Gratis bloggen bei
This is my 4th story.
Again thanks to everyone from the rasmus forum! Your comments are what make me keep on writing! Thanks a lot!!
„What an ungrateful girl! I can’t believe she’s behaving like that! This is unacceptable! We did everything for her! But now that the family needs her she plays the spoiled brat!” Antonia heard her father raging downstairs. She knew he was shouting that loud so she could hear him. He wanted to make her feel bad. As if he could change her mind with this words. Antonia didn’t cry. She was all calm. She sat at the window and stared into the night. The lights of New Jersey lit up the horizon. How often had she made jokes with her friends about the Jersey girls, the girls who tried to be like the typically New York women but who were almost always identified as a province girl after a few moments. Antonia laughed sadly. Now she would give anything to be one of them, to be part of a normal life, a normal family. She would never be able to do what her father was demanding but she also knew that she didn’t have another choice than following his words. I’d rather be dead, she thought and looked down to the street. From the 15th floor, the cars looked like little toys. Antonia shuddered, no, imagining her smashed body on the pavement wasn’t really a pleasant thought. I’m too young to die, she told herself. She felt numb, her heart was an icy block. She just didn’t know what to do. What about leaving the city? But she only had about $ 50 cash and using her dad’s credit cards would be extremely stupid. And after all, he would find her. Her father’s power was just to big in this city, probably in the whole country. This situation was just hopeless.
Someone knocked at the door. “Come in,” Antonia replied. Her mother entered the room. She looked self-controlled and calm, like the society lady she always represented. Antonia sighed, her mother was the mistress of hidden emotions. She always was polite, never showed her real face. “Antonia, darling, please watch your behaviour! I want you to come downstairs and apologize to your father!” “I’m sorry, mom, but I can’t do this!” Her mother sat next to her. “I cannot understand you. Joseph Nekrassow is a very nice and handsome young man! You know each other since first grade!” “Of course, Joseph is a great person but that just isn’t enough!” “Darling, we always did everything for you, now it’s time that you give something back to the family!” Antonia jumped up angrily. “The family! It’s always about the family! What about me? I’ve never been asked if I want to be part of this family!” Her mother gave her a cold look. “Well, I’ve never heard you complaining about being wealthy and living on the Upper Eastside!” She got up and straightened her skirt. “You know, that you can’t discuss things with your father. Now go downstairs and apologize!” She left the room. Antonia took deep breath. She knew her father loved her, maybe there was still a tiny chance to make him change his mind? “Are you coming?” she heard her mother from the hallway.
Antonia slowly walked down the stairs. Her father was sitting in his huge leather arm chair, reading the Financial Times. When he saw her, he smiled and got up. He welcomed her with open arms. “Tony, my little princess! I know you would make your old father happy!” Antonia stopped. “Daddy, you know I love you,” she whispered and stared to the ground, “but I can’t do this!” Slowly she lifted her head and looked into his face. It had turned into a cold mask. “I cannot believe what you are saying!” he hissed angrily, “you are breaking my heart!” His voice became louder. “ I don’t know if I made myself clear, you don’t have a choice here! You are going to do what I say!” His face was red, the vein on his forehead was swollen and pulsated heavily. Antonia turned around. “I’m going out for a drink. I’ll be back in a couple of hours.” She took her jacket. “Don’t even think of any stupid ideas! You know I have my eyes all over the city!” her father shouted. Antonia slammed the door but she could still hear him yelling. “No matter what, you are going to marry Nekrassow!”
Antonia was sitting at the bar and stared into her glass. She had never been to this pub before but she didn’t want to meet anyone who knew her. There has to be a way out of this situation, she thought. But her father was right, he had his eyes all over the city. Why can’t he be just a normal business man? No, he has to be Antonio Coletti, head of the famous Coletti-Family. Well, not really famous but at least famous to the FBI and to the American underworld. There was only one other family in New York who was as powerful and that was the Nekrassow-Family. Though they were “business” partners they also were great rivals. During the past there had been numerous fights, people had been killed. After long discussions they had decided on an armistice. The marriage between Antonia Coletti and Joseph Nekrassow was meant to be a sign of the peace agreement. But this also meant that Antonia would never be able to escape from this world of crime. She had always known where her family’s money was coming from but she had hoped to start a normal life after finishing college, having a job that didn’t include illegal activities.
Antonia sighed. Of course she had dreamt of a fairy tale-like wedding since she’s been a little girl. Wearing a beautiful white dress, her father leading her to the altar where her prince charming was waiting. She didn’t dream of what her future husband would look like, only of the feelings she would have if she saw him standing there. And that was the feeling of pure eternal love. Otherwise marrying didn’t make sense to her. She knew Joseph Nekrassow since they were kids, they went to school together and she liked him as a friend. But that was all. She could never marry him.
Antonia ordered another beer. She had to leave the city. But how? She didn’t have enough money and once her father had given the command to find her, his handy men would flip over every stone till they found her. She had to hide somehow, somewhere.
While thinking about it she heard two guys talking next to her. One had a british accent, the other one spoke with an accent she hadn’t heard before. “I can’t believe they have been arrested!” one of them said. “Yeah, where will we find a substitute for them till tomorrow? I mean, touring through the country with a band for the next five weeks and carrying heavy stuff all the time, that’s not like a job offer you take from one day to the other!” the second man replied and drank from his beer. “If we could find at least one new roadie! The rest of the crew is gonna kill us if they hear that they have to do all the work by their selves!” Antonia thought about what she just had heard. This sounded like the perfect plan to get out of New York. She turned around. “Sorry to interrupt you,” she smiled, “I heard by chance what you were talking about. Are you really looking for a roadie to start working tomorrow? Cause, well, I…” “I’m sorry, we don’t hire girls!” the british one answered. Antonia tried not to look disappointed. “Oh, I’m afraid you got me wrong!” she laughed, “I’m not looking for a job! But my brother is! And I’m pretty sure, he’d love to do this kind of job!” The guys looked at each other. “Has he worked as a roadie before?” Antonia shook her head. “Well, no, but he loves music and he loves travelling and I’m sure he can carry around lots of equipment!” “Dude, we really need to find someone till tomorrow!” the one guy said to the other. “Alright,” he replied and wrote something on a little piece of paper. “Tell him to come to this address tomorrow at noon! He has to be ready to leave then.” He handed her the paper. She smiled. “Thanks a lot, I assure you he will be there on time!” “No problem! Guess, we have to thank you! So what’s his name?” “He’s called Tony.”
Antonia was lying in her bed. She wasn’t able to sleep. A million thoughts were running through her head. She still wasn’t sure if this had been a good or a bad idea. Touring with a band was the ideal hiding place for a couple of weeks. As soon as she would come close to the Canadian or Mexican border she could leave the country. But pretending to be a man? She was sure she could fool someone for a couple of hours but for five weeks? She would probably have to spend the whole day with the crew! But do I have another choice, she asked herself. Except for marrying Joseph Nekrassow? What would her father say when he realized she was gone? This thought scared her even more. The big Antonio Coletti has been fooled by his own daughter, this would make him loose his face. She wasn’t sure if her father had ever killed someone on his own, he probably did, but she knew that numerous people had lost their lives cause they dared not to do what he wanted. Would it make a difference that she was his own flesh and blood? Probably not. She didn’t care about the honour of the family so why should the family care about her then? Antonia sighed and turned around in her bed. Why was life suddenly treating her this hard? She thought about her plans over and over again. With the break of dawn she had made a decision.
Antonia and her parents were sitting at the breakfast table. Secretly she watched their faces. No one was talking, they were eating silently. They didn’t behave differently to any other morning. Like yesterday had never happened. “Darling, would you please pass me the butter?” her mother asked and smiled at her. Antonia tried to read her face, tried to find any signs of emotions but she felt like she was looking at a doll. “Sure,” she answered and passed the plate. What if they knew this was the last time they saw her? Would they react differently? If I told them my plan now they would start to laugh, she thought. Her father would probably say something like “Enjoy your little trip, I’ll send someone to get you in two weeks, so we have enough time to prepare the wedding!” But she wasn’t joking, she was dead serious. Soon she would leave this house and would never come back. Look at me, why don’t you see that I am a real person with real feelings? Not someone you can use for your business, she screamed at her father inside her mind. She wanted to grab his shoulders and shake him, to make him look into her eyes and realize that she was his daughter who wants to be loved and who wants to have the freedom to make her own decisions. But she just sat there and ate some toast. Not speaking, pretending that nothing had happened, exactly like her parents. Then she got up. “School is waiting! Have a nice day,” she said to her parents. At the door she turned around and looked at her family for a last time. “I love you,” she smiled sadly. “Good bye, darling, see you at lunch!” her mother replied.
Antonia walked through the streets. She had three hours left to change into a man. Would her plan really work out? She entered a second hand store. Quickly she grabbed some baggy pants, shirts and jerseys and disappeared into a dressing room She tried on different combinations of clothes and it really seemed to work. She took a bandage out of her bag and wrapped it around her chest. She had small boobs but she wanted to be sure nobody could see them. This made breathing difficult. Well, nobody said looking good didn’t hurt, she told herself but she was sure, the person who invented this phrase was more thinking about high heel shoes or waxing eyebrows. She put on a baseball hat and looked into the mirror. There was only one thing left to do. She was glad she had been wearing a designer dress when she came to this store cause now she could sell it to the shop keeper. She only paid ten bucks for a whole bunch of clothes and she even got a small travelling bag to put the stuff in. Antonia left the store, went to a pub and entered the bathroom. She took some scissors out of her bag. Her hair was deep black, long and shining, all her friends had always envied her for it. Now it was falling into the sink. Antonia sighed and stared into a mirror. A man was looking at her. He seemed to be very young but he definitely was a man. Only the very light blue eyes could give away who he really was. “But no one knows my old me there,” she told herself and winked at the mirror, “Welcome, Tony!”
Lauri opened his left eye. “Outsch… too much light!” he mumbled and searched for his sunglasses with closed eyes. He found them on the night table and put them on. Then he sat up and scratched his head. Where was he? Where was Aki? He heard water running in the bathroom. Aki’s probably having a shower, he thought. “Dancing queeeeeen, lalalaaa, only seventeeeeeen!” Why did Aki sound that female? “Holy shit!” Lauri said and fell back into the pillows, “not again!” He started to remember. This was his hotel room, he was in New York, they had played the first show of their US-tour last night. Afterwards the band and the crew had partied at a bar, some local girls joined the party… the rest was just a big blur. Lauri dug inside his memory to find some details about last night. He saw faces of a few girls. I wonder which one is in my bathroom right now, he thought, hope she wasn’t serious about the ‘only seventeen’-thing! The phone rang. “Hey, lover boy, have you kicked her out yet? We have only one hour left to pack and leave!” Aki shouted through the receiver. Lauri could almost hear the nasty grin that Aki’s face was probably showing right now. “Nah, give me ten minutes,” Lauri replied and hung up. He put on some clothes and went over to the bathroom. He knocked. “Come in!” the girl shouted. Lauri opened the door. She was standing in front of the mirror, brushing her long blonde hair. “Good morning!” he smiled at her. She grinned. “You don’t look like your morning is too good!” Lauri blushed at bit. “Yeah, my head feels like bursting any second. How much did I drink last night?” She laughed. “Don’t ask me! I can’t even remember how much I had myself!” She grabbed her stuff and went next door. Lauri watched her putting her shoes on. “Alright,” she said and took her jacket, “gotta go now! Thanks for the funny night!” She gave him a little kiss on the cheek and left. Lauri was relieved, this had been easier than he had expected. Most girls wanted romanticism in the morning, breakfast, his phone number, children… she had been cool. But wait, funny night? Funny wasn’t exactly the word he wanted to hear from a girl he just had spent the night with. Maybe exciting, wild, great… but funny? He jumped up and ran to the door. “Wait! What did you mean with funny?” he shouted through the hallway but she was already gone. Aki came around the corner and laughed. “What’s that about?” Lauri went back into the room. “Nothing,” he mumbled. “Hey, you know what? Brian and Mikka found a new roadie!” Aki said. Lauri looked at him questioning. “How many brain cells did you kill last night?” Aki grinned. “Timo and Johan? Coke? Police? Jail? Does it ring a bell yet?” Lauri thought about it for a while, then he blushed. “Oh, sure, how could I forget about that?” Timo and Johan, two members of their crew had been arrested last night right before the show. They wanted to buy some cocaine but unluckily the dealer had been an undercover cop. They would just have to stay in prison for a couple of days but the band had decided on firing them. They had a no-hard-drugs-rule and took it very seriously. Lauri wondered who the new roadie was. Well, he would find out soon but packing was first. If only his head wouldn’t hurt like hell. “Hurry up,” Aki said, “the bus leaves at noon!” “Sorry, I’m slow this morning,” Lauri mumbled. He looked around. “Ok, I’m done, we can go!” Aki and Lauri grabbed their bags and left the room. After a few steps Lauri ran back. “Forgot my phone!” Aki waited for him. When they reached the foyer, Lauri hit his hand against his forehead. “My shaver!” he shouted and turned around. After a few minutes he came back and smiled satisfied. “Now, I’m really done!” They went outside, everyone was already standing in front of the bus. “Alright folks!” Brain, their tour manager shouted, “did every one take a second look through their rooms? If you forgot something, I’m sorry, but we can’t come back if a person doesn’t find his phone anymore!” He looked at Lauri. “Hey, don’t look at me! I got my phone!” Brian grinned. “What about your shaver? Toothbrush? CD player? Wallet?” “Wallet!” Lauri jumped off his bag he was sitting on and ran back into the hotel.
“Why the fuck do I always forget half of my stuff?” he thought when he rushed through the foyer to meet the crew outside again. He ran through the door and suddenly bang! hit someone to the ground. “I’m sorry,” he stuttered and looked down to see who he just had crashed into. He startled. All he saw was eyes. The most amazing eyes he had ever seen before, light blue and sparkling, surrounded by long black lashes. Wow, he thought and moved back to see to whom these eyes belonged. A boy was smiling at him. “Hi, I’m Tony!”
Antonia got up and stroke some dust of her pants. The guy who had knocked her down blushed, mumbled something that sounded like “Lauri” and joined a group of people that was standing in front of the bus.
“Listen up, guys!” the man that had introduced himself as Brian last night at the pub shouted, “this is Tony, he’s our new roadie!” “Didn’t know we hire teenagers!” someone shouted from the back. Antonia smiled weakly, she had expected some stupid comments and she didn’t feel comfortable. She cleared her throat. “Ehrm, actually I’m 22 years old. I might look young but I think I’m old enough to help you carrying around some equipment.” “I know he’s the new one but I hope you’re not gonna give him a hard time!” Brian said to the group. “I’m gonna introduce y’all quickly. You’ve already met Mikka last night, he’s our sound tech and he’s from Sweden.” Mikka, a tall blond man in his late twenties waved at her and smiled. “These two guys over there are Andy and Tom from London, like me. And the third one is Lars from Finland.” The three grinned at her, they were probably around her age. “They work as roadies like you. And the rest is the band you’re working for, Eero, Pauli, Aki and Lauri, also known as The Rasmus from Finland. You probably heard of them.” Now it was Antonia’s turn to blush. “No, I mean, I don’t know. I mean, I’ll probably recognize some of your songs if I hear them, I guess,” she stuttered. Everyone laughed. “You’ll have enough opportunities to listen to their music on this tour,” Brian said then he rose his voice, “alright, guys. This is Ronald, he’s our bus driver. And the beauty in the back is Emily, the bus. You gotta treat her nice, no puking on the floor, no smoking in the beds and no dirty shoes on the seats! This will be your home during the next weeks. Now get the fuck in! Next stop is Boston!”
Everyone got on the bus. Antonia was surprised, she had expected to stay in hotels or at least some cheap motels but not on a bus. This meant having hardly any privacy, she hoped that her disguise wouldn’t be discovered till she had an opportunity to quit and leave the country.
Antonia sighed, grabbed her bag and got on the bus. Inside was complete chaos. Everyone tried to get the best bunk. Someone shoved Antonia against the wall, she saw Lars jumping into the bed she just wanted to pick for herself. He grinned. “Sorry, lil’ Tony, gotta be quicker!” “Yeah, whatever,” she mumbled and looked for another free one. Suddenly she felt an arm around her shoulder. She turned around. Lauri was smiling at her. “Just ignore them and their stupid comments. I know what it’s like if people think you’re younger than you really are. Welcome on board!” Antonia smiled back. This made her really feel better. “And by the way, you should take one of the upper beds. Some people tend to kick the sleeping person in the lower beds if they try to climb into the upper beds, especially when they are drunk!” Lauri said. Antonia laughed. “Is that the explanation for this bruise on your forehead?” Lauri looked at her questioning. She poked him into his bruise. “Outsch!” he whined tried to find an answer. “I have no idea where that has come from. Damn, last night must have been wilder than I thought!” He went laughing to the back of the bus. Antonia climbed into the last free upper bed. Oh my god, she thought, were for fuck’s sake did I end up?
Antonia was lying in her bed. Though she was completely tired she couldn’t sleep. Someone was snoring like there’s no tomorrow. How come everyone else can sleep with that noise, she wondered. She turned around and pressed the pillow on her ear. This had been her first night as a roadie and she was glad she’s always been pretty sporty. Finally all the hours at the gum paid off. Though most of the stuff they had to take on stage had little wheels below it still had been quite exhausting. But watching the show made her forget the sore muscles. The band played at their best and Antonia loved the music. She still heard some of the songs inside her mind. Wish I could hear it louder so it would cover that goddamn snoring, she thought. After the show they had to pack everything quickly back into the trunk of the bus cause they drove straight to Cleveland. The band and crew sat together for a while and talked but obviously the party the night before had been really wild so they all decided to go to bed early.
Antonia thought about how everything was going. It looked like nobody was casting suspicion on her being a man. They still made fun of her now and then but they had accepted her. She had hung out with Lauri and Aki for a while and as soon as Tom and Lars had discovered that they all were about the same height they called them “the midget club” for the rest of the night. The only person Antonia didn’t like was Ronald, the bus driver. He was in his mid-fourties, covered with bad-done tattoos and looked like he had little children for breakfast. There was something weird about him but she couldn’t figure out what it was. Sometimes she felt like he was watching her but maybe she was just wrong. “Shut the fuck up!” suddenly someone yelled. Antonia pulled the curtain aside that was closing her bunk. She saw Lauri in the opposite bed throwing his pillow into another bunk. The snoring stopped but now all kind of noises came from everywhere else. “Thanks for waking everyone up!” Brian shouted at Lauri. “Whatever, at least I can sleep now!” Lauri answered. Antonia smiled at him. “Thanks, I thought he’d never stop snoring,” she replied. Lauri grinned. “No problem, throwing things at him is the only way to make Pauli stop.” Antonia closed her curtain again and closed her eyes. Only a few minutes later she fell asleep.
Lauri was lying in his bed and stared at the ceiling. There’s something about Tony, he thought but he couldn’t figure out what it was. He had been pretty confused after looking into Tony’s eyes for the first time, he had really been attracted by them. Finding out that these eyes belonged to a man made him startle a bit. Could this mean I might fancy guys, he asked himself. He shook his head. Nah, Tony’s just a cool person with nice eyes, I wonder if he has a sister!
They arrived Cleveland around noon. “Hurry up, guys,” Brian shouted, “we gotta be at this photo shooting on time!” Though the crew was having some time off Antonia went with Brian and the band to the shooting, she always had wanted to see how a professional photographer worked.
While Brain went into another room to talk to a journalist, Antonia and the guys were waiting for the make up girl who was supposed to make them look good for the shooting. “I wonder where she’s at,” Lauri said and played with a lipstick that was lying in front of him. Aki giggled and pointed at Eero. “Look at him! Is he sleeping or meditating?” Antonia poked Eero into his cheek. He didn’t move. “Pauli’s sleeping, too. Guess he was too busy with snoring last night!” Lauri laughed. Antonia took a look at all the make up that was lying in front of the mirror. Then she grinned nastily. “I’m sure, some blue eye shadow would make Eero’s eyes even more expressive!” Aki looked at her, then at the make up, at Eero and back to Antonia. “Oh, yeah, and that pink lipstick matches perfectly with Pauli’s hair!” he added and jumped off his chair to grab some make up. “Oh, no, you’re not gonna…” Lauri started. “Yes, we are!” Aki laughed. Lauri stared at them strictly. “Tony, don’t touch that eye shadow!” Antonia looked at him surprised. “I’m gonna do the eyes!” Lauri grinned.
“Hi guys, how are you? I’m Linda, your make up artist!” A tall blonde woman entered the room. Eero and Pauli opened their eyes and turned towards her to say hi. Linda stared at them for a second then she smiled. “Oh, I didn’t know you were into that kind of styling. So do you also wear skirts and high heels for the shooting?” she asked. Eero and Pauli looked at her confused. “Excuse me?” Lauri, Aki and Tony were sitting in a corner and tried to be serious. Aki coughed a bit to hide his laughs. “May I give you an advice,” Linda said to Eero, “if you put a little bit of white eye shadow at the inner corner of your eyes, it will make them look bigger!” Eero look at her like she was speaking a weird language. “What?” “I’ll show you,” Linda turned him towards the mirror. Eero screamed, then he looked at Pauli and screamed again. Lauri, Aki and Antonia burst into laughter. Pauli and Eero could easily take part in a drag queen competition! Now Linda recognized that they had played a trick on Eero and Pauli and smiled. “OK, guys, looks like we gotta wash you first. Let’s hurry up, the photographer is already waiting!” Pauli threw an angry glance at the three in the corner. “Watch out, midget club, our revenge will be merciless!”
The Cleveland show had been a great success. After clearing the stage the crew joined the band backstage. They had invited some girls from the audience and were having a little party. Antonia grabbed a beer and leaned against a wall. She watched the others and grinned. Funny how being famous makes you attractive to other people, she thought. Aki, Lauri and Pauli were surrounded by a group of girls who flirted like hell. The guys clearly enjoyed being in this situation. Eero was sitting in a corner, a girl next to him. He was talking about yoga and she inhaled every word he was telling. Though her eyes were saying “Shut the fuck up and let me undress you!” Poor girl, Antonia thought, he should probably tell her he’s married so she could stop wasting her energy on getting Eero laid. “Hey, you’re not part of the band, are you?” Antonia turned her head. A girls was standing next to her. “Hi, I’m Diane,” she smiled and offered her hand. Antonia shook her hand. “Hi, I’m Tony. Na, I just carry around their stuff.” They talked for a while, she was nice but Antonia didn’t feel comfortable. Diane was obviously flirting with her. “Was nice talking to you but please excuse me now. I gotta go and get something from the bus!” Diane seemed to be disappointed but Antonia just left. She went down a long hallway. She didn’t want to go to the bus, this had just been an excuse to leave that girl. Antonia turned around a corner, leaned against the wall and lit a cigarette. She’ll probably be busy with someone else when I go back in a few minutes, she thought and inhaled the smoke deeply.
“I knew you were waiting for me somewhere!” Diane was standing next to her and smiled suggestively. Antonia blushed. “Ehrm, you’re obviously misunderstanding something. I just wanted to get away from the party for a while.” “Yeah, me too!” Diane stood close in front of her and stroke softly over Antonia’s cheek. Antonia tried to move away. “No, I mean, I wanted to be alone!” Diane stared at her then she blushed and backed up. “Now this is really embarrassing, I should have known…” suddenly she started to sob. “No one ever thinks I’m hot, guys only like me when they’re drunk!” Antonia took a tissue out of her pocket and gave it to Diane. “Hey, don’t cry! I really didn’t mean it like this!” Diane stared at her with red eyes. “You didn’t?” “No, you’re a cute girl! I’m sure most of the other guys would like to …get to know you better!” “Really? But why don’t you like me then?” Diane pouted. “Well, ehrm… I” Antonia stuttered and tried to find an answer, “it’s just that… I like to know a girl more than just for a few minutes before I … go further.” Diane looked at her, then she smiled. “Oh, that’s ok that you don’t have any experience!” Antonia laughed. “Trust me, I had enough experience!” “Come on, you can admit it! There hasn’t been much going on with girls yet, right?” Antonia blushed. Well, technically Diane was right, Antonia usually preferred boys. Before she could reply, Diane laughed out loud and ran back to the party room. Antonia followed her. The second she entered the room she heard Diane screaming “Little Tony is still a virgin!”. Everyone burst into laughter. Great, Antonia thought, now the other guys will make fun of me for the rest of the tour. She tried not to blush and thought about what to answer. Before she could say anything she saw Eero and Pauli standing in a corner laughing their asses off. Pauli winked at her. “And that’s only the first part of our revenge!”
