“Jamia, you have to tell me what’s going on.”
Prepare to have your minds blown kiddies. This is the part where you'll either love me or hate me. Title is Hang 'Em High.
I left the dressing room as quickly as I could but I realized I forgot my bag and some stuff I need for the show. I head back to the dressing room to grab my shit and some water for the show and take a leak. As I start down the hallway I see a man I don’t know leaving our dressing room. Probably crew putting the final details on something. I make the door and walk inside. It’s thankfully empty except for Jamia sitting on a couch in the corner, back turned so I can’t see her face. I ignore her. Too much to handle right now.
As I’m gathering my shit I hear a choked cough. I glance over. When she looks up I’m shocked. The hate is gone from her eyes and she’s crying silently. She looks so different, beautiful even. On instinct I reach out to comfort her. What can I say, after five years of giving her my heart old habits die hard.
“Jamia?” I ask, walking over and sitting next to her.
“Frankie, I’m so sorry,” she murmurs so quietly I barely hear her.
She's sorry?? “Alright, what’s going on? Start at the beginning because I’ve got to be missing something here.”
She nods. I still don’t trust her, this could all be another act, but I figure I’m in a pretty losing position already and the more information I have the better.
“I’m so sorry,” she says again.
“For what?” I ask. Not that I don’t know, she has everything to be sorry for, I just want to see which sin she picks first.
She starts sobbing. “I was just… I wanted to… I was trying to save you Frankie. I – I thought if no one knew who you were… But I never…”
“Jay, slow down. I don’t understand,” I try to be soothing but I’m just damn frustrated.
“It wasn’t me Frankie. None of it.”
“What wasn’t you?”
“This whole plan, getting you to leave the band. It wasn’t me. I didn’t have a choice. He had those files, he threatened me, he said if I didn’t do it he’d kill you… I couldn’t let him hurt you Frank! I couldn’t. I know we’ve grown apart but I love you. I’ll always love you.”
“Wait, who threatened you?”
She clams up. Just perfect. The girl never shuts up when you want her to and now she won’t talk? Great.
“Jamia, you have to tell me what’s going on.”
She nods. “Ok,” she says, straightening up and collecting herself. “Ok.”
She takes a deep breath. “About six months ago a man showed up at our house. You were on tour, I was home alone. He forced his way in. He said you killed his brother and he was going to make us pay.”
“He said I what?” This is all sounding ridiculous and I don’t have much patience right now.
“His brother was the other driver,” she whispers. “He died the day the girls did.”
I nod, connecting a few dots but still wondering what the hell this has to do with me spending months in full body makeup.
“But it wasn’t my fault. I don’t care what those files say, I wasn’t drunk and you know it!” I shouldn’t yell at her when she’s obviously so upset already but nobody’s perfect.
“I know,” she says. “But he wouldn’t believe me. He was crazy Frank. He kept screaming that you killed him and he was going to make us pay. I told him we’d already paid more than he could know,” her voice catches remembering our girls, and I feel her pain.
“He gave me those files,” she says. “He said you didn’t deserve the life you had when his brother didn’t have life at all anymore. He told me I had 3 months to make things right or he’d kill all of us. He made me send those divorce papers but it wasn’t enough. Whatever I did he always wanted more.”
“Why didn’t you tell anyone? Why didn’t you go to the police?” I insist.
“Why didn’t you?” she snaps. “I was scared. I believed him. I didn’t know what to fucking do and I freaked out!”
I pull back. If what she’s saying is true, and I don’t think even Jamia is a good enough actor to pull off a lie like this, then she was in the same boat I was. And she did exactly what I did. Can I really be angry at her when inside I’m hoping the guys will forgive me for the exact same crime?
“So you rigged the tour, the accidents?" I ask.
She shakes her head. “No, that wasn’t me. I would never do that. That was him, he was sending me a message. I wasn’t moving fast enough. Nothing I ever did was ever enough.”
“So that’s when you blackmailed me?” I’m starting to see her side, but damn it all, I’m still bitter.
“I asked you to just leave the band Frankie, remember? At that diner? But I knew you never would. So I used the files on you just like he did on me. I figured if it worked on me it would probably work on you. Part of me hoped you’d find the way out that I couldn’t but I don’t think there is a way out really. I’m so sorry Frank. I thought if you left the band, he’d be satisfied but he wasn’t. So I brought you on tour with me so I’d know you were safe and he wouldn't be able to find Frank Iero. But it didn’t work. He saw the video from the parking lot yesterday and he knows you’re here. He’s planning something Frank and I don’t know what it is but it’s not going to be good.”
“Wait,” I say. “He’s here?”
She nods. “He just left. He’s been on tour with us the whole time. I didn’t know it until he hurt Ray.”
So he’s the one who hurt Ray, not Jamia? The man I saw leaving the dressing room. I can’t even remember his face. Damn, why don’t I pay better attention to these things? She turns and brushes the hair out of her eyes. That’s when I see the shiner forming under her left eye.
I grab her chin and turn her face to me roughly. She cringes. “Did he fucking hit you?” I growl. She nods, tears running down her cheeks. “That motherfucker!”
“Frank, it’s fine.”
“It’s not fine,” I yell. I’m scaring her. Mentally I rein it in, trying to get a grip on myself. “It’s not fine,” I whisper. “Nobody is allowed to touch you like that. Ever.”
Looking into her scared beautiful eyes I realize, I still love her. I never stopped loving her. I’ll always love her. I pull her close to me. “It’s going to be alright,” I whisper. “I love you, everything’s going to be fine. We’ll fix this, I promise.”
That’s what I tell her, but I don’t believe it myself. Who is this psycho who’s been playing all of us, and what does he have planned? What number of things could he cause to go wrong during a show of this size? Whatever it is it won't be good, and it will probably happen tonight.
Gerard sticks his head in. “Hey Jay?” He calls lightly. Seeing me he darkens. “Frank,” he says coldly. “We’re on in five.”