136 NEVER STOP

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NEVER STOP

The opening band was called the Rebellious Doodads or something and I was reminded of a lot of the Providence bands we used to see–sloppy in a fun sort of way, earnestly jokey. We gave them high fives and that kind of thing and then took our turn.

I’ve talked about video filming before, the repetition, the weird double-vision thing that happens when you have to imitate yourself doing something you already once did, pretending you’re doing the same thing, feeling the same thing, etc. Well, playing the same song again and again isn’t really supposed to be like that, at least, it never had been before. But by the time we came around to the encore, Candlelight, I was feeling a little too much deja vu for my taste. I couldn’t wait for the solo to be over and was the first one to leave the stage after the last cymbal crash died away.

Once again, nobody told me the show sucked. I don’t know if it was no one dared to say it, or if it was because it was so obvious and no one could do anything about it. An awkward situation like, I don’t know, having a relative in a wheelchair and everyone studiously ignoring the fact that grandma can’t actually get over the door jamb from the living room into the dining room.

We bugged straight out from the show back onto the road so we could get to a place in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area and, luxury of luxuries, actually sleep there three nights in a row. The ride was four hours from where we were to where we were going and three in the morning seemed like an imminently reasonable hour to arrive. Kevin and Colin were all set to drive the whole way but I drove the first hour in the van. Nobody said much except Carynne, who merely noted aloud that she was going to try to get us shower facilities at future gigs if she was going to be getting into a van with us post-show. It was too chilly to open the windows.

Carynne dispensed keys as if we were all permanently partnered, no one argued, and to our rooms we went. This was a nicer place, more on the business-y side than the tourist-y side. A place with room service that stopped at midnight and its own restaurant that also closed at midnight. (Not that I was in any mood to eat or that this did us any good at three a.m.)

I stood in the shower for a long time, making the water hotter and hotter, until when I got out my skin was lobster red.

When I came out Ziggy was sitting cross-legged on the bed, toweling his hair dry.

“Sorry,” I said, for taking so long and making him borrow someone else’s shower.

“Huh?” He squinted at me through damp black strands of hair, then flipped them back. “What for?”

“Everything,” I said, loath to explain suddenly. “Just everything.”

“Well, quit it,” he said, coming over to me but leaving the towels behind. “Because we both know it’s all my fault, right? It’s all because of me. So quit worrying.”

Huh. Did he actually think that it was all his fault? “I can’t.”

“You can. Will you forget all the bullshit for a while?”

“Just exactly which bullshit are you referring to?”

He let out an exasperated noise, his lips tight. “Didn’t you say you wished things could be the way they used to be?”

“When did I say that?”

“During that anxiety attack on your birthday.”

I’d forgotten about that. Or blocked it out. He’d tried to make up with me and I’d had a panic attack. It was only the once so I hadn’t thought about it since.

“Well, I’m trying, I’m really trying—-”

I felt a chill.

“—-but other things are not as they used to be, Daron. We may as well have you on tape up there, you know. You used to run around, you used to tell these little musical jokes with Bart in the middle of songs-—”

I’d never thought of riffs that way but I guess that’s what they were.

“—-and now we get you a wireless rig finally and you’re like glued to the spot, won’t look at anybody. People notice this shit.”

“I know.”

“So, what’s it going to take for you to lighten up?”

“I wish I knew.” I was standing there, my fingers tingling with the realization that his skin was soft from the shower and that if I wanted to I could probably reach out and touch him.

He seemed to realize this, too. He almost whispered. “Do you remember how it was…”

I heard the sound of someone at the door before the actual knock. I turned away from Ziggy and looked through the peep hole. There was Digger, still in his suit, an unlit cigarette in his mouth. I put a hand on my towel and opened the door a crack.

“Hey, kiddo, just wondered if you were up for Denny’s.”

“No. Just going to get some sleep.”

“How ’bout you Zig?” he said louder. I don’t think he could see him through the crack.

“Nah, tomorrow though.”

“Me and Kevin are going to take the van.”

“Yeah, okay.” Whatever. I closed the door and leaned my head against it. I was so numb I didn’t even feel worried or guilty or scared or anxious that Digger might have seen the two of us simultaneously damp and in towels. Or not in towels. My heart was not pounding, my hands were not sweating, and I did not feel nauseous. What I felt was cold.

I could almost see how things would have been if it had been the “old” us, me shaking like the proverbial leaf, Ziggy coming up behind me and… and making me forget. With sex and his skin and his scent.

When I turned around he had on a pair of faded jeans and was digging a shirt out of a drawer. “Changed my mind,” he said, pulling his boots on and then hurrying out the door to catch them.

I looked at the Miller’s case on the floor, shook my head, and got into bed. I started thinking of a song, with a lyric: tomorrow–is just another day, then decided that was so clichéd I shouldn’t even write it down.

I realized I’d lied to Ziggy when I’d told him I wanted things to be the way they used to be. Now just exactly what I did want, that was another story, one I didn’t know how to tell.

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