the crowd over at the hotel, and then brought them over to us. There were chairs for about fifty people. Maybe a dozen actually sat down, while the rest all stood, some in the back rows of chairs, most all around the edges. I could see many of them holding small tape recorders.

Up front were four chairs at a table, and two mics. I guess it was what we could get on short notice? Not that we minded sharing. Ziggy took one of the middle two chairs, and I took the one on the outside of him so we were sharing a mic, and Bart and Chris took the other one.

Belle didn’t need a mic to get the attention of the crowd. They all wanted to be on her good side so they would get picked to ask their questions I guess, so they were like a room full of teacher’s pets. She made them raise their hands and then called on them one at a time, some of them by name.

The first was a young woman who seemed surprised to be called on first. “Oh, um, so is there any truth to the rumor you modeled for Cynthia Plaster Caster?”

“Who?” I asked, leaning back from the mic to ask the others. I could hear one of the other bands starting their soundcheck and didn’t really make out the name, or so I thought.

Ziggy was wearing his darkest sunglasses and he gave me a look over the top of them. Into the mic he said, “Is she still doing that? Yeah? None of us have modeled for her as far as I know, but if any of you know how to get in touch with her, tell her I would love to.”

A scruffy-looking guy with an uneven mustache in the back was next. “Daron, who would you say has had the most influence on your life, outside of your family I mean.”

“You mean musical influence?” I asked, leaning into the mic.

“No, I mean specifically not musical.”

This seemed too easy. “Hm, you know, the answer’s probably the same. It’s no secret Remo Cutler was kind of like my godfather when I was growing up. So you know, in a role model kind of sense, he’s pretty big.”

“Ah, right,” the guy said, and I wondered if he wished for another shot at a different question.

“What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you on tour?” came the next one.

For some reason we all looked at Bart to answer that one. Zig and I had been told not to discuss the accident unless we were asked directly, and then to say as little as possible.

“Er, um,” Bart was racking his brain. “Well, the road crew plays a lot of practical jokes on each other, but I guess that’s normal, not weird…”

“I’ll tell you a weird one,” Ziggy said. “We stopped at a rest area in the West, I don’t even know where, Colorado? New Mexico?” He looked at me but since I didn’t know what story he was going to tell I shrugged. “And this native American woman came up to me and Daron and gave us these beaded bracelets and told us a whole bunch of stuff like a prophecy or something.”

You could almost hear the thoughts in people’s heads, thinking, what did she say? Ziggy being Ziggy held them on edge for as long as he could and then before any of them could actually ask out loud, he said, “Unfortunately, she was speaking some language we didn’t. We asked her daughter to translate but she wasn’t as interested in us as her mother.” He shrugged and delivered the punchline. “She said she just thought we were cute.”

They laughed on cue. I had sort of forgotten that whole incident, although now that neither of us had bandages on anymore, I noticed we were both wearing the bracelets. I’d found mine in my pocket at some point. I think they had taken it off me in the ER. Ziggy had a lot more on his arm, building up a whole collection of things, including a slender silver wristwatch with rhinestones, some rubber gaskets, something braided out of string.

Someone was asking me a question. They didn’t have mics so we couldn’t hear them as well as they could hear us. “Pardon?”

“He asked what’s the most embarrassing thing to happen on the tour,” Ziggy told me.

“Oh, jeez. Embarrassing. Um. Sitting up in front of a room full of reporters and not being able to come up with a good answer,” I said, and they all laughed.

Ziggy raised his hand then and we all looked at him. “Yeah, I have a question for you guys,” he said. “If you died tomorrow, which song lyrics would you want on your tombstone? Chris, you start.”

“Me?” Chris sat up straighter, like he’d been trying to hunch down and not be noticed.

“Don’t think too hard,” Ziggy said, snapping his fingers. “It’s more fun if you don’t overthink it.”

“Um, okay. How about, if it’s tomorrow, ‘Hope I Die Before I Get Old?’ Then I will have gotten my wish.” He grinned.

“Fair enough. Bart?”

“Aw crap. Let’s see. You Cannot Go Against Nature Because That’s Part of Nature Too.”

“Love and Rockets? Huh, never thought of that as a fatalistic lyric before,” Ziggy said. “How about you, Daron?”

“Well, I’d want it to be from one of our own songs,” I said.

“Okay, good plan.”

I chewed the edge of one of my calluses. “That’s a tough one. What about something from ‘Wishes’? It could work. ‘I wish I could tell you more, I wish I could even the score.’ I can’t imagine I’ll be happy about being dead.”

He looked thoughtful. I remembered I’d written the song one day when I was angry at him, and I was pretty sure he knew that. “What about you, Zig? What lyrics would you put on yours?”

“Hmm. Maybe ‘Can’t get across, chasm’s too dark?'”

A voice from the reporters called out asking which song that was from.

“That’s from Moving Parts,” I answered, “Which is something new we’ve been working on.” I saw a couple of people perk up suddenly.

“Let’s play it tomorrow, at the charity show,” Ziggy said.

“You think we’re ready to?” I asked back, feeling weird about discussing it in front of everyone like this.

“Maybe,” he said. “Wait, I thought of a better lyric for my tombstone.”

“What?” I asked.

“What about ‘Time to go, time to go, time to LET go.'” He sang the words.

I’d never heard them before, but I knew them. I’d read them in his notebook that night in Cleveland. I felt a sudden stab of panic and my tongue got thick in my throat.

Belle snapped her fingers to get things moving about. “Okay, last ones. Quickies. Boom boom boom, who’s got one?”

“Chocolate cake or vanilla?” someone shouted.

“Oh, darling, chocolate,” Ziggy said. “Do I look like vanilla to you?” That brought out another laugh from the crowd.

“Favorite curse word!”

“Well, if you mean by frequency of use it has to be ‘fuuuuck,'” he said, drawing it out into the microphone breathily. “But if you mean favorite in terms of so well-loved I hold it in reserve for special occasions, how about… slit-licker.” He looked around at the rest of us but none of us had one to follow that with.

“Favorite cover!”

Bart, Ziggy, and I all answered simultaneously, “Just Like Heaven!” and then fell to arguing. “Are you sure it wasn’t ‘Why Can’t I Be You?'” I asked.

“I’m sure,” he and Ziggy said.

“Favorite Broadway musical!”

Ziggy clucked his tongue. “Cats. I mean, come on.”

“A Chorus Line,” I said.

“I’m fond of The Music Man,” Bart said.

Chris just shrugged.


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