778. Black Magic Woman

I got through the show that night without too much trouble, but as I might have mentioned, doing three nights in a row can really be rough on the body and the band. At least all three of these were in the same venue so it wasn’t quite as tough as having to do the whole haul three nights in a row, but when I woke up Sunday at the crack of noon I was feeling worn out and tired.

Ziggy was there in bed with me, though, and I guess I had let my guard down or something because I was also horny as hell. So was he. I kept my cast out of the way and took hold of his morning wood with my other hand.

“But your head,” he said.

“I won’t move my head,” I promised. “And I’m not coming, either. You’re coming for both of us.”

“Ohhh.” He pressed himself back into my mattress while I took my sweet time with him. It was better than the best porn in the world to just be able to appreciate what I was seeing, watching him go through stages, surrendering to sensation as I worked him very gradually up the hill of his arousal. And the sounds he made, the hisses and quiet trills and murmurs… I don’t even have a non-cliched way to describe them. Delicious? I know that taste and hearing are two different senses but you know I hear with my whole body.

He kissed me while he was coming and that was nearly as good as an orgasm for me. No, really. It let something loose inside me and I felt better afterward.

So did he. That day he was more relaxed-seeming, less moody and withdrawn. Fran and Clarice and he spent a lot of the time between soundcheck and the show together. Which was good. I was glad the gals were coming to South America with us and that they seemed to both dote on him and not take any shit from him at the same time. Kind of like they did with me. Seemed healthy.

What wasn’t so healthy in the literal sense was that during soundcheck I developed a cramp in my hand inside the cast, which meant there was no way to massage it out. I didn’t want Ziggy to worry, or Remo, or anyone really, so the only person I told was Flip. At first, anyway.

He tried massaging my arm from my shoulder down to where the cast started and then pulling on my fingers. If anything the cramp got worse, the pain intensifying. You know I’m not one to complain about pain. Pain shmain. But when it hurt so much that I couldn’t keep hold of the guitar pick and I worried that it was going to trigger my head to hurt again–either of which would scuttle me for the show–I knew we had to try something. Flip eventually brought Carynne into the problem-solving effort and an hour later an acupunturist was there sticking me in the neck and back with needles.

The needles didn’t hurt. I couldn’t even feel them, in fact. But my hand still hurt. The acupuncturist was a short Asian-looking woman who looked vaguely familiar, her hair in a black bob, a worn black leather jacket on her shoulders. She had what I’d call a California accent though I couldn’t tell you which part of California. Carynne had introduced her as Maureen, “but everyone calls her Mo.”

“You’re having a spasm,” Mo told me while I was sitting there waiting for the needles to work. “You know when you get a charleyhorse in the back of your leg? It’s kinda like that.”

“I get that when I’m low on magnesium,” Carynne said. “Would Gatorade help?”

They were clustered around me in one of the back rooms. I was sitting on a short road case with my shirt off. “Couldn’t hurt for me to drink some, right?”

Flip was there with a bottle before I had even finished the sentence. I really disliked the feeling that they were all catering to me but I appreciated that they were all trying to help me get back on the stage.

“My neck feels better at least?” I said.

“You’re carrying a lot of tension around,” she told me. “Weight of the world on your shoulders, that kind of thing. But your hand, it might just be part of the healing process. If you really severed the muscle fibers and now they’re knitting back together–”

“Oh god,” Carynne said and covered her ears.

“–as your nerves come back online they basically spazz out. Stretching, heat, and gentle massage is the only way I know to work out a cramp like that, if the needling didn’t help.”

“Well, that won’t be possible for a while yet.” The cast was a solid thing and there was no way I was going to be getting out of it until my followup appointment the next week.

Carynne and Flip looked at each other. “What’ve you got?” she asked.

“The usual. Tylenol 3, various prescription opiates–”

“No,” I said, before they could seriously begin to consider that.

“What about muscle relaxants?” Mo asked.

“Oh, you know?” Flip had that lightbulb-just-went-on look. “Denver has the stuff they gave him for his back spasms.”


“That’s the stuff.”

“That’d be perfect.” She put a hand on my bare shoulder. “It’s a drug that is literally for reducing spasms after injury. Which means lessening the pain. If your friend doesn’t mind sharing them, that is.”

“Denny doesn’t take them anymore, just carries them around like a security blanket,” Flip said with a snort. “Dar, should I ask him?”

“We’re out of other options, right?” Right. “Yeah, ask him. Anything else I should know?”

