"We need to talk, Frank."
“We need to talk, Frank.”
I try to hide my shock. It’s loud in here, I must have misheard. There’s no way he just called me Frank, at least not so calmly. If he really knew it was me there would have been shouting and anger and probably a very public display in front of the whole band. Instead he’s just chilling like nothing’s up, watching the concert, and calling me Frank. I must have misheard, or he misspoke, or I don’t know, something. I’d imagined all the ways things might go down when someone figured me out, but this was never one of them.
He looks at me and chuckles. A million emotions must be running across my face.
“You heard me right. I know it’s you Frank.”
“And you’re not mad?” I squeak out. I feel like I can barely breathe.
“Not yet. I want to hear your side of the story before I decide. Come on, let’s go somewhere quieter and you can tell me what’s going on.”
He leads me back into the maze of backstage hallways and we find an isolated spot near the dressing rooms. He sits on one of the empty packing crates for the amps, and I sit opposite him. He’s so damn calm, it’s making me nervous.
“How did you know?” I blurt before he can start interrogating me. I stare at my shoes, I cannot meet his eyes. He’s calm so far but every fiber of my body is just waiting for him to blow up at me like I deserve.
He’s quiet for a moment as he decides where to start. Finally he sighs and leans back. “I wasn’t here when all this shit went down between you and the band,” he says. “I could look at the whole situation without bias, and what I saw made no sense. Gerard and the guys were blinded by their anger, but I know you and we both know you’d never leave this band willingly. You fought harder than anyone to keep them together before Danger Days. You wouldn’t throw that away, not like this.”
“Ok,” I say, processing what he’s telling me. “But how did you know it was me, Jason?”
Bob’s brow furrows. “You leave, and Jamia suddenly shows up out of nowhere? She never had any interest in playing in a band before, but now she does and she brings some random guitar tech that no one knows with her? So I did a little digging. There is nothing, literally nothing, on Jason Demarko.”
He sighs and runs his hand through his hair before continuing. “Your act was really good. But I notice things other people don’t. Like that your glasses aren’t prescription. Or that you have bleach burns on your hairline from dying your hair. Or that either you have a serious skin condition, or you’re trying to hide something. Like, oh, maybe tattoos? And I saw you last night, watching home videos of us.”
“That proves Jason was hiding something, but it doesn’t prove it was me.”
“I know,” he answers. “That’s why I cashed in a favor and got Gerard to add “Kids From Yesterday” back into the set list. He wasn’t happy about it but he owed me. I wanted to watch you during the show. I knew if it really was you, that song would tell me everything I needed to know and it did.”
I finally look away from the floor, my eyes pleading as they meet his. “Bob, you can’t tell the guys. You just can’t,” I ramble, my voice panicked. He doesn’t answer, just looks me over carefully.
“Bob, please, promise me you won’t!”
“Why? Frank, I know you’d have to have a good reason to do this but I need to know what it is if you expect me to help you keep up this lie. I’m only going to ask this once, Frank, and don’t you dare try to get out of telling me. What’s going on?”
I drop my head into my hands. “I don’t know where to start.”
“How about with why you left the band?”
I straighten up and look him in the eye. “Ok,” I say.
And I sit there and tell him the whole thing. I tell him how Jamia came back to me almost two months ago and I tell him about the files. I tell him how she blackmailed me, and about all the accidents she set up, and how she forced me to leave the band. I tell him about the phone call after the press conference, and the makeup and contacts and hair dye. I tell him about my midnight chat with Mikey and how hard it was to lose them. I tell him about the picture I managed to save.
But most importantly I tell him that I’m sorry. For lying to him. For not trusting him. For thinking I was strong enough to handle this on my own.
All this explaining takes quite a while and when I finish I am out of breath. Bob looks shell shocked. I sit nervously silent for several minutes. I study his face but I can’t tell what he’s thinking. Is he mad at me? Does he hate me?
Suddenly he leans across the distance between us and pulls me into a hug. I sigh into his shoulder. “I’m so sorry,” I mutter, yet again.
He pulls away and looks at me. “Don’t be,” he says. “You only did what you believed to be the best. That’s nothing to be sorry about.”
I smile weakly at him. “So what are we going to do?” I ask. It feels so good not to be in this alone anymore.
He ponders it a moment. “We can’t tell anyone else,” he says. “If it suddenly came to light that you’re sneaking around on tour in disguise that won’t look good for you. Besides the more people who know, the more likely Jamia is to find out. And she’s already proven that she’s willing to hurt someone. We’ll just have to find substantial proof of what she’s up to before we go to the police. We need to get her on the first try.”
There’s a commotion by the stage area as the show ends and the frenzy of cleaning up begins. We won’t have much more time.
I lean in toward Bob and whisper, “But how are we going to get proof?”
“I’ll work on it. I’m going to do some more digging, find out what I can about those files and figure out how Jamia managed to set all this up,” he says. “When I find something I’ll come back and we’ll fix this.”
“You’re leaving?” I ask.
He looks at me sadly. “Just for a bit. We’re gonna get to the bottom of this Frankie, I promise.”
I hold my head and sigh. Out of nowhere I got an ally in this hell, and just a quickly he’s gone.