I told her the rest over lo mein. It was weird telling laying out the whole thing, the whole trajectory of me and Ziggy, and I told her so. “I’ve never spilled it all at once like that, from beginning to end.”
“End? Is it over?”
“I sure as hell hope not,” I heard myself say.
“You mean for the band or for a relationship with him?”
“Both.” I flexed my fingers like I was trying to grab something out of the air, something I couldn’t see or even touch. “Okay? I admit it.”
We were at the coffee table with the containers spread out all over, sitting crosslegged on a braided rug. “Admit what?” she asked. “That you want him back?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Daron. You don’t spend ninety percent of your time thinking about somebody and not want them.”
“Are you sure? Because I think that might just be obsession, not love.”
“Okay, granted, but didn’t you just tell me that you’d fallen in love with him all over again right before he went into rehab?”
“Yeah.” I put down my chopsticks. I’d gone from the munchies to unable to swallow.
“And you didn’t even get a chance to tell him?”
“And you haven’t spoken to him since?”
“Well, when you put it that way…”
“Duh. Of course you’re still in love with him.”
“Or at least I’m in love with the person he was then. But he’s probably not still the person he was then. I mean, fuck, I’m not even the person I was then.”
“Except you pretty much are,” she pointed out. She took a bite of a chicken finger. “Far as I can tell anyway. Except possibly with even less bullshit.”
“Yeah. You had enough food? Let’s play the piano.” She hopped up, wiping her greasy hands on her bathrobe. “Come on.”
“I told you you were bossy.”
So that’s how Sarah and I stayed up all night playing music. She wrote a song called Falling Star. I don’t know if it was about me or Ziggy. I didn’t ask.
When dawn was starting to break, she put a pillow and a couple of blankets on the couch for me, and then she went to bed. I got out of my jeans and thought about getting in the shower, but although I felt pretty grungy at that point I didn’t want to get wet. I don’t know. You know how it is with negative thoughts. They can sneak in at weird times. I wondered what would happen if I slipped and fell in her bathtub and hit my head.
Then I wondered what would happen if Sarah died in her sleep. Weird, right? Why would I even think about that? I told myself: she didn’t drink that much. She didn’t do any drugs as far as I know. This is crazy. Go to sleep.
But then I lay there having random dire thoughts. I had plenty of actual dire things to think about, like the imminent demise of my career and/or band and/or relationship with my singer, but instead I was thinking about slip-and-fall fatalities.
I put my head under the pillow, but then I was hot, and I ended up standing in the window of the apartment watching the sun rise.
I turned and saw Sarah standing there, her hair a tangle, a quilt wrapped around her shoulders.
I shook my head.
“I’m not even getting that far,” I said.
“Bring your pillow and stuff. Come sleep in my room.”
I did what she said. She rearranged my blankets on the floor next to her bed. It was very dark in the room, the tiny window completely covered by a heavy curtain.
“I like to go to sleep with the radio on,” she said.
“You know, I used to do that as a kid. I got out of the habit the last couple of years.”
She hit a button on the clock radio by her bed. WNEW, the AOR station I’d listened to a lot as a kid, came on. A Pink Floyd song was playing.
I think I said “thank you” before I fell asleep. But I’m not sure. Because the next thing I remember is waking up in the morning.
I mean, afternoon. It was almost two. Sarah was nowhere in sight. I emerged to find a note that said she was getting her hair done and that there was cereal on the counter. I helped myself to a bowl of Lucky Charms with half and half because there didn’t seem to be any milk.
I was emerging from the bathroom after a shower, with my jeans on but bare feet, when Jonathan arrived. Sarah had come back while I was in the shower and I pulled a shirt over my head as she opened the door. I took a breath, determined not to turn this hello into something weird and awkward.
She gave Jonathan a hug.
So did I.
It worked. We grinned at each other, and we really meant it when we said it was good to see each other.
He’d lightened his hair a little, which I know sounds funny because he’s already blond, but there you go.
He handed me the videotape, which Sarah snatched and pranced to the television somewhat gleefully. All right. I supposed we were about to see a piece of either ridiculously fluffed hype or ridiculously hyped fluff. I was prepared for the usual red carpet bullshit about what dresses the women were wearing.
Jonathan’s mouth was in a tight line, though, as Sarah put the tape in and searched for the remote to turn on the TV, and he caught my eye just before the picture came on. I wondered if he felt sorry for me somehow.
The anchors were blathering like always, and then came the footage from the red carpet. Jennifer Carstens stepped out of the limo. She was wearing black high heels that really looked like they could be used as murder weapons and the anchors were blathering on about her outfit. When she stood up it looked rather like a dress, but with a top that looked like it had the black satin collar and lapels of a tuxedo jacket, while her back was completely bare. When she walked, though, you could see that the “skirt” part was actually pants. One of the anchors used the term “prom culottes.” Her hair was short, what they called a “pixie cut,” very different from how I’d usually seen her.
“You might almost say she’s going for a kind of gender-bending look,” one of the commentators said. “Very stylish and smart. I give her an A for execution.”
“Well, if you think that was gender-bending, take a look at what her co-star wore.”
The footage came from a shakier camera, as someone hastily noticed that someone was else was emerging from the still open limo door. One foot came first, another stiletto heel, but this one at the end of a tapered leg in fishnet stockings.
A Hollywood starlet from the 1940s emerged, black pencil skirt, mink stole, pillbox hat and veil.
“Barbara Stanwyck?” Sarah asked.
“Ziggy,” I said. Whispered, really, because my throat had tightened up.
“Seems to be some kind of homage to Faye Dunaway in Chinatown,” said one of the commentators. “Perhaps we’ll understand the outfit and its statement better after we see the film.”
As the footage of Ziggy walking slowly up the red carpet, clutching the mink around his shoulders, continued, the prattle also continued. “Carstens’ co-star declined to speak to sideline reporters.”
Then it showed the commentators in the studio again. The male one said, “Well, I’m often baffled by fashion but that was an especially baffling choice.”
“You idiot,” I said, my voice somewhat louder. In fact, I shouted. “Isn’t it obvious? Leave him the fuck alone! He’s in fucking mourning!”