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        The Official Newsletter of WWW.ARTISTINSANE.COM



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Welcome To The January
Issue of Mil Mania!

Volume 3, Issue 1, January 2007


Music Mayhem    

As noted in the December 2005 edition of Mil Mania, I continue to include news in every issue to keep readers up to date on the latest happenings with the three acts most prominently featured on www.artistinsane.com. However, I now also choose one additional artist — in some cases a new discovery I’ve recently made, in others an individual or group whose work I’ve long appreciated — to make a one-time appearance here.  And, as with all aspects of Mil Mania, feel free to offer suggestions.


This month’s featured art-


John Waite    Like
Counting Crows, who oc-
cupied this column in the
Nov. ‘06 issue, here’s an
other artist I always
planned to feature here one day…
and have no idea why it took
me so long to get a

(that’s a round tuit...i.e.
“round to it”  for those of 
you who’ve never read the inaugural issue of this publication from
Oct. ‘05)  Unlike Counting Crows, however, my appreciation of John Waite’s voice and work is truly almost lifelong...dating back well before my teens — and, more significantly, persisting through his many solo and band incarnations, soundtrack appearances and more in the years following.   In any case, upon deciding to include him here at last and looking for a website/recent news to share on him I learned the timing was most likely “meant to be”...as it turns out a new release entitled Downtown: Journey of a Heart just hit stores on Jan. 9  A collection of his greatest hits and favorite songs (including a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited”)  you can purchase this now on Amazon.com.  You can also listen to a few songs from it — including a new duet version of the 80’s hit, “Missing You” (featuring Allison Krauss) at the official John Waite myspace page and get additional info by vising the website, www.johnwaiteonline.com.  Do so and I suspect you’ll find this “journey” well worth taking.



Third Eye Blind has recently put out the following big news…“ for the 10th anniversary of the release of Third Eye Blind's 1st album the band will be playing at the Fillmore on March 13th & 14th.... These shows will be filmed for broadcast on HDNet as well as normal broadcast and release on DVD… they will be special events with set-lists containing songs not played in years and new tracks as well as 3EB favorites...     
     If there was ever a time to make the trek across country to see the band in action, this is the time...so make your plans now!”

     What’s likewise big news in the world of 3eb is the fact this announcement was distributed via the mailing list of the (last year de-activated) website, StephanJenkins.com (for which, you may recall, I was chosen to write the band’s bio, and have updated this every year since).  And, so I’ve through this learned...the site is back!!! 

     Of course, that’s not to in any way minimize the efforts of  Adam and his own ever-evolving site, The Village Churchyard (where the same bio is also published) which is to be thanked profusely for keeping fans fully informed during the interim…and continuing to offer an additional web home for supporters of the band.


Brian Fitzpatrick is moving forward with preliminary work for his fifth album.  Here’s what he had to say about it in a recent myspace blog:  “So...I have three new tunes recorded. Right now they are just demos, but I am making progress at break neck speed. I am very happy with what I have so far. I think it is a big departure from ‘Further Down The Line’ and it sounds very fresh to my ears.”

     And, given the rarity performances by this artist have become, here’s the other exciting announcement included in the same blog:

      “I will be playing a solo acoustic show at The Underpass on January 19th. I hope you all can make it down. I promise it will be a good show. I go on first, which is around 9:00. Stop by and say Hello!”   Drat! I missed it!  If YOU made it, however, please feel free to share some highlights I might pass along to readers next month. 


Michael McDermott played a very well received show just days ago at The Beverly Arts Center in Chicago.  According to those present it was a truly memorable event...a recap of which you can read at this thread from Michael’s website bulletin board, The Pauper’s Sky.  (Setlist can be read on my site here.)  It was also announced at this show that the new album, Noise From Words, is now scheduled for an April 4th release date.  If you live in the Midwest, however, you don’t have to wait that long to experience previews of this work — you can simply attend one of the many live
shows taking place in Feb. and March.  Check out Michael’s page at
myspace.com for more details.




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Ravings of a Mad Woman

This column corresponds with the Mad Ra-vings On section of www.artistinsane.com, and is dedicated to selected reviews of movies, television and books… most of which are unlikely to represent “the latest” in any of these categories, but rather a  random selection that represents a new and/or noteworthy discovery to me.


