Mikey Way is a thief, a black market master, and a rogue. But he wasn't always this way...
The bank. Secure, but only to a certain extent. Even the strongest defenses will fail with perseverance. I was hiding behind the set of the dumpsters that divided the alleyway in two, waiting for my chance. Waiting for the shift in guards. Waiting for my ambush to begin.
Why? I was planning a break in. Diamonds were what I wanted, no, needed. Now don’t think badly of me. I would steal them, sell them for more than they were worth, and pay back the money, only keeping the balance. And I didn’t always used to be this way. I didn’t used to be this desperate. Eight years, that’s what it took to turn me into this- this criminal. Eight years of living on the streets, mourning the loss of my dearly departed mother and my long-lost brother, who went out on a whim and a drunken dream to seek his fortune. Eight years of eating out of garbage cans and wearing rags. It turned me hard-hearted and cunning. I became a rogue.
Before tragedy hit, those eight years back, I had it all. I was twenty-two at the time. Fresh out of college, with a degree in the musical arts and a job as a songwriter and bass player for a little-known Jersey band that consisted of my older brother, a few good friends, and myself. I was living my dream.
That all changed when my mother, Donna, got sick. She was diagnosed with a rare cancer, and that broke me. My brother and I quit the band to take care of her; one of us staying home, the other working long shifts to pay for food and Mom’s chemotherapy. I volunteered to stay with her. I tended to her every need. I cooked and fed her bathed her while my brother was working, and I was glad to be able to help her in her time of need. We were handling the bills, though we went hungry some nights to make sure Mom had food, and we were sure she would get better.
Then things took a turn for the worst. Donna’s cancer was diagnosed as terminal. They gave her three months to live before the cancer claimed her- three months that, they said, may be able to stretch into six if she remained at the hospital. She refused, wanting to spend the rest of her life with her sons.
Then, I turned eighteen. My brother was twenty, and he had an idea for a new game designing company one night while he was wasted on the couch. He disappeared the next morning, leaving me with Mom. Five days later, she died.
The doctors were skeptic. They said that the cancer had claimed her early, and that they wanted to do tests to find out how far it had really progressed. I turned them down, wanting to keep her whole, and have her final wishes carried out. And anyway, I already knew why she had died. It wasn’t the cancer. It was a broken heart. Her eldest son, who she had provided for through his entire life, even paying his tuition through Art College, had left her to her fate. He hadn’t even said goodbye. That was why she died, and I had never quite forgiven him for it. What made it worse? He never returned. Wherever he was, if he was still alive, he had no clue that his mother was dead and his baby brother Mikey was now a thief. A wanted criminal. A dealer on the black market.
As a large man walked by me, I realized it was time. This was the shift in guards I had waited for. I had staked out the bank for weeks, observing the employees and finding out all the information I needed for this to work. The man who ran the afternoon-evening shift always parked around the corner, and always took a detour through this alley way. The dumpster had a space behind it big enough to hide the man until he roused himself from the bludgeoning he was about to receive. And I knew that he was close enough to my size.
The man passed me, whistling under his breath as he hobbled along, and I pounced. I wrapped my hand around his mouth, stifling his scream to near silence, and smashed my forehead into his skull. He crumpled to the ground.
I stepped back, gently massaging my head. Nobody wins with a headbutt, I thought miserably as I dragged the unconscious, though still breathing, man behind the dumpster. I quickly stripped him of his uniform and draped my dirty, torn clothes over him. It wasn’t cold, but it was getting darker, and I didn’t want him to find himself with nothing to wear when he did wake up. I felt bad about striking the poor man in the first place, but he would have run to someone immediately if I had taken his uniform and let him go free. This way, he would never know what had happened.
I stepped out of the shadows and strode to the building, where the rather rotund night guard was standing. I knew from experience that though he looked intimidating, this man was quite a good-natured fellow, and trusted people easily.
“Sir, is this the night guard’s post?”
The man smiled slightly and nodded, assuming I was a new employee who was assigned to the shift for the night.
“Yes, it is,” he answered in a low voice, still smiling. “Are you here to take over the shift? I’ve only been here but five minutes.”
I smiled back. This was going to be easier than I thought.
“Yes, I am. I’m kind of new here, and I was told by the boss to take your shift for tonight. He said you’ve been working too hard, and it would be good for my first shift.”
The man nodded his head and held out his hand.
“Just let me see your ID, and you can take the shift. I’m sorry, standard procedure. Just to make sure you’re not some criminal in disguise.”
I smiled wider. If only you knew…
I handed him the fake ID I had created, and he looked it over.
“Seems legit,” he told me, handing it back. “You take care tonight, all right? Don’t let anyone or anything inside, you hear? I’ll be back to check on you at about six AM to make sure you haven’t fallen asleep. Call me if you have a problem. My number’s in the contacts sheet the boss gave you when you signed on.”
“Alright, I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you, sir.”
