Ian's Story

factor X contestant and boy band member

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12. Home again

Chapter 12 Home again.

   Wow! Home again I couldn't believe it our time on the ship had gone by like the blink of an eye. Josh and his boyfriend Peter were waiting for me at the dockside terminal, after I had collected my bags and had gone through customs with nothing to declare except some duty-free perfume for mum and a bottle of whisky for dad. Even though Peter was standing there beside Josh, I couldn’t help it, I was so pleased to see him, I gave Josh a great big hug. In return he gave me a sly kiss on my neck before we parted. Laughing, Josh took one of my bags and off we walked to the carpark where Peter, who was older than us, had parked his car. 

   When I got home my mum was pleased with the perfume and my dad just accepted the bottle of whisky without comment he did however, at least say he was pleased with my exam results, which were mainly A’s, with both an A+ in English and Maths. Also to remember my promise to work extra hard this term, which was a sort reminder that the school started next week. Fuck I thought realising it was September already.  

   Thankfully that first weekend back after school had started the band didn’t have a gig. So I could relax and Josh was free to stay over as Peter had gone back to university. It was like old times, we shared my king sized bed and chatted most of the night both catching up on the last few weeks. Josh sounded a bit jealous of Mike when I told him about pushing the beds together. In the morning it was nice to feel Josh all snuggled up against me. After breakfast Conner phoned and call for a meeting of the band.

   “No way am I going through all that again,” I declared when Conner told us that ‘Factor X’, people had asked if we’d like to enter the contest again. “Now they’re offering us a free pass all the way to the live TV shows, starting in November.” He laughingly replied.  Apparently our Italian fans from the cruise had posted all their selfies on line and their site had gone viral with over twelve million hits so far.

  A few days later I asked my dad’s permission to go on the ‘Factor X’ TV show again. It was only after hearing that our agent Sam had negotiated a payment of five thousand pounds per person per show less his usual ten percent commission, did he agree with me that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity not to be missed. The only problem was he still expected me to study which meant getting up at five in the morning to do homework then after school rehearsing until late each day for the next eight weeks. As mum would say, I was burning the candle at both ends.

   Thankfully James, one of my fellow band members, gave us all a pick me up tablet an hour before the TV show. To say our performance was hot was an understatement. We were on fire and the crowd went mad and the judges love it.  We took another tablet the next day just in case we had to perform again. But when the public votes came in, we ended up celebrating well into the night, having got through to the next show.  

   The following day I felt really washed out, and thought, “Fuck school,” but after a shower and breakfast I felt a bit better, so decided to go there anyway. At lunch time Josh didn’t pull any punches, he called me an idiot for taking drugs. But I argued that it was only for a few weeks and then I could stop taking them. To my surprise, he told me that the money wasn’t worth getting into a drug habit and unless I promised to quit right now, he didn’t want anything to do with me ever again.

   When next James gave out tablets, I accepted mine, but didn’t take any as I had promised Josh I wouldn’t. Once again we went ballistic, there was no stopping us. The funny thing is I got high just by being with my fellow brothers in the band. We outdid all the other contestants. And naturally was voted through to the next round.

   After the show Josh accused me in front of everyone of betraying his trust and because of that we were no longer friends. Fuck, there was no way I could explain in front of James and the rest of the band that I hadn’t taken the tablets.  

   At lunchtime the next day I sat down opposite Josh and said my usual, “Hi, what’s up?” Josh just gave me a look that said it all. It showed me the hurt and anger he was feeling, and without say a word, he moved to another table. This really upset me because I hadn’t taken the drugs, as promised.

   The only thing for me to do under the circumstances was to text him saying that I was sorry about yesterday, and how could he expect me to say anything about not taking the drugs in front of my brothers in the band.  I saw him pick up his phone, read my message. But to my surprise instead of sending me a message back, he just turned around to face me and shouted across the room. “Ian you’re a fucking liar and you know it.” After saying that, he turned back and finished his lunch.   

   Not wishing to have it out with Josh where our conversation could be heard by everyone, in the canteen, I decided to leave it until after the boy band rehearsals. It being a Monday, we would be learning a new song and dance routine for next weekend’s ‘Factor X’ TV show.  So I didn’t arrive at Josh’s house until quite late, his mum answered the door and as usual told me to go straight to his room, where to my shock and horror I found him in tears cutting up my pajmas, the ones I had left behind on purpose many weeks before. Seeing me standing there he quietly told me to go.  It was only then did I realise that I had lost more than a best friend.  After that day, even though Josh and I said “Hi” when seeing each other at school, it sadly was never the same. At lunchtime we no longer sat at the same table. This carried on for a few days until I couldn’t stand it any longer and stopped going to the canteen for lunch.  For the next few weeks I collected the tablets from James, while we the band continued to be voted through.  Eventually it was the final show. This time when James came around with the tablets I was tempted to not only take the two he had given me but also all the ones I had collected, and so end it all.  But I couldn’t because of my promise, which was the only thing that still tied me to Josh. This decision ultimately saved my life.  Because when it was time for our band ‘T Five’ to go on stage to perform, we couldn’t find James or Paul.

   As with everything to do with show business there’s always someone to step in to save the day. Especially when it comes to making money.  So our boy band of Conner, Mike and myself were joined by two others who were employed as our understudies just in case something like this might happen.  We did our best but, when the public votes were counted, we didn’t win. 

   Much later that day we learnt that both James and Paul had been found dead from a drug overdose.  Apparently the last lot of tablets James had given us were lethal.  

End of part two 

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