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“My life.” He pauses. He knows the value of a dramatic pause. “Has been lived.” Another pause. Never too much drama. “For this moment. Everything else has been prelude.” He pauses again, catching his breath. Can’t appear too eager. “To this. This moment, when I, Guy Ripley, will fulfill a lifelong dream to interview…Far Out Boy.”

He walks up to the door and grabs the knob. “Others have tried to get to the heart of their lyrics, to find the depth and meaning behind ‘Tell mummy I’m watching YouTube from the closet’ and ‘Also evil. Also into cats.”

The door swings out, smacking him hard on the shoulder. He winces then smiles, showing his teeth. The camera’s always rolling. “Remember, you never know who you might literally bump into when you’re in the vicinity of such greatness.” He glances at the perpetrator, a short, dark-haired, multi-tattooed man in a black hoodie. “Groupies. Roadies. Hangers-on.”

The man gives him a completely uncalled-for dirty look and moves past him. Guy pushes the door open further and slips into the airplane hanger.

“As you can see, the hubbub that surrounds a band like this is nearly overwhelming. There is no rest. No downtime. The constant grind of creation wearing them down, sucking the very marrow from their bones.”

The only occupants of the huge hanger, three men and a dog, blink at him and Guy stares back. One of them, another tattooed hooligan with a truly impressive head of hair, gives Guy a strange look. “You the pilot?”

“The pilot? Oh-ho. I see. You’re quite the prankster. You must be the one they call, ‘Pete’.” He chortles. “The ‘pilot’ of Fall Our Boy.”

“Joe, actually.”

“Joe. Joe. Yes, yes. You’re the keyboardist.”

“Lead guitar.”

“And guitar. Yes. Of course. Right-o.” He nods. “Excellent. I am, of course, Guy Ripley, BBC entertainment news.”

The one in the hat raises an eyebrow. “You’re kidding.”

“No, no. Absolutely not. I’m here to soar to the heights of stardom with you, the pop sensation of Fall Out Bore.”

The three of them blink at him again, and he wonders if this is actually the band at all and, if it is, if perhaps ‘genius’ might be too-generous a term to use. He looks at the one in the hat again. “So, tell me, Pete…”

“Patrick.”

“Patrick?” He frowns and glances at his notes. “Patrick. And you…do…what, exactly?”

Patrick pulls his hat down, effectively ignoring him. He turns to the last of them. More tattoos and scraggly facial hair.

“Right. Well then.” He grips the microphone more securely. “As you can see, we anxiously await the pilot’s arrival, and then we will conduct what will truly be the interview of a lifetime.”

“Who hired this guy?”

He ignores the dig and faces the camera full-on. “The band. The lyrics. We’re going to the top, taking to the air. In mere moments, we will take flight with Farm Out Boy.”

“Wait. Someone invited this guy along? Don’t we have some sort of clause or something?”

The roadie from the doorway comes back into the hanger. “I found the pilot, duders. Let’s go.”

Guy turns back to the camera. “The band clearly doesn’t put on airs, still associating with the rough Chicago element from whence they sprung.” He jogs after them as the band runs for the plane, careful to look back at the camera as he goes. “This is it. The moment.” He scrambles on the plane behind them. He sits down, leaning forward toward the redhead with facial hair. “Pete, as we leave the ground, tell me, how does it feel to sing the words that echo in the hearts and emotional core of teenaged girls everywhere?”

All of them ignore him until they’re in the air at cruising altitude. The tattooed roadie leans back against the aircraft and crosses his arms. “Here’s the thing.” Guy can barely hear him over the roar of the engines, so he leans forward. “We don’t think of it that way.”

“How do you think of it? Bestowing your wisdom on the nubile, prepubescent girls who are riding the mosh pits to adulthood? Cashing in on the angst of the oppressed and depressed with disposable income?” Guy leans in even more, the taste of the scoop on his tongue. “What is it that makes Fall Ouch Boy the zeitgeist of Generation Emo?”

“Seriously? Seriously?” The one called Joe asks. “Have we taken off? Can we kick him off the plane?”

“I write words. Patrick makes them make sense and puts them to music. We’re not trying to be anything to anyone.”

“Fall Out Buoy,” Guy looks at the camera, knowing Jack has him in immediate close up. “Denying their role in the rise of ‘Hot Topic’ at the heart of America’s retail resurgence.” Guy shakes his head slowly, making sure the gesture holds significance, a disbelief that they are refusing their right as the leaders of the J-14 and TeenBeat magazine sect. “As we cruise to the appropriate heights, you will see that, unlike the medicated, suicidal, amorous teens with deer horns and effeminate vampires, the furry costumed, pill swilling denizens of their songs and videos, Farm Out Boy embraces joy. They cling to life and throw themselves in the face. Of danger.”

