Tragedy Can Inspire

Dear Joe,

If you're reading this then my feelings were right and something has happened to me and that something is that I'm dead ... Joe, I have a job for you, and only you. There is someone I need you to take care of for me."

That was the letter that changed Joe's life. The letter that asked him to take care of someone else instead of being taken care of. And without realizing it, what started as a favour to a lost treasured friend became the biggest gift he would ever receive. And sometimes, tragedy can inspire.

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3. You Are Special, Joe Jonas

The next morning Joe woke to an awkwardly empty room.  As he grabbed his cell phone beside him on the nightstand, he saw it was seven in the morning.  The last time he had looked at the clock, it had been 4:30 and neither he nor his brothers had shown any indication of wanting to split up.

He wondered when they had left.  He certainly hadn’t been surprised when they had shown up in his room.  You would be hard-pressed to find three brothers who were closer than the Jonas brothers.  They had known, in that way that helped them write their songs and create their artistic identity, when one or all of them needed to spill their thoughts.  Even with the growing tension between Joe and Nick, he would have never turned them away from his door.  He just might have been happy when he did it.

Joe pushed himself up and realized he was still wearing the suit he had been wearing for the party they had been at the previous night minus the jacket.  He quickly threw off the clothes as if he could toss the painful memories with them as well.  It didn’t work.  They were still there, hammering away at his tired brain like a skipping record.  He decided to miss the hot shower his body was screaming for dressed in a faded pair of jeans, not tight like normal, converse sneakers and a black t-shirt.  So not Joe Jonas but he a isn't care.

He opened the door to the hallway and walked into the abnormally quiet house.  The click of the door shutting behind him sounded like the crack of a shotgun in the expansive silence.  The Jonas house was usually a place of cluttered noise, with four boys living there at various times during the year.  A house of music, video games and laughter with a little yelling mixed in.  But not this morning.  Not that he thought for a moment that anybody except Frankie was asleep.  He also knew exactly where the family would have congregated.  The kitchen was where they always ended up even when they moved from a three bedroom twelve hundred square foot home to the forty-eight hundred they occupied now.

As he walked towards the kitchen, he saw a sight that greeted him most mornings but the scene seemed odd and out of focus.  All family members were clustered around the large island like usual.  But there were subtle differences in the canvas they painted.  While Nick would have normally been strumming his guitar or writing in his tattered songbook, he was instead absently shredding the toasted bagel in front of him into minute pieces.  Kevin and his father sat in silence, not discussing the next show or interview or when Dani was next coming in to town.  His mother still puttered around the sunny room but she didn’t speak and  her hands were visibly trembling.  The only person missing was Frankie.

Joe didn’t bother with the normal morning greeting.

“Is Frankie up," he asked while popping his own bagel into the toaster.  What he really meant was had he been told about Craig yet?

"No, he’s still sleeping.”  Joe’s father sat perched on one of the stools around the island.  “We wanted to tell him as a family.”  This really meant that his parents weren’t sure which brother he would want to run to for comfort.  It depended on the moment as to which was his favourite like any little brother.  Usually it was Nick but it was never guaranteed.  But it was easier if they were all in the same room so he could have his choice.

His mother now turned to face the small group.  "I don’t think we should put it off any longer," she said with a heavy voice.  She wiped a stray tear from her cheek.  “I’ll go get him up.”  With that she left the kitchen and Joe heard her walking up the stairs and towards Frankie’s room.

“Joe,” Kevin’s voice seemed remote and distant and Joe had a difficult time focusing on it as he turned to face him.  “We have to go to the hotel today and get Craig’s stuff.  Are you going to be up for it?”

A part of Joe wanted to just turn around and go back to his room.  But he also felt that Craig would want him, and only him, to do this.

“What time do we need to go?”

“Soon.  The press will be all over us in a few hours and I don’t them to be there when we do this.”  Kevin stood up and pushed an uneaten bowl of cereal away.

