I had restless, relentless dreams all night that were full of snippets of my life–tour buses and parties and album covers and keeping track of my things–but which never made any sense. Maybe it’s an illusion that life makes sense to begin with. At any rate, I woke up confused about where I was.
In my own bedroom. I know. Funny, isn’t it?
Maybe it’s because I didn’t have to think about where I was when I went to sleep. Or maybe having Ziggy there was that disorienting, what with his aversion to sleeping with me in my own house. Apparently that aversion wasn’t to actually sleeping-sleeping with me, only the sexual kind.
That didn’t make any sense to me, but obviously very different things bugged Ziggy than me.
Anyway, after blinking for a while the realization sank in that we were in my room. I kind of wanted to write a song about those few seconds where I didn’t know where I was but I believed I was safe in his arms anyway, trying to make some kind of a metaphor for relationships or love…and then I remembered that “rock star forgetting where he is” is a such a cliché. Never mind.
Ziggy stirred and shifted, waking slowly. He opened one eye and looked at me. “Awake?”
“Halfway, at least.” He hitched himself up on one bent elbow. “How are you feeling?”
My hand felt stiff inside the cast and I was bone tired, but at that moment my head didn’t hurt. “All right, I think.”
“Not too freaked out about your ex having HIV?”
Trust Ziggy to be able to zero in on the thing digging under my skin. Last night we’d talked a bunch about Roger but we hadn’t talked about that. “I guess I’m no more freaked than normal. I mean, yeah, the whole idea of AIDS scares me to death, and think about some of the things that go on at Jordan’s–”
“At least when we’re around.”
“–and I assume they go on when we’re not around. And then to have Roger in the mix there–”
“Who isn’t great about boundaries, if what you’ve said still holds.”
“Exactly. Should I feel anything other than the heebee jeebees?”
Ziggy rubbed his eye with his fist and gave himself a mild case of raccoon eye. “No. But maybe that’s another reason why Jordan keeps them all at arm’s length.”
“What’s the principle reason?”
“They’re not that talented,” Ziggy reminded me. He, at least, seemed ready to dismiss Roger and his cohorts out of hand on that alone. I wasn’t all that convinced on the no-talent thing. After all, I had some pretty harsh assessments of Ziggy’s own recent work, remember. And talent was such a subjective thing.
On the other hand I could barely remember what Roger’s voice sounded like. I remembered things about it–his range, timbre, expressions he often used–but there wasn’t much of a vestige in my memory of the actual sound. “Why is it so important to you that you’re more talented?”
He clucked his tongue. “Don’t tell me you don’t want to push his nose in how much more successful you are.”
“Me whose band was unrecoupable and whose career would have been killed by exclusivity clauses if you hadn’t sold your soul to the devil, you mean?” It was way too early in the day to be having such a deep conversation.
His eyes narrowed and his fingertips clawed lightly down the front of my T-shirt. “Is that how you see it now?”
“Yeah.” It came out a rasp. “Don’t you?”
“I suppose. Yes. But you’re still a thousand times more lauded, more accomplished, more–yes–successful than he is. Not to mention not living with a death sentence.”
“It’s not always a death sentence now.” I might have been saying it to convince myself the bogeyman wasn’t real.
“If you’ve got the money for top notch health care, that is,” Ziggy said. “I think some of those anti-retrovirals will kill you, too, though. Just more slowly than the virus.”
“Okay, whatever. I’m not interested in pushing my fame in his face, anyway. I’m a little curious if he even realizes it’s me, but that’s all.”
Ziggy sat up with a laugh. “Really? Daron, really.”
“What do you mean, really? He might not even remember me.”
“You lived with him and were in a band together, and it was, what, five years ago? The red streaks in your hair don’t change the way you look that much, dear one.” His face was snarly. “Trust me, he can’t possibly have forgotten you.”
“But maybe he doesn’t even know I exist. And if so maybe we should keep it that way.”
“Because you’re afraid of him?”
“Because some things are better off left alone.”
Ziggy’s voice coiled with skepticism. “You obviously have a lot of unresolved feelings about him.”
“Obviously?” I sat up, too, trying not to clench my teeth in case that made my head hurt. “What’s obvious about it?”
“Notice that we’re still talking about him how many days after you merely saw a picture of him?”
“You brought it up!”
“And look how upset it’s making you!”
“Which is why we should leave it alone! Fuck, Ziggy, why dredge up all that old crap now? Who the fuck cares about ancient history?”
He seemed unperturbed by my vehemence. “Well, maybe I do.”
“Shit. I knew you finding out about Roger would be trouble.”
His eyes were like laser beams focusing on me out of the smudgy cloud of his eyeliner. “Why? You think I think of him like some kind of rival? Like this is some kind of catty ‘bitch he’s mine now’ kind of a thing?”
I know a trick question when I hear one. “Of course not.”
