Chapter 4

William’s angered bellows and the harsh patter of rain filled room 275. Not a day went by in London without gray skies and buckets of rain. As Will argued over the phone he passed by his balcony window that overlooked Donington Park. Very little could be seen on such a dark night besides the watery twinkle of city lights.

“That’s not the point, Elise! I don’t understand why you’re mad at me anyway,  you’re the one who cheated!”

Will screamed down his new red cell phone as he kicked a throw pillow away from his path. In doing so he also entangled his ankle around some strewn about bed sheets. The room was an utter mess. Most of the bedding was occupying the floor in a fluffy, tangled maze. Chinese food cartons and empty fortune cookie wrappers were scattered among any available surface, and the mattress had some how shifted out of alignment with the box spring.

“I don’t care if you didn’t know what you were doing at the time, that’s part of the problem!” Will boldly gesticulated with his right hand and threw off his already shaky balance. His ankle caught on the sheet maze, and he went sprawling down on the mattress.

“Are-You-Even-Listening!” squeaked the phone.

Will picked his cell back up and slouched down on the box spring. “Yes, unfortunately, I and many of the dogs in Donington are all ears.” He picked up a warm beer off his nightstand and chugged it. His stomach gurgled in pain from the unholy mixture of whiskey, cold vodka, and temped beer.

The room itself was dark and gloomy. The only light source came from a bedside lamp that was slightly off kilter. As Will sardonically listened to his ex rattle off reasons why they should stay together his hand brushed up against a small scrap of paper. As he brought it up close to his face he realized it was a fortune. It read ‘A certain someone enjoys your presence.’

“More of a statement really.”

A resounding “What!” squealed out of the phone.

“Yes, I’m listening!” Will huffed as he tossed the fortune to the ground, “Well I’m sorry if I can’t help losing interest in a one side conversation! I don’t understand what you want. Are you mad at me, or do you want to get back together? Or are you just too coked out of your mind at the moment to…”

A soft knock on the door through a chink in his train of thought. “Hold on,” he barked as he carelessly tossed his flip phone on the bed and made his way to the door.

As he peered through the peep hole, Dahlia yelled from the other side.

“Open the door asshole!”

“I don’t need any towels, thanks.” Will called back.

“Open the door, I’m not in the mood.”

Reluctantly, he reached for the handle but he was too late. It turned in his hand and suddenly his touring manager appeared in front of him.

“Dahlia, please do come in,” his comment heavily dipped in sarcasm.

A flourish of tall blonde brushed by him, “Don’t mind if I do.”

“Why did you even bother knocking if you intended on letting yourself in?”

Dahlia shrugged nonchalantly, “Common courtesy?”

He looked back at her with disdain as she took in the rather messy surroundings. Her pert nose crinkled in disgust, “What the hell have you been doing in here?”

“Hydrating.” Will smirked as he gestured towards a collection of empty beer bottles on his dresser.

She snorted, utterly annoyed, stepped closer to him and inhaled deeply,“You stink.”

“I do not,” he fired back appalled.

“Yes you do, you smell like a bag of ass…And Chinese food.”

“Well thank you for that graphic description. If the police ever switch from dogs to people for drug sniffers, you’ll have my recommendation.”

“I’d be so thankful,” she snarked as she stepped over to the nightstand and opened the tiny drawer. She reached in and lifted out a small packet of pills.

“See, you’re a natural,” Will mused.

“Nice,” she said over her shoulder as she headed towards the bathroom with the packet still in hand.

“The maids are going to have a fit when they see this shit hole.”

“Should I write them a letter of apology?” Will asked, surprisingly humbled.

“And say what exactly?” Dahlia sniffed as she dumped the tiny bag’s contents into the toilet and flushed them down. She then proceeded to go around the hotel room gathering empties and pouring them down the bathroom sink drain.

William shrugged sheepishly, “I’m good with words, I’m sure I could come up with something.” He self contentiously rubbed the back of his neck and picked up the nearest empty liquor bottle, attempting to help clean up.

