"Can I take your name to inform him who’s calling?” “Um… Tell him it’s Frank Iero.”
If we’re going to prove Jamia guilty, we’re going to need really, really solid proof. I have everything she told me, but that’s my word against hers, which is a fight I’m not likely to win considering my rather public dismissal from the band. Not to mention how fishy it looks that I’m on tour with them, in disguise. All Jamia would have to do is deny that she knew I was Frank and I would look like a crazed, bitter stalker.
Then there are the text messages and the letter and photos she sent me. But she was smart, she didn’t actually say anything incriminating. Those would show that she was angry, but that’s understandable after a messy break up like ours, and the deaths of our little girls. They don’t actually prove that she did anything to hurt the guys. And all the times she has hurt anyone, she was very careful to keep the evidence far from pointing at her. They all look like stupid accidents.
So at the moment we’ve got nothing, and I can’t go to the police because I’m not supposed to be here. Jason Demarko doesn’t exist, and Frank Iero isn’t supposed to be able to know what I know. Plus she’s made it clear she can frame me. Bob was right. When we go after her we have to be sure we’ll get her. Because if we don’t, she’ll hurt, maybe even kill, someone.
Still, I feel so much better knowing Bob is back and on my side. I sigh. I’ve been pacing the front lounge of the bus, which is currently parked at the last venue, waiting for Ray’s return in the morning so we can depart. That’s something else that’s bothering me, Ray not being here. After what happened, I hate letting any of the guys out of my sight.
I can’t take this anymore, being pent up like this. I’m so anxious about everything right now I just want to scream.
Silently I open the bus doors and walk out into the night air. But I find that there is even less to do outside a tour bus at two in the morning than there is to do on a tour bus at two in the morning. My nervousness only increases. The world is so big, how can I possibly keep everything in order? Especially with the odds stacked so against me.
I wish Ray were back. I feel awful about not making it out to see him. Just for something to do, I open my phone and 411 the hospital number. Then I call it, waiting until a tired nurse answers on the fourth ring.
“Hi, I was wondering what time visiting hours opened tomorrow morning?”
“Ok, thank you.” At 6:25 tomorrow I’ll be in Ray’s room. I need to see him. I’m not sure I can wait that long. The guys told me he’s fine, but I need to see it myself. It’s my fault he’s there at all.
“Is there anything else I can help you with?”
“No, that’s all…Wait! Yes, yes there is. Can you connect me to a patient’s room?”
“Sir, it’s -” she pauses to check a clock, “2:18 in the morning. Everyone’s sleeping.”
“Trust me,” I say. “He’s not asleep.” Ray hates hospitals, he’s probably as sleepless as me, but for different reasons.
She chuckles. “Patient’s name? No promises, but it’s pretty slow here right now. I can check for you.”
“Ah, Mister Toro.”
I smile at her response. “What’d he do?”
“He’s the one who drank over a gallon of water in about five minutes when the doctor told him he needed to stay overnight because of dehydration.”
I laugh. That’s Ray in a nutshell. “He’s probably going to be up all night going to the bathroom. One moment, I’ll connect you. Can I take your name to inform him who’s calling?” she finishes.
“Um… Tell him it’s Frank Iero.”
I’m not sure why I say it, I didn’t mean to. I meant to just talk to him as Jason, just to make sure he’s ok. But some how I said Frank. After the disaster with Brian, which amazingly enough was just 26 hours ago, I had given up the idea of calling the guys. But it was Ray’s idea, maybe he’ll give me a chance.
The phone rings for a moment before Ray’s voice is in my ear.
“Is it really you, Frank?”
I can hardly speak, his voice is so full of hope. “Yeah buddy, it’s me.”
“How’ve you been?” I smile. I hurt him and leave and months later I call him in the hospital and the first thing he wants to know is how I’ve been. Not why I did it or how I could hurt them or how he got hurt. Just how I’ve been.
“Pretty lousy,” I admit. “But I here you’ve got it worse. How’s the hand?”
“How’d you find out about that?”
“Dude, you’re famous. You’re whole life is on the internet,” I joke.
He laughs. “It’s alright. I’m pretty drugged up at the moment and I feel good.”
“When can you play again?”
His voice gets more serious. More sad. “Not for at least three weeks. But we’ve got this great new guitar tech on tour, he’s a lot like you actually. He’ll play my parts. He played tonight. It’s awesome to watch him. He’s like we were in the beginning. So excited and fresh. The road hasn’t gotten to him yet.”
“I know. He really loved the stage. Wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Shit. No I don’t, um… “YouTube.”
“Do not underestimate the power of the fan girl.”
He laughs. “I miss you, Frankie.”
A thoughtful silence fills the distance between us. Then he asks the question I knew was coming from the moment we started this conversation. “Why’d you leave?”
“I had some issues, Ray. Things I was embarrassed to tell you guys about, so I tried to handle it on my own. I needed to get away for a while and that was the only way I could think of.” My voice gets quiet. “Those things I said, Ray, it was all bullshit. I never meant any of it. I just…”
“I know. It’s alright,” he says, his voice soothing. “So how are the issues going?”
I sigh. “They’re going. But I hope that maybe soon they’ll be over.”
Ray is silent for a long time and when he speaks his voice is a whisper. “When they’re over, do you think -? Well, would you be willing to come back?”
My breath catches in my chest. “Would you want me back?”
“More than anything.”
He laughs. “What?”
“I mean, I was a dick. Why would you take me back? Besides you have Jamia,” I spit out her name. “Isn’t she a ‘great addition to the band’ or something?” I say, quoting Gerard from the press conference a month ago.
“Jamia is alright. She’s an amazing guitar player. But she knows nothing about being in a band. She doesn’t get the trust and the dependency. She’s a one girl show. You’re a team player. Our team isn’t right without you.”
I wish he could see my face right now. I haven’t smiled this big in ages. “Do you think the rest of the guys would agree?”
“You know the guys, they’re stubborn, especially Gerard. I won’t lie, Frank, you hurt us pretty bad. They’re not going to let that go real quick. But I can tell they miss you as much as I do. We need you, plain and simple, though they’d never admit it. They’re proud, Frank. They’re not going to ask for your help, you’ll have to offer it to them humbly. Can you do that?”
“I’d do whatever it takes.”
“Yeah, but there’s still some things I need to take care of. It could still be a while.”
“Take as long as you need Frank, as long as someday you do come back.”
I smile. “Don’t worry. I will.”
I hear Ray yawn through the line. “Alright, sleeping beauty,” I say. “I’m going to hang up now. You should sleep.”
“Ok,” he says, his voice distorted by another yawn. “Bye Frankie. I’m glad you called.”
“I am too. But Ray?”
“Don’t tell the guys, ok? I want to talk to them myself. And definitely don’t tell Jamia. She’s still pissy about the break up and now she has my job. If she knew I was talking to you again she’d probably be uncomfortable. I’m in no position to come back yet so there’s no need to worry her.”
“Frank - ” he sounds doubtful.
“I understand not telling Jamia, but the guys? Frank they’re family. I can’t hide things from them. It doesn’t feel right.”
“I’ll call them, Ray. I promise. I’m just not ready yet.”
“Alright,” he says grudgingly. “I won’t tell them.”
“Good night, Ray.”