Suddenly Brian entered the room. “Sorry to interrupt you’re little party, but the schedule has been changed. We need to leave for Detroit in half an hour!” They said good bye to the girls and got on the bus. “Every time the parties get interesting we have to leave!” Aki complained. “We can keep on drinking on the bus as well, “Pauli said, took a big bottle of tequila out of the fridge and put it on the table. “Who’s up for a little drinking game?” Quickly everyone gathered around the bottle and they started the game. The time just flew by, they got drunk pretty fast. Antonia chugged up a shot of tequila and scratched her head. “How come Aki, Lauri and I always have to drink, Pauli? Are you sure you’re playing fair?” Pauli’s grin was the last thing she could remember.
Lauri woke up. He was sweating and couldn’t move. Why don’t I feel my left arm, he thought. What if we had a bus accident and my arm has been chopped off, he started panicking. No, Pauli wouldn’t snore if something like that had happened, he tried to calm himself. He took all his energy together and opened his eyes. “Aah!” he screamed. He was holding sleeping Tony in his arms, that’s why his left arm was numb. Then he realized that someone else was lying behind him, one arm and one leg was wrapped around Lauri and Tony. “What the fuck?” Lauri started struggeling and kicking to free himself. The person behind him fell out of the bunk. “Outsch!” he heard Aki whining from the floor, followed by a weak “Water! Coffee! Something!”. Now Antonia woke up. She looked at Lauri, screamed and shoved him off the bed, too. She crawled to the edge of the bunk and saw Aki and Lauri rubbing their heads. “Man, don’t be so violent that early in the morning!” Aki complained. Antonia burst into laughter. Both of the guys had written “Proud to be gay!” in huge black letters on their cheeks and foreheads. “What’s so funny?” Lauri asked but started to laugh immediately when he saw Aki and Antonia. “Dudes, whish you could see what’s written on your faces!” he shouted. Antonia sighed. “Great, probably the same that’s on your face, huh?” They stared at each other and didn’t say a thing. Suddenly the silence was interrupted by giggling from above. Pauli’s and Eero’s heads appeared behind their curtains. “We told you our revenge will be merciless!” Pauli grinned. “You should have seen how cute you guys looked together in that bed” Eero added. “Wait, actually you will get a chance to see it as soon as the pictures are developed!” Pauli gasped for air. “Can’t wait to decorate the bus with it!” “Haha, very funny,” Lauri mumbled and went to the bathroom. After a few minutes they heard him screaming. “You assholes, it’s a permanent marker!” Eero and Pauli collapsed in laughter.
The band and crew was sitting together having breakfast. “Dude, you can be lucky, that you’re just having radio interviews this afternoon!” Mikka tried to say with a serious voice but he couldn’t hide his grin. Brian had been really angry about what had happened. What ever they tried, the writing didn’t come off, they even tried nail polish remover. It had fainted a bit but you could still read it clearly. “This is not funny, guys! Now you gotta explain that to all the journalists! And I’m sure the girls at the concert tonight won’t be very happy to see that you guys are proud to be gay!” Pauli and Eero started laughing again. Brian threw an angry glance at them. “I said this is not funny!” Pauli and Eero stopped and looked remorseful. “Whatever, let’s get some make up or something to cover it. We gotta leave in half an hour!”
“Great show guys!” Antonia shouted over to the band and pushed the last speaker into the bus’ trunk. “Hey Tony, we’re going to a pub, are you coming with us?” Pauli asked her. She shook her head. “No thanks, I’m still hung over from last night.” Mikka came over. “Oh, come on, we’ll find you a girl, so you can finally get rid of your virginity!” he laughed. “I’m not… whatever. And after all, I think I’m gonna scare all the girls away with my ‘proud to be gay’-writing on my face!” Mikka laughed. “So what? Aki and Lauri look the same!” “Nah, I’ll stay at the bus and read a book or something!” Antonia replied. “Read a book? So that’s what they call it nowadays! Do you use your right or your left hand?” Mikka grinned. Men! Antonia thought, why do they always have to talk about sex or their genitals? Would she start thinking like that, too if she stayed with this guys for a couple of days longer? “I’m gonna stay at the bus, too!” Eero said. “If you want I can show you some yoga!” “Ehrm, thanks but no thanks!” Antonia answered. She wondered if Eero got paid from his sahaya yoga community for every new yoga fan he recruited. “But it’s really relaxing, especially when you have a hang over!” she heard Eero shouting from the back and fled into her bunk. She grabbed a magazine and started reading. Maxim, great, she thought sarcastically, at least it’s not Playboy. A couple of minutes later her curtain was pulled aside. Eero grinned at her. “Sure no yoga?” “No, Eero!” Antonia jumped off her bed. “I think I’m going for a walk! I need some fresh air!” “Oh, we could practice yoga outside if you want!” “Eero! Please leave me alone with that yoga stuff!” He looked at her disappointed. Antonia felt sorry. “Oh, I didn’t mean it like that! I just need to be alone for a while, that’s all. I’ll do yoga with you another time, I promise!” Eero smiled. “Cool, tomorrow?” Antonia sighed. “Alright, tomorrow.” Then she left the bus.
Antonia walked over the parking lot. It was nearly empty, only a few people who had watched the show before were still standing next to their cars and talked. Antonia looked up to the sky. The moon was hiding behind a few clouds, it was pretty chilly for June. She wrapped her jacket tighter around her body and walked on. She felt good being all alone. For a few minutes she didn’t have to pretend to be someone else. She sighed of relief. It seemed like her plan was working out fine. If things went well she could leave the country soon, maybe next week. Though she was quite close to the Canadian Border she still had to wait for a couple of days. They were paid weekly and Antonia didn’t have enough money yet. What about Mexico, she thought. She liked hanging out with the guys and this would mean she could make more money before leaving. Staying with the band for a few more weeks didn’t sound like a bad plan at all. Antonia pictured herself lying on a Mexican beach with a cocktail in her hand and smiled. Yes, that was definitely a good plan!
“Coletti!” someone suddenly shouted behind her. Antonia startled. Should she turn around? Hardly anyone knew her last name, actually just Brian, and he sounded different. Antonia was scared and walked a bit faster. She heard steps on the sidewalk coming closer. “Coletti!” Someone grabbed her shoulder. “I’m sorry, I think you’re mixing me up with some one else!” she said and turned around. “Well, I don’t think so!” Ronald, the bus driver grinned at her. He shoved her against a wall. Antonia was paralysed of fear. Ronald was much taller and stronger than her. She tried to pull herself together. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, let me go!” she replied angrily. Ronald smiled but didn’t relieve his grip. “You know, I was sitting in that bar and met an old friend from New York. And guess what he told me. Only a few days ago, the little daughter of Antonio Coletti disappeared and now her daddy’s really worried. Everyone who helps finding her can earn a little fortune. I might not be Einstein but I can count the days… and I knew I know your cute little face from somewhere!” he whispered into her ear. She could smell his breath, beer and onions, it made her feel sick. She was shaking. He laughed. “I’m not a cruel person. I’m sure there’s a good reason why you ran away. I’m not sure if I could be so mean and call your father. I’m pretty good in keeping a secret. But you know, nothing in life is for free!” Antonia was scared, she swallowed. “I don’t have any money,” she answered. Roland laughed again but it was a cold laugh. “Oh come on, do I look that greedy? There are so many different ways to show your appreciation. Think about it!” He pushed her closer to the wall and tried to kiss her. Antonia turned her head away. Tears were filling her eyes. “Please, let me go!” she begged but Ronald didn’t listen to her. “Be a good girl and let me have a bit fun,” he hissed into her ear. She felt his hands under her shirt, ripping of the bandages that covered her breast. She was shocked. But what could she do? He was much stronger than her and even if she could free herself now he would call her father. She didn’t have a choice. Tears were running down her face, she could hardly breath then she heard him unzip his pants. She couldn’t do anything, she tried to think about something else, something good or beautiful, something that made her forget the pain and disgust. Suddenly she heard some music inside her head, it was the bands music. Antonia concentrated on the different instruments, on Lauri’s voice, started to feel the joy she usually felt when she watched their shows. She imagined herself standing in the audience, cheering, dancing and singing along. This made her forget what really was going on. She felt Ronald backing up. Antonia slid down to the ground along the wall and hid her face. “I’ll let you know when you can help me out again!” he laughed and went towards a bar. “And remember, if you don’t do what I say I’m gonna call your dear daddy!”
Antonia felt sick. She tried to throw up but her stomach just cramped. She got up and ran back to the bus. She locked herself in the bathroom, got into the shower and let hot water run over her body. She felt dirty and used and rubbed her body with soap over and over again like this could wash away the disgust and pain. Then she sank to the floor crying. Only a few days till I get the money, she told herself, and then I’m outta here!
“Tony! Get up! Time for yoga!” she heard Eero shouting. Antonia turned around and hid under her blanket. Maybe he leaves me alone if I pretend to sleep, she thought. “The early bird catches the worm!” she heard him next to her bunk. “Come on, the sun is shining!” “What time is it?” she mumbled. “It’s already past eight!” “Man, what the hell do you mean with already? That’s like still in the middle of the night! Can’t we do it tonight or something?” “But the bus driver is having a break and we’re parking next to a nice field, that’s a perfect spot to practise!” “What about tomorrow? And I’m sure there are plenty of nice fields along the road. I’m sure we’ll find another perfect spot like this anytime!” “But you promised!” Eero whined and shook her shoulder. Antonia yawned. “Alright, give me five minutes.”
When she got off the bus, Eero was already waiting outside. “Ok, let’s start with some meditation exercises. Sit down and relax. Now close your eyes.” Antonia did what she’d been told but she felt quite weird doing this on a field next to a highway service area. “Free your mind from everything and breath steadily. Feel the sun on your skin. Inhale the fresh air.” Antonia laughed. “This fresh air smells pretty much like exhaust fumes!” “Tony!” “Sorry!” She tried to concentrate. “Let all your thoughts fly away. Empty your head!” Wonder how this will work, she thought. “If I think ‘Don’t think of anything!’ does that already mean, I don’t think of anyhing at all? Cause actually I’m thinking of something then!” Eero sighed. “Alright, then think of something beautiful. Like a cloud.” Antonia giggled. “What’s beautiful about a cloud?” “Or imagine your sorrows and how they fly away!” Antonia closed her eyes again. Let my sorrows fly away, that sounds like a great idea, she thought. Suddenly she saw a picture of Ronald, blown up like a balloon and floating through the air. That made her laugh again. Eero looked at her and rolled his eyes. “Tony!” Antonia blushed. “Sorry, dude! I just think that meditation stuff is not my kind of thing!” she apologized. Eero got up. “Maybe we should try some yoga exercises instead.” They tried a few positions. Antonia had to admit she liked it though she realized that she wasn’t flexible at all.
Suddenly she heard laughter behind her. A few truck drivers where standing together and watched them. “Looks like the new hope for the olympic gymnastics team is practicing right in front of our noses!” someone shouted. “Oh great,” Antonia mumbled. “Maybe we should go back to the bus,” Eero said. “Good idea.”
Antonia was lying in her bed and tossed and turned every few moment. They had just left Chicago. Every one else was sleeping peacefully but Antonia couldn’t find any rest. Ronald had ignored her all day as if nothing had happened. On one hand she was glad about that but on the other hand she was scared. What was his next move? And what if he just kept on raping her when ever he wanted but called her father anyway. Maybe he already had called him? She didn’t know what to do. What else could she do except for waiting what would happen next. She turned around and wrapped the blanket tighter around her body. At least she was safe as long as the bus was moving. Finally she fell asleep.
“Toooonyyyy!” Someone was whispering her name. “Tooooonyyyyyy!” I’m not gonna open my eyes, she thought and tried to sleep on. She felt something poking her cheek. Antonia tried to wipe it away. Suddenly something pinched her nose shut. She gasped for air and opened her eyes. Lauri was standing next to her bed. “Oh, you’re awake?” he smiled. Antonia threw her pillow against him. “NOW I am, asshole!” he replied. Lauri grinned. “I’m so bored!” “Then go to bed and sleep!” “But I can’t sleep. I tried it!” Antonia sighed. “So what do you want from me? Sing you a lullaby?” “Do you want to watch a movie with me?” “Why do you need me for that can’t you watch it alone?” Lauri blushed. “We only have scary movies and… they scare me!” “That’s why they’re called scary movie!” Antonia grinned. “But it’s dark and I’m alone and they…” “Alright, alright, I’ll come,” she sighed and got off the bed. “Man, didn’t know you were such a sissy!” Lauri looked at her. “I’m not… ok, I admit officially that I’m a sissy! Of course only if it comes to horror movies!”
They were sitting together on the couch and watched the film Lauri hadn’t exaggerated. He shrugged together at every scary scene, even when it was obvious that the villain was waiting behind the next corner. “Relax, dude!” Antonia laughed. “Why do you like scary movies then anyway?” “Cause I like to be scared!” Lauri defended himself. Antonia raised an eyebrow and grinned. “So are you kind of a masochist or what? Oh yes, please hurt me!” she made fun of him. “Shut up!” Lauri pretended to be angry. “Let me watch this movie!” “As if you would see anything of it! You’re eyes are closed all the time anyway!” Antonia yawned and closed her eyes for a second. When she opened them again the sun was already rising. She had obviously fallen asleep. Lauri was lying next to her and slept deeply. He looks really cute like this, she thought and watched him. If my head wasn’t filled with all my problems and if I wasn’t about to leave in a few days I could probably fall in love with him.
“Who’s up for some basketball?” They were all sitting behind the venue in the sun. Sound check was over, now they killed some time till the beginning of the show. Mikka threw a basketball at Eero. He caught it. “Cool, come on, Pauli, us three against the midget club!” “Oh, that’s not fair!” Antonia complained, “Mikka can reach the basket almost without jumping. And besides that, I’m really bad in playing!” “Alright, then Tony and Mikka change teams!” “But I just had a huge pizza, I don’t think I can move!” “Tony! Quit finding excuses, you’re gonna play!” Antonia sighed. Why do men always have to play some stupid ball games, what’s wrong with just sitting in the sun, she thought and got up. “Ok, but don’t complain afterwards if one of my balls knocks you out or something!” The guys burst into laughter. “You’re gonna knock me out with your balls?” Pauli giggled. Antonia blushed. “I meant basketball, dork! Not… any body parts!” She took the ball and threw it to Eero. “Let’s start!”
They played for a while. Aki passed the ball to Lauri, he dribbled towards the basket, only a few feet left. He grabbed the ball and jumped. Suddenly he saw someone approaching from the side. Antonia jumped up and hit the ball out of his hands. They crashed together and fell to the ground. Lauri was lying on top of her, their faces were close. He stared into these incredibly blue eyes. If the eyes are the mirror of someone’s soul Tony must be a great person, he thought. “Are you getting comfortable up there? Cause my back really hurts!” He was torn out of his thoughts. Antonia was laughing. Lauri blushed and got up. “Sorry.” He was confused. Goddammit, what’s that all about, he asked himself. Fortunately nobody had realized that he had stared at Tony for longer than usual. They were too happy about the fact that Tony had stolen the ball from him. “Not bad… for a virgin!” Pauli laughed. “Watch out, or he will knock you out with his balls!” Eero warned him. Antonia threw the ball against his head. “Hey, don’t knock out your own team!” Eero complained. “Guys, come in, the show’s gonna start in half an hour!” Brian shouted from the back.
Everyone was sitting around a table at a club. Nothing unusual except for the fact that even Eero was with them. He was already yawning. “Brian, what’s that all about? Can’t I leave? I’m really tired!” Brian shook his head. “Sorry dude, you can’t go now!” “But what…” “Man, be patient!” Eero sighed and took a sip of his water. Suddenly the lights went down. ‘In the shadows’ sounded through the speakers. “Ladies and Gentleman!” they heard Brian’s voice through a microphone, “give it up for the Rasmus! Today their album ‘Dead Letters’ turned gold in the United States! Congratulations, guys!” The lights were turned on, everyone was cheering, two guys from the record company were standing in front of them, holding the gold records in their hands. Lauri was stunned. “Holly shit! Guys, we made it!” he shouted. The records were handed to them, people took lots of pictures, champagne bottles were opened. Lauri felt like being on drugs, he was happy, he had always dreamt about worldwide success and now they were pretty close to this. They were all squeezed around the table, someone had brought a cake that looked like the dead letters cover. Tony was sitting next to him. She was holding a piece of cake in her hand. Suddenly Lars, sitting on her other side, shoved her, the cake landed in Lauri’s face. Antonia giggled. “Sorry, dude! Here, take my napkin!” I wish you would lick it off my face, Lauri thought and blushed. Did he say that out loud? He looked at Tony. Obviously not. What the fuck is going on with me? “Hey, Tony, Ronald is looking for you!” Tom shouted from the other side of the table. Lauri felt how Tony’s body stiffened up. “What does he want from you?” he asked. “I don’t know, “ she mumbled and looked around. Ronald was standing at the exit and stared at her. She didn’t move. He took his cell phone, waved with it and grinned. Then he left. Antonia got up and followed him.
Twenty minutes later Lauri saw Tony coming back into the club. She went straight to the bar and sat down. He wondered why she didn’t join them. Lauri got up, the world around him was spinning slightly, the champagne was obviously doing its job quite well. He walked to Tony and lay an arm around her shoulders. “Don’t you wanna sit with us?” Antonia turned away and chugged down two shots of vodka in a row. “Please, leave me alone,” she mumbled and ordered another drink. “What’s up?” “Nothing. Just go!” Antonia stared into her drink. “Come on, talk to me! I wanna know if something is wrong!” Antonia laughed with a cold voice. “No, everything is just fine.” She looked at him. Lauri startled. Her eyes weren’t sparkling anymore. They just looked dead. “Now leave me alone!”
“Tony, get up! They are closing the bar!” Antonia was hanging on a stool, her head was lying on the counter. “Just leave me here,” she mumbled. Lauri sighed. He had watched her the whole night. Though he had been partying with the others he also had been worrying about Tony. He didn’t know what had happened. Antonia had been sitting at the bar for the rest of the night, drinking vodka and staring at the wall. She had sent everyone away that had tried to talk to her. Now Lauri was the last. The others were at the bus already. “Come on, you can’t stay,” he replied and pulled her up. She could hardly walk. He laid her arm around his shoulder and supported her. Slowly they went to the bus. “Dude, I can’t carry you all the way. At least try to use your feet!” “Sorry,” she mumbled. The fresh air outside made her realize the alcohol even more. “Can we take a lil’ break? I feel dizzy.” She leaned against a wall. As soon as Lauri let her go she was about to tilt to the side. Lauri pushed her back into a straight position and stood next to her. “Why the hell did you have to drink that much?” Antonia sighed. “Cause life sucks.” “Why?” “Cause I don’t wanna hide anymore.” She tried to walk on. Lauri followed her. “How do you mean this?” “Just forget it!” “But we are friends! You can tell me about it!” Antonia turned around and looked at him for a while. Then she shook her head. “No. I can’t tell anyone.”
They reached the bus. “Goddammit, always have to wait for you drunk kids!” Ronald welcomed them. “Sorry,” Lauri replied and pushed Antonia further. Had the bus driver just winked at Tony? What had happened between them when Ronald and Tony had left the bar, Lauri asked himself. He turned around and saw Tony trying to climb into her bunk. “Outsch!” Tony had just kicked Mikka who was sleeping in the lower bed. Tony turned towards Lauri and grinned sadly. “I can’t get up!” Lauri laughed. “Then sleep on the couch. I’ll get you a blanket.” He grabbed a pillow and the blanket from Tony’s bed. When he reached the sofa, Antonia was already sleeping. He sat down and watched her. How can a guy confuse me like that, he thought. He spread the blanket over Tony and looked at her lips. They look so soft, so tempting. Stop thinking that way! But he couldn’t resist and leaned forward. He kissed Antonia’s lips very gently. What the fuck am I doing here? He blushed and went to his bed quickly. His ears were still burning. I love girls. Period!
Lauri and Eero were strolling through a grocery store. They wanted to buy something for breakfast. Lauri was telling Eero about last night. “And then he said, he doesn’t want to hide anymore. What do you think did he mean with that?” Eero shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. Maybe Tony’s gay and has something going on with Ronald and now he doesn’t want to hide his feelings anymore?” he suggested. Lauri shuddered. “Eeew! With Ronald? Come on, I think Tony’s got a better taste! I mean, have you ever met someone who constantly smells like onions? And have you ever seen Ronald eating any onions? I haven’t! I think he’s very weird!” Eero laughed. “Yeah, you’re right. But maybe Tony’s really gay. I mean what else could he mean with that hiding-thing? But then again, why should he hide it?” Lauri looked at him. “So gay people don’t bother you?” Eero looked back. “No, why? Should they?” Lauri blushed slightly. “Course not! It’s just… I…” he stuttered. Eero grinned. “Are you planning on leaving the straight world behind you?” Now Lauri blushed completely. “Oh, shut up!” He turned around and went a few steps. Then he turned back towards Eero. “Promise me you’re not gonna talk about what I’m telling you now!” Eero laughed. “Ok.” “No, forget it.” Lauri walked away again. “Lauri!” “Alright…” Lauri turned back and sighed. “You know Tony, right? Stupid, of course you know him. Have you ever seen his eyes? They are amazing. And they attract me. I mean, not physically, well, maybe a bit. And he’s really nice and when I’m close to him I feel like, I don’t know, I wanna be closer to him. I don’t mean I have a crush on him, not really, it’s just that, I don’t know, it’s weird, I don’t know what to think, do you know what I mean?” “Dude, I’m glade you write better lyrics than what just came out of your mouth!” Eero laughed. “Stop making fun of me!” Lauri replied angrily, “I’m serious!” Eero sighed. “Sorry. I think I can kind of guess what you wanted to tell me. You like Tony. More than usually. And that’s what confuses you.” Lauri smiled. “I knew you would understand me.” “That’s what you should expect from someone who knows you almost since fifteen years now!” “Do you think I’m gay?” “Does it matter? I mean, if you love someone and it makes you happy, it doesn’t matter who it is, right?” Lauri nodded. “Do you think I should tell him?” Eero thought about it for a while then he shook his head. “I think I would wait for what’s happening next. I mean, we’re still stuck in that bus for a couple of weeks. You know that I don’t like mixing up work and private stuff too much.” Lauri sighed. “You’re probably right.” He pushed the shopping cart towards the cash-register. “Let’s go, I’m starving. And promise you’re not gonna tell anyone about this!”
“Who the fuck puked into my shoes?” Aki looked at Antonia who was still lying on the sofa. “Don’t blame me!” she answered weakly, “I didn’t puke last night! Well, at least I think so.” She grabbed her stomach. “Maybe I should now,” she mumbled and disappeared into the bathroom. “Then who was it?” “I’m sorry,” Pauli stuck his head out of his bunk. “I think the cake didn’t mix too well with the champagne.” “And the vodka, the tequila, the beer and the strawberry daiquiri,” Eero added. He and Lauri had just come back from shopping. “But why did you take my shoes?” Aki asked. Pauli looked innocently at him. “’No puking on the floor’ that’s what Brian told us on the first day!” “Finally someone who listens to what I say!” Brian shouted from the back. “These were my favourite shoes!” Aki whined. He was almost close to tears. “I’ve been wearing them since three years.” Lauri laughed. “I don’t know what’s worse, shoes that have been stuck on your smelly feet for three years or shoes Pauli has puked into!” “That are my lucky shoes!” Aki whimpered. Pauli sighed. “I told you I’m sorry! I’m gonna clean them later, promise.” Lauri left and went to Antonia who was lying on the sofa again. She smiled. “Morning! Man, how did I get back to the bus last night?” Lauri looked at her. “I took you. Don’t you remember anything?” Antonia thought about it. She remembered Ronald and that she had planned to get completely drunk to make the pain go away. Obviously she didn’t just drink the pain away but also her memory. “Nope. I remember sitting at the bar and drinking. That’s about it.” “So you don’t remember what you told me?” Antonia startled. Holy shit, what did I tell him? Her hands started shaking slightly. Pull yourself together! You can’t have been so stupid to ruin your disguise! “No.” She looked at him and tried to read his face but Lauri was just examining his fingernails. “Never mind,” he mumbled. Then he rose his head. “So why were you in such a bad mood last night?” Antonia blushed. Come on, brain, make up something! Quick! “Erm, well, I think I was just kind of homesick!” Oh, great, a 22 years old guy that misses home after a few days! Stupid! She smiled weakly. Did he believe her? Lauri grinned and got up. “Hey, that happens to the best of us!” He went to the front to see how the others were doing. Homesick, what a lame excuse! At least he doesn’t know that I kissed him.
