We weren’t halfway across the lobby when Carynne stopped me. “You’re white as a sheet.”
I took Ziggy’s hand with the one of mine that was working, to keep him by my side. “I’m fine.” My cramped-up hand looked like a tyrannosaurus’s arm, though.
They didn’t believe my bullshit for one second. “Let’s get upstairs,” Ziggy said, pulling me toward the elevator.
I don’t know how he did it, but it was like he had a force field on him that kept everyone else at a distance. We got into the elevator together and no one else followed us in. The doors closed.
And all of a sudden we were completely alone, with no one else present, for the first time in what felt like forever. The elevator rose, our eyes met, and in the depth of the silence something happened. The barriers each of us had been holding in place for the rest of the world came tumbling down.
Ziggy burst into tears. Oh, shit. I grabbed him and hugged him, punching the emergency stop button with my bad hand. Somewhere very far away a bell rang like school was letting out, except that it kept ringing. It was a D.
Ziggy’s sobs were silent against my leather jacket. He was shaking, but didn’t make a sound. I was hugging him as hard as I could, which made the cramp in my hand slightly less worse, just like sitting on it sometimes did.
“Jeezus, Zig,” I said.
He sucked in a breath, panting a little, the tears slowing down. “Jeezus is right. God.” He shifted in my arms so that he could hug me back and I leaned my head on his shoulder. He did the same on my right. “Can I say for the record I don’t like guns?”
“It’s not just me, then.”
“Fuck no. I was convinced those guys were actually kidnapping us about twenty times. Or that any second someone else was going to come along and shoot us.” He let out a long breath, calming himself. “Was it worth it?”
“Was what worth what? Oh, you mean, was it worth it to leave the hotel?”
“I didn’t really want to leave the hotel. I just wanted to have dinner with you on our day off.” I rubbed the back of his white denim duster. “Did you think that was my idea?”
“Wasn’t it?” He pulled back to look at me.
“Not really. Carynne’s, maybe.”
He nodded. His eye makeup was a beautiful wreck now. “I didn’t have a day off. I had a press day.”
“So I see.” A phone began to ring. I opened the little door in the elevator panel and there was a phone receiver inside. I picked it up. “Hello?”
Tony was on the line. “You guys doing all right?”
“We’re fine. We’re all fine here. How are you?”
“Okay, Han Solo, if you’re really fine, please get your ass up to your room.”
I chuckled and hung up. “Security requests that we stop holding up the elevator.”
“Fine,” Ziggy said, and plastered his mouth to mine. Man. When was the last time we’d kissed like that? Like we were trying to devour each other? St. Louis?
When the need to breathe finally made us pause, I started the elevator again and we proceeded on up to our floor. Flip was standing there looking concerned when the elevator doors opened.
“Christ, you two,” he said. He herded us to my room, where he sat us down. While Ziggy rubbed my palm with his thumbs, Flip chopped a pill in half.
“Vitamin F?” I asked.
“Valium.” He handed one half to me along with a glass of water.
I washed it down with a sip of water. “I thought we weren’t supposed to bring any drugs into the country.”
“We didn’t. Picked this up from the local medics, and any we don’t take, I’ll leave behind.” He held the other half toward Ziggy. “It’s great for panic attacks and anxiety.”
Ziggy shook his head. “I’m supposed to be drug-free, remember?”
“Yeah, but are you?”
Ziggy wavered. He looked at the little white half-moon of a pill in Flip’s big palm. He looked seriously. But then he said, “I think I better stick with chamomile tea.”
“Oookay,” Flip agreed, and popped the other half valium into his own mouth. “Chamomile tea coming right up, and then I’ll leave you two alone to pass out.”
Within minutes he had actually made a cup of herbal tea and true to his word he then left. Ziggy sat on the edge of my bed sipping it and taking long, deliberate breaths.
I lay down behind him. “How’s the tea?”
“Good,” he said. “Calming. How’s the Valium?”
“Same. You all right now?”
“Getting there.” He took a few more sips and then set the cup down on the side table and laid down next to me. He’d taken the duster and another layer off and was down to a plain white T-shirt and leggings. He lay on his back and looked at the ceiling. “I knew this was going to be hard, but I didn’t realize how hard.”
“Which ‘this’ do you mean?” I figured it might be important to know what he meant.
He had the back of his hand against his forehead. “Solo touring, touring with you injured, touring foreign countries where drug cartels kidnap and murder people regularly, all of it.”
I took his other hand and kissed his ring. “As long as you didn’t mean this-this.”
“God, no.” He rolled toward me and put a hand on my cheek. “The only thing hard about that is keeping quiet about it.”
His hand felt warm and surprisingly like a pillow. Or maybe that was my face that felt like a pillow. All of me, actually, was starting to feel like a pillow. Or maybe like a down-filled duvet. I smiled and it seemed like it took a long time. “I know what you mean. Has anyone asked about it?”
“Not yet. I’ve gotten some curious looks from curious people but none who has been willing to come right out and ask about it. I think they don’t want to know enough to hear an answer they wouldn’t like.”
“Huh.” That didn’t make sense to me, but maybe that was because the Valium was kicking in. “Do they have Domino’s Pizza in this country? Tomorrow let’s order in.”
He kissed me on the forehead. “Tomorrow we’ve got a show, dear one.”
“Oh, right. Well, keep it in mind for the next time.”
His laugh was gentle. “I love you so much it hurts.”
The last thing I remember was him kissing me again while my eyelids got heavy.
When I woke up in the morning I was still in all my clothes on top of the bed, my face was covered in pearlescent body glitter, and Ziggy was already gone.
This is a little bit of what I needed. More would have been better (like another five chapters or so), but it soothed my frayed nerves for the next few minutes.
I’m glad he didn’t mean “this-this” too.
I get the feeling Zig needed it, too.
Same here! Thanks.
“Picked this up from the local medics …” In 1979/80 a physician would write a prescription, I would take it to a pharmacist, who filled it, then threw the written prescription away. If you didn’t look like trouble, you could get anything 24/7 from a pharmacist, with or without a prescription.
“I think they don’t want to know enough to hear an answer they wouldn’t like.”
“Huh.” That didn’t make sense to me …” It’s what saved you during your years in the closet.
“When I woke up in the morning I was still in all my clothes on top of the bed, my face was covered in pearlescent body glitter …” Next to best possible way to wake up. Awww.
Well I mean the concept in general makes sense but the words really didn’t.
“I love you so much it hurts.” He’s chipping away at my icy barrier, but I don’t think he’ll melt it until I hear an explanation why he sent his “surrogate” instead of being there when Daron was in the ER. I know I sound like a broken record here but I’m really stuck on this point and even the emotions in this chapter didn’t unfreeze me. I’m not happy that this is the first night of the tour they’ve spent together, but the ER thing is just not sitting well with me. Maybe because it feels like Daron is begging for whatever scraps he can get from Ziggy? Maybe because I just don’t understand why they aren’t rooming together. Ziggy is calling the shots here, so why can’t he get Daron in his bed? This just isn’t adding up for me.
Finally! And I’m thrilled that the problem with “this-this” is having to be discreet. <3