Backstage encounter with rock band frontman, Jared Leto

I stood in front of the mirror, the twin reflection
staring back at me as I assessed my appearance with a
critical examination. I felt as though I was walking
through a funhouse of distorted glass. Surely, this was
not the way I truly looked. I immediately chided
myself, “Don’t be so self-judgmental!” The voice inside
my head repeated sternly, attempting to convince, to
justify my reasoning by placing blame on the recently
dissolved remnants of my last failed relationship.

I should feel liberated, after all, it was nothing but
a shitty one-way affair, a fact that was realized all
too late. I had invested too much of my hopes, too much
of my heart towards a guy who was only out for his own
self-gratification, and I had become all but blinded by
it. He had never really noticed me, never really
bothered to take the time to know me, so why had I
wasted so much of my own energy dwelling on it? Why was
I just now emerging from the reclusive environment I
had erected around myself?

For the first time in weeks, I allowed myself to step
out of the customary sweatpants and frumpy t-shirt that
had become part of my daily wardrobe, only because my
friends were convinced that I was going through a
depression and wanted to do their best to cheer me up.

The last thing I wanted to do was go out, socialize, be
around people, yet, here I was, applying the final
touches to my immaculate makeup, the facial mask that
concealed the person I had become. Completing the
outward shield of my ensemble, was the provocative top
and tight skirt that I had so often relied on, simply
because I always felt confident, attractive in them,
but now was not the case. I wondered, would I ever feel
beautiful again?

Dusk was setting, the city beyond the confines of my
apartment becoming alive with drivers and pedestrians
rushing home, glad to finally be free of the prison
that was the grinding routine of work. I had neglected
my own job as of late, having requested a leave of
absence for medical purposes, if a broken heart could
even be considered a medical purpose at all. But still,
it was a condition that manifested itself in the form
of stress and anxiety which had somehow debilitated me
from all daily functions. Why had I allowed myself to
overreact in such a way? I was twenty-nine-years old,
yet, I had acted like a schoolgirl experiencing the
exaggerated tragedies of a first crush.

My two closest friends, Amanda and Michelle had
supported me throughout, standing in as a consolable
sounding board for the many tearful outbursts and
periods of despair I experienced. They were patient in
a situation in which most people would have chosen to
simply abandon one who refuses to see all logic and
reason.

I had finally given in to their insistence that I join
them for what would be a long-delayed night out, saying
it would do me some good to reintegrate myself into the
world of the living. The evening’s agenda was to go to
a downtown club named “Oblivion”, an establishment
which mostly showcased local bands, with the occasional
inclusion of a few famous recording artists.

Tonight’s performance was to be headlined by such a
band known as “30 Seconds To Mars”, which had just
recently emerged onto the modern rock scene and
experienced instant success with the help of a few
solid releases and a loyal following.

I had just gotten introduced to the band’s music, but
its lead talent was most certainly not unfamiliar to
me. The singer was none other than Jared Leto, a
reluctant former teen heartthrob and current film star
who tried desperately hard to emphasize the distinction
between these two ventures by keeping them as separate
as possible.

While I didn’t categorize myself into the mold of
juvenile idol fixation, I had to admit that Jared was
quite magnetic, and even that was putting it mildly.
Overall, he was the ultimate personification of
sexuality. The pure essence of it imbued his entire
being, through even the most unintentional of actions
such as a subtle gesture, a casual look, a tone of
voice. He was also often the subject of much tabloid
speculation and was known for many romantic
associations to youthful Hollywood starlets, this
despite his thirty-three-years of age.

I told myself that I was not one to question his
personal exploits anyhow, when Amanda and Michelle
finally arrived. Grabbing my handbag and checking
myself in the mirror one last time, I was already
feeling a bit better and had even managed to
temporarily forget some of my previous reservations and
trepidations. Suddenly, I had to wonder why that was.
Surely it wasn’t because I had been thinking about
Jared? Dismissing the thought, I headed out the door.

When we arrived downtown, the place was already
bustling with activity, and locating a parking space
proved to be quite a challenge. A long line of people
had formed around the block, waiting to be admitted
inside, into the brown brick tenement whose glowing
marquee announced the main attractions, the red neon
sign proclaiming its name.

