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Carynne left in the morning for Boston, telling the others she had a family emergency to take care of, and I played along, taking charge of the day book and delegating Kevin to be Bad Ass if we needed any tough talking or arguing down the way.

We had a six hour drive to Athens ahead of us, and after dropping her at the airport, we got underway.

The plan was to arrive at the motel at night, sleep, head over to the venue mid-afternoon the next day, play that night and then stay over a second night in the same place. Then there would be a ten hour drive to New Orleans, same plan, drive all day, arrive late, sleep over, show the next day, sleep over, then go on, eleven hours to a place in Texas between Austin and San Antonio. The Texas leg would be the longest haul yet since Boston to Cleveland, but we’d stay three nights there, one night before the Austin show, one night before the San Antonio show, and then one before the two-day drive to Boulder.

Did I mention how fucking big the West is?

In the South and in the West there’s a lot more of nothing than there is in the Northeast. The whole scale of the land and the journey changed as we adjusted ourselves to the longer trips, longer silences in the van, and fewer tempting places to make pit stops. With only four of us in the van it was righteously roomy and we took turns sleeping. I found myself not wanting to talk at all while driving, just gunning down the road on an endless set of rhythmless dashed lines. The mountains were sometimes beautiful. The sun was sometimes too hot. When we did talk, it was often to play some kind of game. Halfway to Athens we got onto a kick of trying to come up with combinations of two of more artists with common words in their names that went something like this:

Bart: The Grateful Dead Milkmen.

Ziggy: The Grateful Dead Kennedys.

Chris: The Grateful Dead Can Dance.

Me: The Rolling Stone Roses

Chris: Bzzt, thank you for playing, but it’d have to be Stones, plural, with an s.

Bart: I don’t know, I think it scans.

Ziggy: Do solo artists count too, or only band names?

Me: Solo artists, too. That way you get Philip Glass Tiger.

Bart: Ouch.

Ziggy: The Pointer Sisters of Mercy.

Chris: Iggy Pop Will Eat Itself.

Me: How about the Richard Thompson Twins.

Ziggy: But what maps to Moondog Three?

Me: Let’s not think about that shall we?

And so on.

And I wasn’t about to confront Ziggy about Carynne. That just seemed stupid, like she was my kid sister or something and me, what would I do about it? She said it herself, she was a big girl and made her own choices. I had to respect that and acting like she needed to be protected wasn’t the way to respect her.

Plus I didn’t want to disturb what little equilibrium we’d gotten back before we had a chance to play again. I kept my trap shut and hoped the next show would be good.

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