Antonia woke up. This is the big day, she thought. Tonight they would get paid. She knew that 400 Dollars didn’t get her too far but she couldn’t stand being close to Ronald for another day. The sun was shining, the guys were sitting outside having breakfast before going to a local TV station for some interviews. Since the gold-record-party a few days ago she had felt bad, she started panicking as soon as she saw Ronald. Fortunately he didn’t have another chance to touch her yet. And you won’t get another opportunity, you dirty old bastard, she thought. For the first time she felt confident. Antonia got dressed and went outside. “Morning Tony!” Eero said, “we’re going to that tv show soon, wanna come with us?” She grabbed a cup of coffee and nodded. “Sure, why not? Sounds like fun!” “Phh, great fun! Always answering the same questions,” Lauri mumbled. Antonia looked at him. He was sitting on the ground ripping out some grass and throwing it on his feet. “What’s up with him?” she asked Eero. He shrug his shoulders. “PMS? Or maybe just tired?” Lauri got up. “Yes, I’m tired. Of all these stupid interviews and promotion things! They always ask the same questions. I’m so fed up with that!” he complained and walked away. “He’s been in a quite bad mood lately,” Pauli said and looked at Eero, “do you know what’s bothering him?” Eero sighed. He knew what was going on with Lauri but he had promised not to tell. Lauri was still struggling with his feelings for Tony which frustrated him a lot. Though he had told Eero that he didn’t want to tell Tony or make a move on him he couldn’t just switch off his feelings. “No, guess he’s just tired or hung over or something,” Eero replied. Brian came out of the bus. “Guys, you gotta go to the interview on your own, I have some important phone calls to make. Promise you’re gonna behave!” Aki grinned. “Sure! You know us!” “That’s why I’m worried!”
The band and Tony entered the building of the TV station. They were led into the studio. A young woman welcomed them. “Hi! I’m Melinda! I’m the host of the show. We’re gonna show your video and then I’m gonna ask you a few questions,” she explained. “Great, she’s wearing a pink shirt,” Lauri mumbled. “What’s wrong with it?” Antonia asked him. “People in pink shirts never ask good questions!” he whispered back. Antonia laughed, then she turned to Melinda. “Hi, my name is Tony, I’m the assistant manager!” They shook hands. “I have to tell you something. There are a few things the band refuses to talk about in interviews. I don’t know exactly why, I think it’s a Finnish thing.” Antonia shrug her shoulders. Melinda smiled. “Of course. And what are these things?” “Hair, girlfriends, the difference between the fans in other countries, yoga and favourite bands!” Melinda stared at the little cards she was holding in her hands. Her smile vanished. “Excuse me, I’ll be right back,” she said and disappeared into a corner of the studio. The guys laughed. “I wonder what she will ask us now,” Aki grinned. “But I like talking about yoga,” Eero complained. “I know,” Antonia replied, “but I don’t like hearing about it!” Melinda returned. “Ok, guys, would you please take a seat on the sofa, we’ll start in two minutes.” They sat down. Tony stood behind a camera man and watched them. “We are on in five, four, three,” a guy said then he pointed on Melinda. “Hey everyone out there, welcome back to the show! You’ve just seen ‘In the shadows’ by The Rasmus and guess who is joining me now on my sofa? Right, The Rasmus! Hi guys!” She looked at the band who mumbled some ‘hi’s. “You’ve been touring the U.S. since a week now, how do you like the country so far?” “It’s big,” Eero said. “Yeah, pretty big,” Lauri added. Aki nodded. Pauli tried not to laugh. “And despite that?” “We haven’t seen much except for the landscape that flies by our tour bus windows, “ Eero replied. “We’ve seen some bars from the inside though,” Lauri answered. “And some toilets. Also from the inside,” Aki grinned. Melinda looked at him. “How do you mean that?” “It seems like I’m allergic to American beer, it makes me throw up a lot!” Eero laughed. “Maybe that’s because of the amount you drink, ever thought about that?” Pauli suggested. “Oh, shut the fuck up, you’re not the one who should judge me. I just say shoes!” Aki replied. Eero was close to choking because of laughing. “At least I don’t pee into bottles, Eero!” Pauli shouted. Lauri fell of the couch and gasped for air. Melinda looked at them insecurely then she smile at the camera. “The next video is Him with ‘solitary man’. We will be back with more of the Rasmus after that! So stay tuned.” Lauri climbed back on the sofa. “Sorry,” he smiled at Melinda. “It’s alright. That was quite funny… I guess. May I remind you that this is a live show? So please don’t use any swearwords. And maybe it’s still a little early to talk about any kind of body fluids?” “Sure.” They went on with the interview and the guys managed to answer the questions almost seriously. “Ok, here’s the last question. Finland seems to be a pretty nice country. So would you please translate some phrases into Finnish in case some of our viewers want to travel there one day?” “Sure, what do you want us to translate?” Eero asked. “How do you say ‘Hi, nice to meet you’?” Pauli grinned. “Mitä sä höoötät!” “I’m from America?” Eero tried to be serious. “Minä olen thymä.” “What about ‘Do you want to go out with me’?” “Olen kiimainen!” “Your band rocks?” Pauli coughed a bit then he replied. “Hitto viköön!” “Thanks a lot for the interview!” Melinda said, “I wish you lots of success for your tour!” The red light on the camera stopped. Melinda sighed. “OK, thanks for coming! Was nice meeting you. Sorry but I have to leave now!” she said and left the studio pretty fast. The guys collapsed in laughter. Lauri got up and went to Tony. “Thanks dude, that was finally an interview I liked!” Antonia laughed. “What did you translate? I’m kinda sure the real meaning of it got lost pretty much, huh?” Aki grinned. “All in all it was something like ‘your’re talking stupid stuff, I am stupid, I’m horny and go to hell’!” Tony wiped some tears of laughter off her cheeks. “Oh my god, I think Brian’s gonna kill you!” Lauri sighed. “Yeah, but it would have been worth it!”
Lauri stood still for a second and wiped sweat off his forehead. He looked at the audience. The air was steaming. Every one was waving their arms, jumping to the rhythm, singing the lyrics he had written, dancing to the music he and his friends had composed. This is what makes all the work and effort worth it, he thought happily and jumped on. “ Leave it all behind, cross the borderline, face the truth, don’t have any time to burn,” he sang. Maybe I should once do what I’m singing about! Lauri looked at the gap between the stage and the crowd. Usually Tony was standing there, passing water to the exhausted people. This time he wasn’t. Lauri smiled. Tony had already gained a few fans on his own cause he always was nice to the girls, talked to them, passed water, took pictures or tried to get stuff signed by the band. Why the hell does he have to be such a damn nice person, Lauri thought, can’t he just be an asshole? That would make things so much easier!
Antonia was standing outside. She had been paid by Brian before the show. She was nervous and took a look at her watch. It’s about time, she thought, time to leave. She sighed. She was glad she could finally escape from Ronald but she was sad at the same time. She really liked the other guys, they had become friends. But I don’t have another choice! She walked towards the bus. Ronald was at a near by restaurant having dinner. That’s what he always did when the band was playing. Antonia entered the bus. She grabbed her stuff and put it into her bag. I should at least leave a short message, she thought and took a pen and a piece of paper. “I’m sorry, I had to leave. Thanks for everything! Tony” She put it on her pillow and climbed of the bus. For a last time she turned around. “Bye, Emily! You have been a great home for a few days!” she whispered and went away.
Antonia walked across the parking lot. She could her the band playing. That made her even sadder. She loved the music. For a moment she stopped and listened. Suddenly a hand grabbed her arm and pulled her behind the building. “What do you think you are doing here?” Ronald pushed her against the wall with one hand around her throat. With the other hand he ripped the bag of her shoulder. “Did you really think you could leave just like that?” He laughed his cold laugh. Antonia struggled, she could hardly breath. “Let me go!” she croaked and tried to loosen his grip. “Oh, my sweet girl, is this too tight for you?” he grinned but let her go a bit. “So when you’re here now anyway, we can actually play our little game again, can’t we?” Ronald hissed into her ear. She felt him pulling down her pants. “No, please don’t!” she sobbed. Is this it? she thought. She had been so close to freedom and now everything was being ruined by this cruel bastard! She felt the anger rising. This is the last time you’re touching me, she screamed in her mind and tried to kick her knee into Ronald’s balls. It didn’t work the way she had expected. Ronald was just a bit surprised. “ Are we being a little rebellious, huh?” “Fuck off and let me go!” she screamed and tried to hit him. Ronald stared at her. His face changed into an angry mask. “What did you say?” Antonia got scared and swallowed. “I said let me go!” she whispered. Ronald backed up and smiled icy. “If our little princess says so, then go!” Antonia looked at him. Was he playing a game? She bent down slowly to grab her bag. In that moment she felt Ronald’s fist hitting her stomach. She fell to the ground and coughed. She could hardly breath. Ronald pulled her back up. “Did you really think you could treat me like this?” He threw her against the wall and beat her again and again. Antonia couldn’t do anything, she couldn’t even make a sound. Ronald pushed her to the floor and looked at her. “You’re never ever gonna play any games with me, do you understand?” He kicked her into the stomach. “Well, unless I want you to play with me,” he added laughing. He kicked her a last time picked up the bag. “Gonna take your stuff were it belongs! In my bus!” he grinned and left. Antonia was lying on the ground, curled up, not able to move. Every fibre of her body hurt, she felt blood dripping of her face. The show was over and the audience was leaving the building. Nobody saw her lying in that dark corner and she was too weak to shout. She just lay there and cried.
“Where the fuck is Tony?” Mikka shouted over to Tom. The crew was clearing the stage. Tom shrug his shoulders. “I haven’t seen him the whole night,” he replied. Lauri came along. He had been wondering the same thing. “I’m going to the bus with Eero to change clothes. I’ll send Tony here if I see him!” “Thanks!”
Lauri and Eero left the building. “Whoo, finally some fresh air,” Lauri sighed and stuck a cigarette between his lips. “So why not pollute it with some smoke?” Eero grinned and shoved Lauri. “Great, now I dropped my lighter!” Lauri complained. “Oh, really?” Eero replied sarcastically. “That’s not funny, it’s dark! Come on, help me looking for it!” They both crawled on the floor and groped for the lighter. “Hey, I found it!” Eero shouted, “no, wait, eeeew… that’s something gross!” He wiped his hand on his pants then he saw Lauri lighting his cigarette. “Thanks, just let me grab some disgusting stuff before you let me know you found it!” Lauri laughed. “Sorry, let’s go to the bus.” They walked a few steps. Eero stopped. “What’s up?” “I think I heard something!” They shut up and listened. Lauri shook his head. “No, you’re wrong!” He turned around and went on. “Wait!” Eero whispered and grabbed Lauri’s shoulder. “Listen!” They heard someone coughing next to the building. “Hello?” Eero shouted. No response. “Is someone there?” He wanted to follow the sound but Lauri stopped him. “Don’t go there!” Eero looked at him. “Why?” “Maybe it’s something… dangerous. This is scary!” Eero sighed. “Gosh, name one thing that is dangerous and coughs!” “I don’t know, a killer with a cold?” he mumbled. Eero laughed. “Shut up, this is not one of your movies!” He went into the darkness. Lauri followed him slowly. Suddenly he heard Eero yelling. “Fuckin’ shit! Lauri! It’s Tony!” Lauri started running. Eero was kneeling next to Tony who was lying on the floor covered with blood and dirt. Lauri felt his blood freezing in his veins.
Antonia tried to open her eyes. She heard the voices of Eero and Lauri. She tried to say something. Her lips moved but she couldn’t pronounce a word. “We gotta call a doctor. Or the police. Or someone!” she heard Lauri stutter. No, she thought, they can’t call an ambulance! She started to panic. With all the power she could gather she whispered “No! No doctor! No police!” Eero stared at her. “But look at you, you need to go to hospital!” Antonia looked at Lauri. Her eyes were begging. “Let’s get him to the bus first!” Lauri decided. Eero picked her up and carried her. “Thanks,” she whispered and lost consciousness.
The bus was empty. Eero put Antonia on her bed. “So what now?” he asked. Lauri shrug his shoulders. “I don’t know. Maybe clean his face?” He left to get a wet cloth then he gently washed away the blood. It wasn’t as bad as it had seemed first. Just a little cut on Antonia’s lip and forehead, one eye was a bit swollen. Seeing Tony lying there like this made Lauri’s heart hurt. He became angry. “If we only knew what has happened!” “Do you think he has other injuries?” Eero asked, “maybe broken rips, or something?” “Then take of his shirt and check!” Lauri went to the bathroom to wet the cloth again. “Holy fuckin shit!” he suddenly heard Eero shouting. Lauri ran back to Tony’s bed. Eero stared at him and pointed at Tony. “Look at that!” Lauri was scared. What would he see if he looked at him? Bruises or maybe open wounds? He slowly turned his head. “T-tony has tits!” he stuttered. Eero slapped his hand against the back of Lauri’s head. “Tony is a girl, dork!” Lauri started laughing. He suddenly felt relieved. Tony is a girl! That means I’m not even close to being gay! He grinned but was pulled back into reality pretty fast. Tony’s body was covered with bruises, she looked horrible. Eero softly touched her rips. “I’d say they are not broken but I’m not sure, I’m not a doctor!” He shrugged his shoulders. “But he said he doesn’t want us to call one! I mean, she said,” Lauri answered. He still couldn’t believe this. “Why do you think she pretended to be a guy?” Eero asked. “I don’t know, but I’m sure it has something to do with not calling the police! We should let her sleep, maybe she’s feeling better tomorrow then she can explain a few things,” Lauri suggested. Eero nodded. “Alright!”
A bit later the rest of the band and the crew entered the bus. “Where the fuck is Tony? He left us with all the work!” Tom shouted angrily. “Shhhh!” Lauri put a finger over his lips. “Be quiet! Lets meet in the back of the bus in a few moments. There’s something important we gotta tell you!” Tom and the others looked at him but went to the back without saying a word. “Is everybody in?” Brian nodded. Lauri went to the front of the bus. “Alright, we are complete. We can leave!” Ronald closed the door and started the engine.
Antonia woke up. She stared at the ceiling. Her head was aching like hell. Am I having a hangover? Why can’t I remember the party then, she wondered. Then it all came back to her, her plan to leave, Ronald, the pain. How did she come back to the bus? She tried to sit up when she realized that she was wearing a different shirt. Antonia startled. Someone had changed her clothes! “Shit!” she sighed. This means they know that I’m a girl. She lay back down. What am I gonna do now? “Hi!” Antonia turned her head. Lauri was lying in his bunk and looked at her. He had been watching her almost the whole night cause he was scared that if he closed his eyes, something bad could happen to her. He smiled. “I’m Lauri, what’s your name?” She smiled back insecurely. “Antonia, though you can still call me Tony,” she replied.
He got of his bed. “Can I get you something?” “Maybe something against my headache?” “Sure.” He left. Antonia stuck her head out of the bunk and looked to the front of the bus. Ronald stared at her through the rear-view mirror. Suddenly he winked and grinned nastily. Antonia turned away. She tried to stay calm. Her hands were shaking, the fear she had felt last night came back.
“Here, some aspirin! “Lauri gave her the pills and a glass of water. “Are you feeling sick? You’re all pale!” “No, I’m ok.” She swallowed the pills then she looked at him. “I guess you wanna know what this is all about, right?” Lauri nodded. “Yeah, but maybe you wanna come to the back of the bus? The guys are all sitting there, coming up with all kind of stories. You could destroy their theories of conspiracy all at once!” Antonia smiled. “Ok, I’m coming in a few minutes.”
She got up and locked herself in the bathroom. She looked into the mirror. “Great, now that I can be a girl again I look like a boxer!” she mumbled. “What am I gonna tell them?” She couldn’t tell them that Ronald had beaten her up. Otherwise he would call her father right away. She sighed and went to the back of the bus.
The conversation died when she joined the others. Everyone stared at her. Antonia tried to smile. “Hi!” “Come sit with me,” Lauri said and patted on the bench next to him. “How do you feel?” Eero asked to break the silence. “It still hurts but it’s not too bad, “ she replied and sighed. “Guess, I have to explain a few things.” “First of all I wanna know who did this to you last night!” Lauri asked angrily. Antonia shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. A guy tried to rob me, I hardly saw his face,” she answered. “But why didn’t you let us call the police then?” Eero wanted to know. “Well, that’s the other story,” Antonia sighed. Then she took deep breath. “Alright, I’m gonna tell you now.” She told them everything about his family and the marriage.
Nobody said a word when she finished. “Wow, that’s cool, that’s even better than any story we came up with!” Tom suddenly said. Eero shoved him. “Shut up, that’s not cool at all, that’s horrible!” Antonia laughed. “If it was a movie I’d also think it’s cool but in real life it’s a bit… annoying.” Brian stared at her. “I can’t believe I fell for your trick! I was just surprised that you look a lot like your sister!” Mikka laughed. “Yeah, me too! Must have been hard to cut that hair off though!” Antonia sighed. “Oh, please don’t remind me!” Then she looked around. “So is there a chance for me to stay with you for a while?” Aki shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know, it’s gonna be different with a girl around!” Antonia grinned. “You can still fart and belch in my presence, I don’t mind.” “Ok, then it’s fine with me,” Aki replied. Brian cleared his throat. “Alright, is there anyone who doesn’t want Antonia staying with us, then raise your hand!” No one moved. Brian smiled. “Well then, welcome on board again. I suggest you keep on working as a roadie until we reach Mexico!”
“Thanks!” Antonia looked at Pauli who was staring at her and hadn’t said a single word yet. “Pauli, are you ok?” “Wow, you’re a girl!”“Ehrm, I know.” “But you can’t be a girl!” “Why not?” “You always went to the bathroom alone!” “So?” “Girls go to the bathroom in pairs!” Everyone burst into laughter. Antonia gasped for air. “I’m sorry if I’m destroying your view of life now, but girls are absolutely able to pee on their own!” “But then why do they go together all the time?” “To gossip about men.” Pauli thought about it for a while. Then he grinned. “This is cool, maybe I can finally learn to understand women when you’re staying around for a while!”
Aki patted Pauli’s shoulder. “Good luck, dude! She’s only staying for a few weeks and not for a hundred years!”
“But please promise that you won’t tell anybody about this. I mean, I’m still hiding from my family so I still gotta pretend being a guy when I’m not on the bus.”
Antonia looked at the others. Every one nodded.
“And don’t tell Ronald. I don’t know why but somehow I don’t trust him.”
Lauri rose an eyebrow but he didn’t say a word. Why had she left with the bus driver that one night? I’m sure, she hasn’t said the whole truth yet, he thought.
“Your secret is safe with us. Ok, let me tell you about the schedule for the next days quickly, “ Brian said, “we’re gonna drive all day today till we reach New Orleans tomorrow round noon, a show that night. Next stops are Austin, Dallas and Oklahoma City, after that we have two days off.”
He looked at the band and sighed.
“Though I’m not sure why I’m telling you this, you forget it the second after I told you.”
Aki looked up. “What? Sorry I wasn’t listening!”
Brian got up. “Gotta make some phone calls. Tony, you should go back to bed, you don’t look too good.”
Antonia stared at the table. She felt dizzy. She tried to stand up but tottered.
“Need help?” Brian asked.
“I’ll help her!” Lauri jumped on his feet.
Eero grinned. Thank god, his oh-shit-I’m-gay-phase is over, he thought.
Lauri took Antonia to bed.
“Thanks, dude,” she said, “I think I gotta take a nap.”
“Can I get you something?” Lauri pulled her blanket straight. “Aspirin? Something to drink?”
She shook her head.
“Food? A magazine?”
“A cd player? A book?”
Antonia grinned. “No, I’m fine!”
“A second pillow?”
“I said, I’m fine, thanks!” He blushed. “Oh, ok. Well, then, sweet dreams!” He left.
Antonia closed her eyes and fell asleep.
Antonia woke up. It was dark. She had obviously slept all day long. The bus wasn’t moving. Ronald was probably having a break.
She started panicking. If Ronald wasn’t driving, who knows what he was up to next?
He’s probably sleeping like everybody else, she tried to calm herself down but it didn’t work. She was shaking of fear.
Then she looked at Lauri’s bed. He was sleeping peacefully.
She climbed of her bunk and poked him softly in his shoulder. He opened his eyes and yawned.
“I know this sounds stupid but I’m scared to sleep alone, I had a bad nightmare. Can I sleep in your bed?”
Lauri looked at her sleepy.
“I brought my own pillow!”
Lauri grinned. “How can I say no if you brought your own pillow?”
He rose his blanket. “Jump in!”
Antonia cuddled up next to him. She was still shaking.
“Hey, it’s ok, don’t be scared anymore, I’m gonna take care of you!” he whispered and lay his arm around her. Antonia nestled her body close to his and sighed.
Oh no, don’t come that close, Lauri thought, otherwise I can’t guarantee anything!
But Antonia was already sleeping peacefully. Lauri gently kissed her shoulder and sighed happily.
This was more than I had ever expected a few days ago, maybe she likes me a bit, too!
She kissed his chest, slowly her lips wandered lower. Lauri moaned and opened his eyes.
Oh, come on, don’t let me wake up right now, he thought and turned his head.
Antonia was still sleeping next to her. She was smiling.
Maybe she’s dreaming about me! At least it doesn’t look like she’s having a nightmare, he thought and sighed. The lump in his shorts did obviously tell that his dream hadn’t been bad at all.
Lauri felt Antonia stretching next to him.
Ah, not now! he panicked and stared at his pants, shrink, come on, shrink for fuck’s sake! He turned to the side and tried to somehow cover his lower body with the blanket.
Antonia looked at him and smiled. “Morning! Thanks for letting me sleep here. The nightmare didn’t come back.” She stretched again. “So did you dream anything nice?”
“Don’t know, can’t really remember,” he mumbled.
“You’re face is all red, are you hot?” she asked.
“Hm, maybe a bit,” he answered. Well, at least I’m not lying about that!
“Wait, I’ll get out of your bed so you have a bit more space for yourself!” She jumped out of the bunk and went to the bathroom.
Eero came along and grinned. “So did you two have a nice night?” He looked at the blanket and laughed. “Obviously you did!”
Lauri wondered if there was a limit of blushing or if his face just turned redder and redder. At least it felt like that. He hid his face in his pillow. Eero heard something that sounded like “This is embarrassing!”
Antonia came back from the bathroom and stood next to Eero. She pointed at Lauri.
“What is he doing there?”
“Choking himself with his pillow.”
“Ehrm… cause he just found out that he’ll never be as smart as me and now he doesn’t find any sense in life anymore,” Eero grinned.
Antonia patted Lauri’s back of his head. “Oh, don’t be sad, Eero just hasn’t discovered yet that ginger tea makes brain cells die. Give him a few weeks and he will be as stupid as you are!”
A subdued laughter came out of the pillow.
“Hey!” Eero shoved her, “ginger tea is very healthy!”
“Yeah, and it makes you impotent. Ok, who wants to join me for breakfast?” She walked towards the kitchen area. Eero followed her.
”Impotent? What do you mean with impotent? Are you serious about that?”
“Am I wrong or is someone kind of panicking here?” Antonia laughed.
“Give me a few minutes!” she heard Lauri shouting from the back. Then he disappeared in the bathroom.
The bus arrived in New Orleans.
“Isn’t that the city where the girls show you their tits if you offer them beads?” Pauli asked.
Aki jumped up. “Cool, where can we get those beads?”
Antonia laughed. “They just do this on Mardi Gras not all the time, airhead!”
“But we could try, maybe some women will still do it!”
“Oh, just go ahead then! But don’t complain afterwards it you got a black eye!”
Aki sighed. “Ok, you’re right. And I don’t wanna look like your twin!” he grinned.
Antonia kicked him. “Hey, my face is almost back to its normal shape!”
“Alright, kids, stop arguing, we gotta go to the TV station now!” Brian interrupted them.
They left the bus. Lauri went behind Antonia. He lay his arm around her hip and smiled. “I think you’re beautiful face can’t be disfigured by anything!”
Antonia smiled back. “Thanks, you’re sweet!”
“Lauri, hurry up!” Brian shouted. Antonia watched Lauri running to the others. He had been really sweet and caring during the last days. She felt safe and comfortable in his presence. Somehow he’s a bit too nice maybe, she thought. What if he has a crush on me? She shook her head, nah, he’s probably just that caring cause we’re friends.
“Ok, guys, we gotta go to the venue and prepare the stage till they come back from the interview!” Mikka shouted. “Get into the bus!”
Antonia sat next to the mixing console and watched the band doing their sound check. Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder. She started shaking. She knew it was him. She could smell him, sweat and onions.
“Looks like you’re having a bit of spare time!” she heard him say.
She knew what that meant but she was paralysed of fear.
“You can either be a good girl and have some fun or you are a bad girl and we will continue with where I stopped last time,” he whispered into her ear, “it’s all up to you!”
