(Happy Thanksgiving if you’re in the US! If you’ve spent time with your biological family and now you’re ready to spend time with your chosen family instead, welcome to Daron’s. -ctan)
Bart called. I woke up with the phone ringing, and I picked it up and it was Bart.
I lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling, listening to the sound of the shower and Bart’s voice, and for a couple of seconds I was trying to remember what city we were in and whether I was late for lobby call.
Then I remembered it wasn’t 1989 anymore, that was Ziggy in the shower, and I wasn’t even sure what exact town the extended-stay place was in. My voice was a bit froggy: “Hey. How are you. Long time no talk.”
“Yeah. Figured I’d call and see if I could catch you not at the hospital. Which I guess I did.”
“Yeah.” I rolled over onto my stomach and let my hair fall over my face, propped up on my elbows to keep the phone to my ear. “How are things back home?”
“Scorching. If you’re back by July 4th by any chance, we’re having a party again.”
“When is that?”
“No pressure. Just mentioning it in case you’re here. Carynne’s coming up and she’s bringing a new boyfriend.”
“Yeah. Hopefully not some corporate stiff this time. She hasn’t said anything other than that she’s bringing him.”
“Maybe she’s trying not to jinx it.” I seemed to recall the last guy or two we’d heard about had been really nice. So nice they bored her to tears. “Hey, so, speaking of Carynne, has she filled you in at all on the latest?”
“With the lawsuits?”
“With the record company.” I felt like there should be a hit of dramatic music there. So did Bart, I guess, because he was silent. I said: “Yeah. I know.”
“Something’s going on at BNC-slash-Megastar?”
“Possibly. Don’t get your hopes up, but with the corporate restructuring and all that, Mills is out of the music division entirely, Patty Marshfield’s head of A&R now, and she has thoughts about the way things have changed.”
“Yeah. About how maybe Moondog Three is a more viable property than Mills thought.”
“Well, of course,” Bart said.
“We know perfectly well the only reason Mills slapped the unrecoupable label on us was because of his raging homophobia, right? She’s a woman and probably thinks that’s stupid.”
“Um, women can be homophobes, too–”
“I know, I know, but did you ever get that feeling about her? I never did. She fucking adores Ziggy.”
“So did Mills.”
“Mills adored how much potential money Ziggy represented, and was constantly telling him to tone down the genderfuck and to get away from you.”
“True. Anyway, she flew to Memphis just to see if me and Ziggy would go to lunch with her–”
“And she told us she wants us to record together–him and me, I mean–but also maybe the whole band. She told Barrett that Moondog Three’s international sales count for more than they used to and she can use that to pry the unrecoupable tag off our name. Which would mean we’d owe them a followup record.”
“Yeah, I know.”
We both sat there thinking about what it would mean for our dead band to live again.
Ziggy came out of the shower with a towel around his head and another hanging off his hipbones. “Who’s on the phone?”
“Bart. He says hi and we’re invited to his July 4th party.”
“Tell him hi back and was this the epic party where you accidentally ate the pot brownies?”
“Yeah, that party.” I was never going to be able to explain that actually spending a couple of hours nonverbal was a perfectly good way for me to enjoy a party and I didn’t regret it one bit. “Anyway,” I went on to Bart, “like I said, don’t get your hopes up, but at the same time be prepared for things to change. Depends on the lawsuits, too, of course, but it’s the first time there’s been positive energy coming from that direction in a long time.”
“Gotcha,” he said. “Should I tell Chris?”
“Yes. I’d tell him myself but things are going downhill with Claire right now and I have to get back to the hospital. Also, talk to Carynne who may have talked more to Barrett?”
“She’s in town for the whole week. Maybe we can all have dinner or something. Ooh. Michelle’s mother taught me to make baklava.”
“You’re going to have baklava for dinner?” Maybe baklava wasn’t what I thought it was.
“No, but it’s helpful if people come over to eat it because the recipe makes a ton.”
“Aren’t you having a party, anyway?”
“Oh, that’s true. Yeah. Good point.” He chuckled at himself. “Well, I’ll let you go if you have to get back to the hospital. We miss you around here.”
“I miss you, too.” I had a feeling that regular jam sessions with Bart would be one way to get my fingers back in working order. “Say hi to everyone if we don’t make it back by the Fourth.”
“I will. Ciao bella.”
Ziggy lay down beside me and kissed me on the cheek. “You could use a shower, too.”
“Okay.” I went and ran myself under soap and water and then put on clothes. We were going to need to do laundry again soon. It was hot enough outside that any time we were out for more than a couple of minutes we got sweat-soaked, and sometimes it was just necessary to get out of the hospital.
It was night by the time we got to the hospital. We’d fallen asleep in the late morning and it must have been about sunset when we woke up. We stopped for a quick dinner on the way in and I noticed the flyer for a July 4th fireworks display tacked up by the cash register.
Ziggy pointed at it. “We should go to this. If we’re not in a crisis, I mean.”
It was at some lakefront park. “You think?”
“Yeah. Nobody gives a fuck who we are around here.”
Which was mostly true. Remo was more likely to be recognized than I was, and Ziggy could go into stealth mode: the general public mostly didn’t recognize him if he wasn’t made up. “You’ll have to remind me when it’s actually July 4th, then,” I said.
“I will, dear one.” He was in super-stealth mode that day, meaning hair flat, no makeup, and wearing entirely my clothes. Yet somehow he still managed to look more like a European skin care consultant than a car mechanic. Something about the lithe grace he carried himself with.
We got a rack of baby back ribs to go in case anyone was really hungry for non-hospital food when we got there, and then we headed in.
When we arrived, a blonde woman smoking a cigarette was being shooed away from the entrance by a hospital worker, complete with shooing motions and emphatic pointing at the sign attached to the outer wall saying No Smoking with 50 Feet.
The woman was puffing aggressively and saying, “Look, if you want me to move you’ll have to stop talking to me or I’ll have to just keep standing here, where you keep telling me I’m not supposed to be.”
The worker, who was a black woman in a cardigan sweater (it was hot outside, but chilly in the air-conditioning inside), threw up her hands and went back in, loudly proclaiming, “I don’t know what kind of selfish bitch endangers the health of every person in a hospital, but…”
But there she was. My oldest sister, Lilibeth.