“Don’t drink alcohol while you’re taking it. And I think there’s a contraindication with antidepressants…?” She raised an inquisitive eyebrow.

“I’m not taking those,” I said.

“Okay, good.” Then she asked me if she could needle a couple of spots in my head. I said sure and while Carynne and Flip went off to find George I sat there letting her poke me a couple more times.

One of the spots on the top of my head that she needled didn’t feel like a needle at all, it felt like a tiny burning hot coal for a second, though. “What’s this going to do?”

“Balance your chi,” she said. “Don’t ask for a better explanation because there isn’t one I can give that you’ll understand without going to acupuncture school.”

“That’s fair. I don’t grasp half of what regular doctors tell me, either.”


“Okay. I’m still trying to figure out why you look so familiar, though. Did Carynne bring you to help us out once before and I just don’t remember?”

“I don’t think so. She only knows me because I’m Pollyann’s mother.”

“Oh! Yeah. There’s a resemblance.” That was definitely who she reminded me of.

She chuckled. “The acorn doesn’t fall far from the oak sometimes.”

“Um, how’s she doing? I’ve lost touch.” Not that I was exactly ever in touch with her–that was Ziggy–but I was just trying to make small talk.

“She’s thinking about moving to San Francisco and she decided to bicycle across the country.” She rolled her eyes as she said this. “Last I heard she was somewhere in Kansas. You know, I’m only her mother, why should I know?”

I kind of liked this deeply sarcastic lady. “Maybe she’s having the adventure of a lifetime?”

“Mm-hm. Tells me she’s going to find herself. I think it’s more like running away, but that’s all right. I’m sure her father and I’ll hear from her the second she needs money.”

“Bicycling for thousands of miles is pretty badass, though.”

“That is true. I have to give her credit for that. Still. I told her why don’t you fly to San Francisco and then bike back this direction? But no, she said that was the opposite of the point. Even if she ends up moving there she’ll have to come back East to get her stuff. Remember what I said about running away? If all she was trying to do is ‘find herself’ in long hours on the road and meeting new people, it wouldn’t matter what direction she went.”

“I see her point, though. Even if it’s purely symbolic.”

“I suppose.”

Flip came back then with a couple of pills in a film canister. “He said these can knock you on your ass so only take one and wait an hour to see if it kicks in.”

“I’m half George’s size, remember? I’m sure one is more than enough.” In fact I kind of wondered if I should cut the pill in half, but I was also pretty desperate to just get the pain to stop at that point.

So I took it. After I swallowed it down with some Gatorade I said, “Oh. I have a concussion. Is that going to be a problem?”

“Only if it makes you so drowsy you fall and hit your head?” Mo said.

“How much do we owe you?” Carynne asked.

“Nothing. My license lapsed a couple of years ago.”

“Let me at least fix you up with seats for tonight?”

“Sure. Let me just take care of this first.” She pulled the needles out of my head–all I felt was her fingers touching my hair. She put all the used needles into a container and then the two of them went off to deal with tickets.

Flip hovered over me. “You don’t have to do that,” I said.

“Dunno. Sometimes you react to medicine more strongly than I expect.”

“You have stuff to do right now. Colin and Ziggy can babysit me if I need babysitting.”

“Okay. You stay here, though.” It was like he didn’t even want me to stand up without supervision.

“Sure.” I didn’t have anywhere to go anyway.

An hour later I had moved to a couch and had Colin on one side and Ziggy on the other and I wasn’t drowsy so much as extremely warm and cuddly. Not in the way that Ecstasy makes you cuddly–it was more passive than that.

“How’s your hand?” Carynne asked.

“It’s okay,” I said, breathing slowly. “Much better than it was.”

“Is the cramp gone?”

“Not completely, but I feel relaxed enough that it doesn’t hurt,” I said. It was kind of like my brain could ignore what pain lingered. My fingers worked. I had a few drowsy moments, but who wouldn’t with Ziggy and Colin acting like two giant hot water bottles?

So that’s how I got through the third show in a row at Great Woods. The next day was a day off, thank goodness.

(I was going to put another vacuous Top 40 song from 1991 here and I found I just couldn’t. I literally couldn’t make myself listen to it so I realized I couldn’t inflict it on you all, either. Instead, turns out there’s a perfect title song lurking in the true classics of guitar rock. Put headphones on and close your eyes and listen to what these strings sing. Restores my soul. -d)


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