She got up and went with him. She felt like in trance, like her body was working without getting commands from her brain. Like her body was choosing the lesser evil. She was just too scared she wouldn’t survive Ronald beating her up another time.
Lauri saw them leave. Again she’s hanging out with Ronald! I really wonder what’s going on between them, he thought. The song ended.
“The sound’s fine with me,” he shouted over to the other guys, “what do you think?”
“Fine. Excuse me for a minute, I’ll be right back!” Lauri jumped off the stage and left.
Lauri went down a long hallway with lots of closed doors. He didn’t know where Ronald and Antonia had gone.
They must be in one of these rooms!
He walked silently and tried to listen for voices. Suddenly he heard a noise and stopped. He pressed his ear against the door.
He heard a voice but couldn’t tell who it was or what it was saying.
Lauri slowly turned the doorknob and opened the door a little bit. What he saw made him freeze, it wasn’t what he had expected.
Antonia was lying on a table, Ronald was standing in front of her, panting heavily, his pants down to his knees.
Lauri swallowed. He couldn’t see Antonia’s face but it didn’t look like Ronald was doing this against her will. Lauri closed the door and leaned against the wall.
Great, I’m worrying and what is she doing? Having fun with the smelly bus driver, he thought. He had expected her to have a better taste.
She just could have asked me if she’s that desperate!
Lauri was disappointed.
Whatever, he thought, if she prefers old men I won’t have any problems to find another girl tonight!
Lauri turned around and walked back to the stage.
Antonia was standing between the stage and the audience, passing water to the girls that were squeezed in the first few rows.
She wished she could leave to take a shower, she felt dirty. She could still feel Ronald’s hands all over her body. Antonia had just let him do whatever he wanted, she had been to scared to defend herself.
She turned around and watched the band. They were great. Lauri was acting different though. He was bouncing around even more than usual, his voice was very powerful.
Almost aggressive, Antonia thought.
Their eyes crossed. She smiled and winked but Lauri just looked away. Antonia was confused.
First he’s over-friendly and now he’s ignoring me? He probably just didn’t see me properly cause of the spotlights.
After the show they were sitting backstage like usually, having a little party with some girls from the audience.
Antonia didn’t understand what was happening. Lauri had ignored her most of the time. Now he was very busy with a skinny blonde girl. She was sitting on his lap, playing with his hair, smiling stupidly.
Come on Lauri, at least pick a girl you can talk to for more than a minute, she thought. But it didn’t seem like he wanted to talk anyway, now they were kissing.
If I just wanna be friends with him how come this is going on my nerves then, she wondered and watched Lauri and the girls leaving the room.
“Wow, I can’t believe I’m here with you now,” the girl giggled.
“Ssshh,” Lauri kissed her to make her stop talking. He pulled her down on a sofa, kissing her heavily. They ripped each others clothes off, it all went pretty fast. She was sitting on top of him, moving her hips rhythmically.
Suddenly Lauri felt like an idiot. Here he was, having sex with a nice little blonde but all he was thinking about was Antonia.
A city that starts with a ‘t’… T… Tchicago… Tetroit… Tallas…
“Three, two, one, drink!” Tom laughed, “sorry, Tony, that took you too long! Chug it down!”
Antonia emptied her glass. “Come on, that was a hard one! Why don’t you name a city that starts with ‘t’?”
Tom grinned. “Toronto, Tokyo, Tallahassee, Tampere, Teheran…”
“Alright, alright… this game doesn’t make sense at all. I mean, if I don’t know a city I have to drink and when I drink I can’t think of any cities anymore so I have to drink again… and again… and again…” Antonia complained.
“And that’ why it’s called drinking-game and why we play it!” Tom explained.
Antonia grinned. “Oh yeah, I remember!” And because it makes me stop thinking about Lauri and that stupid blonde, she added silently.
“Gotta pee,” she mumbled.
“You should get up then!” Tom looked at her. She didn’t move.
“I’m trying but I don’t think it’s working!” Antonia replied. “I need a push!”
Tom pushed her up.
“Whoa, stop spinning, world!” She tottered slightly and took deep breath. Focus, girl, she thought and tried to figure out which way to go. Slowly she climbed over some feet, concentrated not to trip. Then she heard Tom shouting.
“Tony! Opposite direction!”
Antonia turned around and walked along a wall she could hold on to. Maybe the last few drinks had been too much?
Finding the bathroom took her forever, partly because the backstage area resembled a labyrinth but mostly because she was moving in slow motion.
Must have left my energy at the other room, she thought, leaned her head against the wall and closed her eyes for a second.
“I didn’t think that people really are able to sleep standing!”
Antonia opened her eyes. Lauri was standing next to her.
“I just closed my eyes for a moment. Collecting some energy to find the bathroom.”
“I’ve been standing here since five minutes and you didn’t move once!”
“I’m just waiting for the world to stop spinning. Fuck that stupid letter game!”
“Come on, I’ll show you the way,” Lauri took Antonia’s hand and pulled her with him.
Lauri waited in front of the bathroom. He thought about Antonia. He had planned to be angry about her and Ronald and ignoring her for the rest of the night. Why does she have to be that damn cute, he asked himself and looked at his watch. What the hell is taking her that long?
“Are you sleeping again?” he shouted.
“Huh? Ehrm, no, I’m coming in a second!” Obviously she had fallen asleep again. Lauri laughed. “Hurry up!”
They went back to the party. The room was pretty packed. Lauri and Antonia squeezed themselves on a free spot at the sofa. Antonia leaned her head against his shoulder. Suddenly Lauri felt her hand under his shirt. She was caressing his stomach.
Oh no, stop this, I’m still angry at you! But it feels good…
Lauri sighed, took her hand and made her stop.
“I don’t think this is a good idea! Think about your disguise! You’re still a guy,” he whispered into her ear.
“Ok,” she mumbled with closed eyes.
“You should go to bed anyway,” he suggested.
“Then why don’t you go to the bus?”
Antonia sat up and looked at him.
“I don’t wanna go alone, can you come with me?”
Lauri tried to read her face. Has this been an offer or something?
“I need you to wake me up if I fall asleep walking!”
Obviously not. “Ok, I don’t want to be held responsible later on if you run into a wall sleeping!”
After a time that seemed to last for hours they reached the exit of the venue.
“You know, this would go faster if I just carry you,” Lauri suggested.
“No, it’s alright, I’m fine, just a bit slow,” she replied and sat down on the stairs that led to the parking lot. “Let’s have a cigarette break.”
They sat there for a while smoking, they hardly spoke. Suddenly Antonia snipped her cigarette away and looked at Lauri.
“So how did things go with the little blonde one?”
Lauri shrugged his shoulders. “It was ok.”
Antonia moved closer, blew a little kiss on his neck and whispered.
“You know what I found out tonight?”
Chills ran down Lauri’s spine. “What?”
“Seeing you with other girls doesn’t make me too happy.” She nibbled on his earlobe.
Lauri turned his head and kissed her. She kissed him back passionately.
Is this really happening? Lauri couldn’t believe it. A little voice in the back of his head started calling.
She’s just drunk!
What about the thing that drunk people always say what they think?
But maybe you’re just the next one on her list, first Ronald, now you, who’s next?
No, I can feel that she means it!
But aren’t you just taking advantage of this situation? She’s completely wasted and you’re almost sober! That’s not really gentleman-like!
Lauri sighed. Why was that stupid voice always interrupting the best moments?
“Tony, I think we should stop,” he mumbled between two kisses.
“If that’s what you want,” she looked into his eyes, “but promise we will go on with this tomorrow!”
Lauri laughed. “Anytime!”
They got up and went to the bus. Lauri helped Antonia into her bed and kissed her forehead.
“Sweet dreams,” he whispered but Antonia was already sleeping.
The smell of coffee woke her up. Antonia got dressed and went to the back of the bus. Tom, Lars, Eero and Lauri were sitting around the table having breakfast.
“Coffee!” she whined.
Lauri smiled and passed her a cup.
“Girl, you look like shit!” Tom laughed.
“Oh, thank you very much,” Antonia complained, “guess I look the same way I feel.” She rubbed her hair. “What the hell did I do last night?”
Lars grinned. “Blackout, huh? What do you remember?”
Antonia sighed. “Toronto, Tokyo, Tallahassee…”
“That’s the last thing you remember?” Tom asked.
Tom laughed. “Not bad, you lost at least a whole hour!”
Lauri looked at Antonia. She can’t remember the kiss? Or maybe she doesn’t want the others to know?
Antonia slapped Tom. “This is all your fault! Why did you make me drink that much!”
Tom rubbed his arm. “Hey you asked me what the best way is to get drunk quickly! I just showed you how!”
“Yeah, right.” Antonia remembered the blond girl and looked at Lauri. He was just staring at the table.
“How did I get back to the bus?”
“Lauri took you.”
Antonia smiled at Lauri who was looking at her right now. “Again? You should become a professional accompanist for drunk girls. Should I think about paying you for always taking care of me?”
Lauri looked at her for a moment. “You already did.” Then he got up and left.
“What did he mean with that?” Eero asked.
Antonia shrugged her shoulders. “Don’t ask me.” She put her head on the table and moaned. “I quit drinking! At least till next week!”
It had been a slow day. Everyone was tired from the night before.
The day was packed with lots of interviews and the show in the evening but Lauri had the feeling like every second lasted an hour. He was depressed. Antonia really seemed to have forgotten about the kiss.
Now he was lying in his bed but he couldn’t sleep. He had to think about Antonia all the time. Lauri felt stupid, he had thought that she was really meaning it last night but obviously she had just played a game.
Suddenly he heard a sound form the opposite bed. He opened the curtain and saw Antonia tossing around in her bunk. “No, let me go, please, let me go,” she mumbled. A few tears were running down her cheeks.
Lauri got off his bed and shook her shoulder.
“Tony, wake up!”
Antonia opened her eyes and looked around like she was being followed by someone. Then she realized Lauri standing in front of her and started to calm down.
He stroke gently over her face and wiped the tears away. “You were dreaming. It’s all ok now.”
“I was dreaming about… that guy who beat me up.” She shuddered.
“Don’t be frightened anymore, as long as you’re in our bus, you are safe!”
She sighed. If only he knew! “Can you do me a favour?”
Lauri nodded. “Sure.”
“Can you sleep in my bed?”
“I’ll get my pillow.”
Lauri climbed into her bed and lay down next to her. “Are you feeling better?”
She was still shaking. “Can you take me in your arms?”
Lauri moved closer and embraced her. Her head rested on his chest. Lauri sighed. Why does that feel so damn good, he thought.
Antonia rose her head and looked into his eyes. “Thank you!”
“For everything. I mean, for letting me stay with you guys, for taking me to bed when I’m drunk, for sharing the bed… thanks!”
She smiled. “You’re cute! You know what?”
“I think I love you!”
Lauri stared at her. His heart beat paused for a moment. Did she really just say this?
“Yeah,” Antonia gave him a little kiss on the cheek, “I almost feel like you’re my brother!”
“Brother?” Lauri shouted and kicked angrily against an empty coke can that was lying in his way. “Brother! This is even worse than ‘let’s stay friends!’”
Eero walked next to him. “Hm, guess that sucks.”
“That doesn’t just suck! That… oh, fuck it!” The can got kicked again. “Can you imagine me lying there, holding her in my arms and trying to pull myself together not to touch her anywhere she doesn’t want to… and then she calls me brother!”
“Yeah, but if she fucks a guy that could be her father maybe there’s still some hope left that she will hook up with her brother!” Eero suggested jokingly.
“Haha, very funny,” Lauri mumbled, “I still don’t get the thing with Ronald.”
“It looked quite obvious, didn’t it?” Eero asked.
“Yeah, but… ewww,” Lauri shuddered.
Eero shrugged his shoulders. “Lots of women like older men!”
“But these men mostly are rich or at least good looking! And they don’t smell like onions!”
“I don’t understand it either,” Eero answered. “Maybe you should try to get her out of your head.”
Lauri sighed. “As if this would be that easy!”
“Let’s change the topic. What are we going to do on our day off tomorrow?”
“We’re having a day off?”
“Geez, Lauri! You really never listen to Brian, do you?” Eero looked at him.
Lauri shook his head. “I do listen! I just forget it right afterwards.”
“Anyway, tonight after the show the bus leaves for Santa Fe. We can either stay on the bus or we go somewhere else, I don’t know and meet in Santa Fe two and a half days later at the sound check! What do you think?”
“I’d love to go and see something else! We should ask the others if they want to join us and then we can decide on what to do.” Lauri was excited.
Eero smiled. Lauri’s mood seemed to be a bit better than just a few minutes ago. “What if Tony wants to come, too?”
Lauri shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. I mean it kind of sucks but I still like being around her!” He grinned. “And maybe there’s still a small chance to change her mind!”
“So, who’s in?” Lauri asked.
Pauli stared at him. “You’re kidding, right?”
Lauri shook his head and smiled at him. “No! Don’t you like it?”
Pauli laughed. “I just don’t see me doing this cowboy thing! I think I’d rather stay at Santa Fe and do nothing at all.”
Eero and Lauri had come up with the idea to fly to Santa Fe to save time and then to have a little “cowboy-adventure” in the prairie. Actually it just meant driving a few miles out of the city and camping in the wilderness but Lauri was all excited.
“This is so cool, just imagine us sitting around the camp-fire, drinking whiskey, eating baked beans, only us and mother nature, sleeping under the starry sky, a howling coyote somewhere far away…”
“Baked beans and whiskey, huh?” Pauli grinned, “for me that sound like farting and puking. Even if this might be tempting, no thanks, I’ll stay at the bus!”
Eero looked around. “Who else is coming with us? Tony, wanna stay at the bus?”
“Even if your plan sounds weird, I’d rather be a cowboy than staying at the bus!”
Eero was wondering. If she has something going on with Ronald, why does she always take any opportunity she can get to stay out of his way?
“I’m coming, too,” Aki said
“Me too,” Tom added, “Lars?”
Eero smiled. “So, it’s us six. Gonna check the internet to book flights!”
“Oh my fucking God!” Antonia collapsed in laughter.
“What’s up?” Tom asked. He, Antonia, Aki and Lars were waiting in the hotel lobby to meet with Eero and Lauri.
“Turn around!” she gasped.
Aki and Lars were already hanging in their chairs, laughing their asses off.
Eero and Lauri were dressed in blue jeans, checkered shirts, and western boots. Lauri was even wearing an enormous cowboy hat. He grinned proudly.
“This is cool, huh?”
Antonia coughed, Aki wiped some tears off his face and gasped for air. “Well, kind of…”
“And guess what?” Eero pulled a big bag from behind his back. “We bought hats for everyone!”
“I’m not gonna wear it as long as we are still surrounded by civilized people!” Lars complained.
“Oh, come on, look outside the window, we’re in New Mexico, everyone runs around like this!”
They all stared outside for a couple of minutes. Nobody was wearing a cowboy hat.
“Well, at least that’s what the girl in the shop told us,” Eero mumbled, “ok, you don’t have to wear it now but promise you will later when we sit around the fire!”
The others mumbled something that neither sounded like yes nor no.
Lauri grabbed his backpack. “I’m wearing mine with pride! Let’s go, I think we parked the car in a non stopping area!”
Everyone got up and walked to the exit. Antonia whistled.
“Nice ass, Sheriff Ylönen!”
Lauri grinned. “Yeah, these jeans are really flattering at the back, “ he tried to pull down his crotch, “but they are a bit tight in the front.”
Antonia pinched his butt and hid laughing behind Eero before Lauri could slap her.
“One more ‘country road take me home’ and I’m gonna stuff your mouth with my pretty hat!” Lauri looked at Aki. “There’s a reason why I’m the singer and you’re the drummer”
Aki shut up and stirred the baked beans that were cooking above the flames. They were sitting around the camp-fire and enjoyed the last warming sunbeams. Eero got up.
”Come on, everyone, put your hats on, I wanna take some pictures!”
They moved together and posed in silly positions.
“This is great, Pauli and Mikka will be so jealous when they see the pictures!” Eero shouted.
“Or there are just glad they didn’t have to do this!” Aki mumbled and threw his hat on the ground. “Dinner’s ready!”
He passed small bowls with beans around. They sat together and ate.
Suddenly Aki jumped up. “My hat is moving!”
The others laughed.
“Yes, sure and pigs can fly!” Eero grinned.
“Oh shut up,” Aki mumbled and continued eating but he kept his eyes on the hat.
“There! Again! Did you see it?” Aki put his bowl away and stared at the hat.
Lauri got up and went over to check it. Just when he wanted to pick it up, the hat moved forward.
Lauri screamed and jumped backwards. “Oh my god, it’s moving!”
“That’s what I just told you,” Aki complained.
“Why do you think it is doing this?” Lauri asked.
“Go pick it up and check it,” Antonia suggested.
Lauri didn’t move. “What if it’s something dangerous?”
“Come on, what happened to the brave Sheriff Ylönen?” she wanted to know.
“He’s off duty.”
Antonia sighed and got up. “Why do women always have to do the work?” She went over to the hat.
“Be careful,” Lauri whispered.
Antonia bent down and picked it up. A little red lizard was sitting underneath the hat. It looked at her for a moment, then it ran away and hid under a stone.
Antonia grinned at Aki and Lauri. “Beware of the bad red lizard, huh? Don’t think they are on my list of the ten most scary things!”
“Whatever, “ Aki mumbled, “it could have been a snake or a scorpion or something like that!”
For the rest of the night they sat around the fire, drank whiskey and made up stories about brave cowboys and dangerous lizards.
Antonia was sitting on a chair in the dark. Suddenly a spotlight was turned on and pointed on her. She looked around.
“What the fuck?”
“Excuse me! Please watch your mouth!”
Antonia startled. Who was talking? She couldn’t see anyone. “Hello?”
“I’m here!” the voice shouted. “Down here!”
Antonia looked to the ground and gulped. She saw the little red lizard. Well, it was bigger than before and looked kind of different but it was still the lizard.
“Why are you staring at me? Do I have something weird in my face?” The little creature wiped over its face with its tiny hands.
Antonia laughed. “No, I’m just wondering. I have never seen a talking animal before!” She rubbed her eyes. “I am dreaming, right?”
“No, you’re not, it’s absolutely normal to talk to someone like me!” It came closer and kicked against Antonia’s leg. “Of course, you’re dreaming, stupid!”
“So why am I dreaming of a talking lizard then?”
It crossed its arms and grunted. “I am not a lizard!”
“I am a dragon!”
Antonia laughed. “Aren’t dragons supposed to be big and dangerous and spit fire?”
It blushed. “Well, yes, most of them are but… I am a special dragon! I was sent to help you find your luck!”
“Oh, ok. Then go ahead!”
The little dragon disappeared but came back a few moments later. It was pushing a huge blackboard in front of Antonia. A picture of Lauri appeared on the board. The dragon pointed on it with a stick.
“So, let’s see. What do we have here?” it asked.
“A picture of Lauri?” Antonia guessed.
“Very good. And what to you think when you see this pic?”
“I’m thinking ‘why the hell am I dreaming of a lizard that shows me photos of Lauri?’.”
“I’m a dragon! A dragon!” it hissed and poked her with the stick. “I mean, what do you feel if you think of Lauri?”
“And?” The little dragon poked her again. “Come on, don’t let me pull every single word out of your nose!”
“I don’t know, he’s very funny, he makes me laugh,” she scratched her head, “well, mostly not on purpose though.”
“So he’s just nice, cute and caring?” The dragon pressed a little button.
Another picture of Lauri appeared on the board. It showed him on stage, without a shirt and sweating.
“Still just cute?”
Antonia looked at the picture. “I guess I have to admit that he looks quite hot on this pic.”
“Quite hot? Come on!” the little creature shouted impatiently, “what the heck does it need to make you realize that you want him!”
“What?” Antonia stared at the dragon. “How do you mean this?”
It sighed. “You,” it poked Antonia with the stick, “want him!” It pointed at Lauri.
Antonia laughed. “Yes, sure!”
Suddenly it jumped on her lap, grabbed her nose and pulled her head closer. “You love him, why don’t you get it! There’s nothing you can do about it. You two belong together!”
Antonia opened her eyes. She sat up and looked around. The other guys were all sleeping.
“Wow, what a weird dream!” she sighed and lay back down.
She stared into the starry sky. She and Lauri? Of course she liked him a lot but was there more?
They were back on their way to Santa Fe. Antonia stared out of the window and watched the landscape flying by. Someone shook her shoulder. She turned her head.
“I just asked if you want some coke,” Lauri asked.
She shook her head and kept looking outside.
“What’s up, Tony? You’ve been grumpy all morning!”
Antonia sighed. “I’m just in a bad mood.”
“Don’t know,” she replied. “I’m tired, my back hurts from sleeping on the ground, I feel dirty, I miss New York, I’m fed up with dressing like a guy. That’s about it I think.” And dreaming about a lizard that keeps telling me that I love Lauri doesn’t really help me feeling better, she thought. Lauri and me? That’s just ridiculous!
“You should take a hot bath when we’re back at the hotel, maybe that will make you feel better,” Lauri suggested. “And later we could go out for dinner or something!”
“Yeah, maybe, “ she mumbled.
Antonia was lying in the bathtub. Lauri had been right, this was really relaxing. Going out didn’t seem to be a too bad idea anymore. She sighed. She loved wearing pretty clothes and putting on some make up. Going out dressed like a guy was only half as funny. Then she smiled. When I’m finally in Mexico I’m only gonna wear bikinis and skirts!
“Tony! Can I come in?” Lauri shouted knocking at the door and rushing into the bathroom.
Antonia quickly made sure that the foam was covering all important body parts. “You are already in!”
Lauri blushed. “Oops, sorry! I got a present for you!” He gave her a bag and smiled impatiently. “Open it up!”
Antonia took the bag and looked inside. “Lauri, that’s a dress! And shoes! What’s this for?”
Lauri was all excited. “Do you like it?”
She wasn’t sure what to say. “Well, yeah, they are pretty but… You know I can’t wear it!”
Lauri sat down on the edge of the bathtub. “I’ve been thinking about this. I mean why would anybody expect you to be in Santa Fe? And even if there is someone who knows you from New York, which I highly doubt, they don’t know you with short hair!”
He grinned. “And you still have five guys with you who can protect you!”
Antonia laughed. “Oh, you mean these guys that are afraid of moving hats and tiny lizards?”
Lauri took some foam and blew it into her face. “So, what do you think?”
She looked at the dress and sighed. “It’s beautiful!”
“Will you wear it?” he asked.
Antonia smiled. “OK:”
“Cool!” Lauri jumped up and went to the door. “See you in the lobby in two hours!”
How weird that I was just thinking of skirts before he came in, she thought. Then she remembered something.
He stuck his head through the door. “Huh?”
“Can I borrow your make up?”
Eero, Lauri, Aki, Tom and Lars were sitting in the Lobby. Aki looked at his watch.
“Just give her a dress and she starts behaving like any other woman! Why are they always late?”
In that moment the elevator door opened. They turned their heads towards the door at the same time and stopped talking.
The dress just fitted perfectly. It was black and silky and went down to her knees. It was held up by a neck holder, her back was almost completely naked. The black stilettos stressed her slim legs. Antonia had painted her eyes black what made them look even lighter than they already were.
She spun one time then she looked at the guys.
“What do you say? Do you like it?”
They stared at her.
“Hello? Come on, stop it, this makes me feel stupid! Say something!”
Eero was the first who found his voice back.
“I’m speechless! You look wonderful!”
Then they all burst out with compliments. Antonia laughed.
“Ok, thanks, that’s enough! Let’s go!”
Lauri walked behind her as they left the hotel.
“Tony!” he suddenly shouted pretending to be shocked, “am I wrong or aren’t you wearing any underwear?”
She turned around and grinned. “Am I wrong or are you staring at my ass?”
Lauri grinned back. “Of course I am. It deserves a second look!”
Antonia laughed. “Well, I just had boxer shorts and I thought they didn’t really match the dress!”
They had dinner at a fancy restaurant, then they moved on to a club to dance and have some drinks.
Antonia stood in front of the bathroom mirror and fixed her make up. She was happy, this evening had been great so far. She was still surprised that Lauri had have the idea with the dress, especially because she was thinking about dressing up just a few minutes before. He generally seemed to know what she wanted. As soon as she thought about a new drink for example, Lauri was standing next to her offering one.
Antonia sighed. She was still confused about the dream she had the night before.
Lauri and her belong together? Stupid Lizard!
Though he’s pretty cute tonight!
She had caught herself staring at him a few times during dinner thinking about if he’s more than just nice. What if the lizard was right?
Yeah, or it’s just the champagne that make me think stuff like that!
