13. Old Man Down the Road

863 55 6

Old Man Down the Road

I went into the bar to find Remo and the bartender watching the news on the overhead TV. I pulled up a stool and leaned on the polished counter. "What a disaster tonight was," I said. At first, I hoped I sounded dejected, but buoyed by Matthew's attention it was hard to. I used to do that with Claire sometimes. If I started first and sounded bad enough, sometimes she'd skip the morality speech. But now the words had a falser ring. Somehow putting on an act for my mother seemed right, but for Remo it was wrong.

Remo turned and put an arm on my shoulder. "I hear the police picked you up."

"Yeah, for having less than twenty dollars."

He shook his head.

"I'm sorry, Remo, I'll be more careful next time."

"The next time you do what?" He sounded too tired to accuse me.

"Get separated from the group. It was stupid of me and I'm sorry." I looked at my feet wrapped around the rungs of the stool.

Remo finished the last flat swig of his beer. "You don't have to apologize to me. I don't own you, I never said don't go wandering off by yourself. But what were you doing, anyway?"

"Nothing." I looked around the empty bar, filled with the sudden fear I had felt in Providence, fear of something like his disapproval. My tongue tasted sour and I didn't want to answer any more questions.

Remo signed his tab. "Come on upstairs for a bit."

"Sure." I swayed off the stool.

"Are you alright?" He reached out a hand to steady me.

"I never got any dinner, what with being locked out of the damn hall by security."

"I could use something, too." He turned to the bartender. "Can we still get room service?"

The bartender switched off the TV. "Til midnight. Just dial four-seven."

So we went up to Remo's room and ordered some sandwiches. I could picture Matthew at that moment, reading a mystery, his stocking feet stretched out on the bed. But I couldn't rush away from Remo without it seeming weird. We sat on the beds waiting for the food while Remo told me how the set went without me.

"I kept looking over at Matt by the monitors to see if you had shown up yet. He kept giving me the thumbs down."

I didn't want to say any more about it, I wanted to forget that whole stupid incident. I flexed my fingers. I was probably going crazy on the doors or in the squad car around that time. "It sucked."

He was being too sympathetic, I thought. Maybe I just didn't understand him. After the hard time he gave me over the Tygerz gig I didn't expect such quick forgiveness for what felt to me like a mortal sin, missing a gig.

He was looking at me the way he had back at The Cage, like he was trying to read what my shirt said but couldn't make out the letters. His face turned serious. "Just, just watch yourself, will you?" he said. His hair was almost the same color as Matthew's, a little sandier and shot through with some gray.

"I will."

"No I mean it. You've got that thing about you. Well, you know."

"No. What the hell are you talking about?"

He knitted his eyebrows. "I mean, that's just the sort of thing that would have happened to your Dad."

I said nothing.

"Something about him just attracted cops like flies."

"Yeah, the smell of bullshit." I laughed in spite of myself. I'd never said anything like that about Digger before, well, not to Remo anyway.

Daron's Guitar Chronicles: Vols 1-3Read this story for FREE!