Richie?…Richie?” Obie asked. “Coming back to us soon?” he quipped.
Richie smiled at Kendall. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. All of the anger he had felt minutes ago disappeared when he saw her.
When he finished playing Kendall clapped wildly, Trina, Jon and Ally went over to him.
“Very nice.” Jon said.
“Hey Richie. How are you?” Trina said.
“Hey Trina.” Richie said.
Ally pointed at Darryl and Kendall.
“New fans?” she asked him. Richie smiled. “I guess so. Trying out some new stuff.” He said with a wink to Kendall.
Obie rolled his eyes. Trina walked over to Kendall and Darryl. She put an arm around Kendall.
“Richie, this is my best friend, Kendall and another friend and colleague of mine from the Post Darryl.” She beamed.
Richie couldn’t help but to smile at Kendall. She was beautiful. Her eyes were so attentive, yet attuned to his playing. It wasn’t anything he had experienced before without knowing the person. He extended his hand to her. Kendall smiled. “Nice to meet you. So you’re the famous Richie Sambora?”
“You mean infamous? ” Jon mumbled.
“You’re not kidding.” Obie said underneath his breath. He glanced sheepishly at both Jon and Richie.
“Ignore them.” Richie joked. Jon and Obie looked at him blankly. “I’m harmless. Do you play?” he asked Kendall pointing to his guitar.
Kendall nodded. “A long time ago.”
Richie began to understand a bit better at this point. “You seemed to be into it.”
Suddenly everyone especially Ally felt ignored. It was only Richie and Kendall onstage. No one else mattered.
“Yeah. I liked that chord progression you did. Is this new?” Kendall asked.
“Yeah. Just some stuff I’m tinkering with.” Richie replied.
Ally suddenly walked up in the back of him. She put her arm around his shoulder and held it tightly. “Well I like it too. “ Ally replied. Richie snickered. “This is Ally.” Richie told Kendall and Darryl.
“Ally Sheedy?” Darryl said.
“In the flesh.” She replied. “Huge fan. “ Darryl said. Ally had a sarcastic look on her face as she glanced at Richie. She tapped her red nails on his shoulders. As she turned around towards Darryl, she wore a smile from ear to ear.
“Thanks. I’m kinda taking a break for a bit. Doing some writing.” She said.
“You write?” Kendall asked.
“Yeah some.” She nodded. “In fact, Trina and I were comparing notes. I’ve got a book deal and I’m debating whether or to write a book of poetry or a full piece of hot fiction.” Ally continued.
“Oh.” Kendall nodded.
Ally’s smile quickly turned into an intense glare at Kendall “What do you do?” she asked her. Kendall suddenly felt embarrassed. Everyone on stage had some huge accomplishment except for her. She looked down at her feet. “Mmm, I work for the county. Just a clerk.” She said softly. Ally smiled gently.
“Nothing wrong with that.” Jon interjected.
“My mom’s from Pennsylvania. This state better be working right.” He winked at Kendall. Trina’s best friend smiled at both Trina and Jon. Trina looked over at Jon. She mouthed the words, ‘Thank you.’ He nodded.
“Okay folks. Time for sound check” Jon said putting his hands together.
He walked back to the front of the stage, the rest of the guys got into position as if they were on autopilot.
Tina, Darryl and Kendall watched from the sides as Obie and Ally left.
Jon was in good spirits. He joked with everyone as they went through song after son.
Jon took out a piece of paper from his back jeans pocket. Trina noticed it was the set list.
They practiced some more; Jon took out his pen and began to cross something out on the paper.
“Can’t make it?” Richie asked. Jon touched his throat. Jon looked concerned.
“Don’t worry. I’ll sing that part.” Richie reassured him.
“I’ll help too.” David chimed in. Jon looked over sadly at Trina. Trina smiled weakly at him.
“What’s wrong with his voice?” Kendall asked her.
“He was sick before this last stint in Philly. I heard. It affected his voice. But, I thought it was better. “ Trina whispered to her.
Jon continued to have problems hitting the high notes; however; Richie, David and Alec adjusted their vocals to accommodate the new key they had to rehearse in.
