LOUDER THAN THE RAIN 4

 

When the music of her phone ringing filled the room just before lunch the next day; Patty looked at the caller ID and saw that it was international number. Since everyone at Farzana's record label and the rest of the management company were on in the United States she knew immediately who it was. Talking to him wasn't something she wanted to do, but it had been about two weeks since they'd spoken directly so it was reasonable for him to call.

Everyone was sitting in the living room watching a movie after lunch. Farzana was painting her toenails, Gabby was searching through her equipment box for all her tools for the guitars, and Oakly and Rodney were watching a football game on television. She noticed the look that Rodney gave her when the phone rang, but she waved him off and told him to stay where he was. She moved out of Gabby's earshot in the front of the bus. No need to have her daughter listen to a conversation that might end up being ugly. She moved over a few pillows they had in the back to take a seat in the back living room before she answered. She needed to be comfortable for this because she was expecting the conversation to be stressful.

The deep voice that came over the line sounded so close, which made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Even though he could still get that kind of reaction out of her; she needed to remember that he was a million miles away. She could picture him in London, probably sitting with a beer in his hand trying to relax after a day of recording with Joe, hand up to his ear with his cell phone and a smirk on his face. "Hey, is Gabby around?"

"It's nice to hear from you too Reese," she said moving her Claddah ring around on her finger nervously. It was such a reminder of the break up of her marriage and the break up of the life she'd lived for the last eight years. She'd married Mauricio Quintella just out of high school after finding out about the future arrival of their daughter and had been a roadie's wife for the past five years. This would be the first time that she would be alone on the road for an extended amount of time and the first time that she wouldn't have Reese to come home to.

Trying to calm down, knowing that this wasn't going to do good things for her, she pulled her hair out of it's ponytail and ran her hands through it, massaging her scalp a little which usually helped her get her mind off things.

A sigh came over the line. "Awe Patty, it's so nice to see that you're in such a good mood this afternoon," he said. It wasn't a nasty tone really, just one to remind her of her attitude, something that she hated even though she needed a little adjustment every so often. "Can I please talk to our daughter?"

Patty knew that he did this to check up on her. He knew that he didn't need to get in touch with her to get in touch with Gabby and they'd worked it out so that he could have a direct connection to her due to Patty's busy schedule, but this call was made on purpose. Despite their formal separation she knew that he just liked to call her up. Sometimes the calls were to argue with her, but most of them were just to get at her a little, make sure she was still the same argumentative woman he'd married all those years ago.

"Why didn't you call her phone?" she asked putting her feet up across from her, "We got her that thing so that you can call her."

"Thank you for that wonderful explanation," he said with a little attitude. "I've been calling and it hasn't been working. I left her messages, but she hasn't called back yet. I was starting to worry about her."

"Hold on a second," she said. She moved her mouth from the phone, leaned over and opened the door then called out into the other room, "Gabby! Is your phone on?"

"No," she called back, "It wasn't working earlier so I left it off."

"Turn it on," she said, "Your father has been trying to call you."

A moment later she heard Gabby yell, "Sorry mom! Tell Daddy it's on now."

"We've been having trouble with phone reception because of the coliseum," Patty said into the phone, "She's got her phone on for you now."

"Ok," he said, "I'll call her in a second...how have you been?"

She wasn't in the mood for this. She usually would tell him a little about what was going on with Gabby, but since he was about to talk to her anyway she thought she should get off the phone. "Why are you doing this Reese? You know that I'm fine or you'd hear about it from Gabby for sure."

"Don't be such a bitch," he said sharply to her, "I hope you're ok out there."

"I am," she said firmly lying her head back against the back of the couch for a moment and looked out the window across from her. She could see a little bit of movement, but saw that it was just the crew so she stayed put. "I have been. You were the one who didn't stick around to see that."

"Whatever Patty," he said, "I'm gonna hang up now and talk to Gabby for a little bit if that's ok with you."

"Fine," she said and hung up the phone before he could.

She took two deep breaths before she heard Gabby's phone ring and when she went back out into the living room Gabby had a smile on her face as she was talking.

"Daddy, guess what?" she said, "Lance didn't know I'm the tech and he made me cut one of Farzana's wires and then mom--" She paused for a minute, "Nooooo, daddy Justin is the one I like, Lance is too silly. He doesn't know anything about guitars and was asking about Uncle Joe."

Patty listened to the conversation only a short time before she decided to take a walk. She needed the air and the exercise and from the looks of it, the day was going to turn out to be nice so she thought she should take advantage of it. "Farzana you've got an interview at two ok?"

