Woken up by loud voices in the distance, I slowly opened up my eyes. None of the voices sounded familiar, and I could not make out what they were shouting about. The ringing in my ears was not helping. I blinked twice, but the fog in front of me did not dissipate.
“Have I finally gone senile?” – I asked myself, unable to recall anything from the previous evening.
A pounding headache might have suggested that I had been on a drinking binge, but I put those days behind me over a decade ago.
“Sir?” – a voice close by asked, and a blurry face appeared in front of my eyes.
It was so hard to keep my eyes open. I was so tired…
“Sir, can you hear me?” – the young brunette from earlier asked.
For a split second, I wondered if maybe I had died and had gone to Heaven, but dismissed that thought quickly. Everyone knows that you become young and able when you go to Heaven. How could one enjoy a pretty face without good eye-sight?
I must have smiled, because the angel in front of me smiled, too.
“You are going to be alright, Sir. My name is Bernadette, and I will take good care of you” – the pretty brunette announced.
My body wanted to get up, but my back was stiff, and my limbs heavy as if made out of lead. That prompted me to make a mental note to self to maybe get a new mattress.
“Don’t move. We’ll get you out and into a hospital in no time. Just keep your eyes open for me” – Bernadette announced as she put an oxygen mask over my mouth and nose.
The voices in the background became clearer. A man was barking out orders for various medical supplies. A woman was crying, asking God why he took her loved one Home. A kid was calling out a woman’s name, potentially looking for their mother.
A bright light blinded me but soon disappeared. It was not my bedroom. Instead, I realized that I had been on a stretcher and being shoved into an ambulance. Slowly, the memories have returned.
The winding road to the studio was mostly empty, as it usually was, so I rolled down my window, increased the volume on the stereo, and placed my hand on the outside of the car. Drumming my fingers to the beat of the music, I pressed on the gas pedal and the car launched forward. I thought about all of those who thought my life had been over and laughed. Here I was on my way to record an album that no one saw coming. Life was good.
“Can you tell me your name?” – the dark-haired, green-eyed beauty asked.
I looked at her stumped.
She took off my oxygen mask for a brief moment, giving me the opportunity to introduce myself.
No matter how much I tried, nothing came out of my mouth.
“That’s alright. Don’t worry. You’re doing so well” – Bernadette added softly, brushed a lock of hair out of my eye, and placed the mask back on.
When I saw the brake lights in front of me, I knew it was too late for me to do anything. However, in a hopeless attempt to avoid smashing into the line of cars in front of me, I swerved into the lane meant for traffic moving in the opposite direction. The next thing I remember is being woken up.
“Can you tell me your name?” – a man in a long white coat asked, flashing a light into my eyes.
It was a simple question, but I found it very hard to bring forth the answer.
“Do you know which year it is?” – the man in the lab coat continued his interrogation.
“2019. I mean, 2020. I still can’t get used to that” – I said without a second thought.
The ringing in my ears was still distracting but manageable. My vision was not 20/20, but it has not been that since I was in my 20s. The pounding headache now turned into a dull inconvenience behind a wall.
“Who is the current President of the United States of America?” – was the next question.
The answer to that question came to me naturally. So did the one to “Do you have any family that we could call?” A few years ago, I made the conscious decision to not be in a relationship. I finally realized that I was the one who was toxic, so I pushed others aside for their own good until I straightened myself out. When prompted for my name again, my eyes glazed over and suddenly,
My band members surrounded me. Having finished singing, still holding the microphone, I looked towards the boys for feedback. Johnny flashed me a grin while strumming his guitar. AJ hit the drums one last time and gave me two thumbs up.
“Bobby” – I said.
“What?” – a different man, in a shorter white coat, asked, pausing the scribbling he was doing in his pocket notebook.
“My name is Bobby” – I repeated.
“Let me go get the nurse” - the man said as he promptly exited my room.
“The medical student said that you needed me?” – a woman with curly blond hair said as she walked towards me.
“I just told him my name, and he acted as if he had seen a ghost. I did not think that someone so young would remember me” – I said, slightly shifting in the hospital bed.
My backside hurt from all the laying around.
“Remember you from where?” – the nurse asked, leaning over me and making sure that my IVs were properly attached.
“I used to be in ‘The Stars’ when I was younger” – I explained while taking a peek at her breasts, which were now showing through the opening of her smock.
She did not say that she didn’t know who ‘The Stars’ were, but the blank expression said as much. I was old, and there were no ifs or buts about it.
“And what did you say your name was?” – the nurse asked, now slightly frowning.
“Bobby” – I responded, slightly annoyed by the ever-repeating question.
The nurse’s frown deepened, but she did not say anything as she took note of all the numbers from the machine to which I was hooked up.
“Jimmy!” – a man in a leather jacket, wearing a gold necklace and too many rings for me to count, exclaimed as he burst into the room.
Fred was hard not to recognize. He had a peculiar fashion style, but he was a phenomenal producer, and I was happy when he reached out to me regarding my new album a couple of months ago.
“Heeeeey!” – I said excitedly, fist-bumping him.
The nurse retreated from the room before I could notice.
Even though I carried the conversation with Fred as if nothing had happened, I wondered why he called me ‘Jimmy.’ As he explained how he waited for me in the recording studio for over two hours and then came to the hospital once he heard about the pile-up on the radio, I search my brain for a confirmation of my name.
A CD cover appeared in my hand. My face was on it, and so was my name, but there was no mention of Johnny, AJ, or ‘The Stars.’ After a while, I came to a conclusion that I must have had a solo career after the band and decided to use a pseudonym.
“Is everything alright?” – Fred asked, waving his hand in front of my eyes.
“Yea, I’m just tired” – I answered, hoping that I would be left alone and could finally think without any interruptions.
“Something would be wrong if you weren’t tired after such a crash, Jimmy” – Fred responded, playfully punched me in the shoulder and then left.
“‘The Stars’ accused of sexually molesting a number of their fans while on tour” – the headline read.
The article offered no specifics as to who exactly did what, but mentioned that it was the end of the road for the band.
My heart sank when I realized that it was a part of my life, which I have been trying to run away from for decades. Even though I had nothing to do with the alleged abuse, I had always felt like I could have done something to prevent it.
Once Bobby, now Jimmy. Clean slate. Happy that I wasn’t entirely senile yet, I breathed out a sigh of relief.
The curly blonde entered my room with a tiny paper cup in her left hand.
“I don’t know if it’s because of the accident, or if you’re trying to hide something, but your name is not Bobby” – the nurse said, handing me the cup with four different pills in them.
“Or Jimmy” – she added.
Before I could explain the story that was only now coming together in my head, she pulled out my Driver’s License.
“One of the paramedics found this in your car” – she explained, with a slightly curious look.
The photo was of me, the address and date of birth were mine, but the name on it was not Bobby OR Jimmy.
I blinked, wondering if maybe my eyes were more affected than I thought.
“If I were you, I wouldn’t tell anyone my real name, either” – the nurse said, and her face loosened up.
We both burst out laughing.