(Sorry for the late post! Here’s hoping it goes through…! -ctan)
One of Flip’s great talents was his hangover cures. He knew how to cure every kind of excess, not just booze, including too much playing, too much singing, too much of any kind of drug, et cetera.
You know what happens when you squeeze a lemon into half a bottle of Gatorade, mix in Tang, and then top it off with Mountain Dew? You get something that looks like it should’ve come from a mad scientist’s lab. I was feeling better within 15 minutes of downing it, though.
Jam got a much less colorful mixture of slippery elm tea and I don’t know what else.
I didn’t see what Flip dosed himself with. Maybe he just had an iron constitution.
Before soundcheck Flip took me to a guitar shop he knew so he could show me off and shoot the breeze with an old friend of his. I played some really nice guitars there, but none that I felt would surpass the facility and comfort level I had with mine.
I got an idea for a song, though. I held onto it all the way back to the hotel. And then I made everyone leave me alone for 20 minutes while I captured as much of the idea as I could between recording little fragments, writing notes, and jotting lyrics. And then it was time to catch the bus to soundcheck, but the phone rang and I answered it. “Doctor Flip’s Apothecary and Psych Ward. Can I help you?”
Ziggy’s chuckle was high-pitched. “So what’s ‘666’ mean?”
“Oh. I’m in hell. Or I was.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Something up?”
“Nothing big, really. Just Remo and Mel fighting and it making me want to run and hide.” I sat on the edge of the bed. My mind was already in hurry-up mode, conscious that lobby call was probably already in progress though I didn’t have the day sheet in front of me and didn’t remember exactly what time the bus should leave. I was already thinking about who was slated to do the lounge act today or was it me? After a day off I couldn’t remember. And a million other things about the show and the band and Nashville, like Cray showing up. You get the idea.
But I sat on the edge of the bed and asked, “Does 411 mean you need information?”
“About what 666 meant, or if you dialed it by accident or what.” He sighed. “How’s the tour otherwise?”
“Fine. I’ve got a thing I think our band should do now.”
“I’ll show you when we get the guys together. You’re going to like it.”
“Gotta make sure you’re looking forward to me getting back.”
His voice turned sharp suddenly. “Don’t say that. Don’t joke about that.”
“Sorry.” Shit. What to say next? I had no idea. “I miss you. It makes me stupid.”
Jeezus. “Not stupid enough to do something stupid, if that’s what you’re thinking. Just stupid enough to say something stupid like that.”
“I’m trying to be smart, actually.”
“To keep myself from drinking too much I quit drinking before a show.”
Now he sounded positively alarmed. “I thought you never drank before a show.”
Shit. “Well, you know, once in a while I did. I’m trying to be strict about it now though.”
“Did something happen?”
“No. Well, nothing other than Flip got on my case about how much I was drinking.”
“Okay.” He sounded calmer. It was so hard to tell when all I had to go on was what of his voice came through the phone. I really couldn’t tell how much was real and how much was my own emotions coloring my perception.
“I’m late for the bus,” I said.
“Priss wants to know if you’re keeping up your exercises.”
“Tell her I am.”
“And are you?”
“Yes, I am. Zig, why so anxious?”
“You’re the one who said you’re in hell.”
“Was. We left Melissa in Atlanta and it’s a lot calmer now.” Although in a week she was due to meet us in Manhattan. Then again, that meant we’d be in Manhattan. “You remember on Sunday, fourth of August, I’m showing up in the city, right?”
“You staying here or in a hotel?”
“I’ll stay wherever you want me.”
“But where do you want to be?”
I could feel the answers crowding in my mouth like I had too many tongues, like there were too many Darons trying to answer. I guess the question was which one of me was going to win out? The me that wanted to make a joke to put the ball back in his court? The one that was going to confront him about jerking my chain? The one that wanted to say something-anything placating even if it wasn’t true? And the me that clung to the plain truth so hard that just him asking like that kind of bruised me? That was the one that won: “You know where I want to be. Please tell me you do.”
“I promise no orgies or druggies passed out in the bed this time,” he said—lightly, but I was soothed by the fact he’d gone right to the heart of my worries. “And you’re here for how long?”
“A few days, then Great Woods, then back for a few days. It’s kind of a mess.”
“I’ll get the schedule from Carynne.”
“Good plan.” I wanted to reach through the phone and grab him and kiss him or look him in the eye or something that proved he was real and this whole conversation really happened. That it meant something.
Someone knocked on the door. Flip. I could hear him call my name. “I have to go.”
“Hey. I love you, okay?”
He sounded kind of choked up. Or maybe that was me and I couldn’t even tell why. “Love you, too.”
I hung up as Flip opened the door, the worried look on his face replaced by a knowing smirk the second he saw me. “Bus’s waiting.”
“Coming,” I said. I grabbed my jacket, he picked up the guitar, and off we went.