Gerard and his band are struggling. A new guitarist might be just what they need. (title from Coldplay's Fix You)
The retching subsides and I sink down onto the cold pavement, my throat burning and tears welling in my eyes. I have to stop this. Otherwise I am not going to hit thirty. But when someone offers me a drink or a high, I just can’t help myself. I think of how I must look, hunched and heaving on the concrete.
I am absolutely pathetic.
My tears join the falling rain as they splash onto the grey pavement, my body shakes with sobs and I cry out as I wrap my arms around myself.
I just sit there for what seems an eternity until I drag myself up onto my feet and stagger in the general direction of our trailer.
The guys just give knowing glances as I crash through the back of the van and collapse onto the back seat, soaking wet and exhausted.
The van drives over a speed bump and I am jolted awake, my ears joining in a hushed conversation between Matt and Ray in the front. The rumble of the engine almost drowns out their voices, but I catch the gist of it.
“D’ya reckon he’ll be alright for tonight?” Matt’s low drawl asks, jerking his head towards me.
“Yeah. He always pulls it together for a show, and he says he is looking forward to tonight.” Ray’s high whisper answers. That seems to satisfy Matt as I hear the soft bump of his head against the back of the front seat.
I hate myself for doing this to them, but I vow to clean up my act almost every day, and a few hours later find myself hurling in a gutter again.
The pressure I hadn’t noticed before on my lap shifts and groans and I find myself staring down at my brother. My little brother, Mikey. I cannot even go into how much he looks up to me, and just how fucking much I let him down. Our mother told me to look after him, and I can still see the pain in her eyes at the front of my mind, as she said goodbye. I do look out for him, but then as these intoxicated nights progress, I lose sight of him and one night I am scared I will lose him forever.
“Morning” he groans, smiling softly up at me.
“Alright, Mikes?” I ruffle his hair so it sticks up in all directions. That tiny movement in my arm takes immense effort, and I suppress a wince.
“Yeah. You don’t look to good though.”
“Well I love you too, bro.” I snap back sarcastically, then can’t stop myself from chuckling.
The windows of the van provide a satisfactory mirror, and I set about assessing my features. My short black hair is scruffy, there are purple circles under my eyes, highlighting just how little sleep I have had these past months, and the split lip I acquired a few nights ago is still healing.
“Oi. You two. You’re gonna love me” calls Ray from the front, “there’s a coffee shop coming up on the right, and it‘s time for a pit stop.”
“Fuck yeah!” cries Mikey happily as he sits upright and presses his face and hands against the window, wide-eyed and open-mouthed.
The bright sunlight hits me like a freight train as I step onto the pavement. I cross it quickly and step into the dimly lit coffee shop. It’s not Starbucks, but it’ll do. The beautiful thrumming of a good hangover in my head has nestled into its familiar rhythm. The only fix is a straight black coffee. So I order one.
“Coming right up” the bar girl smiles at me, turning to fill my order. Mikey is behind me humming some classic tune I can’t put my finger on, eager to order his coffee, which I know will be a white with one sugar.
The girl behind the counter passes me my steaming saviour, and I inhale the rich scent, sauntering over to the table Matt has bagged. I slide into the booth and start sipping at my coffee, making small talk with Matt about the gig tonight.
“Where are we headed for tonight?” I forget these things. The shows all seem to roll into one. Another venue, another crowd, another after-party.
“Trenton. Last show of the tour.” Matt informs me.
Yes. That means we are close to New Jersey. Home. This tour is finally coming to an end.
“Don’t try and look too excited will you?” he chuckles, “remember, we have to start auditions for our new guitarist when we get back to Jersey.”
Ah, shit. I had forgotten about that, too. And it was my idea. The new songs in my head I have started fleshing out with the band in practices definitely require another guitar. It isn’t that Ray isn’t good enough, hell, he’s the best guitar player I have ever met, but the songs need more… layers.
“Where’s Ray?” I ask, he usually doesn’t miss the opportunity to flirt with the girls working behind the coffee shop counters.
“Out in the van. Since we caught that guy trying to break in last month, he won’t leave the damn thing alone.”
Mikey arrives holding his coffee, tentatively sits across from Matt, and starts gulping greedily at his drink.
“Steady on, Michael!” I tease, yet knowing that if I had as little sleep as he probably had last night waiting up for me, I would be downing the coffee too. He lets out a loud manly burp, and promptly turns bright red as disapproving sounds are shot at us from the other customers.
“Ugh. Lighten up will you?!” I say loudly, “It’s a Saturday for Christ’s sake!”
“Um. Gerard?” Mikey whispers, redder than ever, “It’s a Monday.”
“Come on, Ray is waiting out in the van.” I growl, getting up and walking towards the exit. I give everyone the finger before slamming the door shut with a bang.
Mature, I know.
