So what if they say he is insane? He has never been this happy in his life.
“I know Frankie, I’ve asked. But this is the only one they’ll give me. Sorry,” I reply, laughing a little. I myself don’t mind the room. I've lived here for three years, I've gotten used to it I guess. Sure the white walls are a little plain, but hey, it’s cozy. And I have my four best friends here with me, that’s all I need.
“Do you guys really need to go over that every day?” Ray asks. He’s right, we do talk about it every day.
“Yes,” we both chime at the same time. We look at each other and laugh. Gerard shakes his head at us.
“Like a pair of third graders,” he laughs.
“Yeah, like you’re so much better,” Frank counters.
“I so am!” Gerard folds his arms and pouts, his nose in the air, pretending to be offended.
“Obviously,” I say, laughing at my older brother.
The door opens and a young woman walks in with a tray of food.
“Yay, food!” Bob just about squeals.
“Thanks Jenny,” I smile at her. But seeing the tray I frown. There’s only one plate. “Jenny,” I say quietly. She had been walking towards the door, but she stops and turns toward me.
“Yes Mikey?” she asks. Her voice is kind. Several girls work here and bring us food, but Jenny is my favorite. She’s so sweet and her smiles don’t seem forced, like with the others. It’s like she’s nice to me because she really wants to be, not because she has to be.
“They did it again,” I mutter. “There’s only one plate. There are five of us here.”
Something flicks across her face for a moment, but too quickly for me to decide exactly what it is. Pain? Sadness?
“I’m sorry Mikey. The kitchen is running a little low today, that’s all we had left. Will it be alright?”
The kitchen always seems to be low. They always send only one plate, not matter how many times I ask them to send food for the guys too. I know I'm the only one who actually lives here, but the guys are here so often you'd think the kitchen would be used to it by now. Some days it’s not a problem, when the guys aren’t here. But most days, like today, there’s not enough food. They’re always running low. Buy more food, damn it!
“Yeah,” I mumble. “Tell the kitchen to restock. That’s the third time they’ve done that this week. Oh, and Frank still wants a new room.”
She smiles. “I'll ask about it.” Then she leaves.
I turn to the guys. “Sorry about that, there’s enough here, we’ll share.” But they decline, leaving me all the food.
I’m not sure why, but suddenly I’m sad. It’s just a little food. They do this every day. I’m not sure why I’m letting it get to me.
Slowly I look up at the guys. I’m not sure how to say what I’m about to ask. We’ve never talked about it. It’s been over three years, and we just never brought it up. I’m a bit scared to mention it. What if they get mad? What if they stop coming back? But some how I know that won’t happen. I’m filled with a strange confidence. We have to talk about it. It’s time.
“Do you guys ever miss it?” I ask. “The band, I mean.”
They stare at me blankly for a moment. They weren’t expecting me to bring it up. Bob is the first to speak.
That’s all he says but there’s so much emotion in his voice. The rest of the guys slowly nod. Suddenly I’m overwhelmed with memories and regrets. I can feel myself falling apart. I thought I was strong enough for this but the memories just won’t go away. The tears start flowing freely.
“I’m so sorry guys, it was all my fault,” I choke out.
Gerard stands and pulls me into a hug. “No,” he says and his voice is firm. He makes me want to believe him, and for a moment I almost do. “Don’t you ever, ever think that, do you hear me? It was not your fault. It was not. You couldn’t have done anything Mikey, you were as helpless as the rest of us.”
I nod slowly, but memories take over me and I find myself reliving that horrid night.
“Oh come on, Mikey, you’re no fun!” Bob called. “One more game? Please?”
I smiled. “Why? You’ll beat my ass and I know it! You’re too skilled at guitar hero for your own good.”
I turned to Ray, who was sitting on the couch in the front lounge of our bus, nose buried in a magazine, and asked him, “Where’re we going?”
He looked up, thinking. “Um…Boston? I think.”
Gerard spoke up. “Yeah, Boston. We’ll be there about four in the morning, so no hotel tonight.”
“Bummer,” I said.
Gerard laughed. “Tell me about it.”
Frank smirked, “Ok, if you insist. We drive too damn much so we don’t get to go to a hotel which means we have to sleep in those claustrophobia inducing bunks that feel like concrete and-”
“Ok, Frankie, we get it,” I laughed.
“Well, he asked,” Frank said, pretending to be hurt.
I slapped Frank on the arm. He hit me back. I shoved him slightly so he shoved back harder, accidentally pushing me into Ray, who looked up and gave me a death glare.
“Children,” he growled. “Play nice.”
“Yes mother,” I sighed. I stood up, stretching. “Well, since we’re stuck here all night, I think I’ll get some shut eye.”
“Already? It’s only…” Frank glanced at his watch, “ten thirty.”
“Yeah, when’d you become so boring?” Gerard joked.
I faked a yawn loudly for effect. “Maybe you bore me,” I commented nonchalantly.
“Oh no you didn’t,” Gerard laughed.
“So what if I did?” I asked, yawning again, but this time for real.
Gerard pushed me lightly. “Go to bed, fucker. You’re making me tired.”
Nodding, I obediently turned and wandered back to my bunk. I fell asleep almost immediately.
I’m not sure how long I was out – An hour? More? Less? – before I heard their shouts. I hovered between dreams and consciousness for a moment before Gerard’s voice split my sleep and left me wide awake.
“Holy shit, he’s not gonna stop!” he sounded panicked.
And I froze. I should have gotten up to see what was going on. To help them. But no. I froze like a fucking little girl. And I left them out there alone.
