“Hey,” I say into the microphone, and some of the tension seems to break. Two dozen hands lift right up towards heaven.
Most of the questions are about The Followers. Where have I been? (“Right here, man.”) What happened? Comments on the bus crash? How has the music changed? Where have I been? What about the crash? How does my fame affect The Whiskeys? What kind of pressure do I feel? What life advice do I have? (“Don’t let some musician who doesn’t know the first thing about your life tell you how you should live it.”) Where have I been? I answer sparingly, refusing to reply to a handful of them.
I look out into the room and involuntarily I look towards the camera and one of Shane’s puppets behind it. Shane is standing by the wall, leaning against it, but he’s not following the overly long press conference. He’s talking to Brendon.
I left Brendon deep asleep in our room five nights ago. We were fighting and then we fucked again, but nothing got resolved, and we’re not fixed, him and I. I think it’s over. Probably. I think so. But the thought alone is too much to bear, and I can’t breathe and I can’t see, so I don’t think about it.
Brendon and Shane are talking, lost in the conversation, and I know the tilt of Brendon’s hips and the curve of his mouth and the way he laughs just so, and Shane knows it too, staring at Brendon lovingly, and Shane reaches out to quickly and innocently brush a few hairs behind Brendon’s ear, fingers lingering on his neck. Brendon’s hand finds its way to Shane’s hip, caressing.
Right here. In public.
All eyes are on me, no one is looking their way, but they’re two fags in public, doing faggot-like things, and that’s stupid. That could get them killed if they did it in the wrong alleyway dark at night. The touches are the kind you do accidentally, if – if you’re so in love, so lost in the other person, that you just can’t help it.
“Ryan?” someone asks, their voice having an echo like they’re speaking to me from behind a thick, silky veil. “How would you describe the album?”
I see myself standing up, going over to them, starting a fight then and there and possibly punching Shane, and then they’d all know, all of them – my band, Shane, these people with their cameras and words – and I’d wrap my arm around Brendon’s waist, keep him by my side, flip them off, steal a car even if I try not to drive if I can avoid it, but with Brendon on the passenger seat I’d stay on the road, I would easily stay on it, and then I’d just drive, the destination unknown and insignificant. To me. Would it be insignificant to him?
But I do none of it.
“I guess the album is…” I say, trying to find the words. The sound of my voice seems to cut through Brendon’s daytime fantasy of Shane because he starts and looks towards us, his hand dropping from Shane’s hip, but I make sure to focus on my microphone before he sees me looking.
When I close my eyes, I see the sunrise greeting us, shining through the dirty windshield of the car we should be in, and he changes radio stations, sleepy and happy and smiling, and I reach over to card my fingers through his hair, the other firmly on the steering wheel.
- Vol.2.: II - Chapter 8 (adapted)