Farzana nodded, "I'm on it."

"I'll be back in a little while," she said, leaned and kissed the top of Gabby's head and left the bus giving Rodney another warning look to stay put before she climbed down the steps and began to walk around the coliseum.

Considering the size of the coliseum, it didn't take her that long to walk around the outer edge of it. People had begun to arrive before they'd gone into lunch and after listening to the local radio stations battle back and forth across the parking lot she made her way around to the back parking lot and again made her way into the backstage area. She hadn't really been paying too much attention to anything in particular as she walked, but finally, when she heard yelling and a basketball being bounced around she stopped and listened. There were huge equipment boxes between her and the people talking so it was the perfect hiding spot.

"She's such a bitch," someone said.

"Hey," a girl's voice said, "You barely know her. You know that's not nice to say honey."

"I know Bear, but really she is kinda bitchy...not like Melinda work-mode bitchy, but just generally bitchy," he said.

"Justin."

Justin must have been getting a harsh look from her because he stopped bouncing the ball. "Come on Lance...you saw her. Tell Mere how bad she was."

The ball started to bounce again, but there was no answer from Lance for a moment, "She wasn't THAT bad."

The ball bounced then paused again.

"She ripped my head off when I saw her naked," Justin said.

He thought she was a bitch. Not that it bothered her that much, but it wasn't the best first impression to make on people she was going to be working along side for the rest of the summer. She worried more about Gabby in situations like that. It was one thing for her to have the reputation of being a bitch, but these guys were Gabby's favorites and she didn't want to ruin her daughter's summer experience with them because they didn't like Gabby's mother.

Patty peeked around the corner and saw Justin standing there in front of a girl who was now holding the ball against her stomach. They wore t-shirts, shorts, and basketball shoes. Justin had a baseball hat on turned backwards and Meredith had her hair French-braided, but it looked as if they'd been playing for a while because her hair was messed up and his hat looked as if it had been stepped on a few times.

She couldn't see Lance, but she figured that he was there somewhere.

"You saw her naked?" the girl asked with an attitude.

"I only saw her for like a minute in the shower. I mean at first I thought it was you," he said with a sigh turning his head a little to look at her with a sad look.

"In the shower?" she asked angrily.

Justin sighed, "Bear, it wasn't like that."

"Well what was it like?" Meredith asked.

"I went looking for you to tell you sorry about that whole big ears comment..."

Meredith watched him closely making a humph noise when he made the comment about her ears.

Patty had to laugh at his ability to dig himself a nice hole.

~~~~~

Patty took a deep breath, closed her eyes then opened them and stared at him, right in the eyes. It was the only way that she knew he'd believe her. This wasn't the first time he'd come to her about something like this, but she vowed that this was the last time that he'd find her lying. She'd done it in the past, lied straight to his face, but now she wanted out of that. She had to prove it to him that she wasn't lying. "It wasn't like that."

"Well explain it to me then," Reese yelled tapping the object in his right hand onto the back of his left hand making a knocking noise that made her stomach flip. His hands were huge and dwarfed the size of the object in his hands. She imagined those hands on her, shaking her a few months before when she'd fallen ill. He'd been there through it all, but that was all over now and she needed to move on. Just her reaction to the situation should have told him that. Just the thought of what he held in his hand made her stomach jump. On the one hand it was the answer to all her prayers, but on the other it could be her undoing.

"It wasn't--I wasn't doing anything," she said moving her eyes to the bottle he held in his hand, watching as the tiny pills moved then settled into a pile on the side of the container.

He stared her down, those big brown eyes showing her his disgust with the situation. He was looking and talking at her as if he was disciplining Gabby instead of talking to his wife. She hated that look in his eyes. Hated it more than the look of sadness in his eyes. At least if he was sad she could do something about it, but this angry disappointed look took a lot longer to remedy. "Well what were you doing with it?"

She flopped down into the seat behind her and looked at him with a sad statement then heard Gabby's door open. "Great, you woke her up," she sighed and walked towards the door, "If you must know I was cleaning and I found it."

"Did you open it?" he asked.

"No," she said over her shoulder as she moved passed him to go see their daughter, "No I didn't."

He stayed where he was. "I'm counting them."

"Fine," she said, "I wouldn't expect you to not do that."

He put the bottle down from where he was trying to open it. "Damn it Patty. I thought this was over."

Patty turned on her heel and stared him down. "It was over. Remember that big huge place I went to...it's called Rehabilitation...remember those months that you were stuck taking care of Gabby? Remember? It was over. It is over until you decide to bring it up again." She took a deep breath and held back the tears, "Why can't you trust me? I think I've proved that it was over, but you just won't let it go."

She moved out of the room and went to find Gabby. The five-year-old still didn't understand everything that had gone on and having the two of them fighting over things wasn't helping her try to understand.

