Joni was back at the Living End in Detroit, just about to go onstage. Beside her stood the other guy who’d been a fixture since October. Around the same time Joni’d come by David she’d also acquired a manager. Elliot was his name, a real sharp dude with a large nose and a thinking man’s forehead.
‘I really reckon I should go soon,’ he was just saying to Joni. ‘David hasn’t answered the phone all day.’
‘I’m sure there’s a reason,’ Joni replied. ‘He only just got home. So you really think he’s right?’
‘Yes,’ said Elliot firmly. ‘LA’s definitely the place to be.’
It was then that Juno knew she’d have to do it. She’d have to take Joni out of circulation.
Joni clearly figured it was a good idea to start her set with the song that was currently a hit. She sang about angel hair and feather canyons, Ferris wheels and fairy tales coming true, and all the things that stood in the way – clouds and circus crowds, tears and fears, life being a work in process where things are lost and other things are gained every day.
Even though Juno’d endlessly heard the song on the radio lately and the air had always sharply contracted and swelled, this was as nothing to the steadfast unfurling, the very concrete infinity she now breathed right into her soul. The entire audience clearly felt the same way. Joni’s songs clearly couldn’t be sung like this by anyone else.
It was then that Juno knew she couldn’t do it.
Just before Christmas Elliot landed in LA. Juno went to see Jackson that day. She’d been keeping tabs on events at the lodge and knew that things had steadily deteriorated there. There was a lot more drug taking than being creative by now. Smack was making an appearance. A bunch of Troub groupies had also found their way to the wilderness, and it hadn’t taken Barry long to become some kind of crazed decadent ringmaster. He was so high that, worst of all, he’d started playing people off against each other every time a semblance of musical activity was attempted. Jackson and Ned were barely speaking, as Ned was refusing to be used. Jackson on the other hand was continuously fried and just went along with everything.
Or so Juno thought the morning she called on the lodge. She was shivering behind a pile of snowed-under logs outside, trying to decide if she should be a plumber like last time or attempt something new, when the door opened. Onto the porch scurried Jackson, carrying his guitar case and looking unkempt.