A shrill “HELLO!” broke the uncomfortable silence.

“I think you’re being paged,” Dahlia said as she looked from the bed to the phone, and back to William.

Without giving it a second thought, Will walked over to the bed and yelled, “I’ll have to call you back,” in the general area of where the phone lay. He then flipped the phone shut and plopped himself on the bed.

“So how is Queen Elise? Bat shit crazy as ever?”

“How could you tell?” Will sighed

“Well, I could hear her chewing at the inner lining of her mouth from the hall, and that’s never a good sign.”

“If you don’t like her so much, why the hell do you keep giving her my new numbers?”

“Don’t look at me rock-star, I’ve only given her your number once. . . And that was about five phones ago.”

“Wonderful!” Will huffed and threw his hands up, “It was probably one of the roadies.”

“Oh please, none of the technicians have your phone number, you know that.”

Bottles clattered against each other as Dahlia tossed them into a large black garbage bag that she had produced from her oversized handbag.

“Could you please stop mucking about, I can barely think straight with all that racket going on.”

“You can barely think straight because you’re nursing a hangover with vodka, beer, and what ever I just flushed down the toilet.” Dahlia shot back without halting her actions one bit.

“Which, by the way, will be expensive to replace. I had a hell of a time getting it too,” he said sullenly.

“If you could keep the pouting over drugs down, that would be great.”

“Well, how else would you like me to cope with my current situation?”

Once the room was passably tidy Dahlia sat herself down on the bed across from William, with the big black garbage bag still clutched in her hand. “You could try what normal people do, though by your stumped expression I guess I’ll have to spell it out for you…”

Dahlia looked back at him with a hopeful expression, but to no avail, he had not a clue of what she was going on about.

With a deep sigh, she started, “They’re called feelings, you see…”

“Oh those, Dahlia if I had wanted to deal with those I wouldn’t have used all these.” He reached over and jangled the garbage bag to prove his point.

“You can’t numb yourself to whats happening around you forever,” she quietly countered.

The singer’s tone quickly turned from matter-of-fact to deeply embarrassed. “I know,” he flushed “I don’t want to go on like this; disappointing the band, and the label, being a mess. . . I want to get my shit together. There’s just no time right now. I’m not finished being miserable.”

Anger filled Dahlia’s eyes and her nostrils flared. “Well, you better get finished soon. I’m not going to ride this sinking ship forever, and neither are the guys. This isn’t just about you anymore. Some of us have families.”

“I know,” he professed emphatically. His face a mask of red now.

After Dahlia was sure at least some of what she’d said had broken through the liquor haze, she gently patted his knee and stood. “When you’re ready we’ll get you some help,” she said simply, then moved to leave him.

William sat with his head in his hands and mumbled, “I’m sorry if I screwed things up with those label blokes.”

Dahlia halted in her tracks and turned to face the crumpled man on the bed. “Don’t worry about it, I smoothed things over and Fisk was able to answer some questions for them.

“How did our ever brain-dead base player do?”

“You shouldn’t call him brain-dead, he’s just hard of hearing. You would be too if your job was to    slap the sound out of things.”

“Yes… Well, deafness aside, he’s still not exactly the sharpest tack, and he plays the base for crying out loud! How was he?”

Dahlia flashed him an unamused look. “Pretty well actually. You don’t give him enough credit.”

“I’m glad then. At least last night wasn’t a total disaster for everyone.”

“Me too. Okay then, I’m going to get the others ready and check up on the techs. We’re leaving in two hours so be packed and somewhat alive. . . If you can manage.”

“Will do,” his simple answer was laden with sarcasm.

“Good. I’ll ring thirty minutes before you’ll need to meet us in the lobby,” with one last flip of her flawless blonde hair she was out the door.

