By midnight Carynne had faxed me a copy of our contract along with directions to Betty Ford. She also told me she had filled Bart and Chris in, which flipped me out a little. But she said it was really fine. She was the manager now, she said, and she took it as her job to tell them. She told them she was in charge first, then went into the explanation of how it happened, I guess. That set me on another round of worrying that there wouldn’t be a career to be managed soon and she basically told me to shut up and let her do the worrying for a little while.
Bart called to say hey and check on me. We didn’t talk a lot. I think we kind of figured we’d see each other soon enough one way or the other. So I hung up with him after a pretty short conversation and looked at what Carynne had faxed.
I re-read the contract with a sinking feeling in my stomach. Clauses that had seemed innocuous, or which we’d decided not to fight for in order to pick different battles, now seemed fraught with doom.
Good name for a band. Fraught with Doom. Goth probably.
Jonathan rubbed the tense spot between my shoulders as I sat there at the dining table with my forehead on the fax, unable to actually keep reading after a certain point.
I looked up. “Shoe’s on the other foot, now, I guess.”
“How’s that?” he asked. “Which shoe are we talking about?”
“So much for me acing my gig and you drowning at yours,” I clarified.
He paused for a moment, maybe thinking over having said that. “It’ll work out somehow,” he said gently, and kissed the side of my head.
I sighed. “I’m fucked if they get nasty about exclusivity.” I pushed the fax toward him and pointed at the section I was talking about. “If you get really strict about it… I won’t be able to work at all.”
Jonathan leaned over the table and looked at it. His back looked long and straight as he leaned on his hand as he pored over the words. “It doesn’t say anything about playing live, at least. And you kept your publishing rights?”
“I did.” Not a dime of the Candlelight ASCAP or BMI money would be going to BNC, thank goodness. “So I’m not going to starve, I don’t think.” But just the thought that I might be hamstrung musically was winding up that tense spot between my shoulders again.
“If they get really strict… yeah.” He was still staring at the words when he said. “But I thought it was the option clause that worried you more?”
“That’s here.” I showed him the other section Mills had invoked.
J. read it silently. “This is pretty tough. I know why companies put these clauses in, but… You don’t have a pay-for-play out?”
“We do. But that would only apply if we delivered an album they decided not to release. In this case, they’re saying they won’t even let us get to that point. Why that doesn’t just release us entirely… I’m not clear on.”
He nodded. “There have been a lot of bands caught in this limbo, you know.”
“I know. Everyone said when we were first sending our demo tape around that four out of five bands who signed with a major label ended up in hock.” I looked up at him. “I really didn’t think we were one of them. The sold out shows? The radio play? The gold fucking record?”
“That was the Candlelight single, though, not 1989?”
J. shook his head. “I smell a rat. Then again, that’s the scent of the whole industry.”
“I know. Doesn’t make it suck any less. I threatened an auditor already. Now we have to find one. How much is that going to cost, I wonder?”
“Let Carynne worry about that.”
“Good plan.” I took a deep breath. Absolute backup plan was what? Go back to busking in the park? I used to spend $500 a month to sublet that place in the Fenway. I spent about $250 a month on food, not counting when Bart paid for meals, about $50 for utilities, $50 for a monthly T pass… In the days when I first moved in with Chris I could live on about $12,000 a year. If I had to, I could do it again.
Doing math in my head my eyes glazed over.
Jonathan brought me back to the room by closing his fingers around mine, warm and firm.
He led me out of my chair with a steady pull on my hand, then pulled me into a hug.
I figured he was going to say something comforting. What he said was, “Do you want to be on top?”
Don’t get me wrong–that was comforting. But it took me a second to shift my brain out of math and legal-ese into sex. “Um… Sure.”
“Or would you rather lie back and let me take care of you?”
“You make it hard to choose,” I said, and meant it, warming to both ideas. “Wait, how do you know I’m interested?”
“I’m still waiting for the day you say you’re not,” Jonathan pointed out. “I promised I’d handle it with grace when you do.”
I wasn’t on fire like I often was, but I didn’t see any reason to say no, and I didn’t want to disappoint him. “This isn’t that day,” I said. “And yeah, I do want to be on top. We shouldn’t stay up too late, though.”
“It’s already after midnight.”
“I know.” With all the other things hanging over me, I hadn’t told him yet about my plan to talk to Ziggy. “I need to get up early.”
“Yeah. Carynne’s advice, and I’ve decided I agree, is that what with firing Digger and all… I should try to get to Betty Ford first. Before Digger.”
“Oh.” J. sounded slightly alarmed and I wondered if he imagined the same thing I had when imagining Digger explaining everything to Ziggy. He seemed to think it through. “I suppose it would be a good idea.”
“It’s a two hour drive. I’m going to try to get on the road by seven… oh but rush hour, fuck me, I better try to be on the road by six.”
“Daron, we could wait…”
I pulled his hips against mine. “Uh-uh. I’ll never get to sleep at all at this point if we don’t get rid of the tension that’s built up.”
“Just now. You know I always sleep better after sex.”
“Okay, then. You convinced me. Come on, lover.”
We went right to the bedroom at that point, and had fantastic, uncomplicated sex. Can’t really call it “quick and dirty.” More like quick and clean. I really needed that.
We fell asleep together and I slept about two hours, which meant it was around four in the morning when I woke up. I’d slept really deeply, but I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I took a shower and ate some breakfast, and was on the road by five.