I took a long bath that evening before getting ready, and then I met Ray outside his room. We walked to Acacia Avenue to find a large crowd outside number 22, we stopped at the back of the crowd and attempted to peer over everybodies heads and see what all the crowding was for. I could hear Merl in the door way shouting "I'm sorry buts its invitation only!" The crowd grumbled as one and some people walked away though many remained round the door, Ray grabbed me by the wrist and pushed his way through the crowd, getting me battered and bruised before finally reaching the door.
"Hey Merl, we got your invitations" He smiled, Merl gave a delighted laugh and hugged us both, me feeling increasingly awkward. We had been here once and all of a sudden we were best friends?
"I'm so glad you came! Go on inside and get yourselves a free drink!" She smiled before letting us past, the crowd behind us giving annoyed shouts of jealousy, I wanted to go and punch them all. Its not like they were missing anything in here.
Hold that thought.
Ray went straight over to the bar but I stayed where I was, staring round the room which looked so different. It was draped in pink ribbons and it looked like all the girls were in here tonight, they were flouncing around in dresses with the skirts just under the knee and no sleeves! They wore fish net tights with the dresses and a lot of make up, there ruby red lips leaving a mark on every man they kissed - and they were kissing a lot of them. Most of the people in here had blood shot eyes and were acting...strange. I saw the cause when I noticed a large pallet of snuff lying on one of the tables - free for everyone. They were all getting high! I scanned the room for Frank and though I saw one or two other guys who worked here (I knew as they wore no shirts and were as slim as Frank) I saw no Frankie. I wondered if he had been given the night off... or if he was in a room with some one else. I also didnt see Gary, which was a relief.
Ray came over to me and gave me a drink, taking a hearty gulp of his own. He began leading the way over to an empty table and I followed him whilst still looking for Frank. I saw him just as I took my seat, he was perched daintily on some guys lap, there tongues visibly entwined in a passionate kiss. The guy had his hands on the base of Franks naked back, Frank running his own hands through the guys hair. He was an average height guy from what I could tell, with blonde hair and broad shoulders. I felt my stomach sink and couldnt figure out why, I also couldnt figure out why I couldnt take my eyes off them. I wanted to be angry at the guy kissing Frank but it wasnt like he was being rough and it was clear Frank was enjoying himself, the guy was holding Frank like he was a precious item but I could hold him softer, he kissed him like he was made of sugar but I could kiss him sweeter, he ran his hands up Franks back as if he felt like silk but I would savour it more.
What the hell did I just think? Think? What? No, think? Me? I didnt think anything, nope not a thing. I didnt think anything what so ever! SHUT UP!
Oh shit, and now I'm going insane. Wait a go Gerard, five gold stars.
"Hey Gee are you okay?" For once in my life I was thankful Ray had asked me something, it stopped my thoughts from going crazy in my head, ricocheting of the walls of my skull like a pinball.
"I'm fine, why do you ask?" I attempted a casual tone but my voice wavered slightly. Ray raised an eyebrow and shrugged.
"No reason." Good man, he knew when to drop things. We sat in silence for a while then, just drinking and looking around the room. There was a lot more interesting things to look at other than Frank and that guy but my eyes kept drifting back to them. There hands were starting to roam, and my stomach churned uncomfortably. I knew I was staring and I knew Ray was watching me stare, but I couldnt help it. My eyes wouldnt move as much as my mind begged them to.
"Gee - Hey Gerard, Gerard hey!" I just about managed to drag my face round to look at Ray who was staring at me with one eyebrow raised. "Geraaard, why were you staring at Frank?" He asked, leaning across the table as if he expected me to whisper a great secret.
"Err...staring? Staaaring? Oh I was just daydreaming, I had no idea I was staring at Frank? Franks here? Oh so he is hahaha, how silly of me not to have noticed." I gave a nervous smile and Ray leaned back with his eyes wide, he was probably wondering whether we needed to go and more importantly - if there was a mental institution near by. I opened my mouth to say something but changed my mind and took a sip of my drink, wishing the ground would open and swallow me up.
"Gerard, you've been acting so weird man. Is there something wrong because if there is you can ta -"
"Hey guys!" Ray stopped talking and turned his head along with mine to see a swaying Frank stood by our table, the blonde man also with him and holding onto his waist.
"Oh, hey Frankie..." I mumbled. Frank gave a little wave and a giggle before asking if he could sit with us. Ray looked at me, neither of us said a word as we moved along the seats so Frank and his...friend could sit beside us. Frank sat by Ray, opposite me and his friend sat by me, opposite Ray.
"So guys this is my friend Bob and Bob this Gerard and err..."
"Ray." Ray finished for him. Frank nodded his head vigorously, smirking at this Bob guy.
