“I should have been a dustman.” said Barry, as he floated listlessly in the pool.
“What? Why would you want to do that?” Geoff sounded amused and surprised, and actually interested in the words coming out of Barry’s mouth for the first time in months.
“My dad was a dustman. It’s decent money, enough to live on. You spend most of your time outdoors, and you get lots of exercise. It’s healthy.” Barry’s lilo was floating in a slow circle as he talked.
Geoff put his drink down, leaned forward in his seat by the side of the pool. He shifted his shades up onto the top of his head. “Healthy? You’re covered in filth all day!”
“Ah, but that’s the best bit,” said Geoff “by the time you finish work, you stink, and it doesn’t come off. My dad used to take a shower as soon as he got home, and another before bed, and again in the morning. He never stopped stinking of it. Even after he retired, the smell hung around for a month.”
Geoff’s eyebrows knotted. “That’s a good thing?”
Barry looked at him, a wistful, dreamy expression on his face. “People leave you alone” he said.
It had started when that superhero movie used Date Night on the soundtrack. Their one mega sized hit, the song that had paid Barry’s mortgage and child support for the last dozen years, back in the charts and back in people’s consciousness. After a decade of playing in toilets they were relevant again.
Their management had called a meeting, and dropped the bomb: John had been in touch. He wanted to be in the band again.
Barry had been dead against it at first. So what if John was a superstar now? So what if it was his voice singing Date Night, his cheekbones in the video? Barry wrote the damn thing. They’d kicked him out for a reason. But when he heard that John had been through rehab, that he was seeing a therapist now, Barry had relented, and agreed to a meeting. Geoff, as ever, was happy to go with the flow. Only Jerry held out, and understandably; he was the frontman now. Why should he even consider stepping back to just playing guitar now, just because John wanted his old spot back? He said he’d rather be a cult star than a millionaire sidekick.
Barry and Geoff had met with John without Jerry.
And now here they were, in South America, on the second leg of a world tour, playing stadiums. The best session guitarist in the world playing Jerry’s parts. John up in his room, meditating. Geoff and Barry down at the pool, alone together for the first time in what couldn’t be, but felt like a whole year, and that was only because it was 5 in the morning. Jet lag serving a positive purpose for once.
Barry hadn’t written a song since this all began, and now the record company was getting antsy, wanting a new album to cement the comeback. But when was he supposed to write? Every second of every minute of every hour of every day was taken up with work now. Sure, it looked like fun; the TV appearances, the photoshoots, premiers and parties and pretty people everywhere… But it was all work. Their office was nicer than most, but just as much of a grind in the end. It was all getting a bit much for Barry.
Geoff had lost interest, was laid back in his recliner, nose in the latest issue of Modern Drummer (an irregular publication), slurping loudly on a straw nestled amongst umbrellas and fruit in a dayglo drink. Barry kept drifting in his sad circle, toes trailing in the water, his own glass long empty.
“I wonder what Jerry’s up to” he said, to nobody.