“Wow! I’ve never seen so many people here before!”
Michelle exclaimed, as she maneuvered the car into a
vacant spot.

“Well, who would want to stand in line to see a band
called “The Neutron Nerds” anyhow? This is “30 Seconds
To Mars” we’re talking about here, not some shitty
college band,” Amanda reasoned.

Sitting silently in the back seat, I once again
wondered what I was doing here, but I was soon reminded
of the undercurrents of my motivation when Michelle
announced,

“Hey, I think the guys are already here. Looks like
their tour bus over there,” pointing towards the end of
the lot, where the idle vehicle sat.

The guys Michelle had been referring to were, of
course, Jared and the rest of his band members which
consisted of his brother, Shannon, and two longtime
pals, Tomo and Matt.

We stepped out of the car and joined the growing
procession of people. From where we stood, we could
hear the distinct sound of clanging cymbals,
interspersed beats against a drum, the occasional riff
of a guitar. The band was most likely setting up or
performing a cursory sound check.

Most everyone around us was wearing some form or other
of apparel, from shirts to custom-made accessories that
clearly distinguished them as diehard fans of the band.
At long last, we started moving forward, with the
exclamation of much enthusiastic cheers.

We continued on ahead, albeit slowly, due to our being
the few last ones in line. Once we finally entered, a
lot of people had already settled within the dimly-lit
space, grouped around tables, amassed in the center in
their attempt to secure a closer vantage point to the
stage. Others still, were filling up on drinks along
the mahogany counter. The room had soon filled with
cigarette smoke that clung to the air like a thick fog.

I looked around in search of a dark corner. I suddenly
felt trapped, claustrophobic. I was aware only of a
flurry of people, brushing past me, bumping into me.
Perhaps I could retreat somewhere, unseen, where I
could drown unattended within the solace and numbness
the flow of alcohol could readily provide.

I was nudged forward by whom I had assumed at first was
simply another faceless stranger, but I turned around
and found myself facing Michelle and Amanda who already
had their drinks in hand.

“Where did you run off to? We thought you got lost in
the crowd,” Amanda said, taking a sip from her drink.

“Oh, I just went to the ladies’ room. You know, long
drive, long wait in line…” I tried to explain
nonchalantly.

“Well girl, you need a stronger bladder. Especially if
you’re to handle all those drinks here,” Michelle
emphasized by taking a long pull at the straw which
protruded from the frosted glass of her marguarita.

“Come on! We need to move our asses if we want a good
view of the stage,” Amanda prompted impatiently, trying
to steer us through the dense crowd.

For a while, we stood in front of the dark stage where
the instruments silently waited for its owners. The
drums, the keyboard, the microphone held by its stand
at the forefront of the square platform. Soon, the
overhead spotlights came to life, bathing the stage and
its surroundings in kaleidoscopic hues of reds, blues
and greens. Suddenly, the beginning wails of an
electric guitar could be heard from the background as
Jared slowly emerged, followed by the rest of his
bandmates.

They each took their appointed positions with Jared
taking his place at the edge of the stage, gripping the
microphone and releasing it from its stand.

“How’s everyone doing tonight? Are you ready to fucking
rock?” Jared shouted, attempting to get the crowd
involved. Everyone responded with an ear-splitting
cacophony of whistles and cheers which prompted the
band to charge into their first number.

From where we stood, I had a pretty clear view of
Jared. He had the appearance of an obscure, yet
seductive entity, entirely dressed in black, with
equally dark hair and makeup that outlined and
accentuated the stark colorful contrast of his blue
eyes. Somehow, he reminded me of an enigma, some kind
of a myth. So many people had attested that he was
simply breathtaking in person, even more so than the
perfected image presented by the celluloid frames of
movie screens and the glossy, airbrushed pages of
magazines. And while I had never doubted their claims,
it was still something you had to see in order to truly
believe.

It was not difficult to get involved into the show. The
whole band, and Jared especially, infused the crowd
with such infectious energy. Most guys raised their
fists, punching rhythmically at the air, while a lot of
the girls squealed and giggled uncontrollably, because
of what I assumed, in most part, had to do with Jared
himself.

