383. Crazy

Things were not fine. Things were far from fine. Ziggy had been taken to a different hospital, where the only person who had been allowed to see him was Digger, and that only after he’d produced some kind of power of attorney Ziggy had previously signed.

It was not lost on me that maybe it could be considered a little fucked up that my own father went with him to the hospital instead of with me, but I guess it made sense in our world. I mean, if I had to pick Digger or Carynne, which one do you think I would have preferred? I had bigger things to worry about, anyway, like whether to cancel the show.

Ziggy had three broken ribs. Carynne had learned that much from a game of phone tag with Digger while she’d been waiting for me.

Carynne, Jonathan, and I took a cab from one hospital to another. I was about ready to collapse by then, but you can understand why I wasn’t about to give up trying to see him or talk to him. I was a mass of questions. What were you thinking, Ziggy? Were you trying to kill yourself, or just scare the living piss out of me? Did you not realize the whole thing might come down? Were you out of your mind on drugs or just out of your mind? Is this because of me? Because of what I said? Or didn’t say? Is this because you stopped taking your antidepressants? Or started taking painkillers? Or because of the ecstasy binge? Or all of the above? Or was it Just An Accident after all and I’m winding myself up over nothing?

Digger was nowhere to be found when we arrived. Carynne did the talking. She was rebuffed. We were directed to a waiting room. This hospital was quieter than the one I had been in. A television was showing Headline News, but the sound was low, a murmur in the background. Carynne fell asleep. Two other people were waiting, a couple, the woman leaning her head on the man’s shoulder. At one point they got up and took a walk.

I wanted to lean my head on Jonathan’s shoulder. I settled for putting my hand on his forearm. That was less incriminating than holding hands would have been.

“Did you see it happen?” I asked quietly, trying not to wake Carynne, who had slumped in the chair with her head against a wall.

“I didn’t have a great view,” he said. “But I was watching.”

“What did you think? Could you see what he was doing?”

“Climbing up the sound system. Beyond that, nothing much.”

Maybe it was only my crazy brain that thought of suicide when he did that, then. Just An Accident, I told myself.

But that didn’t change the fact that he’d disappeared during intermission, and when he’d reappeared he’d felt so different to me from the way he’d been on stage a short time before. He’d seemed distant. Aloof. I’d assumed tired. Now I wasn’t so sure.

“I think he did it on purpose,” I said.

“Fell?” Jonathan’s voice rose in alarm.

“Kind of. I mean, he slipped, so he went down earlier than he intended.”

“But you think he was going to jump?”

“I do. I keep trying to talk myself out of it, but I can’t shake the feeling.”

Carynne sat up suddenly. “Did you say you think he was going to jump?”


“Crap. I better call his psychiatrist.” She dug out the day book and searched for the number. “Be right back.”

She went to find a pay phone or to borrow a line from the hospital or maybe to give the name of his shrink to the nurses, I don’t know.

J. looked into my eyes. “Why do you keep trying to talk yourself out of it?”

“Because it doesn’t make sense. Why would Ziggy want to kill himself? He’s the most self-centered, self-loving person we know.”

Jonathan put on his thinking cap. I saw his eyes focus as if he were reading a book. “Well,” he said slowly, “if I remember anything from my college psych course, it could be…” He closed his eyes and spoke haltingly. “I don’t want to speculate. But… for example … people with manic phases… I seem to remember they’re both extremely self-aggrandizing and also a high risk for suicide.”

“Manic phases? You mean like manic depressive?”

He nodded. “I have no idea if that’s Ziggy or not, though. I mean, I’m not an expert or anything.”

We sat in silence for a while then, while I tried to absorb that possibility. I wondered what his psychiatrist thought.

A nurse came in then, a white guy with dark hair, a dark beard, and a clipboard. “Mr. Marks?” he called.

“That’s me,” I said, sitting up straight, then getting to my feet. “I’m here for Ziggy Farias.”