“What took you so long?” Ray asks Matt, leaning out of the van’s window.
“Well I bagged a table, Mikey decided to see how much coffee he could drink before passing out, and Gerard just about insulted everyone in the shop.”
Ray raises a questioning eyebrow at me, but I just shrug it off and say “It’s all in a days work, gentlemen. Now, shall we hit the road?”
The next few hours are great, the kind of hours I live for. We just drive, motorway after motorway rolls beneath us while we sing along to our battered old radio, laughing and yelling randomly at shocked pedestrians and passing cars. When the afternoon closes in our heads start to droop, as tiredness takes over. Well, all of us except Mikey, who has been driving for the last hour or so and keeps stopping off to get coffee.
That man is a machine.
“We’re almost here” he calls back to us as a sign emblazoned with ‘Trenton’ passes the window.
I start to perk up and feel that familiar pre-show buzz, as I run through the planned set list of the night with the guys. I grab a crumpled up piece of paper out of my pocket and smooth it out, holding it up so Ray, Matt and I can see.
Skylines and Turnstiles
Heaven Help Us
Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough For The Two Of Us
Our Lady Of Sorrows
This Is The Best Day Ever
Headfirst For Halos
The one without a title is one of the new ones, we are just going to try it out on tonight’s crowd to see what reaction we get. It’s quite a short set tonight, as I think we are playing with another band… Taking Back Sunday or something? To be honest, I don’t really care.
The venue is small, but we’re used to that by now. I don’t expect we will ever play at a big venue anyway. We pull up around the back where the band goes in and start unpacking our stuff, exchanging motivational phrases to calm our nerves. When I am out by the van alone, someone taps me on the back, so I turn around and find myself facing a cute guy with long brown hair, stubble and a great smile.
“Thought I’d introduce myself, seeing as we are going on before you guys tonight. The name’s Adam” Oh, he must be from that Taking Back Sunday band. He extends a grubby hand to me, and I shake it, asking how many he expects will be in the crowd tonight.
“Err… around 700?” he answers casually.
Wow, shit, that’s a big crowd for a small band like us. I decide not to tell the other guys, it would just make them more nervous.
700. My heart feels like it is trying to leap out of my chest, but I have to be calm… I have to have a drink.
“Gotta get back to my band” Adam announces, so I bid him goodbye and fling myself at my personal suitcase. Shit, 700 people? I unzip my case with a shaky hand, grab my trusty bottle and take a swig of the bitter liquid inside. I immediately feel much better as the strong whisky burns down my throat, so I take a few more swigs. Well I say a few, but I actually drink it all, shaking the last few drops into my mouth. Yes, I feel much better. In fact, I feel great. Fucking awesome.
Mikey stumbles out of the back door, and glances at me suspiciously.
“What’s made you so uncharacteristically happy? That guy from Taking Back Sunday suck you off or something?”
“Heehee.” I drawl, unable to think straight.
It doesn’t help that Mikey looks bloody hilarious when he is shocked, his eyebrows disappear behind his bangs and he looks like an earwig, so that just makes me giggle even more.
“EW! What? He did? Gerard!”
“What?” I echo, “Noooo. NO! Mikey, he didn’t. I’m jusht excited for the shhow, that’sh all.”
“Hurrumph.” he sighs, picks up a case of Matt’s drum set and meanders back inside.
God bless my brother for being so oblivious.
It’s a great final show. I may be inebriated for the most part, but the buzz I get from singing is like no other. Better than drugs or booze, it makes me feel like I am making a difference in this world, which is what I set out to do with this band in the first place. And yes, I know that’s lame.
The lights shut off as the last chords of Headfirst For Halos fade away, the crowd goes fucking crazy and I hear the pants of my fellow band members around me. We find each other in the darkness, and embrace each other in a group hug, the same as we do after every show.
“That was fucking insane guys! We shut the place down!” I praise them and hug us close even tighter. The crowd are still screaming, the din pressing on my eardrums.
“Oh man,” I hear Mikey gush “just listen to them!”
“That was the best one yet!” Ray shouts over the roar of the crowd.
We just stand there embracing for a while, drowning in ecstasy, until Matt breaks our silence, yelling “Let’s go get fucked up!”
Amen to that.
The next few hours are a blur of shots, spliffs and stolen kisses from strangers. I find myself sat in the gutter again, although this time some dude is trying to jerk me off. Unsuccessfully, seeing as my pants are still on.
“Fuck off, man” I slur, pushing him away.
I hear him swear at me back and stagger away, no doubt to try and sexually assault some other intoxicated musician.
I exhale heavily and look up to the intense black sky.
The highs from the various drugs flowing through my body are wearing off, leaving the lonely spiral into depression to overcome me.
A/N: Thanks for reading :D I hope its okay, I am not very good at evaluating my own stuff hehe. THANK YOU AGAIN ILY ALL.