“Hey, uhh, I know you’re one of Jackie’s race friends,” I said, pointing to the priest, “But who are you?” I asked the man who was driving as he revved the engine and set off down the street.
“Friend of Jackie’s. I’m killdog. You’re Frank and he’s Gerard and the goon sitting next to me is Alex. I know a bit about you and enough to know you’re decent people. But I’d like to know more about that idiot with the afro Jackie’s married.
“Ray? Ray’s amazing, he can play guitar, sing pretty well, cooks real nice, is a demon on computer games, he enjoys reading comics, is currently being taught to drive by me and Jackie and is basically one of the sweetest blokes you could ever meet. Wouldn’t hurt a fly, well, unless it bit him first.” Gerard chuckled slightly and Killdog’s face twisted into a frown.
“She really likes him then?” He asked, seeming saddened.
“Yeah, what they have is really special, I think it may be impossible for them to get any closer and more loved up. Same goes for all of us, Mikey and Hollie especially. Why do you ask?” I said, curious about the man.
“I just wondered. Me and Jackie had a bit of a thing once upon a time.” He sighed and drummed his fingers on the steering wheel.
“What!?” Gerard choked, looking like a rabbit in the headlights, “How old are you?”
“ Thirty two, thirty three on the eigth of December.” He informed us. Even I was shocked.
“Seriously! Well…” Gerard left it there, what the hell do you say to that?
“It’s true. They never admitted it, not even to themselves, but even though they were just best friends, they were more like a couple.” Alex told us and I frowned, that’s just too weird.
“You don’t mind do you? Don’t mention anything to Jackie, she’d freak.” He pleaded and we nodded.
“Alex, do you know about… us…” I asked and he nodded.
“She didn’t tell, me but I guessed and she confirmed my suspicions.” He was perfectly calm and Killdog’s brow furrowed.
“Does no one tell me anything anymore?” He mumbled as we pulled into the driveway.
“It really doesn’t matter.” Alex reassured him as the two got out of the car, Killdog grumbled and kicked the tyre as I pushed the seat forward and practically fell out of the car. Gerard got out behind me and scooped me up in his arms, cradling me against my chest and heading towards the door. I giggled as he paused and kissed me quickly before we headed through the door. Hollie, Mikey, Cheyenne and Bob were laughing and joking with the parents in the lounge and Jackie and Ray were seeing who could take more whisky shots, Jackie seemed to have more empty glasses than Ray. I squeezed Gerard’s hand and we headed over to my new mother-in-law.
“Hi, Donna.” I said as she pulled me into a tight hug.
“I’m so happy Frankie!” She exclaimed and I wondered why until something in the back of my mind clicked.
“Oh my God, you didn’t know?!” I gasped as she released me from the hug and looked into my eyes.
“Frank, it was between the eight of you until the vows today when Jackie said ‘ I do, but I adamantly refuse to change one of Frank and Gerard’s babies smelly nappies.’. Trust that girl to put her foot in it!” She laughed and hugged Gerard.
“How did you not know?” Gerard asked, confused.
“The wedding invites are the first we’ve heard from you since you moved out! Time flies, I guess.” She chuckled slightly and I smiled at her, feeling all warm and fuzzy on the insides.
“I’m so happy for you, I’m going to be a Grandma!” She exclaimed, before taking a sip from her glass of Merlot.
“Thanks, Mom. I suppose Mikey has explained.” Gerard’s grin couldn’t get any bigger.
“Oh yeah, he explained everything. I still can’t believe you sent that poor girl for a test though!” She laughed and pointed in Jackie’s direction.
“Yeah. She didn’t mind, nobody did, they’re cool like that.” I said, smiling at Mikey and Hollie who were talking to Alex and Killdog.
“GET OUT!” Hollie suddenly screamed, hitting Killdog across the face. “You aswell Alex! I can’t believe you!” She yelled as the two scrambled out of the door, Jackie and Ray stumbled in from the kitchen.
“Past romance lurks like a bad smell, I take it.” Jackie said, walking over to Hollie who was shaking.
“I have just heard something that I never wanted to hear! I can’t believe you!” Hollie said, punching Jackie in the gut, causing her to stumble back a few steps.
“Oh dear. What now?” Cheyenne muttered and Hollie whipped round to face her. I had no idea what was going on!
