Big day for the kids. Wedding bells are ringing. Here is part 18 of The Trees...
The huge Subtle Tech Records bus was rambling north on the 101 towards Santa Barbara.
“Damn it, Dan.” Rob said, shaking his head.
While Dan was coming down a bit from the candy, it was still difficult for him to know what to say or how to let Rob know that he was in a good place with his cancer because he really wasn’t quite there yet. He had put on a brave face for Jan and John and the kids, but at this moment, he just didn’t know what to say. Maybe it was the THC in his system, but all he could do was reach across the aisle and give Rob’s knee a light squeeze.
Rob turned and looked out the window at the passing cars for a few moments.
“I’m glad you guys wanted to go to the beach,” Rob said with what could have been a hint of sarcasm.
“We need it, I think, today,” John replied.
“I definitely need it,” Dan said before getting up to use the bathroom.
The bus had two bathrooms. One in towards the front and one in the back attached to the master bedroom. As the four men drove across Los Angeles, Rob had given them the grand tour. There were six bunks outfitted with what Dan said looked like ‘the most comfortable oversized twin beds ever’ and master bedroom that was nicer than most suites at a posh hotel.
“How are you holding up?” Rob asked John after Dan shut the bathroom door.
John filled him in on how the last week had gone, including how the families seemed to be taking things, and the few plans they had made so far for Evolve. Rob sat and nodded while John was talking, taking it all in, but seemingly lost in thought. As Dan walked back from the bathroom, Rob looked at him in a way that made Dan uncomfortable.
“I’m grabbing another beer. Anyone?” Dan asked.
“There’s some scotch in the cabinet next to the fridge, Dan. You might want to grab that, too. I’ll get the glasses. I think I could use something a bit stronger,” Rob replied.
“I think I could use some lunch,” John said.
“Budda’s got it covered, John. We’ll eat at the beach,” Rob replied as he got up to grab three glasses.
Before Dan could walk past him, Rob turned and threw his arms around Dan, holding him in a tight hug before letting go. Rob was a spontaneous hugger, but it still surprised Dan a little bit. Rob let go and grabbed the glasses, following Dan back to their seats.
As the men talked about Dan’s treatment plan, the reality of the situation landed squarely on Dan’s shoulders yet again. It was comforting knowing his friends and partners were there for him and it was even more comforting knowing that Jan and the kids would never want or need anything because of these two men.
What was not comforting, though, was Dan didn’t know what he could do for them. He’d been the sounding board for each of these guys more times than he could ever count. There were things that John and Rob felt a lot more comfortable talking to Dan about, for example, than maybe anyone else in their lives. It was not dissimilar to how there were things the kids would go to Dan with that they would not go to Jan with and vice versa.
Maybe it was the scotch and the beer and weed, but Dan got a little philosophical.
“I just need you two to know that I will be here for you both as long as I can. If you need me, I need you to tell me. Don’t worry about how I’m feeling or what you think I might need. If you need me, I want to be needed. Do you understand? I don’t want anyone, especially you guys, cutting me out of my life before I’m gone,” Dan said emphatically.
Both Rob and John agreed to this and toasted as such.
“Lunch will be ready and waiting when we get there, you weepy fucking bastards,” shouted Budda from the driver’s seat.
John and Dan looked at each other with the “what the fuck?” look and Rob started laughing.
“Budda hears everything, don’t you?” Rob said.
“Yep. Don’t mind me. Thirty years in rock and roll and still have perfect hearing. Dumb fucking luck. Sorry to hear about your troubles, Danny boy,” Budda replied.
“Thanks, Budda. Dumb fucking luck seems to be catching,” Dan shouted towards the front.
This made the men laugh again, which felt good even under the circumstances to them all. Dan believed the promise they made, and he had good reason to do so. He knew that these two men, and Budda as well, had been listening very clearly to what he had said.
“For however long I have, my friends, I intend to live. Even though I am a little high, I’m right here and there is no place I’d rather be,” Dan added and he tipped his glass to John and Rob.
“You forgot to say, ‘I love you, guys,’” Budda added from the cockpit, and everyone laughed again.
“Fuck you very much, Budda!” Dan shouted and the party was on.
“Another shot, gents?” Rob asked.
“Why not,” said Dan and John at the same time. This led to more giggles before Rob stood up and walked over to a laptop on the counter behind them.
“You guys have to hear this,” Rob said and sound enveloped the bus.
It was the new record by one of Rob’s bands, Wonder Why, called Thumb War for a Numb Skull.
“Wow, Rob, that’s … (pauses) um …” John started to say.
“Abrasive? Is that the word you’re looking for, John?” Rob asked.
“I like it,” Dan said, bobbing his head furiously to the frantic beat.
“Me, too. They are like a combination of Die Kreuzen and McLusky,” Rob replied knowing that neither of them would know what he was talking about, but he was more than happy to explain. When he was finished, John was still looking at him like he was speaking a foreign language so Rob added:
“John, you really have to start listening to the playlists I send you, man. Expand your mind!” Rob almost barked the last sentence.
Ten minutes later, they rolled into Rob’s beach getaway in Santa Barbara.
The one and only Die Kreuzen. We played an instore at a record store in LA once and one of the guys in Die Kreuzen hooked up the PA. Nice dude. Headline Records was the store...cool shop!