Frank to the rescue, but is it enough?
“Hey, Angela!” Mikey called, offering a small wave as he entered. “I didn’t know you were here.”
“I stayed to clear the shoot site, then came over,” she explained.
“Is there news?” Ray asked, cheered by Mikey’s upbeat entrance.
“Frank was having breathing problems, but he’s okay now,” Mikey offered a brief explanation.
Mikey nodded. “Yeah, it was amazing! Bob went into his room and I don’t know what he said to him, but within minutes he was fine again!”
“So, what I said didn’t hurt him?” Frey asked with some relief in his voice.
“No,” Mikey smiled back, “it doesn’t look like it.”
None of them could have realised at that point that it was, in fact, Frey’s few badly chosen words that were most likely the cause of Frank’s distress and the reason he had dreamt of his capture and near-death in the smokehouse. But, he had survived, both in his dream and in reality, and, for the time being, that was all that really mattered to them.
“He’s still not awake then?” Ray asked with disappointment evident in his tone.
“Not yet,” Mikey replied, shaking his head with a slight frown. “How are you feeling?”
“Like I shouldn’t be here.” Ray grumbled. “It’s fine now.”
“Really?” Mikey cocked his head to the right. “Let’s see you wiggle your toes then.”
Ray frowned. “Okay, so it’s not actually fine,” he sighed. “But I feel so out of it here. I just don’t know what’s going on.”
“We told you we’d tell you everything,” Mikey protested.
“Did you tell me that Frank had breathing difficulties?”
“No,” Mikey admitted. “But he only had ten minutes to respond to the treatment and we didn’t want you to worry.”
“He was THAT bad?” Ray cried with surprise.
“Er…” Mikey clasped his hands behind him and stared at his feet, looking very much the naughty schoolboy. “Yeah,” he admitted.
The bassist glanced up and shrugged helplessly.
“Probably shouldn’t have mentioned that, eh?”
“Mikey,” Angela cut in gently. “I think Ray wanted to worry.”
“Why?” Mikey asked innocently. “Isn’t it better just knowing he’s okay?”
Ray smiled. Mikey was so sweet and thoughtful. He truly meant what he said but had seriously missed the point.
“Mikey, I need to be there for the lows as well as the highs. I know you don’t want me to worry, but I’ve only sprained my ankle. I can be there for you guys too.”
Mikey nodded. “I’m sorry, Ray. It was just a bit of a shock you know.”
Ray nodded. “It’s okay. Anyway, I’m fine, go back and et me another update!”
Mikey smiled happily and turned to leave. As he reached the door, he turned back to face the trio.
“I’ve got a feeling he’s going to be okay.”
“Me too,” Ray replied, happy to see Mikey’s spirits lifted.
Mikey turned his head sharply as he heard the crackle of twigs being broken underfoot and smiled slyly as Frey approached with two muzzled wolves. Frey offered up a short laugh as he noticed Gerard lying helpless under the dead horse.
“There’s a stroke of luck, mister Mikey,” Frey commented as he fastened the wolves’ leashes to a nearby tree.
“Indeed,” Mikey agreed. “Now, remove the muzzles.”
Frey turned to look at the wolves and considered the logistical problems. If he removed the muzzle of one wolf, he would surely be attacked while removing the other.
“Just do it!” Mikey snapped irritably.
“He’s going to kill you, Frey!” Gerard called. “Do you really think he wants a witness to this?”
Frey turned unimpressed eyes to stare at Gerard and curled his lips into a sly grin.
“I killed Iero and I’m still alive. What makes you any different?”
Gerard’s eyes grew wide as he renewed his struggles against the weight of his horse.
“Frank!” he yelled, tears standing in his eyes. As he realised he could do nothing about his immobilisation, his head flopped back against the soil. “You bastard! I hope you rot in Hell!”
“Don’t worry,” Frey chuckled, “I’m sure the Devil will let you exact your revenge when I arrive. You and Satan should be on good terms by then.”
Lining up in front of the snarling, slavering wolves, Frey reached for both muzzles and pulling sharply ran back at speed to stand beyond their reach.
“I did it!” he cried triumphantly.