After Dahlia’s quick departure, Will decided on a walk through the city to clear his head. The rain had subsided, leaving massive puddles behind. A thin layer or eery fog hung low on the streets, and the lights softly glittered in newly formed ponds of rain. As he walked he passed by a hole in the wall restaurant. Only a few tables could be seen through the store-front window. Most of the chairs had been turned up on table tops to rest until morning. One table was still occupied by a fairly young couple.

It angered Will to see such happy people out and about while he was so miserable. As they sickeningly gazed into each others eyes and leaned in for a gag-worthy kiss, Will had to turn away. As if what he was about to witness was completely gruesome and unbearable.

Thankfully he had left his cell phone back at the hotel. He knew Elise would soon realize he had brushed her off yet again, and she wasn’t nearly finished with her nagging tirade. Some how Will’s calming, head-clearing, walk had led him straight to the corner liquor store.

He waited, shakily in line with two bottles of cheap vodka in each hand and a large can of Guinness wedged under an arm.  After he’d made his purchases he walked a bit quicker back to the hotel. The air, now filled with moisture, made the reek of alcohol emanate from his body. The smell shot straight up his nostrils and lingered there all the way back.

As he passed hastily through the hotel lobby, trying to draw as little attention to himself as possible, he caught a glimpse of Torgny. Luckily his friend seemed to be distracted by some girl. This gave Will the perfect opportunity to make a B-line for the bank of elevators just across the way. He scattered towards a circular ottoman that enclosed a large plant in the middle of it and rested there for a moment. He made his body tall like the plant, as not to be seen, and only when he was absolutely positive his friend hadn’t noticed him he made a run for the elevator bank.

Once Will was back in the privacy of his room he hurriedly went to the task at hand. He grabbed his well warn leather jacket off the back of the chair it had been planted on for two days and picked his flask out of the inner pocket. He popped the seal of one of the vodka bottles and held the flask and bottle up to a free standing lamp that stood over his jackets chair. When he was sure he was lined up correctly, Will stared to pour.

A good amount of vodka spilled to the floor because of his tremor laden hands. Once the flask was full, Will downed what was left in the bottle like it was water. He went to the bathroom to chuck the empty into the bin, then grabbed his suitcase that sat in the adjacent closet.

As he headed towards the bed to pack up, the door key clicked open and Torgny came walking right on through the room.

“You getting packed up?” His friend asked all business like.

“Nope, I’m playing a round of chess, couldn’t you tell?” Will dug into his back pocket for a cigarette. He struggled to get it lit, his hands violently shook.

Finally, with a heavy sigh, Torg walked over to his friend and took the lighter from Will to lite it for him.

“Thanks,” Will shuddered as he took a deep drag in.

Torgny nodded wordlessly, popped the beer Will had just brought in with him, and began to drink.

A bit slothfully, Will slung clothes into his opened suitcase that he had placed on his bed when his friend made his entrance.

“Who was that chick you were talking to downstairs?”

Torgny blushed a bit at his friend’s blunt question, “Oh nobody, probably just another bird trying to make her way to you.”

“You sshhouldn’t be sloo hard on ya-self mate.” The affects of downing most of his reserve vodka was beginning to emerge through Will’s speech.

“I’m sure she was here to see you,” Torg lamented while starring carefully down at his hands.

“Aaand’t how’d ya know that? Sshe was talking to you, not me.”

“I know, but she wasn’t talking about me.”

Will’s eyebrows shot up as if to say, ‘Go on.’

Torgny sighed and continued, “She asked a lot of questions about the band and touring. Just small talk really.”

“Well, thhat’s a start.” Will blinked rapidly, in an earnest effort to keep the room from spinning beneath him and stop his double vision. It was hard giving love advice to one Torgny Backlund, let alone an entire clan of them. “Did you get her number?”

“Yeah.” He revealed simply and took another sip of beer.

“Then call her you twat.” Will slightly giggled and hiccuped at the same time, practically choking out his last word.

Torg smiled, “Maybe. I heard you talked to the black widow.”

