Ray has a request for Willow.
Suddenly the bus door opened and a man appeared breaking the tension. He nodded to Brian who in turn nodded back then followed the man towards the back of the bus.
“Guess we’ll have to be pulling out soon.” Frank said to no one in particular.
Willow took this as her cue to leave. She stood and smiled, “Well, it’s been nice meeting all of you.”
Before she could say more Mikey was on his feet almost falling down before Gerard steadied him. “You’re not leaving.” His outburst seemed to shock everyone into action.
“Mikey, calm down, man.” Gerard said still holding on to his arm.
“Gee, she can’t leave. I need to talk to her. She understands what’s going on with me.” His voice sounded scared.
Brian retuned having heard the commotion. He looked over at Willow. “Would it be to much to ask you to wait outside a minute?”
Willow nodded, “Sure, no problem.” She understood they wanted to talk about the situation.
“Willow you won’t take off will you?” Mikey pleaded.
“I’ll just wait by my car.” Willow smiled trying to reassure him. She moved to the door of the bus.
“Promise?” Mikey said, “Really, promise?”
“Promise.” Willow answered then left the bus.
As soon as she was gone Gerard turned to his brother. “Mikey, we have to get going. You know that.”
“Gee, I need her. You don’t understand. I’ve thought I was going fucking insane. Now I’ve found out that I’m not crazy. She can help me I just know it.”
“But dude, we’re on tour.” Frank put in.
“Then I’ll leave the tour. I’ll stay in a fucking hotel here.” Mikey answered growing more and more agitated.
“What about Alicia?” Gerard asked. “You know she’s meeting up with you at the next stop.”
Mikey nodded, “I’ll just tell her to come here. She’ll understand I have to get this shit straight in my head.”
Ray stood by silently thinking about the situation. He spoke up. “I’m going out to talk to her. Maybe she can travel with us to the next gig. That would give Mikey some time to spend with her.”
Mikey nodded, “Yeah, that would be good. That would work.” He swayed slightly and fell back down on the sofa. “Talk to her Ray.”
Gerard and Brian exchanged a look. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.” Brian said slowly, “We don’t know anything about this woman.”
Gerard agreed, “Yeah, and she bothers the fuck out of me.” He added.
Mikey shot him a look of anger, “This ain’t about you, Gee. This is about me trying to get my fucking head straight. Look, all of you know how bad it’s gotten. Shit, do you all think I don’t know that’s why Brian is with us? Yeah, I’m not stupid I know you all think I’m gonna crack up.”
“Mikey, that’s not why I’m here.” Brian lied. In truth it was why he had accompanied the band on this tour. He was so worried about Mikey that he’d come with the band hoping to keep an eye on him.
“You don’t lie for shit.” Mikey said glaring at their manager. “None of you do. Look, you can all pretend that I’m getting better but until tonight I was only getting worse. Don’t you all see? I thought I was going insane because I would see people who no one else could see. Tonight when I saw grandma I really believed I’d lost it but Willow saw her too. I’m not fucking crazy but I need to understand what’s going on.”
No one said anything for a moment then Ray spoke, “Let me go talk to her. Maybe this is a moot point. Maybe she can’t just leave and go with us.”
Mikey looked over at him. “Please just talk to her. Tell her how important it is.”
“Let me talk to her and find out a bit more about her. I’ll come back and tell you what I’ve learned and then we’ll decide what to do, okay?”
Willow was sitting on the hood of her car looking at the moon when she heard footsteps. As he grew closer she smiled. “Hello, Ray.”
He nodded, “Okay if I take a seat?” He didn’t want to just perch on her car without asking.
Willow laughed, “Look at this car. Do you really think you could hurt it?”
Even in the darkness Ray could see her car had seen better days.
“At least it runs okay.” Willow said softly.
Ray took a seat next to her and tried to decide what to say. Beside him Willow sighed.
“What?” He asked.
“It’s just nice to be sitting by someone and hear nothing.” She tried to explain.
“Oh, my vampire quiet.”
“Yeah, your vampire quiet.” She was happy he understood.
Ray took out a cigarette and lit one. “So tell me what it’s like to hear people’s thoughts.”
“Sucks.” Willow answered quickly, “Look, like I tried to explain before it’s like always hearing a TV that is somewhere far enough just so you know it’s on. If I strain to listen I can make out the words but I don’t do that. I don’t try to listen in to people’s thoughts. It’s only when they get upset that I can hear them without trying.”
“Oh hell yeah.” Willow agreed. “Man, that guy has some loud thoughts. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I understand how upset he was about Mikey.”
“He and his brother are very close.” Ray said softly, “They’ve been through hell together.”
For once Willow wished she could hear someone’s thoughts. She wondered what hell the Way brothers had been thought but Ray’s mind was silent.
“So tell me about yourself, Willow.”
“Tell you about myself?” Willow laughed, “Okay, well I’m not average but most people think I am. I try to hide my gift it’s easier that way.”
Ray noticed the way she said gift. It was with distain. “You hate that you can hear people’s thoughts or that you can see the dead?”
“Both.” She answered quickly but then sighed, “No, that’s not really true. Hearing peoples thoughts isn’t so great but helping the dead isn’t so bad.”
