The anxiety that hit when I got Ziggy’s page with his landing time was like a railroad spike to the throat.
In a weird way that was better than the railroad spike to the head I’d been experiencing, though. And it was weirdly better than the stake-through-the-heart feeling that Ziggy-angst used to give me.
But it still wasn’t pleasant. It made it hard to swallow. Or talk. And it was necessary to talk to someone to see if he could be picked up.
I had originally planned not to get Remo involved but changed my mind and decided to go straight to him. We had just finished soundcheck when I checked my pager, and I found him in the green room with a guitar in his lap, picking away quietly at something. For a moment I veered away, thinking I didn’t want to disturb him if he was working on a song, but he’d already seen me and had read my mind. “You need something?” he asked.
I sat down next to him. “You know what I think we should do?”
“We as in all of us, or as in you and me?”
“You and me. With that album you said we should make someday.” I kept thinking about the song he’d sung about the “goddamned bottle.” “I think we should really do it acoustic. Just you and me. Kind of like the radio station stuff we’ve been doing.”
“Yeah.” I remembered what Jonathan had said when I told him the idea. “‘Unplugged’ is a trend now, and we could do it better than anybody. But I don’t want to do a greatest hits cover thing. I want us to write songs together and do stuff that’s…current.” I felt suddenly like I had to justify the idea, like maybe he wasn’t going to agree. “We’re both growing as people and the album would be reflecting the growth as musicians. Raw and honest. A….a declaration of…of something.” I couldn’t quite put it into words.
It’s okay. Remo got it. “Unvarnished truth. We’re both getting good at it.”
“I learned it from you. Write that down. Could be a good song title.” I coughed. This conversation hadn’t done anything to loosen the knot in my throat. I pulled my pager out of my pocket. “Who do you think I should ask about this?”
“Ziggy’s dropping in tonight. Flight gets in around seven.”
“This a little off the beaten path for him?”
“It is. But I…” I made myself take a breath, trying to relax. “I need him.”
“Well, shit, of course,” Remo said, a sympathetic hand on my shoulder. I don’t even know which thing he meant “of course” to. Of course I was lonely, of course it was okay to need him, of course it was fine for him to show up, of course we’d send someone to pick him up…?
Could’ve been any of the above. I was stupid, though, and said, “I feel bad asking.”
Come to think of it I don’t know if I meant I felt bad about asking Ziggy to come or bad about needing support in general or bad about asking Remo to help… I guess I meant all of the above. Remo isn’t perfect but I have to appreciate how untiringly supportive he is regardless of what’s dogging me. “Don’t,” he said. “I’ll talk to Waldo about it.”
“I mean, Court could go if she can borrow a car? They know each other.”
“Sure. I’ll ask. Quit worrying, all right?”
I put off vocal exercises when Fran asked. “I’m feeling a little strained.”
“You sound a little strained,” Clarice said. “You coming down with something?”
“Just stressed out,” I told them.
“Mh-hm, from that big fight last night?” They shared a looked and then Clarice went on. “I put my ear plugs in and slept through most of it but everyone knows it was going down.”
“Yeah. I don’t even know why I was in the middle of it.” I put my hand on my throat and tried to clear it.
“Sounds like your relaxation medicine isn’t working so well anymore,” Fran said. “You getting to used to it?”
“Shit, I hope not,” I said. I probably was, though. A lot of medicines, if you keep taking them, your body gets used to. The doctors had warned me about it, but they’d been expecting me to taper off using the muscle relaxant, too.
I went to find Flip and ask him to stretch my fingers. We sat down in the green room and he sandwiched my hand in both of his to warm it up. “You think you’re habituating to the Vitamin F?”
“I’m tense as shit,” I said, “and I took it before soundcheck like usual.”
“Yeah, but maybe you’d be twice as tense if you hadn’t,” he pointed out. “This have anything to do with what I overheard Remo telling George about Ziggy showing up?”
“Seems a little weird for him to haul ass all the way here just to check up on you.”
“I asked him to come.”
“Oh. Why so nervous, then?” He started to massage my palm with his thumbs and I felt my arm relax.
“Dunno. Maybe just because the drugs aren’t working as well as I’ve gotten used to.”
He rotated my thumb gently. “Dosage does say you could take a second one.”
“I promised myself I’d stick to just one.”
“Just to prove you can be a tough guy?”
“Just to prove I’m not dependent on a drug.”
“D, I hate to break it to you, but the fact that worrying that it might not be working is stressing you out this much is a pretty good sign of how dependant you are on this shit.”
“Shit.” I felt a psychosomatic spasm in my hand. Or maybe the way he was rubbing it triggered something. “What should I do?”
“You want a half of one? How about that. A half a pill. I’ll cut it for you.”
“All right.” It felt half as much like making a deal with the devil as taking a whole one, right?
“I’ll keep an eye on you. But don’t be afraid to give me a high sign if you feel like you’re going to pass out or something.”
That was meant to be reassuring, I think.
(I feel a little bad about the dig I made at Bryan Adams a couple of posts ago, so here’s one of his better songs. -d)