You don’t put a gun to your temple and pull the trigger thinking someone is gonna burst in at the last minute and save you.
She smiled at her reflection. She was clad in a pair of skin-tight black jeans with a studded bright red belt. She straightened her black tank top which was decorated with a bright red painting of “Mother War” shouldered by Fear and Death that Gerard had presented her with the week before. She had curled her long hair but her fringe was dead straight and separated from the rest with a red headband.
“You look great” came the strong, male voice from behind her, and JB wrapped his arms around her, kissing her neck gently.
She smiled again, she didn’t quite know how it happened, but somehow she and JB had found themselves, over the past month, falling into a relationship. She had brought him to London with her for the launch.
“We should head off” She suggested.
“No problems, I’ll call for the car”
The one off concert was being played at the Virgin Megastore in Oxford Street and Escher wanted to make sure she was there in plenty of time to see it would go off without a hitch.
She and JB flashed their passes once they arrived that would allow them free reign at the venue and Escher led him backstage to where she knew the guys would be. She knocked on the dressing room door.
“It’s Escher,” She called through.
“Come in E” Mikey called.
She and JB stepped into the room and Escher smiled when she saw the guys clad in their uniforms.
“You all look amazing” She said, reaching out to touch Gerard’s newly blonde hair that she still hadn’t gotten used to. JB squeezed her hand and she laughed.
“Sorry hon,” She said before turning back to the guys. “Guys I’d like you to meet JB, JB meet Gerard, Mikey, Frank, Bob and Ray” She pointed to each of the guys in turn and JB smiled genially, doing his job as boyfriend well.
“Hey dude,” said Gerard, “Nice to meet you”
“You too,” JB replied, shaking his hand. “Honey,” He said quietly to Escher, “I’ve gotta make a call. I’ll meet you back by the curtain”
Escher nodded and he squeezed her hand, leaving the room quickly after wishing the guys good luck.
Escher cringed as she turned back to face the smirking band.
“Esher’s got a boyfriend” Mikey taunted, drawing out the syllables in each word.
She rolled her eyes.
“Where did you meet him?” Gerard asked, sounding bored.
“He was a friend of Johnny’s” She replied and Gerard’s interest seemed to pique.
“Johnny? So is JB a writer too?”
“Yeah he is”
“Wait,” Broke in Frank, “You knew Johnny?” He asked Gerard as Mikey, Bob and Ray looked on bemusedly.
Gerard seemed to falter.
“Uh, yeah…I knew him in New York a few years ago, not well or anything. That’s how I met Escher”
“Who is Johnny?” Mikey asked.
“An author” Escher replied with a tone of finality that made Frankie realized for the first time how taxing this conversation must have been on her.
“Good luck with the concert” She finished.
The concert worked just as she had planned. Escher’s fists were balled tightly against her hips as the announcement came over the loudspeaker to say that unfortunately My Chemical Romance would not be able to perform, but that they would be replaced with The Black Parade. There was total uproar at first, and Escher was suddenly glad that she was watching from backstage. But most people seemed to figure out quickly that despite the uniforms and the physical changes in the guys, especially Mikey and Gerard, it was actually My Chemical Romance that they were watching.
There was a party after the concert, at a small bar in Soho where Reprise had booked a room. After her second martini and a turn on the dancefloor with JB, Escher fell onto a couch next to Frank.
“The concert was great,” she said to him.
They sat in companiable silence for a while before he asked her quietly,
“How long have you and JB been together?”
Escher wrinkled her nose.
“A few weeks, we’re not together per se, we’re dating”
“What’s the difference?”
“There aren’t serious feelings involved yet”
“Why didn’t you ever tell me that you knew Gee before you started working at Reprise?” He asked, almost sounding hurt if Escher didn’t know better.
“It never came up”
“Is that why you were having dinner with him that night at Masa? Because you were old friends?”
“No, that was business” She insisted.
Frank nodded, leaning forward in his seat and resting his arms on his knees.
“I don’t know if it’s right…” Escher mused.
Frank cocked his eyebrow and turned to stare at her.
“Dating JB, it seems wrong”
“Because he and Johnny were friends?”
“Yeah” Escher sighed.
“How did he die?”
“Johnny?” Escher asked, somewhat unnecessarily, she knew who he was talking about.
Frank rolled his eyes and nodded.
““He killed himself,” She replied simply.
Frank winced, wishing he hadn’t asked.
“He shot himself, he was drunk and had taken too many pills…Xanax,” She paused and took a sip of a drink that had been handed to her by the waitress. “I don’t think he meant to do it. I mean, obviously he did in some way, you don’t put a gun to your temple and pull the trigger thinking someone is gonna burst in at the last minute and save you. But I think he was too fucked up to know, he got like that. He would get to the point where he just couldn’t cope anymore if he drank too much, did too much. But he was in a relatively good place back then”
“So you still saw him?”
“Oh yeah, we stayed good friends. He moved out of the apartment and we were sort of getting that finalized. We never divorced. I inherited everything of course, the money, the property, his car. I kept the house but I gave most of the estate to his parents, they needed it more than I did”
“Didn’t they disown him?”
Escher raised her eyebrows.
“I read Gee’s copy of ‘Blank Pages’ after you told me” He said sheepishly, causing Escher to smile, “It was good,” He continued.
“Yes,” Escher agreed, “He was a brilliant writer. His parents did disown him, when he was at the worst in his addiction. But they reunited just before our wedding, it was his mother who rang me when she couldn’t get him to answer his phone. Johnny had an invincibility complex, he believed that because he’d been a junkie, he could do more and take more than other people. He would always take more paracetamol or allergy medication than he was prescribed. So I don’t think it was deliberate”
"Did you..." Frank paused.
"Blame myself?" Escher asked, smirking at his raised eyebrows, "It's the most common question people can't bring themselves to finish" She sighed and leaned back, "I went through that period, but ultimately, no, he was a crazy son of a bitch before I gotto him. I like to think I helped him at least a little"
“Do you still love him?” Frank asked, his voice cracking.
Escher laughed and placed her hand on Frank’s knee, looking straight into his beautiful eyes.
“I’ll never stop loving Johnny, but I stopped being in love with him a long time ago”
“Yeah,” Said Frank quietly, not breaking their gaze, “I know that feeling”