Highs and lows weren’t a new thing for Adam. He’d always been that way, joked about being bipolar, even. Brad had hated it, the way Adam would be the life of a party, then shut down when they got home. Brad wanted to party half the night, fuck in the back room the other half, then meet thirty close friends for brunch. Adam had thought to tame him once, but wild, beautiful Brad was kind of perfect the way he was. Just not perfect for Adam.
No, Adam had his down times, his low times, when he was better alone. And yet, he hated being alone. Tommy and the dancers always tried to cheer him up, and they just didn’t understand that he wanted someone to just be with him, not try to fix anything. So he usually ended up snapping, then he felt awful and bitchy.
On the road everything was magnified. On every stage he rode a high unlike anything he had ever imagined night after night, and he was still buzzing with warmth and electricity for the fans after. Most nights he was content with the silence that waited in his hotel room, or the quiet hum of the bus as they made their way to the next city. But there were other nights when he found himself wide awake and completely empty in the middle of the night, wrapped in a blanket on the balcony, staring at the moon and telling himself that he had everything, he had enough.
On one such wakeful and empty night, he thought of Sirk. Kris, that was his name. Kris. Adam wondered how he was navigating the Los Angeles waters. One way to find out for sure. He went inside and pulled out his laptop, telling himself that he would be as honest as he could, under the circumstances. Just looking for a friend. He took a minute to set up a new gmail account.
Sushi to Sirk: Hey, Kris! It’s sushiwolf from StarMatch. I was just looking at the moon and wondering how things are going for you in LA. I’m traveling for work again. Going to be another month, and I’m getting pretty tired of hotel rooms. Anyway, I hope it’s ok that I’m taking you up on your offer of a friend, and hope you’re not regretting giving out your e-mail. I’m Adam, by the way.
It was a common enough name. He pressed send, imagining a little arrow zipping across the country and landing on Kris’s door.
The next night was a bus night. Tommy and Sasha had both fallen asleep on his bed, but he didn’t wake them. He liked the company, and there was room. He wasn’t ready to sleep, though, so he logged in to the new account.
Sirk to Sushi: Hey, good to hear from you! I was wondering what happened to the other normal person on StarMatch. All that time in a hotel room sounds bleak. I used to go on mission trips in college, and the thing that kept me sane back at the place we stayed was music. I just kept it going all the time, even slept with my iPod, which had the bonus of drowning out the other guys’ snoring. So if you like music, maybe that would help you feel more at home there.
Things are going pretty good here. Got a great roommate and made some friends, and I have a job playing at a piano bar. So I feel kind of settled. No luck with dating, though.
Adam is a great name. I have a friend back home named Adam, too. ~Kris
Adam read the message over a few times. Mission trip. That was...unexpected. And a piano bar, so he played piano as well as guitar. He briefly entertained the fantasy of scooping Kris up for the band, but he knew all too well that a boyfriend in the band was a disaster waiting to happen. As for Kris’s dating problem--that was puzzling.
Sushi to Sirk: Hi, Kris! Your music idea is awesome. I’m going to make a playlist to help me sleep. Maybe some Goldfrapp, I love them. What kind of music do you play/listen to? I sing some myself, but I can’t play any instruments.
Judging from that picture, you’re a stone cold fox. What exactly is it you’re doing that isn’t working out? I don’t mean to overstep or anything, but maybe I can offer advice? ~Adam
Tommy woke up and blinked blearily at Adam.
“Sorry, Tommy Joe. Turning it off now.” Adam switched off the light and stroked Tommy’s hair until he fell back asleep.
Sirk to Sushi: Advice from someone with experience would be great. The thing is, I’m not looking for hook-ups (my roommate says I’m an idiot) and nothing else seems to be working out. I had a blind date, but that was a disaster. The online thing didn’t work out. There’s one guy I’m interested in, but I’ve never asked anybody out before and I don’t know how. Back home, girls just kind of asked me out. Sheesh, this sounds lame. I swear I’m not 13. I just feel about that clueless.
Music I like: Old stuff like Beatles, MJ. Nowadays John Mayer, Gotye, Adele. I googled Goldfrapp--really cool sound. I write songs and sing, but there are probably better voices out there. I just want to make music, you know? Hopefully not in a piano bar forever, but it beats Starbucks. What about you? What do you do when you’re not trapped in hotel rooms and giving advice to clueless people on the internet?
Sushi to Sirk: I do the same things people do in any business. Meetings and decisions. Lots of PR. Stress and deadlines when I just want to be creative. I can’t complain, and I’m grateful to be successful and have amazing people to work with, but it does dictate a lot of what happens in my personal life. You won’t be in a piano bar forever, but do me a favor and enjoy it while you can, ok? I remember when I was starting out in my business and I worried all the time about getting ahead and making enough money. But now that I look back, there was a lot of freedom that I miss now that it’s gone.
