Be The Air For You

an excerpt

Chapter 1

Listening to the ringing in my ear, I prayed Hawk would answer. I'd lost track of time, but I knew it was late evening and Hawk probably had already gone to bed. My best friend got up very early in the morning. I needed to talk to someone and I knew I could call him at anytime.


"Hey, Tonto." I smiled because I'd been calling him that since we first met thirty years ago on the playground at elementary school.

"Well, if it isn't the Lone Ranger. Where are you tonight?"

His fond voice eased my singing nerves, and I settled back on my hotel bed, staring out the huge window at the city lights of London. "England, man."

"Just get done with your concert?" He grunted. I heard rustling over the phone and assumed Hawk was getting comfortable.

Our late night conversations tended to run long as I wound down from the adrenaline high.

"Yeah." I lit a cigarette, pulled the acid smoke into my lungs, adoring the burn, knowing it wasn't good for me.

He laughed. "Those things will kill you."

I studied the glowing red end and agreed. "You're right, but, hell, I don't do drugs any more. Have to have some kind of vice. I'm a fucking huge rock star, Tonto. Can't be a saint."

Silence greeted that statement, and I knew Hawk was remembering the many trips to rehab I'd gone through. How he'd take me to a new clinic each time, with me vowing it would be the last. Finally, he'd sat me down and told me that if I didn't clean myself up, he was going to walk away. He couldn't deal with the pain of seeing me like that.

The thought of losing my best friend cut so deeply into my soul that I couldn't risk losing him. I went to rehab and stayed. It had been three years since I walked out of that last clinic, clean and sober. Each minute of every day was a struggle to turn my back on what fans offered up on a silver tray, but I did it for Hawk, and for me.

I knew how close I came to dying each time I shot up the heroin or snorted the coke. I came to understand living life drugged might be easier, but I'd missed so many important things existing that way.

"How'd the show go?"

"Good. Had a girl jump on stage and try to molest me again, but other than that, same old, same old."

"And you never get tired of it, do you?"

I didn't give him my usual flip response. I thought about his question seriously. Hawk was my best friend and deserved a truthful answer. "I do get tired. In about twenty minutes, when the adrenaline runs out and I realize I'm sitting in yet another hotel room alone, I'll ask myself why I'm doing this. I don't like girls all that much, Hawk."

"I know."

There it was--Hawk's quiet acceptance of everything that made me tick. The narcissistic need I had to be the center of the world, to be on-stage every chance I got, performing to thousands of people screaming my name. Yet there were times in the quiet moments when I wondered why I did it. I rarely saw my home for more than a month out of the year. The only permanent relationship I had was with Hawk, and even then, I seldom saw him, just called him at odd times of the day or night to chat. I sucked at being anyone's best friend, and though we were both gay, I'd never risked our friendship by hitting on Hawk. I needed him too much to risk losing him.

"How are things at the clinic?" See, I could acknowledge there were other things going on besides what was happening to me.

Hawk sighed. "Good, except we need a new x-ray machine. The one we have is too old and breaks down all the time."

"Contact Heidi. I'm sure there's money in the foundation to get you what you need."

"Rod, I don't need you to come to my rescue all the time like this. When I told you about the x-ray machine, it was just to tell my best friend what's happening. It wasn't to make you give me money."

Hawk's pride didn't want to accept the machine--I understood that--but it didn't make sense to me to deny it to the patients he served, if I could give it to him. I knew how to get around his protest, though.

"All right, Hawk. I'll try to refrain from saving you." I laughed softly. "I don't get to do it very often. You're usually the one playing Superman for me."


We chatted a little while longer, until I could no longer keep my yawns from interrupting us.

"Why don't you get some sleep?"

"How about you? When are you getting up?" I stood, tucking my phone between my shoulder and ear while I unbuttoned my jeans.

"I just got into bed. So I have at least seven hours before I have to get up and head to the clinic. We're having an ophthalmologist come in for a couple days. I'm hoping he can help some of my patients."

"Awesome, man. I head back to the States in two days. I'll be touring across country until my last show in Phoenix. I'll send you a ticket. Maybe you could get some time off to come and hang out with me for a couple days while I'm there."

"Send me the dates, and I'll work something out."

Hawk accommodated me so much, and I took advantage of it

"Thanks for listening, Hawk. I'll try to call you sometime tomorrow when you aren't sleeping."

A warm chuckle drifted over the phone and every last tense muscle I had relaxed. I'd be able to sleep the rest of the night without problem. It was hard when I couldn't risk a sleeping pill because I could easily get addicted to them.

"You do that, Rod. Have a good night." Hawk hung up.

I shut my phone off and tossed it on the table in my suite as I strolled past to the bathroom. A hot shower to scrape off the dried sweat and wash out all the shit the people put in my hair, then I'd slip under the soft down-filled comforter to grab several hours of sleep. My trainer knew better than to wake me up the day after a concert, unless I had early morning radio shows to do.

My last thought before I shut my eyes that night was, Thank God for Hawk, the only person in my life I could call at any time day or night and talk about nothing with. The man who had my back through a lot of shit.

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