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We were a three vehicle caravan still. Digger headed off for New York in his rental but Jonathan’s hatchback joined us. Bart and I both rode with him, which was fun. J was very easy to get along with and I got the feeling Bart genuinely liked him, too.

The drive to DC was so short in comparison to what we’d been doing each day that we were shocked to arrive so early in the day and find our rooms not ready. Everyone milled around with little heaps of luggage except me — I tagged along behind Carynne as she sought out the manager. Carynne went for the jugular when she found him and we only waited maybe fifteen minutes in the lobby before he gave her keys and had upgraded us to the presidential suite. (Digger would have been proud.) As she accepted the keys and switched her expression from tangled annoyance to California smile, she saw me out of the corner of her eye. She pressed a key into my hand.

“So, tell me, is Señor McCabe rooming with us?”

“I, ouch. I don’t know.”

She rolled her eyes and blew a piece of nonexistent hair out of them. When she marched up to the group she passed out keys as usual and then said casually but loudly to Jonathan, “Well, we’ve got plenty of bed space now if you want to crash with us. I don’t mind if the Boss doesn’t mind.”

I flapped my mouth and held up my hands like whatever, no-biggie. J had left his stuff in his car anyway–we could sort it out later.

Even stranger than the arriving-early break from routine, we weren’t playing a show tonight. (In fact, it was a miracle that Carynne had set up as tight and regular a schedule as she had.) The idea was to come down here rather than stick around Philly an extra day, and do some publicity and maybe sightsee if we wanted to. On the map it didn’t look like we’d come that far south, but here summer was beginning to happen already and Carynne and me and Jonathan and Bart had lunch in an outdoor cafe and I got my face sunburned while sitting there.

Carynne opened her day book while we were waiting for the check. “Did I tell you everything about today’s schedule?”

“Unless anything changed since we’ve been on the road, I think we went over everything pretty carefully before we left,” I said, shading my forehead with my hand.

Bart sat forward. “Remind me.”

Carynne sucked on the end of a pen while she told him about the two interviews we had for today, one for a newspaper, and one on-air radio station gig. “What songs do you think you’ll play?”

“Whoa,” Bart said, “Play?”

She turned her eyes on me. “You didn’t tell them?”

“I… I didn’t really think about it. Is this the one where they want us to do an in studio ‘unplugged’ kind of thing?”

“Dar’, I don’t have an acoustic bass.”

I winced. “You can play the guitar, though.”

“A little rehearsal would have been nice.”

I looked at him and winced. When we’d set this all up I wouldn’t have dreamed we’d ever need to rehearse anything, but that was before my own bout with stage fright or whatever the hell I was having. “Why don’t you play bongos?” I suggested. “Chris has some. Just the three of us do it. Didn’t the station say something like they only wanted two of us to talk anyway?”

Carynne squinted in the bright sun at her notes. “Yeah.”

“It’ll be fine,” I said, watching traffic go by and ignoring the pursed-lips look of doubt and skepticism that Bart was giving me. Hey, everyone had said to lighten up and stop worrying so much, and I was, wasn’t I?

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