Amid the sound of bare feet running on the ceramic tile, Frankie bounded into the room followed much slowly by his mother.  "What do we have to do?”  The twelve year old Jonas opened up the large fridge and pulled out a carton of orange juice, pouring himself a glass and putting it back.  “Hey, could James come to rehearsal today?  We wanted to hang out before we left town.”  James was a friend of Frankie's who lived down the street.

Joe looked at his little brother and pain flashed through his body.  How was Frankie going to deal with this?

His father stepped towards his youngest son, putting a hand on his shoulder and kneeled down slightly so he was at Frankie’s level.  "Frankie, we’re not dong rehearsal today.”  His voice was even and calm, hiding the deep emotion he was feeling.

“What do you mean?  I thought there had to be a rehearsal every day before we started the tour?”  The question was so simple, just like any twelve year old would ask.

“Normally, there is.  But today is different.  Frankie, something very sad has happened. “  His father’s voice was starting to show the emotion he was feeling.

Frankie picked up on it and his face grew concerned.  “Dad, what happened?”  His voice was small and frantic.

“There was an accident last night and Craig was hurt.  Very badly.”

“Where is he?  Can I go see him?”  Frankie's eyes darted between them, looking for answers from the adults he trusted to never lie to him.

His father couldn’t continue.  He had always been honest with his children, not hiding them from pain.  But this was too much.  Nick gently turned Frankie to face him, replacing his father’s hands with his own.  He seemed to grow with maturity beyond his seventeen years in that moment as he knelt down to face him.
 
“You can’t go see him.”  Nick now wrapped his brother in his arms.  “I’m sorry Frankie but Craig’s gone.  He died in the accident and he’s not coming back.”

Frankie started to sob into Nick’s shoulder, his body shaking with each cry.  Nick just held him tighter, crying right along with him.  And Joe felt useless.

*************

Frankie had eventually calmed down and asked if he could go to his room.  While his parents didn’t want him to be alone, they didn’t want to pressure him either so they allowed him to go as long as he understood they were there if he needed to talk.

His father and Nick had left then, saying they needed to discuss business plans because of what had happened.  Tour details needed to be looked at and they needed a drummer as soon as possible.  They didn’t even ask if Joe had an opinion.  This wasn’t unusual as Joe never really worried about the business side of things, he figured his dad, Kevin and Nick had it covered.  They told everyone else that they would only be half an hour and then they would go to the hotel to get Craig’s stuff from the room.

 

Joe went to his room and finally took the shower he had bypassed earlier.  He didn’t take long though because the silence of his own room was still disconcerting.  Instead of going back to the kitchen, he headed up the staircase and towards Frankie’s room.  He wanted to see if his little brother was alright.  When he reached the room, he locked lightly and the door opened just a crack. 

“Frankie, you there?”  He opened the door even more and saw his brother lying face down on his bed.  “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”  He walked into the room and sat on the edge of the bed, unsure of what actions were required.
 
He didn’t respond and Joe was at a loss for words.  Nick and Kevin always seemed to know what to say, how to make people feel better.  He didn’t have that gift.  “Frankie, talk to me.”

He turned to look at Joe then.  Joe wished he hadn’t.  His spirit was filled with such pain, it radiated off of his little body.  His eyes were red with tears and his lips were quivering.

“Joe, what happened?  Why was Craig in that car," he asked quietly.

Oh no, a question that Joe didn’t want to answer.  How could he possibly tell his littlest brother that Craig had died because Joe had asked for a burger?  He didn’t think he could live with Frankie knowing that.

“He had gone to get something.  And when he was coming back, he was in an accident.”

“What had he gone to get?”  Frankie’s voice was clipped with held back tears.

“That’s not important.”  Joe tried to wrap his brother in a tight brotherly hug, just like Nick had.  He let him but didn’t hug back.  “We just have to remember who he was and not that he left us.”  Frankie started to fidget in Joe’s arms, fighting to free himself.  Joe wished that it was as natural as it was with Nick and tried to hold on tighter. 

