It's a frikey. :)
What? Out of the corner of my eye I saw a small wad of paper fall to the floor, and my right hand subconsciously reached for the back of my neck. Making sure the teacher wasn’t paying attention, I turned around and scanned the room for anyone looking suspicious.
One blonde girl wearing a Jonas Brothers t-shirt giggled obnoxiously, while the two jocks on either side of her smirked. I flipped them all off. I kicked the paper ball away from me, praying for the bell to ring soon.
As I power-walked (I hate that word, but it was accurate.) down the hallways, I remembered that I was getting a locker partner today. Apparently the kid had been having some troubles with his other partner, and I was he only kid without one that was convenient for his classes. He was a grade younger than me, too.
I remembered all of this because as soon as I turned a corner and was within spitting distance of my locker, I saw a midget brunette kid jumping up to reach the top shelf. I smirked, feeling slight pity for the kid; I could already tell what some of his past feuds were about.
I stood behind him and reached over his head, grabbing the two books resting on the shelf. He didn’t turn around, but he did freeze up, obviously unaware of my presence until now.
“P-please Bert… Just give them back and leave me alone,” he requested weakly. Bert must have been his (rather abusive) locker buddy.
“First off, please don’t call me Bert; it’s an ugly name. I’m Mikey. Second, I’m your new locker buddy. Third, I’m not here to hurt you, I was getting these down for you. Which one did you need?”
The kid swung around, eyes wide and cheeks pink, and he swallowed. “O-oh, I need Chemistry… Thanks.” He looked embarrassed. I handed him the textbook and ruffled his hair.
“No problem, Freshy. But I’m thinking you should take bottom shelf and I should be on top,” (Haha!) “deal?”
“Yeah, deal,” he nodded, smiling slightly. We shifted our belongings around quickly. I was in no hurry – I had lunch next – but I figured I should go quickly for his sake.
“So you have Chem next?” I had just stood up and grabbed my lunchbox, prepared to close the locker. He shook his head no and shot his hand out to reach his own lunch bag, holding it up and shaking it slightly.
“Sweet dude, you’ll sit with me,” I decided, slamming the locker shut. Then I backtracked, “Unless you have other ‘lunch buddies.’” He shook his head again, looking down at his feet as we walked.
“No, I don’t sit with anyone… I’m a fag.” He kept walking, keeping his head down, but I halted. He was gay? No wonder he was so timid; Bert probably beat the crap out of him.
“Hey… You make that sound like it’s a bad thing,” I stated lightly, nudging his shoulder. He looked up at me and grinned.
Now, I could tell you about the rest of my day at school, like how I caught Frank trying to steal my skittles when I had my back turned, and how my brother and I got caught trying to cut class, and how my mother lectured us while on speakerphone, and how the whole school heard it because Gee’s elbow had been resting on the button that turned on the school’s PA system.
I could tell you, but no – I won’t. I’ll just skip to the most exciting part of my day.
Turns out Frankie lives in the same neighborhood as me; he was two houses away. We walked together, Gerard ditching us to hang out with his friend Ray. My mom was supposedly hung up at the salon tonight, and my dad always came home late from work; that mean Frankie and I had the house to ourselves.
Along the way, I found out we both loved the Misfits and Bruce Springsteen, and we were obsessed with Watchmen, and we both played guitar. His birthday was on Halloween, his parents were divorced, and he wanted to get a scorpion tattoo on his neck when he turned 18, knowing full-well it would mean he couldn’t get an office job. He was only 5’4” and done growing, and he loved Harry Potter.
He was just too cute.
“Hey, dude. You want some pizza? You can have dinner here if you want. God knows Gerard won’t be coming home anytime soon.” I crossed my fingers behind my back, hoping desperately for a ‘yes.’ Frank smiled at the suggestion and nodded his head enthusiastically. “’Lemme just call my mom first,” he said, and hurried into the kitchen to do just that.
It was around 5:45 now; he’d been here over three hours, and not one awkward moment passed between us. We’d been playing Misfits riffs and video games, and while I was in my room trying to find a board game, he drew a comic of us having an epic battle. He drew himself as a pirate and me as a Superman-type hero. We’d just finished bringing it to life when we decided we were hungry.
That led us to now.
He sauntered back into the den with a smirk on his face.
