“Media only past here boys,” the security guard told them, deliberately wiping blood off her right fist with a rag.
Brendan defensively took a step back. “Backstage pa-” he began, pulling the tag out from underneath his shirt.
“Oh so you’re the two guys. Consider yourselves lucky, you two are the only ones with backstage passes tonight, save a couple of photographers and journos.”
“Umm okay, thanks.” His voice wavered.
“Look here, I won’t bite. I’m Tuesday by the way,” she said.
“Brendan.” Her handshake was rather firm. “And this is Toby.”
“Nice to meet you boys. I’ll show you to the green room?” She asked kindly.
“Sorry to interrupt Mr Shinoda,” she said opening the door a little.
“Oh hey Tues, yeah we’re just finishing up here,” came the voice from inside the room.
“Well the backstage pass holders are here when you guy’s are ready,” she replied.
The two Linkin Park fans stood waiting there in the corridor. It seemed like an eternity for both of them, although only seconds had passed.
Tuesday opened the door fully, and stepped aside to let the media crew out.
“James, who’re those two guys?” A journalist whispered to her photographer.
“I don’t know,” he replied. He turned to Toby and Bren. “Hey, you two want to be in Drum Media?” He asked in a disc-jockey type voice.
“Umm I guess-” Toby began, but it was too late. A blinding flash of white filled their eyes. The two guys just stood there, blinking stupidly.
“Toby!” Mike shouted, running out of the room and jumping onto Toby, wrapping his arms tightly around the guy.
Toby just stood there, smiling all the while. He didn’t make the mistake of wearing boxers this time.
“Come in. Come in!” Mike exclaimed, getting off Toby and grabbing both men by the hands. “Come meet the band! You might recognise a few faces,” he teased.
Bren poked his tongue out at him. Instead of getting offended, Mike licked his lips and tried to kiss him.
“I thought he was straight Tobe,” Bren said leaning away from Mike.
Toby shrugged. “Apparently.”
Mike just laughed and showed the two men inside.
“Good luck,” Tuesday called after Toby. He turned around just in time to see her give him a wink and a very sly smile. But Toby was more concerned about other things for the time being…
They entered the green painted room filled with various lounges and chairs. This was the chill out room for bands after playing at the venue. Toby felt honoured to actually be in a place like this, but strangely intimidated by the new surroundings at the same time.
“Guys, you remember Phoenix, Joe, Rob, and Brad?” Mike jokingly asked them.
“Hmm I think so. I remember Brad from two nights ago…” Bren said, smiling.
“And you guys remember Bren and Toby don’t you?” Mike asked. He picked up a beer from on a table and sat down with the other guys and joined in the fun.
“Yes I do remember Toby, Mike.” Chester replied.
The other band members stopped laughing. Everyone had seemed to forget about Chaz, sitting up the back of the room, Malbro hanging between his fingers.
“So what are you guys doing here anyway?” Chester asked, leaning forward from the chair. Wisps of smoke rose up from the cigarette and hit under his chin, rising up both sides of his face and dancing through his spiked hair. This was a Chester both Toby and Bren had never seen before. A peery-eyed, threatening Chester.
“But Chester last time you told me-” Toby tried to explain. His eyes moved off Chester to the other band members in the room. They all sat there watching the drama intently. “Look Chaz can we take this outside please?”
“Well you boys are going out tonight anyway…” said Mike standing up in front of Toby. He began is sideshow-alley voice, “…for an all expenses paid night out in Melbourne. Visit the exotic nightlife, trendy cafes, pumping nightclubs.” He pulled out a 50 from his wallet and shoved it into Toby’s shirt pocket. “You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll…” he stopped suddenly, looking inside his wallet. “…Enjoy a free game session compliments of TimeZone!” He cried, pulling out his GameCard out and putting that as well into Toby’s pocket.
“But I-” Chester tried to but in. Evil Chester had gone, leaving Sad Chester there instead.
“No butts, Chesty. Except yours and Toby’s getting out of this place.”
Chester shrugged. “Yeah okay,” he sighed.
“Now get outa here before I call security.” Mike teased.
“The security chick? Phwr.” Phoenix grinned.
“What about Bren?” Toby asked Mike.
