Anna spends time with the band and Gerard admits he is afraid.
“Hey girlfriend.” Alicia walked up and grabbed Anna’s bag. “Glad you could join the circus.”
Anna looked around and noticed that the bus was much messier since her last visit. Obviously this many people living together in a limited space was challenging.
“I’ll stash your bag over here.” Alicia started to set it down in the kitchen area by the table but Gerard quickly snatched it from her hand.
“I’ll take care of it.” He said moving down the hall way towards the bunk area.
Alicia’s eyes narrowed as she watched him but she remained silent. At least he had changed his mind about having Anna here and for that she was glad.
“Anna I got a spot for ya.” Christa raised her voice to be heard. She had nudged Ray off the sofa.
“Thank you.” Anna said moving over to the sofa and taking a seat next to her.
“Sorry for the mess but this is what happens when we’re all trying to co-habitat.” She laughed, “Truthfully it’s cause the guys are so messy.” She glanced over at Alicia and pretended to whispered, “Well the guys and Alicia.”
“Hey.” Alicia threw a piece of popcorn at Christa’s head. “I’m not messy.” She looked at Anna and laughed, “I’m always getting’ lumped in with the guys. She and Jamia always think they are so neat but they’re not. I clean up after them all the time.”
Christa snorted, “Yeah, sure you do.”
Anna noticed that Jamia was no where to be seen and asked about her.
“Oh she had to fly home for a few days. She’ll catch back up with the tour when she can.” Alicia explained.
“Yeah, I’m all alone.” Frank said from his spot in the kitchen area where he was leaning against the counter. He sighed dramatically.
“Oh poor Frankie.” Ray said rolling his eyes.
Alicia threw a few more cornels of popcorn in her mouth and chewed a moment before asked, “So Anna dish out the info. Think Bob and Claire are gonna hit it off?”
Anna was feeling overwhelmed by all the conversations that were going on at the moment. Frank and Ray had started discussing some new video game, Mikey was asking Christa if she’d seen his book and Gerard had suddenly walked back into the room. She forced her attention away from Gerard and looked at Alicia who was seated on the floor. “I have no idea but she did tell me she enjoyed speaking to him this morning.”
Mikey laughed, “Yeah old Bob was turning on the charm, for sure.”
“Well I hope they do.” Christa said, “Bob has been such a bear lately. Maybe if he and Claire hit it off it will help.”
“Yeah.” Alicia nodded, “It’s a pain living with someone who’s being such a bear.” She pointed cast a glance in Gerard’s direction.
“So you wanna ask us questions?” Mikey asked Anna as he sat down next to his wife.
Anna smiled, “It would be idea if you could share some stories with me.”
Gerard slowly walked over and pulling a chair from the table he sat down. He glanced at Anna but when she looked over his eyes darted away.
Ray and Frank also pulled over chairs and joined the group. “Hey we could tell her about our first gig.” Ray suggested.
“The very first one?” Mikey laughed, “I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about it. I remember being outside the place out in the van drinking cause I was so scared.” He looked over at his brother, “So was Gee.”
“Fuck yeah, I was.” Gerard said letting his mind travel back to that night. “I was scared shitless just thinking about walking out on that stage.” He noticed that Anna was staring at him. Suddenly he realized something. The way he felt then was how he felt now each night as he waited to go on stage but the difference was now he couldn’t let the alcohol numb the pain.
Ray spoke of his own memory of the night, “Yeah, we all were hittin’ it pretty hard. But weird thing was once we got out there at least for me it was like I was suddenly stone cold sober.”
“I wish we had that night on video.” Mikey said sadly, “But we don’t.”
“Yeah, but there are some early shows Anna could see on the Net.” Frank said. “That one show at the VFW?”
“ I have seen it.” Anna said.
Frank assumed incorrectly that she had seen the video. “Yeah, the sounds not great though.”
Anna remembered that show vividly. Gerard had circled the stage over and over.
“I looked like a moron.” Gerard said frowning, “But shit, we didn’t have any feedback speakers and I couldn’t hear myself. I just kept packing in a circle.”
They all laughed at the memory. “Hey the audience liked us so that’s all that mattered.” Mikey said.
“Yeah.” Gerard said softly, “That was what mattered.”
Ray heard the sadness in his voice,” That’s still what maters. Not what some dumb fuck critics think, not what the record company wants from us, just the fans. That’s what’s important.”
“Yeah, but sad fact is the record company is a necessary evil.” Franks sighed, “If we’d never signed we wouldn’t be were we are today.”
“Would that be so bad?” Gerard asked looking around at his friends.
“Oh shit, Gee.” Frank shook his head, “I think you’re forgetting what it was like back then. Traveling to gigs in vans with no heater, eating meal after meal of cheap ass shit cause it’s all we could afford…”
“But we were happy.” Mikey said softly, “There were so many good times.”
Gerard lit a cigarette and blew out a stream of smoke, “I just fuckin’ wish I could remember more of them.” He shook his head, “I got so many damn holes in my memory cause I was wasted so much of the time.”
Anna nodded but remained silent.
Gerard felt himself opening up, “So many of the gigs I only slightly remember what went down. People watch LOTMS and think they understand but they don’t know. That was a cleaned up version of what it was really like. I was a fuckin’ mess.”
Ray was lost in his own memories, “Dude,we all were young and stupid. We did shit we shouldn’t have done but it made us who we are today.”
