Inside Elena's house. We learn a lot more about Frank.
I stared up in awe, amazed that I hadn’t recognized her before, or the house that I’d rather be at than any other place on earth. That’s how goddamn out of it I was.
“Gramma Helena?” I said, still confused as she walked to me, looking something like I think angels would.
“Oh Gee baby.” She whispered, smiling sadly as she helped me up off the ground. “What did you to do to yourself?”
“I got drunk Gramma,” I slurred to her, trying to talk clearly and failing miserably.
She pursed her lips slightly as she led me into the house, with Frank following behind us. “I can see that Gerard.” She spoke softly, and she wasn’t angry. She was just disappointed. Which, somehow, was much, much worse.
We went into the living room, with the red velvet couch I’d sat on so many times. Gramma Helena made sure I was fine for the moment, and then turned with great concern to Frank.
“What did he to you this time?” She asked, as she touched the side of Frank’s head gingerly. He winced.
“He just hit me. “ Frank’s voice was void of all emotion.
Gramma looked down at him and frowned. “I know that there’s more to it than that Frankie. Tell me.” It wasn’t an order. It was a request, one that no one would refuse.
Frank began to tremble again, and I knew that this time there would be no holding back.
“He broke my guitar Elena! He broke it! He smashed it on the ground and snapped the strings and it was the only thing that was mine and he ruined it and –“
“Shh…shhh….shhh.” Gramma said, pulling Frank into her arms where he could cry softly. She let him sob into her chest, she let him get out some of the pain he’d been trying so hard to hide.
“You’re going to be fine.” Gramma whispered to him. Not “It’s going to be ok, everything will turn out alright.” Just, you’re going to be fine. Nothing but the truth from her.
Frank pulled out of her chest and wiped his eyes after a couple minutes. “I’m sorry.”
Gramma raised a silver eyebrow. “You have nothing to be sorry for Frank. That terrible man is the one that should be sorry.” She sighed deeply. “And one day, he will be.” The sentence hung in the air; a threat to Frank’s stepfather. It was menacing, though it came from the body of a fragile looking old woman.
She sighed again. “Let’s get you cleaned up. Sit down.” She directed him to sit next to me, which he did, and then she went off into the kitchen.
Frank gave me an apologetic look. “I guess…now would be the right time to explain some stuff.”
I nodded. “Yeah. I’m pretty lost.”
Frank sighed. “Ok, ok, ok. I’m warning you now though, it’s not fun to hear. It aint a fuckin’ fairy tale.”
“That’s fine. I just want to know. So I can help you.” To me, the last remark sounded corny, but he didn’t comment on it, or show any negative reactions. He just sighed.
“My mom was a whore. That was why I was born. I’m just the product of twenty-five bucks for her to go buy some alcohol.”
That one statement, that one bitter statement, would have been enough to send me reeling. Everything in his voice was so dark, so sad, I wondered how he could possibly be the same boy I’d seen smile so many times. And then he continued and it just got worse.
“She got married, after me. To that guy. The one back at the house. I had a sister too, one older than me. Another twenty five dollar baby.” There was something different in his tone when he talked about his sister, something soft, gentle. Reverence. And love.
“My sister was all I had. And then, when she was sixteen, she got pregnant.” His voice went blank again, and I knew that there was much worse to come. “He hated that she got pregnant. He beat her up for it. He screamed at her.” I didn’t have to ask who he was. I already knew.
“She got depressed. Anyone would’ve. And one day, I came home from school and I heard her crying in the bathroom. When I came through the door, she was in the middle of slitting her wrists.”
I swallowed, dying inside from having to hear this. Because this story was one hundred times worse than anything I’d ever imagined. I could barely dream up something this bad, and this was Frank’s life.
Frank couldn’t even meet my eyes now; he stared at the wall, though I could tell that wasn’t what he was seeing.
“She told me goodbye. She said she was sorry. And I sat down next to her and watched her die.” Again, that blankness. No emotion now.
“My mother got depressed after that too, and she started drinking. He told me it was my fault. I believed it too; I didn’t even find out until years later that she’d gotten pregnant.” Frank swallowed taking a deep breath in through his nose. He shut his eyes momentarily, and to me, it seemed like he was trying to rid himself of the memories that he was dredging up.
“My stepfather started taking charge after that. He hates me. He says I’m worthless. He thinks that I’ll respond best to being hit.” My eyes traveled to the blood that was still trickling down Frank’s face. My stomach was churning again, as I struggled to keep a hold on myself. It was getting increasingly difficult.
“And he rapes my mom. He rapes her every night, after he beats her up. And I have to listen to it all.”
It all got to be too much for me then, too much for me to hold down. I felt my stomach jumping into my throat again, and I ran to the bathroom as quickly as I could. I fell to my knees pathetically in front of the toilet, emptying everything inside me with uneven chokes and gasps. The whole time, all I could think was poor Frank. I thought I was done after a minute, and I sat back, laying my head down on the seat.
