Sarah called me, drunk, after Jordan’s memorial, from somewhere quite loud. A night club, probably.
“Why aren’t you here?” she shouted/cried.
“You know why,” I tried not to shout back, but I had to be pretty loud for her to have any hope of hearing me. Claire’s room–formerly Remo’s–had a phone by the toilet so I’d taken the call in there, and the echo off the tile hurt my ears. “Where are you, anyway?”
“Limelight. The service was downtown but a bunch of us came here after and oh my god it sucks without Jordan here.”
“I said I bet it does!”
“Yeah, like, it’s so obvious he’s gone. It’s like there’s a huge hole. Just a huge huge hole.” She sobbed and I felt myself tearing up. “Why aren’t you here? I mean, I said that already. I mean, it’s your fault you’re not here.”
She was too drunk to really be making sense. So I just agreed. “Yes, it’s all my fault.” Even though I still maintained it was actually Ziggy’s fault. “How was the memorial? Who else was there?”
“Oh, you know. Everybody who was anybody. Hang on.” I heard jostling sounds and then she came back. “Sorry. I’m at that payphone in that really narrow back hallway.”
“The really dark one?”
“Yeah, with the purple lights. I could barely see to dial the right number. Had to do it by feel.”
It was a narrow corridor that could only be reached by a stairwell, if I remembered right, and was a favored make-out spot because of how dark it was. She probably had to step to the side any time someone wanted to get past. I could picture it vividly and my heart literally ached with sudden longing to be there. Dammit.
I rubbed the tears out of my eyes. “Did you see Bart?”
“Yes. He thinks it’s bullshit you’re not here, too. I’m so mad at you right now Daron Marks.”
“Because seeing you would make me feel better! Because I miss our friend and I want you to be here to remember him with me! Is that so wrong?”
“It’s not wrong at all. You’re right. But I couldn’t leave here.”
She let out a long growl of frustration. “When are you back? I’m leaving for Japan next week.”
“Not for a while, Sarah.”
“Okay, whatever.” She went silent and all I could hear was the pumping rhythm of dance music pulsing through the stone walls. Then her voice came back, barely audible. “There’s a hole.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Do you understand? A hole.”
“I know. Write a song about it, Sar’.”
“Get your ass here. We’ll write it together. You bastard.”
“I love you, too, Sarah.”
“Call me,” she said, and hung up.
I hung up and then sat there in the bathroom for a while, trying not to cry, and my eyes feeling hot. I wished I were there and here at the same time. But mostly I wished that Jordan hadn’t died.
I paged Ziggy but I didn’t really have a code to add. We used 911 if it was really urgent, 411 if we needed information, and 666 if we felt we were in hell. No code meant, basically, “thinking of you.”
I emerged from the bathroom to find “Murder, She Wrote” had ended and Claire had dozed off while still sitting up in bed, propped up on pillows. The remote was on top of the bedspread next to her. Some period piece that looked like Little House on the Prairie for grown-ups had come on and Glenn Close was emoting grimly. I reached across Claire for the remote and she startled and grabbed my hand.
“Oh,” she said, blinking up at me. She had a colorful scarf wrapped around her head but otherwise looked a lot like Darth Vader does at the end of Return of the Jedi when he takes his helmet off. Or maybe I’m exaggerating. “I must had dozed off.”
“It’s getting late,” I said. Although not as late as in New York, which was an hour ahead of us here. “I think I’m going to call it a night.”
She hadn’t let go of my hand. “Have you been crying?”
There was no use lying about it. “A little bit, yeah.”
Then she did something I really didn’t expect. She patted me on the hand like it was comforting. It wasn’t, but I appreciated the gesture.
(FYI — if you tried to buy something from the SWAG PAGE last week and the shopping cart didn’t seem to respond, try it again now! I’d left out one piece in the coding of the page: the piece that shows you what’s in the cart! It’s working now though, and I’m shipping the first batch of orders today! -ctan)