“Yes you did.” Mikey clapped a hand on Frey’s back. “But you know, and you realise, I wouldn’t normally say this – you should have listened to Gerard.”
With a laugh that bordered on a sadistic cackle, Mikey shoved Frey hard. Landing at the feet of the starving wolves, Frey screamed as were on him immediately, tearing at his flesh as he thrashed his arms and legs in a bid to escape them. Mikey watched dispassionately and Gerard turned his eyes away as the starving wolves quickly devoured the stableman. As the noise of tearing flesh, cracking bones and Mikey’s twisted laughter filled the air, another sound went overlooked. Neither brother heard the approaching hoof beats until the horse and rider had reached the clearing.
Turning at the sound of his name, Mikey felt the vicious lash of a riding crop swept with force borne of anger across his face. Spinning to his left, Mikey turned back, his right cheek bleeding and his eye already swollen and closed.
Gerard’s eyes widened and his face expressed a mixture of combinations: joy at seeing Frank alive and not dead as Frey had gloated, relief that his predicament was known and at the same time fearful for Frank. Despite his determination, it was obvious that he was weak and Gerard knew that Mikey would see anyone dead who got in his way.
Pulling out a knife, Mikey waved it in Frank’s direction as he swung around for another attack. This time, the crop landed on Mikey’s arm the pain of it forcing him to drop the knife. Frank pushed forward, lashing out and forcing Mikey backwards one step with each swing. Finally catching the crop with bloodied hands, Mikey pulled Frank from his horse, allowing him to crash to the floor, dazed but unhurt. Kicking him over onto his back, Mikey pushed his foot down on Frank’s throat and smiled cruelly.
“Just the slightest pressure and I’ll finish what Frey started.”
“No! Please!” Gerard begged. “Mikey, for God’s sake, let him live!”
“My dear brother, you know I can’t do that. No witnesses, you said it yourself.”
Mikey glanced down at Frank, choking under his foot but before he could press down, the sound of a rifle shot crackled through the air. The bullet penetrated Mikey’s thigh and he staggered backwards gripping his leg as blood poured from the wound. Glancing around in astonishment, he saw Bob lowering the rifle once more and taking aim.
“No!” he yelled taking two more steps back.
“Mikey!” Gerard shouted, but the warning came too late, Mikey had already ventured too close to the wolves.
Pulled down and back, he screamed with terror and agony as the two wolves tore into him. His sounds were little more than a weakened whimper as Bob fired again, felling one of the two wolves. Lowering the rifle, Bob pushed another two shells into the chambers but he knew before he raised the weapon and fired at the remaining wolf that Mikey was already dead.
As Mikey was dying, Frank had crawled to Gerard to try to comfort him. He found it absurd that Gerard was so distraught given that Mikey had tried to kill them both, but despite it all, Mikey was his brother and he loved him.
Frank was almost unconscious with dehydration as he heard Ray, Bob and Angela rushing to their assistance.
“It’s good to see you up and about again, Mister Iero,” Angela smiled, bringing him some breakfast on a tray.
Frank sat by the fire in the mansion sitting room, now recovered from his ordeal but still deeply unhappy.
“Please call me Frank.”
“Yes, Mister Frank.”
Frank smiled at the name. “I take it that Gerard still hasn’t risen?”
Angela looked down. “No, Sir.”
“His legs? Were they badly hurt? Can he walk?”
“He can walk, Sir, I’ve seen him. When I took him breakfast.”
“You mean he’s out of bed?” Frank’s brow furrowed. “Then why won’t he come out of his room?”
“He’s in mourning, Sir.”
“In mourning! For his brother? He tried to kill him!”
“I know,” Angela shook her head. “It’s not my place, Sir, but I think you should speak to him.”
“You think he’d listen to me?”
“He…” Angela hesitated. “He holds you in high esteem, Sir; more even than a brother. I think he’d do anything for you.”
Frank smiled at her subtlety.
“Okay, I’ll try.”
Making his way to Gerard’s room, Frank knocked and opened the door despite the lack of reply.
“I didn’t ask you to come in… oh, Frank, I’m sorry, I didn’t realise it was you.”
