384. With or Without You

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If I had been a different kind of person, I would have kicked down Digger’s door in a rage, or wrecked myself trying to wreck him. If I had been a different kind of person, I would have waited until later and then pissed in his coffee when he wasn’t looking.

If I had been a different kind of person, I would have kicked open the 11th floor window right there and jumped.

But I’m not that kind of person. God, even thinking about it makes me ill. Can you imagine putting the hundreds of girls camped outside through that? Fuck, that would be about the most traumatic thing you could do to them. I may be self-centered at times, but I’m not THAT blind.

Which made me think Ziggy had to be out of his mind to have considered doing it on stage, right in front of everyone. Right in front of me. Unbelievable. I hoped I was wrong and that hadn’t been what was going on at all. But if he wasn’t suicidal, why were they keeping him in the hospital?

I sat down on the couch, staring at Digger’s door, trying to decide what to do. And then it came to me in a flash. Duh. What the fuck was I waiting for?

I searched around for a piece of paper. There was a notepad by the phone, along with a pen, both emblazoned with the hotel’s logo. Perfect.

I wrote on the paper, in large block letters:

Y O U ’ R E

I was trying to slip it under his door when Carynne found me. Unfortunately the suite had thick carpeting, and there was no gap under the door at all. The edge of the paper was getting crinkled from me trying.

She saw what the paper said before I could hide it. I stood up and we stared at each other.

“He’s the only one who can talk to Ziggy right now,” she pointed out. “So you might want to wait a few days before you do that.”

I crumpled the paper and tossed it into the rectangular trash bin standing by the refrigerator. Two points. “If I wait a few days, will you promise to take the job?”

“Will there still be a band to manage in a few days?” she asked, grimacing a little.

“Assuming there is, are you in?”

“I told you I can’t do everything that he does.”

“Then you’re in charge of hiring someone who can.”

She nodded at that. “Okay. Yes. I’ll do it. But I was serious about waiting. In fact, you might want to wait until all the bills are paid.”

“Good point.” I yawned suddenly, my eyes tearing with exhaustion. I was not going to tell her about the shitty things Digger said. There was no point. “We might be home sooner than planned.”

“I know. I didn’t have any luck reaching her, but I’ll try again in a few hours when she might be up.”

She must have been talking about Ziggy’s shrink. “Okay. I guess I’m going to go get some sleep, then.” I put a hand on her upper arm. “Thanks, Car. I feel a lot better having made a decision.”

“The decision to can him?” Digger, she meant.


And then we were hugging, and she said, I kid you not, “I love you, Daron.”

And I said, “I love you, too. Fuck, I’m glad you’re here.”

You have to believe me when I say there was nothing sexual or romantic about this. I don’t know if platonic is the right word for it either. It was more like family, if family bonds were actually strong and good.

“Me too.” She pulled back partway. “Jonathan’s here tonight?”

“Yeah, leaving in the morning.” I searched her eyes. “How about you? You by yourself?”

“I’m going to pass out the second my head hits the pillow,” she assured me. “Don’t you worry about me.”

“All right.” I let her go then and we went to our separate rooms.

Jonathan was in bed, propped up against the headboard with pillows and a book, but he had nodded off to sleep, the book in his loose hands on his lap. I tiptoed around as I washed up and got ready for bed. When I was ready, I slid the book out of his fingers and set it on the side table, then I slid into the bed next to him.

I don’t think he woke up, really. He curled onto his side toward me and put an arm around me.

My heart fluttered then, like the very beginnings of a panic attack. I wriggled closer, pulling J. around me like a blanket, and the feeling subsided.

I was so exhausted you would have thought I would have gone out like a light at that point. But no. I went over everything in my mind, again and again. Was there any connection between playing a set that was unpredictable and off the map and Ziggy’s moods becoming unpredictable and off the map? I sincerely hoped not. Because I wanted to play like that again. With him.

And what if it was something about me, whether that was loving him or not loving him or something musical or artistic that set him off? Would I do it anyway? Was I that selfish? Was Digger right? Was his psyche that fragile?

Why the fuck had I kissed him like that anyway? What the fuck was wrong with me?

I got angry all over again, and contemplated climbing out of bed, waking Digger up, and telling him he was fired anyway. But then I thought about how Digger was the only one who had access to Ziggy in the hospital…

Wait a second, though, what about Ziggy’s own mother? She was here in the city. Digger wasn’t the only human being who could…

I talked myself out of firing Digger on the spot, though. In the end it wasn’t worth getting out of bed for. I decided I should wait and see if he kicked me while I was down again, and this time I’d say it before he shut the door in my face. Because ultimately that was what it was about. It wasn’t about him being a good manager or a bad manager. I was firing him because he was an outright dick to me. It suddenly seemed so simple.

Something about seeing it with such clarity was the last straw for my self restraint. I started to cry. I did that non-sissy crying thing where you don’t make any sound at all, the tears just sort of pour out. I didn’t want to wake Jonathan, there was no reason for both of us to be losing sleep. So even though his arm was wrapped around me, I cried by myself. That was for the best, honestly, since at that point I didn’t even have any complaints or laments to make. I just had to let it all out. So I did.

Let it out. It’s one of those things people say to you when you’re crying and I don’t think I ever thought about what it meant before. I’d never been so aware before of how I bottle stuff up and how when it gets shaken up the lid blows off.

And wouldn’t you know it, that led to me thinking about a song, about the ticking time bomb as a metaphor, and yeah, it’s pretty obvious to me now that I could have been writing about Ziggy or myself, but at the time I was thinking about myself. I slipped out from under J’s arm and found my notebook in the dark, and sat in the corner writing for a while with a Mag Lite in my mouth.

I got back in bed and fantasized about breaking Ziggy out of the hospital like some kind of Mission Impossible spy rescue thing. And I finally fell asleep with that on my mind.


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