(Thanks to generous donations of readers through my Paypal Tip Jar, here is a Saturday post! We get one any time the total reaches $100 in the Tip Jar! -ctan)
I met the Nomad entourage at their lobby call the next day. The bus ride to the venue wasn’t far in distance but, you know, it’s the New York metro area so getting from Manhattan to anywhere was going to be at least 45 minutes to an hour, and that’s if there wasn’t any special traffic problem like an accident or something.
Long Island is a lot like New Jersey, by the way, except I didn’t have the same negative associations with it.
Speaking of traffic, just bringing the bus around to the lobby was taking 20 extra minutes. It was a midtown hotel, moderately fancy, one of the classic old places like the one where we stayed for Christmas that time. (In fact it probably was that same hotel but I’ll be honest, they’ve blended together in my mind. It was probably the Kimberly but might have been the Benjamin or maybe even some place that’s changed names since then, which would be a good excuse for my confusion. It wasn’t the Carlyle, that much I’m sure of.)
It was a place with marble lobby accents and antique-looking furniture and decorations. We were clumped around on various couches and claw-footed seats. I found myself going around saying hello to people as if I hadn’t seen them in a week even though it had only been two days. People were naturally a little curious about the cast being gone and a less bulky splint in its place.
Okay, a lot curious. Martin sat down with me. “So you don’t have any broken bones, right?”
“Right. All soft tissue damage.”
He cringed. “But then why did you have a cast and now this?”
“Far as I can tell from what they’ve told me, first it was to keep it all from moving around so that it could heal up and I wouldn’t rip it open again–”
Again the cringe.
“And now it’s more of the same but I am allowed to move it around a little more. But not too much. Plus this’ll keep me from damaging it more if I, like, trip and fall and try to catch myself or something.”
“Fuck. I just… fuck. I did some serious damage to an ankle a couple of years back while windsurfing and was worried I wouldn’t be able to work a kick drum with it. But this is a whole ‘nother level.”
“Can you work a kick drum with it?”
“Yeah, now. But–”
“My plan is the same.”
“Okay. Can I see it?”
“Maybe later,” I said. I wasn’t against showing it to him but I didn’t want to attract a circle of gawkers right then, and as it turned out, that was when the bus showed up so it sounded like I meant not then because it was time to get moving.
On the bus Remo and Artie–who was along for the ride–were talking. They were in the front lounge at that point, as were Martin and I.
“What did you decide about WNEW?” Artie asked Remo.
“I’m inclined to skip it.”
Remo flashed a glance at me. “Yeah. We’ve done enough publicity, haven’t we? The shows are sold out.”
I don’t know how I knew but it was suddenly kind of obvious to me that Remo was talking about me without actually mentioning me directly.
“True, but as your record company representative I’d like to point out that filling the arena is all well and good for the band, but.” Artie spread his hands, having said his piece on BNC’s behalf.
Before Remo could answer I chimed in. “You aren’t turning down radio gigs because of this, are you?” I held up my hand.
Remo folded his arms. “I’m not putting you at risk just to boost some radio station’s ratings.”
“Risk, what risk?”
“Aren’t you dosing up just to get through soundchecks right now?”
“No,” I said, since technically I had only dosed up for one soundcheck at that point, so I felt his was not an accurate statement. “It’s a lot better now. And I can do plenty with a guitar pick. It doesn’t have to be a fucking recital, Reem.”
Artie had a hopeful but neutral look on his face like he was trying not to get in the middle of this.
“I don’t want to push you,” Remo said.
“You’re not pushing me. If you don’t want to push yourself, okay, don’t do it. But don’t make me the excuse.”
Artie decided to put in two cents. “We really do owe the station a favor.”
Remo didn’t take his eyes off me. “You’re sure?”
“What are we talking about, two songs? Two songs, acoustic?”
“At most,” Artie said.
Remo appeared to be wavering.
I said to Artie, “Can we tell them not to talk about the accident? The one thing I don’t want is for it to be about the accident.”
“I’m sure we could do that,” Artie said.
Remo patted the padded bench seat next to him. I went and sat somewhat hard as the bus swayed in traffic. “You don’t have to do this,” he said, voice low. “Not for me.”