“Can I come in?” Frank asked with a smile.
“Of course you can,” Gerard nodded with a slight blush in his cheeks. “You saved my life.”
“I tried to, but it was Bob really, he saved both our lives.”
“Why did they come back? I thought Mikey had everything under control.”
“Well, you know Angela, she wanted to know everything, and it all came out.”
“What did?” Gerard asked nervously.
“That it was Mikey who had made advances towards her.”
“Oh!”Gerard sighed with relief.
“Then the whole story fell apart. They knew you were alone and Mikey had something planned. They came back to help.”
“I’m going to need a new stableman.”
“Well, there’s Bob. He could move his blacksmith’s business here and combine the two.”
“Do you think he would?” asked Gerard hopefully.
“Well,” Frank smiled, “I kind of already asked him and he’s keen.”
The ends of Gerard’s lips turned up.
“You always did know what was best for me. I should have locked Mikey up like you suggested, shouldn’t I?”
Frank shrugged. “Well, what are we going to do to get you better?”
Gerard sighed heavily and sat down in his favourite armchair.
“I’ll be fine, there’s nothing broken.”
Frank knelt at his side and spoke quietly. “Just your heart.”
Gerard lowered his eyes at the words as Frank gently brushed a few strands of hair from his forehead. His fingers hovered for a few moments before bringing his palm down to cup Gerard’s cheek.
“Can anyone mend that broken heart?”
Gerard’s lips parted in astonishment as he raised his eyes to stare at Frank who was smiling at him. Finally after what seemed like an age, Gerard smiled back.
“Will you stay?”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Frank replied with a squeeze of Gerard’s hand.
“Stay with us, Frank.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
Gerard looked up, his eyes wide, his lips parted in astonishment as Frank spoke and lightly squeezed his hand.
“You’re awake!” Gerard cried joyfully, only truly believing it as Frank opened his eyes. “Oh, my God! You’re awake!”
Frank lay bewildered as Gerard ran from the room shouting.
“Gerard!” Frank cried suddenly disorientated. Surely, he was the one who was well and Gerard was the one in need of care. What was going on?
Gerard’s calls had summoned Mikey and Bob from the room opposite and Frank’s eyes widened with horror as they entered.
“Get him away from me!” Frank yelled with venom in his tone.
“What?” Gerard turned to see a very stunned Bob and Mikey standing in the doorway. “Frank, what’s wrong?”
Bob, certain the remark was aimed at him, shrank back, hurt and shocked by the level of anger in Frank’s voice.
“Frank!” Gerard snapped, at once surprised and angry. “Bob saved your life!”
“I know he did,” Frank growled in reply. “I wasn’t talking about him!”
“Me?” Mikey raised his eyebrows.
“Why aren’t you dead?”
“Frank, what…” Bob began. “Ah! Your dream.”
“What dream? What are you…?” Frank glanced around the room and finally took in his surroundings. “I’m in hospital?”
“You were in a coma, we were really worried about you,” Gerard replied.
Frank’s face blanked as he tried to remember the circumstances that led him to hospital. Finally giving up, he waved Bob and Mikey into the room as Doctor Wendel arrived followed by Ray, Angela and Frey.
“Don’t you remember the woods? The trap you sprung?” asked Bob as Wendel confirmed that all was well.
“No,” Frank shook his head. “I remember the woods, but nothing else.”
“That’s common,” Wendel confirmed. “Don’t worry, his memory will probably return with some rest.”
“Back to sleep?” Mikey asked with concern.
“Don’t worry,” Wendel confirmed with a smile. “There’s a big difference between sleep and coma. He’s fine now.”
Mikey threw his arms around the guitarist.
“It’s so good to have you back!”
Frank smiled; grateful that the Mikey he knew was so different to the one in his dream.
“What was your dream?” asked Gerard.
“It was sort of the legend of the woods, but you were all in it!”
“And?” Gerard asked intrigued.
“And… I think we better leave it there.”
“Oh!” Gerard laughed. “Sounds like Frank got the girl!”
“If you say so, Gerard,” Frank grinned. “If you say so!”