60. Money For Nothing

In the morning I woke up to find him asleep in the other bed in his room. I guess I’d conked out in the wet spot. The connecting doors were still open and I wandered back into my room to get my toothbrush and such from my bag. Here were two unmade beds. I went through the same charade I’d done that one morning in Matthew’s room, tousling the sheets to make the bed look slept in.

I took a shower, tried to shave a day earlier than usual and cut my face up a bit, put on clean clothes, and wondered where I’d lost the hair tie Tread gave me yesterday. I found it in the breast pocket of my denim jacket and combed my hair back into a wet tail. Ziggy was still asleep. I closed the connecting door most of the way, took out my guitar, and started to play. Something Tread and I had been playing the day before had firmed up during the night into a song. Something about it didn’t sound quite right with only one guitar, though. If I did it in the studio, I’d have to overdub another part. And live, I’d have to hire someone else… nothing was ever simple anymore.

At noon I woke Ziggy up and told him we should get something to eat. Yesterday’s per diem was still in my pocket–we hadn’t needed to pay for anything while we were in the bus. He got in the shower and I went to see if Chris and Bart were up. Chris said he’d meet us in the lobby. Michelle answered the door and I could hear Bart singing in the shower.

“We’re up for some food,” she said. “There’s a Denny’s across the parking lot.”

“Perfect.” I said, and then stood there looking at her because she stood there looking at me. “What?”

She shrugged and smiled. “You look better.”

“Better than what?”

“I dunno. Maybe you’re right about life on the road agreeing with you.”

Maybe. I shrugged myself. “See you downstairs in a few.”

Michelle led the way to the Denny’s which I hadn’t even noticed when we pulled in last night. We ordered enough food for a small army, which, in a way, we were. It was the first time in a while that the four of us–five counting Michelle–were all in one place without a lot of other hangers on. Once the waitress had taken our menus away, I put my hands on the table and started to talk.

“Business meeting. What do you think we should do next?”

Everyone looked at me. Christian said “What do you mean by, next? Do we have some kind of option?”

I examined my fingers rather than dart my eyes from face to face. “I think Watt is waiting for input from us on whether we should release another single, or what. We should already be planning to come back this way…” A bit of jargon came to mind and I used it. “…to return to these markets to play smaller venues. In like three or four months. And we should be thinking about what we’re going to do after that.” I nodded toward Chris. “And what you’re going to do.”

He sat back and sighed. “The Mile’s about to release another indie LP, and they want me with them. But… I dunno. I like you guys a lot. I’d like to play more with you. But I can’t make any decisions one way or the other just yet.”

Bart spoke up. “What do you think we should get Charles River to do next?”

Ziggy held up a finger and said one word. “Video.”

“Watt’s already been making those noises,” Bart reminded us. “We should be having this discussion with him.”

“We will.” I tried to bring things back around to one of my original questions. “But what single next? ‘Why the Sky?'”

Everyone seemed to think about that for a moment. No one spoke up to disagree. “Alright, then. When we get home, we’ll tell Watt what we want to do is a video for Why the Sky and release it as a single for our upcoming tour.”

Bart cleared his throat. “Who’s going to do the booking?”

It was my turn to shrug. “I can try to do it myself, but something tells me if we want anything decent we’ll have to have somebody with connections. It’s too bad this gig doesn’t do any of the East Coast.”

Our waitress, an older woman who looked like her uniform was a permanent part of her, put some bowls of soup down on the table. “Crackers?”

“Yes, please,” Michelle said. The waitress dropped a couple of packets of crackers from her apron pouch into our midst and left us alone again. “Don’t you feel like we’re eating at a friend’s mom’s house?”

There was general agreement around the table and then the rest of the food arrived. End of business meeting. Or so I thought. When I was half done with my sandwich, John the road manager came in and looked around. I waved to him. He hurried over and crouched down next to me so he looked like he was sitting on the end of the booth but he wasn’t.

“I just got some news. Hurricane Flats were supposed to do the opening slot on the Eastern leg, you know?” He was looking right at me, as if the others weren’t there. “They just had some kind of disaster and had to back out. It’s seven more dates.” We all waited for him to finish. “Management wants to know if you could do them.”

“Sure,” Bart said.

“Let’s talk terms,” I said, putting down my sandwich. “After soundcheck.”

“Right. Got it.” And then he was off on another road manager-type errand. When did that guy ever relax?

When we finished eating, we went back to the hotel to clear out the rest of our stuff and head for the hall. As I was checking around under the beds to see if I’d lost anything, I noticed the message light blinking. I dialed 0 and got the front desk–I told the clerk I’d pick it up on the way out.

When I did, ‘it’ was several pink slips of paper. I took a look at them in the bus.

One from Artie asking me to call him in New York today. One from someone at BNC. One from someone at Charles River. And one with no name, just a number in Boston. Maybe Watt, calling from his home? I fanned them in my fingers like a poker hand, my heart weightless with the feeling of an imminent win. Luck was on my side at the moment. I put the messages into my pocket until I could find a pay phone.

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