The Devil's Reprise
“I’m your mother,” she said, her tone hurt and shocked, but still so her. “You must still remember me. You wanted me to come back. They’ve let me go. They want us to see each other.”
The room went deadly silent, deadly cold. I started shivering uncontrollably.
“You aren’t her.”
There was a pause. This was the time for someone to admit they were playing a sick joke.
But it sounds just like her.
“Let me come see you,” she said. “Will you let me in?”
“You are not my mother.” My voice was cracking now, my heart threatening to leap clear out of my rib cage.
“Dawn…how could you not trust me?”
“Because you’re dead!” I screamed into the phone. “I saw you die. You killed yourself and left me in charge!”
Another pause. This one was heavy and long enough to make me start questioning my sanity. I could hear her breathing over the line, ominous and steady, and even that was familiar.
When I was a young girl, maybe seven years old, before she got depressed and went down the slippery slope of medication and mental illness, she bought me a stuffed horse. This was before I had Moonglow. I loved that fluffy pony to bits, and I carried it with me everywhere I went until Eric got a hold of it one day.
“If you’re her,” I said slowly. “Tell me the name of the plush horse you bought me. When I was young. What did I name the horse?”
The seconds ticked on by. I felt the world slowing down in this blackened, ice-cold room.
Finally she said, quietly, sweetly, too sweetly, “You named the horse Miss Piggy.” I sucked in my breath. She was right. “And you loved that dear horsie. You loved it so much, even though your brother cut the legs off of it and pulled out its guts and plucked out its eyes.” Her voice changed to a horrifically loud, inhuman demonic growl, straight from the depths of Hell. “And that’s just what I’m going to do to you!”
I screamed, dropped the phone, and leapt out of bed. My feet tripped over each other, and I slammed into the ground, biting down on my tongue. In seconds the door opened and the lights flicked on. I was so terrified, so fucking terrified that I’d see my mother standing there or the man in black, but it was Max, wearing a wifebeater and boxers, looking down at me in concern.
“Lordy, Dawn!” He dropped to his knees beside me. “Are you okay?”
I nodded quickly, tears threatening my eyes.
He wrapped his hands under my arms and pulled me up to my feet, and I collapsed against his chest, looking at the phone, the receiver lying on the bed.
“Did someone call you?” he asked. All I could do was keep nodding. He walked over and snatched up the phone, putting it to his ear. “Hello?” He eyed me and said it again. Then he shook his head and hung it up. “No one there. Who was it?”
I couldn’t even speak. I started shaking uncontrollably.
“It’s okay,” Max said in a hush and came over to me. “Want to come stay in my room? I’ll sleep on the floor and stay awake all night if I have to.”
I managed to say “thank you” and quickly grabbed my robe, suddenly conscious of the fact that I was wearing only a Sabbath shirt and cotton underwear. He led me out of my room and down the hall, and I couldn’t help but look behind me at Sage’s door. It was closed. I was grateful for Max being so nice, but it should have been Sage’s room I was going to, Sage’s arms giving me comfort.
He hadn’t even opened the door to check on me.
“Remember, I want to see you in the lobby at ten hundred hours or we are going to Nice without you,” Jacob barked. Every day he was sounding more and more like a drill sergeant.
I winced, head pounding, and put my face in my hands. “Could you please keep it down?”
I could tell he was watching me, probably trying to decide whether to yell in my face or not. We were sitting at the breakfast table, our last meal in Paris before we had to catch the train that would take us to Nice. Our equipment had already left in the van the night before, so it was just the band and some of the crew.
Everyone except Dawn and Max. It would have worried me a lot more if I hadn’t been so blown over by my hangover, but it was literally consuming me. I barely remembered what I did last night. I know that after the small press conference, Jacob had champagne for me and the boys in the dressing room. Tricky brought out the drugs. Then Jacob left us to our devices, and the last image I could recall was vomiting in the rain outside the Louvre, where a surprisingly rowdy Garth thought it would be fun to try and break into the museum. I couldn’t tell you if it worked or not, but I definitely didn’t come home with any Mona Lisa.
Luckily, the things I could remember clearly were the ones that mattered the most. The show, which went better than I ever could have hoped (save for a few fuckups), and Dawn…fucking the life out of Dawn in my dressing room. Forget the show—that was the highlight of 1975. Being inside her, so close to her, making her come with me, watching her want me…I got hard again just thinking about it, and my heart…my heart was getting soft.
“I’ll give you a free pass, Sage,” Jacob said slowly. “Only because you put on such a bloody good show. Keep it up. And I do mean it. Whatever you can do to get rid of your…Sage fright.”
I heard Tricky groan at that pun, but I just shoved a croissant in my mouth and forced myself to swallow it.
“Oh, and there’s the Red Potato now,” Jacob said.
