I went to my room. I wasn’t surprised to find Colin crashed out there. I tried to sneak in quietly and not wake him but he sat up and turned on the light.
“Hey.” He blinked groggily. “Nice to see you.”
“Nice to be seen. I think they would’ve kept me in the hospital if I hadn’t put up a fight.” I took my clothes off and piled them on top of my duffel, too tired to sort out what to do with them.
“But you’re all right?” He rubbed his eyes. “Was it mountain sickness?”
“The altitude, yeah.” I sat on the edge of the bed in my underwear and rubbed my temples. “I’m not supposed to exert myself if I can help it.”
“Sleep in tomorrow, right?”
“Right.” I looked at him. He was the same old Colin. I was what had changed. I had changed myself. I was too tired to have a big process-heavy conversation about that, but I was too tired not to, too. “But the doctor said no exertion.”
I forget how much quicker on the uptake than me Colin could be. “If that’s not your way of saying we shouldn’t have sex, that’s how I’m interpreting it,” he said.
“Uh, that is what I’m saying, yeah. I’m a little mixed up in the head, too, right now, but doctor’s orders, you know?” That came out word salad, didn’t it?
Colin understood me, though. “Okay. Don’t stress over it, D. One thing at a time.”
“But I’m glad you’re here.” I was suddenly worried he was going to think I wanted him to leave, and I definitely didn’t want that. “I don’t want to be alone when I’m this messed up.”
“That’s what friends are for.” Colin tousled my hair which made me smile.
“I feel bad that you and Carynne and Flip are basically babysitting me around the clock.” It was becoming obvious to me that the three of them must have actually discussed and planned who was handling me when.
And I’ll be honest. That was pretty weird. But at the same time I could see that right now I needed all the help I could get. “I appreciate the lengths you’re all going through to keep me on my feet.”
“As long as you don’t resent it,” Colin said as he slipped out of the bed and sauntered to the bathroom. “How about you get off your feet now, though.”
“Good plan.” I followed him and brushed my teeth and got ready for bed.
Did I mention there was only one double bed in there? That was pretty typical in hotels outside the United States, in my experience, anyway. If there had been two beds in there I don’t know if we would have taken one each or not. But since there wasn’t, we just got into the same bed because there was no reason not to. I had been a little wishy washy about how I brought it up, but I’d set a boundary and I was completely comfortable with Colin because I knew he’d respect it.
It might have been a temporary boundary, but I’d worry about whether to make it a permanent one later.
I slept long and hard and woke up with a headache. While I was in the shower, Colin went and got a portable oxygen bottle, which I didn’t expect but probably should have. In the hospital they’d also given me some medicine that was supposed to help improve the oxygenation of my blood. The headache went away after only a minute or two of oxygen and I started to feel hungry for the first time in two days.
The hotel we were in didn’t have its own restaurant, but it was next to a bar where a reasonable meal could be had at most hours of the day. It reminded me a lot of some of the tapas bars in Spain where I’d spent a lot of time.
The food was somewhat similar to Venezuelan food in that I didn’t know enough of the nuances to tell you what was different. I didn’t eat as much as I usually would. I guess digestion was a form of exerting myself? The food was filling and high in calories and that’s what mattered at the time. I spent a lot of time telling Colin about bars in Spain and feeling like someone I might recognize was about to walk in.
Well, and someone did, but not someone I knew in Spain. Flip came in after we were done eating. He’d been out doing something touristy…I don’t remember what. I probably should because we sat with him while he got some food and he told us. But I kind of sat there with my brain finally starting to work, I guess, having gotten enough water, oxygen, and food into me for the first time in a while.
“Why does Linn hate me?” I asked suddenly.
Flip chuckled. He had sauce on his face from whatever he’d been eating and he tried to lick as much of it clean as he could before resorting to a napkin. “She hates everyone but Ziggy.”
“So it’s not just me?”
“Nope. I just try to stay out of her way.”
“Good luck with that.” I sighed. “I don’t think I have that choice.”
“The crew can’t stand her,” Flip added, and Colin nodded to confirm. “She’s constantly getting in people’s faces about stuff she’s got nothing to do with. She was haranguing the venue crew that they’d cut a truss too short. They were looking at her like she was crazy.”
“Was it too short?” Colin asked.
“No. There’s a limit to how tall the truss can be here and we used every inch of it. Besides, if you put the lights any farther up, you won’t get good coverage on the stage. She knows that, I’m sure.” Flip shook his head. “I think she just isn’t happy unless she’s on someone’s case. That doesn’t go down too well with the crew, who take it as an insult to their professional pride.”
“Reminds me of the Shithead Brothers,” I said.
“Is that a band?” Flip asked.
“No, the managers for Megaton who were always pushing, pushing, pushing, like nothing was every good enough for their darling band.”
“Darling band of homophobes, you mean,” Colin added.
“Oh, them.” Flip nodded. “You told me about them. Difference is she’s supposed to be on our side.”
I took a deep breath to enjoy what oxygen I could. “Carynne told me the only reason she’s on the tour with us is that Ziggy insisted on it.”
“And what Ziggy wants, Ziggy gets?” Colin suggested.
“Yeah, I suppose.” That didn’t strike me as quite right, because Ziggy hadn’t been acting like a diva for a while, but I guess we all knew he had that side of his personality.
Flip settled the bill for all of us and then declared I should come with him to find a taxi and get out and see some of the city. So that was how me and Flip and Colin ended up in a taxi with a driver who spoke about as much English as I did Spanish taking us around to various historical sites like Bolivar Square. He couldn’t tell us a lot of detail with the language barrier, but we got the gist.
He told us the most romantic restaurant in the city was at the top of a mountain that you had to take a train to get to. I fantasized kidnapping Ziggy from his own entourage to go there, but maybe going up to a mountaintop for dinner wasn’t the best thing for my health right then. Still, I fantasized it.
The driver took us to another mountaintop, not to see a restaurant, but to see a church with a huge statue he called the Virgin of Guadalupe. I wasn’t supposed to exert myself but walking slowly from the place the taxis parked to the church was all right. I was only a little lightheaded and it was worth the trip. Inside the church there were people singing — I think it was choir practice actually — and I had flashbacks to going to church while hungover in Sevilla.
Strange. I had a very unsettled feeling while looking up at that huge statue. It eventually circled around this question: why had I felt so centered and sure of myself when I was living hand to mouth with a bunch of strangers in a country were I didn’t belong, and why didn’t I feel like that now?
Injury and illness and Linn being on my case didn’t feel like it added up to an answer.
(I’m not sure why this song from 1973 charted again in September 1991, but it did. So I’m using it. -d)