984. The Righteous & The Wicked

Ziggy called me back sometime around one in the morning. Or maybe it was two. It felt late, anyway. I was lying awake doing the not-sleeping thing. I wasn’t even fretting about anything specific. I was just lying there spinning my wheels.

The phone ringing was startling. My first thought was that something had happened to Claire. Like she’d “fallen and [couldn’t] get up” (if you remember those commercials). I mean, I was already feeling anxious or I would’ve been asleep, so I was sort of primed to jump to dire conclusions.

But it was Ziggy. “Oh God, thank goodness you’re there.”

“What? Why? What’s wrong?”

“I was just thinking how terrible it would be if you didn’t answer. I don’t know. I was just hearing it ring and feeling like it was going to ring forever and it would just suck if I didn’t talk to you.” Yeah, he was rambling a bit.

“Oh.” I was pretty sure it had only rung once, maybe twice. Maybe it had taken a while for the call to go through.

“Because, you know, you paged, and I just got worried is all.”

“I was just thinking of you.” I turned on the light but then got back under the covers because it was kind of chilly. I curled up in a sort of cave with the bedcovers over my head but open at the top and the phone cradled against my ear. “Sarah called.”

“Oh.” That was it. One sound and then silence. From rambling to monosyllabic.

“Are you on something?” I asked gently.

“No. I’m just fucked up on the emotional rollercoaster, that’s all. I… I guess I can’t really blame you for not wanting to go to this sort of thing.”

“Hang on, hang on, when did I ever say I didn’t want to go? I want to go. I wanted to go.”

“Daron, please, if you really wanted to be here, you would’ve come.”

“That is so not true.” Wow, this is a first, I thought. The first time I felt that heart-shredding sensation in an argument with him, and we weren’t arguing about our relationship. I curled into a tighter ball. “You said you were going to stop telling me how I feel.”

“I said I was going to try.”

“Well, you better, because you’re a hundred percent wrong. And you’re right. I should’ve gone.”

There was an amused note in his voice. “So I’m wrong but I’m right?”

“You were right that I should have been there. But you’re wrong if you think the reason I didn’t go is because I didn’t want to.” Misery sucks. I don’t recommend it. “But I don’t want to be here, either, so what I want isn’t really what I’m basing my decisions on.”

“What are you basing your decisions on, then?”

I found myself kind of resenting the counselor-ish tone he took. “Fuck if I know.”

That stopped the conversation dead for a bit. When he restarted it, it was with a very different tone. “So. Sarah called you.”

“Yeah. Drunk, from a payphone at Limelight.”

“Oh.” His voice brightened a little. “So it was a while ago.”

“Yeah. She was… pretty upset about me not being there.”

“You could say that.” Ziggy cleared his throat. “She’s asleep right now.”

Did that strike you as a weird thing to say? It struck me as weird, because of everything it implied. Asleep where? In the next room? In the bed next to you? Or are you at her place? What is going on, Ziggy? His ramblingness and his patches of quiet were typical of how Ziggy reacted when he felt guilty about something, weren’t they?

I decided to ignore what he’d said and see if he’d fill in some of the blank on his own. “I didn’t really think that me not being there would, like, hurt anyone.”

Dead silence. And then a rustling sound as I realized he’d covered the receiver with his hand, trying to muffle the sound of crying.

Ziggy was crying.

I can’t tell you how much I wished I was there, then. Not to get to the bottom of things or anything like that. But just to be there to comfort him no matter what was wrong. We could figure that out later. I just wanted to let him cry on me, like he had that day at Remo’s house.

When he could speak, he said, “Say that again.”

“I didn’t really think that me not being there would hurt anyone.”

“Think about it now,” he said, and hung up.

(Happy Thanksgiving, USians! -ctan & the gang)


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