“Yeah.” Mikey agreed. “You gotta stop dwelling on the bad and remember all the good times. Like the first Warped tour. Man, remember the cookouts at night we used to have?” he glanced over at Anna, “It was great. Lots of the bands would get together after the day was over and we’d have these huge cookouts. Then we’d sit around and just talk and laugh about the day and all the crazy shit that happened. Like that huge dude who thought Gee was a chick.”
Laughter broke out at that memory. Even Gerard lost his sullen look and laughed, “Man, that dude was fucked up.” He explained to Anna, “At first he and I were just talking and then he called me honey.”
“Oh man, you should have seen the look on Gee’s face.” Frank laughed, “It was priceless.”
“I didn’t know what the fuck to do.” Gerard shook his head, “It was strange. I mean I knew the guy wasn’t gay or anything cause I’d seen him making out with some chick earlier.”
“He must of thought you were prettier.” Frank teased.
Gerard rolled his eyes, “Man, I wasn’t. At that time I was anything but pretty.”
Frank leaned over and hugged him, “Oh honey you’ve always been pretty to me.” He teased as Gerard squirmed.
“Get off you gnome.”
“Hell Anna you could write a whole book just on the Warped adventure.” Ray said shaking his head, “It was a wild time.”
“Hey remember that night in Cincinnati?” Mikey asked, “I mean I think it was Cincinnati, I’m not sure. We were supposed to go on but suddenly the whole place went dark.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Ray nodded, “I remember. It was a huge power outage. So after about forty five minutes we just took off cause we figured we wouldn’t be playing.”
“But then the power came back on and we were all scrambling to find each other.” Mikey added.
“And even then it was a great show.” Frank said sounding pleased.
“It was.” Mikey agreed. “But I remember catching hell from Mom when I called home. Gee and I had promised we’d call and I thought he was gonna call his girlfriend then mom so I didn’t.” He said looking at Anna.
“I thought you were gonna call mom.” Gerard told him.
“Nope, it was your turn.” He thought a moment then asked, “Where the hell did you go that night? If I remember right you didn’t show back up until it was time to pull out.”
While some of his memories were lost that particular night was still clear in his mind. He hadn’t called Kat and he hadn’t called his mom. He’d met up with some guys from another band and had ended up partying on their bus. That was the first time he’d ever cheated on Kat. “I dunno.” He lied. When he looked over at Anna he swore the woman could tell he was lying.
For several more hours the band shared memories of past tours with Anna. She enjoyed listening to the stories and often had memories of her own from those times but of course she did not share them. It was almost 3 am when Ray, Christa, Mikey and Alicia headed off to sleep.
“Gotta say it was fun going down memory lane.” Frank laughed and he stood then stretched. “But I think I’ll hit the bunk now. Anna, don’t forget when you write about us I am the only one in the band who was always good and never did anything bad.”
Anna laughed, “Okay Frank, I will remember that.”
He smiled, “Nite.”
When he was gone only Anna and Gerard remained. Neither seemed to know what to say. Gerard stood and pulled his chair back to its original spot then turned to Anna. “I think the bathrooms open now.” He assumed she was going to change into something more comfortable for sleep.
“Where is my bag?”
“Oh, sorry. It’s this way.” He knew she was behind him. “Here.” He said as he pulled the curtain open.
Anna bent down and pulled out her sweat pants and top. She took them across the hall and into the bathroom. Changing quickly she gathered up her jeans and tee then opened the door to see Gerard standing just outside waiting. In his hands was a blanket and pillow. Anna quickly placed her clothes back in her bag and turned to him. Her heart sank, “thanks.” She whispered pulling the items from his hands then brushing past him to head towards the sofa. When she looked back she noticed he had disappeared from sight.
When he returned from stowing her bag he found her lying on the sofa.
“Goodnight Gerard.” She said softly before closing her eyes.
He stood looking at her for several moments trying to come to terms with the emotions that were filling him. Let it go, he told himself. She understands you are pulling back because you need space. Yet as he looked at her small form curled under the blanket he was afraid. He didn’t want to hurt her especially after she’d opened up to him last night.
“I understand.” She said softly without opening her eyes.
Angrily he walked over and pulled the blanket off her. “Well you might understand but I sure as fuck don’t. I’ve been arguing with myself all day.” He stopped and let out a huge sigh, “Anna I don’t want you to think it’s cause I don’t care about you.”
Anna opened her eyes, “I do not think that.” She answered softly, “But I do understand that I am not what you want in your life. I am a complication that you had not foreseen and it upsets you.”
He shook his head, “You only have part of that right. You are a complication and I don’t know how to handle it but.” He took a step closer and lowered his voice, “I do want you in my life.”
Slowly Anna sat up but remained silent.
Gerard tried to explain, “It’s just things are so fucked up in my life right now and part of me is afraid I will hurt you because of that.”
She smiled sadly, “My life is not all that perfect as it is. I too am afraid.”
“So what do we do?” He asked lowering himself down to her eye level.
Anna reached out and gently touched his cheek with her fingertips, “Try to forget the past? Try to move forward?”
He wanted so desperately to believe it was possible. “That sofa really isn’t comfortable is it?”
Her smiled went straight to his heart, “Not really.”
Without another word he helped her to her feet and they walked holding hands to his bunk.