Shakespeare Behind Bars  I was flipping through the channels last week when the sound of Shakespearean verse unexpectedly pricked up my suddenly attuned — and confused — ears...the reason for which confusion arising from the fact the in-progress rehearsal wasn’t being performed by a seasoned drama troupe, an eager band of college acting students, or even a community theater ensemble.  It was, however, a serious and diligently explored version of The Tempest as interpreted by a captivating group of players who were themselves “captives”...i.e. inmates participating in the “Shakespeare Behind Bars” program at Kentucky’s Luther Luckett Prison.

     As the play’s director, a longtime Shakespeare scholar from “the outside”  notes, it’s not his job or ambition to judge these men; society has already done that.  What he — and the brilliance of Shakespeare’s work — offer instead through this year-long journey is an opportunity for them to not merely enjoy a diversion from their fate, but to explore their own characters as they delve into those of the play...discovering in the process that whatever they may have taken through their crimes, yet each still has a surprising amount to give.

     It’s not a coincidence, of course, that the play selected in this case is one whose central theme involves forgiveness — a state fervently longed for since these men are by no means those described in The Shawshank Redemption, wherein Red offers Andy the tongue-in-cheek revelation, “Why, don’t you know...everyone’s innocent here” — an assertion he backs up by asking several of those standing nearby what landed them in prison...invariably finding his inquiries met with blame ascribed to others:  “I was framed”, “my lawyer was incompetent”, etc.  Red, of course, proves the exception, noting forthrightly, “I’m the only guilty man in Shawshank.”  Of course, he also arguably proved the most appealing... and the most “reformed”.  It’s little wonder, then, I suppose, that these individuals who openly admit to and remorsefully discuss their guilt should win us over in some degree through witnessing their struggle to attain a greater understanding of their own motivations, weaknesses — and strengths — at the same time they struggle to win over an audience through truthful revelation of these attributes in the men — and women — they portray.  And, yes, since this is an all-male institution, the female roles are indeed handled, as they were in Shakespeare’s day, by the opposite sex...another interesting twist in this highly unusual presentation of “highbrow” art.

     As a final note, I must confess I came into this film about twenty minutes in progress so may need to give it another look on DVD in the near future — something I strongly suggest you do as well.  In the meantime, should you wish to read a bit more about this Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize nominee, here’s the link to another quite informative (albeit typographically-challenged) review I ran across on the internet...http://www.hometheater

(And, should you wish to learn more about “the play within the film” or need a refresher on its content and meaning, you might want to peruse the online study guide available by clicking here.)





                                  If you missed the announcement in the
December 2006 issue, as per the precedent
                         set by
Dear Abby which syndicated column
MOLLY      retained that title when passing to its origin- 
                         ator’s daughter , so this column will retain the name of its  originator now that
Molly has passed on.  The “madvice” currently offered herein, therefore, is that of Keela, one of the “noisy neighbors” Molly spoke of frequently — and who you may have already met via the photo collection taken during her pregnancy and in the weeks after her fifteen babies were born.  Needless to say, with that kind of experience, Keela, like Molly, knows a bit about life as learned by her adventures as a rodent single mom.  Also like Molly, she has a strong mind of her own with much rat wisdom to share.  I hope you’ll enjoy her commentary both now and in the months to come. 


That said, on to this month’s question...


Dear Keela,


     “In learning of Molly's departure from this life I was brought back to a similar situation of last Spring.  We lost a dear soul, Stella, to a vicious cancer.  Stella adored all animals, even those some would find pesky or offensive.  And they loved her back.  I'll never forget the experience of riding with her when a bee buzzed into the car.   It didn't bother her at all, but it loved me.  Stella laughed as it hovered around me and as I tried to calmly flip out over its intense liking of me.  Stella had a greater laugh when I made her stop the car so I could get out
with hopes of the bee following.  She did, I did, and it did.  I swiftly closed the window and collected myself.  When Stella calmed herself from the amusement I gave her, she said, ‘What's the worst that could
have happened with that beautiful creature God created?  You would have got stung, right?’  I agreed, still on edge and ready to dodge another unwanted closeness.  Stella then said, ‘Yeah, and so what?  It
would hurt for while and you'd get over it.’  ‘Easy for you to say-it wasn't liking you!’  Stella smiled and said with deep admiration, ‘That's because St. Francis (of Assisi, Catholic patron saint of animals
and ecology) is one of my best friends.’  I'll never forget how Stella then began singing the Prayer of St. Francis.  Such beautiful words from a beautiful voice.  I know the bonds we humans have with animals can be amazing.  We can laugh, love and learn so well with our furry friends.  Molly, your not-so-typical-neighbor, in her own special way certainly made her mark on our human world.  In memory of Molly (and if you're not familiar with these grand words), I'd like to share
with you:


Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not
    so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

     Keela, I myself adore animals and thinking about the incredible harmony created as St. Francis communed with all of ‘your people’, I am wondering what you feel is a way for us to realize such bliss and create this peace in our human-to-human-to-animal relationships?”