Antonia laughed and went back to the bar. She joined Aki and Tom and ordered a drink. While waiting she watched the people on the dance floor. Suddenly she saw Lauri dancing with another girl.
Why isn’t he dancing with me, she thought. Cause I’ve been to the bathroom. But he could have waited a few minutes though!
She turned around and grabbed Tom’s hand.
“Let’s show them how to dance the right way!”
Lauri was dancing with the girl. She had been going on his nerves with constantly asking if he wanted to dance with her so he had agreed, hoping she would leave after this. The song ended. Lauri tried to leave the dance floor but the girl took his hand.
“Oh, they are playing ‘Tainted Love’ by Marylin Manson! I love that song! Come on, just one more!”
Lauri sighed. “Ok, but that’s the last one!”
He moved a little bit from the left to the right and nod his head. Damn, I’m far too sober for dancing, he thought. Then he saw them.
Antonia and Tom were dancing together. Actually Tom didn’t move much, Antonia was more dancing around him. She swung her hips and rubbed her body against his, always keeping eye contact. Tom seemed to enjoy it, he had a big smile on his face.
Lauri watched them and felt how jealousy overcame him. If this is dancing then what is foreplay?
“Hey, stop staring at other women!” the girl said and pulled him closer.
“Sorry,” he mumbled and tried to lead her closer to Tom and Antonia. When they reached them the song stopped.
“Was nice meeting you,” Lauri said to the other girl, turned around and put his hand on Antonia’s shoulder. She looked at him and smiled.
“Let’s change dance partners!” he grinned and pulled Antonia with him.
The next song started, ‘Easy’ by Faith No More.
“Thank god, it’s a slow song,” he smiled, “so I won’t look like a complete idiot!” He lay his arms around her waist and pulled her closer.
“How do you mean this?”
“Haven’t you seen me dancing?”
Antonia laughed. “Oh, ok, well, it looked a bit… let’s say unrelaxed!”
“You didn’t seem to have any problems with dancing!” He looked at her questioning.
“Oh, so you realized me?” she grinned.
“I thought you were maybe to busy with that other girl!”
Now it was Lauri’s turn to grin. “Do I sense a tiny bit of jealousy here?” he asked and stroke softly along her spine.
Oh no, don’t touch me there, that’s gonna make me weak, she thought and looked into his eyes. She didn’t understand why but yes, she had been jealous!
“Maybe,” she mumbled. Suddenly she felt like they were the only people on the dance floor, the world was spinning around them. She seemed to drown in his green eyes. Antonia bent forward and kissed him. Lauri pulled her tighter and kissed her back. She couldn’t tell how long they were standing there like this but a voice tore her back into reality.
“Hey you two love birds, get a room! Or at least a dark corner!” Eero was standing next to them and grinned. “Man, that was about time!”
Antonia looked at him. “What?”
Lauri blushed and pulled her with him. “Gotta tell you something.”
They sat down on a sofa in a corner. Lauri held her hand.
“You know, I’ve been having a crush on you for quite a while.” He told her about the time when he had thought he was gay. Antonia laughed out loud.
“Oh my god, this is so funny!” She suddenly remembered something. “And than I told you I like you like a brother! I’m sorry!” She kissed him. “Sometimes I’m a bit slow if it’s about realizing things!”
Lauri was happy. Finally he could hold her in his arms! Then Ronald came to his mind. Should he ask her about him?
No, I don’t wanna ruin this moment. He kissed her passionately. I know different ways to make you forget about this old, smelly guy!
Antonia grinned inside her mind. After what had happened with Ronald she had expected to not be able to let a guy touch her anymore but now she wanted to feel Lauri all over her body. She crawled on his lap and kissed his neck.
“Why don’t we go back to the hotel?” she whispered into his ear.
Antonia was standing on the balcony smoking a cigarette. She was wrapped into a blanket. The early morning sun lit up the room. Lauri was still sleeping. Antonia watched him.
Look at this cute, little, funny guy, she thought. Suddenly it felt all wrong. He’s my friend, he’s like the brother I never had. I’m gonna leave soon. How could I let this happen?
She turned around and looked over the city. There hadn’t been any brotherly love last night at all! They had been overwhelmed by passion and lust.
Lauri was standing behind her and softly kissed her neck. She turned around and looked into his eyes.
“Hey,” she smiled.
He kissed her.
And all of a sudden it didn’t feel wrong anymore.
They were waiting for the elevator. Lauri hugged Antonia and nibbled on her neck. She laughed. “May I remind you that I’m dressed like a guy again?”
“I don’t care!”
“But I think that old lady does!”
Lauri turned around and saw a grey-haired woman staring at them. He grinned at her. “Morning, M’am!”
The elevator doors opened. They got in. The woman was still standing outside.
Antonia kept the door open. “Don’t you wanna go downstairs?”
The woman smiled. “No, thanks, I’m waiting for the next one. Don’t wanna disturb you two kids!” She winked. The doors closed.
Lauri laughed. “See, she didn’t mind!” He pulled Antonia closer and kissed her.
They reached the first floor, Antonia pushed him away. “Now behave!”
They left the elevator. A few girls got up from the sofas that were standing in the hotel lobby. They came closer, holding cameras and pens in their hands.
“Guess they wouldn’t have been too happy to see you kissing a guy,” Antonia said, “see you at breakfast!”
She left and went to the breakfast room. Everyone else was already there, even Pauli and Mikka.
“Morning!” she smiled at Pauli. “You’re already here? Didn’t expect you before early afternoon!” If they were here it meant that Ronald had to be there as well and he was the last person on earth she wanted to see.
“Yeah, Ronald drove all night long. He’s sleeping now!” He looked at her and grinned. “So where did you leave little lover boy?”
Antonia looked at the other guys and shook her head. “Man, you’re worse than any women if it comes to gossip!”
Aki grinned. “ We just summed up the highlights of the past two days!”
“So have you heard about brave Aki and his moving hat yet?” she asked Pauli.
Aki blushed. “Never mind, I’ll tell you later, Pauli,” he mumbled and concentrated on his bowl of cereals.
Suddenly Antonia burst into laughter. The guys stared at her. She was choking on her coffee. Eero slapped her back.
“Are you ok?”
Antonia still tried to breath and pointed on Aki’s shirt. I was black with a red cross at the front and a writing that said ‘ride my 10 inch’.
Aki grinned. “Cool, huh?”
Antonia gasped for air. “Wishful thinking, huh?”
“Hey, my favourite t-shirt just tells the truth!”
“Sure,” she laughed. “Why does the cross on your shirt have almost the same shape as the one in Lauri’s tattoo? Did I miss some kind of weird relationship between you and Lauri?
“Says the girl that dresses like a guy and hooks up with another guy,” Aki added.
“It’s ok, I’m not gonna say anything… just promise to be careful! I don’t wanna hear any complains from girls who have been knocked out by your ten inch! I mean, this is a serious weapon!”
Aki wanted to throw a bagel on her but he was interrupted by Brian.
“How great that everyone is here that early. I got a request for an interview by a magazine. So I’ll meet you in half an hour, be ready to leave!”
“Wanna join us, Tony?” she heard Lauri from behind.
“Sorry, I need the whole crew to check the equipment and set up the stage!” Mikka said.
Antonia winked at Lauri. “That’s alright, I’m gonna see you later!”
Eero and Lauri were walking through a long hallway of an office building. They had been to the bathroom before the interview but somehow they got lost on their way back.
“I think we came through that glass door,” Eero said.
Lauri grabbed the handle and hit his head against the glass.
“It says pull, not push, idiot!” Eero laughed and pointed at the little sign on the door.
Lauri rubbed his forehead and moaned.
“You’re quite absent-minded today, huh?” Eero grinned, “let’s guess what you’re thinking about all the time!”
Lauri smiled dreamy and sighed.
“How was it?” Eero asked.
“Hey, I’m not gonna tell you any details!” Lauri laughed. “It was just perfect.”
“Then what was going on with Ronald? Did you ask her?”
Lauri’s smile vanished. He shook his head. “No. I didn’t dare.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Now that she’s got me, I don’t think she will go back to him!”
Eero laughed. “Well, that sounds pretty confident! I wish you good luck!” He looked at Lauri. “I’m glad you’re happy.”
Lauri was jumping along the stage. The crowd was going crazy.
“Feels like the,” he sang and pointed his mic at the audience.
“First day of my life!” everyone sang back.
He smiled and went to the side of the stage to grab a bottle of water. While he was chugging down the water he saw Antonia. She was standing next to Ronald who was telling her something. Then they left. Lauri’s heart beat faster. He wanted to follow them, to find out what was going on but he couldn’t. The next song started. Lauri went back to the center of the stage and started to sing.
After a while he saw Antonia coming back. Now she was standing right in front of him, passing a bottle to a girl in the first row. Lauri looked at her. Something was different. Then he realized. Antonia was wearing her shirt inside out. Lauri felt like someone had stabbed his heart. He stared at the little white label at her collar. Suddenly Eero was standing next to him and shoved him.
“Hey! What’s up! Keep on singing!”
Lauri was standing in the darkness behind the building. He lit up a cigarette. The show was over, everyone else was sitting backstage. Lauri didn’t feel like partying. He was angry and disappointed at the same time. Why was she doing something like that? Was she playing some kind of a weird game?
How could she go back to Ronald after all that has happened between us? I thought that was something special!
Lauri grunted angrily. What did she think?
I’m not gonna let you treat me like that! Either him or me! But what if she doesn’t chose me?
He sighed sadly and snipped his cigarette away.
She’s gotta make a decision! No more games!
He went into the building, determined to tell her what he was thinking. The laughing voices became louder the closer he came to the backstage area.
Great, she’s probably in there having a good time, he thought angrily and opened the door. He looked around.
Antonia was sitting in a corner, staring at the beer bottle she was holding in her hands.
Looks like she’s feeling bad, he thought, good!
He went over. “Hey!”
Antonia rose her head and looked into his eyes. She smiled sadly.
Oh no, don’t look at me like that! I’m angry, I’m gonna tell you now that you can either leave Ronald or fuck off!
He sat down next to her. “What’s up?” he asked softly.
Antonia sighed. “Can you give me a hug?”
“Sure.” Lauri took her into his arms. She laid her head on his shoulder, her breath was tickling his neck. Lauri stroke gently over her back.
Stop breathing! This is driving me crazy! I need to keep my thoughts clear!
Antonia got up. “Let’s go somewhere else, I don’t wanna make you look gay!”
Lauri followed. They went into another room. Antonia locked the door, then she hugged him tightly.
“Thanks,” she said, “ how can you always make me feel better so quickly?” She kissed him.
Lauri kissed her back. Only that one kiss, then I’m gonna tell her!
Antonia started covering his neck with little kisses. Her hands wandered underneath his shirt.
This is not gonna help, I’m still angry, one last kiss and then I’m gonna tell you!
Wait, don’t kiss me there, oh, oh, you better take your hands off that spot, otherwise I can’t guarantee anything. Stop this! I don’t want that! If only it didn’t feel so good…
Focus, dude, Lauri shouted at himself and backed up.
Antonia looked at him questioning.
“Tony, we need to talk,” he said.
“Now?” she asked and came closer.
“I know about you and Ronald!”
Antonia’s face turned pale. “What?” she whispered.
“I’ve seen you in New Orleans. And I know that you’ve been with him today.”
She stared at him with big eyes. “This is not what you think it is!”
Lauri laughed sarcastically. “Sure. It just looked like he was fuckin’ you but actually he was showing you some yoga exercises!”
Antonia turned away. She didn’t know what to tell him.
“Why on earth him?” he asked.
She didn’t answer.
Lauri sighed. “You don’t have to say anything now. You know where you can find me if you wanna talk. I just don’t wanna hear any lies no more!”
He went away and left her alone.
Antonia sat down on the floor and started to cry. What if she told him the truth? He would probably try to beat up Ronald or at least fire him. Then Ronald would call her father. No, she couldn’t take that risk.
But how else could she explain this?
Antonia got up and went looking for Lauri. He was sitting smoking on some stairs outside. She kneeled down in front of him. Then she took deep breath.
“I’m gonna tell you now. Ronald found out that I’m a girl but I told him I was dressing like a guy so I could travel with the band cause I’m a huge fan. Then some days later he told me that he had a crush on me and… I don’t know why… we started meeting and I let him do what he wanted. Maybe I was scared that he would tell you about my disguise or something… Today I told him that we can’t meet anymore and he was all sad so I slept with him for a last time. But this is over now, I promise! I understand if you don’t want to have anything to do with me now, I just wanna apologize! I’m really sorry that I didn’t tell you earlier!”
She looked at Lauri. He seemed to be thinking about what she just had said. Then he smiled.
“Thanks for telling me the truth. If there’s one thing I hate then it’s a liar.” He bent forward and kissed her. “I know I can trust you!”
Antonia hugged him and sighed. She felt awful but she just couldn’t tell him the whole truth.
Antonia was listening to the sound of the engine. Usually this made her doze off quickly but tonight it didn't work. She turned her head. Lauri was sleeping next to her. Flickering lights from passing cars lit up his face from time to time.
How can I do this to him, she thought and sighed. She had been surprised how easily all these lies had come over her lips when Lauri had found out about her and Ronald a few days ago. He had been satisfied by her explaination, things had been going well between Lauri and her during the last days.
Antonia sighed again and stared at the ceiling. She was falling in love with him more and more each day. But she knew there wasn't much time left. She had to leave soon.
Yesterday during sound check Ronald had threatened her again, not physically this time but what he had said had been almost worse.
"What do you think will your daddy say if he hears that these little Finns are hiding his daughter? You'd better do whatever I want whenever I want. Otherwise I'll make sure your little friends won't be happy ever again!"
Fortunately Brian had called him in that moment so he had to leave.
Risking her own life was one thing but by telling the others the truth about her father she had put them in danger aswell. She tried not to imagine what her father could do to Lauri and the others if he found out.
Antonia moved closer to Lauri and leaned her head against his shoulder. Suddenly he sat up and peeked through the window.
"Lauri, what's up?"
"Eero, I'm serious, stay away from the window!" he said, then he fell back on his pillow and snored slilently.
Lauri was obviously talking in his sleep. He pulled his blanket up to his chin and mumbled "I told you these girls in the treehouse are watching me!"
Antonia laughed and cuddled up next to him.
"Baby, you're dreaming some weird shit!"
Whatever that was, at least this had distracted her a bit from her own thoughts and she finally fell asleep.
The next morning Antonia joined Pauli and Eero for breakfast in the back of the bus.
"Where did you leave Lauri?" Eero asked.
"He's in the bathroom."
"Still? He was already in there when I wanted to pee half an hour ago!" Pauli wondered.
"Think he's having a bad hair day," Antonia replied and took a sip of her coffee.
"How come he needs at least two times longer than you to get ready in the bathroom?" Pauli asked, "I mean, you're the girl, you're the one who's supposed to take forever in the bathroom. Not him, he's a guy!"
Before Antonia could say anything she heard Lauri from behind her.
"Hey, not the is-Lauri-a-girl-discussion again!" he complained, " I'm still a man, even if i use make up, care about my hair and like Justin Timberlake... whatever!" he sighed and took Antonia's coffee.
She stared at him.
"What?" He stared back.
"You like Justin Timberlake?"
"Well, yeah... I mean, some of his songs are alright... and he's a good dancer..."
"Man, you're not really talking your way out of it right now," Eero laughed.
Antonia grinned. "It's alright, baby. I think you're very manly!"
Suddenly Pauli screamed.
"What's the matter, Pauli?"
He was jumping up and down on his seat like a little kid.
"We just passed a sign which said that there's a funfair 25 miles from here! Can we stop there?"
"I don't know, I think we could. Do you really wanna go there?" Eero asked.
"Oh please, come on, it's gonna be fun! Think of all the rollercosters and other rides! And don't forget all the food!"
"What do you think?" Eero looked at Lauri.
"Sure, why not?"
Eero got up. "Alright, gonna ask the others."
Brian gathered everyone in front of the bus.
"Ok, guys, you have four hours! You have to be back on time. Try to behave, don't get into trouble and don't fall out of a rollercoster!"
"Yes, daddy," Aki grinned.
Then they left and entered the fair ground.
"So, where do we go first?" Aki asked.
"I don't know," Pauli looked around all excited, " I wanna ride all the rollercosters, I wanna eat corn dogs, I wanna see the haunted house, I want cotton candy and I heard there's a freefall tower... gosh," he sighed, "I just love fairs!"
After a long time they all met in front of the freefall tower.
"Cool, can't wait to get on that thing," Lauri said, "let's go!"
Aki stared to the top of the tower with huge eyes.
"I think I'll pass that one!"
"Come on, don't be a sissy!" Pauli teased him.
"Shut up! You know I'm afraid of heights!"
"You gotta face your fears, dude!" Pauli told him.
"I already can face my fear of heights when i'm standing on a ladder, so I don't have to let myself fall down 100 meters on a frickin' chair!"
"You're a whimp! I can never get enough of that adrenaline rush you get on these things!" Pauli bragged, " so, if you're not tough enough..."
"Shut up," Aki sighed, "I'm coming."
He slowly followed his friends and sat down between Pauli and Antonia. The safety belts closed tightly around his body. The seats started to move upwards to the top of the tower. Aki grabbed the arms of the chair and pinched his eyey shut. Inside his head he already pictured himself falling out of his seat, his body lying smashed on the ground.
"Please let this be over soon!" he begged silently.
"Wow, this view is awesome! Aki, you gotta open your eyes, you're really missing out on something really great!" Antonia shouted.
"I won't open my eyes till the ground got me back safely!" Aki replied.
"Hey Pauli, what's up with you?" he heard Antonia say.
"Nothing," Pauli mumbled, " I just think that second corn dog wasn't a good idea."
Suddenly the seats stopped moving. They had reached the top of the tower. Aki gasped. He felt cold sweat running down his forehead.
"Please let me survive this!" he prayed.
Then they fell down. Everyone screamed.
Aki felt the wind in his face, then he realized the weightlessness.
"Wow! This is great!" he screamed.
Only a few seconds later it was all over. Back to the ground Aki jumped around and laughed.
"This was so cool! Can we do it again?" He hit Pauli on his back. "Thanks, dude, for making me do this! Let's do it again, come on!"
But Pauli turned away and leaned against a nearby wall.
"Give me a break," he mumbled and hold his stomach.
Aki laughed. "Hey, Mr. Big Mouth! I thought you were though enough for these kind of things!"
Everyone laughed at Pauli.
"Alright, guys, think it's time to get back to the bus!" Eero said.
"I'll be there in ten minutes," Antonia said and went away.
The others went to the bus.
Lauri decided to take a nap and started to look for his Muse CD.
"Aki, where did you put my Muse CD?" he shouted to the back of the bus.
"I put it on Tony's bed!" Aki shouted back.
"But I can't find it!"
"Maybe it slipped under the pillows or something."
Aki got up to help Lauri looking for the CD. Suddenly he heard Lauri scream.
Aki ran to him. Lauri was standing in front of the bunk, staring at a piece of paper, his face all pale.
"What's up? Did you find it? What's that piece of paper?"
Lauri looked up. His eyes were filled with tears.
"That's a letter from Tony," he whispered, " she's gone!"
”What do mean with gone?” Aki asked.
Lauri didn’t answer. He just stared at the letter. He didn’t understand what was going on. How could she leave without a word? He had been sure she loved him just as much as he loved her, but now? Had she just played with him? Had he just been another guy on her list, a list that even included Ronald? He gasped.
What if Tony had left him for Ronald?
“Give me that!” Aki ripped the letter out of Lauri’s hand.
“I’m sorry, I had to leave. Thanks for everything, Tony” he read out loud, “wow, that’s… short!”
“What’s short?” Eero stood behind Aki and peaked over his shoulder, trying to read the letter.
“Oh shit! Lauri, what happened?” Eero asked.
Lauri still didn’t say a word. Eero took the piece of paper.
“Maybe this is… I don’t know… maybe this means something else?” Eero tried to find an explanation.
Aki shrugged his shoulders.
“’Sorry, I had to go’ doesn’t leave much room for a misinterpretation if you ask me!”
“Damn, Aki! I’m just trying not to imagine the worst case scenario,” Eero sighed.
“Where is Ronald?” Lauri suddenly asked.
Aki turned around and looked at the empty driver’s seat. “Looks like he’s not there yet!”
Lauri took his backpack and turned to the exit.
“I can’t believe she just left like that,” he said more to himself than to the others, “I gotta find her!”
He opened the door and jumped off the bus.
“Where are you going?”
Lauri froze. Was that…?
He turned around. Antonia and Mikka were sitting next to the bus, sharing a cigarette.
“Tony!” Lauri shouted, let himself fall on the ground next to her and hugged her impetuously. Antonia fell backwards and hit her head against the bus.
“Outsch! Lauri, watch out!” She tried to loosen his grip a bit but he kept on hugging her tightly.
“Lauri, you know I like to be close to you but at the moment I think you’re a tiny bit too close!”
She looked at Aki and Eero who were standing next to them laughing.
“Please, help me! Get him off me!” she gasped.
“Lauri! Off!” Eero shouted.
Lauri moved away and put his head on Anotnia’s lap. She stroke over his head.
“Good boy!” she smiled. Then she looked at Aki and Eero. “What did these two bad guys do to you in that bus? Did they try to make you be proud to be gay again?”
Aki grinned. “A better question would be what did YOU do?”
Eero threw the letter towards her. She picked it up and read.
Antonia startled. This was the note she had left on her pillow the night Ronald had beaten her up. She had totally forgotten about it.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry!” She looked at Lauri. “ I wrote it a while ago but then I decided to stay. It must have been slipped under my pillow or something!”
“It’s ok.” Lauri got up and looked into her eyes. “I knew you didn’t leave!”
Eero watched them. How cute they look together, he thought. He was glad that his friend was finally happy but he wondered how this would end. They all knew that this was just temporary. The time for Antonia to leave them would come soon. Let’s just hope this is gonna be a happy ending!
“So what did you do when you left us after the free fall tower ride?” he asked Antonia.
She grabbed a bag which was lying next to her and grinned.
“I bought you a little something!” She pulled out a photo. “They take these pictures when you start falling down the tower.”
Lauri took the photo and started to laugh. “You don’t look too relaxed, Aki!”
“Let me see it!” Aki wanted to take the picture but before he could grab it Lauri threw it to Eero.
Eero grinned. “This will look great on the tour bus wall right next to the ‘proud to be gay’ - pics!”
Aki went over to Eero. “Come on, I wanna see it!”
“You wish!” Eero laughed and held the picture up high.
Aki started to jump up and down, trying to reach the photo. “That’s not fair, I wanna see it, too!” he whined, “Lauri, help me!”
“How could I help you?” Lauri laughed, “I’m even shorter than you! And besides that it’s priceless to see you bouncing around like that!”
“Stop playing, kids! Time to move on!” they heard Brian shouting from inside the bus.
“What happened to the sticking together of the midget club?” Aki complained.
“What do you want me to do?” Antonia asked, “ making Lauri sit on my shoulders so we are tall enough to reach the pic? Or tackling Eero down to the ground?”
“For example!” Aki nodded.
“Calm down, Hakala, you’ll see the pic in a few minutes after I’ve taped it to the wall!” Eero grinned and disappeared into the bus. Aki and Mikka followed him.
“Let’s go.” Lauri got up and reached Antonia his hand. She grabbed it and pulled herself up. Lauri took her into his arms.
“What’s up? You seem to be sad suddenly.”
Antonia looked into his eyes. “You were really shocked when you thought I was gone, right?”
Lauri nodded. Antonia sighed.
“But you know I have to go. Probably soon.”
Lauri gave her a little kiss. “Don’t talk about that now!”
“But I think we should talk…”
“I’m not listening!” Lauri grinned and kissed her again.
“Lauri, I’m serious!”
“Can’t hear you!” Lauri stuck his fingers into his ears and started to sing. “Laaalalalalaaaalaaaalaaa!”
Antonia sighed, then she smiled and turned away. Lauri watched her getting into the bus. He knew they should talk about what would happen next but he was scared to hear what he was expecting to hear. Antonia would leave soon and he would never see her again. He felt sick. Maybe, if he continued ignoring all this long enough, he would come up with an idea. Maybe he could make her stay.
“Get in that frickin’ bus!” Ronald’s harsh voice ripped him out of his thoughts.
“Comin’” Lauri mumbled and threw an angry glance at Ronald. The only good thing about the end of the tour was that he didn’t have to share the bus with smelly old Ronald anymore.
*edit: wanna know what the pick looks like? *
“Morning!” Antonia joined the band in the back of the bus. Aki and Eero were having breakfast, Pauli was playing on his guitar, Lauri was painting his fingernails black.
“Good morning,” Eero said and smiled at her, “want some coffee?”
