Feb. 15th, 2004

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Russell woke the following morning curled up in a ball on the floor, surrounded by empty cans and pizza boxes. As he sat up, memories of the day before flooded back. Smith, Arwen, Beregond ... he put his head in his hands, trying to ease the aching. Before he had fallen asleep, he had decided to follow his instinct, the instinct that always got him back on the road when things got tough, the instinct that had brought him here, running from the wreck of the band.

Now, in the soft morning light, things felt different. He could leave, yes. Head off to the next town, and the one after that, following the music. But sitting here, there was no music, nothing to follow out of the door.

Or he could stay. Ride out the storm this place had swept him up in and see where he landed. In the short time he had been here, he had experienced more genuine emotion, good and bad, than he had in several years on the road.

Without realising it, he had got to his feet, and opened the window looking down over the park. He took a deep breath of fresh air, and made his decision. He picked up his backpack, and his guitar case, and headed for the door ...

He had never even bothered checking out the apartment’s bedroom, as he had been sleeping on the couch, but was pleasantly surprised. A large room, with an old iron bedstead, and a window that also overlooked the park. He put his stuff down on the bed, then went back to the living room, and began to clean it up. Cans, pizza boxes were pushed into a plastic waste sack he had found in one of the kitchen draws, into which he also emptied the ashtrays they had used last night … no, he wasn’t going to go there. He pushed the bottle of Jack Daniels to the back of a cupboard.

As he vacuumed, the thought of the look on his Mom’s face if she could see him doing this actually made him smile. Then he headed for the shower. Standing under the steaming water, letting it pound down over his head and shoulders was cathartic. He let himself think about the night before, knowing that the water would wash away anything he couldn’t handle. There was always the possibility that Smith could revive Beregond. A small possibility, but it was there. He knew he had to trust Smith to do whatever he could, but knew he would never quite forgive the program for not getting to the clone in time.

Russell turned up the heat, and braced his arms on the shower wall, letting the water hit the back of his neck.

He had to think positive, if he was going to make a go of this place. He remembered that Rob had told him that there were a couple of bars in town that would pay good money to have him play. He would phone Dan and have him ship the rest of his stuff out here. His fingers ached for the feel of his strat, and he really needed to cut loose in a way that didn’t involve dope or alcohol. Being clean for a while, even a short while, would be a good thing.

He dried himself off in the bedroom, and got dressed, putting his stuff away in cupboards and draws as he did so. Didn’t take long, as he never carried a lot on the road. He hid his stash, seeds and the last of the dried mushrooms at the back of a draw, and then, realising how hungry he was, headed down to the diner.


Feb. 15th, 2004 01:44 pm
almost_russell: (Default)
The diner was quiet mid morning, and Martha waved at him as he took what he had come to regard as his seat in the window.

"Usual, honey?"

"Thanks, Martha, and can you make the coffee extra large and extra strong?"

"No problem!"

Russell stared out of the window as he waited for breakfast to arrive, watching the town go about it's business.

"Pete, I'm on my break!" Martha shouted as she put Russell's breakfast down in front of him, then brought her own coffee and two Danish pastries over to the table.

"You want some company, honey? You look a little down."

"Yeah, Martha, company would be good."

"You want to tell me about it?"

"Actually, no. Don't even want to think about it. Can we talk about something else?"

"Sure honey. How's your elf friend?"

Russell chatted away to Martha for a while, simply enjoying her company, talking about nothing in particular.

"So, Russell, what makes you laugh?"

What makes you laugh?

Laugh? An hour ago, he didn't think he was capable of even thinking about laughter, but a little distance can be a wonderful thing. He thought back to his days on the road, and the stuff they got up to, and he smiled. One particular memory actually had him chuckling away to himself, so he decided to share it with Martha.

"Jeff, the singer in the band, was brought up in the very north of Alaska, where they have to find ways to entertain themselves through the dark winter nights. He showed us this game that kept us in stitches for days. None of us would ever play it, but we would get him to do it by promising that we would join in. And the more drunk or stoned we all were, the more hilarious his performance was."

He would take a broom, and stand it on the floor at one end of the room so the wooden handle was sticking straight up, and we would put a bottle of Jack Daniels at the other end of the room. Then he would lean over, put his forehead on the end of the handle, and holding it steady with one hand, walk round and round the broom, getting faster and faster, free arm flapping!

We would all count up to five the first time, and then he would let go and dizzily wander round the room, trying to get to the bottle in a straight line, which he never managed! Once he had taken a drink, he would do it again, and this time we would count up to ten! By the time we got to fifteen, he was usually crawling in circles when he let go!

We would all be in hysterics at him having hysterics in a heap on the floor! I think the highest we ever got to and still retained a hint of forward momentum was 20

For days after, we would look at each other, and burst out laughing at the memory. And there was more than one occasion when photographers would ask him what the red mark on his forehead was, and that would have us all giggling again!!

Russell laughed out loud at the absurd memory, and Martha laughed with him. He reached across the table and squeezed her arm.

"Thanks, I needed that."

"No problem, honey! Got to go back to work, but I'll bring you a refill. Enjoy your pastry!"

Russell sat back, munching on his Danish, memories and coffee keeping him warm. Yeah, this would be a good place to stay, for a while at least.


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September 2004

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