"Thaaaats right, his name is Ray." Frank smiled warmly at Ray who smiled nervously back, Ray didnt even so much as smoke a pipe - reckoned that the smoke was bad for you, he'll probably prove it one day aswell - just because he's always right. Anyway, he was definitely not the type of guy who like to be in the company of those who were drunk or high. I was nervous aswell, not because I didnt like them or anything just because this wasnt what I expected of Frank. I thought he'd be looking nervously around, not wanting to be near to any men and still frightened about what Gary had done. And maybe that was the case, but snuff makes people act weird and I didnt like how maybe Frank had only been kissing Bob because of the drug - and what if it went further? And then he regretted it in the morning?
And why should I even care?
Frank and Bob were smiling at eachother and every now and then Frank would look at me and flash me a smile but I just didnt have the heart to return it. Ray also kept looking at me, he kept giving me that 'are you alright?' kinda look which I would return with a 'Im fine' look, which he would then return with a 'I dont beleive you' look. And why the hell am I naming these looks?
"Hey Gerard - I was wondering if you would come tonight." Frank giggled and leaned forward, a hand coming across the table to grab mine. His palms were hot and sweaty and I just wanted to take him upstairs to wash him down and get him to bed. Not in that way you dirty lot, I mean get him to sleep. He was giving me a crooked smile and I didnt know what to think.
"But I'm glad you did come, I have been thinking about you aaaall week." He laughed at the end of this statement and squeezed my hand before leaning back into his seat, he had said it so casually like it was nothing but it had stirred a strange feeling inside me - one I didnt like. It felt heavy in my stomach and made me want to fall back and cry, I just couldnt tie it to anything. Not even love when I tentavily wondered about it. (As a last resort!)
Soon after Ray and Bob began to talk, despite the snuff Bob seemed to be able to hold around a half decent conversation and I wished I felt like joining in but I couldnt. I was watching Frank who in turn was watching the ceiling, he had by this point lifted his legs so he could rest his feet on the chair infront of him, not realising what he thought was the chair was actually my knees. He was smiling a little but by now it looked forced and there was a sense of the drug wearing off. Bob was definitely seeming a little more...unhigh? Eventually Frank got to his feet announcing he was going to get more snuff, Bob went to join him but I snatched at Franks wrist, pulling him back.
"Are you sure thats a good idea?" I asked, Frank raised an eyebrow at me and I could feel Bob and Ray staring at me too, but I was determined to keep my eyes on Frank.
"Why wouldnt it be?" He asked.
"Because...well, its not...good for you?" It was meant to be a statement but it sounded a lot more like a question, no one had ever proven snuff was bad for you but surely something that made you act differently messed with your head. I expected Frank to pull away or get angry but instead he gave me a warm smile.
"Aaww, thats sweet." He said. I looked confused and he giggled.
"Your like a gaurdian angel arent you? But really, its not gonna hurt me." He went to pull away but I wouldnt let him. I was confused about being compared to an angel but even so, I didnt want him getting high again. I preffered him when he was normal.
"Gerard - let go. Listen, you cant control me so let me do what I want!" He tried to tug away and this time I got to my feet but I still didnt let go.
"Gerard just let him go man. Whats up with you?" I looked at Ray who was staring at me and wondered how to answer. I couldnt explain why I didnt want him to take anymore snuff, I just didnt want him to. Frank was staring at me intently and I could feel his eyes burning holes in my skin. Then he did something I found pretty damn unexpected. He leaned forward across the table and pressed his lips to my cheek, I dropped his wrist in surprise and when he pulled back he smirked at me.
"There. A kiss for my angel, in return you sit down and let me do what I want." Frank went to walk away but I lunged after him, Ray groaned and sat down, he clearly didnt want to be part of this. I grabbed Franks wrist again and he sighed, turning to glare at me.
"Can I talk to you? Outside?" My voice sounded sterner than I meant it to but it worked, Frank looked confused and nodded, I pulled him through the crowds of people and tried to ignore the many eyelashes being batted in my direction. I went to the door beside the bar and out into the small enclosed space where we had first talked the day after his rape. But this time it was me who made sure the door was shut and this time it was he who was being slammed into the wall.
"What was all that about!?" I demanded, Frank looked up at me with frightened eyes, my hands were on his shoulders and I was glaring at him, pushing my fingertips a little too hard against his flesh.
"Well!?" Frank fidgeted and I softened my hold when I saw tears in his eyes.
"Please Gerard will you just...gimme some space, I know you wont do anything its just..." I suddenly realised why he was so scared and fell back against the opposite wall, feeling guilty and annoyed at myself.
"Sorry Frank, really I didnt think -" Frank shook his head and walked closer to me.
"Dont worry its okay, really I know you wont do anything." He assured me. I sighed and nodded and he gave me a tiny smile. "So, what did you want to know?" He asked.