“Don’t do it for me, either. Didn’t you used to do these things solo before I was around?”
“Yeah, but they’re a thousand times better with you.”
“They’re not, but I want to do it if you want to.”
“You’re sure you won’t be hurting yourself.”
“I told you if I had to I’d attach a pick to a stump to keep playing,” I said. I meant it, too.
“But this is just a promo gig.”
“So the pressure’s low.”
Remo’s face looked deeply lined in the afternoon light coming through the heavily tinted windows. “How does it look?”
“The injury? Gruesome.” I shrugged. “You want to see it?”
“If you don’t mind. I feel like I ought to.”
I ripped open the Velcro. The more gently or slowly you try to do that the louder the ripping sound is, you know. Rrrrriiiip. Martin stood up and came over to see, too. Artie couldn’t look away, either. I slid the splint off and undid the soft wrap.
I showed Remo the palm first, which I thought looked worse.
“Jeezus,” he said.
Then I turned it over and he flinched–they all did–and behind me someone gasped. I glanced back at Melissa who had her hands over her mouth.
“Yeah,” I said coolly. “You can see where it went clear through–”
She turned tail and ran into the restroom, slamming the flimsy door behind her.
I began slowly wrapping it back up again. I felt a little bit bad. I knew it would look terrible to them. The thing is the real damage, the thing that might keep me from regaining dexterity and playing like I used to, was all invisible. But whatever.
“You’re a trooper,” Remo said.
“Any of you would’ve done what I did if you saw a kid in danger,” I said.
Martin blew out a breath. “I’m not sure that’s true. Nice thought, though.”
“Thought or no, it’s you who did it,” Remo said. “This one’s going to take a long time to repay.”
“Wait, what is this repay business? No one has to repay me for doing the right thing.”
“Don’t downplay it, Daron.”
“I’m not downplaying it. But don’t make me into some kind of martyr or hero or whatever. I know you feel bad for biting my head off initially about it but overcompensation isn’t right either.”
“Okay but you’re sure you’re not overcompensating, too, signing up to do this morning drive slot with me?”
I laughed wryly. “Oh shit, it’s morning drive? Now I’m reconsidering.”
“The station’ll send a limo for you,” Artie said.
“And a caffeine IV drip,” I said. “Sign me up. Come on, Remo. The best thing for me, honestly, is for us all to get as back-to-normal as possible. We’ve got two weeks to go. I’m going to be fine. Let’s get it done, all right?”
“I’ll call the station as soon as we get off the bus,” Artie said.
“Bus has a phone,” Remo pointed out.
“Then I’ll call ’em now,” Artie said with a chuckle and went toward the driver to do that.
I strapped the splint down.
“Just once,” Remo said, “I’d like to do a tour where everyone’s healthy, though.”
It was Martin’s turn to laugh. “The older we get the less likely that’ll be, you know. Besides, aren’t we off the road indefinitely after this?”
“Yes,” Remo said. “For our mental health if nothing else.” He looked up suddenly. “I better check on Mel.”
I preceded him down the middle of the bus, going all the way to the back lounge to find out what was going on with Ford, since if his mother was in the head, someone else had to be holding him, right?
Fran was holding him. Ford was fast asleep, completely comfortable with his face in her ample bosom. She gave me a shrug. Clarice looked like she was holding in a laugh.
“Shoulda seen it before,” she said, hefting her own boobs. “Can’t explain to a baby that these don’t mean supper like mama’s.”
I imitated her motion on my own chest. “Yeah, mine either.” Which made Fran laugh so hard that even though she was pretty much silent she still shook the baby awake. Ford stretched out his tiny arms and said “aaaaaa!” which pretty much summed up how I felt about everything right then, too.
(Did you know there are a couple of ways you can support Daron’s Guitar Chronicles that cost no money at all? Check them out:
- Click here to vote for Top Web Fiction
- Leave a review on Amazon for any book in the series
- Make a meme of your favorite quote (and share it with the world!)
- Leave comments here on the site for Daron or Cecilia!
- Tell a friend!
Thank you for reading! -ctan)
(I’ve already used every medical song I could think of… -d)