Brendan grabbed a beer and sat on the couch between Rob and Brad. “I think I’ll survive somehow,” he teased, as Brad put a protective arm around his shoulders.
“You can at least talk to me, you know,” Toby commented, sipping his beer. “I mean, I’ve been talking away about what I do, my favourite places around Sydney, and what Bren and I got up to on the train here; but I’ve hardly heard a peep out of you all night. And you haven’t even touched your third tonight.”
“I’m not up for drinking, I guess Toby.” Chester said, staring vacantly into the pint of beer in front of him.
“Can I ask Chaz, if everything is OK?”
“Because thing’s aren’t OK. If life was a poker game I just had the worst hand dealt to me,” Chester said, still not touching the drink.
“So are you gunna tell m-” Toby began.
“No I’m not going to tell you what’s eating me.” Chester snapped. “Don’t start being a Mike on me, telling me to ‘be happy’ and ‘everything’s OK’ blah blah blah.”
“I think it’s just because Mike is your best friend and cares about you.” Toby said, trying to calm him down.
“Mike doesn’t know shit Tobe! The stupid Het thinks Linkin Park is in this fantasy world where nothing bad ever happens to us. Nothing ever goes terrible. But I live in the real world, and bad things do happen. Yes people don’t ever get what they want in life – it just ends up shit. You just have to live with it and suffer-” Chester stopped mid sentence.
Chester hardly even knew this guy, and here he was giving him the whole deal. It made him uncomfortable inside, being able to tell Toby things he held deep inside himself, yet unable to tell his best friends and family.
Toby just sat there, confused. “So what are you telling me, Chester?”
“I really don’t know,” he whispered. Tears prickled his eyes.
“Oh Chaz,” Toby sympathised. He leaned over and put his arm around Chester’s shoulders.
Chester breathed in deeply and gave his eyes a rub. “Let’s get outa here,” he said hoarsely.
“You OK now Chaz?” Toby asked, concern on his face.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m good.” Chester nodded, giving a weak smile back.
The two walked slowly along Brunswick Street, past the cafes and nightclubs that were still open. It was a cool, clear night, although few people were out on the street.
“You don’t mind walking back?”
“It’s fine. I want to see the city before I have to leave.”
“Well I can’t say I’d be the best tour guide, but I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thanks,” said Chester. “Hey, did you keep that GameCard Mike gave you?” He asked, looking further down the street.
“Umm yeah why?” Toby asked, checking his pockets and finding it. He also found what Chester was looking at. A TimeZone arcade, just a few shops ahead of them.
“You up for an Air Hockey game?” Chester asked, giving Toby a sidewards glance.
“Well it’s been a while,” Toby said, chuckling to himself. “But I used to play that game every night after Uni with my mates. I was undefeatable!” He boasted, puffing out his chest.
“Well I’ve never been beat at that game either. You up for a challenge?”
The two raced each other up to the games arcade and went straight for the Air Hockey game. Both were really good and were having the best time in ages.
Keeping occupied seemed to distract Chester from the depression and pain that seemed to follow him around. Soon he forgot all his troubles, and would even do a victory dance every time he kicked Toby’s ass.
The night had passed quickly, and both had really enjoyed the other’s company. Toby had walked Chester back to his hotel room, where they stood out the front and talked for a while.
“Well thanks for tonight Tobe, I had a blast,” Chester said, smiling.
“I’m glad you’re happy for a change. Oh- and here, you can have Froggy. Make Joe jealous for me.” Toby said, handing Chaz a big stuffed green frog that he had won.
“Ooh great,” he said sarcastically. “To go with all my other toy animals?” He joked.
Toby nodded. But he was tired from that night and was ready to head home.
Silence fell between the two. Their first uncomfortable silence since at the bar earlier that night.
“Well I best be off. ‘Night Chaz.” Toby said, his head slowly moving forward to kiss Chester.
Chester felt very awkward. He leant back, out of the way. His back brushed up against the door to his room. A million thoughts began racing through his head. He needed to get out of the situation.
Toby pulled back. He was very confused by Chester’s actions. “I’m sorry,” he sighed. “As I said, goodnight.”
He turned around and headed back towards the lifts, very unhappy. ‘Stupid! Fucking stupid Tobe!’ He thought to himself.
