"Because of me. He did what he did because I blackmailed him."
"Look Alive Sunshine" is already finishing by the time we make the stage. The crowd is nuts as Dr. Death's voice fades and we launch into NA NA NA. I scan the stage wildly looking for anything that might be out of place. Across the stage I see Jamia doing the same. I catch her eye and she shakes her head.
"I don't know," she mouths to me across the stage, shrugging helplessly.
I feel just as helpless. Even if I did manage to find what we're looking for, would I recognize it? Sure this stage is like a second home to me but would I honestly know if somehing were broken or out of place? Do I pay that much attention? I could be staring right at the problem and never even know.
"Frank!" I jump a little at the voice in my ear as Mikey snaps at me through the dead mic. "You're playing the wrong parts! Pay attention!"
I turn my attention back to the music. I could play my parts in my sleep, in fact that's basically what I was just doing, but I have to focus on remembering Ray's parts. With the old show, the parts I'm used to, I could have multitasked like a pro but I'm realizing now that I'm not going to be able to look for a killer while trying to focus on Ray's parts and the new backing vocals we've worked out wih Jamia.
The song ends and Gerard spins around and walks briskly over to me. "Get it together," he snaps. I nod once and he turns back to the audience. Jamia walks to my side of the stage as Gerard addresses the fans.
"Bob's trying to get your attention," she says. "He keeps throwing me a peace sign. Is that normal?"
I look back at Bob behind the drumset. Just as she said, he taps his ear then puts two fingers up in a peace sign. I stare blankly at him. I have no idea what that means.
"What the hell are you guys doing?" Gerard snaps in the dead mic. "Start the next song." Bob repeats the gesture to me then begins the drum intro to Summertime. Suddenly it clicks, I understand what he's trying to tell me.
"Go to two!" I yell excitedly. Jamia and Mikey look at me like I'm speaking French. "Channel two," I repeat, grabbing my mic box and changing the dead mic channel.
The dead mic is supposed to be for safety issues, but seeing as we're all a bunch of loud mouths and show offs we tend to use it more for a running commentary, or in my case pranking Ray out of his alcohol. So we had a second channel set up for the band only, to keep our banter from drowning out the important crew related information. Right now that means we can talk freely without the crew - or more specifically the man trying to kill us - hearing our conversation.
"Go to two!" I insist and I see Mikey and Jamia start fumbling with their mics. Gerard scowls but as I begin to play along with Bob's drumming I see him switch his mic set too. As soon as I switch my set over Bob's voice is in my ear.
"Anybody find anything?" he asks.
Jamia and I both give a weak "No."
I accidently fumble the notes a bit and turn my focus back to my guitar. The verse kicks in and Gerard's clear voice rings across he stadium. "When the lights go out, will you take me with you?" It's nice to hear him doing somehing other than yelling at me, I think. That's it. As long as Gerard's singing he can't yell at me. Perfect.
I focus as hard as I can on the music and when I'm comfortable that I've got it, at least for now, I speak slowly into the dead mic.
"Gerard. You wanted me to explain. Well I'm going to explain." Thats as much as I get out before I have to concentrate on the music again.
"Guys, why are you off your mics?" Ray's voice comes through. "Everything ok?"
Good, I think. He should hear this too. "We're fine," Bob answers him. "Stay on two for the show alright?" Ray mumbles an affirmative. Summertime comes to an end and we launch straight into Famous Last Words, not giving Gerard the chance to say anything.
"Everything that happened," I start, speakly slowly as I try to multitask. "Leaving the band, everything I did and said, I never meant any of it."
"So why were you on tour with us in disguise?" Mikey asks.
I pause, partly because I'm focusing on the music and partly because I don't know where to start. I'm as surprised as everyone else when another voice answers his question.
"Because of me," Jamia says. "I forced him to leave the band, and tour with us in disguise. Gerard, guys, if you want to be mad at someone it should be me."
Mikey looks shocked and Gerard misses a line but plays it off as though he wanted the fans to sing it all along.
"Jay, you dont have to defend him," Mikey says sharply. "Frank made his own choices."
"I'm not defending him," she says bluntly. "It's the truth. He did what he did because I blackmailed him."
There's a shocked pause as the guys struggle to process this news while still putting on a good show.
"Why would you do that?" Ray finally asks her.
"Because someone blackmailed her," Bob answers. It makes me smile that he's defending her. I guess her little show of honesty just now won him over. "The real person behind all this is here, on tour with us, and we think he may have tampered with some of the equipment for tonight's show."
Mikey replies, "Tampered? As in...?"
"We don't know Mikes," I say. "It could be anything. We don't even know for sure what he's trying to do."
The song ends and Gerard cues for a black out. "So what you're saying is all this could be for a whole lot of nothing?" he growls.
I'm just about to open my mouth to answer when the explosion rips through the stage, knocking my on my face. I hear shouts and confusion before I black out.