Colin was waking me up gently, nudging me and saying my name in a soft voice. My first thought was that something terrible had happened and so he was trying to be gentle to me, to break it to me softly.
But no. He was just being kind. Maybe he knew how much pain I was in already.
It was warm in the room, the window cracked open letting in summer heat, and Colin was in boxer shorts and a black tank top. “The phone is for you,” he said, once I’d opened my eyes. He was holding the cordless from downstairs, not the one by my bed. I’d forgotten to turn the ringer back on, apparently, or the phone would have woken me up directly.
“Who is it?”
He handed it to me without answering, I suppose because I’d find out for myself.
Yeah, it was Digger. His voice was rough like he still hadn’t slept. “Remember how yesterday I said I thought they might let him out if he went straight into a rehab center?”
“He’s on his way now. Liz felt it was best not to mess around.”
Right. Doctor Franks. “What would she consider ‘messing around?'”
“Anything less than the Betty Ford clinic.” Digger coughed self-consciously. “We’ll be on a flight in a couple of hours.”
Oh. It felt like things that were already fast-moving and serious just sped up. Or maybe it was just that I couldn’t keep up. I had the vague idea that Betty Ford was in Southern California, to be near all the Hollywood stars who needed it. I was suddenly struck by the idea of Digger handing his business card out in the waiting room. “How long?”
“Six hours or so. It’s a direct flight.”
“No. I mean how long will he be in there?”
“Thirty days. Minimum. Um.” He cleared his throat.
“Do they handle suicidal people there? I thought it was a detox center.”
“It is a detox center. Trust me, though, they’re the best. If there’s anywhere that can handle him, it’s there.”
I could believe that. They were probably used to narcissistic egomaniacs, anyway. “Okay. All right.”
Digger didn’t say anything for a few moments. Then he said, “There’s also a five-day program that’s part of the package.”
“So, what, does that mean thirty-five days or what?”
“No no, I mean five days for someone else. Orientation for the family or what have you.” He coughed again. “You get two five-day slots per patient. I’m taking one of them.”
“Wait, you mean like they want to detox the people around him, too?” I figured Digger could learn to cut down on the drinking, probably…
“No no. I get the idea it’s to educate you how to handle an addict in recovery. I, uh, am going to need to know that, obviously.”
“Obviously.” We lapsed into another silence. My brain was finally waking up enough to realize Ziggy was going to be three thousand miles away for the next month. “So… who’s taking the second slot?”
Silence. Then, “I don’t know.”
More silence. I couldn’t figure out what to say or ask. Digger eventually started talking again. “I’m not clear on who decides who gets the five days, the patient or his counselors.”
That led me to a question at last. “Does Ziggy want me there?”
“I don’t know.” Digger gave a humorless laugh. “Listen kiddo, he’s had his head turned inside out. Why don’t you give him a chance to get it straightened out before you start asking the tough questions?”
Haha, fuck. I hung up and the phone made a weak “beep” as I hit the button. I could not listen to Digger anymore. Even if he was right, I could not take him. I resisted the urge to fling the phone across the room. Maybe next time I could convince Courtney to talk to him instead. It would be the least she could do for taking Lars’s old room for the rest of the summer.
Colin had been crouching beside the mattress through the whole conversation. He took the phone and rocked back on his heels. “What’s going on?”
“I have no fucking idea,” I said. “They’re on their way to thirty days of detox at the Betty Ford Clinic and I think I’ve ceased to exist.” I lay back and stared at the ceiling, angry tears pricking at the corners of my eyes.
Colin wasn’t the slightest bit fazed by the failure of my composure. “You can’t change him,” he said, which was pretty much the right thing to say, you know? “Trust me. Speaking as someone who has dated a lot of nutcases, you can’t fix their shit. You can only fix your own shit.”
“Fuck,” I said, with feeling. The urge to cry had passed but the rawness hadn’t. “Does that mean I should get my own shrink?”
He shrugged. “Probably wouldn’t hurt to talk to somebody. Insurance covers it. Besides, you’d be the only one.”
“I’d be the only what?”
“Member of the band or household to have never been to therapy.” He shrugged again.
“When did Bart go to therapy?”
“All the time when he was a kid, post-divorce and all. Or so he told me.”
Huh. Well, that made sense. Bart hadn’t talked about that with me, but we rarely talked about who we had been before we’d met. We mostly talked about who we wanted to be.
I looked at Colin. “How are you doing?” I asked, suddenly aware that I’d done nothing but worry about Ziggy for days, with occasional breaks to worry about myself.
He made a dismissive noise. “Tired as hell. Back to being unemployed.”
“Hah, me, too, for the moment.”
“Don’t think like that,” he said, slapping me gently on the leg. “They’ll straighten Ziggy out and you guys will be back on the road or back in the studio before you know it.”
“God, I hope so.” I took a deep breath, trying to tell myself Colin was right. But that only made me seize up with sudden worry: what if Ziggy didn’t come back? What if he didn’t come back the same? What if I was wrong about what I thought I knew about him? What if I’d been blind and fooling myself all along? Was it a step up or a step down to have gone from not trusting his intentions in the bad old days to now not trusting if I knew him at all?
Maybe he was right about me needing a headshrinker, too. At least then these tennis matches in my head going back and forth would have a referee.
Colin reminded me he was there. “You want to be alone or you want company?” When I didn’t answer right away, he said, “Okay, let’s try a simpler one: you want some breakfast or to go back to sleep?”
“What about you?” I tried to ask in return. “You want breakfast alone or asleep?” I know, that didn’t make any sense. That was proof I wasn’t fit to get out of bed yet.
“Already ate,” he said. “Planning a nap.”
“That sounds like as good a plan as any.” I took a deep breath. “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure. Scooch over.” He slid under the sheet. “It’s tough being alone after being with people all the time, eh?”
“Yeah.” That was close enough to the truth. It didn’t make me miss Ziggy any less, but at least I didn’t feel lonely on top of it. As we dozed off, Colin’s body was long and bony next to me, warm and reassuring.