                                                                   Buzzing with Questions


     First, I have to address the confusion and questions brought about by loss — and not just the loss that’s death, but any situation of finding oneself alone in a world we may suddenly be reminded is much bigger and seemingly less peaceful than we maybe used to think.  I can only imagine how many questions scurried through Molly’s mind when she found herself alone under that mailbox on a freezing March day.  But I do know firsthand the pain of losing my family one by one as they were sold off at the pet shop where I came from.  And, I know how scared and alone I felt, and how far from ever finding peace again I believed myself to be the day my adoptive parents carried me out of the pet store in a dark cardboard “pet carrier”.  To tell you the truth, I felt as if I’d been stung by your much feared bee, my tail limp and the hair on my neck standing on end as I tingled all over with the certainty I was headed for the same unknown — but surely terrible — fate that had befallen my two sisters...who had left (one by one)  just days before in the exact same form of hated cardboard cell. 
     So certain this must be the case, when I finally saw daylight as the lid was slowly opened I determined to do my best to try and survive as long as possible...perhaps make an escape or at least buy myself a little bit of time to form a plan.  So, when that hu-man’s hand plucked me out of the box I squealed with all my might...and kept squealing right up ‘til I realized I was in the same aquarium with my sisters Maggie and Bridget, and that when we all got lifted out of the aquarium it was only to be taken to go play on the couch — and be fed
whipped cream!!!!!  Of course, that didn’t stop me from squealing again when the same hu-man’s hand picked me up and drew me really scarily close to his mouth. Oh, my goodness, was he going to eat me?!?!?  But the loud squeals turned to quiet chatters of contentment, I have to say, when I was simply snuggled close and reminded I was loved. 
     You may think that’s an odd answer to your question — or not an answer at all, but a completed unrelated bit of creeping off the subject.  It’s not.  Because, three weeks later I had my (
fifteen!) babies, and learned that although I had lost some very special “people” in the other brothers and sisters who left the pet shop for places I may not want to know about, I found I still had a (very big!) family...including members both “human” and “animal” I’d never before met. 
     As Mrs. Frisby’s late husband told her, “all doors are hard to unlock until you have the key”, so I’ve come to think the “key” to finding peace like St. Francis (and your friend Stella) knew with animals, and Molly knew with people, is simply to be open to the possibility that the person or animal before us might in fact be one of our dearest (adopted) relatives.  We just don’t know it yet.

     Of course, that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to drop the key a few times when our instincts and fearful natures take over and we start squealing.  The trick is to keep fighting for our lives...and for the harmony of those wonderful relationships that make it worth living.



                           Molly Madvises 

              (now by Molly’s neighbor Keela)









 Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts
and the Chicago Bears on making it to



And, while I have many wonderful friends in the Windy City, I am using this space to officially cheer on my favorite NFL player…
Peyton Manning *** 

                        GO COLTS!!!






Comments from Mil Mania readers
             on the December issue...

In A Nutshell

  Writings From The Asylum

“I am so sorry to hear about Molly.  The tribute you wrote about her brought me to tears. The dedication that you and Andre have is truly remarkable. I am sure Molly was so very happy to have you and Andre as her parents. May all the beautiful memories you have of Molly bring you comfort.”



“Just a quick note here to comment on the beautiful tribute to Molly. Very lovely and touching.”                   



“So sorry to hear about Molly's passing.  I know that she was a special pet to you from the first moment you spotted her. You did your best for her, and she lives
on in her two boys and in your memories.”



“Sorry to hear of the loss of little Molly - I'm sure she had the very best home ever.”



“I was so sorry to read in the newsletter that you lost your little pet.  I know how hard that can be.”




“We’re so sorry to hear of Molly’s passing.  ..Find peace in knowing she’s in a beautiful place, and you will meet again.”





