We were good people, we just did bad things. Now where have I heard that? In some movie or something. I guess I’m the opposite. I’m a bad person, I just did good things. And that’s gotta count for something, right?
After that last show, when he walked off stage and just, just crushed everything, he said ‘let’s go home’ but we didn’t go home. We loaded out and drove through the night. Rex slept behind his curtain – he’s always exhausted after a show and somehow manages to settle right down. I can’t do it. The rush of being on stage, it takes me hours to get down from that high, and I must admit that since I’ve been in the band too, I’ve been resorting to some medicinal help – let’s put it that way. Our new band are just young guys, who was I to say they couldn’t party on the tour bus? This was their time. And it was my time too, because by the time I met Rex his wild days were almost over. So while Rex and that goody-two-shoes Wesley slept behind their curtains at the front of the bus, I partied at the back, until even the guys baled on me and went to sleep. So I sat alone to finish a bottle of bourbon, watching the night go by, my forehead pressed against the cool glass.
There was a faint light of morning on the horizon across the desert, and I was just dropping off to sleep, when I was shaken back to life by Rex leaning over me. ‘Crystal, what’s going on? We’re in California! You promised we could go home to Arkansas! Get him to turn it around..’
‘I promised no such thing. You said you wanted to go home. But we got shows. We can go home in a couple of weeks.’
He let go of my arm – a little roughly I have to say – and headed up the aisle towards the driver. So I lurched to stop him, but I was a little drunk and unsteady and I fell down the aisle. Luckily the rest of the band and Wesley were out cold. Rex moved to help me up but I pushed him away and told the driver to pull over. ‘Rex and I just need to go get some air, ok?’
The bus parked up in the dirt on the side of the freeway. It must have been around six o’clock in the morning and we were in the middle of the Grand Canyon with the sun not quite showing over the horizon, just a glow of promise. It was like being on the moon and despite my state of mind, and everything that happened, I still remember how breath-taking it was. Rex just started walking, off into the desert, and I followed but I guess I had really drunk a lot that night – I was stumbling all over the place, slurring my words. He just kept walking, hands in his jeans pockets, so determined it was almost like when he’s on stage.
Eventually we came to the edge of a ravine. And we might just have stumbled upon the most beautiful view in the whole of the United States, because picture postcard had nothing on this. Red cliffs, gullies and ravines stretched as far as the eye can see, their patterns so perfect it was like God had gone and drawn them himself. Dawn had broken now and everything was bathed in a pale white light. I was about to get out my phone, take a picture for our social media, then realised that I had left it on the bus. Turns out it’s just as well I didn’t take any photos from there.
Rex said, ‘Look at this, it’s sunrise on a clear day and we can’t even see the goddamn sun.
‘It’s protecting us though,’ I said, hating how whiny and slurry my voice sounded.
‘But for how much longer? Do you trust these people? Now that this Hari Dash has disappeared? I can’t do it Crystal. I can’t go out there and lie to people, tell them that everything is gonna be ok… because it’s not.’
‘You don’t know that.’
‘I don’t know otherwise. I don’t know any different from anyone else.’
Well maybe God wasn’t speaking to Rex any more, but he started speaking to me. Or someone, something, started speaking to me, and told me what to do. Because I knew what I should do. I asked him,
‘Do you think the hashtag knows your thoughts?’
He looked at me, as if for the first time. ‘I think God knows your thoughts.’
‘But do you think He sees everything? I mean, if no-one else saw what you did?’
‘I don’t know what you mean Crystal. If you did what? If this is God… it isn’t my God…’
And I don’t know how he was planning to finish that sentence, because that was the moment when I pushed. It was a now or never situation. You can’t think about these things too much, and there was no room for hesitation because he is a big man. He was a big man. I’d like to say that I saw red, that it was a crime of passion, or the drink talking, or whatever. But it wasn’t. These are new times, and I won’t let him take my time away from me.
I’m not afraid, because I don’t believe in any of that stuff. Any of that stuff I’ve been writing, telling people. It’s meaningless. It has no depth. Here was depth. I looked over the edge and I couldn’t see Rex at all, the drop could have been over a thousand feet. The only trace was a few loose stones and pieces of scree that he has disturbed on his way down, that hadn’t yet come to rest.
So I took one last look at the white light and the red cliffs, then turned around, and I started to prepare the face I would make when I got back to the bus.