392. Looking for Clues

I learned a couple of really important things that night, which I guess just goes to show you never know what good leaving the house might do you. Here they are in chronological order.

The first is that the expression “counting the days” to me didn’t mean actually counting the actual days, because I didn’t know when exactly the clock had started and I didn’t assume that a trip to Betty Ford was like a vacation condo with an exact check-out date. I figured there was easily a day or two of grace period or slop in the system, so my idea of when Ziggy’s “thirty days” were up was a general one. My worldview and Digger’s were vastly different, though, you know? Digger’s idea of counting the days was, well, counting them.

“Eight days to go,” he said, when I told him I was going to call it a night.

And maybe our minds aren’t that different, since I knew exactly what, and who, he was talking about. “Then what?”

“Dunno. If we’re not lucky, they keep him another thirty days, but they told me that’s rare. If we’re lucky, they spring him and he goes back to normal. Or at least back to work.”

What work? I wanted to say. But I couldn’t really jump down his throat about how we didn’t know what we were doing next. The festival dates were off the table and we didn’t have a commitment on when we could start the next album, either. Were either of those things Digger’s fault? Well, maybe I could hint at it: “You know Jordan Travers wants to work with us again.”

“One thing at a time, kiddo. Your chicken has to hatch, first, and better hope he’s not fried.”

In that moment I saw how anxious Digger was. His fingers shook a little as he took the cigarette out of his mouth. He flicked the ash into the glass tray on the bar. So that was the second thing.

I wondered when a good moment was going to come to fire him. This wasn’t it, anyway. And I had decided to leave, if Jonathan was ready to. I went to find him.

He was sitting at a small, round table talking very intently with an older man, but when he saw me coming me stood up, shook hands with the guy, and practically ran away.

“You want to go?” I asked.

“Good idea,” he said, moving me toward the door.

“What was that all about? You seem like you got up in a hurry.”

“Just didn’t want to overstay my welcome. But oh my god, I got some fantastic advice from that guy.”

“Who was he?”

“Here’s the embarrassing part: I didn’t get his name. But he’s a screenwriter. Really gave me some good tips.”

“I can ask Digger who he was. He might know.”

“That would be fantastic! That would save my bacon. Thank you, Daron.”

I drove us back to Remo’s. If Jonathan seemed a little more effusive than usual, it’s because he’d had a few too many of the purple cocktail. Not enough to make him ill, but enough that he was still tipsy when we got home. J. usually was careful with what he drank, especially in a professional context. I’d never seen him quite like that. I learned that alcohol could make him not only horny but even more direct than usual.

“Fuck me until I’m sober enough to get back to work,” he said, jamming his hands into the pockets of my jeans and pulling my groin against his leg.

So I did, but by the time we were done he decided on sleep instead of burning the midnight oil.

I was the one who went back into the studio in the wee hours, though I didn’t actually make any music. I sat there making a list of the songs we had close to ready for a new album. Eight days until Ziggy might be free. I’ll admit that by then I was thinking of it like he was in jail, not rehab. I’d convinced myself that by now he was probably just fine and climbing the walls.

I had images and sounds burned into my brain from that set we’d done, just the two of us, before it had all gone wrong.

Here’s the list I made:

Infernal Medicine (D)
Mano a Mano (Z)
Blue Skies (D)
Moving Parts (D)
Face Value (D)
I Have No Idea (Z)
(Needs) A Bridge (D)
Do No Wrong (D)
Thin Ice (D)
Yes or No (Z)

“Blue Skies” was the sappy love song I’d written the weekend Jonathan had come to Boston.

That was ten songs right there, and I knew Ziggy had a ton of stuff in his notebook we could work on. I was sure if we sat down with Trav some of my songs would get bumped but that was all right. Hadn’t Trav said that Ziggy had more the ear for hits, anyway? That’d make Mills happy, wouldn’t it? I just wanted it to be a kick-ass record. I wanted it to be better than 1989, a new step. Ziggy was right: when we trusted each other, we made great songs. Some of them, like Moving Parts, were as much Ziggy’s as mine now.

I sat there looking at the list in the light on a gooseneck attached to the mixing board. I hadn’t bothered to turn on the full lights in the studio. It was a single room in an addition that had been built onto the back of the house. Unlike a pro studio, it wasn’t divided by a window partition, but it didn’t have to be. Remo had a DX7 II in there, and a lot of guitars, including an Ovation almost identical to mine, which was why mine was still in Massachusetts. (Both of mine, I should say, to be accurate. Or all three, if you count the twelve-string, which I don’t.)

I did not fall asleep in the studio, though I came close. I did climb into bed still half in my clothes, though.


  • Sara Winters says:

    Waiting is the worst part. I guess I’m more concerned with how he’s going to act towards Daron. I’m sure he’ll be fine (read: mentally stable) when he’s out, but I wonder if he’ll want to or be able to sing any of the lyrics he wrote about their relationship. Will that be too raw for him to deal with or will Ziggy be able to develop a level of detachment and deal with the lyrics and their working relationship and separate from how they feel about each other?

    • ctan says:

      “will Ziggy be able to develop a level of detachment and deal with … their working relationship and separate from how they feel about each other?”

      That’s kind of one of the major questions overall about these two, isn’t it?

      waiting. tick tick tick

  • Connie says:

    I’m not sure Ziggy will be fine. I’m thinking that one month doesn’t fix years of psychological problems (remember the choir director from Ziggy’s youth?) And there’s momma issues, too. And if he is Bipolar like Jonathan suspects (I guess it was manic-depressive back then) that doesn’t fix. It gets dealt with, but it never gets fixed.
    Yes, waiting……

  • Bill Heath says:

    I’m pretty sure Ziggy is not manic depressive, but it’s been almost thirty years since I practiced psychiatry. Treatment options for bipolar disorder available in 1989 were minimal. I prescribed pistachios.

    Rather than BPD I suspect Ziggy suffers from serious clinical depression and industrial strength anxiety. Combined, they can look a bit like BPD. Fortunately, they are far easier to treat and do respond to talk therapy. Unfortunately, both can be seriously aggravated by the pain meds Ziggy has been taking.

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