Suprisingly, I found myself enjoying the show, not even
noticing that Michelle and Amanda were no longer beside
me. No doubt were they more interested in keeping their
drinks replenished rather than paying attention to the
actual band. Jared was an unstoppable whir of activity,
moving about the stage like a drifting tornado, a sheen
of perspiration glistening upon his face under the
heated luminescence of the spotlights.

His voice ascended an impressive scale of low,
seductive whispers that progressively heightened into
loud and hoarse intensity. He closed his eyes and
gyrated his hips to the languid beat of one of the more
subdued songs. He turned in my direction, then opened
his eyes slowly, his gaze fixed directly upon me.
Surely, I was hallucinating. But how could I be, if I
hadn’t even consumed a single drop of inebriating
substances?

Jared continued to look at me, his microphone pressed
close to his mouth, his lips almost seeming to envelop
the rounded tip, in what I couldn’t help but interpret
as a suggestive manner. But once again, why would these
gestures be directed towards me? The intense blue of
his eyes held me firmly rooted to the floor, and I felt
like I was standing in the path of an oncoming tidal
wave. Suddenly, the music and all other noise around me
seemed to dim, and it felt as though I was hearing
everything from within a cavernous tunnel. Soon, all
notions of time, space and movement seemed to have
dissolved and only Jared and I remained, eternally
bound by our unwavering visual connection.

But like a magical spell that is suddenly broken by the
twelve strokes of the midnight hour, Jared diverted his
gaze from me as the song came to an end, and I found
myself deposited once again into the midst of reality.
Alas, the show was over, and Jared proceeded to thank
everyone and advise us that there would be an autograph
session within the next few minutes.

People began forming a line at the designated autograph
station as I went out in search of Michelle and Amanda.
Sure enough, they were both sitting at the bar, pushing
their empty glasses towards the accomodating bartender.

“Hey, I must say that was a fucking good show, man!”
Amanda exclaimed with a slight slur, tilting
dangerously to one side of her stool.

“Have you even really paid attention to the show?” I
said jokingly, but the humor was all but ignored by
Michelle and Amanda, who didn’t even seem to be
listening.

“Bridget? Could you get my wristband autographed? I
don’t think I can stand in line, let alone just stand,”
Michelle snorted, handing me the band’s official
trademark accessory that had encircled her wrist.

“Yeah, and that Jake guy is pretty sexy. Could you give
him my phone number?” Amanda added.

“Actually, it’s not Jake, it’s Jared…” I began, but
stopped, thinking it useless to try and correct her.

I began making my way towards the endless lineup which
had extended quite rapidly over the last couple of
minutes. Jared, Matt, Tomo and Shannon were already
seated at the signing table, attempting to acknowledge
everyone as graciously as possible, while keeping the
line moving at a swift enough pace. Surprisingly, the
line progressed quickly, and the closer I got, the more
nervous I became.

Apart from the customary greetings, Jared kept his head
lowered, his eyes downcast, as he concentrated on
personalizing the many photos and memorabilia that were
eagerly placed before him. At last, I found myself
moving along the table, floating by as though in a
dream, as Michelle’s wristband circulated between Tomo,
Matt and Shannon, until it finally reached Jared. He
scribbled a black symbol upon the red material of the
wristband, looking up at me as he proffered it towards
me. Once again, I found myself rendered immobile by
that spellbinding gaze whose icy blues within had the
ability to melt anything they came into contact with,
whose round orbs seemed to transport me into a whole
new universe.

I stood blankly for an immeasurable period of time,
unable to decipher what Jared was saying to me, his
mouth seeming to form nothing but mute articulations,
although I could have sworn he had asked me my name, a
question whose simple answer was suddenly evasive to me
at that moment.

Jared continued holding out the wristband, while people
behind me waited impatiently for me to move on. I
composed myself enough to smile, mumble what sounded
like “thank you”, grab the wristband and walk away. I
felt like such an ass. Why was I suddenly acting like a
socially challenged idiot?

I rejoined Amanda and Michelle who happily reclaimed
her newly autographed wristband. By now, the crowd had
dissipated as we made our way outside. It felt good to
get some fresh air and clear my head, my ears ringing
from the loud music. Michelle and Amanda were still
kind of tipsy as they tried to decide what to do next.
Obviously, the night was far from over for them.

