Something goes right, for a change
“Yeah?” came the quiet reply.
“He’s not coming back, is he?”
A silence hung in the air for a few moments.
“Doesn’t look like it.”
“You seem pretty calm about it,” Frank commented.
“Yeah, well,” Mikey rolled onto his back and drew up his knees having earlier felt well enough to untie his ankles. “That’s because I’m too numb to really take it in. How do you tell your brain to accept that you’re gonna die?”
Frank laughed despondently. “I don’t know! I can’t quite do it either.”
Mikey turned his head to face the guitarist.
“It’s one of those key life changing moments they tell you about.”
“Life changing, in that we won’t be alive any more?”
“Yeah,” Mikey agreed almost laughing at the absurdity of the conversation. “But we can’t react properly, because, it’s never happened before and, well, lets face it, it ain’t gonna happen again!”
Frank shook his head and smiled to himself. Somehow, in the face of real adversity, Mikey was holding onto his humour. Only Mikey, he thought.
“If I have to die, I’m glad it’s with you.”
Mikey dissolved into a fit of laughter. Rolling onto his stomach, he grinned at Frank as the convulsions slowly subsided. Initially mortified by the reaction, Frank eventually realised how his words had sounded and his cheeks reddened in embarrassment.
“I didn’t mean it like that!” he quickly corrected himself.
“I know,” Mikey chuckled. “but that only made it funnier. But, if it helps,” Mikey’s tone grew serious, “I do know what you mean and I feel the same.”
“Do you think they’ll find us… in time?”
Mikey took a deep breath as he considered the question and what he knew Frank wanted to hear. But, this was no time for lies.
“Honestly?” he paused slightly. “No.”
“Look,” Brian’s exasperated voice sounded over the phone. “Can’t you just check it out? How difficult can it be?”
“We don’t have unlimited resources, you know!” Silburn replied.
“You don’t have any leads, either!” Brian snapped in return. “Just check it out!”
“Alright! We’ll check it, but don’t be surprised when it comes up negative.”
Rising from his bed, Ray slipped on a hospital dressing gown and he, Bob and Eddie were led to Gerard’s room. It was a shocking sight when they first walked in. Gerard was hooked up to three separate machines and the drip into his arm still very much attached.
“Gee?” Ray began.
Gerard opened his swollen and puffy eyes and offered a faint smile. “You’re okay?” he asked in an almost silent whisper.
“We’re fine,” Bob confirmed as Ray almost choked on his own emotions. “I heard you took a tumble?”
Gerard smiled faintly. “Yeah, I know what it’s like to be a sheet in a dryer now.”
“Well,” Eddie joined in. “You’re white enough to be a sheet too.”
Gerard chuckled, but the movement made him cough.
“Gee?” both musicians called with concern.
“I’m okay. Just a couple of broken ribs, a sprained wrist and knee and lots of bruises and scrapes. I apparently got off so light from being on the floor of the car. I guess, somehow, it saved my life.”
“That’s getting off light?” Ray spluttered.
Gerard frowned. “Could have been a lot worse. From what I hear, he didn’t fare so well.”
“Good riddance,” Eddie retorted, a sudden bitter anger rising in his voice.
Gerard’s mind, initially dulled by painkillers and sedatives, turned abruptly to recent events and immediately felt pangs of guilt for taking so long for everything to register in his traumatised state.
“Mikey and Frank?” he asked with urgency in his voice. “Tell me you’ve found them.”
Ray looked at his feet, wishing there was better news.
“They… they’re not…?”
“We haven’t found them,” Ray clarified realising that Gerard was assuming the worst.
“Wh… but… No idea?” He stammered.
Ray shook his head slightly. “The police are working on it.”
Gerard tried to put a hand to his head and halted immediately as a stabbing pain shot up his arm from his wrist. Looking down to his left arm he grimaced and turned away.
“Are you in pain? Shall I get a nurse?” Eddie asked.
“There’s a needle in my arm!” Gerard complained.
“Actually, there’re two,” Bob corrected him.
If possible, Gerard paled further, visibly shook and beads of sweat began to form on his forehead.
“Man are you gonna…” Bob began.
Gerard tipped his head to the right and retched violently as a nurse entered the room to run checks.
“I’m sorry, Gee!” Bob frowned, guilt-ridden for exacerbating his phobia.
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave now; he really needs to rest.” The nurse stated. “And you!” she glared at Ray. “You should get back to your own room!”
“He’s got a phobia of needles,” Ray explained as the nurse tried to clean up the mess.
“Thanks,” she nodded, grateful for the information. “I’ll cover them up, now get back to your room.”
“Well, well, who’d have thought it?” Silburn spoke aloud and leaned back in his chair and smiled. “Well, I guess I’d rather be proved wrong like this than any other way.”
Getting to his feet, he signalled to two officers to join him as he headed out to the parking lot.
Frank hugged his knees as he listened to Mikey sleeping. His breathing was slow and deep, but he was otherwise silent except for the occasional half formed word. Frank took a deep breath. There was little else to do except sleep and after the beating he had suffered, Mikey needed it.
Frank turned his head to look at the door at the top of the stairs, or more accurately the strip of light that had appeared again at the bottom.
“Mikey!” Frank called. “He’s back.”
Mikey looked up from his light sleep as Frank continued to shout.
“Hey!” he yelled at least four times.
“What are you doing?” Mikey asked; eyes wide with concern.
“Mikes we need water, if nothing else. He can’t just disappear like that and leave us with nothing.”
“He’s trying to… no he’s actually going to kill us, Frank. Why would he give us water?”
Frank’s shoulders sagged and he exhaled deeply.
“Okay, so I’m an idiot.”
“No,” Mikey smiled, “you’re not, you…”
Both men looked up as the door opened and they saw the silhouette in the doorframe, pausing momentarily before quickly descending the stairs followed by two other men. Shrinking back against the wall, the two musicians feared a beating only to stare in astonishment as the lead man moved into the light shed by the single bulb.
“I really didn’t think we’d find you,” Silburn announced to the guitarist.
“How…” Frank began confused. “You caught him?”
“He’s dead,” Silburn advised simply. “Crashed his car.”
“Then how… how did you find us?” Frank asked as Silburn dropped to his knee and pulled out a key taken from Simons’ body; it fitted the padlocks perfectly.
“Something your manager said,” the detective confirmed as the chains fell away from Frank’s wrists and he moved to repeat the process with Mikey.
“We found out that Simons had rented a car under his brother’s name so that nothing would be immediately traced to him. Brian suggested,” he paused to help the two friends to their feet, “well, insisted, we check if anything else was in his brother’s name and this place came up.”
Frank covered his face with his hands; his shoulders dropping as he realised they were safe. Mikey moved towards him and wrapped his arms around his shaking friend.
Silburn sighed; his careworn, cynical heart softening at the sight.
“Come on,” he spoke gently. “Let’s get you both to hospital.”
Mikey looked up. “Are the others okay?”
“Fine,” Silburn bent the truth a little; it would serve no purpose to worry them unnecessarily. “They’ll meet you there.”