~~~~~

Patty's heart raced as she listened to the rest of the conversation. That night, all those years ago she'd stayed at Gabby's side instead of going back to bed with her husband. That had been the beginning of the end. She'd thought that their lives together were going to start to be easier, but it had only gotten harder after that.

"It wasn't like that Bear," Justin said with a frown and moved towards the girl. He pulled her into his arms and looked at her with this puppy dog face. "It wasn't like that."

"Sure it wasn't...Whatever," Meredith said angrily throwing down the ball.

The basketball bounced over towards where Patty was behind the equipment boxes so she reached and picked it up. She was about to throw it back when Meredith stepped backwards then stalked away from Justin.

"Meredith," Justin called after her. When he passed Lance he said, "Get the ball. I'll be right back."

As Justin disappeared Patty moved out from behind the boxes and bounced the ball towards Lance, "Tell Justin if he wants to talk shit about a person he should at least have the guts to do it to their faces."

She turned and walked down the hall following where Meredith and Justin had disappeared.

"Whoa whoa whoa," Lance said running up next to her. "If you were going to eavesdrop at least don't have selective hearing," he said, "I defended you back there."

"Defending someone isn't saying that they weren't THAT bad," she said angrily and kept walking.

His hand reached out to grab her arm and Patty whipped back and slapped at him, "Get your hands off me."

Lance backed away a little. "Whoa! I defended you the best I could!" Lance asked, "But, you've done nothing but bitch since you got here."

"It's none of your business," she said and took a deep breath praying that the tears wouldn't start. She knew if they did she'd never stop and she'd promised herself that she wasn't going to cry in front of Gabby again. It hurt her too much too see that worried look on Gabby's face wondering if she was ok or not.

Lance moved so that he was in her way then moved again when she moved, always standing in front of her. She noticed how he stood there for a moment then began to rub his arm and shoulder. Body language wise he seemed to be in a lot of pain, but his face was stone cold. There was no statement, not a single indication that his shoulder was bothering him at all. The only slight sign that anything was wrong with him were the bags under his eyes, but she knew that everyone on tour looked a bit haggard. "What's wrong with your arm?" she asked hoping that her slight concern for him would take the conversation's focus off her.

His eyes moved down to where his hand was massaging his shoulder as if he hadn't even realized he was doing it. "Nothing." He put his hand back to his side, "I just slept on it wrong. You know how that goes. Sleep on it wrong and it bothers you the rest of the day."

Silence fell between them as Patty shrugged. She took a breath and walked over to some equipment boxes and took a seat.

"What about you?" he asked after a moment, "What's up with your head because it doesn't seem to be here right now."

Patty stayed silent. If she started to explain even a little of it they'd be there for hours and she didn't need that right now. She needed to get away from him, from everyone and calm down before everything closed in on her again. "Nothing," she said then pushed herself up, "I've gotta go...I'm sorry about the--" she stopped and watched him staring at her. Pity was in his eyes and she hated that, "I've gotta go find Gabby. See ya."

On her way back to the bus she decided she'd stop in the bathroom really quickly, throw some water on her face and try to calm down a little. She went inside the first one she found. The empty cement and tile room reminded her of the old PE locker rooms in high school with its slight green color and industrial type look. Sighing at the thought of high school she moved to the far end of the room to a sink that was kind of out of sight of the door. She leaned against the counter and prayed for a moment that her heart would stop beating so fast. She hated this. Hated that feeling of being unsure of herself and of the situation.

Flipping on the water she leaned over and cupped her hands to bring some up to her face. It was a complete comedic thing that happened next, yet it wasn't funny. Somehow there was a surge of water that splattered water all over her hands, her arms, and the front of her shirt and her lap area. She immediately hit the faucet and turned the water off, but not before the damage had been done. Thinking quickly she reached for paper towels, but somehow they hadn't been filled since the night before and she desperately ran into one of the stalls to wipe herself off with toilet paper.

"I told you I wasn't talking to you," a voice said walking into the bathroom, "And don't follow me in here Justin. I swear. Its one thing to follow me around, but this is a woman's bathroom."

