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4.04.2010

NINE


Jon stumbled into the shower, rubbing at his gritty eyes. He didn’t remember half of the night before, but waking with two nameless females in his bed did not bode well for him. Thankfully he’d found a condom stuck to his thigh, but that didn’t mean jack.
He lifted his face to the spray. Doc’s nasally voice cut through the hiss of the shower. The last row of knots across his shoulders untangled. He would move the girls along, no muss, no fuss.
Christ, he had to stop drinking JD. Between the booze and James he’d been beyond fucked last night. Watching her, wanting her, tripping over his ego in the haste to show her up was three wrong choices in one night.
A personal best.
A hand with a beer came through the curtain. “Drink up, Jonny.”
Hangover cure 101: have a beer in the morning. “Thanks, Rich.” It was warm, but blessedly flat. He chased it down with a mouthful of water and rinsed out the sour hangover taste stuck to his tongue.
Christ, he didn’t even remember getting back to the hotel room the night before. “I didn’t keep you up last night did I?”
Richie snorted. “The day you outlast me is the day I retire.”
Even with the axe currently cleaved between his eyes, he managed a laugh. It was true; Richie was usually the last one out of the bars, or home from a party. “Did you dump Alec into T’s room at least?”
“Nah, I left him curled around a barstool downstairs. He smelled worse than the floor.”
“Oh, man.” Thankful that his sense of humor seemed to be coming back to life with the warm spray he took a long, deep breath. It was an off day which meant he only had a dozen interviews and a photo shoot to deal with. Almost a manageable day. The fact that Rich would be with him most of the day made it bearable.
“We have that interview with Kurt Loder today, don’t forget.”
The groan was gargled with another mouthful of water. He had forgotten. “Seriously?”
“Yep, he’s coming out here to do it. Something about the tour and the girls. It’s you, me, Steph, and Jamie.”
His good humor hit the drain as fast as the water. Crap. “When’s that?”
“After lunch.”
Which meant he had a morning full of phoners first. Fucking great. “Is he staying for the show tomorrow?”
“Yep.”
“Remind me to kick Doc’s ass.”
Daily.” Richie slapped the wall, the shadow of him at the doorway now. “Well, I’m sick of talking to you in the damn shower, so I’m heading out. I’ll be back before the interview. Don’t forget your acoustic. We’re going to jam a bit with the girls. It’s a twenty minute deal.”
Not bothering to even sigh, he agreed and Richie left. Not even one day that his damn pipes could rest. At least they could do a few covers if they were mixing it up with Steph and James. Richie liked to take the lead. It galled him to admit that Richie had the stronger voice for certain songs, but it was an undeniable truth.
He took a few more minutes to let the hot water soak into his bones and stepped out. After a rough rub with a scratchy hotel towel, he dragged on the same jeans from the night before.
The room was blessedly empty, save for Doc and his ever present day planner, the phone tucked in his beefy shoulder.  His slick salesman voice tying up another one of his days off in interviews and a meet and greet with people he could give two shits about.
Just one day off, that’s all he asked. One day where he didn’t have to be on.
He dropped into the chair across from him, swiveling back and forth as Doc filled his day up. He knew it was good for the band, and to get the word out. They were gaining speed with the tour and Bon Jovi was getting to be a household name with the last single released. In his head he knew he needed to do all this, but damn if he wasn’t tired.
Doc pressed down the button to hang up, but didn’t drop the receiver. “Hey, before you make another call…”
Doc hung up the phone. “What’s up, Jonny?”
“First of all, I’m wrapped for that week we have off now, so don’t schedule anything for that week in July.”
“Too late.”
“Unschedule it.”
“Jonny—“
Impatience cooled his voice.  He had to have some say in how things were laid out, dammit. “Look, I’m wrapped up with the Special Olympics. Marcy caught me the other day and I haven’t had a chance to tell you.”
“Oh.”
Jon could see the calculating gleam in his eye. The Special Olympics was good press as far as Doc was concerned.  For him, he’d rather keep it low key. He liked to hang out with the kids. They didn’t care who he was, just wanted him to hang out and laugh with them, play a little guitar sometimes. They didn’t shove room keys in his pockets and they sure as shit didn’t care about his hair. “And no, I’m not taking a camera crew.”
Doc smiled wide and encouragingly. “C’mon, Jonny, this is great press. Do you know how many housewives will drop money on a ticket when they know you care about the retards?”
Jon stood. “For fuck’s sake, Doc.”
Immediately contrite, Doc put his hands up. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry. But the Special Olympics is a great way to show that humanitarian side of you.”
“I don’t need to show it.” He stalked across the room. He knew Doc was a bastard, but good Christ. “Look, I promised them I’d be there, but I’m not bringing a crew in from MTv.”
“What about a local news crew?”
“No.” He just wanted to do something for him, for Jon the guy. Soaking up the simple joy those kids had for their sport and their team was just what the doctor ordered. “I’m just going to show my support. I’ll do a little meet and greet with the kids and parents and that’s it.”
“But—“
“No.” Surprised to hear the firmness in his own voice, and the way Doc backed up a step, he strengthened his voice a little more. “I need to just do this for the kids. I need to not be Jon Bon Jovi for a few days, Doc. Seriously.”
“But you are Jon Bon Jovi. This is what you wanted, kid.”