“Sure!” she sat down next to him and stared at his head. “What’s that about?”
“What do you mean?” Eero looked at her questioning.
“I thought I knew you all quite well by now and I’m kinda used that little Lintu over here is into make up and all but since when do you want to express your feminine side?”
“I don’t get it,” he answered.
Antonia pointed at his head. He was wearing a huge yellow flower in his hair. Eero smiled.
“Hey, we’re on our way to San Francisco and as we all know…”
“If you’re goooooing to Saaaan Fraaancisco, be sure to weeeeeear some flowers in your haiiiiiiir!” they suddenly all started to sing.
“Oh gosh, it’s far to early for something like that!”
She took a sip of her coffee, leaned her head against Lauri’s shoulder and watched him painting his nails. He already had painted his left hand, now he was trying to put nail polish on his right thumb. His hand was shaking like hell and the colour didn’t just cover his nail but also the whole upper part of his thumb. With a despairing look he focused on his index finger.
“Geez, I can’t watch this,” Antonia sighed, “give me the brush!”
Lauri grinned and passed it to her. She took it and started to paint his nails thoroughly.
“I knew there must be an advantage of having a girlfriend around!” Lauri said.
Antonia grunted. “So that’s the only reason for you to have a girlfriend?”
“Of course not!” Lauri looked at her shocked. “Let’s not forget about having free sex without paying for all the drinks before and it also comes in quite handy to have someone to care about your laundry!”
Antonia slapped him. “Stop being so charming, Lauri!”
“Sorry!” He tried his puppy eyes look.
“Hey, look! There’s the Golden Gate Bridge!” suddenly Eero shouted. Everyone got up and stared through the windows. Lauri stood behind Antonia and wrapped his arms around her waist.
“Good morning, girlfriend,” he whispered into her ear and blew a little kiss on her neck.
Antonia smiled though she felt a sting in her heart. Hearing him calling her his girlfriend made her heart beat faster but it made her sad, too. She knew that this relationship didn’t have a future. She looked outside and tried to enjoy the view. The morning sun reflected on the ocean, the bridge was shining bright red. Then she turned around and kissed Lauri.
“Hey, get a room!” Aki shouted from the back.
“No time for that,” Brian interrupted them, “we’ll soon be there, so get ready. The band has some interviews to do, the crew has to go to the venue and prepare the stage!”
Aki, Eero, Lauri and Pauli went through the backstage area looking for their wardrobe. They had just returned from the interviews, now they wanted to get some food before the sound check. Finally they found a door with a sign. “The Ramush”.
Eero scratched his head. “This is either a typo or the wardrobe of some Indian band!”
“Well, there’s just one way to find out,” Lauri said and pushed the door open. What he saw made him startle.
Antonia was sitting on a sofa, her head resting on her knees. Her body was shaking, a few sobs interrupted the silence. The guys ran towards her. Lauri kneeled down in front of her.
“Hey, what happened?” he whispered, “are you ok?”
Antonia didn’t answer, she was still shaking, gasping for air.
“Calm down, Tony, take a deep breath!” Eero sat down next to her and put his arm around her shoulder.
Antonia sat up straight, tears were running down her face. When she saw Lauri she suddenly burst into laughter and bend down to her knees again.
Lauri stared at her. “Hey! What’s that all about! I thought you were crying!”
Another laughing attack made her body shake. She tried to say something but she couldn’t.
“Tony, calm the fuck down!” Lauri was relieved that Antonia was ok but he wanted to know what was going on.
Antonia took deep breath and wiped the tears of her face.
“Did you take some drugs?” Pauli asked.
She shook her head. “No, better!” She tried not to laugh again. “I was in front of the venue and some fans were sitting around. One of the girls recognized me from another gig so she came over and talked to me. And then she asked me if I can make you sign this.” She passed something to Lauri.
It was the booklet of Peep.
Lauri took it and blushed. “We were all young once!”
Antonia grinned. “Yeah, but how old were you? Eight?”
“I was 16,” Lauri mumbled.
“Maybe it was the teddy bear hat that made me thing you were younger…. but maybe not!” she laughed. “And Eero, when I asked you about your feminine side this morning, I didn’t have any idea that you like to wear dresses in public!”
“Man, I’m really glad I joined the band years later,” Aki grinned, “so the public doesn’t know the embarrassing pictures that were taken when I was younger!”
Antonia looked at him. “Oh, just give me some hours on the internet, I’m sure I’ll find some!”
Aki blushed. “How much do I have to pay you to make you forget about that idea?”
“So, does it only need a picture like that to make you collapse in laughter?” Lauri asked. He was still a little pissed off that she was making fun of him.
“No,” she shook her head, “let me read out something!”
She turned a few pages, then she cleared her throat.
“You gotta be fine if you one day wanna be mine, ‘n give me satisfaction twice a day, three, four, more, five. You better have a body which makes me sure I’m not gay.” Antonia started laughing again.
“Oh, that. Outflow,” Lauri mumbled ashamed.
“How did these lyrics come to your mind? The exaggerated wishful thinking of a 16 year old virgin?”
“We had that one producer who wanted us to sing about stuff like that,” Lauri explained.
Antonia bend forward and gave him a little kiss on the cheek.
“Don’t worry, I won’t laugh about it anymore. It’s just that if you still wanna do it five times a day, we’re kind of running out of time!”
Lauri grinned. “I’ve settled down, one or two times a day is fine with me!”
“And there’s another problem.”
“My body. Cause actually my body made you think that you’re gay!” Antonia burst into laughter again, this time Aki, Eero and Pauli joined her.
Lauri looked at them angrily.
Antonia took deep breath. “Sorry, I’m gonna pull myself together now!”
Mikka entered the room. “Hey guys, it’s time for sound check!”
The guys signed the booklet quickly then they left the wardrobe.
Antonia went outside to meet the girl and return the CD. She talked to some of the fans for a while and went back into the building. Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder. Before she could turn around and say anything she smelled it. Beer and onions.
Antonia didn’t move.
“What do you want?” she whispered, scared of hearing his answer.
She heard him laughing. He turned her around and pushed her against the wall. Antonia looked around, hoping to see someone coming along the hallway but they were alone. There was no sound except for the clicking of a flickering neon light tube at the far end of the hallway.
“What do you think I want?” Ronald grinned. His face was only an inch away from hers, his smelly breath made Antonia sick. She felt tears coming to her eyes and swallowed. She didn’t want to show him her fear.
Maybe he looses interest when he thinks I don’t care, she thought.
“Whatever,” she mumbled and closed her eyes.
She heard Ronald laugh roughly then she felt his hands trying to open her pants.
Was he going to rape her here, where anyone could see them? On one hand she was hoping someone would come along to interrupt all this but then again, how could she explain this without having Ronald call her father? She was sick of lying all the time, especially to people she loved.
“Not here,” she said and tried to push his hands away.
Ronald laughed again. “Here is perfect!”
Antonia started panicking. “No, not here, let’s go somewhere else!” she begged.
“I know what’s going on here! You don’t wanna let your little lover boy know what I’m doing to you!” he hissed into her ear.
“This is getting better and better,” Ronald laughed.
Antonia turned her head away. He grabbed her chin and forced her to look straight into his eyes. “Look at me when I’m talking to you!”
His eyes were cold and piercing.
“You know, one good thing is that I can make you do what ever I want cause I can destroy you life just like this!” He snapped with his fingers and grinned. “But now that you and that little arrogant Mr. I’m-the-lead-singer-superstar have this thing going on, it’s even more fun! Wonder what he would say if he knew that I can have his girl when ever I want!”
Antonia couldn’t believe what she just had heard. This pervert old bastard was really enjoying his power he had over her.
“You’re just one sad old little pervert!” she hissed angrily.
“Yeah, a sad old little pervert who is going to have fun now,” he answered and pulled her pants down.
Antonia tried to think about something nice, like she always did to escape from reality in this situation but this time it didn’t work. She heard his moaning and grunting, smelled his bad breath and sweat. All she did was staring at the flickering neon light.
Ronald was done after a few minutes. He buttoned his pants and went away without a word. Antonia quickly straightened her clothes, then she ran to the next bathroom and threw up.
The band had finished their sound check.
“There’s still three hours left till the show starts, what are we gonna do now?” Pauli asked.
Lauri watched Antonia sitting next to the mixing console and grinned cheekily. “Don’t know what you guys are going to do but I definitely know what I will do during the next hours!”
Eero watched him jumping of the stage and hugging Antonia. He sighed.
“I hate couples!”
Aki laughed. “Dude, you’re married!”
“I know. I only hate couples when my wife isn’t with me!” he replied, “let’s go and get food.”
Lauri was holding Antonia in his arms and kissed her softly.
“We have some free time now,” he whispered into her ear.
“What do you wanna do?”
“Well, we were talking about three, four or five times earlier today, maybe we could work on that?”
Antonia backed up. She was still feeling Ronald all over her.
“I don’t feel too good, sorry. Can’t we just go for a walk or something?”
Though Lauri was disappointed he tried not to show it. “Sure, what ever you want!”
They drove to Fisherman’s Warf and walked along the piers. Whenever Lauri wanted to lay his arms around Antonia or kiss her she moved away. She couldn’t stand any close body contact at the moment.
“Hey, look, there are seals!” Lauri shouted and pulled her to the rail.
A group of huge seals were lying on a platform swimming on the sea enjoying the sun on their skins.
“Holy crap, they smell awful!” Antonia laughed.
“Big, lazy and smelling really bad, reminds me of Ronald!” Lauri mumbled.
He looked around and spotted a bench. “Let’s sit in the sun and enjoy the view.”
They sat down and looked at the ocean. Alcatraz was right in front of them.
“Great view, looking at a prison!” Antonia teased him.
“Are you making fun of me again?” he complained, then he threw himself on top of her and tried to tickle her.
Antonia jumped up. “Lauri! Stop it!” She was all pale.
“What’s going on with you?” he asked. He didn’t know if he should be angry or worrying. “Why are you so distant all the time?”
Sorry, I’ve just been raped again, I don’t like body contact too much at the moment, she thought and sat down. She didn’t know how to explain all this so she didn’t say anything at all. She just stared at the ocean.
Lauri waited for a while then he sighed. “I know what’s going on.”
Antonia looked at him.
“You’re mad at me cause I don’t wanna talk about what will happen when we reach Mexico!”
Antonia shook her head. “No, I just don’t feel good.”
“No, I know that this is bothering you. I’ve been thinking about it and… why don’t you stay with us and after the tour you come to Finland. You’re gonna like it, I’m sure!”
Antonia got up and leaned against the rail. She felt Lauri’s eyes on her back, felt that he was waiting for an answer.
“I can’t,” she replied silently.
“Why not, I mean you wanna leave the United States, why does it have to be Mexico? Finland’s nice, too! And we just play some more shows on the east coast before we go back so you don’t have to stay that much longer! And after all…”
“Lauri! You don’t understand this!” Antonia shouted and turned towards him. “I don’t know if you all understand what kind of guy my father is! My father is one of the most powerful business men of the United States and all his business is far away from being legal! People die if he wants to! I have put you in great danger! If he ever finds out that you guys have helped me… I don’t want to imagine what he could do to you! Maybe he just makes sure you’ll never ever be able to sell a single CD in this country but maybe he will do worse! I can live with risking my own life but not yours!”
Antonia took deep breath and tried to hold her tears back.
Lauri took her hand. “Why don’t you just go to the police?”
Antonia laughed sarcastically. “My father pays the police! And even if they ever dare to try to find out about his illegal activities he gets the best lawyers. He has never been charged for anything. And he also pays people from the customs authorities. That’s why I can’t just take a plane to another country, my father would find out about it before I get on the plane. That’s why I gotta go to Mexico, there are some checkpoints at the border where thousands of tourists cross for day trips every day. That’s my only chance to leave the country without getting recognized immediately!”
Antonia turned back and looked at the water. “I’ve somehow got the feeling that something bad is happening soon,” she whispered.
Lauri moved closer to her and put his arms around her shoulder.
“Don’t worry, Tony! As long as we are together I’ll make sure nothing bad can happen to you!”
Antonia and Lauri spent the next hour sitting on the bench looking at the ocean. They hardly spoke, Antonia’s head was resting on Lauri’s shoulder.
Lauri looked to the side. Two girls, both dressed in black clothes, were standing at the rail, one of them had just taken a photo.
“Hey!” Lauri shouted angrily and got up, “did you just take a picture of us?”
The girls startled, surprised by his mood. They stared at him for a second then they turned around and ran away. Lauri sat back down.
“I hate when that happens,” he sighed, “I mean, I don’t mind taking pictures of me as long as they ask!”
Antonia laughed. “You know what?”
Lauri looked at her. “What?”
“Now they have a picture of you with one of your roadies cuddled up next to you! That’s not exactly helping to destroy the ‘Is Lauri gay?’ – rumour.”
“Oh, whatever,” he grinned, “isn’t San Francisco supposed to be the gay capitol of the world? If anyone asks me about this pic I’ll just say that I got carried away by the atmosphere of this city!”
“Yeah, I can picture the next interview! Lauri, what happened in San Francisco between you and your roadie?”
Lauri made a very serious face. “You know, I was sucking up the atmosphere of the city when I suddenly felt so… gay! I couldn’t help but hook up with the first guy I saw!”
He looked around and sniffed. “Can you smell that? Suddenly I fell like I need to wear pink clothes!” He moved closer to Antonia. “Hey! Come here often?”
Antonia giggled and moved back. “Excuse me, please! I’m just an innocent young boy! My mother has always warned me of the immoral men of San Francisco! I’m afraid she was right!”
Lauri winked and pulled her closer. “I love innocent young boys! And didn’t you know that mothers are always right?”
They kissed long and passionately. After a while Lauri backed up and smiled.
“I like being gay!”
“Can I quote you if anyone asks me?” Antonia laughed.
“No, cause all the boys out there will be depressed when they hear that I have a boyfriend. We sell much more CDs if they think I’m still available!” he grinned.
Antonia kissed him again then she got up. “Let’s go, it’s only one hour left till the show starts!”
“Good show, guys!” Brian joined the band and crew backstage. He looked at Aki.
“So, what are our plans for the next few days?”
“Ehrm… well… I…” Aki stuttered, “we play some shows… somewhere… in California?”
Brian sighed. “Does anyone else know?”
Pauli concentrated on a fan letter he was reading, Eero pushed some keys of his cell phone, Lauri observed his fingernails. Awkward silence filled the room.
“When will you guys ever listen to what I tell you?” Brian shook his head. “Tomorrow there’s the show in Sacramento, then you have three days off, followed by shows in LA and San Diego. After that we head back to the east coast! Please! Try to remember!”
He looked at the band. They all smiled and nodded. Brian laughed.
“I don’t know why I just told you about that, you won’t remember anyway! Alright, the bus leaves in one hour, there are still lots of fans waiting! You should go outside and sign some stuff.”
Everyone got up and left the room. Antonia checked the room for a last time and found Lauri’s cell phone and his cigarettes. Then she turned off the light and left, too.
Outside the band was surrounded by fans, they talked to them, gave autographs and had photos taken. Antonia went over to Lauri and gave him his stuff.
“You would forget your head if it wasn’t attached to your body, wouldn’t you?” she grinned. Then she realized a few girls staring at her.
“Can I help you?” she asked.
One of the girls blushed and looked like she was thinking of how to start her question. Then she took deep breath.
“I’m sorry if this is a stupid question but ehrm… are you Lauri’s boyfriend?”
Antonia burst into laughter. Lauri turned towards her.
“What’s up? Did you see another photo from the Peep – era?”
Antonia shook her head. “No, this girl just wanted to know if I’m your boyfriend!”
Lauri laughed, too. The girl’s head turned bright red.
“Why did you ask that?” Lauri asked her.
“We’ve met these two girls and they said they’ve seen you two and that they took photos of you and Tony. One of them even talked about giving the picture to her father, he works for a newspaper,” the girl explained.
Lauri looked at Antonia who was still laughing, then he smiled at the girl.
“I was just comforting Tony, he was having a bad day. You know we’re all like a big family, we hug each other all the time! But it looks like you’ve really cheered him up with that question, thanks a lot! Can I sign something for you?”
“Time to leave, guys!” Brian suddenly shouted from the bus.
Lauri quickly posed for a picture, then he and Antonia left.
Antonia took two beers out of the refrigerator, passed one to Lauri and let herself fall on the seat next to him.
“Do you think these girls really give the pic to the press?” she asked him.
Lauri shrugged his shoulders. “Dunno. Maybe they just wanted to make themselves look important or something.” He took a sip of his beer. “I don’t really care, it’s just another rumour in the newspapers.”
Antonia was peeling off the label of her beer bottle. “But what if my face is on the picture? What if someone recognizes me?” She looked up. “Lauri, I’m scared.”
Antonia hardly slept that night, she tossed and turned around. All she could think of was that her plan of crossing the border might be destroyed before she even had started.
When she woke up Lauri wasn’t lying next to her. She jumped out of her bunk and went looking for him. He was sitting in the back of the bus, typing on his laptop.
“Morning! What are you doing?” she asked him and sat down next to him.
“I’m checking the internet for the photo or some rumours,” he replied, “the newspaper homepages don’t say anything about it.”
Antonia smiled. “That’s good news, I hope these girls just forgot about it!”
“Well, not really, I found this one,” Lauri added.
Antonia startled for a moment. “What do you mean?”
Lauri pointed at the screen. The international the Rasmus forum. A topic called “Lauri and his boyfriend”.
“Damn,” Antonia sighed and clicked the link. It opened up. She started to read out loud.
“SanFranGirls: Finally here’s the proof! This picture shows Lauri and his boyfriend! We took it yesterday afternoon at Fisherman’s Warf in San Francisco. They weren’t too happy when they realized that we took the picture but they didn’t ask us to delete it or something. So we think that makes it kinda official…” Antonia looked at Lauri. “There’s no photo!”
“Just read on!”
“RasmusfanXXL: Woohoo! I knew there’s some truth in all the slash stories!
LauriLover321: Nooooooo! He can’t be gay! I love him, he’s gonna be mine one day! This is even worse than him having a girlfriend! My life just lost its meaning!
Kitkat25: What’s slashy about that pic? It just shows two guys hugging!
JackyDaniels: Lauri’s mine! Let’s kill that other guy!!!!!
LittleFairyWithBrokenWings: What’s so bad about Lauri having a relationship? I’m happy if he’s happy, he deserves it!
JackyDaniels: Nooooooo! He’s mine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
SanFranGirls: @ Kitkat25: They weren’t just hugging…
Tasty: Sure, everyone can spread rumours like that, I wanna see pics!
NiceGirlSF: I talked to Lauri and Tony (the other guy on the pic, he’s a roadie) and they laughed their asses off when I asked them about it. Lauri was only comforting Tony cause he was having a bad day! So this rumour’s just bullshit!
JackyDaniels: Good to hear that! So you met Lauri? Lucky you! But he’s still mine!!!!!! So take your hands of him!!!!!!!!!
RockChick1: Isn’t all this against the forum rules?
JackyDaniels: He’s mine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Moderator666: This is about Lauri’s private life so it’s against the forum rules! Respect the guy’s privacy! I will delete the photo and I’m gonna lock this thread now!”
Lauri laughed. “There are some pretty weird people in this forum!”
“People who want to kill your girlfriend? That’s pretty scary I think!” Antonia looked at him.
“That’s probably just some crazy girls going through puberty, their hormones make them overreact!” Lauri replied. “They’ll grow up one day!”
“Hey, these girls buy your records, don’t be mean!” Antonia grinned.
“I know, that’s why I’m not complaining!” Lauri said, “and don’t worry, if a 13 years old girl tries to kill you I’m gonna protect you!”
“Oh, what would I do without my shining hero?” Antonia sighed and kissed his cheek. “But actually I’ve seen enough teenage girls who were taller and stronger than you. I’m not sure if this makes me feel safe!”
Lauri stared at her. “Hey, do you wanna tell me I’m not man enough to protect you?” He jumped on top of her and started to tickle her. Antonia screamed and tried to defend herself. They fell to the floor and only a few minutes later she was sitting on top of Lauri, pushing his arms to the ground.
“Maybe I’d better defend myself on my own,” she laughed.
“Hey, I’m just saving my power for an emergency!” he grinned.
Antonia pulled him back up.
“Maybe we should check some regional newspapers for the picture as well,” she suggested.
“Sure,” Lauri turned to the front of the bus and shouted:” Hey Roland! Stop at the next gas station!”
“My name’s Ronald, for fuck’s sake!” Antonia heard him reply angrily.
“Yeah, whatever,” Lauri mumbled and didn’t pay any attention to Ronald anymore.
Antonia saw his angry face in the rear view mirror. As soon as Ronald realized her looking at him, his face turned into an evil grinning mask. Antonia quickly turned her head away.
“Don’t tease him,” she mumbled.
Lauri looked up. “What? I’m not doing anything!” Why was she saying this? Immediately he felt insecure.
Antonia could read his feelings in his eyes and took his hand.
“Don’t worry! It’s just that he’s just a pitiable person with a crappy life, you should leave him alone,” she explained. She wished she could tell him that he was scared that Ronald would become even angrier than he already was and that he could take it out on her. She tried to find another topic to talk about.
“So, what are your plans for the days off?”
Lauri looked at her. “What days off?”
She laughed. “Oh man, Brian’s so right! You really never listen to what he tells you! After tonight’s gig the bus goes straight to LA and you’re having three days off!”
“Oh, cool!” Lauri replied happily, “LA is a cool place, there’s so much we could do! What are you up for?”
Antonia shrugged her shoulder. “I don’t know,” she said and leaned her head against his shoulder, “I just wanna spend time with you!”
Lauri stroke over her hair. “Same here!”
“There’s only five days left, Lauri,” she whispered.
“I know,” he answered sadly and looked out of the window. Come on, brain, work faster! he thought, I need to come up with an idea to make it possible for her to stay!
The day had been packed with interviews and the show in the evening. Whenever Antonia checked some newspapers she didn’t find anything about the photo. It seemed that the girls hadn’t given it to the press.
Not yet, Antonia thought but she was hoping for the best.
After the show they left Sacramento to drive straight to LA. The guys complained about not having had an aftershow party for ages so they stopped at a Seven Eleven to buy beer and vodka. They got back on the bus. Just in the moment the doors closed, Aki came running out of the store.
“Hey! Don’t leave me here!” he shouted. Aki was carrying a huge pile of chips bags, he could hardly see where he was going. “I thought we could need a little snack as well!”
The doors closed, the bus left. Antonia went to the back of the bus to join Lauri. She didn’t find him.
“Where’s Lauri?” she shouted over to Eero.
“No idea. Bathroom?” he asked back.
She knocked at the bathroom door. No response. Antonia checked the bunks, still no sign of Lauri. When she reached the front of the bus she saw Ronald. He was giggling silently with an evil grin, looking into the rear view mirror from time to time.
Antonia ran to the back and looked through the window. Far away she could spot a person running in the dark, trying to follow the bus.
“Stop the fucking bus!” she shouted from the top of her lungs, “we forgot Lauri!”
Only a few moments later they were all standing next to the bus, waiting for him.
When Lauri finally reached them he was all sweaty, coughing and gasping for air.
“Fuck you guys!” he gasped, “why did you leave me behind? I’m just the fucking lead singer, I’m easy to forget!”
Antonia laughed. “Almost famous! I love that movie!”
Lauri nodded, still gasping for air. “Yeah, I’ve always wanted to say that since I’ve seen the film!” He smiled and wiped some sweat off his forehead.
Brian watched them and shook his head. “It’s easier to look after a group of little children then taking care of a band! Now get on the bus!”
They sat together for a couple of hours playing drinking games, then everyone went to bed.
Antonia woke up. Something was smelling really bad. She shoved Lauri to wake him up.
“What?” he mumbled then he suddenly opened his eyes. “Damn! What’s that smell?”
“Man, how can such a bad smell come out of a little person like you?” Antonia complained and pinched her nose shut. “Are you rotting from the inside?”
“Hey! It wasn’t me!” Lauri answered.
“Who the fuck farted that bad?” Aki suddenly shouted through the bus.
All of a sudden everyone was awake, blaming each other or defending themselves.
“Holy fuckin’ shit!”
“What?” Antonia looked at Lauri.
“Quick! Look out of the window!” he shouted.
Antonia couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
“I don’t see anything except for some bushes!” Pauli was confused.
“Left side, dork!”
Pauli turned around and gasped. “Wow!”
At least 4000 cows were standing next to the highway, an ocean of brown cows, lit up by the early morning sun.
“I bet they all just took a morning shit!” Aki giggled.
After passing the cows the air slowly cleared up. Eero hung his head through a window, inhaling the fresh air.
