No prizes for guessing
“Come on, Frankie, if you wait too long I’ll call time and you’ll lose a question and Mikey gains a bruise.”
Frank tried unsuccessfully to settle his breathing. His questions needed to be both informative and correct assumptions. He couldn’t afford to ask a question that returned a negative response, but without specifics, there was no way he would be able to establish his identity. Frank resigned himself to the fact that he would almost certainly make mistakes but he could only hope that Mikey understood too. The main priority had to be keeping him alive, above all.
“Clock’s ticking, Frankie.”
“Have we met, personally, face to face, met other than in the last few days?”
Frank held his breath, as, unbeknownst to Frank, did Mikey.
He paused; the wait was sheer torture.
Frank exhaled, but sagged slightly as he realised that he was no further to his goal.
“Do you know me personally or professionally?”
“Yes or no, Frankie. Pick a question.”
Frank paused. “Professionally?”
An equal pause in the reply pained them both. “Yes.”
“Are you involved in the music industry?”
A broad grin spread across his face.
Frank’s eyes widened as he spun around landing a fierce kick into Mikey’s side, thankfully just below the ribs. Mikey coughed and gasped as all the air in his lungs was driven out sharply. His lashes dampened as he screwed up his eyes in agony. Frank couldn’t bear to look, choosing to throw his head down into his arms folded across his raised knees.
“Question four, Frankie?”
Frank looked up, his eyes filled with desperation.
“Why don’t you leave him alone? It’s me you want and you’ve got me! Please can’t you just leave Mikey out of this?”
“Is that your question?”
“No!” Frank’s voice cracked as he saw Mikey begin to recover from the attack. He didn’t know how much more Mikey could reasonably take.
“Question four! Ask me or lose it!”
“Okay! Okay!” Frank screamed before a single coherent thought lodged in his brain. It was as if a light had been switched on. He had a security pass, he knew the layout, he knew the systems and procedures, everything. There was only one logical conclusion. “You were a security guard?”
“Yes.” He replied gracelessly.
“On our last tour?”
“You…” Frank shook his head. “But it’s not you. I had a guy fired for stealing thousands of dollars worth of equipment. But it’s not you,” Frank observed. “Did you know him?”
Frank could see he was close and the man becoming increasingly angry over being denied the sick pleasure of torturing them.
Frank decided to go out on a limb. He had a vague recollection that on their last tour, they had hired two brothers as part of their security team. The detail had stuck in their minds as they considered it only right to have a family atmosphere present in the crew as well as the band.
“You were related to him?”
“Yes,” he replied through gritted teeth.
Frank raised his head and felt he had the final reply. “You’re blaming me for firing your brother for theft?”
The man scowled and landed another brutal kick to Mikey’s side.
“I’m wrong?” Frank asked, horrified; he was so certain.
“No, you’re right,” he snapped, “but the little runt deserved it anyway!”
“You bastard!” Frank yelled. “Leave him out of it!”
Dropping to one knee at Frank’s side, the man wrapped the fingers of his left hand around Frank’s neck.
“Don’t worry, Frankie, I’ll get to you soon enough!” He shouted, placing his face within inches of Frank’s. “You think you were justified firing my brother? You sent him to his death!”
“How?” Frank choked out, his fingers scrabbling to release his grip.
“He was in debt, and not to people you want to mess with. You had him fired and he fell behind, couldn’t pay. Next thing, he’s floating up river with a bullet in his head.” The man tightened his grip. “You’ll pay Iero! Believe me, you’ll pay!”
Pulling Frank forward a few inches, the man then slammed the guitarist’s head back against the wall.
With a terrified gasp, Mikey closed his eyes tightly as he heard the sickening dull thud. When he opened them once more, he watched aghast as Frank slid to the floor. Mikey’s eyes refused to look away until he saw a slight movement of Frank’s abdomen, showing he was still breathing, however shallow that breathing might be.
“If you’re wondering,” the man rose to his feet and addressed Mikey, who could only stare, petrified, in return, “my name is Josh Simons. The man he effectively killed was my brother Pete. I’m going now to get the other three. You’ll all suffer; you’ll all die, slowly, painfully, just like my brother did. And when you’re all dead, it’ll be his turn and it’ll be slow and agonising and he’ll feel every damn second of it!”