Sea of Sorrow

Ziggy had changed clothes between the club and the loft. He was wearing a denim jacket that once might have been light blue but had been remade violet over a tight white undershirt.

Jonathan was holding him forcibly against a wall by his grip on Ziggy’s jacket sleeves, or maybe he was holding himself up, since he seemed somewhat unsteady. They were chest to chest. Ziggy, for his part, was wriggling like a cat trying to get away from a veterinarian.

Davide and I moved toward them, Jonathan let himself be scooped aside by his guy, and replaced his hold on Ziggy more or less, like some whacked-out square-dance move. Ziggy didn’t try to get away from me so much as he gripped onto my forearms, still snarling and spitting. He seemed very put out about something. Had Jonathan said something to him that set him off?

“Are you all right?” How unusual that I was the one who could use words for a change.

He squinted at me and pulled me into a hug.

“Are you on drugs?”

“I’m fine,” he said through clenched teeth into my ear. “Just…emotional.”

I hugged him back. “Funerals are like that.”

“Yeah.” He snorted and the tension began to ebb out of him.

I loosened my grip so I could get a look at his face. “Are you sure you’re all right? What did J say?”

“He said it wasn’t worth it.” Ziggy’s pupils were fairly huge. I tried to stay calm, but it was somewhat jolting to think that Jonathan thought the relationship with me hadn’t been worth it after all. Was Ziggy trying to defend my honor or something?

“Is that what you were fighting about?”

“We weren’t fighting. We didn’t get to fighting.”

“It looked like you were fighting…”

Ziggy blinked. His raccoon eyes were severe from earlier crying. “Wait. I mean Jonathan and I were not fighting. He was keeping me from fighting.”

Oh. Wait. “With whom?”

Ziggy’s eyes focused on me instead of on the crowd behind me. “Your former singer.”

“Oh.” That was the oh of relief as much as comprehension. “Jonathan’s right. Not worth it.” I looked behind me, but Roger didn’t seem to be anywhere nearby. J and Davide were hovering, though, as was our host, while everyone else seemed like they either weren’t paying attention to us or at least were acting like they weren’t.

“You can’t expect me–” Ziggy began, then stopped himself, settling his head on my shoulder and sighing. “Never mind.”

“Did he say something to you?”

“I said never mind.” Ziggy shifted against me and then reached out to pull Jordan toward us. “Sorry about that. I know better than to make a scene.”

“You might,” Jordan allowed, “but I’m not certain RD does. He’s left, by the way. In case you were wondering.”

Of course I had been wondering. Well, that was good to know. “Thanks. Would you check on Jonathan? He seemed a little unsteady on his feet.”

“Sure.”

I turned my attention back to Ziggy, who was suppressing a smirk. I steered him to the nearby refrigerator and extracted a green bottle of Perrier for him. “What’s so funny?”

“Jonathan. I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever seen him drunk. I don’t think so. I guess everyone’s going to excess tonight in honor or Freddie.”

“I guess so.” Normally I would have suggested we leave at that point, but it felt a little like since Roger had left–or possibly been asked to leave–on my account, I should stick around for a while.

We shared the bottle of Perrier and then circulated a bit more, together rather than separately. It was already the wee hours of the morning by then: I think it had been midnight when we’d left the club.

I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising that we were still there when the sun came up. A much, much smaller group by then. I don’t actually remember the sunrise because I was asleep by then, on a couch facing the corner of the apartment that was dedicated to the recording equipment. I’d slept on that couch before plenty of times. This was the first time Ziggy and I slept on it together, though. I think. I don’t even remember us falling asleep. At some point we just ran out of steam. Possibly right in the middle of a conversation.

Apparently it wasn’t even necessary for me to drink heavily (there had only been the one beer) or do drugs to pass out on Jordan’s couch. Being exhausted was all that was necessary.

The sound of the espresso machine woke me. I carefully disentangled myself from Ziggy so as not to wake him, which meant leaving the hooded sweatshirt I was wearing behind. (It wasn’t mine.)

Jordan was doing coffee things with the coffee things.

“You’re a fiddler,” I said.

“Never played the fiddle,” he replied, setting a mug down on the counter in front of me. It had a fancy design in the foam.

“No, I mean you like fiddling with things. Dials and things.”

“Ah, yeah, I suppose.” He fussed with his own mug. “Mostly I just tell myself if it all ended tomorrow, I could always get a job as a barista.”

“If all what ended?”

“My run as a fixture in a fickle business.” He lifted his own mug and we tapped them together in a highly caffeinated toast.

We sipped our coffees in silence for a while. I wondered who else was crashed out around the place. I couldn’t see anyone other than Ziggy. I had a sudden worry that instead of being asleep he was no longer alive. Okay, if I looked hard I could see he was breathing. I decided to shift myself so I wasn’t staring at him anymore. I guess funerals can make me paranoid, I thought to myself.

“I’m sorry about last night,” Jordan said over the top of his mug. “I didn’t realize you had a history with RD.”

He meant Roger. History. Kind of a funny word for it. “We were in a band together in school,” I said. It sounded like a really long time ago. I did the math. Five years ago. That was a long time ago. “If it’s history, it’s ancient history.”

