Close to midnight we pulled in to the motel in Cleveland, and Digger and Carynne did this little vaudeville act at the side door of the van (“After you.” “No, after you.” “Ms. Manager, I insist.” “Oh no, you first Mr. Manager.” and so on until they both moved at the same time and bumped heads.). And then we were all in the lobby, with essential gear and bags of clean T-shirts and jeans, and the ritual key distribution took place.
And thinking about the lazy-ass space case that I did not want to be, but also thinking about the churning stomach and gnashing teeth worry wart I also didn’t want to be, I basically just stood there paralyzed and let it take place around me.
I was half sure I didn’t want to be with Ziggy all night and half hoping that maybe if we spent some time alone we’d figure things out. But there was Carynne, keys in hand, chomping a piece of chewing gum in an authoritative fashion. She handed one to Digger, handed one to me, tossed one to Bart who caught it by trapping it between his hands with a clap, and gave one to Kevin. She said nothing about who should go with whom. As it turned out, Colin and Chris has gotten into some kind of cribbage grudge match and wanted to keep playing, and Kevin gave his key to them and asked Bart if he could move in with him, which left Ziggy and me to ourselves.
We went on down the row to our rooms–it was one of those single floor places where each room’s door opens onto one long exterior sidewalk–and while Colin and Chris played, we hung out in their room and Bart got out the Miller and played (yes, Bart can play the guitar, too) and me and Ziggy generally hung around and we shot the shit and told jokes we all knew we were going to be tired of by the end of the month, but hey, there was a kind of slumber party mood, I guess, and no one wanted to go right to sleep even though the drive had been long. Well, I don’t know what Carynne or Digger or Kevin did, but the five of us, four bandmates and three housemates–yeah, you’d think we saw enough of each other back in town, right?–stayed up until Colin declared he was saving the rest of his weed for the drier states and things kind of broke up.
I washed my face. And looked through my clothes for what I was going to wear tomorrow. And puttered around with other such bullshit while Ziggy lay there in all his clothes on top of the bedspread, channel flipping. I was just sitting down to get undressed when he clicked the TV off and looked at me.
I was stuck for a beat and then I said “I was, until you asked me.”
“I mean, are you happy? Does everything seem to be going the way you want?” He used his business-y kind of voice, earnest and a little quick.
I shrugged. “Seems okay thus far.”
“But time will tell. So tell me about the place we’re going to play.” Entirely too business-like.
“I don’t know a lot about it. It’s about the size of the Orpheum I think. Show’s almost sold out, or it was last we checked. It might be by now.”
“Cool.” He hugged himself a little, the clicker still in his hand. “You think we’re going to do alright?”
You’re thinking about Christmas aren’t you. “That was over four months ago, Zig.”
“Yeah, but do you think…?”
“I don’t know.” Hey, Mister Guitar, didn’t you make a promise not to say those words anymore? I put on a false smile and felt weirdly cheered up by it. “No use worrying and making it worse.”
“Hey, that’s true.” He put the clicker down. “So did you see that desk clerk? She just about wet her pants when she saw us.”
“I didn’t notice.” I was too busy thinking about how the fake plants in the lobby looked suspiciously familiar.
“I think she’s like eighteen at most, working the night shift at a motel, reading a paperback book, and in we come. And it’s like, holy shit! I saw her mouth move, she said ‘holy shit.'”
“It’s nice to know we bring some joy to the world.”
“Do we have any tickets to the show or what have you? I bet we could rock her world.”
“If she’s really a fan she probably has tickets already,” I pointed out.
He shrugged. “I’m going to go out and see if she’s still there.”
I said nothing.
“You want to come? I mean, jeez, it’s got to be a pretty boring job.”
“Always the philanthropist, you?” I already had my sneakers off. “No, you go ahead. It’s going to be you she’s into, anyway, Mister Singer. I’m not the one who gets recognized on the street.”
He didn’t stay around to argue.
I lay down in the dark and the only thought I had now was: here we go again.