Play It By Ear: Episode Zero

Jo Yihwan’s head felt like a ton of bricks.

He was in bed, recovering from a week-long bout with the flu and desperately trying to stay in touch with his band mates. They were on the other end of the phone call he was now party to, and he could not believe he actually wished he was witnessing the hot mess going on over there. Wherever they were.

“Steven’s sausage fell out of the bun,” Fi Legaspi, East Genesis Project’s manager, explained after a few seconds of nothing but enraged yelling mixed with boisterous laughter. “And this is me stopping you from making some weird joke. Minchan is livid Steven wasted a perfectly good sausage.”

“Accidentally!” Yihwan heard their drummer, Steven Bae, point out. “It was that quick swerve just now!”

Minchan, their vocalist and youngest member, must have been seated somewhere at the back of their service van, because his voice sounded muffled when he yelled, “You should have guarded it with your life! You had one job!”

“Oh, shut up! It’s not even your sausage!”

The band leader meant to laugh—because how could he not?—but the otherwise jovial noise came out sounding like a cross between a pig’s snort and a smoker’s cough. Damn this cough and clogged nose.

“All right now, quiet down. Chan-ah, could you hold the phone for me while I help Steven pick up the mess?”

A short pause followed as the phone exchanged hands. “Hyung” Minchan spoke. “Don’t think I didn’t hear you hacking just now. I don’t think you’re ready for the shoot this weekend.”

“The drips are helping me get better. I’ll be fine.”

“We can postpone it to next week, Yihwan-ah,” Fi said, reassuringly. “We are ahead of schedule—you don’t have to worry.”

Leaning back against his pillow, Yihwan closed his eyes and groaned. Of all the times he could have caught this damn virus, it had to be now, right in the middle of comeback preparations. Their calendars were filling up by the hour, and the fact that he was causing a delay only made him feel more restless.

Yihwan strained his ears when he heard another voice from the far end of the vehicle. Something about a seatbelt. Or seatbelts.

“Everything okay over there?”

“Yeah, hyung. Yukwon hyung just—”

The next thing Yihwan heard was a collective, shocked yell from his colleagues, followed by the grating noise of metal hitting cement. Then, a crash.

And finally, nothing.

Play it by Ear

Tara Frejas