“I’m going to throw him in the face of…”

Guy ignores the interruption, carefully turning to reveal the parachute securely on his back. “And today, instead of launching into the audience and being felt up by the ocean of hands and security guards, we – Fall Arm Boy and myself – will launch ourselves into the wild, blue yonder, conducting an interview so exciting so full of-” He pauses, allowing himself a small chuckle, “gravitas, that even the skies themselves will part for us.”

He stands up, holding onto the side of the plane as he backs to the door. “This will be the first ever interview with the band as they-” Another chuckle, short so that it’s not too much, “fall out of the plane with me.”

He allows himself to be handled into position in the plane, the attendant double-checking his parachute carefully. “This is it. The moment. Hold on to your.” Another pause and a cocked eyebrow for the gent in the band, a cheeky smile at the camera. “Hats.”

“Falling. Falling. Falling.” He screams into the microphone, the wind rushing around him. “And I look up to see…” He looks up and sees nothing except blue sky, the plane continuing on and not a single member of the band or his camera crew parachuting down with him. “Oh, bloody hell.”

**

Guy stumbles back to the hangar, the billowing cloth of the parachute dragging behind him, making walking difficult at best. He sees the camera in the distance, resting ably on Jack’s shoulder, and he feels a sweet sense of relief. All is not lost. Surely there is footage of the band overcome with horror as he plummeted from the plane, with concern for his safety. Shots of them rending their clothes and beating their breasts in primal emotion when his parachute finally opened and rescued him from certain death.

Not as compelling as a mid-jump interview, but there is always the possibility of tears. He can work with tears.

He’s almost to the hangar when a tall young man – nay! an angel, one of God’s seven Archangels – enters ahead of him. He barely glances at Guy, giving him just the hint of the most gorgeous radiant smile, like golden sunlight reflected through rainbows, before calling out in the dulcet bray of a Chicago accent. “Yo, Pete. You ready?”

“Yeah.” The tattooed hooligan hops off the crate he’s sitting on, and the only thought that echoes through Guy’s head is That’s Pete?!, before Pete jogs over on his ridiculously short legs. “Oh, hey. Duder. Nice jump form. Really classy.”

Guy ignores him, choosing instead to focus on the vision in tight jeans and a teen girl’s t-shirt. He strides over, holding out his hand. “Guy Ripley. Your biggest fan.”

“Um…” He looks slightly confused, a vision in befuddlement. “Thanks?”

“Oh. Yeah. Guy Ripley, BBC dude, this is William Beckett. He sings for The Academy Is…” Pete rolls his eyes at William. “Guy here is doing a special about us.”

“Us as in you-us,” William asks, his eyebrow cocked suspiciously or, possibly, Guy thinks, lasciviously, “Or us as in us-us?”

“You want him, Bilvy?” Pete glances at Guy and laughs. “He’s all yours.”

Guy’s eyelashes flutter as his eyes threaten to roll back in delirious joy. William - William, the name rolls off his tongue – grins and Guy can’t help but watch his form as he and Pete walk toward a run-down station wagon. He shakes his head and reminds himself he’s a professional. Waving his hand for Jack and the camera, he finger-combs his hair and brushes back the swirl of parachute silk that flies up and threatens to overtake him.

“This is Guy Ripley, BBC News. With me, you have seen the glorious moments in the jet-set life of bands.” He speaks softly, a stage whisper. “Together, we have seen fame and fortune gone right and so, so wrong. But nothing we’ve heretofore seen, nothing has prepared us. For this.”

Jack is silent, camera running for a long time before he finally speaks. “For what, Guy?”

“No. Not for what.” Guy moves closer, intent and intense. “For whom. Every single moment, every breath. It has led us here. To this. To him.”

“Him who? Pete Wentz?”

Guy shakes is head, thinking he’ll have to edit out Jack’s thick Cockney accent later, and points. He knows Jack will follow his lead and zoom in on the parked car, dusty and rusted and the carcass left from many a Chicago winter.

“William Beckett. The elusive Chicago rock star. More than anyone, he has captured the imagination and desire of millions. And I, Guy Ripley, will bring him to you. To the masses. All the rest were dress rehearsal. William Beckett is the real deal. William Beckett is the play. And the play-” He pauses as long as he can, barely containing his own excitement. “Is the thing.”

Guy nods, trusting Jack to cut the camera before Beckett drives off and is essentially lost to him, and before he can record any of the rest of Fall Itch Boy walking behind him, muttering to themselves.

“It’s all right, boys,” he assures them. “Being overshadowed happens to even the nicest of men.” He strides off, heading for his own car, relieved beyond measure that Jack’s camera most definitely did not capture the keyboardist’s incredulous, “What the actual fuck was that?”