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We walked back up to the Orpheum to find our stuff long since loaded out and a couple of caterers and stage hands cleaning up the mess. Carynne told me everyone was probably at a party on Landsdowne Street, upstairs from one of the clubs. Another Mike Fink thing.

“Don’t you live over there?” she’d asked.

“No, I moved in with a bunch of guys in Allston.”

“‘The Headbanger Ghetto,’” she said without irony. “Well, come on, let’s go.”

I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to a party, but what the heck, I could ride that far in a cab. I might even make the last outbound T from Kenmore. But I changed my mind in the car. What would I do at home? Sit around, climb the walls, feel sorry for myself? At Mike Fink’s party I could get drunk or, at the very least, tire myself out enough to sleep tonight instead of lying awake replaying bad moments from the show.

The party was loud, something with distorted raucous guitars pumping out of a hastily setup PA, and crowded with people trying to talk over the sound of it, all echoing off the concrete walls of the industrial space. The backstage party had migrated to the new place and grown by three or four times. Some guys wore suits, others sported the uniform of music industry types: jeans with a T-shirt and suit jacket. The room was crowded with people, women in holiday gaud, musicians in anything and everything. I saw Christian’s hat in the crowd.

I wondered if the gear was back in the Chinatown loft, or if it was sitting in the van outside somewhere. Then I decided it wasn’t my problem, not right now, anyway. I got myself a beer from a garbage can filled with ice and bottles and settled into a blank space of wall to drink it and lean my back against something solid. Carynne gave me a little wave and weaved into the crowd.

Now that I was here, I felt a little sleepy. Maybe the Percocet. Or maybe I was just tired. My thumb hadn’t bothered me for hours. I held the bottle in my right, just in case. I had a few more of the formula conversations like before, only louder this time. Curious, that most of them didn’t even try to tell me their names. Why, so they wouldn’t feel hurt when I didn’t remember them later? Or because it really didn’t matter? The one who did say her name more than once, in a longer-than-usual variation of the exchange, I realized was trying to hit on me.

I thought about Carynne’s question about whether I was gay or bi, and about Carynne’s former interest in me. What would happen if I went along with this woman (whose name I had forgotten despite its multiple repetitions) and we… didsomething? Would the so-called grapevine make something of it? I couldn’t see myself doing it, but I considered the act hypothetically. What was she looking for? Would she be upset if I forgot her name later? Would she expect me to see her again? How did Ziggy know these things, or did he? I got so deep into wondering that I missed most of what she said and she got a suspicious look in her eye. “What?” I said, holding a hand to my ear to be polite.

“It’s too loud to talk in here,” she said into my ear. “You want to go downstairs?”

“I, uh…” What… my ride’s here? I’m waiting for somebody? Have to talk to somebody first? “Gotta go to the men’s room.”

I pushed away from her before she could say anything. So began the next line of wondering, was that more rude or less rude than telling her I wasn’t interested? Was she used to being treated like that? Did she often hit on musicians? I picked another beer out of the barrel as I went toward the actual men’s room. What if I’d kissed her there, in front of everyone? My stomach clutched as I imagined what Ziggy’s reaction to seeing that could be. Oh, man.

I should have stopped that train of thought. But the barrel of thoughts had started rolling and I began calculating the days since I’d last gotten laid. No, you don’t want to know, I almost said aloud to myself.

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