Ray had never met anyone like Willow. He truly wanted to know more about her. “So you hate hearing what people are thinking.”
“Let me tell you most of the time you wouldn’t want to hear what people really think.”
“That bad.” Willow nodded. “Maybe it would be okay if I did try to listen. I mean truly the only time I hear them loud and clear is when they’re upset. That’s what’s so bad.”
“And seeing the dead? You aren’t freaked by that?”
Willow laughed, “You get used to it.”
“Have you always had this gift?” Ray asked before taking another drag off his cigarette.
“Yep, I was born with it but I didn’t realize it when I was little. My mom and dad just thought I had imaginary friends that I talked to. I didn’t realize no one else could see them.”
“When was the first time you figured it out?”
Willow leaned back on her arms and thought a minute. “I guess the first time I realized it was when I saw my dead grandma. I was five and we had been to her funeral that day. We’d gotten home and I went to my room to play. Grandma was waiting for me.”
“And you didn’t freak?” Ray asked trying to imagine how it must have been for the little girl to see her dead grandma.
“Well, I loved grandma and I was happy to see her. But slowly it dawned on me that she shouldn’t be there. I was upset too because she didn’t say anything.”
“So what did you do?”
Willow frowned remembering that day. “I ran to my mom and told her grandma was in my room but that she wouldn’t talk to me. My mom freaked. She told me to stop being silly and go outside and play. It wasn’t until several years later that I found out my grandma had the same gift I do.”
“She could see the dead?” Ray found this all so fascinating.
“Yeah, she could. I found out from her sister, my aunt Joan. My mom knew about it but she didn’t believe. The gift must have skipped a generation.”
As interesting as this was Ray knew he had to find out more about Willows life now. “So are you married?”
Willow was surprised by the change in the conversation. “Nope, I’ve dated some but let’s face it no guy wants a woman who knows what he’s thinking.”
“That would be difficult.” Ray agreed. “So you live around here?”
“About a mile from here.” Willow answered.
“Alone?” Ray pushed.
“Man, I wish I knew what you were thinking.” Willow admitted. “For once in my life I want to hear someone’s thoughts. Why the questions Ray?”
“Curiosity?” Ray laughed.
Willow decided to go along until she figured it out. “Okay, I live in a small house that was left to me by my aunt. I couldn’t afford to keep the house unless I got a roommate to help with the costs.”
“And you work at McDonalds?”
Willow realized he knew this because of her uniform. “Yep, I was in college until my mom got sick about a year ago. I had to drop out to take care of her. I’m working trying to save up enough money to go back.” She sighed, “Of course I have a lot of bills to take care of first.”
“Your mom recovered?” Ray asked tossing his cigarette into the darkened parking lot.
“Mom died.” Willow said with sadness.
“Shit, I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.” Willow explained, “It was a long illness and her passing was a blessing.”
“Have you seen her since she passed?” Ray wasn’t sure the question was proper but curiosity got the better of him.
“Nope, I haven’t but I’m not surprised. My mom and I had a strained relationship. She never understood my gift. Matter of fact she hated it.”
Ray didn’t know how to answer that one. The bus door opened and Gerard stuck out his head and called to Ray. He turned to Willow. “I’ll be right back.” He said as he slid off the hood.
A few minutes later he was back. “Willow I’ve got a favor to ask in Mikey’s behalf.”
Willow sat listening.
“Would it be possible for you to travel with us to the next venue in St. Louis? Mikey really wants to spend time with you. He thinks you can help him.” He added softly, “And so do I.”
Willow thought for several minutes. “I don’t know if that would be a good idea.” She finally said.
“Look we’ll pay you. I know you’ll miss time at your job.”
“It’s not that.” Willow answered honestly, “I mean, yeah I will miss work and with my shitty finances that is a consideration but it’s something else.” She wasn’t sure how to say it so she just blurted out, “Gerard is the problem. The man really dislikes me.”
Ray shook his head, “That’s not true. It’s not you personally.”
Willow laughed, “Uh, I can hear his thoughts, remember?”
Ray sat back down on the hood next to her, “Really, it’s not you. Gee has been through a lot lately.”
“His divorce.” Willow said knowingly.
Ray was surprised, “You picked that up from his thoughts?”
“No.” Willow answered honestly, “Look I’m not gonna lie. I’m a fan. If I didn’t have to work tonight I would have been at the concert. Anyone who’s a fan of the group has read about his divorce and how ugly it was.”
“Ugly don’t begin to describe it.” Ray said feeling a wave of anger at what his friend had been through. “She used him then took him for all she could. He really has a trust issue where woman are concerned now.”
“He needs to realize not all woman as like that.” Willow said sadly.
“I agree but I don’t know if he can. Then add to all of that the trouble Mikey’s been going through and well, you can maybe understand some of his anger. He loves his brother but he doesn’t know how to help him.”
“Do you really think I can help Mikey?”
“I do.” Ray answered honestly. “So what do you say?”
Willow only gave it a quick thought, “I need to go home and get some things.”
“I’ll take you.” Gerard’s voice startled Ray but not Willow. She’d ‘heard’ him coming. His thoughts were once again loud and angry.