The Fourth of July - Chapter 6

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Blue Crack Supplier
Jul 21, 2000
Melbourne, Australia
As requested... :wink:

The next chapter won't be posted until next Friday (or maybe Thursday night if you're on the other side of the International Date Line). Thanks again for all the feedback, it's good to know that people are enjoying the story. :)

Disclaimer - This is all made up in what passes for my head - I don't know U2 or Bob Geldof, and no one should take this seriously. Cos I'd just laugh at you if you did. ;)

Chapter 6

When she woke up, Natasha got up straight away and headed for the airport. She had a tense moment as her own plane took off, but she knew there was only one plane crash in Dublin that day, and that wouldn't be until the afternoon. She was in London by midday, and all she had to do then was find herself a press pass and get into the press conference.


Edge had gone to the studio after Bono had left for the airport, and met Larry and Adam there. The three of them were listening to some of the material from Fez, and trying to work out what it was.

"Is it an album, or not?" Larry wanted to know, hands on hips. "There's no point going any further until we know what we're doin'."

"I don't think there's any point deciding if it's an album or not until it's done," Adam countered, and Edge had agreed.

"What, you want to turn everything we recorded into a finished song before you make your mind up?" The drummer snorted. "We'll all be as grey as you before that happens."

"Maybe you already are," Adam said, a hint of a tease in his voice. "At least I'm not ashamed of my grey hairs."

"I don't think we need to finish everything before knowing what it is," Edge put in, diverting the rhythm section from their sniping. "But we won't know what it is until we do some more work on it."

Larry threw up his hands. "Fine. But don't mess with Moment of Surrender."

"That could be an album track," Adam said.

"Depends on what sort of album it is," Larry replied.

An hour later they were having a heated debate about a particular section of a promising jam, or more to the point, what exactly Bono had been mumbling over the top of it.

"There is no way that's 'been up under the raincloud'," Edge insisted.

"It bloody is! If you pulled that beanie off your ears you'd be able to hear." Larry glowered from across the room. Edge was fairly sure he wasn't being serious.

"At least I haven't gone deaf from bashing drums for thirty years..."

"Say what you like, he's saying 'raincloud', not 'molehill'."

Adam had been watching them like a tennis match, back and forth, but finally could stand no more. "It doesn't matter WHAT he said," the bassist declared in a loud voice, forestalling Edge's rejoinder, "because he's going to change it twenty times, and it'll probably never be finished anyway."

Edge and Larry looked at him.

Sam burst into the room, shock all over his face. The others turned to look at him, but he couldn't seem to speak.

"...Bono," he managed.

"What about 'im?" Larry said, scowling at the interruption. But Edge and Adam went still.

"What is it, Sam?" Adam asked quietly.

A radio could be heard faintly through the door Sam had opened. The security guard pulled himself together with a visible effort.

"The news said there's been a crash... at the airport..."

"What? It's not..." Larry began, but then lost his own ability to speak.

"They said Bono was on board. They said there was a fireball..."

Phones began to ring.


Natasha realised she would have been better off going in to work and trying to get a press pass from there... but she knew they'd never let the new girl cover something like this on her first day, even if it was a routine press conference and everyone knew what Bono and Geldof were going to say.

Well, no one ever knew quite what was going to come out of Geldof's mouth from one moment to the next, and she alone knew that Bono wouldn't be there. Which was exactly why Natasha was determined to be there instead. If only to have been there.

It was something to do. Tasha had decided that if she was going to be stuck in this day forever, she would do everything and anything she wanted to, and worry about insanity when she'd done it all.

Now she was outside the building where the press conference would be taking place, trying to talk and/or flirt her way in. Except the idiot she'd practically had to seduce had taken her up on the claim she'd made that he could call John at the Independent and prove that she worked for them.

"He says today's your first day, and you never showed up," the man smirked. His eyes hadn't once managed to go above her neck, but then she'd worn this top for a reason.