His eyebrow had such a skeptical arch it made his nostril curl, too. “If I care about Roger at all, in any way, it’s because your story about him motivates me to go on a search and destroy mission, to pay him back for daring to do to you what he did.”
My mouth hung open a little while I tried–and failed–to figure out what to say to that.
“I know I’m no saint myself,” Ziggy went on, “but maybe that’s part of where this urge for retribution comes from.”
I got one word out. “Don’t.”
“But revenge is a sin, too, isn’t it? And maybe he’s miserable enough. HIV positive, clinging to a scrap of notoreity in the club scene, basically nobody.” He examined his nails, which sported a bit of chipped black polish. “I shouldn’t even lower myself to get involved, right? If you want I’ll pledge myself to keep my hands off. But if he comes for you, or tries to get near you, I make no promises that I’ll ignore him.”
“He’s not like that. He’s not going to give a fuck about me.”
Ziggy gave me a long-suffering look.
“How do you know that?”
“He never gave a fuck about me when we were…whatever we were. Why would he start now?”
For half a moment Ziggy looked convinced. Or at least sobered. I felt a bit raw. It was somehow more distressing to admit that Roger didn’t like me than it was to admit he took advantage of me. The wheels in Ziggy’s mind kept turning, though. “He might start to give a fuck about you now precisely because you’re more successful. You could help him out in various ways. Especially since Jordan could introduce you.”
“Jordan doesn’t know that Roger and I knew each other.”
“Well, maybe someone should tell him before he does something stupid like try to put you on a record together.”
“You just said you thought Jordan was keeping them on the fringe.”
“He could change his mind.” Ziggy fairly growled.
“Look, I appreciate you being defensive on my behalf, especially since I was too dumb to protect myself from him the first time, but I’m not like that now.” Except when things happen like Jam sucking you off… Dammit.
Ziggy sensed my uncertainty. “You’re a pushover about some things, dear one. It’s okay. It just means the rest of us need to take up the slack. How about you pick which one of us tells Jordan to keep Roger away from you? Me? Carynne?” He gave me a sideways look. “Jonathan?”
“Jonathan didn’t–” I broke off. Jonathan had, in fact, told me he’d been at a few of those early gigs. Did he know Roger now, in the New York crowd? I felt a little ill. I decided to finish the sentence a different way. “Jonathan didn’t know about the fucked up relationship between me and Roger.”
“Hm, and do you not want him to know?”
“This can of worms just keeps getting bigger,” I said.
“And ignoring it isn’t going to put the worms back in the can,” Ziggy said.
“And telling Jordan to keep us apart won’t necessarily, either!” I climbed off the bed, my bladder starting to insist on some attention. “He might decide he wants to be the one to get us back together or some shit like that.”
“Which is why you have to tell him the truth. Not just ‘Roger and I had a bad breakup.'”
“Why are you so intent on forcing me to admit over and over that he victimized me?”
“Why are you so resistant to it? Denial’s not healthy.”
“Neither is wallowing in the past and bad shit that’s ancient history,” I said. “I’m going to take a piss.”
“Have fun,” Ziggy said, and lay back down in the warm spot in the bed.
When I came back, he had decided to let the subject drop. Maybe I had convinced him there was no point in talking about it anymore. Or maybe he was satisfied that Roger was no threat to him or me. Or us.
“Are we doing okay?” I asked, as I climbed back in the bed. The red numbers on the clock radio on the shelf seemed to indicate we didn’t need to be getting out just yet.
“I think we are,” he said. “Even if individually we are each having our challenges.”
I heard that. I heard that he meant something by that. “Are you okay?” I asked.
“I’m fine,” he said, pulling me close.
“You said it in the fine-not-fine way, though. What’s bothering you?”
“Nothing that time won’t fix,” he said.
“It’s the tenth of August,” Ziggy said. “Less than a month until this tour ends. I’ll be fine when I can stop worrying about you.”
I didn’t point out that what we were going to do in a month wasn’t settle down in a house at the end of a cul de sac–or that touring South America was no one’s impression of “safe”–because that would have been annoyingly argumentative. Instead I kissed him on the cheek and settled down beside him. He didn’t say anything more and I didn’t pry. He put an arm over me and the warmth and weight lulled me back to sleep.
(Don’t laugh. The first night I slept in my own bed after trekking all over Japan–including stays in three different hotels, a buddhist monastery, and a beachside yurt–I woke up looking at my own ceiling and couldn’t figure out where I was. So it really does happen. Wanted to give you all a heads up that it’s looking like we’re going to meet the Harry Potter index the same week as the DGC serial’s 7th anniversary! So I have scheduled an online launch party! November 1st, 7pm to 9pm Eastern, exact details TBD but most likely a one-hour text chatroom with Daron and a one-hour live video chat with me. RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1602869876683131/ I’m still setting up the YouTube link. More details to come. -ctan)
(Another 1991 hit. In the UK at least. -d)