When I got home there was a message from Carynne saying she was on her way to my house to bring Chris up to speed and hang out a little. “I usually like you to be the first to know things, but after you didn’t call back, I called Bart and talked to him. Call me at your place, though, and we’ll put you on speaker, okay?”
Carynne didn’t sound that different from usual, but somehow I could tell there was an edge in her voice. It couldn’t be good news no matter what.
I suddenly feared she was quitting. I dialed the number before I even got some 7-Up poured. It had been seventy outside two days ago, and eighty yesterday, whereas today it was ninety so of course today was the day I decided to walk two miles. Perfect timing.
Courtney picked it up. “County morgue, you bag ’em we tag ’em.”
“Living with Chris has really rubbed off on you, hasn’t it,” I said.
“Hey, speak of the devil. We were just talking about you. Hang on.” She put me on hold. My guess was she was moving the phone console into the living room. Or maybe they were coming in the kitchen.
I could hear it was the kitchen when Carynne clicked on the line and the echo was kind of tinny. “Okay, gang’s all here. Me, Court, Chris, and Bart’s here, too, as it turns out.”
“I heard you were coming over to hang out so I dropped by,” Bart said. “Plus Chris has some new video game to show me.”
“Okay,” I said. “So what’s the news? Please don’t say you’re quitting, Car’, or I’ll have a heart attack.”
She sighed. “No, though I am taking on another management client. Female punk trio. But I’ll tell you about them later. Right now, we’ve got bigger issues.”
“The lawyer chest-beating isn’t going so well. We’ve gotten a couple of dire-sounding letters from their legal department, and the latest came with a bill from their accounting department.”
“Near as I can tell it’s for tour support that was not supposed to come out of us, but I don’t know what deal Digger cut exactly. The contract I’ve seen doesn’t specify one way or the other which might mean it was a Digger handshake special. Feinblum is ripshit.”
“About Digger not getting it in writing?”
“No, no, about them sending a bill. He’s sure it’s just a scare tactic, that they’ve got no leg to stand on to actually try to collect this money, but it’s scary all right.”
“Okay, but what are they trying to scare us into doing?”
“I don’t know that yet. I need answers out of Digger that I’m not getting, and I need for BNC to play a little more of their hand. And I need Feinblum to take a chill pill. I’m not convinced this ‘my dick’s bigger than yours’ game is actually going to work.”
Christian spoke up. “No offense, C., but that’s because you don’t have one. So of course you think that.”
“Yeah yeah. Anyway, Feinblum keeps saying don’t panic, but Digger’s not returning my calls.”
I couldn’t say I was surprised by that, but I had very low expectations. “You want me to go over to his office?”
“Or ask Remo to ask him to fucking call me. Something.”
“That’s an idea. Reem’s in town right now.”
“Okay. That’s a plan then.” She blew a long breath. “When are you coming home?”
I hesitated too long before answering. “I don’t know. After Thanksgiving maybe? Christmas?”
I imagined them all exchanging looks about me.
“Call me later,” Carynne finally said, and hung up.
I drank the 7-Up and then sat there at the table thinking what the hell am I doing in L.A. again?
Then I called Remo, and told him what Carynne had said. And told him yes we were coming for Thanksgiving. And then I got out the nail polish and coated my nails on my right hand. Best part about using clear nail polish, if you spill a little you really can’t tell.
And then I sorted the laundry. It was going to be really difficult to take it to the laundromat with no car, though. So I looked up car rental places in the phone book and called around and found one that seemed a decent weekly rate if I was willing to go to Santa Monica to pick it up. So I called Jonathan at work, he skipped out a little early, and yeah we were in terrible traffic for a while, but we made it there before they closed, and we saw the sunset over the Pacific Ocean and walked up and down the beach, and I gave five dollars to a busker on the boardwalk who was playing and singing solo reggae on a guitar that only had five strings. By the water it wasn’t so hot and it cooled off as the sky darkened.
There was a nice bookstore, and Jonathan and I each bought a book, and we ended up eating in a Japanese restaurant a block from the beach. We sat in a high-sided wooden booth and I let him hold my hand, and it was such a nice evening I forgot to be angst-ridden about the relationship. I also did not tell him about the lawyer stuff, figuring that could wait. Why ruin a nice time?
By the way, if it isn’t obvious, Santa Monica is pretty much the only part of Southern California I actually like.
We had a nice dinner. We resolved we should come to Santa Monica for dinner and to hang out more often. We also resolved to go see some bands over the weekend. Everything seemed smooth for a little while.
Then we had to get into separate cars to drive home and while listening to the radio on the way my mood plummeted. It all sounded like crap. While stopped at a red light not far from the house I realized the fade and balance controls on the rental car stereo were all messed up, though, so maybe it was just that there was no bass. But that didn’t change the fact that all the songs sounded like worthless pabulum to me right then.
I know I’m opinionated, but normally I don’t hate everything. So maybe it wasn’t the music. Maybe it was that the freeways of Los Angeles are a demonic tangle of soul-sucking concrete that leave you feeling like an alienated misanthrope.
I decided maybe the best thing to do was sleep. We got ready for bed. Jonathan started reading the book he had bought, and I curled up next to him and tried to recapture the balanced, smooth feeling I’d had when we were walking along the beach. But when I closed my eyes I drifted into thinking about Ziggy.
Half asleep, my guard down, I imagined I’d traveled back in time, to a featureless room backstage where a worn out couch sat, another stop on the tour, and yet it was still today, I’d just bought the nail polish and started thinking about practicing my finger style again. And pretty soon I was dreaming, and in the dream I was trying to work up the nerve to ask him if he’d paint my nails for me. I was trying and trying, but I never did.