Coping is an acquired skill.
Frank knew he couldn’t let himself think, so he did his best to busy himself with something, anything. That same night he called a promising young band that had asked him to tour manage for them, one that he happened to know was currently touring, and accepted their offer. The next day he met them in Denver. He spent the next eight months on the road with them, and not once in that time did he speak to any of his former band mates, or Sara.
When their tour ended, he latched on to another band and continued. He had, at most, three bands under his management at any given time, and for nearly four years there was never a single day when he wasn’t touring with one of them. But there came a day, nearly four years after the last My Chem show, when all of his bands were on break, and simple responsibility barely kept him from latching on to a fourth.
Frank was forced to go home, a place he realized he had not been since before the last My Chem tour. A place he found he did not recognize. He’d heard from a friend that his old apartment had been knocked down and rebuilt as a shopping center. He didn’t care, he’d stopped paying rent on it years ago. He heard from the same friend that, since all her things were in Jersey already anyway, Sara had moved in with Mikey almost immediately after returning from the tour.
He considered not even going back to Jersey, there were too many painful memories, but he couldn’t think of anywhere else to go. Eventually he decided to just face it. He got a small apartment near the new shopping center that used to be his old one. He had six weeks to kill before one of his bands hit the road again. He thought it would be just long enough for him to lose his mind.
For two weeks he never left his apartment. He had food delivered and he kept to himself. He told himself it was because he had nothing better to do, but inside he knew it was because he didn’t want to see how much Belleville had left him behind. Things had changed drastically in four years and he didn’t want to know about it. He didn’t want to run into old acquaintances on the streets or remember anything at all. He wanted, so badly, to forget.
But after two weeks he couldn’t entertain himself with just the inside of his apartment any more and he began to venture out into the real world. His outings were mostly uneventful, until one fateful night. He stopped in at the local Starbucks, ordered his usual, and was just on his way out when he came face to face with one Mikey Way.
Mikey stood in the aisle looking slightly bewildered for a moment. “Frank?”
Frank ignored him, hoping desperately to get away with pretending he didn’t recognize Mikey and just walk straight past him and to the door, then out into the freedom of the parking lot. Mikey wasn’t feeling cooperative though. A gloved hand reached out and touched Frank’s arm, causing him to involuntarily turn and look at the hand’s owner. When Frank’s eyes met Mikey’s he knew there was no way he was getting out of it.
“Shit, man, we’ve missed you! You don’t call, you don’t write, you changed your number and never told us your new digits. We thought maybe you’d fallen off the face of the earth!”
Mikey stepped forward and wrapped Frank in a massive hug. Frank stiffened at the contact. Sensing the tension, Mikey let go and stepped back. “Oh, right. You’re still pissed at me.”
Frank stared at Mikey, incredulous. Like hell he was still pissed! Lying bastard fucking slept with his fiancé! He opened his mouth to voice something along those lines when he was interrupted by a small voice.
“Daddy, what’s taking so long?”
He looked down and saw a young girl, maybe three or four, with petite features and brown wavy hair had latched on the Mikey’s leg. Frank just stared. Mikey bent over and scooped the small girl into his arms. He looked at her lovingly and spoke directly to her.
“Allie, I’d like you to meet Frank. Can you tell Frank ‘hello’?”
Allie just stared at Frank. Frank stared back. He could see Sara in the small girl features. It unnerved him. Suddenly Allie’s tiny face broke into a huge grin. “Hi Frank!”
Frank switched his gaze from Allie to Mikey and back several times, trying to see his old friend’s features in the small girl. Finally he gave up, deciding he’d rather not know. He opened his mouth to speak. He meant to say something in response to Allie, but all that came out was, “Daddy?”
When he and Sara were together, he’d wanted nothing more than to start a family. Sara hadn’t wanted kids. And now this beautiful little girl with Sara’s smile was calling Mikey Daddy? Mikey blushed ever so slightly and refused to look Frank in the eye.
Frank pulled his coat tighter around him and moved to pass Mikey and Allie. “I have to go,” he mumbled. But Mikey would not let him pass.
“Frank, we really need to talk. I’ve been trying to get a hold of your for almost two weeks now, but the bands weren’t on tour and none of them could tell me where you went. Nobody’s heard from you, man.”
Frank nodded and tried again to leave. Again Mikey stopped him.
“Seriously, Frank. There are things you need to know.” Mikey bent over a nearby table, grabbed a napkin, and pulled a pen out of his pocket. Hurriedly he wrote down an address and handed it to Frank.
“Promise me you’ll swing by tomorrow?” he asked. Something in his tone told him that whatever Mikey wanted to talk about, it was serious. He wanted so badly to say no, to go back to his oblivious, out of touch lifestyle. Silently he cursed himself for leaving his apartment. But seeing Allie had given him a nasty shock, and without thinking everything through, he nodded.
Mikey seemed relieved. He patted Frank on the back before walking Allie back to their table. Frank was left to force his way out into the open air and wonder what in the world he had just gotten himself into.
Doo da doo. And so it continues. Note to all: don't always expect updates this quickly, I was inspired. Love you to pieces (don't make me make that literal).