We stood around for a while, as people spilled into
their cars, many driving off with tires squealing,
music blaring from open windows.

“So… You don’t want to go home already do you?”
Amanda asked, as she clung to Michelle’s arm, the both
of them seeming to support each other.

“Well, you two are pretty out of it, so that makes me
the designated driver,” I pointed out, feeling like I
was once again the responsible adult, finally taking
control of things, and not being someone who needed to
rely on others as I had done so often these past few
months.

With our plans as of yet to be determined, the side
door of the bar opened, and a man I recognized as one
of the bouncers emerged, walking briskly towards us. I
thought that perhaps one of us had forgotten something
inside, as the imposingly large presence stopped beside
us.

“Hey, you’re the sexy blonde with an outfit to die
for,” the burly man said, turning to address me.

“Um… I suppose. Who wants to know?” I replied
uncertainly, sizing him up, getting the impression that
he was somehow coming on to me, hoping to God he
wasn’t.

“Mr. Leto. Uh, Jared, wanted me to check if you were
still around. Seems he wants to see you. And those are
the words he used to describe you.”

I stared at Muscle-Man, my jaw dropping open. Had I
heard correctly? Obviously, I had, since even Michelle
and Amanda suddenly became miraculously sober at the
man’s announcement.

“Oooh, you lucky bitch!” Michelle taunted excitedly,
with a playful gleam breaking through her otherwise
glazed vision.

“I heard rumors. You know… something about Jared
having an 11-inch cock. Maybe you’ll be able to find
out tonight,” Amanda piped in, nudging me and winking
suggestively.

I just laughed dismissively, noticing that the bouncer
seemed uncomfortable at the mention of my crazy
friends’ graphic implications. He just looked down and
cleared his throat before he proceeded,

“So, we should get going. I’ll lead you inside. We’re
about to close up soon,” he said, beginning to step
back.

“Okay, I’ll just be a minute. I just have to talk to my
friends,” I assured him, waiting until he had further
distanced himself before continuing,

“What about you guys? Where are you gonna go?” I asked
Michelle and Amanda with concern.

“We’ll probably just walk around. Must be another bar
around here somewhere. If not, we’ll take a cab to a
motel or something. Don’t worry about us, especially
when Mr. Leto is waiting for you,” Amanda said, a
slight quiver in her voice, her stance remarkably
unstable.

“Yeah, and tomorrow we want all the details, girl!”
Michelle added, taking a step back and almost losing
her balance.

“You know, I think I should just call you a cab right
now. You’re in no condition to be out by yourselves,” I
advised them, and it felt strange how I had become so
maternal all of a sudden. Then again, they had spent so
much time being protective of me, looking out for me,
that it only felt right that I should reciprocrate and
do the same for them.

I retrieved the cellphone from my handbag and dialed
the nearest taxi service, even waited along with them
until the car arrived and they were safely ensconced
within its interior. I watched them drive away,
gripping the keys to Michelle’s own car, which I had
promised to return to her whenever I was to head home.
After all, I didn’t think I would be here all that
long. I wondered why Jared had even requested to see
me. Perhaps he only wanted to comment on how foolish I
had acted previously, back at the autograph table, just
to have a good laugh at my expense.

I turned and strode across the deserted parking lot,
joining the bouncer who still waited patiently by the
door. As we entered, Matt, Tomo and Shannon were
disconnecting their instruments, clearing away the
stage, but Jared was nowhere in sight. As we headed
backstage, the guys acknowledged me with an
appreciative and all-too-knowing look, as though they
were already aware of Jared’s plans.

I was led down a narrow corridor and we stopped in
front of one of several closed doors. The bouncer
rapped lightly upon it and was answered by an
inquisitive “Yeah?”

“Your visitor is here to see you,” the heavyweight
announced to the muted voice inside.

“Okay, just let her in. Then you can take off. Thanks
for everything, man.” I heard Jared instruct, hearing
his footsteps within. The bouncer turned the door’s
knob, granting me access. It felt strange entering this
room, and somehow, I felt as though I was trespassing
what should be a heavily restricted area.

