Bob deals out some tough love... but without the love
As they reached the first trailer, Mikey helped Ray down onto a chair and knelt down to ease his left shoe off.
“No! No! No! No!!” Ray yelled, as a searing pain shot up his leg.
Mikey looked up at Ray without saying a word but wearing an expression that combined guilt, worry and shock. It was almost comical and even Ray had to smile.
Gerard pulled his lips into a thin line and shook his head.
“It’s going to have to be cut off,” he announced.
“My shoe?” Ray asked unhappily.
“No,” Gerard replied, deadpan, “the leg.”
“Can I keep the shoe?” Frank asked with a grin. “Seeing as you won’t be needing it.”
Ray rolled his eyes. He knew what they were trying to do and he appreciated it. For the first time since falling into the pit, he had stopped shaking and he could thank his friends for that. But right now, his throbbing and rapidly swelling foot needed attention, probably more than he had originally thought. He glanced down at Mikey who was still kneeling at his feet, but looked decidedly uncomfortable with actually doing anything – he simply did not want to be the one to make Ray yell like that again.
“Mister Toro,” a female voice at his side almost startled him, “my name’s Angela, I have first aid training, can I help you?”
“Do you have a gentle touch and a bandage?” he asked smiling up at the shy and very polite woman.
“Yes,” she laughed, suddenly feeling much more at ease, “I do.”
“Mikey!” Ray used his good right foot to nudge the bassist to one side. “ Make way for the nice lady.”
Mikey sprang to his feet only too happy to let her take over. If Ray was going to scream… well, Mikey smiled to himself as he watched Ray’s face contort with agony as he held the scream inside.
“Does that hurt?” Angela asked without looking up.
“No.” Ray’s voice was clipped and strained.
Mikey stepped behind Ray and placing his hands gently on the guitarist’s shoulders leaned in to his ear.
“Who are you trying to impress, Toro?” he chuckled.
“Go away!” Ray snapped through clenched teeth.
Angela looked up, taken aback by the comment she had thought was aimed at her.
“No! Not you!” Ray jabbed a thumb in Mikey’s direction. “Him!”
“I’m nearly done,” she said as she pulled the bandage close, but not tight around his ankle, fastening it carefully with a safety pin.
“How does that feel?” she asked, sitting back on her heels.
“Feels good,” he nodded gratefully. “Thanks.”
“Of course,” she spoke with all the seriousness she could muster, “you will have to be carried everywhere for a few days, but you have four strong friends to do that.”
“What!” Gerard spluttered almost choking on his water.
Ray and Angela shared a laugh at his expense as she pushed herself to her feet.
“You will have to stay off it for a day or two, keep it raised, put ice on it. That sort of thing.”
Ray frowned. “I don’t think I have that luxury, we’re only filming for three days.”
“Oh, yes,” Angela paused to think. “Okay, well I’ll see if I can find you something to support it better for tomorrow.”
“Thanks!” Ray cheered.
“No problem!” she smiled and gave a small wave as she headed back to the second trailer.
As one, four grinning heads turned to face Ray.
“Toro made a friend!” Frank sang in a the fashion of a playground rhyme.
“No,” Ray shook his head forlornly. “She only wants me for my ankle.”
“Try and bust something more useful then!” Gerard grinned impishly.
“So!” Alan Frey, the director cut in.
“It’s twisted,” Ray explained simply.
“What is?” Frey asked, oblivious to the problem.
“My ankle,” Ray explained with a degree of annoyance peppering his tone, “I thought you were coming over to ask how I am.”
“Oh, yeah,” Frey spluttered, “of course…” he added, trying to recover from the thoughtless omission. “But also to say we’re going to have a full square fifty feet checked and redrawn. You’ll be perfectly safe.”
Ray pulled a face. “I feel so confident in your hands.”
“The car’s here,” one of the runners called to the small gathering. “I’ll let him know you’re on your way.”
“Thanks, Dave,” Gerard smiled back, relieved himself to be heading back to the hotel a little early. Looking at Ray, now struggling to stand, he frowned. “I think you should get that looked at by a doctor, Ray.”
Ray nodded unhappily. “I think you may be right.”
“I’ll call ahead from the car and ask them to get one in for you for when we arrive.”
“You will be all right for filming tomorrow, won’t you?” Frey asked, earning dirty looks from each band member.
“You better pray it’s not broken, Alan,” Bob warned. “Or that Brian’s not feeling too litigious when we let him know!”