“I need to talk to you. It’s important.” Hollie growled, grabbing Cheyenne’s arm and pulling her out of the back door. Jackie just stood there, looking at nothing in particular, before slouching off upstairs. No one said a word. We just stared. What could we say? What was going on? The silence was broken by Hollie and Cheyenne coming back into the house and Cheyenne flicking the stereo on and turning it up loud. Conversation soon started again and Gerard turned my face to look at him.
“What the hell was that all about?” He asked me, as if I knew!
“I don’t know. We’re not going to get anything out of them two so…” I trailed off, pointing at the stairs.
“Yeah, I think we should.” He said and we started off up the stairs. I could hear Jackie hissing the lyrics of a song I’d never heard through her teeth, sharply as if she was in pain. I walked into hers and Ray’s room and found her sitting on the floor, in front of the mirror with her back to us. I don’t think she even noticed us coming in, I sat down on her one side and Gerard on the other. She’d stopped singing and her eyes were clamped shut, fingers tracing over the scars on her arms. I read some of the names that were inscribed into the pale skin; Sven, Lucy and Ray. Ray’s name was calved around fifteen times, just as Ray had told us.
“Are you okay?” Gerard asked, placing a hand on her shoulder. Her eyes opened and she punched the mirror, shattering it as the pieces fell to the floor around us.
“Talk to us, please.” I begged. “Who was that, what happened? Why are they mad?” I asked the questions before I could actually stop myself.
“You know who that was, he explained in the car and it’s true. They’re mad because I lied to them. They know the truth now, but when we were younger, I lied. I never told them how I felt, or what was going on. I only told them half of what was going on with him.” She said, pointing to Sven’s name, “And I told them that what was going on between me and Lucy was just a joke. But it wasn’t. I loved her. And I thought she loved me.” She whimpered, picking up one of the shards of glass and running it down her wrist.
“Please don’t.” Gerard said, touching her hand with his fingers, making her jump and drop the piece of mirror. “Does Ray know?” He asked and she nodded glumly.
“Okay. I don’t know why they’re mad at you. I’m not exactly an angel and Mikey stayed with me all the way through.”
“You never lied to him though.” She mumbled as the crimson liquid seeped from the gash on her wrist.
“No. But I broke my promises. I went out every night, I came back drunk and often high. I took all the xanax I could lay my hands on and eventually landed with cocaine. I couldn’t stop. I drank all the time, I was never sober, this was from when I was about thirteen until about six months before I met you guys. I’m not proud of what I did, but I’m not afraid to admit it either. I was addicted to antidepressants and had about a week living on complete rock bottom until one day it felt like there was rock bottom, fifty feet of crap and then me. It was tough, but Mikey, Ray and Bob helped me through it, they never doubted me or anything like that- they were great. I tried to kill myself once as well, but Mikey saved me. I took thirty odd sleeping pills and Mikey got to me just in time, he took me to the hospital and they saved me, he never left my side. None of the guys did, neither did my mom. My Dad was already dead by that point, he never liked me anyway but it didn’t make it easier. When I was in a state like that, I used to hurt Mikey really bad. He ended up in hospital himself a few times. I promised that I wouldn’t hurt him and that I’d stop drinking and that I’d never let him get hurt. I made so many promises that I broke but he still loved me. Hollie and Cheyenne are just mad because of Killdog. Not because of you, he had no right to come back and tell them things that they really already knew. No matter how mad they seem, they will always love you for exactly who you are. Even if you didn’t tell them what was going on, they knew deep down. It’s just how it is. I saw the look on your face when you saw Killdog and when Hollie hit you. But it’s okay, I promise. It’s fine, it’s all in the past now.” I was shocked at the words I had just heard. I knew that Gerard had had some alcohol and drugs problems in the past but I never thought it was this bad! I knew he had bad depression too, but suicide? I wrapped my arms tightly around him and he smiled and me understandingly.
“I’m going to go and talk to them.” Jackie said, getting up, but when she opened the door, Hollie and Cheyenne enveloped her in a hug. “I am so sorry. You shouldn’t have had to hear that from him.” Jackie said, hugging them back tight.
“We already knew! It wasn’t that we’re mad about! He wanted me to split Ray and you up! And to ‘kill the faggots’ as he put it! And Alex was going to go along with it because Killdog supplies Alex’s heroin!” Cheyenne practically screamed and Jackie sighed with relief.
