I plugged in my guitar as I watched Chris fiddling around with the mic. He seemed like he was OK today but I knew he couldn’t be. His face was badly bruised under his eye but he had a clean t-shirt on, wet hair from a shower and he was busy getting his gear set up. He didn’t look bothered at all.
He looked up at me, “What?” he said.
I shook my head, “Nothing.” I started to tune the A-string to my phone app and he looked back down at what he was doing. Then he looked at me again, “Hey thanks man for bringing Odette home yesterday.”
“No problem” I muttered.
“So, uh, did you guys talk about anything?”
I knew this was coming, “Like what?”
“Like me, dude. You know what I’m asking. You were in the car with her for 3 hours.”
I figured since he asked, I should probably tell him. “She said that you didn’t like her anymore until she started messing around with that Jake guy. And then you noticed her again.”
Chris laughed. “Yeah right.” he said. “Hmm” He stopped what he was doing and sat on the amp. “I didn’t know she felt like that. Why didn’t she tell me that?”
“Maybe you guys need to, you know, talk or something.”
“Talk? When she got home after you dropped her off, did we even bring that up? No. We talked about the soccer highlights on Fox Soccer. We talked about getting Zoe’s snack together for school in the morning.”
“Well, dude, I don’t think that is going to help anything.”
James walked in with a cooler. He set it down next to his drums, flipped open the lid and passed me a bottle of Lagunitas. I was just waiting for him to see Chris’s face and his didn’t disappoint.
“Oh shit!” he hollered when he saw Chris. “You got in a fight? When did that happen? I just saw you yesterday!”
“On the way home from the cabin.” Chris grumbled.
James passed him a beer and said, “It’s cold, maybe you should put it on that shiner. Waddya mean on the way home from the cabin?”
Chris looked at me. I could tell he didn’t want to tell the story so I said, “Chris got in a fight with his steering wheel. He pressed the brake too hard.”
James looked at him, disappointed. “That’s lame. You look tough though.”
Chris rolled his eyes. “Whatever dude.”
Alex slid up the warehouse door and ducked under. He had a six-pack in his hand too. “Hey y’all!” He came up and set it down on a chair and pulled a can out. “I can’t believe we finally have a cool night finally…so tired of that heat. Who wants a PBR?”
No one said anything.
He kept rambling like Alex does, “Have ya’ll seen that show, Friday Night Lights? I just finished watching 6 hours of it on Netflix. My eyes are about to fall out of my head.” He looked up at Chris and his expression changed. “Chris!, did you finally get into it with that guy that Odette’s been fuck…I mean, spending, um, time with?”
Chris didn’t say anything. He just drank his beer and and stared blankly back at Alex. Then he said, “How much hair gel did you use this time dude?”
It is funny how Chris knows that Alex is like a kid so all you have to do is distract him to change the subject….especially if the conversation has been turned to focus on him…and his looks.
“I used toothpaste! Can you believe that? It is so much stickier and easier to get the hair up in the middle than with gel and now I always have that minty-fresh smell about me.”
James started to tap the high-hat with his drum stick. He said, “You probably also have cockroaches eating your hair at night.”
I started to play the beginning of our new song then I suddenly remembered. “Oh!” I said. “By the way, we’re going to San Fran in a week and a half. So you guys need to take off work.”
“For how long?” Chris said.
“A month. We’re going to be driving across to Chicago. They’ve got a real tour bus for us. It will be like the old days.”
We all looked at each other. James let out a yelp and threw his drumsticks in the air while Alex jumped up to give me a high five. Chris sat there and scratched his head. “A month,” he said. “I wonder if I’ll still have a wife when I get back.”
We all looked at him. I said, “This is going to be good for you. You need to get away from her for a while.”
“What if she suddenly decides she doesn’t want to cook dinner anymore while I’m gone. What if she goes into one of her funks?” He looked so perplexed I wanted to go to his house and give Odette a piece of my mind right then and there. How did I let her sweet-talk me yesterday? It was something about when she put her head back on the seat and closed her eyes when she was listening to the music. It made me remember when she used to do that when she came on tour with us back when she was just a kid. Back when we were all just kids.
Alex said, “It’s not your job to take care of her, Chris. She is gonna be 30 right? She needs to get her shit together. It’s not like she appreciates you anyway dude. Fuck her.”
It looked like Chris had had-enough. He turned his back and started playing something new on the guitar. It was unusually melodic and it sounded really good. I put my guitar down and picked up the bass and started playing with him. Alex walked over to the pedal steel. He sat down and added a sad twang while James started to softy tap on the ride. Then Chris stomped on the distortion pedal and launched into attacking the guitar. It sounded awesome. I was glad that if we were going to have some angst here, we were going to at least be able to use it.