He looked me up and down. “Um…”

“Is he all right?” I pressed. “When can I see him?”

The guy clammed up then, as if he knew I wasn’t who he was supposed to be talking to, but he didn’t want to turn it into a confrontation. “He’s resting now,” he said.

I was sure that was a brush-off. “Will he be discharged soon?” I asked. “We’re waiting to take him back to the hotel with us, if he’s well enough to travel.”

The guy looked around shiftily. “He won’t… I’m afraid he won’t be leaving for a while.” He looked torn, probably because if we weren’t next of kin he wasn’t even supposed to say this much to us.

I wanted to tell the guy to tell Ziggy we were there. Maybe if he knew I was there he’d say he wanted to see us. Maybe that would make a difference. I didn’t know. I was desperate and grasping at some pretty illogical straws. But I didn’t say anything. What if this guy was a homophobic dick, too?

And then Carynne came back, Digger in tow. It sounded like she was in the process of tearing him a new asshole. “…point of getting coffee if you’re going to be passed out on a cafeteria table anyway. So help me Digger, if this is your fault–” She broke off as she saw us and the nurse, hurrying up to us. “What’s all this about involuntary commitment?” she demanded of the nurse.

“Um, ma’am, I’m really not at liberty to say…”

“Why, because he’s a fucking rock star and we might be the tabloid press? Come the fuck on. That,” she jerked a thumb at Digger, “is his personal manager, I’m his road manager, and that,” she pointed a finger at me, “is his boss. And I just got off the phone with his psychiatrist in Boston and she said you committed him? On what grounds? Doesn’t he have rights?”

“Um, look,” the nurse said. “The law provides for emergency cases where a patient who may be a danger to themselves or to others can be committed for up to 72 hours, unless an evaluation by a doctor recommends prolonging it.”

“Prolonging it?” Carynne shook like she was trying very hard not to stamp her foot. “What the fuck?”

“I’m not saying that’s going to happen, but… But, um. Look. I’m just the messenger. Don’t shoot me.”

It got worse from there. We eventually did get the answer that yes, he was being confined to the psych ward, and no, we couldn’t see him. I got the impression that 1) he was sedated, and 2) all kinds of patient confidentiality stuff was being violated but since that was mostly in our favor I didn’t bring it up.

The upshot was we had to leave the hospital without him. The four of us caught a cab to the hotel.

I asked the question no one else had asked yet out loud. “Do we cancel Great Woods?”

“He’ll be evaluated again tomorrow,” Carynne said. “But Dr. Nichols can’t get down here until Monday. I think she’s the only one who can really make the call.”

“By Monday, we and the gear will be on the way to Mansfield,” I pointed out. “And if she doesn’t get them to release him? We have to cancel.”

Carynne blew the hair out of her eyes. “How much can I offer Dr. Nichols to drop everything and get on the next train or plane here?”

“How much do we stand to lose if we cancel the show?” I asked. “And wait, just wait a second. I’m not saying I want her to ‘spring’ him. I’m saying I want her to tell us, as soon as possible, if he can or can’t do the show. The last thing I want is for him to actually go nuts and try something. But if she says he’s all right…?”

Carynne looked me in the eye. “What are the chances of that?”

“That he’s all right?” I shrugged. “No idea. But I think we have to know before we call up the promoter and pull the plug. Maybe everyone will feel better after a good night’s sleep.”


Digger didn’t say a word through the entire ride. He didn’t say anything as we road the elevator up to our floor. He didn’t say anything when we went into the suite where I got a can of soda out of the refrigerator while he unlocked the door to his bedroom.

He went in, but before the door could shut, as I was turning to leave, he finally spoke.

“Told you he would crack,” he said, and then shut the door.


  • Tryslora says:

    Oh GEEZ, Digger. OH GODS. Poor Daron. Poor Ziggy. I kind of just want to hug them all right now.

  • sanders says:

    Digger, you bastard. You utter bastard.

