The route Carynne had mapped took us east to the Interstate, then north into Wyoming to hook up with I-80. Colin drove the truck first and Kevin had been planning to drive the van, but I wanted to drive while I was up and awake. I put in a tape of a Yes live concert which was too full of tempo changes and dynamic shifts to lull anyone into sleep. Just before midnight we passed through Cheyenne, and about a half hour later came to a truck stop on the outskirts of Laramie where we switched drivers and did the usual pit stop type things. Kevin took over from me and Chris drove the truck. Ziggy went to sleep in the very back of the van, and I kind of spaced out looking into the dark of the side of the road.
If there was something bothering me, it wasn’t specific enough to give me a lump in my stomach or a flutter in my chest. Wyoming went by in a dark blur and I wondered if there was something more constructive I could be doing with myself than sitting there and staring. Go on, Daron, solve the problems of the world in your spare time.
Some hours later, as we neared the Utah border, we pulled off for gas in a place called Evanston, which struck me as funny because for all I knew we could be in Evanston, Illinois. I was finally beginning to feel sleepy, and although there was no glow in the sky yet, I think we could all feel morning coming on. “What do you think, boss,” Chris said, yawning. “I see motels down the road.”
A Best Western was next to the filling station, and something called a Whirl Inn National Nine was a bit further down the road. I tried to figure out loud how much sleep we could get. “If we crash for about six hours, we can be on the road by say eleven, we should be able to make it to San Fran by… ugh. I can’t do math when I’m tired.”
Everyone clustered around as I opened the day book. “Bizzy shuffled the media around a bit but we’ve got a dinner meeting with an interviewer from SF Weekly. If we hit the road by eleven, we can probably still make it.” That gave us only five or six hours of sleep, but we could sleep in the van. “Yeah. We can crash out if you want.”
Nods all around. We pulled the vehicles into the Best Western’s lot and Kevin went in to see about rooms. He came out shaking his head. “Full up,” he said at the passenger side window. “Let’s try the place down the road.”
We pulled up at the Whirl Inn National Nine and I held my breath, hoping. I had gotten my hopes up for a few hours in a real bed, and I was starting to worry if we kept driving we’d end up headlines somewhere about having died in a ravine or something.
But Kevin came out with three actual metal keys in his hand and we pulled ourselves and our guitars up to rooms pretty much identical to ones we’d stayed in earlier in the trip, though I couldn’t remember which city that had been.
Bart was showering when the knock came at the door. I was in a clean T-shirt and not much else. It was Ziggy, of course. “Can I come in?”
I walked back to sit on the bed and he walked and sat with me. “Yeah?”
“I was hoping maybe we could go back to rooming together.”
“Rooming,” I repeated, giving it an obscene sound. “Do you miss it that much?”
“It’s not the sex,” he said, petulant and wounded. “I just want a chance to fix things up. It makes me sick the way we’ve been.”
“Yeah, I don’t like it either. But, dammit…” I found energy rising up my spine and had to stand up. I had no pockets to put my hands into this time and I pawed at the air like I was playing a high piano. “I think we should just leave it alone.”
“I miss you,” he said. “It hurts that you’ve become so cold.” His eyes were still dark with smudged eyeliner, his hair show- and sleep-tousled, and despite his hunched, contrite posture, he still looked like danger and poison to me.
“Ziggy, please.” I turned to face him. “Listen to me. I’m not saying this because I’m trying to hurt you or play some game, okay? I really think it’s better if we let it go.” This was one thing I could say, and say sincerely, whether he was lying to me or not.
He stared at me, his mouth slightly open and his eyes frozen. He sounded like he could barely breathe when he said, “Let what go.”
That was the perennial question, wasn’t it? “Whatever it was we had. Blame it on me, if you want,” I said. There were so many things I could call him on, lies, tricks, games he’d played. But throw that all out the window, and what leg did he have left to stand on? What protest could he make? “I don’t want help. I don’t want to figure it out. I don’t want anything.” I wanted his hold on me ended.
His shoulders started to shake as he sucked in a rough breath. But no tears came out of his eyes. He looked like maybe he was holding them back, but I couldn’t judge what was real and what was an act. “Does what I want count?”
“If what you want is something other than jerking me around by the short hairs, then maybe.”
He exhaled hard and stood up. I heard the shower squeak shut and Bart’s towel flapping. “Then I want another chance,” he said quickly.
“I don’t mean now. Later. I know we have to get through this first. I mean…” He broke eye contact and shook his head then. “Never mind.”
He walked out of the room then, not stomping, not hurrying or dragging, just walking like he’d come over to borrow a cassette tape or a pair of clean socks.
I got in bed. Bart came out a few seconds later and threw himself down on the bed. We were both asleep before we could say anything more.