Jon kept looking at Trina. Who noticed something didn’t seem right compared to a couple of days ago at sound check. Kendall and Darryl sat watching and enjoying every minute of what they were seeing.
Obie brought Jon over a cup of tea. He continued to clear his throat. The band had one last song to practice… ‘Prayer.’
“Obie, grab my acoustic please.” Jon told him. He looked towards the guys and nodded. Seconds later, Dave, Tico and Alec left the stage.
Obie came back with the acoustic. Two chairs were also brought for he and Richie to sit in. Richie turned around to their three guests. He tried to put a playful tone on a situation he knew could spell disaster for them later if they couldn’t get this arrangement correct.
“Now, you’re in for a treat. We’ve never done this son live like this before.” Richie smiled.
Trina looked cornered. Something was clearly wrong, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Jon, the professional, began to play. He sang the opening bars to Prayer in a lower tone than anyone heard before. It was quite good. Richie looked over at Jon and smiled. Jon, grateful that the lower keys and acoustic arrangement felt better for his voice, began to grin from ear to ear. The two finished. Trina and the other clapped gleefully.
Richie and Jon stood and bowed. Jon took one more sip of his tea. He gave the cup to Obie. The two walked over the Trina, Kendall and Darryl.
“And that was sound check.” Jon said.
“Nice job. Excellent acoustic performance.” Kendall said.
“Everyone’s in for a real treat tonight.” Darryl said.
“I agree.” Trina said.
Jon pursed his lips. He looked at Trina with a concerned gaze. He figured she sensed something was wrong. He took a cough drop from the back pocket of his jeans and popped it in his mouth.
“Everything all right?” she asked pointing to the cough drop wrapper in his hands.
“Oh yeah. Just effects from my laryngitis. I thought I could hit the high notes. Guess not tonight.” He said.
Trina knew he wasn’t telling the truth. He had hit the notes just fine the other night at both sound check and at the show. Something seemed very wrong.
“It happens.” Richie chimed in. “no worried. Anyone else hungry?” he said looked over at Jon. He tapped him on the shoulder.
“I am!” Darryl said. Trina chucked.
“What else is new?” Kendall said to Darryl. “Are you sure you want me to leave you here with him while I’m gone? Kendall whispered to Trina. Trina laughed.
Richie, Kendall and Darryl started back to where the catering room was. Jon lingered behind. He sat on a amp that faced the stage.
Trina walked over to him and sat down. Jon leaned against the amp. He put his hand underneath his chin. He began to watch the seats in front of him for several minutes.
She was debating weather or not to say anything to him. ‘If she did, would it anger him?’ If she didn’t ask a reporter then her bosses would be all on her if they found out there was something going on with his voice later on.
He moved the cough drop alongside the inside of his mouth. His throat was feeling better. He couldn’t help but to continue to watch the empty seats in the arena.
‘What if its goes tonight? What if the arrangements don’t work? If my throat closes tonight, what am I going to do?’ he thought.
His mind kept running through these scenarios. Each one he tired to answer them as best as he could, however there was no guarantee. The more he thought about what could happened tonight, the more he became concerned. ‘It’s all I know how to do.’ He thought.
“You’ll be fine.” Trina spoke softly to him. He turned to her sadly.
”Listen, I don’t know what happened out there. And if I’m overstepping tell me so.”
Jon whispered. “No, you’re fine. “
“What’s wrong is more than you getting sick isn’t it?” she asked.
Jon looked sadly at her. “Nope. I was sick.” He told her.
Trina looked at him blankly. “You were fine the other night-“ She said. Jon suddenly got defensive.
“Shit happens. My voice does that. Goes in and out. Happens to everyone.” He snapped.
“Okay.” Trina said. Jon got up. He looked at her angrily. “This doesn’t go in your reports understand?” Trina nodded. “No problem. “ Jon rolled his eyes. “If anyone asked. I’ll be in the dressing room. Not hungry.” He said storming out.
Trina watched him leave. He slammed everything down in his wake. ‘There is something definitely wrong.’ She thought.
Over the last couple of days, he had been nothing but nice to her. Right now, he was angry and frightened. More to this story; more now that she thinks she wanted to know.