Sometimes the things you want the most are the things that hurt the worst.
He sang and I played and I don’t know how he could sing and cry at the same time but somehow he did it.
Part of me still blamed him for throwing this away–for not realizing or for ignoring the fact that signing that deal was going to mean throwing this away.
But part of me had grown some perspective with time, and I was starting to think maybe no matter what we did, even if he’d fought alongside me every step of the way, maybe there was no way to save Moondog Three as we knew it. Not with Mills dead set against us, or against me, anyway. That bit Barrett had said about the performance bonuses vesting suddenly made sense. No wonder Mills had pushed so hard to have Ziggy sign the deal–he’d get to keep his own monetary interest in the M3 property, but get rid of me.
Whether it was “true” or not, maybe I was just ready to shift some of the blame I’d put on Ziggy onto a more convenient villain. Onto someone I didn’t need to love.
So we cried. We grieved for what was lost no matter whose fault it was. When the song ended I put the guitar down and held him, or he held me, I don’t know–my mind went dark and blank and I just hung onto him waiting for it to stop hurting.
He didn’t try to hurry me. I didn’t cry this time, just sat there the way you do when you’ve dropped a hammer on your foot and you can’t do anything but wait for the pain to subside.
When my brain started working again I looked him in the eye and said, “I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo.”
“Of what?” he said softly.
“You remember the rocket you drew on the shoulder of my jacket?”
“That. I want that. It’d be easier if you could draw it directly on my skin, though.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You mean you’re thinking about getting it done…tonight?”
“What do you think? If we’re going to that taco stand in Silver Lake anyway…”
He brushed my hair out of my face with his hands. “I think we pass a couple of places that are open late. Are you sure, though?”
I nodded. “Been thinking about it for a while.”
“Even though it looks more and more like…Moondog Three is no more.”
“You think the tattoo would be too much…holding onto the past? I think it’s more like leaving a record of where I’ve been.”
“Hm, that makes sense.” He lay back on the bed then, his arms over his head. “I’ve been thinking about getting one, too.”
“I’ll show you. You tell me if you think it’s too corny.” He rolled over and hopped off the bed, digging in his bag to pull out a notebook.
He flipped past many pages of lyrics and journal entries until he came to a section of sketches. Flip flip flip. “Something like this.” He showed me a page.
The sketch was of a bit of music staff, with a single somewhat sylized eighth note sitting on it.
Huh. I looked at him. “I’m assuming this is treble clef.”
That meant the note was a D. Plus the note itself looked a little like a lowercase d. I sometimes signed my name that way in autographs.
I felt a flash of hot and cold, looking at it. He basically wanted to put my name onto his skin. Permanently. “Zig–”
“No matter what happens,” he said, before I could say anything more, “it’s like you say. Even if…if you’re in my past, it’s a record of what was important to me.”
That hurt, and it sounded like it hurt him to say it. It hurt to reply: “Is there only one way to be in your future?”
“No!” He clapped the notebook closed. “No, definitely not. If you don’t want to take the musical director gig, don’t think that means I’m going to cut you off in a huff.”
I gave him a look.
“Seriously, Daron. I’ll try never to be that stupid about love versus career again.”
Wow, that was better than an apology: it was an actual admission of guilt. An admission that he knew in some way he had chosen $15 million over me. I felt instantly better. How weird.
Outside it was evening. He drove and I navigated and not quite an hour later we were stuffing our faces with tongue tacos so good they were better than sex. And although life was complicated, somehow sitting next to each other at a picnic table and licking salsa off our fingers wasn’t.