Three Days Ago 1
Clomping off the bus in two-ton rubber boots in the middle of a winter wind storm with the kind of flurries that aren't enough to stick on the ground, but that sting the bare skin of a person's face, wasn't the way he wanted to start his day. He wanted Malibu, a good breakfast burrito, and some time on the back porch. This was his life though and despite wanting to crawl back into his bunk and hibernate the rest of the way from Chicago to Denver, the last big stop on tour before he got back to southern California, he found himself smiling and waving to the handful of fans that were gathered around Cheyenne's biggest radio station.
He'd been told, as he'd shivered through the act of pulling on jeans and a turtleneck twenty minutes before, that the crowd had started to gather exactly two hours before they arrived. The driver had spoken to someone from the station on the phone and JR had relayed it to him as he'd gotten ready to take a break and a short nap that the turn out was a lot bigger than they'd thought it would have been, especially with the weather being the way it was. Standing in the crowded hallway of bunks, he'd heard them, but he didn't realize just how many people were out there until he stepped out into the weather himself.
Earlier on his career, there had been respectable sized crowds waiting around for him, but he had been part of an ensemble cast of a television show and with the twenty or so co-stars that he shared the screen with, it wasn't a surprise to see that many people outside a radio station or a promotional appearance. This was different. This was all for him. Someone had joked the day before about him being the star of the Tony Lucca show, but really he wouldn't have it any other way. He liked getting a little more attention these days, not because he was so into the fame thing, but because he was proud of the CD and was glad that people were finally hearing it. It was a very PR, cliché way to describe the way someone like him would describe the feeling, but truthfully it was the way he felt. He just wanted his career to get started. He'd been on hold for so many years that it was nice to actually be doing it.
With a wave he put an arm up to his face to shield himself from the snow flurries and rushed towards the building. It caught the bulk of the snow, leaving his nose and mouth free of cold slush on his face, but his forehead was still getting hit between the edge of his skull cap and where his arm was covering the other half of his face. He prayed that the heat inside was on and that they wouldn't tease him too much for being a wimp. He'd been traveling around the east coast and Midwest for a few weeks now, but he was a warm weather guy at heart and he needed to be in a place that didn't have snow falling in April.
He turned back around and found JR standing in the doorway holding his guitar in his hand. It wasn't an odd sight, the driver taking up some of the slack due to the skeleton crew that they were traveling. Only a production as small as his, one bus and a uhaul like trailer tagging along behind them could afford to stop at middle of no where radio stations like the one they were at today. "Forget something?"
He was holding the instrument the right way, but the sight of the man dangling it out the doorway into the weather and wind made the adrenaline rush through his body. Frowning, he moved back across the pavement towards the door of the bus. His boots slowed him up a bit as he splashed through a bit of melted snow that was on ground. "Thanks JR."
As soon as his hand was around the neck of the soft guitar case he found himself relaxing a bit. Cliché as it was, it really was a comfort to have his guitar with him. If it was a lucky hat or lucky shoes, no one would make a big deal about him carrying his guitar with him, but because it was big and a little bulky, everyone seemed to think of it more of an obsession than a luxury to be able to carry it with him all the time.
He didn't know why he'd forgotten the guitar in the first place. He never would have done that in the past. Being on tour changed a person. Changed the way someone ate, slept, acted, even extreme as to change the way that they breathed. It seemed like everything was this big ball of events, promos and concerts and once you got caught up in that movement there wasn't a way off it. Today it was a good guess to say that it was probably the early morning hour, that half-asleep thinking process that let's you stumble out of bed without hitting a toe on the edge of it, but that isn't fully awake enough to know the correct time and that not even the roosters were up at this hour. Mix this with the excitement of doing an early morning show, he'd found himself feeling a little more out of sorts then normal. He hoped that he could find his way back on course.
JR had been awake all night after packing them up in Chicago after an afternoon radio show at a mall in the suburbs, with a stop over in Lincoln, Nebraska, and a late night call time for the bus to leave for Cheyenne. It didn't look it though. His eyes were sharp and his wit even sharper, as always. "You awake?"
"I got my jacket," he said with a jovial voice, proud to at least have grabbed that before stepping outside.
"Sure," JR patted his head.
"Coffee?" he asked looking up at the driver with one eye open and one eye squinted shut, mimicking what he normally looked like when he wasn't awake.
"That's not my department," he said with a laugh and pointed towards the building that housed the radio station. "Go trick or treating."
Not really getting the joke, he nodded at the driver, secured the guitar case, backpack style onto his back and saluted him. "Thanks JR."
"Thanks JR!" Someone in the crowd yelled.
"Tony take two," he mumbled again thinking of the joke about The Tony Lucca Show. When said or thought about a certain way, it did seem like the way he lived his life was a circus show more than a rock show. Stuffing a group of people on what could be considered the clown car, to drive around the country pulling out a guitar and a quick set of drums and a few amps and keyboard really wasn't the way to travel, but he knew deep down that it was leading to something bigger and better. He just hoped this time that the bus wasn't moving as slowly as it had in the past.
He looked up and found a shorter brown haired girl standing in the doorway, just as he was reaching for the door handle. In NYC and in LA he had people with him, not really security, but an extra person around to help out with the schedule so he was surprised that somewhere like Cheyenne would send someone to the door for him. "Uh, yeah."
"I'm Alexis," she said with a smile.
His lips curled into a smile instantly, seeing that she was from the radio station. He liked her smile and he liked the thermal underwear shirt with a faded T-shirt over it look. He hadn't known what to expect here, but wearing a faded Benny Hill Show t-shirt was something that put him at ease. They at least had some idea about where he was coming from.
"The show is just about ready to start." She checked her watch and motioned for him to follow her. "I'm having one of the interns bring in breakfast stuff, eggs, bacon, muffins. There is a great place just around the corner that I told your driver about in case you all want to stop there before you leave town. For now there's coffee."
"Coffee," he mumbled, this time with a little more excitement and less cynicism than he had before.
She seemed to sympathize with his current mood. "Let's go raid the kitchen."
Tony shuffled along after her, holding onto his guitar straps as he made his way along. "There isn't really a great way to ask this, but is there enough time for me to make a restroom stop. I know you've got people waiting on me, but--"
"Sure," she said glancing back over her shoulder. "We've got Starbucks French Roast brewing. Want me to make you up a coffee while you go make a pit stop?"
He smiled at the way she seemed so relaxed about all of this. "Yeah. If you throw a little bit of milk and a little bit of sugar in it, I'd love you forever."
She laughed a bit. "Ahhh...another purist is in our midst."
"Purist?" he asked.
"Not too much milk or sugar," she said with a nod then stopped in front of a doorway in the hall they were in. "I'll leave you here." She turned an pointed down the hallway. "I'll be just in that next door so come on down when you're ready and I'll show you up to the booth."
"Thanks," he said and slipped into the bathroom.
It was a small bathroom, two stalls, but enough space for him to take off his guitar and use the restroom without too much trouble. He knew that as "the artist" he could take his time, but he didn't want to screw around with something like this. How many times would he ever be in Cheyenne and first impressions in his mind were the only impressions.
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Last updated: 09/19/04.