Status: Work In Progress

Paper Lanterns

002; I'll See You Again

A week had passed since my strange dream of Gilman, of Laine. We were set to perform on America's Got Talent that night, and I still couldn't shake the feeling that my flashback had instilled in me. I hadn't thought of her in years, what had sparked my sudden unconscious thoughts... I couldn't tell. Perhaps it was the fact that I was so unhappy as of late. Maybe this was my mind trying to repair itself.

My thoughts were interrupted when my phone began to ring. Mike's name flashed across the screen, and I immediately answered the call. "Hey Bill, you ready? The car is waiting downstairs."

I cleared my throat before speaking, "Yeah, I'll be right down." I said, hanging up the phone. Shoving my phone in my pocket, I made my way out of the hotel room after I checked that the door was locked. I walked with my head hung on the way to the elevator, pushing the downward arrow absentmindedly once I reached the doors.

I nodded in acknowledgement at the woman at the front desk when I finally made it into the lobby. She gave me a sweet smile just before I walked out into the New Jersey summer air. I scanned the circle drive until my eyes landed on a familiar face. I approached the car that the man was leaning against, a fake smile plastered on my face.

"Hey Jason," I greeted my long time friend, and band mate. He directed his hand towards the open car door, and got in as he followed me into the backseat where Mike and Tre were already seated. They flashed quick smiles before returning to their conversation. I tuned out their voices, and got lost in my own thoughts as I gazed out the window over Jason.

Tre nudged me with his elbow, bringing me back to the current moment. Mike and Jason had already exited the backseat, leaving just Tre and I. I looked to me, sadness coated his features. "You good?" He asked, trying to hide his true concern.

"Yeah, yeah... just concentrating on tonight's performance." I lied pathetically, knowing that no matter how I spun it, Tre would see right through it. I gave an apprehensive smile before Tre nodded, and opened the door to get out. I sat there for a moment, collecting myself before I too got out of the car.

Once we were all together, a man greeted us. The venue's manager, no doubt. We followed him towards the New Jersey Performing Arts Center while he briefed us on today's itinerary. We'd be doing our soundcheck a few hours before the show started, and performing at the very end. He ushered us towards our backstage dressing room, where he would leave us until it was time to do soundcheck.

Upon entering the room, Tre plopped down on the couch lazily. Mike took the armchair adjacent to the couch occupied by Tre. I looked around the room, until I found a table filled with things that were on our rider for every show. I grabbed a bottle of beer, and tossed the cap into a nearby trashcan. I approached the couch, and waited for Tre to move his legs for me to take a seat as Jason had taken the only other chair in the room.

"Oh, you want to sit?" Tre teased. I gave him an expecting glare, and shifting all of my weight to one leg. "The cost of a seat is one beer, please..." Tre cracked a wide grin. I handed him the beer that I had already opened, and got another without a word. Tre did as he promised, and gave me room on the couch.

We had nearly an hour to kill before soundcheck, and absolutely nothing to do but entertain ourselves. Mike found the remote for the television on the coffee table, and flipped through the channels before settling on a documentary on the Discovery Channel. After I finished the last drop of my beer, I got up and found my acoustic guitar that our management had sent over. I picked it up, and began strumming out a few chords before I found myself playing the familiar chords of One For The Razorbacks.

I hummed the melody over the chords I was playing, and was surprised when Mike stood next to me. He remained propped up against the wall until I finished. We remained silent for a few moments before he spoke up, "You haven't played that one in a while..."

I nodded, "I've been thinking a lot about Gilman lately." I admitted.

Mike cracked a smile, "You mean Laine."

I looked at him in disbelief. How could he possibly know that? I knew he could tell from the deer-in-head-lights look in my eyes that he was right. I just shrugged it off as I redirected my attention to the guitar in my hands. I strummed out some random chords, speaking as I did so. "Well, she was there most of the time."

Mike let out an airy laugh, shaking his head before returning to his seat. I continued to fiddle with my guitar until we were called into soundcheck. Reluctantly, I set the acoustic guitar down and traded it for my electric Les Paul.


It was nearly 1am when we reached the hotel room after greeting fans, and the guys had drinks at a local pub. I refrained as I was in a good mood for a change; I didn't want the alcohol to drag me, or my friends, down.

Of course now that I was alone, my sadness seeped back through the cracks. I numbly made my way over to the hotel's bar, hoping that they were still serving. To my contentment, the bartender informed me that she'd be there until two.

"What can I get for you?" She asked, shyly showing her smile in my direction.

