Our plague ship sailed all night and we pulled up to the Byrne arena some time in the morning. I’m not sure when since I was dead asleep in my bunk and didn’t wake up for another couple of hours.
After lunch I went looking for Remo and found him in a production office on the phone. It was one of those bare bones offices with just a desk with a dented leg and one chair in addition to the phone. Plain cinder block walls.
“Seriously,” he was saying into the receiver, “don’t come tonight. By tomorrow we won’t be contagious anymore. Can you make it then?”
I sat on the desk and he gave me a little nod of acknowledgement while he continued to argue with whoever was on the other end that they were risking the health of their stomach lining if they showed up. It sounded like maybe he won the argument and then he hung up.
“Should I call people and tell them not to show up, too?” I asked.
“You’re at least not contagious anymore.”
“But I could be carrying an object that could be contagious if one of you touched it within 48 hours of being sick?”
“True.” He put his head in his hands. “Although I think it’s low risk, right?”
Neither of us could remember everything the doctors had told us. I had been looking for him to talk about something other than the plague, though. So I changed the subject. “I’m probably staying in the city tonight. Wanted to check the schedule.”
“We won’t leave for Great Woods until Friday morning. Two shows here, a day off, and then three in a row up there.”
I nodded. “I’ll probably sleep at home when we’re up there, too. I haven’t decided.”
“Flip’ll always take you in if you change your mind.”
“You’ve got my pager number in case you need to reach me, right?”
“You’ll remember to turn it on and charge the battery, right?” He knew me well, didn’t he?
“I will. It’s not like I’ll be far.”
“I dunno, Dar’. Sometimes it’s like you’re a million miles away.” He said it as a joke–you know how we do–but then he looked a little moritifed, like he’d struck one of his own nerves.
“Because I am,” I said, making my fingers into spaceman antennae on my head and wiggling them. “Beep beep beep beep.”
I went to walk the stage just to get myself oriented. There was a familiar “D” in masking tape on the floor next to my mic stand. I adjusted the height of the stand downward. Someone was out there on the floor, amidst the seats, walking down the aisle. The house lights were dim so it wasn’t until she was about halfway to the stage I saw it was a red-haired woman.
She reached up a hand and I helped her onto the stage. “Hey, honeybunch.” We exchanged cheek kisses. “How’ve you been?”
“Besides felled by the stomach flu?”
“I think just about everyone in the entire crew has had it now. Well, ninety percent, and the other ten percent are praying and wearing rubber gloves.”
“Jeezus.” She was wearing a kind of white satin-looking button down shirt with a black collar and cuffs, untucked, over black jeans. The pure white shirt plus the stage lights overhead made her look pale as staff paper, dotted with just a few notes of freckles. “You got a minute?”
“Sure. Soundcheck’s not for another hour.” We retired to the green room, which was nominally less virus-infested than our bus probably was.
She got us both styrofoam cups of coffee, mine sugary the way I liked it, and I figured that signaled we were about to talk about something serious.
“So,” she said as she sat and crossed her legs. “Lawsuits.”
“Who’s suing us this time?”
“No new ones, thank goodness. Same old ones, though.”
“Give me the rundown of the important ones?” I cringed a little as I said it. I knew I needed to know and yet I didn’t want to hear it.
“Let’s see if I can remember them all. Digger suing BNC for a piece of Ziggy’s deal. Digger suing Moondog Three for a piece of future earnings…”
I laughed bitterly. “The earnings that we don’t have because we’re unrecoupable?”
“Except you’re supposed to get a buyout from them so Ziggy would be free and clear to use the name and material, and Digger wants a piece of that, too. Let’s see. Digger’s also suing WTA for poaching his clients i.e. you and Sarah–”
“Is there anyone Digger isn’t suing?”
“Not really. The latest counterpunch is that Sarah is formally going after him for embezzlement.”
“She’s been getting ready to do that for a long time.” At least, it seemed long to me.
“Yeah, but she–”
“What about Ziggy? Is he going to go after him, too? Or are we?”
“We as in Moondog Three threatened him with a lawsuit but haven’t actually filed it yet, and I thought for sure Ziggy was going to but now he seems content to be a witness in Sarah’s case.” She sipped her coffee and looked at me. “At least for now. He and Barrett have been playing it very close to the vest, even with me. You ask me, Ziggy has something up his sleeve.”
“Ziggy always has something up his sleeve. That’s just the way Ziggy is,” I said.
“Well, maybe he’ll tell you what it is, though,” Carynne said. She firmed her lips into a line. “But you didn’t let me finish my sentence.”
“Sorry, which sentence?”
“About Sarah going after Digger for embezzlement.”
“I haven’t told you the best part. Or the worst part, depending on how you look at it.” Her sip was coy.
I took a sip of my own and only succeeded in burning my tongue. I suck at being coy.
“You remember all the weirdness with Digger trying to extort ten grand out of you and Courtney?”
“And it having to do with him losing his house or Galani Gilliman living with him or some shit like that?”
The twist of Carynne’s mouth was wry. “Embezzlement is considered grand theft in the state of California. Apparently they went to serve him a warrant and wouldn’t you know it, his office is shut, his last known address was a month-to-month rental, and no one knows where to find him now.”
“He’s on the lam?”
“So it would seem.” She shook her head slowly, as if imagining the sorry state he must be in. “What a piece of work, eh?”
“Does this mean all the lawsuits he’s pushing are going to go away?”
“If only.” She sighed, tossed her cup into the trash barrel against the wall, made the “two points” gesture with her arms upstretched, and then looked at me seriously. “I figure we should keep an eye out for him, though. If he was desperate enough to ask you once, he might show up again.”
“Damn. If we’d known Sarah was going to have him arrested or whatever, we could’ve had them grab him.” Except that probably wasn’t how it worked exactly, and if it was, Digger probably wouldn’t have chanced it. “Have you told Remo this?”
“Wanted to tell you first.” She stood up. “Waldo and George will have the crew on the lookout, too. I doubt he’d show up at a venue like this but be on the lookout at the hotels and stuff.”
I decided to call Chris and Colin in case he showed up at the house. “Do you know if Court’s coming to the show tonight?”
“Think so. Bringing a passel of company friends.”
“Does she know yet?”
“I’ll tell her, too, unless you want to be the one,” Carynne said.
“You tell her,” I said. “She’ll want to ask questions I can’t answer. Does Ziggy know yet?”
“He does. Is he coming tonight?”
“If you give me a ride to his apartment after the show,” I said, and it took her a moment to realize I’d made a dirty joke.