Outside the backstage door there were ten or twelve people, mostly girls, waiting behind police barricades for someone famous to come out and make a dash for the limousine parked there. I asked the security guard at the door if I could get a cab. He said I could go around front, or he could call one, but that the limo’d take me where I wanted to go. Duh. I don’t know why that didn’t occur to me. The low cloud cover was lit up by the parking lot lights and I felt like I was on some giant soundstage somewhere instead of genuinely outdoors.
A voice calling my name distracted me. “Daron!” A guy behind the barricade was yelling. “My girlfriend wants your autograph!”
She turned around and showed me the back of her leather jacket which had the candle emblem from our single painted onto the back of it. I walked closer, until I could put my hand on it. “This is… really cool,” I said.
“He painted it for me,” she said. “Would you…?” She held up a spray paint marker and shook it.
“Sure.” I’d signed singles and CDs at our local club release parties and things, but never something like this. I put the guitar case down at my feet. “Hold still.” I scrawled my name with a large D and drew a crescent moon inside it.
She squealed a little and tried to twist to see. Her boyfriend slipped the jacket off her and showed it to her and the rest of the gaggle of fans, who agreed it was totally cool. A couple of people snapped photos and I wondered if it would be too weird to ask them to send me copies. The girl shivered happily in the damp air. I shivered a little in sympathy, or maybe it was that I was still wearing my damp clothes from the stage. I handed her back the pen. “If you want, I can try to get the other guys out here, too.”
“Oh, would you?” She touched my hand. “You are like, the coolest.”
I gave what I hoped was a modest shrug and the security guard let me back in the door. Bart and Chris were amused and went to see what I was talking about and I hunted around backstage for Ziggy. But he was nowhere to be found, John hadn’t seen him, and there wasn’t anywhere else to look for him, other than in the crowd itself. But I doubted he was there.
Outside, Bart and Chris were joking around with the fans. “Our illustrious lead singer has vanished,” I told them.
“Typical,” Bart said.
The girl, who was back in her jacket now, looked a bit crestfallen. “Well, you tried.”
“Did you like the show?”
“Yeah! I can’t wait until you come back around again.”
“Well, hopefully we will, within the next six months.”
Her boyfriend fished something out of his pocket. “I work at one of the local college radio stations. I mean, we’re run by the college and all, but we’re a pretty big station. If you guys come around again, I’m sure we’d have you in for an interview.” He handed me a business card.
“That would be cool.” I opened the guitar case and slipped it in with the contracts. “Then maybe you’ll get another crack at Ziggy’s signature,” I added.
“Yeah!” She snuggled back against her boyfriend, the soft frizziness of her hair pillowing her head against his sturdy chest.
Looking at the contract reminded me I had wanted to go back to the hotel. “Well, I’m going to get moving. Nice to meet you.” I hadn’t learned either of their names. I hadn’t even read the business card. This bothered me as I walked away.
They waved as I went to the door of the first limo and knocked on the window. It rolled down with a hum. “Can you take me back to the hotel?”
The guy straightened the cap on his head. He was a young guy, his hair cut close to his skull under his uniform cap. “You in the band, right? I can’t see your tags from here.”
I held up the laminates hanging around my neck.
“How about them?”
I called back to Bart and Chris. “You guys coming?”
“I’ll wait for Michelle. She’s watching the show.” Bart yelled. But Christian came down and opened the door.
“Don’t worry about your friend,” the driver said. “The hotel’s only about two miles from here, and I’ll come right back around for the rest of them.”
Chris and I climbed into the back and had the usual fun with unfamiliar limos, hunting around for secret buttons and switches. The driver didn’t seem to mind when we opened and shut the windows, turned on the tv, and opened and closed the power-door on the bar. But it was only a five minute ride. A bellman held the door open for us and we waltzed into the lobby, retrieved our keys at the desk, and went up to our rooms.
In the elevator Chris turned to me and said “It’s early, still. You want to go out and get some coffee?”
“This is Seattle, man. Everybody tells me this is the city for coffee.”
“Maybe.” Did we have a flight out of here tomorrow? What time did it leave? Maybe this was why Remo had a hand in all Nomad’s bookings. “Let me dump this stuff in my room, though.”
“Sure. I’m gonna change clothes and shower.”
Not a bad idea. I was getting too used to walking around in sweat-soaked jeans. I slipped my key into the door and watched the green light on the handle blink as I turned the knob.
“Daron? That you?”
He was lying in bed under the covers, his arm flung over his eyes. “You’re back early.”
“So are you.” I put the guitar down by the dresser and went over to him. “Are you feeling okay?” I had the urge to gather him up in my arms, but he sat up.
“I’m fine. I just got bored back there, that’s all.”
“Me and Chris are thinking about going out for coffee. You want to come along?”
He wrinkled his nose. “Nah.”
“Only ten-thirty on this clock.”
“You go on.”
I peeled off my jeans and T-shirt and put on dry ones. I dragged a flannel shirt out of my pack and put that on, too. “Or does this look too Northwest wannabe?”
He snorted. “Who cares? It’s better than freezing to death.”
I pulled my denim jacket on over the shirt and checked my pockets for money, ID. “Do you know when our flight is tomorrow?”
He shrugged and lay back down. “I thought we were going to Chicago?”
“There’s a five day lag in there for the equipment to travel and for us to rest. I assume they want us to spend the time on our own dime. Besides, the tickets home were already issued.” Ziggy didn’t seem to be listening to me. I was sure John would wake us up in the morning if need be.
Christian was knocking on the door and I went out. “Who were you talking to?”
“Ziggy’s in there. Looked like he was having a nap.”
“Beauty rest,” he said sagely.