“He never dropped your name with me so I never made the connection.” He set his coffee down and got a third mug out of the cabinet. “I guess now I know why. He figured you’d give him a bad reference.”

I almost laughed at that. “He is what he is.”

Jordan gave me an inquisitive look.

“A conniving, neurotic, high-maintenance diva with a golden throat who cracks under pressure.”

“Am not!” Ziggy squawked from right behind me.

“Coffee or tea?” Jordan asked, waving the mug in a gentle adagio.

“Tea, please.” Ziggy’s hair was an angular disaster. He could sense it, I guess, and raked his fingers through it. “Green if you have it.”

Jordan nodded and set to preparing it.

“I didn’t mean you,” I said, to be sure.

Ziggy climbed onto a stool at the breakfast counter and lay his head on his bent arm. “Such a cliché. No one needs another one of those.”

Jordan chuckled. I wasn’t sure how serious Ziggy was being. “What did he say to you last night?”

“Roger? Nothing important.” Ziggy sniffed.

“Important enough for you to go after him but not important enough to tell me?”

He waved me off. “I don’t even remember what it was, honestly.”

“Zig–”

“Some shit, that’s all.” He sat up straight to accept a cup of tea from Jordan. “My nerves were already frayed and I just snapped.”

“How did Jonathan get in the middle of it?”

“He was just standing there. I don’t know.” Ziggy sighed. “Does he know?”

“Not as much as you do.” I don’t think I ever told Jonathan as much, or at least not as much detail, as I think I had told Ziggy.

Jordan watched this exchange the way Jordan always did, taking in information and storing it for later.

“Can you blame me for being angry at him?” Ziggy asked.

“No, and thanks for defending my virtue or whatever, but honestly, it’s not worth expending energy on.”

“Don’t you start with the I’m not worthy-”

“No no no, I don’t mean it like that. I mean he’s not worth wasting your breath on.”

“Well, and it sounds like he’s not going to be breathing for much longer,” Ziggy snarled.

“True, which is all the more reason for me to forgive, if not forget.”

Ziggy nodded, eyes down on his tea. “I want to argue but I am so grateful for your capacity to forgive.” He sipped it carefully. “Do you ever think about the fact that if I’d gotten in to RISD I’d be part of your whole Providence school cabal?”

“What?” I had only had about a third of my coffee at that point and wasn’t very quick on the uptake yet.

“I think the math works out. When I was at MassArt was around when you and him and Bart were at RIMCon and Jonathan was at Brown.”

“You applied to RISD?” Jordan asked, voicing the question my fuzzy brain was trying to get around to.

“I applied to a bunch of art schools,” Ziggy said. “I wanted to go anywhere I could dress like this and be looked up to instead of down to. My actual interest in visual art was secondary.”

“You are the work of art,” I said seriously.

“Stop it. You’ll give me a diva complex,” Ziggy answered, but he raked his fingers through the gorgeous disaster of his hair while he did it. “Jordan, are we the last ones left? You could’ve told us to catch a cab.”

“I don’t mind you guys.” Jordan drained his mug and set it in the sink. “You’re really good for each other, you know that?”

“I’m not sure that was always true,” Ziggy said with a yawn. “I look at Roger Devon and I think there but for the grace go I. We.

“We?” I was almost at the bottom of the coffee but it wasn’t really hitting me yet.

“Well, I mean, we even went there, remember? The neurotic, conniving diva and the closet case he pushed around. We both had to learn not to fall into that groove.”

“A groove that was there because Roger wore it in?” Jordan asked.

“Don’t blame it on Roger,” I said. “He was shitty to me, but if anyone’s responsible for me thinking that letting people be shitty to me was the price of their affection–”

Ziggy clapped his hands over his ears. “Oh god, don’t say it. I can’t believe I ever was dumb enough to have him as manager.”

“Hey, I was dumb enough to hire him first,” I said.

“Speaking of which,” Jordan said, taking my empty mug out of my hands and adding it to the sink. “Any news on the various lawsuits?”

Ziggy spoke for both of us. “If there is, no one’s wanted to tell us while we’re recovering from… everything.” He put his hands over his face suddenly and I knew he was trying not to cry.

What else can I say but it was a very emotional time?

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Comments 3

  1. marktreble wrote:

    “Well, I mean, we even went there, remember? The neurotic, conniving diva and the closet case he pushed around. We both had to learn not to fall into that groove.”

    Kudos, Ziggy. Introspection.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    It’s a worldview I can live with.

    [Reply]

    Posted 03 Apr 2018 at 11:32 am
  2. s wrote:

    So, fuck you, Roger. That’s all the breath I’m wasting on you.

    Ziggy gets it. It’s amazing how far you 2 have come. You should be proud of yourselves.

    Last, but certainly not least: Alice in freaking Chains!!!!! Life, and music, is good 💕

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    It’s almost scary when he’s blunt, isn’t it? I’m so used to him being evasive.

    [Reply]

    Posted 03 Apr 2018 at 1:29 pm
  3. Aunt Muriel wrote:

    Geez, now I’m wondering if the weird hang up calls a while back were Roger in some kind of weird stalker needing a favor mode.

    [Reply]

    daron Reply:

    Oh jeez I hope not

    [Reply]

    Posted 03 Apr 2018 at 9:15 pm

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