Chapter Eight: The Other Senses.
Gerard eventually had to return to his room, as it was the path he had most memorized. He refused to speak to Mikey. And in turn, Mikey refused to speak to him. It became a very strange relationship between the two brothers. Mikey would still hold Gerard when he had his night terrors, but Mikey noticed Gerard had become suddenly stiff and tense in his arms. And Gerard would pull away and continue to ignore him as soon as possible. It troubled Mikey more than he cared to admit. Had he pushed his brother away? He knew Gerard had wanted to see Bandit, but he had only been trying to protect him.
One day, Mikey couldn't take it anymore. After dinner, once they were in the bedroom, he confronted Gerard.
"I need to talk to you." he told Gerard despairingly. Gerard sat on the bed quietly, patiently as he waited for Mikey to continue.
"I've been hiding something from you. And now I realize I shouldn't have." Mikey sighed as he sat next to Gerard. Gerard continued to be silent.
"The reason I got so upset at you for seeing Bandit is just because... I didn't want you going out in public Gee."
"Mikey, I don't care what they thought of me!" Gerard spoke finally "They can speculate all they -- "
"No Gerard. Its not speculation. Not anymore. " Mikey shifted uncomfortably.
"What do you mean?" Gerard asked innocently.
Mikey struggled to say it. He hated that he knew he had to. How would Gerard feel if he learned it off some bystander on the street, throwing some snide comment at him? They had come so close to that at the park. If Mikey had learned anything, it was that he could not and cannot shield Gerard forever. And he had been foolish to try. It would simply come a lot better coming from someone who loved him. Yet he knew this news would crush Gerard. Mikey didn't know how many more times he could watch his brother collapse into tears before he lost it himself. Mikey swallowed and pushed himself to do the right thing.
"Gerard, the photos for evidence they took after the rape...the doctor who was in charge of your case gave them to some news sites for money. And they were posted on the internet. Everyone knows what happened to you. They've seen it. I'm so sorry." Mikey felt himself start to cry before he even got to see Gerard's expression. Saying it was hard enough.
When he finally did manage to observe Gerard, he was surprised to see ---- nothing. Gerard looked emotionless. Maybe a little shocked, but other than that, nothing. Mikey waited with baited breath for an outburst or a breakdown, or at least even a question. Finally, Gerard spoke.
"I can never go out again..." he realized.
"That's not true Gee. We just have to wait for a while. It'll blow over."
"Well how long has it been?" Gerard rasped out.
"About a month now."
"A month?" Gerard looked at Mikey confused.
"We…I tried to hide it from you. I'm sorry. I didn't think it was something you needed to know. I thought I could just shield you from you hearing about it. I was obviously wrong. I’m sorry Gerard. I just didn’t want to see you hurt again.”
“This doesn’t hurt.” said Gerard.
“This doesn’t hurt.” Gerard repeated. “You know what hurts? I’m going to miss so much of my daughter’s life. When she comes down the steps, ready for prom in some beautiful dress, I won’t see it. I won’t see her proudly receive a degree at her graduation. I won’t see her glowing on her wedding day, or how she looks as she walks down the aisle. I won’t see the photos of any of those events. And apparently, I can’t even be there for ten fucking minutes on her fucking birthday! That’s what hurts Mikey. This doesn’t hurt because there’s nothing else for the world to take from me. Because she was all I had left to look forward to.”
Mikey was dumbfounded as to what he was supposed to say to that. He didn’t have a child himself, so he could never really grasp the concept that Gerard was trying to relay to him. Yet if it was anything worse than the sorrow he felt for Gerard right now --- and he knew it was --- then it was immeasurably tragic.
He looked towards the door and thought he saw a short figure peering in before it walked hurriedly away.
While Gerard had taken things better than they had feared, he still became noticeably more depressed. Gerard lost interest in painting. He lost interest in anything. He lost the will to leave the house, and instead moped around that he couldn’t. Ray did his best to cheer him up, but there was not much to do about it. All the things they used to relate to each other: video games, horror movies, comic books, etc. could no longer apply to Gerard. The other guys were afraid to openly do those things with each other, as they didn’t want Gerard to feel left out. So they were stuck.
But Frank wasn’t ready to give up. The band had been through many tough times before, and this was just another one. Sure, this one was a tad more life altering than others, but Frank was trying not to let that dampen his spirits. He believed in the band, and he believed in Gerard.
All they needed was a little push. Gerard may have been robbed of his sight, but there were four other senses that could induce pleasure. And Frank felt intended to stimulate every single one.
The doorbell rang. Mikey was on the couch just next to the front door so he got up to get it. He audibly gasped when he saw who was on the other end.
“Pedicone? What are you doing here?”
The bald man gave him an odd look. “Frank didn’t tell you?”