Frank had followed me, and he put a hand on my back. The touch reminded me of his story though, of Frank watching his sister die, being hit by his stepfather, listening to his mother being raped. The images it conjured made me sick again, for nearly another ten minutes. Frank didn’t say a single word this time, and I could tell he was shaken from having to tell me everything.
Gramma Helena came in after a couple minutes, but she must have sensed something between Frank and I, the need for us to be alone, because she stood outside the door. He needed to see. He needed to know that someone cared, that I cared so much that what he’d told me was enough to make me sick.
My head was spinning wildly when I was done, and I couldn’t stand. It was Frank again who led me back to the couch, where I lay down, and finally passed out under all the pressure that had suddenly been placed on my tiny world.
When I woke up, Frank was lying next to me, asleep. His breathing was labored, like he was frightened, or uncomfortable, even when he was asleep. As I struggled to get up without waking him, I noticed that the blood that had caked the left half of his face the last time I’d seen him was now gone.
I stumbled my way into the kitchen, where I knew Gramma Helena would be waiting for me. Sure enough, by the time I was at the cabinet where I knew the sacred Asprin was kept, she popped up behind me.
“Maybe I should get those.” She said with a half smile, taking the bottle of pills from my hand and giving me two of them. Of course. If it was me, I think I’d have taken seven or eight.
I swallowed them without water, too eager to have them work to wait that long. I sat down at the mahogany table in the center of the kitchen, and Gramma pulled out another chair for herself.
“It seems like the things Frank told you shook you up quite a bit.” Her eyebrows came together a bit more as she looked me over with a sensitive eye.
I wanted to avoid looking her in the eye, but I couldn’t. I bit my lip nervously, as I stared into the eyes that seemed to have seen everything. I couldn’t speak, so I just nodded.
“He’s a good kid. He’s had it so rough.” She shook her head back and forth, shutting her eyes and frowning. “No one should have to suffer so much.”
“Gramma, how did you meet him? Frank I mean.” I said softly, finally voicing the question I’d been forming.
She opened her eyes, and looked at me, continuing to frown. “I don’t know if that’s a story you want to hear.”
Her vague reply confirmed my fears that they’d not met under pleasant circumstances.
With Gramma Helena, you only have to say things once.
“It was two years ago. I was pulling into my driveway, coming back from the grocery. I got out of the car and got my bags, when I noticed a man running down the street. He was yelling, and he had a bottle in his hand.” Gramma paused for a moment, shutting her eyes, and I knew she was recalling it all. She’d always had a vivid memory, or at least, that was what she told Mikey and me.
“I could barely understand what he was saying; I was going to ignore him. But then, as I passed my bushes, I looked down and saw someone. Frank was lying there, curled into a ball; bleeding and trembling. He looked up at me, and I will never forget the look that he had in his eyes then. Fear, and pleading. He spoke to me, just a whisper. He said, “Please, don’t tell him. Don’t tell him where I am.” And he pleaded me with his eyes, and his voice. For me to show him mercy, and kindness. Something I could tell he wasn’t familiar with.
“I could only nod; I didn’t want to speak to him and give him away. So I nodded at him and went inside. But once I did, I waited by the window, until his stepfather went away. The moment he did, I went outside, and told Frank to come in, before he could run. He looked so scared, and he flinched when I reached out to put my hand on his shoulder. We came in, and I asked him if he could tell me why he’d had to hide in my bushes. He told me it was because he was hiding from his stepfather. I asked him why, and he said, “Because I think he might kill me.”
“It was one of the saddest moments in my life. Because I knew that what Frank had said was true, that it was his honest opinion, and, because he said it so calmly. That was my clue that Frank had had to deal with all this, for a long time.
“I asked Frank if he wanted to tell me why he thought his stepfather might kill him, and then everything came out. He told me everything. He barely cried at all. That was the beginning, the first day. When he left, I told him he could come here whenever he needed help, or to hide. And he has. God bless that boy, he had.”
Gramma Helena finally opened her eyes, and there were tears in them. I’d known that already though; I had heard them coming in her voice. She brushed a stray silver curl away from her face, tucking it behind her ear.
“You have to help that boy Gerard. You have to help him.”
So...what did you think? Poor Frankie....And we're just getting started. Ok, so since you guys did so well last chapter reviewing, I'm gonna one up it.9 reviews. And that shouldn't be too hard, since you should have something to say about this chapter.And maybe this time, no one will have to review twice to get there. Cough HandsStainedRed cough. R and R. Love you all!!
EDIT: WOW. You guys are doing UH-MAY-ZING. Seven, in two days. Without Ieromyheromcr. I'm way impressed. You're gonna make me have to post early. Great job! I only need two more. And one more point for green continuation. I love you all!