978. Other Voices

I want you to understand what I was going through, but I didn’t understand it myself, and I still don’t. So I’ll just tell you what was happening and maybe you can figure it out.

I don’t mean what was happening logistically: what had happened in that realm was I had become the person Claire was relying on to get her to her medical treatments and so on. I mean what was happening inside me.

As usual, I had no clue. What was different about it this time is that after all I’d been through, after all the therapy and the “learning experiences” and the way I’d put myself into a deep, deep hole in South America and climbed back out again, I thought I knew better. I thought I’d see it coming.

It’s OK. You can laugh now.

The second visit to the chemotherapy center was a lot like the first one, except I pretty much sat there with her the whole time, except for the point where I took a trip to the toilet and Ziggy took over for me.

When I came back, they were laughing about something, and Claire was looking at me with a kind of… sparkle? in her eye? Ziggy patted her on the hand and got up then, and I took his place. I took her hand.

“What’s so funny?”

“Your Ziggy tells the funniest stories. I was like ‘distract me, tell me a story,’ and he told me that the newspapers in Argentina was it? Made you into a hero?”

“Oh, that.” The baby-saving guitar hero of Argentina. I may have smiled a little. “Ziggy is huge in South America. Huge. So even a little story about his guitar player becomes a huge thing there, apparently.”

“Well, it’s a great story. You and Remo had each told me about it, but not the same way.” She turned my hand over and looked at the scar, and a disgusted shiver ran through her, though that happened often while she was getting chemicals pumped into her. “That is some serious mayhem you got yourself into, Daron Reginald Marks.”

“Anything can happen on the road,” I said with a shrug. “It’s healing.” The nagging thought flitted by that the exercises I’d been doing so diligently for a while there were now pretty far in the rearview mirror. Now that the holidays were over I should start again. Soon. Any day now.

“Does it still hurt?”

“No.” I flexed my fingers. “Not like it did. It would cramp up and that was excruciating. So I was constantly trying to find the right level of drugs and alcohol to keep it relaxed.”

“And did that work?”

“Um, depends. It got me through the majority of the tour. It also disconnected me from reality so much that I got paranoid delusions and…yeah.” I tried to finish the sentence with another shrug instead of saying anything more.

But she had to ask, didn’t she? “And what?”

“And I went off the deep end.” A glimmer of a song idea came to me. I’d done all those nature soundtrack pieces with the whale songs in the them, remember? I had a thought, a sound in my mind about how to use the acoustics of depth to portray someone losing themselves. There was really no way to write down that kind of thing so I just closed my eyes, trying to encase the idea in amber in my mind so I could hear it again later. “I convinced myself I was alone, or that I should be, and that everyone was against me. Even Ziggy.”

“Oh, dear,” she said, patting my hand. And by “dear” she meant me, which made me open my eyes again. “You poor thing.”

“Yeah, my head was crammed really far up my ass. Fortunately, Ziggy was able to pry it back out again.” At that moment I couldn’t remember what he’d said to convince me to get back out of the water tank.

“He’s really good with the convincing, isn’t he,” she said.

“Yeah. We’ve known each other a long time and we’ve been through a lot.”

“So he knows you really well.”


“That’s good,” she said, but there was a small frown on her face when she said it. “I mean, it’s good to be that close to someone.” She didn’t sound at all like she believed it, though. “Someone you can rely on.”

Once upon a time I would have laughed ironically at anyone calling Ziggy “reliable.” You know, how do you rely on someone who changes all the time? But that was just part of knowing him. “I know him at least as well as he knows me, now,” I said. “We both rely on each other. It works.”

“I can see that.” She shivered a little and made a slightly nauseous face, letting go my hand and putting hers lightly over where her IV when into her arm. “Be careful, though. He really holds your heart in his palm, dear.”

“I know.”

“And that doesn’t scare you?”

“It used to. Not anymore.”

“It should, though. He’s charming, sexy, talented, and he’s worked hard to gain your trust, I know. But he’s the type who will find it very… challenging… to put your needs in front of his own. His instincts are always going to be to bend you to his path. Don’t think I didn’t pick up some of the friction between you.”

“Friction? What friction?” I was trying hard not to bristle but that probably just made me bristlier.

“You think you’ve gained a clear perspective on your relationship? I’m not so sure.”

“Why? What makes you think that?”

“You’re the one who risked life and limb.” Her eyes tracked across the scar on the back of my hand and then settled into a concerned and skeptical expression. “But you told me it’s because Ziggy is so famous that you made the tabloids in Argentina?”

“I don’t think I deserve to be called a hero for just reflexively keeping a knife from hitting a baby,” I said. “Just because I was in the right place at the right time.”

“And I think you sell yourself short,” she said. “And I know that’s very easy to do when you’re always standing next to someone in the spotlight. That’s all.”

That sounded like reasonable advice, actually, which surprised me coming from her. But between all the recent blows to her ego and the family strife and a terminal illness, well, I was starting to feel like the “real” Claire underneath it all was finally getting exposed.

“Thanks,” I said. “It’s… I know. But thanks.”

She patted my hand. “Now go see what he’s getting himself up to before he gets into any trouble,” she said, and I have to say she really did have him pegged in some ways.

[Leave it to me to get my posting days mixed up! Yesterday’s art post somehow got scheduled for today, so I’ll set today’s for tomorrow instead. 🙂 Are you guys liking them? I haven’t heard a peep pro or con… and commenting *should* be fixed now. At least, Daron and I were both able to reply to everyone today, finally! Get your questions for Daron ready for Thursday’s chat from 8-9pm with him and then I’ll do video from 9-10pm eastern! -ctan]


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