Lou is put under the grill as the boys question her. They invite her to sound check, and she and Spencer talk some more.
Merry Christmas everybody!!
“So, Lou,” Spencer began.
I was sitting on a couch between Spencer and Brendon, talking animatedly to the guys. They weren’t that bad, and we’d worked out that between all of us, we had quite a few things in common. Despite my earlier worries, I got on fine with them, and it seemed like we would never run out of things to talk about. Whether it was just asking my opinion on something or a question about my personal life, Jon, Ryan, Brendon and Spencer seemed genuinely interested in me, and as far as I could tell, there was nothing fake about them whatsoever. What you see is what you get. Or, in my case, what you hear, I guess.
I turned to Spencer slightly. “What?”
“Are you one of those people who has a dog that helps them? Or do you use a cane, or something?”
I laughed. “You’re not shy about asking questions, are you?”
I could feel his arms rise slightly as he shrugged his shoulders. “You’re an interesting girl. I like interesting people.”
“Well,” I started slowly, “Yeah, I do have a dog. I pretty much take him with me wherever I go. The only reason I don’t have him with me now is because Chris wouldn’t let me bring him.”
“You have a dog?!” Brendon exclaimed excitedly. “Can I meet him? I like dogs, I’ve always wanted one, what’s his name-”
“Brendon!” Jon broke in sharply. “Take a breath, dude.”
I could feel Brendon’s eyes on me. I let a small smile work its way onto my face. “Yeah, I, uh… I guess you could meet him, but aren’t you guys on tour or something?”
“We actually start tomorrow,” Ryan said from somewhere in front of me. “We’re just here for a sound check and last minute rehearsal today, but our first show is tomorrow night.”
I nodded my head slowly, processing this information. Chris, who I had almost forgotten was in the room, spoke suddenly. “Speaking of which guys, you better get ready for that soon.”
“Can you come tomorrow?” Brendon asked. “Can you bring your dog?” Man, this guy seemed hell bent on meeting my dog.
“Um…” I glanced in Chris’s general direction.
“I can bring you back tomorrow if you want,” he told me.
“Well… If you guys want me to come back, then yeah, okay. I guess I can bring Yankee. But I mean, you guys barely know me; we only just met. Are you sure it’s okay?”
“Yeah, but already we know that you’re down to earth, smart and intelligent and as Spencer said, interesting.” Jon told me.
“Plus, if you were a fan, you would have already squealed and done the whole ‘fan-girl’ thing,” Ryan added.
“His name’s Yankee?” Brendon asked.
“Yeah. We were living in New York when I got him.” I answered. “But you guys haven’t answered my questions; you’ve just been asking me stuff.”
“Alright, we’ll make a deal then,” Spencer said, shifting his weight slightly. “You ask a question, then we’ll ask a question. Okay?”
“Deal. How do you guys know my brother? I thought bands didn’t mix with roadies,” I said, beginning my list of questions.
“Depends on the band,” Ryan said, “But he’s the guitar tech, and I dunno, we just got talking one day. He’s always talking about you.”
I could feel myself blushing slightly. But a guitar tech made sense. Chris always did love to play around with a guitar.
“Okay, our turn. How old are you?” asked Brendon.
“18,” I answered. “My birthday’s in June.”
“Really?” Spencer asked. “Same age as me and Brendon.”
“Alright,” I said, thinking, but before I could get a chance to voice my question, the door opened and I heard a deep voice talk to the band.
“Sound check guys. You ready?”
“Yeah, yeah, we’ll be there in a minute,” came the general response. I felt the couch get lighter as both Spencer and Brendon stood up, and I sat there for a second, unsure of what to do.
“Who’s this?” the voice asked, noticing me.
“Zack, this is Lou. She’s Chris’s little sister.” Jon introduced us. I was unsure where to look, so I looked straight ahead.
“Hi, I’m Zack; nice to meet you,” the voice told me. I gave a small nod, looking up so he could notice my milky eyes. “I’m on security around here,” Zack continued, “So if you ever need something, don’t hesitate to ask.”
“Thanks,” I said softly.