Jon closed his eyes.  Yes, this is what he wanted, and Doc was a master at getting things done. He couldn’t begrudge the end product, just some of the steps along the way. “I know, and I appreciate all you do, Doc.”
Do you really? Because all I’m hearing lately is your bithching. You wanted this, and I’m getting it for you.”
Jon met Doc’s eyes. Guilt flushed up his neck. Was he sounding ungrateful? He wasn’t. He knew that Doc was only doing his job, only doing what he asked when he’d hired him. “I’m just tired. I need a break. You get that right?”
Doc stared at him for a second, his beady eyes a flat black before a wide smile split his over-tanned face. His eyes crinkled with good humor like a switch had been flipped at the back of his head.  “I get it, Jonny. You just need some time to get away from everybody. I’ll cancel everything for that week, how’s that?”
Ignoring the quick flick of unease, he nodded slowly. “Yeah, that’s good.” He rubbed the palm of his hand on his thigh before he stood. He dug out a battered Alice Cooper T-shirt out of his bag, twisting his hair into a lose ponytail.
He wasn’t sure why he suddenly felt so uneasy. Was it the Alec thing? He had to talk to him about that too. Or was it the quick change from reptile to human. He knew that Doc could be ruthless—it honestly was one of his best qualities as a manager. When it was in your best interest.  Sometimes he wasn’t sure if Doc’s motives were solely for the band’s interest, or if it was just to further his own reputation.
He popped the knuckle in his thumb and dipped his hands in his pockets. “There’s one more thing we need to discuss.”
Doc sat back in his chair, his chubby fingers laced over his expanding belly. “Sure, Jonny.”
“It’s about Alec.”
His good humor faded. “What about Al?”
Jon squinted, trying to read him. Doc was good at being cagey, but even he could see the worry flickering in his dark eyes.  “Is there something I should know?”
“Shouldn’t that be my question?”
His fingers folded into fists in his pockets. “Has there been trouble that you haven’t told me about?”
Doc relaced his fingers behind his head. “Jonny if I came to you with all the crap I have to deal with, your head would explode. It’s my job to handle things. It’s what you pay me for.” He stood up.  “Stop frowning, the girls don’t like laugh lines on your pretty face.”
Annoyed, he paced along the window. How much did Doc keep from him? Did he even want to know? “Al’s been dipping into the stash more and more.”
Doc sighed. “Yeah, I was trying to curb that—cutting some of his stash with lower grade stuff. He’s got a taste for the nastier side of things, Jonny. It’s not your job to watch him. He’s a big boy.”
Anger and guilt churned in his gut. “I haven’t been paying attention to him at all, maybe that’s the problem.” If he’d known, maybe he could have stopped him from laying a hand on James. “He’s been paying a little too much attention to the girls.”
Doc looked down at his hands, twisting the large diamond on his pinky. “I’ll worry about Al.”
Rage replaced anger as easy as a page turn. “Did you know?” He flung the chair back from the table, his palms flat on top as he tried to control the way his arms shook.
Doc’s eyes widened, but he stared at him without flinching. “Look, he can get a little out of hand sometimes, but it’s just excitement talking.”
“Excitement? Was it excitement that had him backhanding Jamison?”
For the first time, Doc’s tan seemed to turn a sickly shade of grey. “What?”
His fingers wrapped around the edges of the small round table. He wanted to heave it up and smash it into a wall, out the window, or even better into Doc’s face. “Do you realize just what could have happened? James dumbed down the details, I’m sure but—“
“Or exaggerated them.”
This time he did lift the table, upending it until all that was left was Doc’s compact body stuffed into a chair too small for him. “I saw the split cheek. I had Tico in my room forcing Jamison to tell me what happened.”
Doc stood up calmly. “I’ll take care of it, Jonny.”
“Obviously you haven’t been taking care of it if Teek has been watching out for the girls just to be safe. What if he hadn’t been there?”
“We’d deal with it.”
Jon took a shaky step back. “Deal with it?”
“Just how na├»ve are you? I’ve had to clean up messes after each and every one of you for years. You don’t want to know what I’ve had to do to keep your reputations so lily white.”
“We don’t hurt women—ever.”
“No? What about the women that want to hurt you guys? Jamie could be just like those women. Wanting a few extra records sold because of a scandal with her pretty face attached to a name like Bon Jovi.”
He didn’t even realize his fist had connected with Doc’s fleshy face until the man was sprawled at his feet. His fist sang with the impact, the rage eating every bit of air in the room.  “Not only was that insulting, but that’s Richie’s fucking sister we’re talking about.”
Doc got to his feet awkwardly. Contrition replacing the cool mask that had been there moments before. “I’m sorry, Jonny. I’m just trying to make you understand what happens around here. I swear I’ll take care of it.”
Not knowing what to believe, he took another step back, jamming his feet into sneakers. He needed to get out of there. The door bounced off the wall, the hallway seemed to shrink in on him, the elevators looming in the distance.
He couldn’t do a box. Not now. He took the stairs, the damp concrete walls and stairs led to freedom. He needed to get out, get to the air. Instead of down, he headed for the rooftops. Sunshine seared his eyes. In his haste to leave, he’d left without sunglasses, but it felt good and it felt real.
How many other things had happened? How much more had he missed with the constant scheduling?
“Just what are you doing in my hiding spot?”

The Music

I'm no songwriter, so I snag music through the ages. Reality has no business in this story, so if I like the tone of the song, the words, the fun--anything goes. You'll see songs from 80's, 90's & Today. click on the links above for vids and downloads.