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Thunder

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At first, Ray Toro thought it was a coincidence. 

He was practicing his guitar in his room, alone.  It was a beautiful Spring day; the sky was clear (as clear a sky as New Jersey can have, anyway), and there wasn’t even a hint of rain. 

The first note was accompanied by a clap of thunder. 

Ray jumped in surprise.  The thunder was unexpected—it came out of nowhere.  He waited a few minutes, but there was silence.  Shrugging, Ray figured he had heard a car backfire or something, and began to play again. 

The minute his fingers plucked out the melody of Stairway to Heaven, thunder rumbled in the distance.  Deciding to ignore this strange coincidence, Ray continued to play.  The thunder grew louder, and soon, rain was pattering on the roof. 

“Weird,” he thought as he put his guitar away. 

It didn’t escape notice that the thunder and rain stopped as soon as Ray did. 

It soon became clear that thunder and Ray were intimately acquainted. 

Ray had almost become used to thunder when he played his guitar.  It still slightly freaked him out, but since the rain was mild and the thunder usually faded after he stopped playing, he just didn’t think about it any more. 

All that changed when he had his first practice with My Chemical Romance. 

The amplifiers were cranked as loudly as they could be.  Ray struck the first chord, and the resulting thunder shook the entire room.  Everyone stopped what they were doing, and Ray blushed. 

“Fuck,” Gerard Way said finally.  “Ray Toro brings the thunder when he plays.” 

Ray laughed a little self-consciously, and they resumed practice. 

Time passed.  It soon became a running joke that whenever Ray Toro played his guitar, he brought the thunder.  Ray usually managed to laugh it off, but he found it more and more disturbing that every time music came out of his instrument, thunder and rain came from the sky. 

The final straw came during Warped Tour in Charlotte, 2005.  Ray had been idly strumming his guitar most of the day, and ominous clouds had been hanging in the sky all day.  Because he wasn’t playing in earnest, the thunder was muted, as though coming from far away. 

When My Chemical Romance took the stage at 8:30 pm, however, and Ray began to play, thunder crashed.  Rain fell.  Lighting flashed. 

And My Chemical Romance had to cut their set by ten minutes. 

“That just fucking does it!” Frank Iero exclaimed as they boarded their bus after the set.  He bounced around the bus, agitated.  To keep him from hitting the roof, Gerard pulled out Frank’s leash and attached it to his belt loop, making sure Frank didn’t bounce out the window.   “Toro, I don’t know what you’re doing, but you have to stop!” 

“But that’s just it—I’m not doing anything,” Ray replied unhappily.  “It just happens.” 

“So,” Mikey Way said slowly, “every time you play, it thunders?” 

“Where the fuck have you been?” Gerard asked him incredulously.  “For the past few years, even?  Yes, every time Ray plays, it thunders and rains and the weather is usually miserable.” 

“Wow,” Mikey said.  “I never noticed.” 

Frank rolled his eyes and addressed Ray.  “You’re obviously doing something.  And you need to fix it.  It was cool for a while—our guitarist brought the thunder when he played.  Now, it’s just getting fucking annoying to have to play in the rain every goddamned night.” 

Bob Bryar, as usual, said nothing.  Not only was he the new guy, but apparently, his vocal cords didn’t work unless he was specifically spoken to. 

Ray went to bed that night, feeling quite clueless.  He couldn’t help what happened when he played guitar; it just happened.  His asshole band mates apparently just couldn’t comprehend that—they were quite happy blaming him for the whole thing. 

Hearing noises from the bunk just below him, Ray made sure his curtain was tightly pulled shut.  He was very surprised to hear a soft voice speak.  “You should try talking to the person responsible.” 

Ray stuck his head out of his bunk and saw Bob staring at him complacently.  “Person responsible?” Ray asked.  “According to the rest of this fucking band, I’m responsible.” 

“I don’t think so,” Bob said, then said something that Ray just knew he had misheard. 

“Excuse me?” Ray asked.  “What did you say?” 

“Thor,” Bob repeated.  “You should try talking to Thor.” 

“And Thor is?” 

Bob rolled his eyes.  “The Viking God of Thunder, Ray.  Duh.” 

“You did not just duh me,” Ray said slowly, “after you suggested I talk to a Viking God about the fact that it seems to thunder every time I play guitar.” 

“You got a better idea?” Bob asked, his voice hoarse.  His vocal cords weren’t used to this much activity. 

After carefully considering his options, Ray reluctantly replied, “No.  I don’t.” 