Text Box:         As always, feel free to drop by 
                      my “space” at


      I’m raising this issue here in part because it ties in very closely with a prior “Temporary Insanity” column (from Sept. ‘06) – and far more because I absolutely couldn’t come up with a single idea for a “new” topic in this one!  That said, I’ve decided to dig out these thoughts I penned some months back for your consideration.  And, as with all areas of Mil Mania, I very strongly encourage any and all feedback they may provoke.

     I’ve had a running debate with myself for years over the “value” of art in general versus how the “business of art” might relate to my own work.  And, I’ll admit I’ve stood on various sides of this argument, in addition to knowing other artists I admire and utterly believe in who stand on very different sides than the one I’ve at last arrived at – for the moment; while I firmly believe hypocrisy contemptible, yet I realize one’s opinions can change drastically as the result of (what in my case I at least hope to be) maturity and new acquisitions of information.  That said, I put forth the following “conclusions” as something far more akin to thinking out loud than a final statement of my “artistic business” creed.

     This issue, then, is the injustice of the world at large as it pertains to art and artists – particularly the wholly business-minded side which views these as opportunities to profit from – a sort of trafficking in the souls of creative individuals “incapable” of financially thriving…at least through the work of “their own paws”, as a delightful fantasy I recently read describes the art of its animal protagonists.   By the same token, however, I’ve become increasingly disturbed by my fellow creative individuals themselves, many of whom – myself in times past fully included – lament the inability of their/our art to “make a living”, resulting in a view of “making it” as a writer or musician or whatever as not merely one’s dream, but one’s – albeit perhaps unjustly unattainable – due.  And, it’s the latter of these attitudes that has ultimately prompted this concern.

     Don’t get me wrong; I do firmly agree it is unjust that art is so undervalued in modern society as to allow “entertainers” cultivated to “create” widely popular generic written, painted or sung drivel to sell their schlock to the masses thanks to the well-oiled machinery of huge ad agencies, blockbuster-attuned film studios and record companies trading on already established celebrity status by turning completely talentless bimbos (and their male counterparts) into “recording artists”.  Egads.

     But, I think the heart of the matter actually lies in the… well, lie, drilled into artists by the operators of these machines – the execs and agents and various wholly money-oriented individuals selling them/us (the artists) the belief that a price tag should, in fact, be attached to our creations.  Still, even for this particular slice of the injustice pie, again I remind you that I’m blaming artists, too.  Because we collectively seem to have developed a very large chip on our shoulders – one that bruises at the slightest touch because of how much we deserve.  And yet, the more I’ve thought about it I’ve decided not a single one of us should feel he or she deserves a single thing – truly “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, making that entirely a matter for others to decide.

     Basically, I suppose it all boils down to the fact entertainment is a business: art is a “calling” – as Bob Dylan (among other artists before and since) once characterized it in an interview.  And, I’m not linking that to any specific religion or philosophy, although it’s obvious if an artist is expressing his or her soul in each creation, his or her specific beliefs will be somehow a part of that.  However, I think it’s also obvious that no priest or other spiritual leader (at least none worth his or her salt) preaches a sermon or otherwise offers words/works aimed at increased understanding of our fellow humans and/or their edification with thoughts of “making it” (or any form of direct payment) in mind.       

     To put it another way, I believe the ability to create is a gift (I see God as the first artist, by the way… “In the beginning, God created”…and I’d be willing to bet He’s pretty fond of artists when you think of that…).  And, gifts are for giving.  Period.  . I don’t know of anyone who gives a birthday present to someone with an invoice attached.  If they do, I suppose they work for a record company, but that’s not at all my point.  Rather, we have no “right” to be concerned in any way with what will or might be returned.  Based on experience I can tell you very confidently that a true artist who freely “gives” his or her work is very likely to get back far more than he or she could ever imagine – even if he or she never sees a dime as part of that reward.  But rewards aside, it’s our “duty” plain and simple to use what we’ve been given to give to others.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.      