"Listen, Ken, I know this is unusual, but these are unusual circumstances. I've got inside information, you see... I know John would want me to be here. I had to leave in such a hurry, I didn't get a chance to tell him..."

"Oh yeah? What could you know that no one else here does?"

Tasha lost patience. "I know Bono's not going to be here," she said, dropping the nice act. "And if you don't let me in, I'm going to miss the best Geldof explosion I've seen in years, again. Further more, I'm gonna perforate your foot with these feckin' heels. You know I work for the Independent, I've as much right to be here as anyone."

"There's a pool on how late Bono's going to be, but he always shows up to these things," Ken said dismissively.

"You'll find out different in half an hour," Natasha replied darkly.

Ken had become less friendly. "You're not getting in, I don't know who you are," he said flatly. "Get out of the way before I call security."


Tasha stalked off a short distance, but stayed within sight of the entrance. Ken glanced at her now and then as people came and went, but she stayed put.

Then the news came through. She could almost see it spreading out from radios and beepers and mobile phones. Ken looked up towards her spot, stunned, but she'd already moved, and ducked inside during the confusion. Now all she had to do was stay scarce until the conference started...

The building had almost emptied while people assumed the conference would be cancelled, but then word came through that everything was still go, and by then Natasha had found herself a plastic pass on a lanyard. She had no idea if it was the right sort of pass or not, but she strode around as if she belonged there, carrying the usual journalistic accoutrements, and no one questioned her.

As the designated room began to fill with journalists, Tasha stayed by the wall, near enough to see but out of the way. The atmosphere in the room was electric, and she felt a thrill to be IN this room that she'd seen so many times on the television, to be in this moment she'd seen so many times. She glanced discretely at a television camera and wondered if she should wave to John.

Then Bob Geldof was at the podium, holding himself together by a visible effort. Every molecule in the room seemed to tense, waiting.

"Thank you all for coming," he began. "As always, any meeting of wealthy nations such as this summit is a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate our wealth and prove our humanity, by recognising the humanity of those living in the poorest nations on Earth..."

It was clearly the rehearsed speech he'd always intended to give – Tasha fancied she knew it better than Geldof did by now. She sucked up every detail that hadn't come across on the television; the tremor of Geldof's hand on the side of the podium, the almost sub-audible murmur from the back of the room, the intent expressions of everyone watching and filming and recording. All the journalists frantically indicating they wanted to ask a question, all being utterly ignored. Natasha watched, and waited.

"... especially given the current economic climate, we have no excuse to ignore--"

"Mr Geldof!" Someone from The Times hadn't been able to restrain himself any longer. "Do you think Bono's... uh, absence will affect--"

"Will ye shut up an' wait!" Geldof snapped, his accent thickening. Natasha finally got to see the look on the journalist's face, and was not disappointed. His neighbour dug him in the ribs and smirked some smug comment.

Geldof continued, as the murmur in the back of the room grew to a buzz.

"... While it is... intensely regrettable that my colleague, compatriot and... and friend, cannot be here this evening, I am sure he would agree that the issue of equality for Africans is larger and more important than any one person, and he would want the efforts to achieve that equality to continue." Geldof had to stop and take a breath. All the reporters immediately clamoured for his attention; one of the attendants pointed at one of them, and the others all fell silent.

"Angus McKay, Edinburgh Herald," the first man said. "When did you last speak with Bono?"

Natasha could see the vein pop out in Bob Geldof's temple. The grizzled ex-rocker ignored the reporter and looked out again into the sea of media, no doubt hoping for a non-Bono-related question. With only a few exceptions, it was a vain hope.

One woman managed to recall whatever her original question was going to be, before the news of Bono's death had thrown everything into chaos. Geldof had latched onto it, despite the eye-rolling from her colleagues, and held forth at length about the achievements of the One campaign in recent months. Tasha watched with fascination as the ageing Irishman got worked up about mosquito nets and wells; then she could see him remember again what had happened, and watched as he lost his train of thought and his eloquence died.

