It didn’t, of course. Make sense, that is. The world still made no sense when I woke up later but at least I had less of a hangover.
I managed to get myself showered and make myself presentable before going downstairs to find out who was there. Courtney was playing hostess to a bunch of folks sitting around in the living room. Chris was in the kitchen brewing more coffee. I waved to the various people I didn’t recognize and moved toward caffeine.
“Jeez,” Chris said.
I put my hand on where I knew the shiner was but it didn’t hurt unless I pressed on it pretty hard. “It looks worse than it is.”
“I can see the imprints of the guy’s knuckles in it, I think,” Chris said, grimacing. “Though I guess he got the worst of it.”
“Do you know if he was okay?”
“No idea. I think we’d hear if anything serious happened.”
I thought a riot itself counted as a serious thing, but maybe my standards were lower. I accepted a mug of coffee, took one sip and decided I needed to cut it with some sugar and milk to make my stomach accept it.
Fortunately we had milk so I added a dash, and stirred in some sugar. It still wasn’t right, so I added an ice cube. Then I saw a half-bottle of Jack Daniels was sitting on the counter among the jars of brown sugar and flour and stuff. I added a splash of that. Perfect. The moment I took the next sip I felt myself relax. “I guess we need to go get the gear today?”
“Yeah. We should do that as soon as I’m awake enough to drive.” Chris poured his coffee over a tumbler of ice. “Which will be as soon as I get to the bottom of this.”
“Okay.” I went into the living room intending to tell the troops about the imminent mobile action, but Chris came with and told them himself. I sat down on the arm of the couch and took a better look at everyone. There were four of them, looking much less unkempt than you might think for a queer punk band from Providence, especially one that had been through a riot and slept on the floor, but maybe I’m biased. They were well-scrubbed, hair damp and make-up free. Cain was much more recognizable now, sitting on the rug while finishing a piece of toast on the coffee table. Courtney brought him the tub of cream cheese and a knife.
One of the others kicked Cain in the foot and nudged him toward me. “Your hero.”
Cain turned instant scarlet. “Fucking quit it.” Then he looked up at me. “Um, hi.”
“Hi.” Don’t ask me why, but I wanted to kick him, too. I was not prepared to deal with a crush or hero worship or anything of the sort right at that moment. I took another sip of my coffee and tried to get past it. “Uh. So how’ve you been?”
He started to answer and I slipped down to sit cross-legged on the rug so I could hear him better. He’d been kicking around New England basically since I’d seen him last, having come here with Miracle Mile but having gotten sick of their ultra-religious shtick pretty quick. Providence was cheaper than Boston and he was getting by with part-time jobs and playing out when he could.
Sounded familiar. “Is the Aquarium still there? I used to engineer sometimes and take out the trash and whatever they needed,” I told him. “Half the time they couldn’t pay me but I at least learned how to run a recording studio.”
“Think so,” Cain said. “I’m still learning my way around.”
“I think it might’ve changed names,” one of the other guys said. “I’m Pete, by the way.”
I remembered vaguely making a resolution that I was going to introduce myself to people as if they didn’t know who I was already. “Pete, Daron.” I shook his hand. See? Was that so hard? I met the other two also, and even if I forgot their names immediately at least I made the attempt to be friendly, right? I don’t know why this stuff is so hard sometimes.
“I’m ready to roll whenever you guys are,” Chris announced. That got everyone moving. Courtney collected the knife from Cain. I went to find my shoes.
No one was sure where Colin and Marilyn were, but they didn’t seem to be at the house, and rather than wait for Colin we decided to get going. I couldn’t remember where Marilyn lived but maybe they had gone to her place. I didn’t even know her last name much less her phone number so we decided not to worry about it.
So the four guys from Providence, me, and Christian headed back to the Paradise. Courtney wanted to tag along but I convinced her that once we got all their gear and ours into the van there wouldn’t be room. She gave Cain and the rest of the Providence guys goodbye hugs.
As it was, they had ridden up here with another band who we’d lost in the chaos and when we arrived at the Paradise it was clear those guys were already long gone. Fortunately all the gear we were looking for was there, including Colin’s guitar–the one he and I had built together–and I made sure to collect it.
“Okay, but how are you guys getting home?” Chris asked once we were looking at the pile of gear.
“If you can drop us off at the bus station we can go from there,” Pete said.
“Where are your drums?” I asked, making sure I wasn’t missing something.
“They were Jim’s, same guy who drove us up.”
“See? It’s always the drummer who has to own the van,” Chris said, shaking his head.
“That’s your lot in life,” I reminded him. “Until you switch to an Octopad or something.”
“Yeah. All right, this’ll all fit. We can do it all in one trip.” We drove them to the Peter Pan station, where they could get the bus back to Providence for like $12 each.
Cain shook my hand again as we were unloading the gear and then didn’t let go for a couple of extra seconds. “I hear you’re hiring,” he blurted. “If you need roadies or anything, I mean.”
“Uh, I’m not really the, that is, I’m in charge of hiring musicians but not really road crew which is someone else’s department,” I said. I’m not at my most grammatical when I’m surprised. But I felt bad because he’d clearly been working up to asking me that, maybe since yesterday, and after he’d finally spat it out at the last possible moment I didn’t want to just crush him. “But give me your number and I’ll pass it on?” I also didn’t really want him underfoot, I didn’t even know why, but I figured I wasn’t making any promises. I was being nice. I had him write his number in the notebook from Colin’s guitar case.
I’m terrible at the whole being nice thing, in case that wasn’t clear. Maybe it’s just I know there’s such a fine line between being nice and being cruel.
(By the way, here’s what I did last night… -ctan)