     Let me conclude by adding one clarification.  No, I do not believe it’s bad for artists who do by some strange trick of cosmic alignment actually get rewarded financially for their work to enjoy this. Rather, I applaud them and take hope that a brighter day might dawn wherein that which is timelessly true and beautiful is valued above that which is trendy and “hot” or “cool” today.  And, if someone one day offers me money for some bit of art I’ve created – without requiring compromise of that art as it was originally intended – I would certainly not refuse it. But if they don’t, that’s just fine, too.  I’m merely stating that no artist should ever create with the thought of remuneration for that art in mind.  Instead, all of us in the artistic community need to take a lesson from Vincent Van Gogh.  From what I’ve read he didn’t commit suicide because he only sold one painting in his lifetime.  Nor did he do so as merely one more act of the madness for which he’s as famous as his art.  He did it because the periods of mental illness increased in frequency and severity until they at last robbed him of his ability to create.  And, it was this condition, this loss of self-expression/connection/communication through his work, which proved unbearable.  I’m sure it’s goes without saying I’m not glorifying or condoning such a final choice by any means; but I am holding up Van Gogh’s spirit as an example.  For if there was ever a more vivid picture of artistic purity, I’ve yet to set eyes on it.  

     May we all not die, but live as such “madmen.”

Temporary Insanity








Abandon's Embrace

To just walk naked through this world
One's spirit like a flag unfurled.
Exposing everything inside
Including what most choose to hide… 

As unselfconscious as a child,
Emotions tangled, running wild;
With laughter spilling from one's lips,
On rising from a stone that trips
A headlong flight 'cross mound and moor
Heathcliff and Cathy tread before. 

A stroke of blue on starkest white,
A bird, perhaps, caught in mid-flight,
A dab of green; a tree appears,
A heedless clown with mismatched ears,
The brush drops "plop" in turpentine,
The painter, happy, "This is mine…" 

A sound floats gaily on warm wind,
As though the tide has washed it in.
Two worlds collide, confusing gulls
Who search for crumbs amongst seashells. 

Though lute and lyre are no more,
To common men, at least, 'tis sure,
Yet, music ever pure and sweet,
Or speaking humbly of defeat,
Still makes its way from heart to hand,
Escaping any way it can… 

The world around us, life within,
Where art and nature both begin,
Expressing who we hope to be,
Forgiving all we may now see… 

Reminders love does conquer all,
And heals the wounds of every fall.

                                           Here we are sharing a new year
                                    together!  Thanks for your con-
                                    tinued support of
Mil Mania and
                                    please accept my hope that 2007
                                    brings all of my readers only the
                                    very best things.

                                          As for what this issue brings,
                                    it may come as a bit of a surprise
                                    that I’m throwing my hat in the
                                    ring of rooting on a football team in the “Spotlight” section.  Actually, I’ve never been a die-hard follower of any sport or team, but have long enjoyed a casual interest in a few different of these...the Knicks in basketball, the Mets in baseball, and the Giants in football — so what the heck am I doing with a favorite player on Indy!?!?!?  Hey, remember the name of this publication and the ongoing professions of insanity by its creator.   If you should want a fuller explanation, however, feel free to
e-mail me and I’ll explain.  
     Of course, the same applies to all other areas of this work, as always.   And, as this issue marks the first offering of “madvice” from rodent-columnist Keela, it’s hoped you’ll write to her with your thoughts on her comments and with new questions for her to gnaw on in February.

     Elsewhere, as usual, you’ll find the latest chapter in my serial novel, a few “Mad Ravings”, a bit of “Mayhem” and a rather unusual stream-ofconscious-
ness rambling that constitutes this month’s “Temporary Insanity”.    I hope it all adds up to fun, inspiration and an interesting read.


                     Newsletter Spotlight                     

As introduced in the first issue of Mil Mania, this column presents the latest chapter in the prose “prequel” to my screenplay, Taking the Fall (you can catch up on all prior chapters by viewing back issues on the Mil Mania Sign-up page).

                                  The Leap to Limbo (tentative title),       

                     Chapter 12    “Escape From L.A. — Sort Of...”                    

     By the time Josh arrived at the rehearsal space, the rest of the band was nearly finished loading gear into Chris’s van, a task that would have already been completed if the instruments and related items were all that had to reach Seattle for the festival.  Given there were also nine musicians from two bands needed to play them, it seemed a tenth might be helpful….provided he was a magician who could make about half of the cargo temporarily disappear.

     That problem aside, it wasn’t an accident Josh was late…and it certainly wasn’t the result of oversleeping.  Not surprisingly, he hadn’t slept a wink since leaving Allison’s apartment, and was now running on the adrenaline of fear that one wrong word, maybe even a look, would give up to Tommy the secret of his being there last night – or more accurately, the fact of his sleeping with Allison proving the latest cause of his not sleeping.  Geez, was there no end to the ironies resulting from his actions – and inactions – in recent weeks? 
     Whatever the answer to that, this was one secret he wasn’t about to let come to light by standing in the pre-dawn darkness with only Tommy, or any of his other bandmates as they waited for Chris.  He might get hassled a bit for being so demanding of everyone else’s punctuality when they’d parted yesterday, but at least that would be infinitely more comfortable than some “casual” conversation in which he revealed his guilt through an innocent question like “what’s new”?