It kept happening like that, like Natasha's repeating days in microcosm. The clamouring, the questions about Bono, Geldof ignoring them all until someone asked about the summit or Africa, his answers, the faltering, then the clamouring again.

A blonde woman from some tabloid rag finally made him snap. "Have you spoken to Bono's family or band-mates since the crash?" she asked, eternally optimistic, as they'd all been, that Geldof wouldn't ignore her question. And indeed, this time he didn't.

Natasha saw the struggle on Geldof's face, saw it make his whole body tremble with rage, and saw the rage win, as it always did.

"Jesus feckin' Christ, woman!" he exploded. "I have not spoken with his family! Ye pack o' cold feckin' vultures, I'm surprised you're not harassin' his poor wife instead o' me! I'm sure there's an even bigger pack doin' just that anyway. You're all as bad as each other, damn reporters, writin' what you're told and to hell with the truth! To hell with the sheer sickening useless waste of human life! Ye none of ye care, not for anyone's life but yer own, not for nothin' but yer feckin' sales figures and ratings and God knows what other shite you think is important..."

Tasha had never been sure if Geldof had been referring to Bono's life or those of untold thousands of Africans, and now she suspected that Geldof didn't know himself. Words were simply pouring from him in an unthinking tide of grief.

"... If ye covered Africa as much as ye cover the feckin' royal feckin' family, things would be different! Nobody cares because they don't know, and they don't know 'cos you think watching the bleedin' royals is more feckin' newsworthy than children dyin' for lack o' the cheapest damn things that you all take for granted! And the bleedin' politicians are worse! They do know, we've made damn sure they know, and what do they do? Nothin'! Empty words an' promises for elections! Why aren't ye reportin' THAT? They're lyin' through their teeth an' we're just expected to take it?! No! Fuck them an' their promises! Fuck 'em an' their empty meaningless feckin' platitudes! Look at 'em, mouthin' condolences over one man's death..."

Natasha saw a drop of water fly away from his face as Bob Geldof shook his head angrily. "One man's death!" he said again, as if forcing himself to say the words and make it true. "I know what's gonna happen. That one man's death will headline every bleedin' paper in half the world, you lot'll make sure o' that. One death in all the papers, one death moving everyone while the deaths of thousands never touch 'em. One death... does it mean more than one life? Thousands of lives?"

Natasha had never heard or felt a silence like this before. But Bob Geldof's fury was not yet spent.

"... Those damn politicians are probably laughin' on the other side o' their faces! A thorn in their side, gone, just like that. One death, but many magnitudes of loss! His family's lost a husband and father and brother. His mates in U2 have lost their closest friend. And his other mates have too. Africa and equality have lost a staunch and tireless champion, an' those world leaders THINK they've lost an irritation. We'll see about that!

"If there's any o' you here who wanted to report on somethin' important and not just ask stupid questions," a withering glare at the blonde tabloid woman, "report on that. One death, many magnitudes of loss. One man's death generating a million times more publicity than hundreds of thousands of pointless, preventable deaths in Africa and other poor nations! It's ludicrous! It's completely feckin' insane! Our leaders are leading us into madness and coldness and inhuman cruelty, an’ if the crippling injustice of Africa isn't enough to galvanise ’em into action, maybe Bono's stupid, tragic, otherwise pointless death will do it! Or if even that doesn't move the leaders, it could move you people who can move the politicians!" Geldof had finally remembered that he was speaking to the world, and not just a room full of reporters, and had emphasised his last statement with a furious stab of his finger at the television cameras. The reporters were clamouring again as he stalked out of the room and into the labyrinth of corridors behind it.

Following an instinct, Tasha slipped after him.

He had left a trail of upset and bewildered personal attendants behind him, but after several minutes, Natasha had lost the trail and realised she had no idea where he'd gone. She finally made her way outside through a fire escape, and leaned against the cool stone of the alley wall. Looking up she saw only the orange-tinted clouds hanging low over London. She took a deep breath.

