18 Whoops, There It Blows
Ace stepped back and looked at his forerunner. Looks like something out The Grapes of Wrath! He checked on Mr. Biggs, in his crate in the back.
“On the road again, old pal.” He said to the dog.
Mr. Biggs was as excited as an eleven year old mutt could be. Oh Boy!
The guys were standing around by the bus when Ace pulled into the parking lot.
“Jesus! Did you hear?” Said Harry the Hebe. Harry looked like he was going to start foaming at the mouth.
“What? Did someone die?”
“Close! Some guy‘s dick exploded; a guy with the implant. There may be others.”
“Holy crap! There goes the tour! What about Joey; does he know?”
“He must by now; it’s all over the news.”
“Have you talked to Horn yet?”
“I left a message on his cell.”
“He must be running damage control central. Horn’s undoubtedly in up to his asshole with Xeonosis.”
“Both Greg and Joey.”
Boomer said, “I warned Horn about that company. All it takes is a few major lawsuits and the stock tanks. That’s why I didn’t pick any up.”
“Boom, you are a smart cookie for a guy who doesn’t say very much.”
“Have you ever considered that maybe that’s the smart part?”
“I’m not having any problems, quite the opposite. Well, it was sore for a while. But the thing is causing me to score even more women than ever before. Maybe it’s just one guy.” Joey felt his newly enhanced pecker. It was barely sore at all. He needed more Viagra than before to get it airborne, but, hell, that’s because it was the size of a baguette!
“It’s more than one case, Joey, “said Horn. “ It’s a lot. It seems like it might be a matter of time. Xeonosis has been paying to keep it quiet.”
“Paying who, that schmuck Arkavarian?”
“Arkavarian, all the other big docs that have promoting this thing, and the top news execs around the country, among others. I sold it all this morning. We got out Ok. It was still at twenty seven and some change. “
“Shit, it was almost at fifty!”
“The good news is: we’re still rich as shit, my old friend. The bad news is we’ve got four more gigs to do. The press is going to be brutal.”
“Can’t we just bail?”
“Xeonosis is in major damage control mode. They’re going to insist that it’s all because of bad surgeons. Charles wants us out there promoting it. We just have Dallas, OK City, Denver, and the silly thing Charles insisted we do in Pocatello.”
“Well, if this turns out to be as bad as you’re making it out to be, Pocatello will be the last gig forever for Childhood. Childhood, the band with the exploding dicks! Just as well. The whole thing is pain in the ass.”
“It would be better if that’s where the pain was, Joey.”
Ace trailed the bus out I-40 towards Memphis. It felt good to be behind the wheel of his own ride with Mr. Biggs in the back. Ace rolled the window down to let in some fresh air. Just like old times, including the dog farts! Ace wanted to have his car when he got to Idaho, so he could take Josh and drive up to Roberta’s place in Montana. I can’t see going back to Nashville. I don’t know how Sheila and I could ever get back to any kind of play- acting that would work for more than a few minutes. This has to be over. Molly? We’ll have to figure that part out.
He had his golf clubs, a couple of flyrods, his sleeping bag, his favorite pillow, a stack of books he hadn’t had time to get to yet, His Martin guitar, three Navajo blankets he thought might be valuable – in any case he didn’t want to lose ‘em, a box of photos, and a box containing all his royalty statements for the last five years. His computer was strapped down in the back seat. Up on the roof was his inflatable two-man boat with its rowing frame. A tangle of waders, coolers, and folding camp chairs were all tied to the frame by a web of bungee cords. He could feel the whole mess catching too much air as he drove, an odd loose chord whapping the top of the Forerunner at high speed, but that was fine.
I feel like I’m twenty again, taking off for Idaho just like I did back then. With all the tuff packed in the car, he couldn’t use the rear-view mirror; he had to drive with the side mirrors. Don’t bother looking back; you don’t want to see who might be chasing you down anyway.
Sandy let her eyes rest on the green grass. Tumbleweeds rustled in the endless April wind up against the chain link fence. It was peaceful despite the wind. This ain’t eternity anyway. She bent down and straightened the bright plastic flowers. The stone said simply: Jesse, Child of God.
Judgment Day is coming for all of us.
“Hey, Rob. Greetings from Little Rock.”
“Hi, baby. How’s Mr. Biggs?”
“He loves it. He’s like a pup.”
“Have you heard from her yet?”
“Not a word. I left a message for Molly. That part sucks. But otherwise, silence is golden.”
