160. Games People Play

In the morning Christian woke me up banging on the door and hollering. The clock on the night table read 10:00 AM and I sat up with my heart pounding, wondering what had gone wrong. I opened the door. “Jeezus, what happened?”

“Aren’t we supposed to be on the road? It’s eleven hours to New Orleans without stopping.” He looked at his wrist where there was no watch but the meaning of the gesture was not lost on me. He was fully dressed, hair blown dry and wearing a black T-shirt and jeans.

I rubbed my eyes. “Shit, I guess I’m supposed to be in charge now, aren’t I.”

“That’s right, boss.”

“OK, right. I gotta make some phone calls and take a shower or you really won’t want to be cooped up with me for the entire day.” The sunlight was bright and I covered my eyes with my hand. “I guess, make sure the crew’s up?”

“You got it, boss.” He went to the next door and I let ours shut before opening my eyes again.

Ziggy was sitting up in the bed when I turned around. “Oh, I’m ti-red,” he singsonged. “Has it only been two weeks? It feels like forever.”

“I’m getting in the shower,” I told him. “Go back to sleep.”

But once I was in the shower I heard him running the water in the bathroom, shaving, brushing his teeth or whatever, whistling. Then his voice over the rush of the water. “You have fun last night?”

“Yeah. Good crowd,” I said, ducking my head under the water.

Then his head appeared on the far side of the curtain. “Where did you get off to after dinner?”

“Slumming,” I said, looking at him with one unsoapy eye. “What about you?”

He grinned and said only “Daron, I do believe you’re learning how to live. You’re going to like New Orleans.”

“Yeah?” My face was in the stream now and he waited until I stepped back from the spray to talk again.

“It’s a great city for music.” He had that tone of voice, that slinky sound, that made it sound like he meant something else. “Can I show you around?”

“Sure.” I watched his head disappear and then heard the door open and shut. I finished rinsing and shut off the water.

I wasn’t unaware of the fact that since Carynne had left my interactions with him had been really on-the-surface friendly, like everything was cool. We were acting more friendly to each other than we’d been in a while, in fact. But maybe that was just it, “acting” friendly. Were we friends now? Did ex-lovers, co-workers, and/or one-time crushes count as friends? Wait, did I say ex-lovers, and is that what I meant?

I couldn’t pursue that line of thought without driving myself into a black mood. The show last night had been good. So what if I wasn’t hitting that rapturous losing myself feeling every night–if I enjoyed myself, if I gave myself to working hard and getting the job done and it all worked, well, that was all I could ask for, wasn’t it?

I felt older thinking like that. And I didn’t know if that should worry me or not.


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