More important things--just ask the guy out. I’ll bet he’s nervous like you are. Start with something simple, like coffee. Leave the rest of the day open, just in case. Or ask him to go hear a band you like. You hang out with your guy friends, right? It’s like that, only you worry about what to wear and maybe there’s kissing at the end ;)
Sirk to Sushi: Well, it makes a lot of sense when you say it like that. Alright, I’m gonna do it. I’ll see him Sunday, so I’ll just ask him if he wants to get something to eat. Thanks, Adam. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Adam read the last message with a feeling of pride. He kind of liked this mentor thing. He had gleefully jumped down the rabbit hole himself when he’d moved to West Hollywood at 18, but Kris...he wasn’t like that. “Go get ‘em, little tiger,” he thought. He hoped whoever the guy was, he was good enough for someone like Kris.
Sunday came and went with no word from Kris.
Monday afternoon, Adam sent him a quick, “So, how did it go??”
On Tuesday, Adam sent, “Please just tell me you weren’t abducted and shipped to Thailand? I would never forgive myself.”
Sirk to Sushi: Sorry, I didn’t mean to worry you. It went bad, is all.
Adam read that short and heartbreaking message backstage in his dressing room. His first reaction was concern for Kris, quickly followed by anger at this guy, this asswipe who had the nerve to make Kris feel even more down on himself, and then back to concern.
Sushi to Sirk: You want me to kick his ass for you? I’ll totally do it. Perfect crime. Did you ever see Strangers on a Train? Seriously, I’m really sorry it didn’t work out. I have a business thing in a little while that will take most of the evening, but if you want to talk it out later or anything, my number is 466-231-1794. Or if you don’t want to talk about it, that’s ok too. Or if you don’t want to call because it might be weird to talk to your internet gay-dating mentor, that would probably be a sensible decision.
An assistant knocked on the door. Adam sent the message, grabbed a bottle of water, and headed backstage.
After the show there was a scheduled (meaning paid) bar appearance, but as soon as he felt his phone vibrate and he saw Kris’s name he excused himself and slipped out a side door to answer in relative quiet. His bodyguard, a bearded mountain of a man named Ed, followed him, scowling, and waited a respectable distance away.
“You called! I mean, hi! You called!”
A rumbly laugh. “Hi, Adam.”
“Hi!” Adam grinned like a dork as he settled down on the curb. He caught Ed staring and wiggled his fingers in a wave. Ed pretended to be busy with his phone.
“Of course I called. I mean I felt really bad that I worried you, when you were so nice helping me out and everything.” Adam took a minute to savor the voice, slow and resonant, and the Arkansas accent like honey on a spoon.
“No, don’t worry about that. I’m just sorry it didn’t work out this time. You shouldn’t let it get you down, though.”
There was that laugh again. He sure didn’t sound depressed. “I’m not. I mean I was, but now I’m not, because--oh, is this an okay time to talk?”
Adam watched as Ed steered a couple of tipsy queens back inside and closed the door behind them, leaning against it. Thanks, he mouthed to Ed. “This is a perfect time. Shoot.”
“Well, it went bad, like I said, but later when I was in the ER--”
“Emergency room? It was just a cut lip, I needed a couple of stitches.”
“You needed--he--Kris what the fuck did he--”
“No, nothing, it was just. A misunderstanding.”
‘Yeah. His, um, girlfriend didn’t understand exactly why he was kissing me. Or she understood, I guess, but she didn’t much like it.”
“So he hit you?”
It slowly dawned on Adam. “So--she hit you?”
“Which isn’t really the point,” Kris said hastily. “So like I was saying, I had to get a couple of stitches, and there was this doctor. And I thought he was just, you know, really good at his job, because he spent a really long time taking care of me, and he wouldn’t let the nurse do anything, not even clean up the blood, and he had these really good, gentle hands...” Kris trailed off. “And then he called me tonight, just to see how I was doing.”
“And he asked me if I wanted to go out to dinner. So I had a date.”
That resonant chuckle again. Seriously, Adam could listen to it on a loop. “It was just like you said, like hanging out with a friend, only I felt like I wasn’t dressed right for the place.”
“And was there kissing at the end?” Adam teased.
“Well. No, because he was worried my lip might get infected.”
“Oh, right. So, are you going to see Dr. Devastating again?”
“Robert. That’s his name. Yeah, this weekend. So I wanted to say thanks, because without you I wouldn’t have asked out that guy from my church and then none of the rest would have happened.”
From his church? Adam bit his lip to keep from laughing out loud.
Candace poked her head out the door. When she spotted Adam, she impatiently gestured inside.
“Kris, that is so fantastic! I’m really happy for you, that things are going so well. Look, I wish I could talk to you longer, but I need to get back to something--just entertaining some clients, but--now that I have your number, can I call you back sometime? When you’re not out on a hot date, that is.”
“Yeah, of course! Next time I’ll even let you get in a word or two. Ok, good night.”
“Bye, Kris.” Adam sat for a minute looking at the phone screen. Allen. His name was Kris Allen.
Finally he stood. “Alright, Ed. Let’s get back to work.”