“So can we calm down a bit now?” Brian complained, “I still wanna sleep! It’s only five in the morning!”
They arrived at Santa Barbara.
“Alright, we’re gonna take a break for the next two hours. Ronald needs a little rest before we drive on to LA.” He looked at Lauri. “Try not to miss the bus this time!”
Lauri smiled. “I promise! I wanna go to that guitar shop we just passed!” He looked at Antonia. “You’re coming with me?”
“Watching you two hours long playing on every guitar they have at this store? Of course… not!” she laughed, “it’s ok, I’m going for a little walk!”
Lauri jumped around like a little kid on Christmas eve. “I love new guitars!” And off he was.
“I’ll better go with him before he buys every single guitar they offer,” Eero said and followed him.
Antonia left the bus and walked along the streets. She bought a coffee, took place on a bench and enjoyed the morning sun on her face. Though she was sad to leave Lauri and the others in a few days she was also relieved that she would be free soon. When she looked at her watch she realized that the bus was about to leave in half an hour. She got up and slowly went back.
She could already see the bus when she suddenly was pulled into a side street.
“Ronald!” she gasped, “let me go!”
He just grinned and shoved her behind a huge trash container.
“Let me go, please,” she begged but he ignored her pleading.
Lauri and Eero left the store. Lauri was holding his brand new guitar in his arms, stroking softly over the shiny wood.
Eero sighed. “You and guitars, that’s the same like women and shoes I guess!”
“But isn’t it the most beautiful guitar you’ve ever seen?”
“That’s what you say about every new guitar!”
“I know,” he grinned, “let’s hurry, I don’t wanna be late this time!”
Eero looked at his watch. “Relax, we still got 20 minutes!”
“Hey, you didn’t have to run after the bus last night!” Lauri complained.
They walked on. Suddenly they heard someone moaning.
“Sounds like someone’s having some fun in the morning,” Eero grinned.
“Having sex outside, probably due to the weather, maybe that’s a Californian thing? Isn’t it called the sunshine state?” Lauri giggled.
“No, that’s Florida,” Eero replied.
“What’s California then?”
“No idea.” Eero shrugged his shoulders.
When they passed the side street Lauri couldn’t resist to catch a glimpse and turned his head. He froze.
“What’s up?” Eero who had been walking on turned around and came back. He followed Lauri’s eyes. “Oh shit!”
“Ronald and Tony!” he whispered.
“What’s that about? I thought he was tired and needed a rest!” Eero looked at Lauri’s pale face and blushed. “Sorry, didn’t mean to say something that stupid!”
Suddenly Antonia turned her head towards them. She didn’t see them standing there, her eyes seemed empty. Tears were running down her cheeks.
In that moment Lauri realized what was going on.
“Take your dirty hands off her!” he shouted angrily, ran over and raised his guitar.
But Ronald just laughed roughly. “Call your little friend back!”
With all his strength Lauri hit the guitar against Ronald. It broke into pieces. Ronald fell down to the ground. Lauri was still shocked from what just had happened and stared at Antonia who was kneeling on the floor, covering her face with her hands.
“Tony,” he whispered.
She looked up, then she looked at the guitar pieces. “Your new guitar!” she mumbled.
“Forget about the stupid guitar!” he replied.
Ronald rubbed his head and tried to get up. Lauri kicked him into his side.
“Don’t move or I’m gonna kill you!” he hissed angrily.
Ronald laughed and stared at Antonia. “You know what this means, right?”
Antonia didn’t answer, she was still like in trance. “I’m gonna call your father, you’re little trip to freedom is over, my darling!”
Suddenly Antonia jumped up and ran away.
“Don’t let him go, Eero!” Lauri shouted and pointed at Ronald. Then he followed Antonia.
Antonia ran as fast as she could. She didn’t realize where she was running, all she wanted was getting away from everything.
Her thoughts were going mad. She was scared of what would happen next, she was relieved that this had been Ronald’s last chance to lay hands on her, she was embarrassed that Lauri and Eero had seen her like this but one main thing was going through her head all the time. It’s over now.
Antonia ran until her legs couldn’t carry her anymore. She turned around a corner, leaned against the wall and tried to catch breath. Her lung was burning, she rubbed her stitching side.
“Man, you’re fast!” Lauri gasped and let himself fall to the floor next to her.
“Having your life destroyed makes you run pretty fast,” Antonia mumbled.
Lauri looked at her. “What? What do you mean?”
Antonia just sighed.
“Hey, I don’t get it. What do you wanna say?” Lauri asked again.
“It’s all over now. You just ruined it,” she said quietly.
Lauri stared at her. “What? I only knocked out Ronald! God damnit, he was fuckin’ raping you!” he shouted angrily.
“He’s been raping me since Chicago!” Antonia let herself sink to the ground next to him.
Lauri was shocked. “Oh no!” he whispered and took her hand.
“He also was the one who beat me up that one night,” she went on, “I wanted to leave and go to Canada but he stopped me.”
“I’m gonna kill him,” Lauri hissed with disgust. “Why didn’t you tell me about it?”
“He said he’d gonna call my father if I told anyone or if I didn’t do what he wanted,” she sighed. “I’m really sorry that I lied to you all the time!”
“Hey, don’t worry, it’s ok,” he answered and stared into the sky.
“I didn’t mean what I was saying before, you know, that thing about you having ruined everything. Thanks for knocking out Ronald!” she kissed his cheek.
“So I was your shining hero?”
“Yes,” Antonia grinned sadly and got up. “But he’s still gonna call my father. I gotta go.”
“You don’t have to hurry, I told Eero to look after Ronald!”
“I just don’t feel save anymore, I can’t wait!”
Lauri took her hand and pulled himself up. They looked into each others eyes for a while.
Antonia smiled. “So I guess it’s time to say good bye!”
Lauri shook his head. “No, I can’t let you go right now, I’ll stay with you till we reach the border to Mexico!”
Eero opened his eyes. What the hell had happened? Where was he? He looked around. A shabby side street, some big trash cans. Suddenly he remembered. Ronald! Eero looked around and startled. Ronald was gone.
Eero rubbed his aching head.
“This is the first time I wish I’d practise karate rather than yoga!” he mumbled.
He had tried to keep Ronald at the ground but Ronald had managed to free himself and had shoved Eero against the wall. Eero had obviously hit his head and passed out.
It took him a while to orientate then he ran to the bus. The others were already waiting.
“No need to hurry, we’re not complete yet,” Aki welcomed him. “Even the bus driver is still missing!”
“I know,” Eero gasped, catching breath. He quickly summed up what just had happened. “And when I woke up, Ronald was gone. He’s probably calling Tony’s father right now!”
Nobody said a word, they were all shocked.
Pauli cleared his throat. “I hope Ronald is lying in a dark corner, dying of inner bleeding or something!” he mumbled.
Suddenly Brian jumped off the bus. “Hey, guess what just happened!” he shouted with a huge grin.
They all just stared at him.
“You’re gonna be on the cover of the next Rolling Stone magazine!”
“Oh,” Aki said.
“Oh? Is that all you have to say? This are fucking great news!” Brian shouted, still all excited.
“Yeah, well, I got some news, too,” Eero replied calmly, “Ronald raped Tony, Lauri knocked out Ronald, Ronald said he’s gonna call Tony’s father, then he knocked me out and now all three of them have disappeared!”
Brian stared at him. “Oh.”
“You are crazy, this is gonna cost a little fortune!” Antonia whispered into Lauri’s ear, “we have to drive at least two hours or something!”
They were sitting in a taxi, driving to Los Angeles.
“Hey, I’m a rockstar, I’m rich!” Lauri grinned.
“Yeah, but do you have enough money with you right now? Cause I have only 50 bucks with me!”
“I got my wallet. And if it’s not enough we can still stop at an ATM machine.”
“Are you sure you got your wallet?”
“Ehrm…” Lauri patted hectically on his pockets then he sighed with relief, “yep, didn’t forget it!”
Antonia watched the landscape pass by.
“We should call the others, they are probably still waiting in Santa Barbara,” she told Lauri. He blushed.
“I’m afraid, I forgot my phone!”
“Well, we can call them from LA then.”
“Hm… but I don’t know any of their phone numbers,” Lauri admitted.
“You call them all the time, how come you don’t know them?” Antonia wanted to know.
“I just press the phone book button on my phone and then their names!” he tried to defend himself.
Antonia laughed. “Don’t worry, do you at least remember your own number?”
“Great, so you just have to call your own phone, someone will answer it!”
Antonia cuddled up next to him. “So, do you have any idea where to stay in LA?”
Lauri shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe just some cheap motel, that’s where they expect us the least.”
They drove a while. The sun was hiding behind big clouds.
“Looks like it’s gonna rain tonight!” the taxi driver suddenly said.
“But they say it never rains in southern California!” Lauri complained.
“Hardly,” the driver laughed, “but if it does, it pours, man, it pours!”
Lauri hummed the melody of the song.
“So where can I take you two guys?” the driver asked.
“Wanna answer this with a song, too?” Antonia looked at Lauri questioning.
“Everybody goes to Hollywood,” Lauri sang.
Antonia sighed. “Geez, musicians! Fight with guitars, talk in song lyrics, what’s next? Fart a melody?”
“Sure!” Lauri grinned.
“Not in this car!” the driver answered with a strict voice.
Half an hour later they arrived at the motel. It was at the eastern end of Hollywood Boulevard and pretty run down and shabby.
“Hollywood Boulevard sounds more glamorous than that!” Antonia sighed.
“Wrong end of the road, baby!” Lauri answered and pulled her through the door.
Antonia screamed. “A mouse!”
“Relax, that’s just a cockroach,” Lauri laughed.
“Holy shit, I didn’t know they can become that big!” She carefully checked the bed for any living things then she let herself fall on it. “At least the mattress is comfortable!”
Lauri lay down next to her, stroke softly over her face and grinned. “That’s the main thing, right?”
“Oho, being on the run and hiding in shabby motels is turning you on, huh?” Antonia teased him.
As an answer Lauri kissed her but she pushed him away.
“Be a good boy and call your bandmates first. And if you can find something cold to drink you might get a little reward later!”
“Be right back!” Lauri jumped up and left the room.
Antonia went to the bathroom and took a shower. But only five minutes later, wrapped in a towel, she was sweating again. The humidity was killing her.
“Looks like there’s gonna be a thunder storm soon!” Lauri came back and slammed the door. He was carrying a metal bowl filled with ice cubes and a six pack of beer.
“Can’t wait for the rain, it’s so frickin’ humid! And the air condition isn’t working!” She looked at the bowl. “Poor man’s champagne! What do you want to celebrate?”
“I talked to Eero, they are coming to LA, I told him that I’m gonna call him again tomorrow,” he sat down on the bed. “But something bad has happened. Ronald has disappeared!” He looked at Antonia.
She sighed. “I was almost expecting something like that. But I think this place is safe, at least till tomorrow. We should just stay here and try to relax.”
Lauri looked at his hands and tried to hide a smile.
“What’s up? Is there something else you wanna tell me?” Antonia asked him.
“Yeah, well, I got some other news, no big deal, it’s just…”
“Were gonna be on the cover of the next Rolling Stone magazine!”
“No big deal? Are you kidding me? That’s great!” Antonia shouted.
Lauri smiled insecurely.
“Come on, aren’t you happy?” she asked.
“No, I mean yes, of course I’m happy! It’s just that you’re in this shitty situation…”
“You’re cute,” she laughed, “you still can be happy! I’m happy for you! Hell, you’re gonna be on the cover of Rolling fuckin’ Stone magazine! Just like the Beatles, Nirvana or all the other great bands!”
“Hell yeah!” Lauri got up and jumped on the bed like a little kid. "We take all kinda pills, that give us all kinda thrills, but the thrill we've never known is the thrill that it gets ya when you get your picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone!" he sang.
Antonia watched him laughing and took an ice cube out of the bowl. She slowly rubbed it over her face and arms to cool her skin.
Lauri jumped of the bed, took the ice cube out of her hand and kissed her. “Let me help you out,” he grinned.
Antonia gently pushed him towards the bed. “Now that you officially joined the league of great musicians, plus you thought about bringing cold drinks, I think it’s time for your little reward!”
Then she let her towel slide to the floor.
Lauri woke up with a smile on his face. Last night they had loved each other like there was no tomorrow. He could still smell her on his skin. He yawned and stretched his body. His hand wandered over the other side of the bed, looking for Antonia. But all he felt was an empty pillow.
“Tony?” Lauri sat up. Silence filled the room. Hectically he jumped out of the bed and checked the bathroom.
What if there really is no tomorrow, he thought.
He put his pants on and went outside. There was only an old man fighting to get a dollar note into the vending machine.
“Excuse me, sir,” Lauri shouted, “have you seen a guy walking around? Short black hair, about my age?”
The old man shook his head. “No, sorry, buddy. Maybe that girl has seen your friend?” He pointed over Lauri’s shoulder.
Lauri turned around.
A young woman walked towards him. She was wearing a tight black skirt, a black and red striped tank top and black boots. Her hair was short and blonde, her red lipstick matched her shirt. She took off her sunglasses and grinned.
“Tony?” Lauri asked insecurely.
“No, my name’s Thelma,” she laughed, “you can be Louise if you want!”
She turned around. “So, what do you think?” she asked and pulled him back into their room.
“Well, it’s… different,” he laughed, “but I like it!”
“I thought everyone is looking for Tony, the guy right now, so dressing like a girl again is the best disguise!”
She passed him a big brown paper bag. Lauri grabbed it and dug inside. After his moments his smile disappeared.
“I’m really not sure about these clothes. How come your clothes look cool and mine look like this?” He held up a colourful Hawaiian shirt. “Can’t I just wear my hat and sunglasses?”
“Baby, you’re wearing your hat and sunglasses all the time, everyone knows you like this!” She gave him a little kiss. “Come on, this is gonna be funny!”
“Yeah, for you maybe!” he mumbled and disappeared into the bathroom.
A few minutes later he came back and smiled weakly. “Taddaaa!”
Antonia tried not to burst into laughter. “Mhm, yes… this looks… nice,” she stuttered.
Lauri was wearing blue jeans, the colourful shirt and a trucker hat. His hair was tied back, his eyes were hiding behind huge eighties style pilot’s sunglasses.
“Don’t laugh!” he mumbled and looked at himself in the mirror.
Antonia looked at his arm. “We have to do something with your tattoo. Can you wear a long sleeve shirt underneath?”
“Oh, great, I’m gonna sweat myself to death!” he complained.
“My poor baby,” Antonia stroke over his face, “you’re sweating all the time anyway!”
“Hey, I’m Finnish, I’m not used to summer!”
Eero walked along Hollywood Boulevard. Last time he had been here he had enjoyed reading all the names on the stars that were decorating the sidewalk. He even had imagined what it would be like to see their band’s star on this walk of fame.
But today he didn’t pay any attention on things like that. He was worrying too much about Lauri and Antonia. He was on his way to meet them. He even turned around from time to time to check if he was being followed by someone. But he didn’t see any suspicious people.
Lauri had told him on the phone what Ronald had done to Antonia during the whole tour and he felt bad. He and Lauri had known that Antonia and Ronald were having sex for a while.
How on earth could we think she was doing this cause she wanted it? he asked himself. Why didn’t we find out earlier?
Eero reached the little Mexican restaurant. He opened the door and looked for his friends. It took him a while till he recognized them.
“Nice outfit!” he grinned and let himself fall on the seat next to Antonia.
“I would say the same if I ever saw you in a shirt without a ‘punk royal’ printing on it!” Antonia laughed.
Eero hugged her and looked at her sadly. “How are you?”
“I’m alright,” she answered.
“You know, I’m really sorry for what has happened, if we only knew earlier…”
“Stop it, Eero, “ she smiled at him, “there was nothing you could have done differently. You don’t have to worry, it’s all gonna be over soon!”
“So what are your plans then?”
“We’re driving down to San Diego today and then we’ll look for a nice checkpoint to cross the border,” she explained.
Eero looked at Lauri. “What about you?”
“I’ll be back for the show in LA, don’t worry,” he replied.
Antonia sighed. “Too bad I can’t say good bye to all the others! Promise you gonna tell them thanks for everything and that I’m gonna miss them!”
“Sure I will,” Eero smiled.
Suddenly a man sat down next to Lauri.
“Hi!” he said.
Lauri looked at him. “Can I help you?”
“Actually, yes you can!”
“What can I do?”
“Oh, that’s easy, just stay calm and don’t cause any attention. You know, I’m holding a gun in my hand under the table. So would you please all get up and follow this gentleman that is waiting next to the entrance?” the man explained.
Antonia swallowed. This can’t be true, she thought, we are so close to freedom, this just can’t be happening!
She slightly turned her head to check if there was any other exit.
“I wouldn’t even think about it!” the man said to her, “there are two other guns pointing at you right now. So would you please do what I say?”
Antonia noticed two other guys watching them.
They all got up slowly and went to the door. The other men followed them.
“Hope you guys don’t plan to be a hero or something! They told us to get you dead or alive, so I don’t mind using my weapon!” the man hissed so that only Antonia, Lauri and Eero could hear him.
Outside of the restaurant they were pushed into the back of a black van.
The door was shut, they were left in the dark.
“Hey, where the hell are you taking us?” Lauri shouted and banged against the wall.
Suddenly he felt the cold metal of a gun on his forehead.
“You’ll see soon enough, now shut the fuck up!”
After driving for a while Antonia’s eyes got used to the darkness. She saw two other guys with guns sitting next to the door. Their weapons were pointing on Lauri and Eero.
“Did my father send you?” she asked.
The two men didn’t answer.
“Listen, these two guys don’t have to do anything with this. I know it’s me who you want. Why don’t you just let them go?” she asked again.
“Shut up!” one man answered.
“If you don’t let them go there’s just two more witnesses you have to care about!” she tried to convince them.
The man laughed. “You know, getting rid of people ain’t a problem for us!” He held his gun against Eero’s head and detached the safety-catch.
Antonia jumped up but the other guy shoved her back on the floor.
“As I told you, the command is getting you dead or alive!” he said, “so you better stay down there!”
“I’m sure my father wouldn’t be too happy if he knew how you guys treat me!” she hissed angrily.
But the man just laughed roughly. “Your father is the one who gave us this command.”
Aki knocked at the door. Pauli opened up.
“Is Eero back yet?” Aki asked.
Pauli shook his head. “Nope. Hope he’s coming back soon. I’m starving!”
“Why don’t we leave him a message and go get something to eat?” Aki suggested.
“Alright,” Pauli answered and took his key card. “Let’s go!”
On their way through the lobby they met Brian.
“Hey guys, have you heard something from Eero or Lauri?” he wanted to know.
“No, wanna come to dinner with us?” Aki said.
Brian sighed. “I wish they would at least call!”
“Don’t worry,” Pauli patted Brian’s shoulder, “I bet they just take Tony to Mexico or something! They are big boys, they can care for themselves!”
“I hope so! I just called the bus driver agency and told them that Ronald has left us. They tried to get hold of him but he seems to have disappeared.”
“He’s probably scared that Tony’s father will find out that he has raped her all the time!” Pauli said.
“But still, I think he’s gonna call her father anyway! I’m sure he doesn’t want her to get away that easily. He’s one sick old pervert!” Aki added.
Brian sighed again. “But there’s not much we can do, can we?”
The van stopped. One man opened the door.
“Get out!” he shouted and pulled Eero through the door. The other man pushed Antonia and Lauri outside.
Antonia looked around, trying to see anything that could tell her where they were. But all she saw was a nice neighbourhood, regular houses with nice front yards.
She felt one of the men pushing his gun into her back.
“Hurry up!” he hissed into her hear.
They entered the house and were taken down to the basement.
“Make sure they can’t escape,” one of the guys said, “take this rope, Vinnie!”
He threw some rope to one of the others. Vinnie caught it and started to tie Lauri’s hands and feet to the chair he was sitting at.
Vinnie looked at the third men who was standing next to the door. “Damn, Al, come here and help me out!” he complained.
After Vinnie and Al had tied all of them to their chairs they left the room. The first man stayed.
“So what now?” Antonia asked him, “you can’t keep us here all day long! People will start looking for us! And if you kill us, I swear your problems will just become worse! I mean, you can kill me, what ever! But do you know who these guys are? They are famous musicians! It’s gonna be all over the news if you kill them!”
The guy just laughed coldly. “Don’t worry, darling! We are professionals when it comes to inconspicuously getting rid of people! And well, you can’t be too famous,” he looked at Lauri and Eero, “I’ve never heard of you! Maybe being dead is gonna help your career! Most artists become even more famous after their death! I’m just doing you a favour here!”
Lauri stared at him. Suddenly he spat in front of the guy’s feet.
“Let me guess, you’re the rebellious lead singer,” he just laughed. “If you don’t mind me giving you an advice, rethink your style! This Hawaii shirt and trucker hat is not gonna take you very far!”
In that moment a car arrived outside.
“Hey, Joe! He’s here! Come upstairs!” someone shouted from the first floor.
“Don’t even think about getting out of here!” the man smiled and left the basement.
“See, even criminals make fun of my clothes,” Lauri mumbled and started to pull at the ropes that tied his hands to the chair.
“What are you doing, Lauri? This is not gonna work!” Eero whispered.
“Damn, Eero, we can’t just sit here and wait!” He kept on trying to open his ropes. “What is all your yoga for, Eero? Can’t you just yoga your way out of your ropes or something?” Lauri suggested. “I thought it’s keeping you flexible and all!”
Eero sighed. “I’m not fuckin’ Houdini! But even if you could free yourself, what would you do next? This house is full with guys with guns! There’s nothing we can do!”
The door opened, Vinnie and Al came in.
Al went over to Antonia and untied her ropes. He pulled her of the chair and pointed at the door with his gun. “Let’s go!”
Lauri jumped up, still tied to his chair. “Where are you taking her?” he shouted.
“Relax, dude!” Vinnie grinned and pushed him back down. Then he took his gun, aimed at Lauri’s head and grinned at Antonia. “Time to say bye to your little friend!”
Antonia screamed. “No!” She tried to jump on Vinnie but Al picked her up, threw her over his shoulder and carried her upstairs.
“Lauri!” Antonia’s voice was the last thing he heard.
“Let me down!” Antonia screamed and tried to hit Al’s back, “where are you taking me?”
“I thought a girl like you had better manners,” Al shook his head, “screaming and kicking wasn’t really what I expected from the boss’ daughter!”
He opened the door to another room and dropped her. “Now calm the fuck down!” He left and locked the door.
Antonia looked around, a regular bed room.
I need to get out, she thought and ran over to the window. She ripped the curtains aside. The window was locked with iron bars.
“Damn,“ she hissed and checked the room for another way out. After a while she gave up. Hopelessly she sunk on the bed. She tried to think about what to do next but her thoughts just were about one thing, Lauri and Eero. What had happened after she had left the room? She could still picture how that other guy had pointed his gun at Lauri. What if they were already dead?
Antonia felt sick. Just because she didn’t want to do what her father was expecting, two innocent people had probably lost their lives.
Suddenly she heard steps outside. Someone turned the key, the door opened.
Her father stepped into the room. He was wearing a beige suit, a brown coat hung over his shoulders, he looked like the serious business man he wanted to be seen as.
“Leave us alone,” he told two men in black suits who had escorted him.
They left and closed the door.
Antonio Coletti looked at his daughter. His face didn’t show any emotions, it resembled a cold mask.
Antonia looked at him. She didn’t know what to say. She wanted to scream at him, tell him that she hated him, that she wanted him to leave her alone. But she was to intimidated by his appearance.
They stared at each other for several minutes, silence filled the room.
“Well, since you are not going to say anything I will start,” Coletti suddenly said and walked up and down the room, like he was trying to find the right words. He stopped at the window and looked outside for a while. Then he turned towards his daughter.
“You put disgrace over the family, people thought I was a joke when they found out I’ve been fooled by my own daughter! You disappointed me and your mother! But you know I love you. I’m willing to forget about your little adventure and forgive you. We will fly back to New York tomorrow. On Saturday you are going to marry Nekrassow.”
Antonia had tried to stay calm but she couldn’t believe what she had just had heard.
“You forgive me?” she shouted angrily and jumped up. “I give a fuck about your or the family’s reputation! Do you have any idea about what I’ve been going through during the last weeks? I know you just care about me cause you need me for your dirty business! You are willing to forget and forgive? Well, I am not! I hate you!” Tears were running down her face.
Her father was shocked. “Antonia,” he tried to calm her down. He pushed her softly back at the bed and took place next to her. “Don’t cry! You know that I love you! You are my little princess. But sometimes you have to make a sacrifice for the family, you understand? That’s how it always has been! Your mother’s and my marriage had been arranged, too but we have learned to love and respect each other! You will see, Nekrassow is a very nice person, he will offer you a good life!” He took her hand. “What did you mean with going through hard times during the last few weeks? What did these dirty rock musicians do to you?”