“Joe, let him go.”  Nick’s voice came from the doorway.  “Can't you see he's upset?". Nick walked across the room and Joe let Frankie go.  He immediately jumped into Nick’s arms again.  Joe quietly left the room, letting the two brothers have their moment he wasn't meant to join.  Along with not dealing with the business stuff, he also let his other brothers handle most of the emotional stuff.

*************

Joe wandered downstairs and a few minutes later the group was ready to leave for the hotel.  They wanted to provide a united front to everyone there.  Joe waited for everyone else to get into the car and then took the last seat.  The group was just as quiet as the night before.  This time, however, their mother wasn’t with them.  She had stayed behind with Frankie since everyone agreed it would be too upsetting for him to be involved in this but didn't want him left alone,

When they reached the hotel, they parked in the back and were brought in the kitchen entrance by the hotel staff who had been waiting for them.  They wanted to avoid not only the paps, who were ravenous when it came to stuff like this, but also the fans that might recognize them in the lobby.  Now was not the time to sign autographs.  They were ushered quickly into the service elevator and went to the floor that had been rented specifically for the people involved in the tour rehearsal when they had first arrived in Dallas.

The floor was quiet and solemn, nobody out and wandering around.  As they started to walk down the hall, they heard a group of voices coming from an open door.  The room was halfway down the hall and belonged to one of the guitar players in the band.  The band had obviously congregated there.  Joe’s dad stopped and held out a key card to Joe.

“We’re gonna go and talk to the band, tell them the plans for the next few days.  I think you should be the one who goes and gets Craig’s stuff.”  Joe numbly took the key and his father and brothers walked to the room where the voices were coming from. 

Joe then went to room 715, the number that matched the key.  He had been in this room before with Craig, hanging out and talking for hours.  He slipped the key in and pushed the door open.  He hesitated on the threshold, knowing that once he entered this room and started going through the stuff, it was final.  Craig was gone.  This was the emotional stuff he didn’t deal with.

He finally made himself step into the room and his chest constricted with pain, a pain he didn’t want to feel.  As he stepped in, he saw the guitar that Craig used to write songs sitting on the bed, the case open.  It was old and beat up but Craig had treasured it.  Joe had offered to buy him a new one many times but he always said he needed this one.  Joe wasn’t sure what he had meant but Craig wasn’t big on talking about the past so he didn’t push it.  As he walked to the bed and stroked the guitar, he flashed back to one of the many conversations he had shared in this room.

Flashback

“Joe, stop fooling around.  I want to finish this song and you pretending you are superman is not helping the creative process.”  Craig through a pillow at Joe and he successfully dodged it.

“Come on, Craig.  I am not in the mood to write tonight.  Besides, I’m the goof, remember?  If you wanted the superstar songwriter, you should have asked Nick to help you.”

“I didn’t want Nick.”  He put the guitar he was holding down and ran his hands through his long blond hair.  “You don’t give yourself enough credit.  You have just as much talent as the other two.  You just choose to ignore it.”

“I’m not ignoring anything.  I’m just choosing to focus on other things like when they’re gonna be bringing be bringing my dinner.  I ordered half an hour ago.”  Joe stood up and paced, his energy starting to overtake him.

“It’s always food with you, isn’t it?”

“It’s an important part of life.  A rock star body needs to be properly sustained.”

“Sustained my ass.  It’s a wonder you aren’t four hundred pounds with the amount of food you eat.”

“It all comes out on stage.”

“Look, Joe, just remember what I said about the talent.  You really do have more that you realize.  I just wish you would accept it.”

“Yeah, yeah.  Talent, don’t forget, got it.”  Just then a knock came from the door.  “Aah, sustenance.  Cheeseburgers are a gift from god.”  Joe opened the door and took the cart from the bell boy after giving him a generous tip and pushing it into the room and beside a chair that was in the corner.  As he took a bite, Craig tossed another pillow at him.

“You are special, Joe Jonas.”  Craig looked at him with a smile, the one that always had something behind it but Joe didn’t know what.

“That’s Mr. Joe Jonas to you.”

Joe came back to where he was, in Craig’s room.  But it wasn’t Craig’s anymore.  And the pain crashed down again.

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