"Wow. That was worth seeing."

Natasha listened to the indistinct sounds of traffic as she leaned against the wall and thought about what she would do to amuse herself tomorrow, or today again. She'd have to call it 'tomorrow', she supposed, if only for convenience's sake.

The fire escape door clanged open, and a shadowed figure burst into the dark alley. Its outline was dishevelled, it was talking on a mobile phone, and it was Bob Geldof.

"What would be the point o' that? I said the words, they're out there, and I am takin' nothin' back.... Yes I feckin' meant every feckin' one! Aah...!" With a furious motion and a sharp clatter, he flung the phone away to shatter against the far wall. Then he saw Natasha. A moment later he saw the plastic pass hanging around her neck.

"No feckin' comment," he snarled, and turned away.

"Bob," Natasha blurted. "Mr Geldof," she tried again, and he stopped. "I wanted to say..." What did she want to say to Bob Geldof? She could hardly thank him for the entertainment. Loss and fury were raw on his face, and Natasha remembered her own reaction, the first time she'd lived this day.

"I wanted to say, I'm sorry," she finally managed.

"What're ye sorry for?" Geldof eyed her suspiciously.

Natasha found some words somewhere. "I'm sorry for the behaviour of my... my colleagues. And... for your loss."

"You're Irish," he said.

"I'm from Limerick."

Now that she was face to face with him, Tasha felt bad about why she'd come. She'd got it backwards... television turned reality into entertainment, but here, on the other side of the cameras, reality was just as horrible as it was anywhere else. By coming here, she hadn't got closer to the spectacle; she'd got inside it.

"I'm sorry I came," she muttered. "It was the wrong reason. I should've stayed home an' watched it on TV like I usually do."

"What're ye ravin' about?"

"Nothing. Just forget it, you'll forget this all tomorrow anyway. It'll happen again regardless of where I am, or which side of the screen I'm on."

Tasha knew she was babbling, but couldn't stop. She'd confided to the barman, and a number of other people, but Geldof's face was familiar and everyone else she'd spoken to had been people she'd never met before this started. Not that she'd met Geldof before either, but he was a familiar figure, and he had been moved by Bono's death to something other than professional interest or detached obligatory pity.

And now Geldof was dismissing her, assuming she was mad. She could see he wanted to get away somewhere and be alone, now that his duty at the press conference was done, but Natasha was seized with the urge to convince him of what was happening, and that this journalist at least still had a heart.

"I've seen this all before, you know," she said, and he stopped again. "Every day I'm living this day, over and over again. Every day the news is the same, and every day that plane crashes. Every day Bono dies, and every day you hold that conference and make that tirade. I've learned it off by heart. And every day I grieve. I'm stuck in the bleedin' fourth of July forever, and it keeps on happening and the grief is the only thing I can't get used to!"
Natasha's voice had risen, and Geldof was staring at her with wild eyes.

"If ye know what's going to happen, ye can stop it!" he shouted back, and slammed the fire door as he disappeared back inside.

Even if Natasha had wanted to follow him, his words had stopped her in her tracks. He hadn't really believed her, she was sure, he'd just said the first thing that came to mind, tired and distraught as he was. But...

Getting the guy didn't stop the day repeating. Maybe saving Bono's life could.

:panic::panic::panic::panic::panic: I CAN'T WAIT THAT LOOONG!!!!!!




I really, REALLY, loved this chapter. It had a whole new mix to it other than just Tasha waking up, going to work, etc. We got to see what was going on between the band mates before Bono passed (real nice touch) and now we got to see Bob's awesome, political, outrageous speech! Best chapter thus far!

I never said she was quick... :lol:
Maybe her being a reporter is an excuse... She's used to reacting to events rather than paricipating, or changing them. :wink:

Posting on my phone from Brisbane, btw!
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