A knock on the door woke me up and I was surprised to find myself alone in one of the suite’s bedrooms. A heap of bedding on the couch seemed to indicate J had crashed here last night, too. I was still in most of my clothes and my eyes felt scratchy, but otherwise I was in fairly good repair.
Carynne was at the door, looking a little tired, her smile a little thin. “Good morning.”
“What time is it?” I asked.
“One thirty. Jonathan said to say goodbye for him. He had to get back and didn’t want to wake you.”
“Nice of him.” I wondered if he’d woken her up to tell her that. Probably not, he was a pretty considerate sort of guy. The bedding on the couch was neatly folded with a pillow on top, a pile of similarly folded newspapers on the table next to it. “So to what do I owe the pleasure.”
“Just making sure everyone’s prepped to go over to the hall at four.”
“I don’t know how we’d do it without you.”
“Ah, you could do it without me, you just wouldn’t have as much fun.” She turned like she was going to go, but I said:
“Yeah, Car’, but do you have enough fun?”
She rolled her eyes over her shoulder at me. “If I have any more fun, I’ll have to give it up,” she said, and winked.
I don’t know what the wink was for, but as long as she was happy…
Echoes of last night’s jam session were bouncing around the empty cave of my skull when we went to sound check. Me and Chris and Bart did a half-way convincing rendition of Hold The Line, with Bart singing falsetto since Ziggy didn’t know the words and in all seriousness it was better that he not know them.
Actually, Bart didn’t know them terribly well either. The engineers got a good laugh out of it, anyway. Chris had been having some trouble keeping the bridge tight in “Why The Sky” so we went over that a couple of times, tweaking levels and kidding him that his big china crash was making him deaf.
And Ziggy was still ignoring me onstage and off. He gave me a wide berth on stage, playing mostly to the front row and staying in his own little orbit, not interacting with Bart or Chris either. I built my own sphere on my side of the stage, between my rack and the invisible line where Ziggy’s territory started. The show went fine, no major problems, and I even managed to enjoy myself quite a bit. I never “forgot,” but hey, maybe that was one of those things that was supposed to get more rare as you got older. I’d have to ask Remo about it sometime. I couldn’t ever remember Remo seeming like he wasn’t 100% there and on top of things, but maybe there was a time when he’d blank out the way I used to, the way I still longed to. I’d have to ask when I saw him next.
After the show I sat in a folding chair back stage, sweat drying on my face and plastering my hair to my forehead, and looked at my hands not shake. When I didn’t play myself into a frenzy or a rapturous blank, I realized, the post-show high was different. Not bad, just different, more like the calm haze of pot than the buzz of booze. I sat there while other people packed up stuff around me, and laughed and goofed around. Chris had taken to dousing himself with bottled water after every show and that degenerated into a water fight among him, Colin, and Kevin. Some time later it was time to go, and we did, back to the hotel again to wash up and do back-to-the-hotel kind of things.
And as the glow of the show left me and I combed out my wet hair, my thoughts drifted to what I was going to do tonight. I didn’t have to do anything. I could lie around, watch TV, order room service, and go to sleep. But if the performance high I had tonight was like pot, the feeling I had now was like the munchies.
I picked out a pair of good jeans, put on my boots, moussed my hair back slightly. Black T-shirt, the weather was too warm for a jacket here, even this late at night. J, helpful to that last, had left behind several newspapers, one of which had the information I needed. I pointed myself walking toward where I wanted to go.
Every city where I’d bothered to look so far had someplace like it, a block, a neighborhood, even if only one club or bookstore, but a place that felt to me like a little piece of Greenwich village transplanted. DC was no exception, as I’d seen while walking around the night before with J.
So there I was, looking at the way boys looked at one another, and looking for my chance to join that dance myself.
I had my choice, late night bookstore, restaurant & bar, disco, or just lean against a tree in the park nearby until the right kind of eye contact came along. With the summery warmth coming out of the pavement and the breeze soft, I ignored the inherent danger and opted for the park, my eyes up as I criss-crossed the blue-lit paths instead of on my feet or the ground in front of me.
When he came along, he smiled. There was so little talking involved that we sounded like we knew each other well. I didn’t for one moment doubt who wanted what, and I didn’t screw it up. He lived nearby, in a brick townhouse with hardwood floors and ethnic-looking rugs.
There are maybe two things worth remarking on at this point. One, I discovered the shock of truly liking the first touch of cold lube.
Two, some time after that–moment, minutes, I don’t know–in the embrace of a stranger and sinking into his rhythm, I lost myself at last.