385. Hurt

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Carynne worked her persuasive magic and Ziggy’s shrink, a sharp-eyed woman named Dr. Elizabeth Franks, arrived around the time I woke up. Everyone was in a holding pattern while she and Digger went off to the hospital.

Jonathan had to leave. He clearly didn’t want to. He really wanted to “be there” for me. I was touched. On the other hand I wanted to hide. I wanted to stick my head in the sand and have someone wake me up when the waiting was over. So it was just as well he had to go.

I played the guitar for a while, sitting in my room by the window, making notes on staff paper but really not focused enough to write a song. I wandered back into the suite a while later and Chris and Bart convinced me to order lunch with them, and we got food delivered. I can’t even remember what it was.

I told Christian, “If we have to cancel the show at Great Woods, your folks are going to miss out. That would suck.”

He shrugged. “I’m still not really sure they would be coming.”

“Really? Or are you just saying that to make me feel better.”

“Seriously, boss,” Christian said, “You have enough shit to worry about without worrying about my fucked up family on top of it.”

“But I do worry,” I said. “Because I care.”

He thought that over, his bangs hanging over his eyes like a poodle needing an appointment with the groomer. “You do, don’t you.”

“Damn right, I do.” I gave much more of a damn about Christian’s relationship with his family than I did my own right then. “What color is the house going to be when we get back?”

“Same color,” he said, “only newer, remember?”

“Just checking.” It felt like a year ago we’d hired the house painters, friends of Christian’s, but in reality it had been only three months or something. Talking about something mundane was surprisingly calming to me. Bart talked about buying a place, then. He and Michelle were going to look when we got back.

I was feeling relatively calm by the time Digger got back. He looked like he hadn’t slept. He had cut himself shaving trying to look respectable, I think, and the result was not only a bandage on his chin but a patch of stubble around it. As he walked into the suite he looked grim. The three of us and the remains of our lunch were at the table. He pulled up a chair and sat, looking as exhausted as I felt.

“They’re keeping him,” he said, voice quiet and rough.

“For how long?”

“At least until tomorrow, but probably the full 72 hours. Liz is still there, but I don’t think it’ll change anything.” He looked at me. “We have to cancel.”

The breath went out of me at the same time as Bart and Chris. “Well, at least it’s just one show,” I said, trying to look on the bright side.

Digger shook his head. “Mills pulled the plug on the UK festivals, too.”

“Mills? What?” My mouth could barely decide which question to ask first. “Can he do that? How much does he know?”

“It’s complicated,” Digger said, “but maybe it’s better this way. He’s slotting some other band in, owes us a favor, and meanwhile this gives me the ammo I need to sell you to a UK record company separately. Then we can tour the UK properly, with real local support and advertising. Assuming of course that there’s a next album to sell.”

The next question out of my mouth should have been “when can you buttonhole Mills into signing the next album?” but in my mind Digger had already been fired, and what actually came out was, “Ziggy can’t take visitors?”

“Nope. And the only way to get him out tomorrow might be to promise to transfer him directly to a drug treatment facility.” Digger looked at Chris. “You booked your detox yet?”

“Yeah,” Chris said. That was all he said about it.

Courtney came bursting in then. “Oh my god, you guys, the girls downstairs are convinced Ziggy’s in a coma. What can I tell them?”

“How many of them are there?” I asked.

“Not that many. Fifty to a hundred? But it’s turning into like a prayer vigil out there.”

I stood. “Let’s break the bad news to Carynne.”

“Already told her when I came off the elevator,” Digger said. “She’s already making arrangements to let the crew go and pay everybody. We’re keeping Marty and all your personal gear in the bus. I figure we’ll hit the road in a few hours.”

“Okay.” I picked up the Ovation’s case. “Court, lead the way.”

No one questioned what I was going to do. I think because none of them had any idea what I was doing. They all had other stuff to worry about, like packing up.

I went down to the sidewalk, though, and climbed on top of a taxi, and I played and led a sing-a-long of a bunch of our songs. And I told the girls that Zig was going to be okay, that it was exhaustion and a bad reaction to the medications he’d been on since the explosion, which you know was true in a certain way. A lot of them cried while they sang. I realized while I was doing it how sad a lot of our songs are. There are the sad ones and there are the angry ones, and some are both. And then there are the love songs… most of which are both, too, now that I think about it.

I hadn’t planned to play for very long, but once I got started I didn’t think about stopping. I think I got through about six or seven songs before the police came by to try to break it up. I had sung two or three more by the time they actually physically pulled me down off the cab roof.

I came really close to getting myself arrested. I had pretty much assumed they would. But reckless as I was, I didn’t physically resist, and Carynne convinced them it was all a publicity stunt and we were leaving town now anyway and did they really want the hassle…? Anyway, somehow they didn’t end up taking me to jail. I think we paid a fine. I’m not sure. And I paid the cab driver a hundred or so. I didn’t count it.

Upstairs most of the crew were already gone and the ones who were left had flights out of Logan in the upcoming days and so were going to come on the bus north. I seriously considered staying behind. Antonio said I could stay at his place. I seriously seriously considered it. But what was I going to do? Camp out on the sidewalk outside the hospital like a fan? And leave Christian and Colin to deal with all my gear at the other end? In the end I said goodbye to Tony at the door of the bus.

Digger stayed in New York.

It was a horrible bus ride. We were caught in rush hour and so it took over six hours to get there. I spent all of it in a state of silent misery.

Around midnight I finally made it into my own bed. I had all Ziggy’s stuff with me. None of us had keys to his apartment so we couldn’t leave it there, so I brought it into the house. Chris and Colin disappeared into their rooms, too.

I think I was acting pretty rationally, all things considered. What do you do when you’re in pain? You try to come up with something that eases it, right? You try anything you think might help. Well, almost anything. I sure as hell wasn’t going to try drugs or booze. I’d already tried music that day and it had worked for a while. But I missed him so much that it felt like my head was going to cave in any second, or maybe my chest.

So I took off my clothes, and I put some of his on. And I took a few stuffed animals he had decorated out of his duffle bag and arranged them on the pillow next to mine to guard over me while I slept.

I wondered if he was sedated. Or restrained. If he hurt like I did, or if he didn’t feel anything once they medicated him. I didn’t understand how the prescription drugs were supposed to work and I didn’t understand… well… any of it. I thought about how Roger Waters basically went out of his mind, and about how he wasn’t the first. Does anyone really take the risks of fame seriously? I don’t think anyone does. You can’t. If you’re afraid of what could happen, you’d never be able to put yourself out there in the first place.

I had a lot to think about. But I was exhausted in every possible way. There was nothing I could do right then but sleep.

So I did.


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