Chester opened his door, jumped inside, and slammed the door back again. He sighed, and leaned his back against the door, needing it’s support. His legs became wobbly and he slid his back down towards the ground.
He sat there for what seemed an eternity, unable to get up from sitting on the ground, leaning against the door. A tear ran down his cheek and dripped onto Froggy.
“I love him,” he whispered to himself. “But I can’t love him.”
The scene was very similar to Mike. He felt as though this had happened before, a strange deja-vu-like experience flowing through his body.
But instead of bashing on the door, he tried the handle this time. It was unlocked, so he opened it and entered his best friend’s hotel room.
Chester sat slumped on a chair out on the balcony, motionless. A packet of Malbro’s along with a full ashtray lay on the ground on one side of the chair, complemented by beer bottles and a box of tablets on the other. Fear filled Mike as he ran across the room and onto the balcony.
Chester looked up at Mike, a sad, lonesome look on his face. His eyes were red from crying and his whole face had a very pale colour to it.
“Chesty, you okay?” Mike asked.
“No. No I’m not.” Chaz croaked.
“What’s this about? Toby?”
“Of course it’s about Toby,” Chester snapped. He sighed heavily before continuing. “I can’t see him anymore. Can you phone him for me?”
“Why don’t you want to see him again?”
“You wouldn’t understand Mike. I just can’t.”
“Last night didn’t go well?” Mike asked.
“Well,” Chester began. He decided to be honest with Mike. “I actually enjoyed myself. But that’s beside the point.”
“How can that possibly be beside the point?” Mike exclaimed.
“Because I don’t want him to love me, okay?” Chester yelled.
Mike just stood there, shocked and rather confused by Chester.
“You wanna know why Mike? You want to really know the truth? Fine, I’m dying, okay? In about a month or so, depending on my condition, I’m gunna be six feet under, spitting up daisies. So that’s why he can’t love me – I’m gunna hurt so many people in the process I don’t need to hurt more-” Chester’s voice broke off in the end, his whole body shaking as he began to sob again.
“Mike crouched down next to the chair and looked Chaz straight in the eyes. “Oh Chesty, if you only told me sooner. When did you find this out?”
“I’ve known for a few months now,” he sighed. “’Congenital heart disease, so I’ve had it since I was a baby. I had a leaking heart when I was born, so they operated and patched it up. But then the graft tore when I was growing up, and it remained undetected for years.”
“Can’t they just do another graft or something?” Mike asked hopefully.
“No, now it’s too late. I saw the Doc a few months back, and the hole is too large. And because it leaks constantly, my heart has grown larger to keep me alive. Now it’s not the leak that’s killing me, it’s my own heart growing too big for fuck’s sake!”
“Oh Chesty,” Mike sympathised. “So what’s going to happen now?” He asked curiously.
“I’m gunna leave the band and die slowly by myself somewhere!” Chester snapped.
“No. You can’t do that Chester. I won’t let you.”
“You’re not in a position where you can tell me what I can and can’t do!” Chester yelled.
Mike couldn’t help but show his emotions, knowing that his best friend was dying. Tears welled up inside his eyes and his nose went all runny. “Please Chester. Let me help you, somehow. Anything.”
“Yeah you can let me be alone. I want you to leave now,” he said quietly, looking out across the city.
“But Chester-” he began.
“GO! Piss off you stupid Het! Worry about your own problems! Stop setting me up with guys that I can’t fall in love with!”
Mike’s face contorted with anger. He couldn’t believe how he could feel so sad, yet so pissed off at the same time. “No. I’m not going anywhere!” He shouted back.
“Fine, well I am. I have to go to the doctor’s to get some more pain killers,” said Chester standing up slowly. He entered his room, grabbed his keys and jacket, and left.
When Mike heard the door slam shut, he let it all out. He cried bitterly at how suddenly life could change, and how helpless he was to stop it.
He sat down on Chester’s seat and grabbed the packet of Malbro red’s off the floor. Opening it he found only one cigarette left.
“If only I knew this before,” Mike sobbed, sparking up. He’d never smoked much before, but decided today was a good time as ever to start up the bad habit.
|TOP | Last updated 15 February 2002 19:42 (AUS EST / +1000 GMT).|