Title: A Focus In Time
Word Count: 2,309
Author's Note: Brand new story started during NaNoWriMo 2012. Enjoy! If anyone is interested in making me a banner, I would LOVE you for it. Drop me a line if you want to help a graphically-challenged friend out.
The screaming of the fans reverberates in my head. No matter how big our finish is, they always seem to be able to match it and then some. My voice is usually hoarse by the end of a show and I bet some of theirs are too. I glance over to my brothers as the last chord comes to an end. It’s our second to last show of the tour, and I can tell we’re running on the only kind of high one can get from performing.
As soon as the song officially ends I keep strumming my guitar and start walking toward the middle of the stage. Zac has started the trek around his drum kit to get in position and Taylor has a tambourine in his hands, contributing to our little jam session. We’ve been doing this for so long that it’s almost second nature to us and as the natural progression of music comes to a peak, I jump up hitting the last note with as much energy and excitement as I can. I’m sure I look ridiculous but who cares; I’ve stopped worrying about that for a while now. If I can get paid to do what I love and make a fool of myself in the progress then what’s stopping me.
I land on my knees, head bent, and I can feel my brothers next to me. Not literally, of course, but I just sense their presence and as I lift my eyes I can see that they both somehow ended up lying on the ground. Not as uncommon as one may think but certainly strange considering Zac’s the only one who jumped off something and probably had to duck into a roll to keep from breaking any bones. Always seems that Taylor manages to mimic Zac’s movements as much as possible and that’s fine. A fool I may be but I’m not entirely ridiculous.
I’m breathing heavy as I get to my feet and walk the few steps toward the side of the stage to hand over my baby to the guitar tech. There’s only a few people in the world that I trust with my guitars and I know she’s in good hands right now as I make my way back to my mic stand so I can fling the remainder of my guitar picks out into the crowd. It’s amazing that something as simple and unusable (unless you actually play) is coveted by so many.
From the corner of my eye I can see a few girls who are struggling to gain control over one of Zac’s drum sticks. I want to roll my eyes at how petty they are acting, considering they are most likely women in their late twenties, and just smile as I reach out over the edge of the stage to touch a few hands as they strain up towards me. Even if they aren’t all that in to me, and I know that each fan has their favorite, they are excited nonetheless to feel my sweaty hand if just for a second. A few offer up pen and paper for an autograph but I don’t feel much like signing as that usually creates more trouble than it’s worth. I’ll just leave that for later out at the tour bus.
Pulling myself away from our adoring fans at the same time as Zac and Taylor, we make our way back to the center of the stage to take our bows. The first one always includes the remaining two members of our band. These guys are like family and even though they aren’t the face of Hanson, they definitely contribute to who we are as a group and the music we make. Once they’ve disappeared off stage, there’s only one thing left to do. I look down to grab Zac’s hand, just as fabulously disgusting as my own is if not more, and wait for him and Taylor to do the same. I look out to the crowd, a sea of faces I can barely make out. The ones in front sometimes look all too familiar and tonight’s no exception. While I appreciate their enthusiasm, dedication, and seemingly endless supply of money, time, and transportation, I am always excited to know there are a few people out there who are enjoying their first show, whether by choice or chance. Those are the ones that I appreciate most during tour because I get to share what I love and hopefully give them an experience they haven’t had before
As Zac’s in the middle he’s in charge of lifting our hands up so we’re moving at the same time. I feel him tugging my arm up from my side and I smile big. I relish this final bow of each show. We’re brothers and we’re a band. I get it, I know, it’s HARD but it’s always worth it in the end and without a doubt this single act centers me and brings me back to that knowledge. I get nostalgic at the final bow, always have and it transforms me back into that awkward teenager holding hands with my annoying younger brothers as we finished up a show for thousands of screaming teens and pre-teens so many years ago. I fold at the hips and as I come back up Zac and I release hands and I come back to reality. With a final wave and smile of the night I head off stage with my brothers.
I manage to be the first one to make it around back and I’m surrounded immediately by crew and our manager as well as a few employees of the venue we’re playing at and amazingly a couple of local journalists. While I am beat, I will definitely lend a hand to the rising awareness of Hanson and how we are still out there making music. I pull off my ear piece and wipe my palms against my pants. I guess I just naturally evolved into the outfits I wear each night. I think they make me look professional and also a little like the angsty musician type. But they make me sweat like no other so I quickly loosen the tie and pull it from around my neck, and I start to unbutton my vest and the first few of my button down shirt underneath. I run a quick hand through my hair as it tends to fall in my face during the performance. Again one of those really great-at-the-time ideas about the hairstyle that I started to regret once I realized long hair just looks, feels, and acts awful when drenched in sweat and product. I think I may soon go back to the buzz cut. Less muss and fuss and I think Nikki would prefer it as well.
