John took me straight back to the hotel and put me in bed. He took my temperature again (normal), gave me some aspirin, and ordered room service. He looked at my throat, said it was a good thing I didn’t have to sing, and ordered me to stay in bed.
“I’ll be okay,” I said.
“Don’t push it, Daron. I’ve seen this before. You’ve got to last a couple more days. I hate to make cancellations.”
Seen what before? I wondered. Scarlet fever? Rock Star Syndrome? He stayed until the food came, made sure I ate something, and then left. As soon as he was out the door, I lay back and fell asleep.
The next few days went on like that, with the road crew and everyone holding me together with home remedies and naps and it began to seem to me like I was always going to be sick and the tour was never going to end. Someone was always having to prop me up or figure out where I had gone to sleep. I developed a cough. Ziggy didn’t break the quarantine but did check up on me a couple of times a day. The shows were more noise and delirium and were the only time I felt awake. Video evidence would later prove that all the cough medicine was not a detriment to my playing. If anything, they were some of our best shows yet, which made me sorry I didn’t remember them better.
The next thing I knew, Bart was propping me up in an airport waiting room. In a few hours we’d be home.
Ziggy and Christian spent most of the flight playing cards. Some time during the bus trip southward they had started a grudge match of gin rummy and neither one would admit defeat. Bart sat by me and we tried to talk business but my attention span was out the window. We both wanted to plan what was next but I couldn’t concentrate.
“I guess the next thing for me is get better,” I said. “Everyone should take a week off.”
“Only a week?”
“C’mon, Bart, it’s just a cold, not mono or something.” I stifled a cough. “Seems weird, doesn’t it?”
“A whole week with nothing to do.” After our lives seemed to be planned down to the last minute for weeks now, we’d be on our own again. When and what to eat, what to do… I planned to sleep. “Maybe I should get some health insurance,” I mused.
“You all should.” Bart was the only one of us who had insurance; his parents wouldn’t let him be without some kind of coverage. I wondered if I was ever going to meet his parents, or if he was ever going to meet mine. I supposed I couldn’t run away from Digger forever if he kept hounding Remo to get in touch with me, kept tracking me down in hotels in random cities. I had the sudden urge to tell Bart everything about him, all about the late nights sneaking out to bars when I was a kid, the petty cons (“business deals”) he’d pull on his so-called friends, cheating at cards… as if some kind of warning might keep him away. Or at least if he did show up, Bart would know him for what he was. I knew the image: an easy-going, friendly sort of guy, easy to get along with, but I also knew the reality of the man who’d leave me in the car alone outside the “No Tell” motel and who one night drove me out of the house with a black eye. The next day he’d acted like nothing had ever happened even though the bruise on my face was obvious. Neither of us had ever brought it up again.
I realized I was brooding in silence and Bart was staring at me. I started coughing and he looked away.
(Lest there be any confusion, this isn’t the official School of Fish “Three Strange Days” video. I think this is just some guys who decided to make their own version to the song. Kinda cool.)