"Daaaaawn,
Go away back where you beloooong.
Girl we caaaan't
-
ahem-Change the places where we were born.
Before you saaaaaay,
That you want me.
I want you to think,
What your family would say.
Think-
What your throwing-
ahem!-way
Now think what the future would be with a poor boy like meeee.
Meee-ee.

Dawn,
Go away I'm no good for you.
Dawn,
Go away I'm no-"

"Alright, kill it- 't sounds fine," Tommy said, removing his hands from the guitar and waving them in the air to alert everyone that they ('they' meaning 'he') were done with the song.

"Alright, fellas," he said to their rhythm section, "Better get this stuff outside before the taxi gets here." As they hauled their equipment up the stairs and out of the basement, Tom called the boys (Bob, Nick, and Frankie) into a tight huddle for their usual "pep-talk" which Tom liked to give before every show they did.

"Okay, boys-this is it," he began, "We got two hours 'til we play our first big room! Now all we gotta do i-"

" huh… HA-shoo," Frankie sneezed.

"Blesha," Tommy gestured quickly to Frankie, and continued his lecture, "Now, where was I? Aw, yeah! All we gotta do is stay focused. That might be kind of a stretch…'specially in Nicky's case…"

"Aye, I heard that, you Madigan!"

"C'mon fellas," Bob cut in, "Tommy's actually made a good point-"

"Thank you," Tommy interrupted, directly at Nicky. He crossed his arms and smiled very conceitedly (as he always did). Until his smile faded into a frown as he overheard Bob whisper to Nicky, "For once…"

"Hey!"

As Nicky tried to muffle his laughter, Bob continued.

"A good show doesn't just happen. You have ta make it happen! Now, we gotta be so on top tonight that the audience is gonna think they're in-"

"H- hup'CHOO!"

"Salud," Nicky said hastily, as Bob continued, "They're gonna think they're in Mount Rushmore!"

"So…" Tommy chimed in, "Who's ready ta put on the best damn show we've ever had?"

"I'm in!"

"Le's do this!"

"ah-AHH…HUUUR-SHOOO!"

The three boys turned around to find that the source of the massive sneeze was Frankie. After blowing his nose into his hankie, Frankie sniffled, looked up and giggled shyly. The boys looked at each other, and then back to Frankie.

"Uhh," Bob began, "You okay, Frank?"

"Yeah…" Tommy added suspiciously, "Sounds like ya getting' sick…"

"Huh? *sniff* Me-sick? No way: I-i'm fine," Frankie lied, "Just-ahem!- ju-just this room; 't needs dusting, that's all. huh- HUH'SHOO. *sniff* Hehe…"

'Ah, fungul," Frankie thought as his friends stared at him, "I am gettin' sick! Not tonight; any night but tonight! Man, 's it hot in here, or is it just me? Aw, shit! What if I got a fever? No way is Bobby gonna let me get away with that one. Christ, of all night's ta get sick, it had ta be toni-'

"Frankie? FRANKIE!"

"H-huh? W-what?"

"I said 'do ya feel feverish'," Bob remarked.

"Who me? N-no! I—" But before Frankie could finish, he broke into a coughing fit. As he coughed, Bob looked at Nicky and Tommy with a façade of worry.

After Frankie's coughing had dulled and eventually stopped, he sighed exhaustedly as Bob felt his forehead.

"Mhm," Bob hummed to himself, "Just as I thought."

"Wha's goin' on with 'im, doc," Tommy said sarcastically.

"Frankie's got a spike fever," Bob replied looking at his tired friend, "I should've known by the chills-"

"W-w-what are you talkin' about," Frankie said defensively-his voice going hoarse, "It's jus' cold down here, that's all! If we turned off the damn air conditioner once in a while- huh, HA'shoo!-"

"Can it, Castelluccio," Nicky replied, as Tommy pointed his hand at the ground as a sign for Frankie to sit down. Considering how horrible Frankie felt, he sat down without argument as Nicky continued, "There's no point in hidin' it, we—jeeze, you look like Hell."

Nick was right- he did look like Hell. His face was flushed and sweaty, his nose and ears tinted pink, and bags fell under his exhausted eyes. Why did this have to happen tonight?

"Hang on, hang on," Tommy intervened, "So what does that mean for tonight? I mean, we gotta do the show-"

"We will do the show," Bob interrupted, while pointing at Frankie, "But he won't."

"What?"

"WHAT!"

"Wh-what? Atc'hoo!"

"Ya fuckin' kiddin' me, right," Tommy said angrily to Bobby, "Bob-Frankie is the show! He's gotta do it!"

"Looking like that?" Bob retaliated still pointing at Frankie, and then crossing his arms, "I'm sorry, but nobody-NOBODY- in his condition deserves to be forced to perform. He's sick, Tommy! He's gotta rest!"

"So he can do it after the show," Tommy replied coolly, heading in Frankie's direction, "Everyone gets sick; and most people jus' tough it out and live their lives. Like my grandmothuh-"

"Good lord, not this story…" Nicky, who was sitting on the couch next to Frankie, moaned.

"My grandmothuh-God rest her soul- never took no medicine. Not uh, no sir! Every time Nonna got sick, she would stick it out and 'man-up'-"

"Considering that she's a woman…sort of," Nicky joked quietly, forcing a laugh out of Frankie.