“Tell me what?” Mikey asked bewildered.
“He said we were playing a show here!” said Pedicone, and he moved aside and gestured toward the wagon attached to his SUV. James Dewees could be seen unloading several instruments. Mikey’s jaw dropped.
That night Gerard had been shifting his hands through a large container of uncooked rice. No real reason, he merely liked the feel of it. It was cold and grainy. Frank came up behind him and he nearly jumped out of his skin.
“Hey Gee, what 'cha up to?”
“Rice.” Was all he answered, and gestured towards the container.
“Umm… okay.” Frank said in a tone that implied that he worried about his sanity. He shrugged and grabbed Gerard by the shoulders. “C’mon, we have a show to do.”
“What?” Gerard said in a tone that indicated no comprehension.
“C’mon.” Frank gave him his cane and led him away.
They went down into the basement and Gerard wondered if they were going to paint again. Before Gerard got to mention to Frank that he was in no mood to paint, Frank sat him down. Next he felt an all too familiar instrument being shoved into his hand.
“A mic?” he asked curiously.
“Shh, Gee, we’re starting!” Frank hushed him. Gerard was confused beyond words. And suddenly the booming sound of guitars filled the room. Live guitars. The shock of it made Gerard’s eardrums rattle. He recognized those riffs… they were playing Our Lady Of Sorrows. Then came Frank’s voice, who proceeded to sing the all too familiar lyrics “We could be perfect one last night, and die like star-crossed lovers when we fight…”
As they continued to perform the song, Gerard tried to gather his thoughts. Were there other people here? What was happening? Was this a show? Gerard had been given a mic, was he expected to sing too? Gerard had been getting closer and closer to the idea that he would never be able to perform again. They got to the chorus. Almost as though Frank had been reading his thoughts, he felt Frank come close to him. He whispered near his ear “It’s okay Gee, its just us.” before he went into the chorus lyrics. Taking a calming breath, Gerard sang them with him. It felt like a huge burden lifted from his shoulders. Once they got to the line “…and take my fucking hand….”, Gerard felt Frank clamp his hand around his own.
“…and never be afraid again!”
What would a great concert be without a great meal to celebrate? That’s why Frank had spent the next day cooking every one of Gerard’s favorite dishes, with some help from Ray. Mikey was busy, they knew, with taking care of renovations and all the legal mumbo jumbo with the court case. Leaving Ray and Frank with the house to themselves. With the exception of Gerard of course, but he was taking a long nap after his tiring performance last night. It had gone over great. Mikey, Frank, Ray, and Pedicone all had cheered and clapped loudly after songs to stimulate some sense of having an audience. And Frank hoped this would go over just as well. Usually after shows, Gerard favored The Cheesecake Factory as his choice of eatery. So Frank had looked up all the Cheesecake Factory recipes he could find.
Finally, around 8 o clock, Frank nodded in Ray’s direction while pouring the gooey macaraoni and cheese into a bowl. Ray knew this was the signal to go get Gerard. After a bit of waiting, Frank looked up to see Ray excitedly leading a yet again confused Gerard into the kitchen. Ray helped sit him down.
“Hello, there sir.” Frank addressed Gerard. “May I get you anything to drink?”
“Frankie…?” Gerard raised an eyebrow.
“I repeat sir, may I get you anything to drink?”
“Um, a rootbeer would be nice I guess. Are we having dinner? Why does it smell like the Cheesecake Factory in here?”
Frank answered none of the questions and served Gerard his rootbeer. He had bought some as he already knew it was what Gerard was going to want.
“And I’ll be right back to take your order.”
Ray burst out laughing as Frank pretty much walked a circle from the kitchen and back before he went to Gerard again.
“And have we decided what we wanted?” Frank said in a cheery voice, also trying not to laugh himself. Gerard was perplexed, but the corners of his mouth were twitching. Frank knew they were getting to him.
“What do you recommend, waiter?” Gerard threw back, finally beginning to play along.
“Oh, well our special today is our excellent steak, lobster, and baked potato!” Frank almost wanted to hurl saying it, considering he was a vegetarian, but he knew it got Gerard’s mouth watering.
“Sounds great.” Gerard nodded.
Frank proceeded to serve a pre-meal soup (tomato bisque) and some bread rolls with butter. When it came time for the main course, he served Gerard a variety of things, including the steak dish he had mentioned. Ray got a call halfway through their little charade, and Frank and Gerard even did a little banter about rude people talking loudly at restaurants.
Then Gerard was served his desert. A sinful little slice of white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake. Yet another one of Gerard’s favorites. Gerard sliced into it and took his first bite. And there and then, Frank finally saw what he had been working all day to achieve – a smile.
Next chapter: Even with the best of intentions, people can get screwed. Metaphorically….and literally