“Michael,” he greeted. I screwed up my face in confusion and distaste at the name.
“Franklin.” He grimaced right back, but moved on quickly. That was one thing I liked about him: he didn’t hover.
“My mom said she’s not going to be home until very, very late.” My heart sped up as soon as he finished the sentence. I wanted him to continue, but his smirk said it all. Even so, I choked out a tiny, “And?”
“She said – if it was okay with you and your parents, of course – that I could stay over. She would never let me do this normally, even if it is a Friday night, but I think she’s too excited that I’ve found a friend that she can’t pass this up.” He finished with a triumphant smile; one that I’m sure mirrored my own.
This was just too great.
“Dude! Awesome! Let me just phone my mom, then we can go get your shit.” He just giggled and picked up another piece of paper to doodle on as I exited the room.
Frank and I became almost inseparable in the following two weeks. I would say he was my best friend – I wanted to – but that took a long, long time. He had potential though, definitely.
On random days I’d find another comic strip or picture, displaying some random, trivial affair between the two of us. Frankie was quite the artist; he could give Gerard a run for his money.
On the first Wednesday of the second month I’d met him, I finally figured it out: I had a crush. On him.
I’d begun to reciprocate with some of my own drawings, putting emotions and hidden double meanings in between the lines. After about two weeks of this it was in the middle of January, and we were outright parading our feelings on paper by this point.
It started when I drew a picture of me tackling him to the ground, somehow managing to imply that I’d frozen on top of him, as if to suddenly realize that we were so close together. His response to my comic was a continuation, with him leaning his head up from the ground and kissing me.
That started it.
I’d approached him at lunch that day, sneaking up behind him. It may have been too soon, but rationality had flown out the window as soon as I saw his picture.
I pulled him by the waist up against me, and before he had time to really react I planted my lips on the base of his neck. His head lolled back onto my shoulder, and even though he bit his lip to suppress it, his moan rand loud and clear in my ear.
I didn’t care that we were being stared at by our friends, I didn’t care that we were in the cafeteria, and I didn’t care that the word “Fag!” was shouted all around us. It was just Frankie and me.
He turned around (still in my arms, might I add.) with a huge grin gracing his features.
“Hey,” he murmured, reaching up to wrap his arms around my neck. I spotted the red mark I’d just given him, and felt pride wash through me.
Throughout the next few weeks, we’d gotten called every name in the book, and Frankie even got a black eye the day I was home sick. Gerard was sort of like our body guard though, and even if he wasn’t with us, people knew he’d find out if anything happened through me; that was just something people didn’t want to go through.
However, in the last week of March, it was obvious we’d started to take a major toll on people’s nerves. They hadn’t given up on shouting at us every chance they got – in fact, it even got worse. I finally found out who this “Bert” character was, too; he was one of our biggest fans.
In fact, he was the one who tore my world apart.
The week of Gee’s birthday, the Friday before the ninth, Gerard and I had (successfully) skipped school, in honor of his turning 18. I’d invited Frankie along, but he had an important test that day that he just couldn’t miss.
I got the call just as we were leaving Big Jimmy’s Comics. Ray’s voice was loud and jumbled, and I had to hold the phone a good two inches away from my ear. Gerard’s face grew concerned as the yelling continued, but we both made out the words “ambulance,” “fight,” and “Frankie.” And with that we took off running.
The grounds of the school were frantic and violent. People were running and screaming, the occasional girl crying. People looked scared and confused, and when they looked at me they threw pitying glances, which only fueled my anger. Whoever did this would pay.
Gee was the first to spot Ray, (well, Ray’s hair.) and he dragged me to him. They began a mumbled, rushed conversation, filed with hand gestures and cries of disbelief. I was scanning the area, looking for someone who looked guilty, and more so for Frank. I didn’t see either, but I did find an ambulance about 30 feet away.
Completely forgetting about Ray and Gerard, I made my way to the vehicle, just as a midget brunette kid was being carried in on a stretcher, bleeding and broken. My breath left my lungs, and my vision became blurred. I’m not sure what happened after; I think I fainted. I ended up staying overnight in the hospital, directly under His room.
I woke up at 3 pm the next day. Light and beeping noises surrounded me, and I ached with soreness and fatigue. My eyes slipped closed again, breathing evenly. The action itself seemed so surreal and crazy; how was I breathing fine and my boyfriend in critical condition?