    Daron, this isn’t your fault. Stop that line of thinking, please. Ziggy’s brain chemistry is screwed up and it’s nothing to do with you, or even him, really, because I don’t think he’d choose to be this way. Sometimes our brains, our bodies, make decisions without us, and they’re sometimes terrible ones.

    Cecilia, ow. Ow. Ow. Also, well done. I’m curious to see how this plays out, especially given the standards of mental health care at the time this is happening. You handle the time frame with so much care, and it’ll be interesting to see this through you and through Daron.

    • daron says:

      Sometimes our brains, our bodies, make decisions without us, and they’re sometimes terrible ones.

      Usually that’s what I’m saying about myself.

      Something tells me this is out of my league, though.

    • ctan says:

      Yeah, 1989 was an “interesting” time in the history of mental health to say the least… A lot of upheaval and change. You probably won’t see Ziggy held for very long, though, because in the Reagan era budgets for that sort of thing were slashed so much…! We shall see.

      • sanders says:

        I really shudder to think about what treatments were available then, and especially the ones for bipolar (if Jonathan’s on to something). The anti-depressants were bad enough for Ziggy. Something more intense would be devastating.

  • Jude says:

    Oh, fuck you, Digger. Quit projecting your own failures onto your son.

  • Welp. I’m glad this is a Tuesday update. -_-

  • cayra says:

    I want to kick Digger in the nuts pretty hard right now.

  • Connie says:

    Poor Ziggy. Poor Daron. Damned Digger.
    At least Zig will be safe for now.

    • ctan says:

      Yeah, that’s the only reason Daron’s not fighting harder about it–he figures at least Ziggy is safe for the moment.

  • Sara Winters says:

    Fuck you, Digger.

  • Janie Friedman says:

    Oh Zig…

    And to reiterate what others have said: Fuck you Digger!

    D this is NOT your fault in any way, shape, or form. Do b not take this on. Speaking as a non – situational depressive, there is no one cause for irrational behavior/thinking. It just…happens…

  • Renee says:

    This installment was just too good – had to make a stop at the tip jar – but gotta say I REALLY HATE DIGGER. Ok I feel better now!

    • daron says:

      I’m looking forward to moving on from having strong negative feelings about him to not having to have feelings about him at all. I hope.

  • Amber says:

    I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from throwing the can of soda at the door after Digger.

  • s says:

    I was looking forward to this show more than any of them…now I’m going to go sit in a corner and cry. Oh Ziggy. </3

  • Bill Heath says:

    This doesn’t appear to me to be a suicide attempt. It’s something worse.

    Suicide attempts almost always involve prior planning, during which the patient’s plan can be uncovered and the patient saved. If the patient is not intent on suicide but behavior is based on not caring whether he/she lives or dies, that is infinitely worse.

    The death will be unplanned, just not unwelcomed.

    • daron says:

      Yeah, it felt more spur of the moment than carefully planned but there is clearly so much going on in his head and chemicals pulling him from all different directions can I even say “Ziggy” was even there at the time?

      • Bill Heath says:

        Anything is possible, so this could be manic-depressive disorder; I need more evidence. Our tools in 1989 were few and blunt. I could put the mania on pause with a simple injection, but that eventually becomes part of the problem.
        The tools to deal with depression were better, but pretty useless if he was in a drug-induced stupor. During the costume change Ziggy decided to try flying to see what would happen. He took a fairly large dose of pain medication and cognitive behavior ceased.

        Priority one is to dry him out from the drugs. Until that happens nothing else can be done. I’d have also started him in on a maintenance dose of lithium, boosted his immune system with interferon or gamma globulin, added protein to the diet, restricted sugar, and stabilized his circadian rhythm. That would take maybe ten days, not sure. Talk therapy has to start as soon as he’s dried out.

        My success rate with these patients in 1989 was average, meaning crappy. To make it Ziggy is going to have to learn how to live all over again.

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