     “Hey, there he is,” Chris called out cheerily as Josh crossed the nearly deserted street.  Tommy merely grunted in his direction, one hand on his piano case, the other impatiently directing Randy in relocating a pile of cables to make room for it.  Chuck and Matt were nowhere in sight. “Probably gone to get coffee,” Josh surmised – or rather avoiding Tommy’s bark turning to bite as he naturally took charge of the loading operation.

    “So, did you get Sultan settled with your neighbor?” Chris asked, wisely standing clear of the activities near the van. 

     “Uh – he’s…yeah, he’s all taken care of...”  Josh trailed off, floundering dully for a change of subject.   “Where’s Henderson?”

     “In his travel carrier…under the driver’s seat for the moment.”  Watching Tommy knock Randy out of view below the back windows as he gave the piano case a determined shove, Chris added.  “I don’t want him too close to Laurel and Hardy here.”

     Josh grinned, genuinely amused, before asking in mock concern, “Does he have a hard hat in there?”

     “Actually, I adapted his carrier from of an old motorcycle helmet.”  Grinning himself, he went on.  “I’ve got a band, too, remember.”


     Five hours later, Josh’s compadres and ChrisinLA sat crammed in the van, hypnotized by the drone of the engine as Tommy, taking his turn at the wheel, chauffeured them along Rte. 5 somewhere north of Sacramento.  Having finally organized the equipment – moments after which Chuck and Matt magically reappeared – Chris had driven them to his drummer’s apartment near the edge of town, where the rest of his band lay sprawled on the duffel bags and knapsacks that comprised their “luggage”.  Thankfully, these could all be stowed under the seats, and the party, already now far behind schedule, was on its way with no further delay.  Henderson, temporarily freed of his helmet/carrier, lay sleeping with his head on Chris’s leg, clearly enjoying a state of relaxation and contentment that made Josh, in his own tense state of weariness, vaguely envious.  At least it was a small bit of comfort that Tommy had finally relieved Chris at the last rest stop and was now two rows ahead of him instead of his seat-mate.  Thanks to Tommy’s slow-to-ebb frustration from trying to fit too many square pegs in round holes, he’d been mercifully untalkative, allowing Josh to spend nearly the whole time they’d sat shoulder-to-shoulder pretending to sleep.  In reality he’d been wide awake every minute, dreading a tick of the clock that signaled the news his night with Allison had made its way via the powers of guilt and osmosis into Tommy’s consciousness…or that of his other bandmates.  This was definitely something he didn’t want any of them to know.  In fact, he fervently wished he could somehow forget it all himself.

     The smattered conversations between the others that had carried them out of town had long since faded into silence, and now the various passengers stared absently out the windows, listened to music via headphones or had gradually fallen asleep.  Chris had been dozing himself for the last half hour or so, though a protective hand still rested instinctively on Henderson.  Josh, of course, remained fully wakeful, lost in a seemingly unending flow of disturbing thoughts. 

     A cell phone rang suddenly, cutting the peaceful quiet of the vehicle like a foghorn in a still midnight.  Knowing the sound emanated from his pocket, Josh felt like a bank robber whose ink-pack-rigged loot has just exploded in a public square.  After all, everyone who could possibly be calling him was already in the van – with one glaring exception.  He tried to act nonchalant as he whipped the phone open to end the call before the second ring and was met with the words “New text message from Allison”. Clicking “yes” to the “read it now” prompt, he quickly scanned the brief lines, “About last night…call me.  P.S. Sultan misses you.” 

     As feared Tommy called from the front, “Who was that?” Josh relaxed a bit, however, when he followed up with, “The festival contact guy said he was gonna call one of us about some last minute schedule stuff.  I forgot to tell you.”

     “Oh, uh –no, no,” Josh answered, trying to sound casual. 

     “It sounded like a woman from here,” Chris chimed in, torturing Josh momentarily with a teasing look.

     “The cat sitter, I think,” he added at last.   His look grew more meaningful. “Or, did I misunderstand?”