The band announes their new guitarist, and Jess fills Frank in on the next step in her plan.
I’m sleeping peacefully in the shitty motel room I’ve been staying at for the past two nights when my phone ringing wakes me. Immediately the peace of sleep disappears and I am bombarded with memories of the past month. Grumbling I grab my phone and flip it open, not bothering to look at the caller ID.
“What?” I mumble.
“Turn on MTV,” her voice insists before the line goes dead. Groggily I sit up, rubbing sleep out of my eyes. Glance over at the clock to find that it’s two in the afternoon. I’ve been so out of it these past two days. I don’t really want to watch whatever it is she wants me to see, but I’m not sure what game she’s playing now. I thought I had it figured out before, but she keeps changing the rules. This might be important.
I grab the remote and turn the TV on before randomly flipping through the channels until I find MTV. It’s showing a typical press release setup. A long table sits at the front of the room. At the moment it is empty, but it looks like it could seat six people. A female reporter is in front of the table, reporting on the event.
“World renowned emo rock band My Chemical Romance…” I roll my eyes. Damn reporters never get it right. “…is set to announce the identity of their new guitarist here in a few moments. Former guitarist Frank Iero reportedly left the band three days ago due to a falling out among the band members…” she rambles on.
I sigh and hold my head in my hands. They’ve replaced me. And she’s making sure I see it. I just woke up. It’s too early in the morning for this. A falling out among the band members. I snort. How about a psycho bitch ex-girlfriend who’s threatening to kill your band unless you let her ruin your life? God, if only they knew…
Wearily I look back up at the screen. The reporter is gone and the camera has zoomed in on the table. The guys are in the room now and are starting to take their seats. Brian is first, followed by Gerard, then Mikey, Ray and Bob. My jaw drops as I see the last person at the table. The new guitarist.
Brian speaks into the microphone. He says something about how Jess used to be a guitar tech so she’ll be comfortable with them on tour. He’s talking for a while, but I hardly hear him. I’m too busy watching her. She seems almost sweet, if you don’t know her. But I do. God, and she’s sitting there. In MY place. With MY band.
Brian has opened the floor to questions. A reporter asks something, I don’t quite hear what, and Gerard replies.
“We’re really excited about this tour. Jess is a great friend of ours and an incredibly talented guitarist. We couldn’t have asked for a better addition to this band.”
I think I’m going to be sick.
He continues, “I want to assure the fans that nothing’s going change just because Frank is gone. The shows are still going to be as good as always and we’re not going to slow down our touring. We’re still going to be around for a long time.”
Other reporters shout out questions and various band members answer them. Finally a question is directed at Jess.
“How are you feeling about joining this band?” someone calls out.
She smiles sweetly. “I won’t lie, I’m a bit nervous. But I’m also really excited. This band is amazing and they deserve and expect a lot out of their guitarist. I’m going to do my best to be that.”
Gerard smiles and adds jokingly, “We’re pretty sure she’ll do OK.”
Brian stands and tells the reporters that the press release is over. The band slowly gets up also and starts to file out. Bob puts his hand on Jess’ shoulder. I want to hurl.
I feel awful. If you had asked me this morning I would have told you I couldn’t possibly feel any worse than I did then. I would have been wrong. I sit there, dazed for about an hour. I can’t move, but I don’t even want to.
My phone ringing brings me back to reality, but I ignore it. A minute later it buzzes, telling me I have a new text. Slowly I grab the phone and read the message from Jess.
Stop fucking around, Frankie. Someone might get hurt.
I hold the phone for a minute, then reluctantly call her. It barely even rings once before she answers.
“Why didn’t you answer?” she snarls.
“Relax, I was in the bathroom,” I lie.
“Did you enjoy the press release?”
“Immensely. I could hardly contain myself. You should have seen me, I was dancing around the room with joy.”
“Don’t get smart with me.”
A heavy silence hangs between us, but only for a moment before she breaks it. “Are you still packed?”
I glance over at the two garbage bags sitting practically untouched in the corner. I’ve been moping around all day, I haven’t needed them.