Bob smiled and climbed into his bunk.  Ray sat for a few minutes, then scrambled out of his own bunk and into Bob’s.  “Hey,” he protested.  “You can’t leave me there.  How do I contact this Viking God thingy person?” 

“If he knows you want to talk to him,” Bob said, “he’ll get to you.” 

And then he pushed Ray unceremoniously out of his bunk. 

When Thor finally came and talked to Ray, it was a bit disconcerting. 

You see, Thor looked an awful lot like the vocalist for Fall Out Boy. 

“You have got to be kidding,” Ray said incredulously.  “Patrick Stump is Thor, Viking God of Thunder?” 

Patrick’s face twisted into something that looked almost like anger; Ray wasn’t sure, though.  He couldn’t remember ever seeing Patrick angry.  As a matter of fact, Ray was usually inclined to believe Pete Wentz—Patrick was made of cotton candy and butterflies.  Patrick didn’t know how to be angry. 

When Patrick spoke, Ray fell backwards, landing hard on his ass.  The voice that issued from Patrick’s throat was forceful and bellowing.  “I know not of this Patrick Stump.  And Thor does not kid.” 

Ray looked around for Pete; Pete had a habit of playing very unfunny practical jokes. 

Pete was nowhere to be seen. 

Ray looked back up at Patrick/not Patrick.  “If you’re not Patrick,” he said, “why do you look like him?” 

Patrick/not Patrick snorted disdainfully, and Ray felt his fro move with the force of the breath.  As a matter of fact, the dust around him whirled, and the merch guy at the booth twenty feet behind him had to chase down his stickers, which blew away at the force of the breath. 

“Your puny mortal eyes could not handle Thor in his natural state,” Patrick/not Patrick said pompously.  “This is how your mind chooses to see Thor.” 

At this point, Ray decided that PatrickThor was seriously annoying, and if Ray ever heard Patrick talk about himself in the third person, he might just punch Patrick on general principle.  Of course, that would mean that the other three members of Fall Out Boy—Pete, Joe Trohman, and Andy Hurley—would try to kill him, but really.  They were short.  Ray could take them. 

“Why have you summoned me?” PatrickThor rumbled, taking a step forward and causing the ground to shake alarmingly.  “What does a puny mortal such as yourself need with the Mighty Thor?” 

At this point, Ray just decided to go with it. 

“I want you to make it stop storming every time I play guitar,” he told PatrickThor.  “It’s getting annoying.” 

PatrickThor looked annoyed himself.  “That is preposterous.  Merely playing a musical instrument would not cause thunder.  Only a God of Thunder can do that.” 

Ray rolled his eyes.  “God, shmod.  I’m telling you, it happens, and it’s getting on my nerves.  Look at this!”  He held up his fro.  “It’s straightening!  I can’t handle this stress!” 

“You dare question Thor, Viking God of--” 

“Yeah, yeah.  Thor, Viking God of Thunder, I’m shaking in my shoes.”  Ray flapped his hand at PatrickThor, who stared at him in disbelief.  “Come on.  I’ll prove it to you.  And walk lightly,” he added.  “I don’t want you to shake down the entire tour.” 

PatrickThor followed Ray to the equipment tent.  When no one spoke to Patrick, only to Ray, Ray asked, “Doesn’t anyone else see you?” 

“Only the summoner can see Thor, Viking God of--” 

“Viking God of Thunder, yeah, yeah.  I get it.”  Ray entered the equipment tent and motioned for PatrickThor to follow him.  “OK.  Watch this.” 

Ray picked up his guitar as PatrickThor watched skeptically.  When Ray played a chord and thunder rumbled in the distance, PatrickThor’s eyes widened.  “Extraordinary!” 

“I told you,” Ray said petulantly.  “Now tell me how to stop.” 

“Extraordinary,” PatrickThor repeated.  “You must be a DemiGod of Thunder--” 

“I don’t care!” Ray burst out.  “Just tell me how to stop it.” 

And PatrickThor did. 

We can’t divulge PatrickThor’s words—to tell the secrets of a Viking God of Thunder is a dire transgression of Viking God law.  Suffice to say, when PatrickThor disappeared, Ray closed his eyes, did what PatrickThor had instructed, then cautiously played a chord on his guitar. 

No thunder. 

That night, My Chemical Romance played a thunder-free set.  Ray was congratulated mightily by his band mates, and he finally felt as though all was right with the world. 

But, occasionally, when Ray Toro plays guitar, he still brings the thunder. 

That’s just kinda cool.