“We better go, Lou,” Ryan said. I heard him walk over to me and then his hands lightly touched my shoulders. “But you’re welcome to stay here, or I don’t know if Chris is taking you back, or…”
“Wait, you said you’d never heard any of our music, apart from our first two singles that are always played on the radio, right?” Brendon asked me. Nodding, I turned my head from where I’d been staring up at where Ryan was standing to where Brendon was.
“Yeah, that’s true. Why?”
“Why don’t you come and listen to us do sound check? Then you could hear the rest of our songs, maybe give us some feedback. What do you think?” The others voiced their agreement.
“Are you sure?” I asked, “I don’t want any trouble, I could just-”
“You’re coming, and that’s final,” Brendon said, pulling me up from the couch so I was standing. He looped an arm through mine. “Here, me and Spence will help you.” I let Spencer take my other hand, and we walked out of the room, the guys giving me directions like, “Watch that table,”, “Stop, there’s a wall there!” (Brendon’s fault) and “Okay, straight ahead for a while, so just walk normally.” It was an interesting experience, and I found myself slightly nervous. When Chris or Yankee was guiding me it was okay, because I knew that they wouldn’t ever let me crash into anything or go off on my own (unless we were home; I knew that place off by heart). But with Spencer and Brendon, I had to trust two almost complete strangers, no matter how much we had been getting along before. Walking slower than I normally did, I just hoped that they wouldn’t accidentally make me hit anything. Spencer must have noticed I felt a bit strange, because he gave my hand a light squeeze and said, “Don’t worry; we won’t let you run into anything. Brendon might, but I won’t.”
And it was true. We had a couple of close calls because Brendon forgot to tell me where to go, and so halfway through our journey to the stage, Jon took his place, much to my relief. Despite all this however, I managed to make it there in one piece. As the band went to their places and grabbed their instruments, Chris lead me carefully down and sat me into a chair that had been placed in the middle of the empty mosh pit for me. Because I was in a strange and new place, the rest of my senses were straining and overworking themselves to try and compensate for my missing sight. I could hear every little murmur from the stage as the guys discussed which song to do first and heard the sounds made by the crew as they set up a few more things. Soon enough though, Brendon’s voice reached my ears and he said, “Okay, Lou, our first song is called ‘The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage’.”
I grinned. “What’s with the song name?” I called out.
I heard a laugh and then Jon’s voice came from my right, picked up by a microphone. “Ask Ross over there,” I must have looked confused, though I don’t know how he saw my expression from where he was on stage, because he clarified with, “Ryan.”
“Oh,” I said, nodding my head and trying to get as comfortable as I could in the chair. Over the next two hours, the band played their set, sometimes repeating a song or various sections, changing little parts here and there. The only songs I recognised were called I Write Sins, Not Tragedies and But It’s Better If You Do. Their style of music was different from anything I had ever heard, and I was a little upset that I couldn’t watch them perform, especially as Brendon had told me that they had a couple of performers that would be travelling with them on tour and doing little skits during certain songs. Soon, they had finished and I could hear the sounds of guitars being put away and the stage being vacated. I slowly stood up, unsure of what to do next, where to go. My head snapped up towards footsteps coming my way, but before I could open my mouth to ask who was there, I heard Spencer’s voice.
“You want some help, Lou?”
“Oh, no it’s okay, I’ll just wait for Chris,” I told him, staring blankly.
“Well, actually, he’s kinda busy at the moment; he’s still got a few more things to do, so why don’t you come and hang out with us again while you wait?” he said, and I heard his shoes scrape slightly as he changed positions, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
“Uh, okay, then, if you’re sure,” I reluctantly said, “I really don’t want to be a burden for you guys; I don’t want to be that blind girl that you always have to help.”
Spencer chuckled quietly and reached for my hand, gently directing me forward. “You’re not, trust me. And sometimes… sometimes I don’t even think of you as blind. To me, you’re just an ordinary girl with a slight… vision impairment.”
I snorted. “Slight vision impairment? Haven’t heard that one before.”