I turn and pick up the only thing I have taken the time to pull out of those bags. An old picture of us during the ‘I’m Not Okay’ video shoot. We’re all standing around Brian, who is wearing the mascot costume, and holding the oversized head by his side. We’re all grinning our heads off and completely ignoring the camera.
I realize she is still waiting for me to answer. “Yes.”
“Good, I’ll pick you up tomorrow at three, we leave at five and we would hate to be late for our first day, now wouldn’t we?” Her voice is coated in fake sweetness and it makes me think of cheerleaders.
“Late for our first day of what?” I ask, playing along like I know she wants me to.
“Late for our first day of tour, silly! I explained to them how I’ve been working with Jason Demarko a lot and that I was really hoping he could come on tour with me as my guitar tech. They agreed, of course. They're agreeing to everything I ask for. They're so cute!”
I freeze. “Who’s Jason Demarko?” I ask even though I’m pretty sure I know the answer. But, no, even Jess wouldn’t go that low.
“Why?” I breathe, barely even loud enough to be called a whisper. But still she hears me.
“Because when you broke up with me I wanted to leave. Things might have been ok if I had, but no. I had a contract, Frankie. I had to stick around for 22 months - 22 months! – seeing you everyday. Facing what I had lost, what had ruined my life, everyday for almost two years. So now it’s your turn. I told you I wasn’t done with you. You lost everything you loved, but that was only the beginning. Now you’ll have to face them. Everyday, knowing they hate you.”
She paused, my heavy breathing the only noise on the wire. “What’s wrong, Frankie?” she asks, a smirk in her voice. “No jumping for joy? No dancing?”
“They’re not dumb. They’ll recognize me.”
“You had better make sure they don’t, because if they do…”
“I know, I know. You’ll kill them. Don’t you think you’ve used that threat enough already?”
Her voice is dangerous. She even sounds insane. “You think I won’t?”
I don’t answer, instead I let my silence answer for me.
“Are you willing to risk that?” she asks. And truthfully, I’m not. These guys mean too much to me. They may hate me, but I still love them. I could never let anything happen to them because of me. That’s why I left in the first place.
“Are you?” I counter. She may be able to control me through my love for the guys, but even she is not above the law and she knows it.
I’m surprised by her harsh laugh. “Oh, Frankie, I already have. Do you remember what happened to Matt two years ago?”
Matt Cortez, Mikey’s temporary replacement, fell when some supports on the stage came loose and the whole front of it collapsed.
“Or Gerard, last year?”
Gerard was checking that the equipment had arrived safely when some amps had fallen and nearly crushed him.
“Or Bob’s burns during ‘Famous Last Words’?”
The drummer had thought that someone had moved his drum set. He’d ended up to close to the pyro equipment.
“All those were you?”
All three instances had required hospital attention. None were life threatening, but they very well could have been.
“And I was just warming up. Next time they won’t need a hospital, they’ll need a morgue.”
I get it now. She’s inside, and she knows more about the ins and outs of touring than anyone. She could easily kill anyone on tour, and make it look like a tragic accident. And she would, to get to me.
“What if I go to the police?” I ask.
“And tell them what? That the new guitarist, the one they all love, is planning to kill them. This coming from the old guitarist, who has had a major falling out with them and left on unpleasant terms. If they’re going to believe that anyone is trying to kill the band, Frankie, it’s going to be you. Especially after I give them the hand written confessions, with your signature, that I’ll just happen to find. You won’t go to the police, Frankie.”
She’s got me trapped. I’ve got no choice but to do what she says.
“Alright, I get it,” I growl.
“Good,” she snaps. “I’ve got some things I’ll come around to give you later on. I have contacts that will make you eyes look blue, and some blond hair dye. I suggest you cut your hair. I also have huge glasses and different clothes. As long as you try to talk and act different and keep to yourself, they probably won’t recognize you.”
“You know how the guys are, they treat everyone on tour like family. Keeping to myself is going to be tough.”
“You’ll figure it out, Frankie. I’ll drop the stuff off later and pick you up at three tomorrow.” Her voice slips back into fake cheerleader mode. “Oh! I’m so excited about our first day! It’s going to be a blast, don’t you think?”
Thanks again for the reviews, I hope this chapter clears some things up. If not, let me know. Love you to pieces (don't make me make that literal).