My head snapped up (something I instantly regretted), and I saw Max sauntering toward the table with an apologetic grin on his face and an ugly plaid shirt on his chest. What was it with the gingers and dressing so shittily?
“My nicknames spread fast,” Max noted with a raise of his eyebrows, taking a seat in front of Jacob. “Sorry I’m late.”
“Where’s Dawn?” Jacob asked, folding his arms. I could hear the crinkle of his stiff fabric.
Max’s eyes darted briefly to mine, but for the life of me I couldn’t read them. There was something strange about Max, something about him that made it impossible to know what he was thinking. “She’s not feeling well. She had a rough night.”
“Oh?” Jacob said. “What happened?”
Max shot him another one of those loaded looks. “A nightmare, I reckon. I heard her screaming. I’m surprised none of you did.” He was addressing the entire table but looking straight at me.
“Screaming?” I repeated, my heart sinking faster than a lead weight. My God, my poor angel.
“Yeah,” Max said gravely, reaching for a coffee cup. “She’s okay. She slept in my room.” He caught my eye again, and I swear he almost grinned. “Don’t worry, I stayed on the floor. Stayed awake. She was really shaken up. She should be okay, though.”
Oh, Christ. She was screaming last night—fucking screaming—in the room next door to me and I never fucking heard her. I was supposed to help her, to protect her, and I was out in the streets of Paris trying to recreate The Italian Job at the Louvre with a psychotically drunk keyboardist and a bassist who tried to climb the Egyptian Obelisk.
I was supposed to be there for her and I wasn’t. And instead she was turning to the first warm shoulder to lean on—Max. I leaned forward in my chair, sticking another croissant in my mouth for good measure, and started scrutinizing him even greater now.
I’d never really been the jealous type—I’d never gotten close to anyone after my ex-wife died. I was the rock star here, I was the one everyone wanted, and I handled that just fine. But Dawn, she wasn’t like everyone. Dawn had loved me and my music, but she wasn’t an idiot. She knew how to separate the music from the man. If I kept fucking up, I would lose what little thing we had left. If I wasn’t careful, she’d turn her back on me—and maybe find the next best thing instead. It might even be a tall redheaded lumberjack with a southern accent and peculiar otherworldliness to his eyes.
I felt like I was going to vomit again. I stood up, knocking over my chair, and quickly excused myself, heading to the toilets off the lobby while Jacob called after me, “Ten hundred, Sage!”
I puked my guts up until there was nothing left, but I still didn’t feel any better.
On my way back to my room, I stopped by Dawn’s door and gently knocked. There was no answer. I had no idea if she was in her room again or still in Max’s, and I didn’t know what room that was, so I decided to try again later and quickly got myself all packed up. I moved about as fast as molasses, with just a little blow to speed up the process. It made me feel better everywhere except in my heart.
“Let’s go!” Jacob yelled while pounding on my door. I flung it open, my suitcase in one hand, shades pulled down on my eyes.
“I’m ready, chill out.”
He peered at me. “Let me see your eyes.”
“Dude, why? No.”
“Sage,” he warned. “Don’t make me start babysitting you again. You did great last night.” He poked his finger into my chest. “Do not fuck it up.”
“Have you been able to talk to her?” I asked.
“Dawn?” he asked. “Briefly. She says she’s fine. But I have to say, you need to step up your game, boy.”
I debated whether I was going to say the next thing. “Do you think she and Max are, uh…”
Jacob stared at me for a few beats, face completely emotionless, before he let out a snort and shook his head in contempt. “If you think Dawn is going to shag you and then go shag Max, you’ve got her pegged as the wrong woman. She’s not you.”
I licked my lips. “Low blow, man.”
“And you’ve had enough blow, I can see that. Now come on, you blooming twat.” He turned and I followed him downstairs and out into the lobby.
Angeline was standing in the middle of it with a clipboard in her hand, my bandmates and crew gathered around her. Somehow that rubbed me the wrong way, and I could tell Jacob would have none of it.
“What are you doing?” Jacob boomed, marching up to her. I looked past them and to Dawn, who was at the edge of the group. Our eyes met. She didn’t smile. I realized I was still wearing the shades.
“I was just trying to get everyone in line since you weren’t here,” Angeline said to Jacob, her voice haughty. Or maybe it was her accent that made everything she said seem haughty. Man, she was a royal pain in the ass last night, following me everywhere, saying she wanted to ensure the “Americans” were behaving, trying to get me drunk at the same time. I’d seen her talking to Dawn earlier, when I was dealing with the reporters, and I knew that couldn’t have gone too well, not with the way that smirk never left her face. Angeline may have been a good lay, but there was no denying she was a manipulative bitch. I’d seen her type a lot in the industry.
“Well, you can leave the band to me, thank you, love,” he said to her, unable to hide the annoyance in his voice. I was surprised he didn’t snatch the clipboard out of her hands. He turned to everyone else. “All right, let’s go!”