116 NAKED EYES

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NAKED EYES

I sat there with my arms folded on my knees and my head stuck in them for a few minutes, while the champagne mixed with post-stage shakes made me light-headed and my blood feel race-y.

When I looked up, everyone had drifted away from me, but the laughter of people in the hallway and muffled sound of drums and hum from the stage crowded my ears. People were saying “good show” in industry voices and I didn’t believe them.

I got a dry shirt out of my bag and then sat there wanting to put it on but suddenly not wanting to take off the one I was wearing. I forced myself to change anyway and decided to leave my jeans as they were. I put on a sweat shirt, too, the black one with the Tower logo that had been Michelle’s until she shrunk it in the wash. I wished she was here while at the same time I was glad she hadn’t seen the debacle that was the show. I wished I’d left the cast on, so at least I wouldn’t have to make up an excuse to everyone.

Yeah, yeah, it was the thumb, that’s the ticket. I felt like I wanted to cry but I was damned if I was going to with all these people around. The champagne churned in my stomach and I forced myself to get up and see what there was to eat. In the catering area people were clustered thick near the bartender but thin at the other tables. I soon saw why–everything but the garnishes had been picked clean. A slender hand reached out of the crowd for a rose-shaped radish. The rest of Carynne disentangled herself from the knot of people and came to stand next to me.

“You hungry?” she said.

“Starved.”

“Great vegetarian Vietnamese place three blocks from here.”

“I’ll race you there,” I said, although we went back to the green room to get my coat and stuff, and I made sure the Fender was stowed with the rest of our gear before I took off. Let someone else oversee load out. Let me be the one to disappear for a change.

Carynne and I walked arm in arm into Chinatown and for some reason I didn’t mind her hanging on me. She huddled her face against my sleeve when the wind gusted and shrieked when I spun us around to walk backward into the wind. Soon we were inside, taking off our coats while I wondered if the velvet Buddhas on the walls were the Vietnamese equivalent of velvet Elvises.

“Jeezus, I’ve been eating in Chinatown a lot.” I told her where we were rehearsing and she agreed we couldn’t have picked a place more convenient to late night food. We ordered huge bowls of rice porridge and fried vegetable rolls and drinks made of crushed ice and fruit.

If Bart normally waited until after we had ordered to say anything serious, Carynne waited until we both had some food in our stomachs and I had my mouth full. “You said you wanted to talk about something. Finally getting in gear on your tour idea?”

I nodded and chewed down the strips of fried tofu in my mouth. The stuff was weird but good. “Did I tell you the whole saga?”

“You said something on the phone a few months ago. About not getting tour support?”

“BNC want us to wait. Until new album. Until new contract. Etc. I don’t want to.”

“You don’t have to, you know. Tour support is a joke anyway–it’s another way for the record company to spend your own money.”

“Yeah, I know. So say we do it ourselves. We’ll need an agent to do the bookings and I need a road manager.”

“You want Waldo’s num–?”

“Interested?” I asked, before she could say more.

“Me? You want me?” Her eyebrows went high.

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