"Oh, I wanted to know... why you kissed me..." I mumbled, suddenly feeling like a fool. Frank looked slightly confused and gave me a nervous smile.
"Oh, it was to make you let go of my hand. Erm... you didnt mind did you? I didnt think properly, its just in this place when you kiss someones cheek it doesnt mean a thing, I mean here we kiss when we say hello - It didnt occur to me that to people who are like...normal it might seem a bit strange."
That was when it really hit me that me and Frank were from completely different worlds. I hadnt even considered it before but it was true and I felt like a horrible posh twerp because of it, it made me start to feel a little... uncomfortable with how I had been brought up. I mean - a kiss on the cheek, I guess it really wasnt a big deal yet I had just acted like it was.
"Oh. And erm... why did you call me an angel?" I asked, I just really wanted to know. Frank gave me a genuine smile and flicked his hair out of his faced.
"Oh, because you are like my gaurdian angel. Trying to help me when the whole... Gary thing... and then Merl found out about you punching him the other night and she told me so - thanks by the way. And now your trying to look out for my health." Frank gave a cute giggle before continuing. "But seriously, snuffs never hurt any one before." He gave me a wide smile but I just couldnt smile back.
"Oh, well its just... I think your better off not taking it..." I said simply. Frank tilted his head.
"Why?" He asked.
"Well, I dont like how weird you act after you've taken it, and it might make you do stuff you might regret. I just... I think theres no point in you taking it." Frank frowned and folded his arms, leaning his weight one hip.
"I know I act weird on that stuff but believe me theres nothing that I'll do with that stuff that I wont do without it. Ever since Gary, Merl has been letting every Tom, Dick and Harry come in here and get a slice of the action. I cant even sit down without it killing, the snuff numbs the pain and it makes it easier to do those things. I mean - when I'm on snuff I dont mind, I like it, off the snuff I just feel miserable and like I want to kill myself. So I take the snuff to get by, surely you can understand that?" He gave me a pleading look and I avoided his gaze.
"Well, if you hate this place so much then why dont you just leave?" I asked. Frank sighed and ran his hand through his hair.
"Its not that simple. I get money from here, sure there are other jobs but I dont want to die down a coal mine or in a factory, I get a lot more money too and a lot more advantages by staying here." I sighed and shrugged.
"But... maybe if you went with your family they would help you get by if you were struggling with money, and you wouldnt have to be raped every night." The last three words spilled carelessly from my mouth without me thinking about it and when Frank slapped me hard round the face I knew I deserved it.
"Shut the fuck up Gerard. I never asked you for your fucking thoughts okay?" I nodded shamefully and looked at the floor, tears in my eyes. I dont know why they were there but I couldnt keep them back.
"Besides, I dont have a family. I'm an orphan." My head snapped up but Frank wasnt looking at me he was staring at the floor to the left, tears spilling down his cheeks. I wanted to comfort him but I was too scared to.
"Really...?" Was all I could choke out. Frank nodded silently and wiped his tears away with the back of his hand.
"Yeah... my mum and dad died of Cholera way back when I was four, I was taken to an orphanage and then sent to the work house at the age of five. I saved every penny I ever earned and then when I was fifteen I bought my way out of that place but I had no more money, I looked round for a job but didnt know where to look. I stumbled in here and asked Merl if she knew where I could find a job and she offered me a job here. I didnt know then that it was a pleasure house and when I found out I told myself I would only stay here temporarily until I had enough to go out and look for a different job. That was four years ago and I've never left. I mean, the people here... they've become like a family to me. A family I've never had, and I may not specifically like it here but its a hell lot better than being at that damn work house." Frank gave me a sad look after this little insight to his life. I didnt know quite what to say, but Frank didnt seem to want me to say anything. He went to go open the door and I grabbed his shoulder, making him turn to look at me.
"Erm... are you... alright?" I asked. Frank shrugged and nodded at the same time.
"Sure I am, I mean I'm a fighter. I've survived everything so far and I'll survive a lot more. All I need is a beating heart, my faith and my gaurdian angel." He tangled a strand of my hair round his finger before giggling and opening the door and walking away, leaving me stood in the night with my heart hammering. A million and one thoughts going through my mind.
When I eventually went back into the bar Frank had taken more snuff and was slobbering all over Bob again, only this time it was a lot more heated and he kept grinding his hips against Bobs. There lust was getting pretty obviouse and Merl walked over and tapped Frank on the shoulder.
"Frankie sweetie, wanna take that to a room?" She asked. Frank gave a goofy smile before grabbing Bobs hips and pulling him by his belt through the bar and over to the door that led to the rooms above. I sighed and turned away, I didnt want to be here anymore.
I didnt even bother looking for Ray as I spun on my heel and left the building. And I swear down I never want to come back.