20 Hours to Florida – by: Dave

After getting Chris’s text that he was down the street with Zoe, I knocked on Bob and Lucy’s enormous red door. I had to clear away a spot that wasn’t covered with little yellow flowers attached to the vines that covered much of the weathered, wooden slats.
Chris opened it and he was smiling as Zoe came running up and slammed into his leg, then ran away again. His face was half black-and blue, his smile a little contorted. It kind of threw me.
“Are you OK dude?” I said.
His expression turned suddenly strained and he nodded. “Lucy, Bob, I’ll be back in a few minutes!” he called into the house.

“OK, son,” Bob called back.

He walked out of the door and we went around the side of the house and out to their back yard overlooking the ocean. He sat down on their swing and I sat on a half-broken deck chair and we both sat there silent for a couple of minutes. I rubbed my beard that got itchy sometimes in the salty air. “What are you going to do?” I said.

“About tonight?”

“About everything, about Odette?”

“I don’t know. I think it is going to take me more than one day to decide,” he said. He picked up a perfectly formed shell and smoothed the sand off it, then put it in his pocket. All throughout our tour he would find things for Zoe. It was interesting to see him do it while he was here with her too. “Are you going to stay with her?”

He laughed cynically and shook his head. “Really,” he said, “Dave, I have no fucking idea what to do. I hate her right now.” He looked over at me and it was almost embarrassing to see so much emotion in his face. “I didn’t think it was possible to hate someone you love so much,” he started to cry. “But it is.” He put his head in his hands then wiped his eyes with his black hoodie-sleeve.

I wondered if I should leave to give him a moment.

“I’m sorry man,” he said sniffing and wiping his eyes. “You don’t have to witness this shit. You can leave if if you want.”

“Don’t worry man,” I said. “You’re just being real.”

He nodded then leaned back and looked up at the sky. He wiped his cheek with his sleeve again. He said, “I know what you think I should do.”

“I don’t know shit” I said. “I’m not married. I don’t have a kid. I know it is way more important than anything that I understand. It is easy to say just leave her, but I know, well, that there is more involved than just the obvious.”

“So you are saying it is obvious that I should leave her.”

“No, I’m saying it is NOT obvious that you should leave her.” I shuffled my shoe around in the sand mixed in with the grass and said, “I’ve known Odette for a really long time too, same amount of time that you have. From my perspective, from a distance, she has always been really sweet to you until now. I don’t know what you guys are going through, or why she is choosing to put you through this. But…I don’t know. Maybe things can go back to the way they were before all this stuff happened, if she is sorry.”

He sighed a big sigh, still looking up at the sky over the ocean. “I’ve been thinking that for a few weeks now…counting on that. After last night I don’t know if I can ever look at her the same. It is like a wall goes up when you are hurt too many times. I want to go back to her, I want to fix it right now to stop how bad it hurts to not be with her. But common sense won’t let me.” He looked at me his eyes squinting in the rising sun, “and pride.”

“Maybe with time, it will get easier to forgive her,” I said. I couldn’t bare the thought of him being away from the girl he had been so in love with for the past ten years, or have him be that friend who gets divorced and has to figure out what to do with his kid all the time. It was starting to seem like there was no other way for him, and that was really depressing.

He looked over at me and laughed. “I didn’t mean to get you depressed, man.”

“I seriously can’t imagine you guys splitting up for real. You have tried so hard. I mean, didn’t we have this conversation a few weeks ago at the beginning of tour? You worked it out then. And dude, if you guys can’t make it, then I don’t know if anyone can. Definitely not me. I don’t have your common sense or self control. I fuck up every relationship with my temper. You should be able to make this work.”

“Well, I can’t magically wave the ‘don’t fuck the neighbor’ wand can I?” he said.

“No,” I said, cracking a half-smile, “you can’t”.  I shook my head and looked at him. “She’s such an idiot, dude.”

He shrugged. “I guess.”

“Are you coming with us into town today? Bring Zoe. She would like that. I would like that.”

“I kind of feel like I should just stay here and ice my face every 20 minutes. I don’t want to look like this when we play tonight.”

“Yeah, that makes sense. That was so fucked up last night. You beat the shit out of him. I didn’t know you had it in you, man,” I said, grinning at him.

“It sucked” he said, frowning. “It was fucking horrible.” He picked up another shell and threw it towards the beach.

I nodded, feeling bad for bringing it up. “Sound check is at 4pm” I said. “I’ll text you when we head over there.”

“OK” he mumbled.

I got up to go and tell the guys at Luna’s that we would be spending the day without Chris and Odette, even though the entire 20 hour trip to Florida on the bus was so that they could be together. Then we had to be in Virginia in 2 days after tonight’s show. The things you do for your friends.

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