Second Childhood, part 7: On the Road

7 On the Bus

After their stirring lip-sync appearance at the Super Bowl, won by the Las Vegas Gamblers on a last second 79-yard field goal by the former Brazilian soccer star Fuego! ™ , it was on to Phoenix, then Tucson, double north to Reno, Big Rock Rez Casino, on east to Salt Lake, back down to Vegas. The whole band, even Joey Lowe, was on the bus. It was all rigged out, with a Q-Box and a 72” Hi-Def TV on the ceiling in the back bedroom. Marco was impressed. “God, I feel like I’m in a threesome when I watch porn on this thing! I keep getting stuck to the screen when I’m done!”
“We’re a real fuckin’ band again, brohans!” beamed Joey. Ace and Harry snickered over Joey’s use of the ancient term. Of course, he was getting his sixty percent of net of the tour and record, compared to the other guys’ ten percent each. Gotta make ‘em feel like we’re in it together; you have to manage your friends, Joey thought.
Well, he was being a good band member so far. The venues were all over the map. They had played Xeonosis World Headquarters outside of Phoenix, in the Xeonosis convention center: four thousand science geeks and bean counters, balanced out with a nice mix of outrageously beautiful drug reps. Charles Frank, who got seriously hammered during their set and got up to sing on Big One, took them all out to Shadow Mountain for golf the next morning. They had double bloody Marys waiting in the golf cart’s air-conditioned drink holders. Charles, the former Idaho State Bengal and monitor mixer for Childhood, now Medical Corporation CEO, was happy with his seventy-one. Ace noted that Charles took a mulligan almost every other hole. Harry shot an honest 114 and was miserable watching the others slug down their beverages. Ace shot a 97. His mind was elsewhere.
Tucson was a smaller theater. There plenty of boomer types who remembered The Big One, plus a smattering of former Gen X’ers, now in their thirties, working for Sunbelt corporations, who were trying to join the “real” world by getting their penises enlarged.
The Implant ad was everywhere. The DJ’s were all over it when the band did their personal appearances at the radio stations.
“So…!” Deep phony DJ voice.” Hey! Here come the big ones! How’s that implant ad going for you? Got you all pumped up? “Ha-ha! Laugh along, thought Ace. Make the money.

Sheila was constantly calling. “I can’t do this by myself!”
Ace could feel her anger radiating out of the cell phone.
“What am I supposed to do, babe?” he answered. “This is work and money.”
“Your daughter misses you.”
“Well, I miss her, too. Put her on.”
“Hi daddy”, came the little voice, “we saw a turtle at school and it was yellow! But Edward tried to kick it and I told on him.”
“Oh, that’s nice, Molly. Are you being good?”
“I miss you, daddy.”
Now, that hurt. “Daddy misses you too, sweetheart. I’ll be home as soon as I can. Be a good girl for mommy, ok?
“OK. Daddy, what does limp mean?’
”Hmm…it means like wet spaghetti, Molly. Put Mommy back on, Ok?”
Shelia was back.” So, how are all the girls?”
“Shee, there aren’t any fuckin’ girls.”
“Don’t give me that crap; I know you, Ace. If you find something out there that you like, you just stay with it. And don’t bring any infections back here with you!”
Fuck, you know how to rain on my walkabout, don’t you?
“I’ll only bring back Ebola and SARS, ok?” He said caustically. Man, she wears me out with this shit.
He looked out the window at the desert rolling by. He wished he was in his Forerunner with his old dog Mr. Biggs, or, better yet, with Roberta, bouncing down some back road in a pickup.
“I’ll call you later. We’re in Big Rock tonight. Give Molly a kiss for me.”
“I’ll be at my mother’s”
Boy, now that would be fun! He was glad he was two thousand miles away.

The implant was really taking off. Viagra worked, but this thing made a man’s dick bigger! Just a simple walk-in procedure and you could have the dick you always claimed you had! Hell, chicks got boobs, why couldn’t guys get cocks? A second ad ran, with a picture of a rugged guy standing facing away from the camera. A towering red-rock desert formation rose beyond him, well, you get the idea. A big logo read: SIZE COUNTS. Underneath, in a smaller font, it said:

the new album from CHILDHOOD
Get ahold of it! IT’S HUGE!