The door was closed behind me, making me realize that
there was no longer any option of reconsidering, of
turning back. Jared was approaching me, a broad smile
on his face.

“Hey, thanks for coming by,” Jared said, standing
before me, his eyes once again boring into me, making
me feel exposed somehow. It was as though he wasn’t
simply looking at you, but through you, down to the
very soul, capable of reading your innermost thoughts.

“No problem,” I replied simply, not sure of what else
to say. In a crowded room, I found it quite easy to
maintain eye contact with him, but now, with nothing
else standing between us, I had to divert my gaze away
from his.

Jared had removed his stage makeup and outfit, and was
now barefoot, wearing a white t-shirt, and torn, faded
jeans, his face scrubbed clean of all artificial
enhancements. His hair was still damp from the
concert’s active performance, and errant strands clung
to his forehead, giving me the sudden urge to reach out
and brush them aside, the simple thought making my body
respond in unexpected ways. I inhaled deeply, breathing
in the scent of him, an intoxicating mixture of sweat,
cologne, and the essence of pure male.

“So, why don’t we sit down?” Jared offered, leading me
towards the central furnishing of the room, a black
leather sofa. I sat down, feeling relief at finally
getting off my feet after having stood up for most of
the evening. I looked around the dressing room, which
also seemed to serve as a leisure room of sorts. A
cosmetics table stood along one wall, its vast mirror
framed by bright, round bulbs.

Another lamp adorned a wooden table beside the sofa, a
jacket haphazardly strewn over its shade, dimming its
faint glow. The surface of a glass coffee table was
littered with plastic cups and plates, as well as with
an overflowing ashtray. A small closet enclosure
contained a diverse disarray of clothing suspended from
hangers, while most of the surrounding walls were
plastered with creased centerfolds of semi-nude female
models.

“Sorry about the mess. Actually, this isn’t all our
doing. A lot of other bands use this place. We were in
here a while, but mostly, we only had time to get ready
and rehearse,” Jared explained, noticing my obvious
assessment of the room.

“Really, it’s okay. Just as long as your own house
doesn’t look like this,” I said teasingly.

“Not by a long shot. Then again, I’m on the road so
much, I’m hardly ever home to fuck it up.” Jared
laughed.

I smiled and nodded in understanding, and we fell into
another awkward silence. Then, as though in
realization, Jared spoke again,

“I’m such a shitty host. I didn’t even ask if you
wanted anything to drink. Let’s see, we have water…
and beer. I’m afraid that’s all there is,” he said
sheepishly.

Not wanting to tarnish the example I had so strongly
demonstrated with Michelle and Amanda, I chose to
settle with water.

“Water it is, then,” Jared said, springing up from the
sofa and going to a far corner of the room. From a
compact, portable refrigerator, he extracted a bottle
of beer for himself and a bottle of water for me. After
unscrewing the caps, he returned and sat down beside
me, offering me the water, his fingers brushing, and
did I dare imagine, even lingering against mine, as I
took the bottle from him with shaking hands.

Jared took small sips of his beer as I nervously gulped
at my water. I stole some furtive, subtle glances in
his direction, hoping he wouldn’t notice. His face was
a structure of finely chiseled, and almost sculpted
features, as though they were formed by the patient
hands of an artist. His, was the face of a man who had
obviously weathered the effects that the uncertainty
and instability of a drifter’s life provided.

He gave the impression of having been burned one too
many times by fleeting, dishonest relationships, a
common occurrence in an environment where one gained
friends quite easily, and lovers, even more so. In
which people’s genuine intentions were always doubted.
Yet, the rugged edges of virility he exuded also
possessed the underlying traces of untainted child-like
innocence and vulnerability. Here was a man whose wild
heart simply needed to be tamed. Did I dare hope to be
the one to achieve that? No, such frivolous thoughts
were foolish, I told myself, attempting to dismiss them
at once.

Jared set down his bottle on the coffee table and
turned towards me, seemingly oblivious to my
examination and silent analysis. I looked at him, still
not quite able to grasp the reality of this situation.
I still had so many questions, yet, formulating a
simple sentence seemed like a challenge in itself.

“Um, so I still don’t understand why you asked me to
come here,” I said, hoping he would not misinterpret my
words as being ones of reluctance. The truth was, I
enjoyed being here, but his intentions were still
rather unclear to me.