With that, the man left. I waited until I was sure that he was gone before taking the fallen guard’s real ID out of my left pocket and swiping it on the scanner by the door. The door clicked quietly and swung open, allowing me undetected passage into the bank.
My heart raced as I crept down the deserted, dark halls of the giant safe. I approached vault 627, where I knew that a woman by the name of Elena Rush kept a stash of diamonds that she had acquired during a mining expedition her husband had partook on. This was the vault from which I was to take the diamonds.
As I tiptoed towards the vault, a sudden flash of light went up all around me as the lights in the hallway all lit up.
“Michael James Way! Come with your arms raised high! You are wanted for attempted grand theft, grand theft, and assault and battery. Remain still and make no sudden moves. You are surrounded. Turn yourself in, or more heavy consequences shall be administered.”
My hands shot into the air, and I felt them being cuffed above my head. I turned around, and there was the night guard I had talked to at the door.
“There ain’t no contacts list, dumbass. Get your facts straight before you try to break in somewhere.” I cringed. I had taken him to be much dafter.
As I was loaded into the back of the cruiser and ushered away to some prison somewhere, I shuddered uncomfortably. What would Mom think if she could see me now?
I was shoved unceremoniously into a cell where two men sat bathed in darkness in the back corner. I had been changed into the black uniform of the prison, and was now sitting on the floor in it, staring at my nearly bare feet. My converse were not going to last much longer. They were held together with string and electrical tape. And with how many counts of theft I had been sentenced with, I was to remain in prison for at least fifteen years. These shoes, fifteen years? I was walking out of here barefoot.
I felt as though I was being watched, and I looked up to see one of the two men approaching me. He stepped out of the shadows, and I realized just how short he was. He must have been five-foot-two, and looked as though he’d had a much better life than I had. He was wearing fingerless skeleton gloves, and he had a lip ring that he was now nibbling on nervously. On his feet were a nice, sturdy pair of dress shoes that looked as if they would last forever.
“It’s the shoes that says how long you’re going to have before you’re beat,” the man said, looking at my shredded converse. “The better the shoes, the more people leave you alone. It means you’ve come from somewhere important; you’ve got a title. But you’ll be fine. If your shoes do fall apart and your feet get too cold, you can have mine. The cold doesn’t bother me. Neither does a beating.”
I looked at the man in awe. He spoke so calmly, so civilly, like we were having an innocent conversation on the street.
“I’m Frank, by the way. Frank Iero.” The man held out his hand, and I shook it. He then ran his hands through his cropped black hair and pointed to the other man, who was standing just in the shadows, staring at me.
“And this is-“ he began, but just then, the second man stepped into the open.
“Gerard,” I whispered, my whole body numb.
“Oh, so you know each other?”
I wanted to laugh at that statement. Knew each other? Oh, we knew each other, all right. His hair was no longer black or white, but it was definitely him. Gerard Arthur Way. My brother.
“Hey, Mikes. How’ve you been, baby bro?” Gerard asked, unsure of himself, his hand in his pockets.
The use of my childhood nickname made me snap.
“How DARE you call me your brother!” I screamed, trying to pounce on him. Frank grabbed my arms and held me back. For that, I was partially grateful and partially annoyed. “When you left, mom DIED! Are you HAPPY, Gerard?! She DIED because of you! You left me on the STREETS! You never called, never checked how I was DOING, or if I had fucking FOOD to eat, and you want to come in and make it ALL better, DON’T you? Because of YOU and your STUPID idea, Mom is DEAD and I’m in JAIL! You wanted to be a good role model? Well, you WERE! NOW look where I am! With YOU in a FUCKING PRISON CELL!”
Gerard looked hurt, and I realized he was crying.
“Mikes, I- I didn’t know…”
“DON’T call me Mikes. You have NO right to call me by our family name. You are NOT family. Family CALLS and sticks around when their mother has terminal cancer! FAMILY doesn’t LEAVE on their brother’s birthday!”
“NO! DON’T. Just- don’t. I don’t want to hear the excuses. I just- don’t. Leave me alone. Don’t talk to me. And don’t try to be a brother to me. Frank, please let me go.” Frank complied, and my arms were released. I immediately began to cry, silent tears. I hadn’t cried in eight years. After Mom died, I ran out of tears. Well, now they were back.
“I was left with nothing, Gerard,” I cried, not meeting his eyes. “I was stuck on the streets. I had resorted to stealing and selling things on the black market just so I could eat. And where were you? In your cozy office, with your big shiny car and all the food you could eat. And all your booze. While you never gave a second thought to your poor brother who needed you. You betrayed my love, Gee. And I’m not sure I can forgive you for that.”
I sat down with a small sigh on the cot that seemed to have been un-occupied, and let myself cry. I felt an arm around my shoulders and flinched away, before I realized it was Frank. I leaned into his shoulder and cried harder, silently. Frank looked up at Gerard, concern in his face, and murmured, “And I thought I was the one with anger issues.”