"Aye! My point! …Anyway, like I was sayin'-whenever I got sick, she'd tell me the same thing every time; 'Durafuori e non respirare su di me.'"

Nicky, Bobby and Frankie all looked at eachother in confusion, as Frankie repeated back to Tommy, " 'Tough it out, and... don't breathe onme'?"

Tommy shrugged as replied, "Well she didn't wanna get sick! My point is, Frankie, sometimes you gotta do whatcha gotta do...even if ya feel like shit."

"But have you felt his forehead," Bobby added, "I mean, trust me when I say this- you could fry an egg on that thing! And all those lights on stage; he'll die of heatstroke-"

"And what are you, his mothuh?" Tommy replied, walking over to Frankie, "Look-let me check for myself, and if I think he's really comin' down with somethin'; then he stays home."

"Don't I got a say in this," Frankie added with a cough, "I mean, after all—"

"Madon'ami!" Tommy cried as he yanked his hand quickly away from his friends boiling forehead, "You weren't kiddin', Gaudio!" All of a sudden, Tommy went from 'Big-bad-business-Tommy' to 'strict, dad-of-the-group, Tommy'.

"There's no way you're perfomin' tonight!"

"What? Aw, c'mon, Tom- I'm fine!"

"No sir- not with that fever!"

"What evah happened to yeh grandmuthuh? 'Durafuori', remember?"

"Nonna never had to tough out a fever like that! And, uh- oh, yeah- that reminds me, let's try to keep a 3-foot distance until yer all better, okay?"

"But I'm fine!" Frankie tried to scream, but his voice was so hoarse, it barely allowed him to go above a dull roar. "

"I feel- Aah, eh, Uh'UH-HAISHIOOO!"

The force of Frankie's sneeze was so great, it scared Nicky out of his seat and onto the floor.

" *sniff* ...g-great."

Frankie was so embarrassed; the guys had never seen him sick before. This was humiliating. You see, Frankie had whole list of pride issues, and letting other people know when he was sick topped it. He just wished he could crawl in a deep, dark hole and never come out. He just kept thinking to himself, 'It had to be tonight...'

Giving up, Frankie moaned quietly as he hid his face in his hands. Each of the boys looked at eachother-feeling an equal amount of concern for their sick friend, until Bobby walked over to Frankie.

"Frank," Bob said quietly, " 's okay, pal-everybody gets sick. Nobody's gonna mind if ya miss one show-"

'I can think of two people," Frankie thought to himself before replying:

"But, Bobby," Frankie said with a cough, "It's like Tommy said... I am the show-"

"Way to be modest, Frankie," Nicky interrupted sarcastically with a smile.

"Look, Castelluccio," Tommy said seriously, "Ya sound like ya losin' yeh voice anyways, so what's the point in comin' tonight if ya can't sing?"

"But, but-"

"No 'buts'! Francis Stephen Castelluccio, you are going to stay home and get a well-deserved rest! Understood?"

But Frankie didn't reply...he just looked down. Bob raised his eyebrow as he took notice of Frankie's reaction.

"There's more to this, isn't there?"

Frankie didn't respond to Bob. He just looked up, and then back down.

"Frankie," Bob said firmly, "Answer me."

Frankie sighed and nodded. He then cleared his throat before he spoke.

"Mary...was gonna bring Francine to see the show tonight for her birthday..."

The boys didn't know what to say- Frankie didn't get to see Francine or Mary much, and they wouldn't be back in Jersey for another 8 monthes! Subtle tears were forming in Frankie's eyes as he spoke.

"She was finally gonna get to see her old man up in action. But- ASCHOO!- *sniff* who'm I kiddin'? She's not gonna wanna see her Pop all faint and sick. And, you're right, Tom- I can't sing anyways...so what's the point?"

Bobby looked at Tommy, and Tommy looked at Nicky. None of them knew what to do. Just then, their drummer ran in.

"Okay, guys, the cab's here! We- woah..." he looked at Frankie as if he were a ghost, "You look terrible....You get mugged?"

"Do you wanna get mugged?" Tom intruded angrily. Scared by Tom's reaction, the drummer fled the basement and back up the stairs.

"Guess you guys better pack up," Frankie said, coughing, "Give 'em Hell tonight."

The boys packed up their guitars silently as they each thought about the sad perdicament Frankie was in. All packed, the boys said good-bye to Frankie who was laying on the couch with a blanket around him.

"Get some rest, Frankie," Bob dictated, "And be sure to drink lots of fluids!"

"Thanks, Ma," Frankie joked, and then said, with a wink, "Will do."

"Feel better, Frank," Nicky said, "We'll tell ya how the show went."

"Thanks, pal-eh,HA'shoo!"

"Take it easy, alright," Tom said, handing him a hanky, "We'll explain everything to Mary and Francine."

"Doubt they'll believe you, Devito," Frankie replied, blowing his nose. Sniffling, he laughed,"...better let Bobby tell her."

The two of them laughed as Tom headed up the steps. All alone, Frankie headed over to the calendar he had hanging up on the wall. Frankie always used the calendar to mark birthdays and upcoming shows, and he stared at today's date which read "Francine's 5th Birthday". He sighed sadly to himself as he allowed a tear to roll down his cheek. 'What a crummy birthday this'll turn out ta be.'