I took Mikey's cell from his bunk and followed him through to the living area. The bus had been left in a mess last night and there were food containers and game controllers everywhere. I went to grab a bottle of water from the fridge but there was a loud knock on the bus so I trailed my way through to the door before opening it. Charlotte entered, a strong scent of coffee following her, “Here you go guys,” she said motioning to the tray of various Starbucks in-front of her, ”Welcome back, we've missed you.” Frank and Ray hugged her lightly taking their coffee options from the tray and grabbing mugs too pour the contents into. Mikey took his and nodded in Charlotte's direction but made no other attempt to acknowledge her.
Now I looked at Charlotte I saw how much she had changed. Her hair was longer and she had lost all her puppy fat. She had blossomed into a beautiful young woman and Bob would be proud.
Last tour Charlotte's boyfriend had been beating her. We'd taken her on as band runner without knowing. She'd quickly learnt our habits and our likes and dislikes and everyone in the band and on the crew had treated her like a member of the family. As time passed we noticed bruises shining under her clothes, covering her arms and legs. Bob had looked after Charlotte like she really was his sister, so when he realized how she had gotten the bruises he'd found which of the crew buses her boyfriend was sleeping on and had scared him half to death. He'd been beaten to a pulp and Bob had been arrested on assault charges. Of course he'd been let go and we'd had to cover it really well so the fans and press hadn't found out. Bob would be so happy to see her like this.
“Hey Charlotte, we missed you too.” I said pulling her into a tight hug. Bob came out from behind the curtain and took his coffee from the tray, a worried expression on his face. He took the cup and sat down next to Ray on the bench. He stared into the coffee some more before he realized he'd just taken it from Charlotte. “I'm sorry Charlotte, I didn't realize, you look amazing!” Bob had stood up and was hugging her, but he looked over her shoulder at me and motioned to the door. I caught Ray's attention and pointed to Mikey's Cell phone which I held in my hand. “I'll see you around Charlotte.” I opened the door and stepped down onto the frosty ground. A heavy Grey mist hung solemnly over the parking lot and a chilly wind nipped at my exposed arms.
Kat had run off upstairs this morning and I hadn't seen her since. I was worried about her. I didn't want Bob to be angry with her and I knew how dangerous his tempers could be. This morning's events in my bunk floated across my view and I r realized I was smiling. She really was beautiful. She was like a flower on a spring morning, opening its petals to a dead and bleeding world to make it just as beautiful as itself.
“What did you and Kat do yesterday?” I turned to see Bob stood on the other side of the bus. His beanie was caught on one of his ears and he looked ridiculous. He raised an eyebrow and awaited my answer.
I kicked at the gravel beneath my feet, “We just talked,Why?” he didn't answer my question but continued, “Why was Kat in your bunk this morning?” I looked at my feet, “Gerard, Why was my sister,.... my sixteen year old sister in your bed this morning?”
“WHY GERARD?” I flinched, I'd known he'd be angry. He walked right up to me. his face square to my own. He breathed out through his nostrils and made a grunting sound. His fists were balled at his side and I felt his anger burning my face. “We were talking.”
My voice was cracked and I looked again to my feet. The converse I was wearing were new and the front rubber was a too-bright white. I hated white shoes, they looked too new, too tidy,too clean. I scuffed them against the gravel still, I felt like a child being scolded by his father for mis-behaving. “Talking? You kiss children when you talk to them do you? I saw the love bite on her neck and it wasn't there yesterday.” I felt blood rush to my cheeks, staining them.”She's not a child.” I looked away from him,towards the other side of the paring lot, his glare burning my pale skin.”SHE'S SIXTEEN!” He turned away from me,
“She wanted to just as much as I did.”
“SHE'S SIXTEEN! SHE'S CONFUSED!” “SHE'S MY SISTER GERARD! DON'T TRY BLAMING THIS ON HER!YOUR THE ADULT!” he turned again to me, this time bringing his fist towards my face. The force through me backwards and I hit the ground with a thud. I felt the hot blood flow from my nostrils and pulled at my sleeve, covering my nose with it to staunch the blood. Bob stood above me his, his face crumpled, his knees gave away and he landed on the floor beside me, tears streaming down his face. “I'm sorry Bob, I shouldn't have touched her, I know, but she's just....well she's amazing, I couldn't help myself”
“It's just, she's ill... and Mum trusted me to look after her, and I let one of my best friends get on her.” he sobbed. I pulled myself to my feet, my nose still bleeding I lent down to pull Bob up with my other arm. I walked off back too the bus and entered, Bob not far behind me.