Jared O’Rourke said on Late Night with Jared,” There’s a bit of a medical disclaimer regarding the new implant. It says, in the unlikely event that your penis gets really enormous and stays erect for days, call all the women who have ever turned you down!” tom-crash! Ha-ha! Sales of Xeonosis stock were going through the roof.
President York, the former Doctor, “Dickie” York, had his old pal Charles Frank to the White House for ceremony honoring Xeonosis’ contribution to the medical world, not to mention Xeonosis’ contributions to York’s personal and secret Political Action Committee. York’s wife Trudy was the titular head of Mothers Against Nearly Everything, another beneficiary of Xeonosis’ charitable largess. The Secretary of Defense, speaking on the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S.Corporation announced that Xeonosis, out of love of country, would provide low-cost implants to all our troops serving in the war in Farukyuistan. The Senate quietly passed a bill limiting the amount of financial awards in litigation brought on by malfunction of sexually oriented medical implants. The bill claimed that since it was a voluntary procedure, the danger should be borne by the patient. The measure, brought to a vote at five-fifty on a Friday afternoon, just before the legislators were left for their ten-week early spring vacations, passed by a margin of 98-2.

All the guys knew that it was just a matter of time before the future would start showing up. Joey had been on the bus since Phoenix, actually riding along, cheating at poker, and talking and posing endlessly on the vidphone. Horn had run on the bus from Phoenix down to Tucson, but had to fly out to take care of crap in LaLaLand.
Pretty good, was the consensus among the band guys. Joey’s really hobnobbing with the peasants well. But after they played the second of two sold-out two shows at the Sony-Disney-Toyota Mocambo in Vegas, Horn showed up and whisked Joey away in a charter jet.
“Hey, I’ll see you guys in Portland in three days. Just gotta do a quick session for Stone.”
“More room on the bus, “sneered Harry the Hebe. Ace just shrugged.

Roberta walked her dogs along a logging road by the river in the snow. It was still winter up in Montana, even though it was eighty degrees in Phoenix. Her call to Ace on her cell as she drove back to Montana from L.A. had left a little sweet and sour taste.
“I just thought it might be better if I left. You had stuff to do. You need those people, Ace. You need all the contacts you can make.”
“Shit, Rob, I just wanted to spend a little time with you.” Ace had felt something there he had pushed away for years.
“It’s safer like this. You don’t need any trouble, and neither do I. I don’t want to be sad again, Ace, I’ve spent thirty years getting’ to me. You have a home and little girl. That’s where you need to be when this little run is done.”
Ace couldn’t counter that. “I’ve thought about you a lot.” He said.
The phone was quiet for a moment.
“I know, sweetie; we need to leave it like that. I’ve thought about you too. I always will.”
The only difference right now was Ace was on the road, doing radio interviews and chatting up babes every night. Roberta was out in the woods with her dogs and couple of lonesome moose.
Jesus, it’s so pretty in the snow. Before you know it, it’ll be spring and the river will come up.
And I’ll be thinking about him then, too, won’t I, she thought. Her big brown lab waddled over to a tree and peed.

“So I take Toprol and Lipitor, plus an enteric aspirin.”
“I‘m on Lipitor, too, plus I need to monitor my blood level twice a day and shoot insulin.’
“I was on Zoloft for a while, but now I’m backed down to just the odd Xanax when I’m feeling stressed”
“Oh, I do Ambien every night. Gotta get my sleep.”
“Shit, yes. If I don’t sleep, I feel like I’m hung over.”
“You gotta go to the gym every day.”
“Hell, yes. You gotta work out. I was doing Taibo until my knee started acting up.”
“My ortho guy did my knee last year.”
“Really? I had to get my rotator cuff done. I couldn’t even lift my motherfuckin’ left arm for six months.”
“I got a stent and they tell me I’ll need a triple bypass down the road if I don’t get my diet turned around. I’ve been eating a lot of broccoli and taking Omega-3’s. I think it’s helping.”
“Yeah, I’ve got this new shit that everyone in Nashville is taking; it’s a grape seed extract. Now that I can’t have caffeine any more, I need something to give me a boost.”
“What about Viagra?”
“Fuckin’ wonder drug, but don’t tell the old lady; they hate it when they know you’ve taken it.”
“Yeah, but they don’t mind the results!”
“Well, I don’t know about them, but I sure fuckin’ like it!”

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