When the session wrapped up, they went over what would need tweaking, but overall it went smoothly with minimal hiccups. Before leaving the basement, Mitch asked if Darius had any right handed acoustic guitars for sale at his shop, and Darius responded by grabbing one from his own collection. Its dull black veneer had seen better days, Mitch assumed: scuffed to hell with sticker residue all over it and a few chips taken out of the body. “How much you want for it?” he asked.
“$20? It’s nothing special, just a spare that I keep around for jam sessions,” answered Darius. Mitch pulled out his wallet and handed a $20 bill over.
“Can you help me get it out to my car? Since I’m already carrying two of them?” he asked, and Darius obliged. They loaded Mitch’s acoustic and Molerat into the trunk, and the black guitar and plastic containers full of Evelyn’s cooking were set onto the back seat. Before Mitch could get into the driver’s side, Darius stopped him.
“Hey, it’s great to see you looking…” Darius paused. “Healthy. Y’know? Me ‘n Evelyn been real worried about you.”
“Yeah. Thanks. It’s been good, I feel good,” Mitch nodded, and was caught off guard when he got dragged into a hug. “Thanks for caring. I’m sorry that I-“
“Don’t start with that. You were sick. We’re just happy that you’re better.” Darius released him, but not without a light cuff to the shoulder. “Look, after this gig? Let’s talk about actually writing some new stuff. Or shit, a Halloween cover album, whatever, that was fun earlier. Point is, I miss you both.”
“Miss you, too, big guy,” Mitch grinned, his eyes suddenly misty. Wiping them, he cleared his throat and followed up with, “Hey, I gotta get Basil to the train, but I’ll see you Saturday. And we’ll be sure to carve out something, alright?”
“You got it.” Darius shut the door after Mitch sat down. He waved goodbye, then looked over at the passenger side from where Basil watched him.
“He get all emotional on you, too?” asked Basil.
“He did,” Mitch confirmed, then took a breath. Exhaling, he asked, “That was good, right?”
“Yeah man. Felt right, anyway.” Sinking further down into the seat, Basil put his feet on the dashboard. “But uh, we should go because uhhhh…” he drew the noise out for too long. “Train.”
“Train,” Mitch agreed, and started up the car.
“‘Cause otherwise you gotta drive me to Boston, and that would suck for you. Not for me. Love hanging out, love seeing you, my dude.” From out of the corner of his eye, Mitch could see Basil stretch like a tomcat, his lean arms ending up folded behind his head; as per usual, there was never a sense of urgency with him. “By the way, this is a Halloween shindig, right? Are we allowed to wear costumes?”
“Oh yeah, please do. It’s getting recorded for a DVD release. I think Jodie would actually be upset if you didn’t dress up. We should have extra costumes and makeup and stuff kicking around if you need anything, though. I know it’s last second-“
“Oh fuck no, I got stuff. I live for Halloween. Are you gonna get dressed up in your wrestling gear?”
“I actually didn’t think of that,” Mitch laughed. “Probably not. Zevon’s not a musician or anything, I don’t think. And it might be weird having him in a group that isn’t his werewolf pack.”
“OK, can I just tell you that I fucking love it so much that you’re a wrestler? And that you put all of this thought into character stuff? Because it’s great.”
“Oh, please do.”
“No, that was pretty much it, actually. I’m so stoked to actually go to a show. Just a bummer that you won’t be wrestling.”
“Tell me about it,” sighed Mitch. His thoughts lingered on wrestling for a bit longer during the drive, things like the state of his physique and everything that gradually changed over the last few years. Eventually, his brain circled back to Darius’ comments about how he looked, and he wondered if Basil was of the same opinion. “Hey can I ask you something?”
“Fire away.” Finger guns pointed at him, Basil’s tongue clicked against his teeth for full effect.
“Do I look better? Like from the last time we saw one another?”
“You look…iunno, like way less of a junkie? Is that what you mean?” Basil stated it so plainly, and Mitch barked out a laugh. He always appreciated the blunt honesty.
“That’s what I meant,” he confirmed. “And uh, good. I guess.”
“Mitch,” Basil reached over and pat his thigh a few times. “I don’t know if ten minutes is really enough time to talk about our feelings or catch up. That doesn’t feel appropriate for a deep dive.”
“No, you’re right.”
“We’ll do that later. But to answer your question, you do look better, even if you don’t look like you’ve slept in a decade.”
“Still that bad, huh?” Rubbing his face, Calvin’s visage surfaced in his mind, always manifesting when someone told Mitch that he looked tired, or something in that vein. It was such a random trigger and it continued to hurt, like a papercut that kept getting exposed to hand sanitizer.
“Dunno if you have sleep apnea or whatever, might wanna look into it. Anyway, I’m happy that you’re still around. Sorry that I wasn’t for a while.” Basil’s hand withdrew, and he set it in his own lap.
“It’s alright man, I get it. I do.”
“I just-” Sucking in a breath through his teeth, he then exhaled through his nose. “After what happened to my brother, and then seeing you destroy yourself in the same fashion. And your shitty boyfriend enabling it after you’d finally gotten clean. I couldn’t do it anymore.” He went quiet for a moment. “Should’ve tried harder. So much harder. I hope you can forgive me for that.”
“I never held it against you. Can’t help those that don’t want to be helped.” A sniffle punctured the heavy air. “Oh my god, Basil. Stop.”
“This was what I was trying to avoid!” Basil shouted. “Aw fuck. Look, I wasn’t ready for this tonight. Let’s make a date for when we can get into it, but not right now and not during the gig.” Mitch agreed. At the train station, they embraced, and Basil kissed his temple. “I fucking love you, dude. Pinky swear we’re not gonna let another 2 years go by without talking again? That really sucked.”
Mitch held his pinky finger up, and Basil hooked his around it. “There, it’s a deal. Unless you wanna make it a blood oath.”
“Oh! I got my knife on me,” Basil declared, patting his pockets down to find it. “Should probably sterilize it first, though. Who knows what I’ve used it on.” The train’s horn sounded off in the distance, interrupting Basil’s deranged ramblings. “Aw shit, that’s me. Later, though.”
“So I’ll see you Saturday?” Mitch clarified while Basil collected his bass guitar.
“Yup. Text Dar the address, I’m riding over with him.” With a wave, Basil departed. Mitch waited until he boarded the train, then took advantage of the station’s liminal space to allow himself to process the gamut of emotions that he ran through. He knew that the reunion had the potential to wreak havoc on his mental state, but the experience ended up being more positive than not.
And. He couldn’t spend his life avoiding every single thing from his past because it made him uncomfortable.