“I just wonder if she’s up to something.”
“I’m sure that her bite will pack a lot of venom.”
“Do you think she knows?’
“I don’t think so. How would she find out?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she was keeping tabs on you.”
“No, I guess I wouldn’t be either. It doesn’t matter either way. I’m done. Stick a fork in me, folks.”
“I can’t get a room at your hotel in Pocatello; you guys have caused quite a stir.”
“Stay with me. Or bring a tent; I’ve got my sleeping bag!”
“I’m a little freaked out about driving through Mud Lake.”
“Gee, that was thirty years ago. I guess I wouldn’t want to see her myself. She’s such a weirdo. Just don’t stop and she’ll never know you went through. Or you could go the other way, through Dillon.”
“Maybe I will.”
“It wasn’t your fault, you know that.”
“But she always blamed me.”
“She blamed all of us. But it wasn’t our fault. She‘s crazy but she’s harmless, anyway.”
I hope, Ace thought.
“Sheila, this is Greg Horn.”
“Are you home?”
“No, I’m in Asheville with my mom and my daughter.”
“Did you get the stuff we sent?”
“Yeah, thanks. I also made copies of all of Ace’s royalty statements that I could find. His idea of filing is to toss stuff in a drawer.”
“I hope you’re finding what we sent you to be useful.”
“Well, it would be more useful if Ace was worth anything. He’s got the number one song on the country charts. I’ll be going after that.”
“Yeah, that’d be the biggest piece of income that he has. Over the last five years, he’s sold off pretty much everything that had value. How’s your company doing, Ok?”
“Yes, we’re doing well.” Sheila said, “It’s really not about the money; it’s the principle. He’s leaving everything up to me while he’s out running around the country. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s screwing around on me. I am getting out and I’m protecting my interests and my child’s as well.”
Should I tell her now? “Sheila, I have quite bit of experience with these kinds of situations. I could put a package together for you with my attorney that would be favorable to you; one I know Ace would go for. Ace is a good guy, but he’s not the most astute businessman in the world. It wouldn’t have to involve putting out any cash for our services. We could take a little piece of that Tracy Boggs song; say fifty percent of the publishing. We’ll present it to Ace in a way that would make him think he was getting protected in the deal. You wouldn’t be able to tell him you worked with me on it, though.”
“Fifty percent of the publishing is worth two hundred grand. I’ll just pay you for your time.”
“You’re very smart. Have you told him, by the way? That you’re divorcing him?” Greg was a little concerned about adding another difficult element to the already volatile mix. Just four more dates, then who gives a fuck?
“I’m going to surprise him.”
“Ella, how are you?” Oh shit, thought Ace. I forgot to call her back.
“I’m fine. I didn’t hear from you. That made me sad, Ace.”
“I’m sorry, Ella. Shit, it’s been stupid busy and very tiring out here.”
“I may forgive you. Have you been watching TV?”
“Yeah, wild, huh? We’re getting set for the shit to hit the fan when we play tonight. We had to cover for Xeonosis when we did our radio stuff today. The DJ’s are all over it. Xeonosis told us to say that it’s just some isolated cases of malpractice. It’s hard to lie on the air.”
“It’s only easy to lie to women, right?”
“Well, we men actually are actually required to take classes when we’re young to learn how to lie to our moms. This gives us the job training we later use in our extended adolescence second childhoods! On the other subject, it turns out that congress passed a law when no one was looking that limits the amount that Xeonosis would have to pay if something goes wrong.”
“You didn’t get one, did you?”
“What? Not me. I’m too old to care about that! I mean, I don’t have anything against implants in general, but…” Ace wondered, are Ella’s real?
Mine are real, Ella said to herself. “I know Joey did. Jas told me. He must be worried.”
“He doesn’t talk about that kind of stuff to us peons. It seemed to have slowed him down for a couple of weeks, but he’s going great guns now, as far as I can tell.”
“So… Jas and I thinking about taking a road trip to Pocatello.”
Oh, crap. “Hey, cool!”
“We got a room in your hotel. Don’t tell Joey; Jas wants to surprise him.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” At least Roberta won’t be in the same hotel. What am I worrying about? It’s not like I have a thing going on with this young filly. We just talk on the phone.
Jeez, It’s like I’m already married or something. I have way too many women in my life! Still, Roberta would see the connection. Women have away of knowing things, don’t they? At least Sheila won’t be there. Now, that would suck!