We got in late that night and I tried the number where Remo had said he’d be. By the zip code it looked to be somewhere in Tennessee and I wondered if he was doing another trip through bluegrass country or what. I got a hotel voicemail system and left him a message. He’d have to try me again when he got to his next stop, but at least I had made an effort.
Courtney came over for dinner the next night. She brought the food for us to cook together, which made for a fun, if a bit of an eclectic meal. We made chicken wings and a kind of almost-lasagna casserole and baked potatoes and berry cobbler. “The theme is ‘hey, I’m heating up the oven to warm up my place because it’s winter, might as well bake everything,’” she explained.
She was right; the brownstone was a lot warmer after we were done cooking. We were sitting around talking, waiting for the cobbler to be cool enough to eat, when she asked me if I’d talked to Remo.
“He called the house other day looking for you, but we didn’t talk long,” she said. “I explained you were shacked up here.”
“He probably tried here but we don’t have an answering machine,” I said. “Man. I’ve owed him a call for weeks.”
“Well, I told him you’re doing okay now, so he’s probably not worrying about you, anyway.”
I wondered if he wanted to talk about my idea for the album I’d told him I wanted to do: just the two of us, playing and writing and doing whatever, discovering what we could find in a musical journey together. A week earlier I wouldn’t have been ready to even think about it, but now that the itch was back I knew it was mostly a question of getting my hand back into playing shape. Yeah, there was a nagging worry that I would never be able to play like I had before. But I had to ignore it. The only way to know would be to try and to work on it. So I shoved doubt to the back of the line and let optimism be first instead.
“Hey, so are you coming to my graduation ceremony?” she asked.
It took me a moment to remember what season we were in. “What, already? That’s a ways off.”
She hit me on the shoulder in that way little sisters do. “Make sense! What do you mean ‘what, already?’ and also that it’s a long time from now?”
“I mean I didn’t realize you were that close to graduation but also May is far enough out that I haven’t thought about where I’ll be by then.” Christmas hadn’t even happened yet. Now that Thanksgiving had passed, I started to think about that, too. “It hasn’t been four years, has it?”
“No, because I already had credits from my previous program,” she explained patiently. Right, I knew that but I’d forgotten. “And I got credit for the internship so it counted as a class.
“What date in May?” I asked.
“Um, shit. I have to look that up. If I told you now, you wouldn’t remember, anyway.”
Well, she was probably right about that.
“There’s something else I want to tell you, though.” She glanced at Ziggy. He sat up curiously, but what she had to say wasn’t about him. “Christian got caller ID installed at the house. We had been getting hang-up phone calls and I was curious if that would clue us in to who it was.”
I sat up, too. “Who?”
“Some unlisted number in Tennessee.” She waggled her eyebrows at me like I should know something about that.
“Remo’s in Tennessee right now,” I said, confused.
“Lilibeth. I think Lilibeth is in Tennessee,” she said. “Remember when she called?”
I had forgotten about her calling back in the spring. “Right. When Claire had her gallbladder out?”
“Yep. And she told me Janine’s husband had cheated on her and left her.”
“Wait, did you tell me that?”
Court frowned. “I’m pretty sure I did.”
“I’m pretty sure you didn’t.”
Ziggy cleared his throat. “You didn’t say anything about it to me, anyway.”
“Maybe I didn’t tell you that.” Court got up suddenly to touch the top of the cobbler with her fingertips. “This is totally cool enough to eat.”
“I’ll get the plates,” Ziggy said, and slipped away from the table.
“So? Did you call her back?” I asked.
“Not yet.” Courtney carried the cobbler in a glass baking dish over and set it down on a wooden trivet carved in the shape of a turtle. “I wanted to talk to you first. Don’t you think that’s weird, though? That she’d be calling but not leaving a message or hanging up when someone other than you or me answers?”
“I bet she needs money,” I said. “But she’s afraid to ask. And she keeps chickening out.”
“Or Janine does. Last I’d heard Janine was moving in with her after the cheating incident. So it could be her, too.”
Ziggy brought plates and spoons, but in the end we didn’t use the plates, really, we just dug directly into the still-warm cobbler with our spoons and ate until it was gone. It had peaches and strawberries in it and it was really good. Ziggy licked the dish in the end and got a red streak on his chin of strawberry stuff.
I licked it off his face and Courtney took that as her cue to say goodnight. I thought it was thoughtful of her for leaving us to our own devices. After all, sex with Ziggy was sweeter and more satisfying than any dessert. I later realized she’d left us with all the dirty dishes.