"No, we have a second guitarist. His name is Frank. You can’t seriously be thinking about replacing Frank!”
“There’s more I want from you. I’ll call you when I’m ready. Don’t bother to unpack.”
With that she hangs up, leaving me angry and helpless and locked in an arena dressing room. Her words ring in my head. I play them over and over as if maybe the 300th time they’ll be different and I’ll understand what more she wants from me.
“There’s more I want from you,” I mutter. “What the fuck else is there?” I’m yelling. At an empty dressing room. Jesus.
Don’t bother to unpack.
That reminds me I have to get my stuff. That means I’ll have to face the guys on the bus. Shit.
I right one of the chairs I’d thrown earlier and sit down, rubbing my temples. I’ll have to face the music sometime but if I wait long enough maybe they’ll fall asleep. The next show was supposed to be only about an hour from here, so they won’t have to travel overnight.
Then a thought hits me. Until a replacement guitarist is found, there won’t be a next show. So they can leave whenever they want. I seriously don’t want to have to follow them back to Jersey to try to get my stuff back, so slowly I unlock the dressing room, shuffling my feet as I head out towards the parking lot.
Thankfully the bus is still there. I dread the thought of seeing the guys again. I don’t think I can deal with the disappointment in their eyes. But luckily I won’t have to. My stuff is sitting outside the doors, messily thrown around, half in and half out of some large garbage bags.
I smile to myself. I can almost see how this scene must have played out earlier. The garbage bags would have been Mikey’s idea. If Gerard had his way my stuff would be all over the parking lot, if not in a dumpster somewhere. As it is it looks like he almost did have his way, but still the bags are there. A testament to Mikey’s efforts.
Suddenly complete sorrow hits me. My best friends, my brothers, hate me. I’ll never see Ray’s stupid grin or experience the magic of writing songs with him again. Never walk in on Gerard dancing in the dressing room or kiss him on stage. I’ll never steal Mikey’s coffee or stay up all night laughing together. Never again.
And still she wants more. What more could she possibly want?
Sighing I pick up my stuff, or at least I try to. It's something of a mess and its going to take me a minute to gather everything. I’m standing right by the bus door, but the lights are on inside and they can’t see me standing out here alone in the dark. They’re talking. I know it’s rude to eavesdrop, but I can’t help myself. I need time to gather my shit and they’re talking so loud…what’s a guy to do? It’s not really eavesdropping, is it? I mean I wouldn’t listen if I could, I just don’t really have a choice.
“What the fuck do we do now?” I hear Mikey’s voice.
“I called Brian,” Ray replies, referencing our manager. “He’s gonna cancel a few shows. We can’t tour until we find a new guitarist. He wants to start auditions as soon as possible. It’s not fair to the fans to cancel more than we have to.”
There’s a loud bang. I think Mikey just slammed a cupboard. “Are you serious?” he asks.
“Mikes,” Ray says softly, “We need another guitarist.”
“No,” Mikey snaps. “We don’t. We have a second guitarist. His name is Frank. What we need to do is figure out what’s going on and fix it! Not rush off and replace him.” He pauses but no one answers. “Guys! You can’t seriously be thinking about replacing Frank!”
“Jesus Mikey,” Gerard drawls. “You were there, you heard what he said. We’re not the ones doing anything here, Frank left. He doesn’t want to be here. He made it pretty obvious.”
“We could talk to him -“ Mikey tries.
Gerard snorts. “After the shit he said he should be begging us to let him come back, not the other way around.”
Mikey falters a bit. “I know,” he gives in. “I heard it but it doesn’t make any sense. You know it doesn’t make any sense. It’s so not like Frank. There’s got to be something up.” That was Mikey, always trying to see the good in people. Every when there wasn’t any good there to see.
“I don’t know Mikes, I mean what does it matter whether it’s like him or not? He still did it. And Frank’s never been one to blow up like that. If there’s a problem he’s always able to talk it out. It’s like this time he doesn’t want to fix it,” Ray answers.
“But if there’s something wrong we have to help him,” Mikey insists.
“Don’t you get it, Mikey?” Gerard yells. “Frank doesn’t want our help. Frank’s too good for our help.”
Bob’s voice is quiet but strong as he replies. “You know you don’t mean that. You don’t believe it and Frank doesn’t believe it. I don’t know why he said all that shit but I’m sure he had a reason.”
“Well it doesn’t really matter at this point,” Ray’s voice is tired. “Whatever’s up with Frank, he’s made it quite obvious that he doesn’t us involved. Now we have an unfinished tour and we’re one guitarist short of a band. Unless anyone has a better idea, I guess we should start auditions tomorrow so we can get back on the road as soon as possible.”
“Does it have to be so soon?” Mikey asks. “I mean, Frank might come back.”
“I don’t think so, Mikes.” Bob answers.
“Even if he did, I don’t ever want to play with that son of a bitch again,” Gerard snaps.
My chest feels tight. Just like that they’re replacing me. This is exactly what I wanted. I needed them to forget about me and move on, but still it hurts. Did I really mean that little to them? Then again, I made them think they meant nothing to me. We all become perfect liars when the occasion demands it.
I straighten up. All my belongings are more or less packed in two large garbage bags. I pick them up and stumble away to call a taxi and try to find a motel for the night.