“Here,” Spencer grabbed my other hand, pacing on an object that was about the same height as my waist, and I took it to be the edge of the stage. “This is the stage. Can you pull yourself up, or do you want…?” his voice trailed off as I carefully hoisted my body up onto the stage. “Careful of the cords,” he warned me, and I felt his body brush against mine lightly as he pulled himself up next to me. I stayed seated, allowing Spencer to help me up so I wouldn’t trip over cords or microphone stands and create a huge mess that the roadies and crew would have to fix. I blushed slightly as he stood behind me, placing one hand on my shoulders and another in the small of back so he could properly guide me. With his help, I made it out of the sea of invisible objects safely and was soon walking down the hallway with him, heading back to the backstage area where we had been before.
“Can I ask you a question?” Spencer suddenly asked, “I mean, without it sounding rude and you getting upset?”
“Uh, yeah, go for it, I guess,” I said. Geez, I haven’t been sounding very sure of myself this afternoon. Note to self: gain some confidence.
“Have you always been blind? Like, were you born with it, or was it a gradual decline into blindness?”
Ah, there it was. I was wondering how long it would take for that question to arise, if they were even going to ask it. They might have just wanted to be polite, but with Spencer asking the question, I somehow doubt it. He had this air around him, a sort of confidence that allowed him to just jump in and start asking questions, unlike the other guys. While they had tried to be polite, with the exception of Brendon sometimes, Spencer had voiced any question that came to mind, regardless of what it sounded like, whether it was deemed ‘rude’ or not. It was strange, but I didn’t mind it that much; at least people were showing an interest in me. No one normally did. It was an unspoken rule of the school I attended – you didn’t mix with the weird, blind girl who stared at you creepily and 'read' your hand. It had been hard to get my head around at first, but I got used to it and had just accepted it, spending all my breaks with Yankee, who was my only friend. Despite the fact that I had convinced myself that I was okay with it being this way, I knew that deep down I really wasn’t. The fact Ryan, Brendon, Jon and Spencer – especially Spencer – had taken an interest in me and seemed to genuinely like me, despite all my ‘differences’, was a good feeling, and I knew that come Monday at school, I would be craving the kind of company that they had provided me with on this late Friday afternoon.
I realised that Spencer was staring at me, waiting for an answer. I sighed.
“As a small child, I had a little bit of sight. It was mostly blurry, but it was enough to get me by. Then everything started to get dark, and I would constantly complain that the lights had been turned off and everything was unclear. It just got worse from there, and by the time I was eight, I had lost my sight completely.”
I heard him breathe out slowly. “Wow, that must have been hard. I can’t imagine not being able to see my drum kit anymore, though I could probably play it even with the blindness… Does it… does it bother you that everyone else can see when you can’t?”
I gave a small smile, despite the seriousness of this talk. “I… I don’t know. I guess sometimes it does, but then again, there are some advantages to being blind, as weird and crazy as that sounds. But just then I wished that I had my sight back, to be able to watch you perform, especially as I wanted to see the circus people… but normally, no. It doesn’t really bother me. I mean, I have Yankee to act as my eyes and help me, and we’ve lived in our house long enough now for me to know where everything is. Plus, it’s not like I can’t read or anything. I may have to use Braille, but you know… It’s something.”
Spencer was quiet, and I swear that I could almost here the cogs ticking away in his brain as he thought of another question to ask me. “You said there were advantages to being blind? I find that hard to believe.”
“Well, yeah. Just look at the hand reading thing, for example. And I’m able to pick up sounds that no one else can hear – I always used to be able to tell when Chris’s guitar was just slightly out of tune – and my senses are stronger than normal people’s are. I’m also great at recognizing voices. I just need to hear someone speak a sentence and introduce themselves, and I’ll always remember who that voice belongs to.”
“So, you’ll never forget me, then?” Spencer asked, and I could pick up on the fact that he was smiling from the way that he asked the question. People always talk different to the way they normally do when they smile.
I laughed. “Yes, I guess you could say that.”
“Good, because I’m starting to really like you. As a friend,” he added quickly, just incase I got the wrong idea.
I smiled back, staring at where his face would be, hoping to God that a blind girl with creepy eyes wouldn’t freak him out. “Me too,” I said, “me too.”
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