“I’ve got a surprise for you today, Frankie,” she whispers, her voice layered with pure hate.
I wait a few days, still indecisive about the phone call. I really want to, but I’m not sure if I should. Honestly up until now it hasn’t mattered whether or not I wanted to call the guys because I never had the chance. We’ve been traveling overnight and I’m busy or being watched by Jamia all the time during the day. But we have a show tomorrow in the same venue as the one we just finished. So tonight we’re not traveling. What’s more, we’re staying in a hotel, and I have my own room.
Hours later, around midnight, I sit in my room, Frank’s phone in my hands, debating. Is it worth it? Can I make them believe me? Because if they don’t and Jamia finds out, bad things could happen to people I love.
I dial Bob’s number, but it goes straight to voicemail, as it has that past hundred or so times I’ve tried it. I’m starting to get really worried about him. I let the phone drop back to my lap without leaving a message, we’d agreed to leave a little evidence of our involvement as possible and that meant no phone messages.
I’m still sitting there, debating, when I realize I’ve already dialed Brian’s number and pressed send. The phone rings merrily away in my ear. It’s midnight here, but we’re in Cali, so it’ll be only nine in New York, where Brian is.
He answers on the third ring. “Hello.” I don’t really know what to say. I wasn’t planning to call Brian, it just sort of happened.
“I thought this was your number.”
A silence lays heavy on the line.
He sighs. “I don’t have a lot of patience right now, Frank. What do you want?”
He’s expecting the worst from me, and he should. With the way I was acting before and what I did to the band me he’s probably expecting a lawsuit or something.
“I want to say I’m sorry. It doesn’t feel right leaving things like this between us.”
He is silent for a moment. Then, “I’m not the one you need to apologize to.”
“I know but I can’t talk to them, Brian, I just can’t.”
“And why the hell not? You owe them that, Frank. Just swallow your god damn pride!”
“That’s not it, I just… I can’t, trust me.”
“We did trust you, Frank. Look where it got us.” His voice is quiet and I can hear the hurt and anger in it.
“I shouldn’t have called. I’m sorry, just please, don’t tell the guys I called, ok?”
“They deserve better than that, Frank.”
“I know, and I’m sorry, but it’s important ok? Please? You won’t tell them?”
“Why are you doing this to us, Frank?”
I don’t know what to say to that so I say nothing. He sighs. “I have to go,” he says heavily. The line goes dead and I stare at the phone for a minute. Well, that went wonderfully.
I sigh. When is anything going to go right?
I flop down onto the bed heavily. I don’t even realize I’ve fallen asleep until I’m woken by loud knocks on the door. I groan and roll over, looking at the clock. 1:12pm. We were supposed to be at the venue by 1.
I get up and groggily make my way over to the door, fully expecting Jamia. But it’s not, it’s Gerard. Before I’m even halfway to the door Gee’s voice booms through the door.
“Come on, Frank! Get up! We’re late already! Up! Now!”
I smile. Count on him to keep my sorry ass in line. Wait, he said Frank? He said Frank! Why would he say Frank?!
I stop and try to calm my rising nerves. When I feel calm enough to be believable I open the door and mutter, “Frank? What? What are you talking about? Go away,” in a sleepy tone.
Gerard looks a bit nervous then laughs it off. “Sorry. Frank always overslept, you remind me so much of him. Force of habit I guess. But I am NOT going away and letting you fall asleep again, so get your ass in gear. We need to go. Now!”
I smile and nod, then close the door in his face. “Jason!” I hear him shout. “You’d better not go back to sleep!”
I smirk at the door even though I know he can’t see me. But he doesn’t need to worry. I’m wide awake now. Him calling me Frank still has my heart racing. I quickly change and check that my makeup and everything is in place then grab what I’ll need for the day and open the door.
Gerard is standing outside my door, leaning against the opposite wall. He smiles when he sees me. “Wow, I’m impressed. Frank would never have been that fast.”
I just give him a weak smile and follow him down the hallway. We check out and make our way over to the bus. Despite his complaints about being late, we are the first ones to arrive. Gerard huffs and goes out in search of the others.
I slowly walk toward the back of the bus. Scratch that, we weren’t the first ones. Jamia is already here, in the back room. Her cold eyes meet mine. She smiles. A true, honest smile. It scares me.
“I’ve got a surprise for you today, Frankie,” she whispers. Her voice is layered with pure hate. Couple that with the smile and I get the impression I am looking at the devil herself.
I’m about to ask her what she means when we are interrupted by the rest of the guys entering the bus. We are in the back, so we have a minute before they see us.
“What are you talking about?” I hiss.
She puts a finger to her lips. “Don’t tell anyone. Then it wouldn’t be a surprise.”
The guys are right behind me now and I feel a hand on my shoulder. It’s Ray. We’ve gotten really close these past days. I mean, as close as possible, considering the circumstances. “What’s up?” he asks.
I glare at Jamia for a minute then turn to him. “Nothing,” I mutter, before I turn and push past him and walk to the front. I plop heavily down onto the couch. A minute later Ray plops down next to me.
“What was that all about?” he asks. “You seem pretty tense.”
I shrug. “Jase was just sore that I beat him to the TV,” Jamia jokes, joining us. I nod. Whatever. Ray looks back and forth between the two of us and laughs.
We arrive at the venue in a few minutes. Jamia gets off first to check that her stuff is still in the dressing room. As soon as she’s gone I turn to the guys.
“Have a good show today,” I tell them.
“Are you implying that we don’t always have a good show?” Gerard asks, smirking.
I smile and shrug. “Well.. That one last week in Boulder...” I joke
Gerard smiles. “Fucker.”
I laugh, then compose myself. I look at each of them for a moment, remembering Jamia’s ‘surprise’. “Just be careful today, alright?”
Mikey smiles. “Yes mom.” I laugh and punch him lightly.
The guys start to make their way to the dressing room and I go backstage to check on the guitars and amps. After a few minutes the guys come back and start sound check. Everything runs smoothly. Even better than smoothly. I start to relax. Nothing could possibly go wrong, could it?
Ten minutes to show time. I stand backstage, holding Jamia’s guitar, waiting for the final touches to be perfected. She walks over to me and leans in close to my ear. “You’ve been a bad boy. It’s time for your surprise.”
I tense, totally and completely. The guys! What am I doing, I should be with them! I push away from Jamia and run towards where I know the guys should be. Then I hear them and I know I’m too late.
“Shit!” That’s Gerard.
“I’m fine, it’s not a big deal. I’ve played hurt before.” That’s Ray. Ray’s hurt?
“Dude, you can't even move it. There’s no way you can play like that,” Mikey says.
I turn the last corner and then I see them. The closed trailer door, the blood stains, the flustered tech apologizing over and over, and Ray, doubled over holding his blood drenched hand. It doesn’t take me long to figure out what happened. Ray’s hand got crushed by the trailer door.
“Mr. Toro, I’m so sorry. The door never closes that quickly. It’s like the springs were stronger, I lost control of it. I’m so sorry,” the tech rambles.
I run over to Ray. Another crew member shows up with a first aid kit and together we clean the wound. There’s a deep gash running across the back of his left hand, perpendicular to his fingers. I’d bet the bones are broken. He can’t move his fingers and the cut just won’t stop bleeding.
I feel eyes on my back and I turn around. Jamia is standing a ways back, shaking her finger at me. You’ve been a bad boy. I turn back to Ray. This is all my fault.