“I’m not too sure either, actually,” Jared admitted,
seeming a bit embarrassed. “I suppose I just wanted to
know you better. I noticed you during the show, and you
seemed… interesting, for lack of a better word. You
didn’t seem to be like most of the other flakes that
come to my concerts, you know, the groupies.”

I smiled, and felt myself blush, feeling a sense of
pride, of satisfaction at the impression he had formed
of me.

“So, tell me about yourself,” Jared inquired, focusing
on me, genuinely attentive to anything I had to say.

I summarized my life for him as best I could, even
admitting that I was single when he asked me if I was
currently involved in a relationship. Yet, I was
careful to conveniently avoid the elaborate details
which had transpired afterwards.

For his part, Jared talked about his ongoing projects
and the progress of his promotional tour, even
surprising me when he began talking about his personal
life, a subject which I knew he preferred to remain
neutral about, especially in regards to the media’s
relentless scrutiny.

“Being on the road, on movie sets all the time, it’s
hard to get involved with anyone.” Jared began. “And
then there’s all these tabloid people who keep picking
at you whenever you ARE seeing someone. It’s like you
can’t even take a shit anymore without these vultures
reporting every detail. I admit that it does get kind
of lonely sometimes. But, at least I have all this to
keep me busy.”

“That’s too bad, because any woman would be lucky to
have you, to be with you. And I’m not just saying that
because you’re famous or anything,” I said, reaching
out impulsively to place my hand upon his arm, before I
was even conscious of what I was doing, unable to stop
the words from spilling out.

Jared shifted slightly, turning to face me, the vast
pools of his gaze washing over me once again. I became
aware of him getting closer, until he was almost
leaning over me, seeming to contemplate something.

“Would it be alright if I kissed you?” he asked
tentatively, and it surprised me to see this hint of
uncertainty emerging from the strong confidence he had
always exuded. And somehow, this trait was one that I
found quite endearing.

At that moment, not a single word was needed, nothing
but one sole look was enough to make Jared detect my
consent, my willingness. I watched his head approach
mine, as though in slow motion, closing the distance
between our mouths. He brushed his tongue over my lips,
parting them, invading the humid cavern within. I
smelled beer on his breath, and I felt a growing sense
of intoxication of my own, although mine was not
influenced by any form of alcohol.

We continued kissing, our tongues entwined together,
battling in a passionate duel. I instinctively raised
my torso, thrusting it against Jared’s, in an attempt
to induce further physical contact. I cupped his face,
stroking it, feeling the coarseness of his stubble
prickling at the soft skin of my palms. I felt a
gradual stiffening against my thigh, and I couldn’t
suppress the gasp that emitted forth as his hand delved
under my skirt and nestled between my legs, seeking the
warmth I was certain he could feel emanating from me.

While our actions grew in intensity, my mind
inconveniently raced with trivial thoughts. I broke off
our heated embrace, struggling to speak,

“What if someone comes in here?” I panted.

Jared trailed a line of kisses down the slope of my
throat as he mumbled,

“The guys are staying out in the bus tonight. Besides,
the door is locked if someone tries to come in,” he
assured me, seemingly unconcerned, reclaiming
possession of my mouth in an attempt to end further
conversation.

Yet, more questions, and even doubts arose in my
subconscious, and I had to curse the inopportune
timing. I attempted to break free once again, but Jared
was pinning me down, making me sink deeper into the
padded sofa.

“Wait, I need to use the bathroom…” I said, just as I
felt myself surrender to the attention he was now
administering to my breasts, as he caressed them
through the fabric of my top.

“Aww, but you feel so good. I don’t think I can let you
go,” he lamented, just as his hands found their way
under my top, indulging in a few more chaste kisses,
before releasing me reluctantly.

Jared sat back, his chest heaving, his eyes glassy with
passion, his hair disheveled, an obvious bulge
straining against the fabric of his jeans. It pained me
to leave him hanging this way, to deny him, but I
needed just a brief moment to compose myself, to
control my overwhelming emotions.

“I hope I’m not coming on too strongly. I’m sorry if I
am,” he said, reaching out and brushing the hair away
from my face.

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