I flashed my teeth briefly before I parted them to speak, "I'll take a Jack on the rocks." She nodded before procuring a bottle of the whiskey, and a short glass from behind the bar. I watched carefully as she scooped some ice into the glass, and poured a generous amount over it. She slid it over towards me with another smile.

"Thank you." I sighed, putting the glass to my lips. I took a gulp of the golden liquid, letting it coat my throat. The sting of the alcohol let me know that I was still alive, but just barely. I slumped over the glass, and rested my elbows on the bar.

I continued to take sips at my drink until I finished it. I looked up at the woman behind the bar, and my gaze lingered longer than I had intended. She took notice, "Another?" She asked, ignoring my impolite stares.

"Please." I asked, placing the glass back on the bar. She filled the glass, just as full as the time before. For this, I was grateful. This time, I took nearly half of the glass's contents in before putting it down.

As I traced the edge of the glass with my finger, I heard the clacking of heels that seemed to be approaching the bar. I paid no mind to this after the realization of the sound. I gulped down the rest of the whiskey, and asked for another. I nodded in thanks as my third cup was filled.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman take the stool a few down from me. Minding my own business, I took to my drink.

"Vodka and tonic please," the oddly familiar voice spoke. I looked to my right, and stared in disbelief at the strange woman who I now recognized to be a black-haired Laine. I was rendered speechless. I just watched as she took a swig of the drink that was handed to her. She must have felt a set of eyes staring because it was then that she glanced over.

Doing a spit-take, she nearly slammed her glass back onto the bar. "BJ?" I cracked the first genuine smile I had managed in months at the nickname passing her lips. She stood, and approached me awkwardly.

It was as if I was attached to her by puppet strings, I stood from my stool just as she did. Once she made it over, I brought her into the first hug we had shared in over twenty years. "How have you been?" She mumbled into my shirt.

I pulled away to get a good look at her, a stupid grin formed on my face while I spoke, "You know..." I laughed nervously, unsure of how to express how I had been feeling lately. She just giggled along before holding up her finger to signal for me to wait as she retrieved her glass from a couple of spots down from me. She returned, glass in hand, and took the stool next to the one that I had been seated at.

I took my seat once again, and turned to her. I still couldn't believe she was in front of me. This affected my speech, "I- How- Wow." I shook my head in frustration. She just laughed before giving me an expectant look, urging me forward. "It's been years..."

Laine took a drink of the clear liquid inhabiting her glass, and swallowed quickly before responding. "That it has." She searched my eyes, analyzing my thoughts and feelings, much like she used to. My heart warmed at this fact.

I noted the changes in her appearance. She went from a head of naturally deep brown hair that just reached her shoulders to a full head of long jet black hair that was currently swept out of her face in a low ponytail. She also had abandoned her usual oversized flannel over a ratty tee paired with torn jeans for a more refined look; a simple longsleeved black dress that hugged every curve. Not to mention, the monstrous heels she was wearing. "You look different." I commented without even thinking.

She acted like she gave offense to this, then her lips curled into a smile. "Not all of us can make a living being punk."

"Well, what is it that you do now?" I asked, genuinely curious as to what the once no holds barred girl from 924 Gilman had found herself doing.

"I'm the curator at an art gallery in Berkeley." She beamed proudly.

"What are you doing in New Jersey then?" I asked, omitting the fact that I was glad to hear that she was still living in California.

"I was invited to an art gala." She exaggerated a sigh. "I don't want to talk about my boring day with stuffy snoots, tell me about your exciting life..."

I shook my head, "I have not been having too much fun as of late." I admitted, only to see a worried expression take over her face.

Just then, the bartender returned with a jacket draped over her arm. "I'm sorry, but I've got to close up." She said with an apologetic smile.

I took out my wallet, and laid two twenties down, "For the both of us. Keep the change" I instructed her. She nodded in thanks as I stood from the stool, and turned to Laine who was doing the same. She looped her hand through the space between my arm and my body, intertwining our arms at the elbows.

"Thank you," She said graciously. "Tonight is my last night here," She said regretfully. I nodded with a small, sad smile. "Come hang out with me?" She asked upon noticing my defeat.

Immediately, I perked up. "Where to?" I asked as she began to lead me off towards the lobby.

"My room?" She suggested.

"Lead the way!" I urged as she did just that.
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Sorry for the slight cliffhanger. This was starting to get a bit too long.
Comments, recommendations, and subscriptions are much appreciated!
xx, Kat