“Wh… er… No,” the director stammered in reply, “there’s no need to get lawyers involved, I’m sure we can sort this out amicably. Can’t we?”
Bob turned back to look at the director, having watched Ray being helped into the car looking decidedly uncomfortable as he sat down.
“Alan,” Bob paused as he searched for the right words, “I doubt we’d be so angry if you remotely cared about anything other than filming!”
“It’s my job,” he complained.
“Yeah, and we’re paying you!” Bob leaned in. “It’s also your job to secure the location and so far, that hasn’t gone particularly well, has it?”
“How could I know there were holes in the ground?” he argued.
Bob scowled. “That wasn’t a hole,” he snapped, “that was a lethal trap! And God knows what else is lurking out there! The buck stops with you, Alan and you had better go over this whole place with a fine tooth comb by three o’clock tomorrow afternoon, because two hours before filming, I’m coming back here to do my own search and if I find so much as a rabbit hole, you’re out!”
Turning on his heels, Bob stalked off towards the car, leaving the director red-faced and worried, but, at the same time thankful that Bob had at least had the conversation in private and not humiliated him in front of his crew.
“What was that about?” asked Ray as Bob joined them in the car.
“Just a few home truths,” Bob replied quietly; still angry but not wanting Ray to hear how much.
The journey to the hotel was a short one that would take less than twenty minutes, and was taken in virtual silence. It was as if the full impact of what had happened had only just hit them. Frank, in particular, kept his own personal concerns to himself. Ray had almost died on set and it really seemed put his own problems into perspective. Besides, he had long since decided to believe that he had imagined everything.
As the car pulled up outside the hotel, they were surprised to see a wheelchair waiting outside for Ray.
“Who arranged that?” Ray asked aware that by now he could barely move his ankle let alone walk, but also knowing that that detail had been kept from the others.
“Me,” Gerard replied uncertainly, “is that okay?”
“Thanks, man,” Ray smiled thankful for the gesture.
A wave of exhaustion washed over them as they exited the car and followed Ray into the hotel where the doctor was already waiting. Mikey and Gerard flopped down onto one of the hotel lobby’s many sofas as Ray was wheeled into an office accompanied by the doctor. Frank was about to join them and crash on the sofa opposite when Bob tapped his left arm. Frank looked up at Bob expectantly but his only reply was to back away a few paces and indicate for the guitarist to follow. Joining him a few feet away, Frank looked up at the drummer.
“What’s wrong?” he asked quietly as the two brothers now dozed lightly on the sofa.
“I chewed out Alan pretty bad before.”
Frank shrugged. “He didn’t do his job properly, he could’ve killed Ray. Besides, it’s not like he even cared!”
“Yeah,” Bob agreed, “yeah, I’m not saying he didn’t deserve it. I know he told us that he was going to check and clear fifty feet square, but, I’m going back to check.”
“Now?” Frank’s eyes widened at the idea, it was two in the morning already.
“No! Tomorrow afternoon. I want to make sure it’s okay.” Bob paused trying to read Frank’s expression. “Do you want to come?”
“It’d be mid afternoon.”
Frank’s expression lightened – daylight!
“Yeah,” he replied with a degree of uncertainty, then more firmly. “Yeah, sure.”
“Frank,” Bob paused as he weighed up whether to ask the question or not. “What really scared you in the woods?”
Frank’s heart missed a beat at the question; Bob was scarily observant at times. Taking a deep breath, Frank nodded, acknowledging Bob’s tenacity.
“I’ll go with you. If there is anything, I won’t need to tell you.”
“Okay,” he nodded. “Makes sense,” Bob added with a smile.
To their right, the door to the office opened and Ray emerged with the doctor pushing the wheelchair. Thanking the doctor for arriving so promptly at so late an hour, Ray turned back to Bob and Frank who had now joined him as the doctor headed back to the main reception.
“Well?” Bob asked hopeful for a positive reply.
“It’s a mild sprain,” Ray replied, his shoulders hunched forward, his face wearing a deep frown. “I have to keep off it for a couple of days. Alan’s going to be fuming.”
Bob gave a small laugh.
“No, he’s not. Don’t worry about him.”
Ray knew that Bob had spoken to him and that the discussion didn’t appear to have gone well. But there was little he could do to remedy the situation, he was ordered to rest for a minimum of two days and he knew they would make sure of it.
“Come on,” Bob deliberately lifted his tone as he glanced towards Gerard and Mikey, now slumped on each other’s shoulders, with Gerard snoring lightly. “Let’s wake the sleeping beauties and let’s all get some rest.”