“So. You don’t mind about me and Lucy? Like what happened?” Jackie asked, anxious- I still hadn’t let go of Gerard.
“Of course we don’t mind!” Hollie sounded slightly annoyed, “We just wish that you’d tell us exactly what had gone on, when it’s going on! Your giving us jet lag! Now we know how Mikey feels, because now we know everything about you, everyone does and it’s okay. Actually, some of the shit you’ve done isn’t okay and the same goes for Gerard. But you two are messed up, we understand and we’re here to help you if you need it!”
“Thanks.” Gerard grumbled, causing us all to giggle at his grumpy expression.
“You know they only mean the best.” Mikey said as he walked into the room followed by Ray and Bob. “The parents have gone home, looking a bit confuddled and dazed but other than that alright. You three really can’t whisper or talk quiet can you?” Mikey joked, sitting cross legged on the floor in front of me and Gerard.
“So,” Ray said, sitting down next to my brother-in-law “We all know everything about each other now, I think. Unless there’s anything anyone wants to say?”
“I haven’t eaten in three days.” Mikey admitted, looking at the floor, Hollie came over and sat next to him.
“Mikey, why?” Hollie’s voice was laced with concern as she lifted his face up with her hand to look him in the eye.
“I couldn’t do it. I wanted to, but I couldn’t.” A few stray tears found their way down Mikey’s face and his voice was little more than a whisper.
“Mikes, you promised you wouldn’t do this again. I almost lost you last time, please, you have to eat.” Gerard pleaded and Mikey snapped his head up to meet Gerard’s gaze.
“You’re not the only one who can break promises you know.” His voice was filled with venom and anger and Gerard just looked purely guilty. “Sorry, that was harsh.” Mikey muttered, closing his eyes and pulling his knees to his chest and resting his head on them- he shouldn’t be able to do that so easily.
“Mikey, come with me a minute, Frank and Gerard and Hollie, you come too.” Jackie said, walking out of the door and towards the bathroom, us four following behind. When we got there, she shut the door behind us and flicked the bolt across, leaning against the door.
“Gerard and Mikey, shirts off if you please, Hollie and Frank, stand over there.” Jackie pointed to the opposite side of the room from where she was standing, leaving Mikey and Gerard standing in front of the mirror wall. As in, a wall which was just a mirror. Gerard peeled off his tie and shirt and dropped them to the floor. His skin was pale and had a few scattered scars from the jocks littering it, he wasn’t exactly skinny or especially muscular, but he wasn’t fat either, he was…nothing short of perfect. Mikey looked at his brother then down at his still covered body and shook his head, looking at the floor.
“Mikey, you need to show us the problem so we can find the solution.” Jackie said, sitting practically in the sink.
“No.” Was all he said, possibly all he could say before Hollie crossed the room towards him and hugged him tight.
“Please Mikey.” She begged and he shook his head again.
“Me, Frank and Jackie will show you guys too. Please.” She sounded like she was about to cry and Mikey just looked at her, his eyes so empty and in pain it was killing me, I couldn’t begin to comprehend what it was doing to Hollie.
“Jackie and Gerard don’t eat, and no one bothers them.” He grumbled, looking Hollie in the eye and speaking with a voice burning with conviction.
“That’s because they don’t take it too far. They know when to stop. Mikey, I think you have an eating disorder.” Hollie placed her hands on Mikey’s arms and he sighed, before reaching for the hem of his shirt. He clamped his eyes shut as he pulled the thin material over his head, I gasped at the sight that was revealed. Mikey’s ribs protruded dangerously through his pale skin, his skinny jeans clung to his hip bones and that was all they were hanging onto. His stomach was concaved and his veins and muscles could be seen moving beneath the thin white sheet of his skin.
“Mikey.” Hollie breathed, “Open your eyes and look in the mirror.” Mikey opened his eyes and looked in the mirror, then he smiled. He smiled!
“Hmmm, nearly there. Couple of more pounds and I’ll be good.” He murmured, smoothing his washboard stomach.
“What?!” I choked, staring at his protruding bones.
“Mikes, this has got to stop. You’re hurting yourself.” Gerard’s eyes were filled with shock and disbelief.
“No, Gerard. I’m not hurting anybody. I’m only making myself better.” Mikey said, rubbing his bony arms with his long fingers.