So I used up all my luck running out of gas only a few hundred yards from a gas station, and I used up all my nice getting the information out of the nice woman at the desk. I took my frustration out on Digger, and he took his out on me.
We didn’t have the argument in the men’s room at the Betty Ford Center, though. We had it in the parking lot, where the temperature was hitting 104.
I followed him as he stalked out of the building. He turned when he heard my footsteps and startled a little when he saw me.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” He sounded really angry to see me. Or maybe just angry. Then he smiled suddenly. It was disconcerting. “Tell me you’re putting one over on me. You’ve got him, right? You’ve got him.”
“No, I don’t got him.” I shook my head slowly.
He looked at me over the tops of his Ray Bans. “Oh. Well la dee da, then I guess you’re here to say you’re sorry and you want me to fix this BNC mess.”
Maybe it was because it was 104 but my temper was already close to boiling. “Did you think I didn’t mean it when I fired you?”
“I thought maybe you’d come to your senses. It’s not like you to have a big emotional outburst like that, kiddo.”
“You think I’m not concerned? I’m very concerned. You didn’t used to be so weak.”
“I guess that’s what happens, though. I told you not to take it up the ass.”
Okay, so I boiled over then so much I couldn’t even get words out. There were so many things wrong with everything he’d said I couldn’t even argue, really. Do you know what I mean? When words finally did come out they were, “What the fuck is wrong with you! What drugs are you on! What planet are you from!”
He amazed me by shouting questions right back. “Is that where your priorities are? Where the fuck is Ziggy! What do you know about this? What kind of crazy ass shit are you trying to pull!”
“I’m not crazy, you’re the one who’s crazy!”
“Oh yeah? You gonna hit me again? Is that where this is going?”
“Is that what you want? Sorry you didn’t slug me back in front of your buddy Mills, Dad?”
“See what I mean? No sense, no sense at all!” He moved like he was going to poke me in the chest with his accusatory finger.
In an instant I went from epic shouting-match mode to something else. Something much quieter but no less forceful. “Touch me and I’ll bury you.” I had never heard my voice so hard or cold.
Neither had he. He froze. Then his mouth moved like he was chewing on the insides of his lips, probably trying to keep from saying what he really wanted to say. Apparently he either believed me or decided not to test how serious I was, because he stuck his hands in the pockets of his Bermuda shorts. He muttered, “I don’t care how much you love cock. I don’t. I don’t. But stay the fuck away from Ziggy. You want to toss your career down the john you go right ahead but I’m not letting it happen to him.”
I twitched, that’s how much of a double-take I did there. “What? A couple of weeks ago you were begging me to ‘throw him a bone.'”
“That was before he snapped. None of this would’ve happened if you’d listened to me then. None of it!” He whipped his sunglasses off dramatically. “Listen to me now, cocksucker. I’m not letting anything get in his way, you hear me? Not even you.”
Yeah, I know, he called me the c-word. (Well, the other c-word.) It struck me as the most honest thing he said, actually, and kind of funny. In fact, I almost laughed, but I didn’t. I felt a lot calmer all of a sudden though. Maybe just knowing I could make him show his true colors made me feel better. Maybe seeing how low he could sink, and how pathetic he was… I don’t know. I shrugged and spread my hands. “I’m not stopping you. Good luck finding him.”
I turned to walk to the truck.
“Wait. Wait! What do you know about where he went?”
“I don’t know shit, Digger,” I said as I kept walking. I heard him following me. “I don’t know shit other than he thought it was a good idea to fly the coop before you got here. Did he know you were coming?”
“Don’t try to pin this on me! Yeah, he knew I was coming.” Digger ran around in front of me. “Did he know YOU were coming?” He pointed at me so violently his own sunglasses slipped down his nose.
I couldn’t stop baiting him. “He had no idea. So it wasn’t me he was trying to get away from by skipping out early.” I stepped around him and unlocked the door of the truck.
“Fuck you. This ain’t my fault.”
“Fuck you, too,” I said mildly, with a little salute as I got into the driver’s seat, “and have a nice day.”
I slammed the door and started the engine. He took that as his cue to walk away.
If there was a winner or a loser in that fight, I think it was me. But given what happened next, you’d think I’d not only lost, he’d beat me black and blue. Nope.
You ever cry so hard you puke?
I made it to a convenience store a couple of miles away before the shakes set in, and I had to park the truck and pull my jacket over my head and just cry and cry and cry.