Will sighed and laid down on the floor, flat on his back with sorrow clouding his eyes.

“How’s she doing?” He asked tentatively.

“Bat-shit crazy as ever. . . And higher than a kite.” Will paused a moment with a thoughtful expression on his face, then lifted his head up off the floor to stare at his friend perched on the edge of his bed. “You didn’t give her my new number, did you?”

“How could I?” I don’t even have it yet.”

“Oh,” Will pointed above his head towards the nightstand where his new phone lay. Torg retrieved it and produced his own phone from his back pocket.

“I have no idea how sshe keepths getting tthese numberths.”

“She’s some kind of ninja I suppose,” Torgny mused as he quickly typed the new number into his own phone and replaced Will’s on the nightstand. “You’re not thinking of getting back together, are you?”

“No! She cheated, it’s over.”

“Yeah I’ve heard that before, but she’s got her crazy-bitch-claws hooked in you deep my friend.” Taking pity on his now fully inebriated friend, Torg got up from the bed and began to pack Will’s remaining belongings.

“I’ll be fine this time I think,” Will mumbled from his place on the floor.

“Oh yes, you’re doing mighty fine teetering on the edge of the curb, about to plunge head first into the gutter.”

“I’m coping!” He fired back, trying and failing to shoot up with indignation from his planked position. He barely managed to squabble onto his side.

“Your coping seems a lot like drinking,” said Torgny in a matter-of-fact way.

Will rolled to the side of the bottom of his bed and gingerly propped himself up by leaning on it and squirming up the side. When he was in a some-what comfortable position he rubbed at his temples, seemingly trying to remember something. “I seem to have already had this conversation today, so please hold all other comments on the subject until tomorrow.”

“Fair enough, I reckon Dahl read you the riot act already.” He chuckled as he finished up his pack job, inconspicuously leaving out the still unopened bottle of vodka. He sneakily laid it down on the other side of the bed and tried to push it underneath the low box spring with his foot.

“Did I miss anything?”

“That bottle you just kicked under the bed.”

Torg winced, caught red footed. “You have the ears of a bat,” he said as he picked up the bottle and placed it in Will’s suitcase.

“My ears are just very keen to the sound of liquid sloshing around a glass bottle.”

Torgny sighed, zipped up the case and set it on it’s side. Will’s phone buzzed to life where it sat on the nightstand. When Will didn’t move to answer after the third buzz, Torg reached over and flipped it open. “Hello. . .” Once recognition of who it was crossed his face he mouthed, “It’s Dahlia.”

“Oh, what a surprise.”

“…Okay…I’ll have him down soon, I just finished getting him packed…Okay Dahl! I get it.” Torg flipped the phone closed and handed it to Will.

“She’s in a rather bristly mood today.”

“How could you tell the difference? She’ always on edge when we’re on tour.”

“Yes, but usually she saves her special attitude for you,” Torgny said as he crossed his arms over his chest in a petulant manner.

Will laughed at his friends’ childish response. “Well, maybe you’re the one who pissed her off for a change.”

Torg paused a second to think then shook his head, “That’s very unlikely. I think her annoyance with you is beginning to bleed out to the rest of us now.”

Will scowled, “Are we going or what?”

“As soon as you pull your ass up mate.”

Rather sluggishly, but as fast as he could manage, William drug his parts into a standing position. “Lead the way,” he said as he made to grab the top handle of his bag and missed by a foot.

“I’ll get that for you,” Torg said as he placed the case on the ground and extended the pull handle to roll it across the floor.

“I can do it,” Will protested.

“Are you sure?”

“It’s got wheels!”

“And again I ask, are you sure about this?”

“Jesus, Torgny I’m and alcoholic, not a dunce.”

Torg smiled and headed for the door, “First step is admittance.”

Will’s lips turned up into a grin, “Maybe you could be my sponsor.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” he said as he wagged the can of Guinness in Will’s face.