How will the band play without Ray? And someone else has a surprise in store for Frank.
Seeing that Ray is being well taken care of, Gerard pulls back and waves to Jerry, the tour manager. “We’ve got to call the show,” he says. “There’s no way Ray can play like that.”
Ray hears them talking and pulls away from Mikey and me, moving over to them. “No,” he says. “Gee, you can’t call the show this late. The fans are all here already. We’re finally regaining our credibility from the whole thing with Frank. You can’t just ask them all to leave.”
Gerard looks at him sadly. “Ray, you can’t even move your fingers, how are you going to play?”
He’s got us all rather confused at this point. “But Ray, nobody else on tour can play your parts,” Mikey say.
“We could pull an Ashlee Simpson,” Bob offers, trying to lighten the mood. “Oh, wait. We don’t have a tape.”
“Jason can play,” Ray says.
“What?” I say.
“What?” Jess repeats.
“I heard him playing the other day. He’s really good and it seems like he knows all the songs already.” He looks at me expectantly. I can feel Jess’s death glare boring into the side of my head. “Well?” he asks. “Do you know the songs?”
“Um…” I stutter. “Yeah, I do. But I’ve never played your parts, like, seriously. You know, all the way through.”
“Ray, we’ve never played with him before. No offense Jason, but you were in a band. You know what it’s like on stage. You need to be able to read each other completely, in case something unexpected happens. We’ve never even seen him play,” Mikey says doubtfully.
“I think it’ll work,” Bob speaks up. I turn to him.
“Really?” I ask.
He smiles. “Yeah. Well that’s two for.” He says, counting his and Ray’s votes. “Anyone else?”
“Absolutely not.” Jess hisses. “We’ve never played with him. It’ll be a disaster.”
Mikey looks at me thoughtfully. “It can’t be any worse than those last shows with Frank. And this time we have a legitimate excuse. Let’s do it.”
“Alright. I’m in too. That’s four for, one against. But it’s your call, Jason,” Gerard says, looking at me.
I glance at Jess. She looks furious. This was obviously not in her plan. Then I look back at the guys. They want me to play, and I want to play with them. Screw Jess.
“Ok,” I say nodding. “Let’s go.”
The guys let out quiet noises of approval and Jess continues to glare at me. Ray slaps me on the back with his good hand.
“You should get to a hospital,” I say to him.
“And miss you falling flat on your face?” he laughs. “No fucking way!”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” I mumble.
He looks me square in the eyes. “You’ll do fine. Now go!” I turn and realize that Gerard is already onstage for ‘The End’. I walk over to where the guys are standing and a moment later we take the stage together. Just like before.
The show is amazing. I stay in the background, by the drum set, which I resist the urge to stand on. It’s not exactly like before. For one thing I can feel Jess radiating hate and anger throughout the whole show. For another I have to keep reminding myself to play Ray’s parts and not mine. I fumble a few times – his parts are hard! – but if the fans noticed they didn’t seem to mind too much. After ‘House of Wolves’ Gerard pauses to address the fans.
“You may have noticed a bit of a personnel change onstage,” he says. “Ray fucked his hand up about thirty seconds before the show and so we’ve got our good friend Jason Demarko filling in for him tonight.”
There’s a round of cheers. I glance backstage at Ray who’s grinning his head off. I smile too as the opening notes to ‘Cancer’ fill the stadium.
By the time we reach ‘Famous Last Words’ I feel on top of the world. It’s not the same, but it still feels so right. Hell I would play anything you asked me to, if it meant I could play on a stage like this with these guys.
The last notes die away and we walk off the stage to be congratulated by an enthusiastic Ray.
“That was incredible!” he gushes. Even Jess is smiling.
“Way to go, kid,” Gerard says, ruffling my hair. I poke him in the side then duck out of his reach.
Slowly we all remember why I was on stage in the first place.
Bob voices what we’re all thinking. “Let’s get you to a hospital,” he says to Ray. There’s a murmur of agreement. We make our way out to the parking lot where we head over to the two cars that always travel with us, for times like this. When we need to get somewhere but don’t want to take the bus. Gerard gets in the driver’s seat and Ray takes shotgun. Jess climbs into the backseat and I’m about to follow her when I feel a hand on my elbow. I look back to find Bob standing behind me.
“We won’t all fit,” he calls to the guys. “You guys go ahead and Jason and I will meet you there in a minute.”
There’s a chorus of “ok” as Mikey gets in beside Jess and Bob drags me away to the other car. It’s not far from the first, and we get to it fairly quickly. He unlocks it and we get inside. Out the window I see the other car pull away, but Bob doesn’t start the ignition, he just watches them fade into the distance. Then he turns to me.
“We need to talk, Frank.”
Dun Dun Dun! More soon, I promise. This one was a bit short, but important. I'm thinking this'll have about a dozen chapters, so it'll be wrapping up soon. Thanks a million. Love you to pieces (don't make me make that literal).