"I don’t love the band like I used to. I got to thinking I don’t want to do this anymore."
I am woken by hands gently shaking me. I grunt and look up. I must have fallen asleep on the couch in the front of the bus.
“Dude, you alright?” Gerard’s voice pulls me from sleep. I shoot a glance at the clock on the wall. 6:08am.
“Yeah, I’m good,” I mumble.
Gerard laughs. “I was going over to see Ray,” Gerard says. “I thought you might want to come with. Since you didn’t get to see him yesterday.”
I nod vigorously, which was not a good idea as my head starts to throb. “Yeah. Yeah, definitely. One minute?”
Gerard nods and I get up. I make my way to the bathroom where I double check that I still look like Jason. I change my shirt and attempt to make my hair look like I planned it that way. Then, feeling much more awake, I go back to Gerard.
“What about Bob?” I ask. “He might want to see Ray.”
He shrugs. “He’s still sleeping. If you’re brave enough to wake him up, go ahead.”
I smile. To say that Bob is a bear in the mornings would be a serious understatement. I shake my head. “Nope, I’m good.”
“That’s what I thought.”
We make our way off the bus and out to the waiting car. We drive in mostly silence for a few minutes before Gerard turns to me.
“You were pretty awesome yesterday. How come you don’t play with a band?”
“I used to. But it didn’t work out like I’d hoped. I guess I just never found the right people to play with after that.”
“Where’d you learn to play like that?”
I shrug. “You know, just years of experience.”
“Yeah. That’s what Ray says too. I’ve tried for years to learn, and I still can’t even play ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.”
“That song is harder than it seems,” I offer.
He laughs. “No it’s not.”
He gets silent for a moment, then he says, “It was nice having you onstage. Things almost felt normal again.”
I look at him, surprised. “What do you mean?”
He shrugs. “I don’t know forget I said anything.”
“No, what did you mean?”
We have reached the hospital parking lot and Gerard parks the car and kills the ignition. Then he turns to me.
“Things were perfect – better than perfect – things just felt so indescribably right being onstage. Until a few months ago, when Frank freaked out. Then everything just stopped feeling right. Things didn’t fit together anymore. When Frank left we got Jamia, but it just wasn’t the same. I don’t love it like I used to. And I got to thinking I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s like you said before, the people weren’t right and I felt like we’d outlived our time. I was thinking of ending the band after this tour. But playing with you last night changed my mind. It felt right again. Reminded me why I started this in the first place. I don’t know how you did it, but thank you.”
I stare at him, speechless. I feel like I should say something back but I can’t. Not that it matters, Gerard has gotten out of the car and is already walking towards the building. I shake my head clear of the shock and quickly get out and run after him, my short legs catching up to him in the lobby. He turns down a hallway on the right and leads me to Ray’s room.
Ray is sitting up in his bed. He smiles at us as we enter. “They said I can leave today,” he gushes, making me smile.
We sit around and talk for a while, about broken hands and vintage guitars and playing shows. Suddenly Gerard stands and walks towards the door muttering “I need coffee.”
I laugh. Ray flips him off as he leaves then turns to me. “So?”
“Did you call?”
Shit! How could he know I called? Did I slip up? I called as Frank, not Jason. He shouldn’t know I called! He can’t possibly know it was me!
He sees the confused look on my face and laughs. “Your girl. Did you call your girl?”
I relax. “Um… Yeah, I did actually.”
“And? Did she talk to you?”
“Well, first I called a mutual friend.” Ray makes a face. “Yeah that didn’t go so well. But then I called her and it felt good. We talked about our problems, and I think she’ll take me back. I’m going to wait until I’m off this tour, but I have a good feeling about it.”
Ray smiles. “Good for you, man. So, is this the part where I say I told you so?”
I smirk. “Nope.”
“Aw you’re no fun.”
“You’ll get over it.”
“What if I don’t?”
“Actually, I got an interesting phone call last night too.”
I raise my eye brows. “Really?”
“Yeah, he asked me not to tell the guys, so keep it on the down low, ok?”
“Frank called me.”
“Frank what?” but the voice is not mine. Gerard is standing in the doorway, holding three cups of coffee. He walks over and hands me a cup, before putting a second down on the table next to Ray’s bed and taking a long drink from his.
“It’s kind of cold. I think it’s from last night,” he says about the coffee. Then he refocuses, with more energy than I’ve ever seen him have so early in the morning. “Frank called?”
Ray opens his mouth but can’t seem to think of anything to say. “Come on, Ray, I heard you. You said Frank called.”
Ray gives in. “Yeah.”
“Yeah? What’d he say?”
“I’ll give you two some time,” I say, feeling wholly uncomfortable. I leave the room, but not before I hear Gerard ask “Is he alright?” with genuine concern in his voice. I guess I know who I need to call next.