His eyes sparkled angrily. Antonia startled.
“No, daddy! They didn’t do anything! They are my friends! Their bus driver Ronald, he found out who I am and he blackmailed me. He threatened to call you if I didn’t do what he wanted!” Antonia swallowed. “He beat me up and raped me,” she whispered, “several times.”
Coletti got up. “I knew hanging out with rock musicians wasn’t the right intercourse for a girl!” he hissed, “but this is unacceptable! They have to pay for it! Now!”
“Wait!” Antonia shouted and tried to hold him back, “it wasn’t their fault! They were the one who rescued me! They are my friends! I love them! Please, leave them alone!”
Her father stared at her for a few seconds, then he turned around and left the room.
Lauri opened his eyes. All he saw was the dusty basement. He sighed.
“Looks like I’m not dead, right?” he mumbled.
“Nope,” Eero answered, “you haven’t been shot, you’ve just been knocked out!”
“Good! Would have been quite disappointing if heaven or hell looked like a basement,” he sighed, “damn, my head hurts like hell!”
“Nice bruise you’ve got!” Eero grinned, “I’m glad, you’re alright!”
“Well, alright is a bit exaggerated, but yeah, I’m glad I’m still alive. You know, when I looked into the barrel my whole life passed by inside my mind. And man, I can tell you, 25 years go by pretty fast! What happened after I passed out?”
“Not much, that Vinnie guy just said that they are still deciding on which is the best way to get rid of us.”
Eero sighed. “I don’t know.”
The door opened. Someone came downstairs.
Lauri couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Am I in a movie or what, he thought, this looks like from ‘the godfather’!
It was Antonio Coletti, again escorted by the to men in black suits. They stayed in the back while Coletti came towards them. He looked at Lauri and Eero with piecing eyes. Lauri shivered, Antonia’s father was spreading a feeling of power and intimidation.
“Hi, how are you? Nice to meet you!” Eero smiled.
Lauri stared at him. How come, Eero manages to stay calm whatever happens, he thought.
Coletti laughed. “Well, at least someone has some manners!” He looked at Lauri.
“Hi,” Lauri mumbled shyly.
“Well, I heard you helped my daughter. I really appreciate that, don’t get me wrong! But obviously you’ve been dragged into a situation that was none of your business! So what do you expect me to do to you now?” Coletti asked.
“It would be very nice of you to let us go,” Eero suggested.
“We’re not gonna tell anybody about anything that happened, I promise!” Lauri added quickly.
Coletti sighed. “You see, that’s exactly the problem! You guys know too much! I can control you as long as you stay in the U.S. but even my power got it’s limits when you’re leaving the country! So the question is, can I trust you?”
“Of course you can, we are very trustworthy people!” Eero replied.
Coletti looked at his watch. “Excuse me, please. A business partner is waiting. I will think about this and let you know later what the further plans are.”
He turned around and went upstairs. On the last stair he suddenly stopped and turned back to Lauri. “If you don’t mind taking an advice from a more experienced person, you should consider a different outfit! This shirt is not gonna taking you anywhere regarding your career!” Then he left.
“I knew this outfit was a bad idea,” Lauri sighed.
Antonia stood by the window. She saw her father and the two men in black suits get into a car and leave.
She started walking up and down the room, like a tiger that’s locked in a cage.
She tried to think about a plan to get out. Antonia had given up the hope to escape to Mexico. Though she hated the sheer thought of it she had accepted to become Nekrassow’s wife. But she was worrying about Lauri and Eero.
Antonia was hoping they were still alive but she knew what kind of guy her father was. Lauri and Eero just knew too much, she had to get them out of here before something worse would happen.
Antonia stopped at the door and banged against the wood.
“Hello?” she shouted, “is anyone out there?”
She heard someone come closer.
“Hey, would you please be a nice girl and shut the fuck up!” Vinnie replied from the other side of the door.
“I really need to go to the bathroom!” Antonia explained with her sweetest voice, “would you please let me out?”
“Wait, gotta ask,” Vinnie said and left.
Antonia sighed. Maybe she could somehow escape through the bathroom window.
She heard someone unlocking the door. Vinnie opened up.
“Hurry up, it’s the second door at the right,” he told her and pointed into that direction with his gun.
Antonia went to the bathroom. Vinnie followed her.
“Excuse me, could you please wait outside?” she asked him innocently.
Vinnie grinned. “Sorry, Joe told me to stay with you. We don’t want you to climb through the window or something!”
Damn, Antonia thought. “Then would you please at least turn around?”
“Sure,” he laughed and turned away.
Antonia sat down on the toilet and looked around. Maybe I could take that hairspray can over there and spray it into his eyes…
“And don’t think about blinding me with this hairspray over there!” Vinnie grinned.
Damn, is this guy reading my mind? “Of course not! Do you really think a small girl like me thinks about outwitting a strong man like you?” she smiled.
“Do you really thing I’m strong?” Vinnie turned to the mirror and looked at his upper arms.
“Of course, you look really muscular!” Antonia tried to flatter him, “does anyone tell you the opposite?”
Vinnie blushed slightly. “Yeah, well, Joe and Al are more of the opinion that all this is just fat! But they really don’t see the muscles that are hiding underneath!” he added proudly.
Antonia flushed the toilet. “Vinnie, could you do me another favour? You see, I haven’t had a shower for ages and I wanna be clean and pretty when my father comes back. Would you mind if I quickly take a shower now?”
“But you know I can’t leave the room!”
“Oh, that’s fine with me! I know you’re a gentleman, I’m sure you can behave!” she smiled at him.
Vinnie turned away and stared at the wall. “Ok, but hurry up!”
Antonia undressed quickly and turned on the water. While she was rinsing her body she peaked through the curtain and watched Vinnie.
He was rocking slightly from side to side, humming a little melody.
She turned the water off again, grabbed for a towel and wrapped herself into it. Then she stepped out of the shower. “You can turn back again, I’m done!”
“Alright, get your clothes, you can dress yourself in the other room!” Vinnie told her and pointed at the pile of clothes with his gun.
“Ok.” Antonia bend to the side to pick up her dress. Suddenly she dropped her towel.
“Oops,” she pretended to be embarrassed.
While Vinnie was still staring at her she bent down to pick it up. She quickly grabbed the towel and whipped the gun out of Vinnie’s hand. It flew into a corner.
Vinnie was too surprised to act quick enough. Antonia jumped over to the corner and picked up the gun.
“If you make any sound, I’ll shoot you!” she threatened him.
Vinnie stared at her. Though she looked harmless, being small and still naked, he saw in her eyes that she really was meaning what she just had said.
Antonia pushed the gun into his back. “Come on, move. Let’s go back to that other room!”
They got back to the bedroom without being seen by anyone. Antonia checked Vinnie’s pockets and found some handcuffs. She chained him to the bed pole.
“I always imagined something else when I dreamt about being handcuffed to a bed by a naked girl,” Vinnie mumbled.
“Shut up!” Antonia hissed and took a scarf that was lying around. She tied it around his face so he couldn’t talk anymore. Then she put her clothes back on.
“Guess your buddies are gonna make even more fun of you if they see you’ve been outwitted by a girl,” she grinned and left the room.
Antonia silently locked the door and sneaked downstairs. She saw Joe sitting in front of a TV watching a talk show. She went to the basement door and opened it silently. What she saw made her try hard not to laugh.
Lauri and Eero were still tied to their chairs. Lauri was staring at the floor, yawning constantly. Eero was talking to Al.
“ The word Sahaja means 'in-born', because the purifying and healing energy that is gently awakened lies waiting within every human being from birth.”
Eero was so into his monologue that he didn’t realize that Al was almost dozing away.
Antonia sneaked downstairs. Suddenly Lauri saw her. She quickly put her finger on her lips to tell him to stay quiet. He kept on staring at the floor like nothing had happened. Antonia tiptoed behind Al and with all might she hit the handle of her gun against his head. Al sunk to the floor.
“Tony!” Lauri shouted happily.
“Shhh!” Antonia replied, “Joe is still upstairs! He could hear us!”
She untied Lauri’s ropes. He jumped up and hugged her tightly.
“I thought you were dead,” she whispered.
“Nope, you won’t get rid of me that easily,” he grinned.
“Come on, we gotta tie up that guy over there!” Antonia took Al’s hands, “you take his feet!”
Together they carried him to Lauri’s seat and tied his hands and feet to the chair. Antonia found some duct tape on a shelf and wrapped it around Al’s face to cover his mouth.
“Excuse me, would someone please free me?” Eero complained.
“Promise you won’t talk about yoga for the rest of the week!” Lauri grinned.
“Alright,” Eero sighed.
Lauri untied him.
Antonia picked up Al’s gun. “Who of you wants to take this?”
Eero backed up. “No, thanks! I won’t touch a weapon! I could never harm anyone!”
“You just bore them to death with your yoga lectures,” Lauri mumbled and took the gun.
“Hey! I heard that!” Eero complained.
“Cut it out, guys! We gotta take care of that Joe dude upstairs!” Antonia interrupted them.
Eero picked up the duct tape and his ropes. “Alright, let’s get the hell outa here!”
Joe was watching a talk show. A couple was fighting on screen.
“I knew you were cheating on me, I found letters from that other woman!” the wife screamed at her husband.
“But there is something else you want to tell him, right?” the host of the show asked her.
She laughed. “Yes! Guess what? What ever you do, I can do it better!”
“Look over to that door, there’s a little surprise for you!” the host told the guy and pointed at a door that opened slowly. Another man entered the studio.
The husband startled. “Chucky? What are you doing here?”
The woman laughed again. “When ever you cheated on me with that little bitch, I hooked up with your brother! And let me tell you one thing, your brother surly is the gifted one in the family when it comes to the size!”
Joe stared at the TV and shook his fist. “Your own brother betrayed you! Come on, knock that bastard out!” he shouted angrily.
“Whatever you wish!” suddenly someone said behind him.
Joe felt something hitting his head hard, then he passed out.
“Well done!” Eero grinned and patted on Lauri’s shoulder.
“You’re enjoying this quite a bit for calling yourself a pacifist, huh?” Antonia asked him surprised.
Eero blushed. “Hm, yeah, well, didn’t think this would be so exciting!” He waved with the duct tape. “Let’s tie him up!”
Antonia and Eero placed Joe back on the chair he had slipped off before.
“Would you mind helping us?” Antonia asked and turned around.
Lauri was standing there just wearing his boxers.
“Do you plan to join a nudist club or is there another reason for you to get rid of your clothes?” Antonia asked him laughing.
“I’m not gonna wear my ugly clothes for another minute! I mean, even criminals make fun of me!” Lauri complained and started to take Joe’s clothes off.
A few moments later he was wearing Joe’s dark suit. The sleeves and legs were far too long. Antonia grinned.
“Now you look like a kid that stole daddy’s good suit! But whatever, if you think that’s better, go ahead!”
“Everything’s better than a Hawaiin shirt!” Lauri mumbled and started to tie Joe’s legs to the chair. “Hope he feels like an idiot when he wakes up in his underwear!”
“Hey, look what I just found!” Eero shouted and waved with some keys. “Guess that’s the key to the black van!”
“Cool! Let’s go!” Antonia grabbed Joe’s gun. “Eero, take that!”
Eero shook his head. “I told you, I don’t use weapons!”
“Come on,” Antonia sighed, “you don’t have to use it! I just feel better if I know you could at least defend yourself if you wanted to!”
“Ok.” Eero took the gun and stuck it behind his belt. On his way out he quickly looked into a mirror that was hanging next to the door and grinned. “Hey, I look kinda cool, don’t you think? That gun kinda suits me!”
“Oh yeah, you look really dangerous, Eero,” Lauri replied sarcastically and pushed him through the door, “hurry up!”
They got into the van and drove away.
“Alright, does anyone know the way to the hotel?” Eero asked who was sitting behind the steering wheel.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea!” Lauri replied, “I mean, that’s probably the first spot they’ll search for us when they discover that we have disappeared!”
“But we should at least call Aki and Pauli to tell them what happened!” Eero said.
Lauri looked at Antonia. “What do you think?”
“Lauri, just because she’s the godfather’s daughter it doesn’t mean she knows all the tricks to escape from dangerous situations!”
Antonia laughed. “My dad’s not the godfather!” Then she looked sadly at Lauri. “We’re driving to the hotel.”
“What? But then your father will find you immediately!”
“Lauri, that’s ok,” Antonia answered silently and swallowed. “I’m gonna drive back after I’ve dropped you at the hotel!”
“Tony! He’s gonna make you marry that other guy!” Lauri couldn’t believe what she just had said.
“I know but that’s the only possibility to make my father leave you alone!”
“I’m not gonna allow you to destroy your life!” Lauri shouted.
“With destroying your own life? Great idea, that makes me really feel better!” Antonia replied sarcastically.
“Don’t worry, this is not going to destroy my life! We just cancel the last gigs and fly back to Finland. Even your father’s power has its limits!”
“You know that this means the end of your career in the United States, Lauri!” Antonia told him.
“There are more important things in life than selling records in America!” Lauri answered and smiled at her.
Eero laughed but stopped quickly when he realised that Lauri was looking at him angrily.
He blushed. “Sorry, didn’t mean to laugh, it’s just pretty unusual to hear that from you, Lauri!”
“You can’t make this decision without the whole band, Lauri,” Antonia said.
“Why not? If they don’t like it, great! Then they gotta fire me and look for a new singer, I don’t care!” Lauri shouted.
“But I do care! The band is your life, so stop talking bullshit!” Antonia shouted back.
“Hey!” Eero interrupted them, “now calm the fuck down, both of you! Tony, it was always Lauri’s plan to make it in the U.S., the rest of us didn’t care about this that much! I mean, we’re already big on almost every other continent, it’s not a matter of money. And after all, we already are kinda famous over here, even if your father tries to stop our career, people do already know us! We should call Pauli and Aki but I’m almost sure they’ll say the same!”
“But…” Antonia started.
“There’s no ‘but’! We’ll get you out of this country, if you want it or not!” Eero grinned. “Let’s find a phone, a place to stay tonight and another car. They will probably start looking for this van if they realize we’re gone!”
Antonia swallowed. “I love you both! You’re the best!”
“Didn’t you just wanna say you love me a little bit more than that guy over there?” Lauri asked and pointed at Eero.
Antonia bend over and kissed Lauri.
“Ok,” she mumbled between two kisses, “just a little bit more.”
“And what about me?” Eero complained.
Antonia laughed and gave him a little kiss on the cheek. “I’m gonna call your wife and tell her all about your heroic behaviour. I’m sure she’ll reward you for that when you come home!”
“We can’t just cancel the shows!” Brian shouted.
“Why not?” Pauli asked calmly.
“Think about all the disappointed fans! And what about all the money? We have to pay for the venues and stuff even when you don’t show up! And what about your reputation?” Brian went up and down the room, gesticulating heavily.
“Forget about the money, we’ve made enough so far!” Aki replied. “We’re gonna make a statement that Lauri is ill or something so we can’t perform.”
“I feel sorry for the fans who miss the chance to see us live but what about Tony? She’s our friend and she needs out help,” Pauli added.
Brian sighed. “It’s your decision, you have to know what you’re doing! But you’re the one who has to explain this to the record company!”
“We’ll tell them the same excuse that everyone else will hear. Remember, the crew and us, we are the only one who know the truth!” Pauli got up. “I’m gonna tell the others now. Brian, please try to book the flights, we’re gonna leave tonight!”
Antonia yawned and cuddled up next to Lauri. “We should have at least slept a few hours last night.”
Lauri stroke softly over her hair and blew a kiss on her temple. “I think we used our last few hours together very well!” He smiled sadly. “You can sleep when you’re in Mexico.”
Antonia sat up, took Lauri’s hand and looked deeply into his eyes.
“I wanna thank you! Despite all the terrible things that happened during the last few weeks, I had the best time of my life cause I spent it with you!”
Lauri swallowed. “I already miss you,” he whispered and kissed her. “I can’t believe this is the end!”
“Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll meet again!” Antonia smiled but had to fight her tears back.
Suddenly someone knocked at the door.
“Hey, get off each other and get dressed! I gotta get in!” they heard Eero shout from outside.
Antonia grinned and winked at Lauri. “Not now! Give us five more minutes!” she shouted back.
Lauri started to moan heavily. “Oh, Tony! Yes! Give it to me!”
“Don’t stop, Lauri, faster! Harder!” Antonia yelled and tried not to laugh.
“Yeah, hit me! Bite me!” Lauri shouted and jumped up and down on the bed.
“Come on, take that cactus and…”
“Cactus? Haha, very funny!” Eero complained and entered the room, his hand covering his eyes.
“Don’t worry, you can take your hand off, we were just kidding!” Antonia laughed.
Eero peaked through his fingers before he removed his hand completely.
“Well, while you were having fun I got another car, bought something for breakfast and I found that,” he said and threw a newspaper on the bed.
Lauri grabbed it, read the front page and turned pale.
“What’s up?” Antonia asked and took the papers out of his hands.
“Dead body found headless at Venice beach,” she read out loud. “The person has been identified as Ronald Jones, 42 from New York City who had recently worked as a tour bus driver for the Finnish newcomer band The Rasmus. Their management has confirmed that Ronald Jones had left the band three days ago in Santa Barbara due to personal issues. Jones’ head had been found two hours earlier in a trash bin on Sunset Boulevard.”
Antonia shivered. “I hate him and all but this is just terrible!”
“Well, your father seems to be quite creative when it comes to revenge,” Lauri mumbled.
“Yeah, maybe we should hurry up and get you out of the country before he tests his creativity on us!” Eero added.
Antonia sighed. “Ok, let’s get ready and leave this place.”
They were standing in the shade of a building. The sky was blue without any clouds, the sun shone brightly. They could see the checkpoint, only 200 meters were separating Antonia from freedom. Some people were queuing to cross the border, others were checking out some stalls to buy souvenirs.
“So I guess that’s it!” Eero said and looked at Antonia.
“Yeah,“ she sighed and hugged him tightly. “Thanks so much for everything!”
“Your welcome. Take care!” he replied and turned away to leave Lauri and Antonia some privacy.
Antonia took Lauri’s hands. “I will never forget you!” She tried to smile but it didn’t really work.
Lauri wrapped his arms around her and didn’t say anything. He just wanted to hold her for a last time.
After a few minutes he stepped back and looked into her eyes. They were filled with tears.
“You should go now. Otherwise I’ll never let you go anymore!”
She nodded. “I know.”
“Don’t cry,” he whispered and wiped some tears of her cheeks. “You’re free now!”
Antonia looked at Lauri for a last time. Then she kissed him quickly and went away.
She had the urgent feeling to turn around and go back but she didn’t dare.
If I see him again, I’m not gonna be able to leave, she thought.
Then she heard someone shout.
That was her father’s voice. A cold shiver ran down her spine. Antonia turned around.
Though her father was still wearing his suit and coat in the burning sun, he was surrounded by a cold aura. Not a drop of sweat was showing on his face.
“Come back, Antonia!” he told her calmly. “You don’t wanna risk you little friends’ life, do you?”
His two bodyguards in black suits were standing behind him, holding Lauri and Eero, aiming at their heads with guns. The building was covering them so that no one else could see them except for Antonia.
Lauri tried to free himself. “Let me go!” he hissed. As an answer the guy who was holding him just detached the safety-catch of his gun. Lauri froze.
Antonia stared at them. She turned around and looked at the checkpoint. Freedom was so close!
For a second Antonia was tempted to just run to the checkpoint but then she was shocked about her own thoughts. How could she even consider to risk their friends’ life? She saw the fear in their eyes.
“What are you waiting for, dear?” her father asked kindly.
But Antonia didn’t move. She hugged her bag tightly like she needed something to hold on to.
“Daddy, please let them go,” she whispered.
“I don’t see the problem, darling,” her father replied, “if you come here and go home with me, I will let your friends go. They won’t ever hear from me again, I promise!”
He smiled and opened his arms.
“Come home to daddy, my little princess!”
Antonia looked at her father. Though she had always known what kind of a person he was, she had loved him. She had admired him for his strength and charisma. He had always protected her, she had been his one and only, his little princess.
She remembered sitting on his lap as a little girl, listening to the fairy tales he was reading out to her. Tales about little princesses and bad dragons.
“I will always protect you from big bad dragons!” he used to promise her.
But when she looked at him now, she was just disgusted. She hated him.
“Seems like you’re the big bad dragon, who’s gonna protect me now?” she thought.
“Why do you want to destroy my life?” she asked him with trembling voice.
“I’m not destroying your life, darling! I’m just doing what is the best for you!”
“You have absolutely no idea what is the best for me!” she shouted angrily. “Now let them go, they don’t have anything to do with this!”
“Well, it’s up to you what’s gonna happen to your friends!” her father answered impatiently and nodded at the guy who was holding Lauri.
The man shoved Lauri on his knees and pressed the gun against his temple. Lauri gasped and pinched his eyes shut.
“No!” Antonia screamed.
Only one day ago she had accepted her destiny to marry Nekrassow but now she couldn’t do it anymore. She was so close to freedom, too close to give up.
She grabbed her bag closer. Then she felt it.
Something hard and solid in her bag.
It was the gun, the gun she had taken from Al yesterday. Forgetting about the weapon could have gotten her into trouble when crossing the border but now she was glad. Inconspicuously her hand slipped into the bag. She could feel the cold metal.
With a quick move she pulled it out and aimed at her head.
“Antonia!” her father gasped. “Don’t be stupid! Put that weapon down!”
“You have to let us go or I’m gonna shoot myself!” Though her hand was trembling her voice was clear and firm.
“If I can’t decide about my own life, I won’t let anyone else do it!”
Coletti stared at his daughter: He could read in her face that she was really meaning what she was saying.
“You want to throw you life away for these… these people?” He almost spat out the last words.
“Yes! Cause they care about me and what I want,” she replied and detached the safety-catch. “Now let them go.”
Coletti looked at her for a long time. What had happened to his beloved daughter? His little girl had gone. Now a strong and self-confident young woman was standing in front of him. He felt like something inside of him was breaking. He had lost his power over her, he had lost his little princess. He loved her too much, he was shocked that she was determined to end her life just to get away from him. There was only one thing he could do. Set her free.
“Let them go,” he mumbled.
“But boss…” one of the men asked.
“You heard what I said,” Coletti interrupted him roughly.
The men put down their weapons and shoved Lauri and Eero away.
Antonia looked at her father. His strength and charisma had disappeared. She just saw an old man. She knew she had won. She dropped her gun to the floor.
“It’s over, father.”
Antonia turned around and went away without looking back.
* * * * * * * * *
Lauri looked out of the window. It had snowed the night before, everything was covered in white. The cold floor made his feet freeze. He went back into bed and wrapped the blanket tightly around his body.
Lauri sighed. If only Antonia was there to keep him warm.
He stared at the wall. Antonia was the main thing he thought about though he hadn’t heard anything from her since that day at the Mexican border. Sometimes Lauri still woke up in the middle of the night, feeling the gun at his temple. He had been scared to death. Antonia had saved his life.
He wished he could have held her in his arms a last time before she left but she just had gone away without looking back. Though he had been disappointed he also had been happy for her. He knew that she had to leave the country, not only because of her father but because she needed to start a new life. She needed time for herself to figure out who she really was and what she wanted.
If only she had called me once in a while, Lauri thought. He was insecure. Maybe I’m not important enough to be part of her new life?
All this had happened more then three month ago. They had cancelled the last few shows in the U.S. but their album was still selling well. Their American record company had already asked for new tour dates. It seemed like Antonia’s father had decided to leave them alone. Now the band was recording the new album. They were almost half done, everyone was loving the new material. All in all things were doing great but Lauri just couldn’t enjoy it as much as the others. He missed Antonia too much. Without her he felt didn’t feel complete.
Lauri decided to get up and make some coffee. When he went over to the kitchen he heard some noise at the door. The postman had just slipped the mail through the slot. Lauri went over and picked it up.
“Bill, commercial, bill, bill,” he mumbled while he checked the envelopes. Suddenly he stopped. He was holding a colourful postcards in his hands.
He turned it around.
“Dear Lauri, I’m bored of the sunny weather. I heard Finnish winters are very cold. Maybe you need someone to keep you warm? How about me? I’m coming to Helsinki in two weeks. I love you, Tony.”
Lauri checked the date at the stamp. He quickly tried to add the days in his head. The postcard had been sent away on…
The doorbell rang. Lauri opened up.
Antonia smiled at him.
“What did take you so long?” Lauri asked reproachfully.
But before she could answer he kissed her.
Lauri was happy, he finally felt complete.