God I miss that girl. I feel so lucky to have her as my wife and that she was able to give me my beautiful baby boy. Someone was sure looking down on me that night I first saw her.
I’m pulled away from my reminiscing by the sound of someone calling my name and I glance behind me to see our tour manager, who must have fell behind at some point, walking quickly in my direction with my cell phone in hand. Typically I don’t get back to my phone for a while after a show. I like to relax and shower and get situated before I go back to the constant buzz of technology and she knows it too so it must be important if I’m being handed my mobile straight out of a show. I reach back for it and turn it over so I can see who is calling.
‘Home’ says the screen and I just barely have to touch the green accept button to initiate the call. As I bring the phone up to my ear I can hear my mom already talking a mile a minute and I can barely understand her.
“Mom, calm down. I can’t hear what you’re saying. Let’s start over and slower this time. My ears are still ringing. What’s going on?”
“Isaac, what are you guys up to? I can’t reach Taylor or Zachary and your website is shut down with a message on it, saying you guys are no longer a band. What is going on Isaac? I didn’t know anything like this was happening and now I’ve got god only knows calling the house and ringing the door bell. The local paper already tried to interview Mac as he was coming back from the store. Isaac what the hell is going on!?”
I can hear her voice rise at the end, like she is angry but also incredibly scared and confused. And so am I! What in the world did she mean that the site was down and we weren’t a band any longer. Things have been good with my brothers and me and we have been talking about trying to get the next record out quicker than the last few. I can’t fully comprehend what she is saying and I have a sinking feeling I don’t want to know.
“Ma, let me go find Zac and Tay. I’m sure it’s just a joke or something. Only the three of us have the power to shut down the site and post any sort of message about a hiatus or whatever so I’m sure there is a perfectly good explanation. I’ll call you back when I find out what’s going on.”
As much as it kills me to hang up on my mother, it is necessary. Why in the world would something like that happen, it makes no sense. As I hurry in the direction of the dressing room where I am sure my brothers had hightailed it to after the show, the feeling in my gut starts to travel up my body and I’m not entirely sure I won’t be physically sick. A few of the crew try to stop me and ask me what’s going on. They caught wind of what was happening and apparently have already been to the site to check out if it is true or not. As I don’t have an answer for them, I easily brush past them in my quest to find my brothers.
I throw open the dressing room door, and nothing. There’s no one in there. I make quick work of checking the closet and the bathroom adjacent but no such luck. They aren’t anywhere to be found. I call out to our band manager and ask her to have the venue ask its employees if they’ve seen Zac or Taylor leave at all but it’s fruitless and I feel like my world is crashing down. I run out to the busses but they aren’t there. None of their things are gone, nothing to suggest they aren’t close by. I pull my phone out of my pocket and see that I now have over a hundred text messages and approximately half that number in calls. But I don’t have time to call anyone back or respond to a text. I speed dial Zac first and get voicemail straight away. Same with Taylor and I know it’s useless to try and text if their phones are off.
I feel a little dizzy so I sit down at the small table on the bus and let my head fall into my hands. I’m so confused and I don’t know what’s going on. I eventually find my laptop and pull up hnet. Even though I’ve been told it’s down, nothing can prepare me for this. I feel anger and frustration as tears fall down my face, and I read:
We’re sorry to inform you that Hanson will no longer be performing. We appreciate your support and have enjoyed this crazy ride for the past twenty years. God bless. –ITZ
I feel my phone buzz in my hand and look toward it to see that Nikki is calling. The only sanity in an otherwise insane situation. I know she’ll know just what to say.
“Nik, hey.” I thought I would sound more, I don’t know, alive, but I barely get those two words out. My voice is hoarse even though I the show was over almost an hour ago and I haven’t spoken to anyone except to my mom and into my cell during the calls to my brothers.
“Baby, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what’s going on but I’m here for you and I love you.” She always knows what to say to make me feel better, if even just a tiny bit.
I gather myself enough to talk to my wife, I owe her that and I can’t shut down. I’m sure she can hear the anguish in my voice and I can barely suppress sobs as I speak, “I just don’t know where they are. I don’t know why they would do this. This can’t be happening!?”
I shout the last few words in disbelief and while anyone else would flinch, I can just feel her staying calm and steady. She knows I’m falling apart.
“Ike, we’ll figure it out. What I need you to do is get it together enough to get home as soon as you can. Nat and Kate are going nuts over here and we need to make sense of what’s going on. Honey, just get back and it’ll all work itself out. I promise. I love you.”
I say my goodbye and hang up. I look around the bus that’s been our home for the past month and then close my eyes. I say a silent prayer to God to make this all make sense and then I walk off the bus and hail the next cab I see to take me to the airport.