And then it hit me.
Memories of last night hit me, more specifically. My body lurched forward, the blood rushing to my head and making me dizzy. One of the hundreds of beeping noises sped up, faster and faster the more I worried. My breathing was rapid and I became even dizzier, but this was no longer a head rush.
“Dude! Take it easy, bro, breathe! In, out, in, out.” A large hand rubbed circles on my back, but it did little to help. Gerard sat down next to me and wrapped his arms around my shoulders. “It’s okay, shh, it’s okay. You’re fine.”
“But Frankie!” His breathing hitched. “What about my Frankie?” He sighed as his head fell down sharply on my shoulder. “He’s not in any pain.” His voice was muffled. “In fact, he’s probably really comfortable right now…” He trailed off, implying something that I refused to embrace.
“You mean… He’s comfortable because he’s sleeping, right? He doesn’t feel any pain because they gave him shots. I’m right Gee, aren’t I right?” Although his head rocked back and forth on my shoulder blade, I kept going, diving deeper and deeper into my self-made pool of denial.
“He’s okay, he’s just sleeping. He’s in a coma! That’s it, that’s all. That’s all, that’s all. He’s numb and can’t feel the pain, the shots. That’s all, that’s all, that’s all…” I began rocking back and forth, repeating the phrase with hope and vigor, maybe because if I said it enough times I would be true.
Gerard laced his arms around me, using them to hold me still, and covering my mouth with one hand. I bit into it, and he yelped, but didn’t pull away. My teeth clenched against his palm, not drawing blood but making it rise to the surface.
When the urge to chant passed, I pulled my mouth away. I looked at him briefly in apology, before looking down at my hands twisting together in my lap. The monitors and bustling in the halls was all white noise to me. I felt anesthetized, and my vision turned intense and hazy.
The door opened and a nurse walked in, a sad smile on her face. She checks my wires and monitors, and turned to face me. Gerard hadn’t moved from the bed, and was watching wearily.
“Well, your blood levels and heart rate seem to be steady and normal. Looks like you’re free to go home.” She smiled at me and began to detach the IV from my arm; Gerard winced as she did so. I don’t know why I even bothered asking, as if I didn’t already know the answer, but as I was about to get up and put my clothes on I froze and turned to her.
“What is Frank Iero’s condition?” She looked at me wide-eyed, nervous and choosing her words carefully.
“You’re not the one that did it, are you?” Even as she asked the question you could tell she didn’t mean it. I shook my head quickly anyways, and she nodded slightly. Gerard took this as his queue and left, presumably to check me out. “He was in a coma for about fifteen minutes, but when your friend –”
“My brother, Gerard.”
“– your brother went to visit his room and started talking to him, something clicked and he woke up. Your brother told him your condition, and Frank insisted that he go see you. That was early this morning when your brother went back to you. Around lunchtime Mr. Iero passed away.”
Passed away. Such an old, used up term. He didn’t just pass away. He died. He was murdered.
My eyes filled with tears and my throat closed up, but I only nodded and went to the bathroom to change. The ride home with Gee was completely silent, both of us just remembering Frankie and wondering who took his life away from him. We had just pulled into the driveway when I unbuckled and faced him in my seat.
“What did you say?” He looked at me, eyes squinted, and sighed.
“I just told him how sorry we were that we were all too late. He told me to forget about it, it was gonna happen eventually. And he…he wanted me to tell you that he loves you, and he knows you’re gonna feel guilty, but there was nothing you could have done. He knew you’re gonna be able to find a nice girl and have a happy family. Mikey, he wants you to move on.”
I stared at him, digesting the words. He wanted me to move on. Find a nice girl and have a nice family. I would do that. I would do anything.
9 years later
“Alicia! Seriously? For real?!”
“Yeah,” she laughed, throwing her arms around me and hugging me tight. “Isn’t this exciting?”
“It is. It’s wonderful,” I mumbled into her hair.
“Mmhmm.” She sighed, letting another giggle out. “What are we gonna name him?”
“A woman just knows.”
“Frank. Franklin. Frankie.”
She smiled at me, placing a sweet kiss on my cheek.
“Frankie it is then.”
Frankie it is.