"Oh, come on," he said, "There's no one in here anyway."

Patty stood completely still. She knew that she should reveal herself to them, but with the water all over her front and shirt she would look like she was going to look as if she'd peed all over herself which wasn't the impression she wanted to leave on the them.

"Justin this isn't funny," she said.

"So this is what the woman's bathroom looks like," he said.

"Justin just leave me alone ok?"

"No," he said, "I know you're mad at me and I'm sorry for whatever I've said in the past few days to upset you. I know that--" He paused and Patty looked between the cracks of the bathroom stall just in time to see him kiss Meredith. "I'm a jerk." He kissed her again, this time on the cheek. "I'm a bad boyfriend. I know."

Meredith giggled a little at his kisses and Patty rolled her eyes. It was like out of some movie or something. The two of them were perfect for each other and she couldn't stand it. Nothing was that perfect and she just wanted to yell that to them so they didn't waste their time.

As Justin's arms slid around Meredith she began to protest. "Someone might walk in on us and I'm not the one that is going to explain why we're making out in a bathroom.

"I thought you always wanted to make out in a public place."

"Public places are fine," she said and moved away from him going to the sink for a moment to look in the mirror, "Public bathrooms are another--"

She got cut off when Justin came up behind her and put his hands on her. Patty felt a little perverted hiding and watching them, but there was something intriguing about the two of them, something that she missed in her own life that she liked being seen played out before her.

"I mean it Justin," she said firmly, "I'm mad at you and you can't just wash that away by trying to seduce me."

"I can't?" he joked.

"I'm trying to be serious here Beedee," she said.

Justin's face turned into a serious statement. "Fine Bear," he said, "I'm sorry." He leaned and kissed her on the lips.

Patty stared for a long time as their kisses became deeper then finally felt like she needed to reveal herself. Justin had moved across the room and Meredith's back was now up against a wall and they were making out. It looked as if they might even try to have sex there in the bathroom from the looks of their actions.

Opening the door she quickly walked by them and nervously spat out, "I'm really sorry...I didn't mean to interrupt...just ignore me."

When she turned the corner both of them were staring at her, but neither had said a word.

For the first time in a long time Patty wanted to cry from humiliation. She had never had so many things go wrong so fast. Usually she was in control, but this tour she could see things slowly slipping out of her grasp.

~~~~~

[ Later that night... ]

"What are you staring at?" he snapped at her.

She'd been walking down the hall on her way to get Farzana to take her to the stage to perform when she'd seen Justin sitting in the hallway alone. She hadn't meant to stop and stare, but seeing him out there and being without a guard with him seemed out of place. He had his head in his hands and wasn't moving and if he hadn't snapped at her she would have thought that he was asleep.

She had wanted to ask him what was wrong, the statement on his face spoke volumes, but his reaction to see her spoke clearly. She'd seen that look so many times it wasn't at all phasing. He wanted nothing to do with her. She obliged him and walked on, not looking back even when she thought she heard him take a huge breath as if he was going to cry or something. She knew the feeling and if she wasn't so busy she would have sat down and joined him in a good cry. It had been a long time since she'd done that. A long time since she'd LET herself do that.

When she found Farzana, Rodney and Gabby standing just inside the bus door ready to come out she forced a smile on her face. "I'm really glad you picked those jeans," she said to Farzana as they stepped down the steps.

"Thanks," Farzana said looking a bit nervous. Rodney seemed to realize what was going on and put an arm around her, like he always did when someone needed a little help. "You guys ready?"

"Yeah," Gabby said with a smile at her mother and walked along at her side holding her hand and carrying Farzana's guitar.

"I can carry that," Farzana said motioning to the guitar.

"No," Gabby said.

"Are you sure honey?" Patty asked.

Gabby looked up at her, put her bottom lip out stubbornly and stared her down. "I can do it."

Patty marveled at the way Gabby was becoming more and more like her every day. It was startling to see how the littler version of her would copy the way she acted. She'd always heard that kids would be like their parents, but this was nuts. Gabby had learned over the last few months, even at such an early age to be strong when it came to work. That had been one of the reasons she hadn't hired a new guitar tech. She knew that Gabby could learn the process of tuning the guitars for the few songs that Farzana got to play in her opening set and Farzana could always tune up a little if something went wrong.

For Patty it seemed that everything on stage and with Farzana's career was going well so far, but her life, all that happened off stage and away from performing, seemed to be falling apart.

 

 

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