“I know!” that was Tyler’s voice, our driver. “He’s going too fast.”
Why do they assume it’s a guy? I thought. My friends are out there, panicked, and I’m in my bunking wondering why they fucking thought it was a guy. Talk about useless.
First I heard it, the screeching tires, the panicked voices, the tension rising audibly.
Then I felt it. Tyler did his best to stop the bus, to swerve and avoid the drunk driver that was racing at us, going the wrong way on the highway. But it was too late. There was nothing he could do. The crash was loud in my ears and I felt the bus leaning dangerously as Tyler tried to turn. Then it flipped on its side and skidded off the road into a tree. I blacked out.
When I woke I was on a stretcher out under the night sky, being rolled towards the open waiting jaws of the ambulance. I stared up at the stars above me wondering if they ever got sick of watching life on this sad little planet. Then I turned my head to the side. That was a mistake.
I saw Frank’s body on a stretcher, his face caked with blood, as an EMT carefully zipped a body bag around him. I blacked out again.
This time when I woke I was in a hospital bed, my wife Alicia at my side, holding my hand. I turned my head to look at her. She immediately looked up at the movement. I cringed as I remembered what I saw last time opened my eyes.
“Frank?” I whispered.
She shook her head, tears rolling down her face. I squeezed my eyes closed and lay back against the pillow.
“And Gerard?” I whispered. “Ray? Bob?”
“They’re all dead, Mikey.” Her voice was layered in pain.
"No. They're fine. They have to be fine. I can't lose them."
Alicia's eyes searched mine sadly. “The bus flipped, they were all standing, they never had a chance. The bunk saved your life.” I didn’t want to believe her, but in my heart I knew they were gone. They were a part of me and that part was missing. I could feel their absence.
I was released from the hospital in a few days. I had broken two ribs, but that was the worst of it. They said I was lucky. Lucky! I had lost my brother and my best friends and I was fucking lucky!
I got real depressed then. But Alicia never left my side. If she had I probably would have killed myself, but she kept me together until the funeral.
The doctors didn’t want me to go. They thought it would be damaging to my fragile mental state. But Alicia would have none of it, and so, thanks to her, I was going to see them put my friends in the ground. I wasn't sure how I was supposed to feel about that. It was the hardest thing I would ever do in my life, but there was no way in hell I was going to miss it.
The service was hard. Sitting there listening to some random priest ramble on about how full their lives were. He had no fucking idea. “Ignorant shit,” I muttered under my breath. I sat there, wallowing in my pain and anger, when a voice made me look up.
“Michael Way! Swearing in a church! I’m shocked by your behavior!”
I glanced around quickly, but I couldn’t find the source of the voice. And no one else seemed to have heard it. I shook my head. It had sounded like- but no, it couldn’t be.
“Gerard?” I whispered.
“I’m here, little bro,” I heard his voice again. “I’d never leave you, you know that.”
I looked over at the caskets. They were sitting there, four in a row. Tyler’s family had chosen to have him buried at home, in California. The four caskets were all closed, as the bodies were not a pretty sight, and their highly polished black surfaces gleamed.
And they were there. The four of them. My band, my best friends, sitting there on top of their caskets, grinning stupidly at me.
I stared at them in disbelief, then looked quickly around the church. Nobody else could see them. I felt like I was losing my mind, but in that moment I decided I didn’t care. Because I had the guys back. They were back! Nothing else mattered anymore.
Suddenly I couldn’t help myself. I started laughing. There was such a weight lifted off my shoulders, I felt incredible. There in the middle of the church funeral service, I laughed my fucking head off.
“The stress of the funeral got to be too much for him,” I heard the doctors telling my mom and Alicia one day, about a week later. “He couldn’t handle it anymore. He just snapped. His brain gave him back the only thing that would keep him grounded.”
“The band,” Alicia whispered.
“Exactly. He truly believes they’re with him, talking to him.”
“Is he ever going to come out of it?” my mother asked.
The doctor was silent for a moment. “I very much doubt that, Mrs. Way.”
And so they sent me here. To my room with white walls. But I don’t care. They guys are still with me and that’s all I’ve ever wanted.
The memories wash over me and I can’t help myself. My tears become sobs as Gerard holds me close. Suddenly the door bursts open and three men in white scrubs run into the room.
“Mikey, calm down,” one of them says to me, while another reaches through Gerard to grab my shoulder, breaking my embrace with my brother. I start screaming, reaching out for Gerard. Why are they taking him from me? I am a total wreck but all I can see is Gerard’s loving smile as I feel the needle enter my neck. Then everything goes black.
Alicia stands in the observation room, watching her husband sitting on the floor, talking away although the room around him is empty. She turns to the nurse standing next to her.
“He had a severe relapse. We’re not sure what triggered it, but now he’s seems to be back to normal.”
Alicia raises one eyebrow. “Normal?”
The nurse, Jenny, sighs. “Normal for Mikey. He still believes his band is there with him.”
Alicia wipes tears off her cheek then turns and thanks Jenny before leaving. Jenny looks sadly at the man behind the window. He seems so peaceful, she thinks. So what if they say he’s crazy. He’s never been this happy in his life.
I just got this idea from a conversation with my cousin. We were talking about what it would take to drive soemone insane and if they wouldn't be better off that way. And voila! This story came to life. As always, R&R. I'm really curious to see what you guys think of this. I'll say now, I didn't mean to offend anyone. So sorry if I did. Ok! Go! Go review! I know you know how. Love you to pieces (don't make me make that literal).