"You never really told me why you were here." He said. I turned on my side and faced him. “You really wanna know?” I raised an eyebrow. He nodded a little too eagerly. I shrugged. Here goes not...
I shook my head, no.
She sighed and put two fingers from each hand on her temples. She began rubbing them in circles slowly. “Listen, I don’t have time for this. All I know is that you,” She nodded towards me, “assaulted a Supervisor.” I still didn’t reply. “I want to know why. So, Franklin, tell me.”
I wish she’d stop calling me ‘Franklin’.
I was coming up with a lie when I heard a voice. It was soft and if the room hadn’t been so silent, you wouldn’t have heard it.
“I don’t like people touching me.”
I raised my eyebrows and turned to Gerard. I thought he didn’t talk. Sure, he had said something the other night but, most people talk in their sleep so it didn’t seem like a huge deal to me. And I could have imagined it anyway. But this had caught my attention and apparently it caught Hart’s as well.
Her mouth fell open a little bit, exposing her too white teeth. She quickly recomposed herself and straightened up. “Excuse me?” She asked softly.
Gerard looked up, surprised as though he hadn’t expected his sudden use of voice either. He then blushed and looked down at his hands. “I don’t like it when people touch me.” He said a little louder.
“Why?” I couldn’t help but ask and Hart shot me a look. I shrugged in response.
“Because,” his voice still hadn’t gone above a whisper, “every time people touch me they get hurt.” His lower lip shook for a moment before he bit down on it.
They get hurt? What the fuck was that supposed to mean. I looked at Hart as if to say, ‘See? This is why I don’t want this dude as my roommate’ but she wasn’t even looking at me. She was staring at Gerard, the look on her face was a mixture of pity and wonder. “And, did you think you’d hurt Jim when he grabbed you?”
Gerard’s shoulders limply raised up and down. “I wanted to.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle, and Hart shot another one of her ‘looks’ at me. I shrugged in response. “And, why did you hit Jim?” She leaned back in her chair.
I paused. I didn’t really have an answer for that. I didn’t even like Gerard and yet I had just punched some douchebag supervisor in the face because he had grabbed his arm. I searched my brain for a good reply but all I could come up with was, “I like punching people.” God, how fucking stupid does that sound?
Gerard glanced at me, then looked away when our eyes met.
Hart tried very hard not to roll her eyes and then she waved her hand again. “You are dismissed. Oh, and Gerard? I took the liberty of placing some new sheets and blankets in the closet in your room.” Gerard smiled at her and followed me out the door.
“Do you really like punching people?” He asked me as we walked down the hall.
I shrugged. “I don’t know, I guess.” I didn’t really like punching people, but I still wasn’t sure what I was supposed to say.
“That hurts them.” He whispered, staring at the ground. “You like hurting people?”
I didn’t reply.
“I don’t.” He said softly after another moment.
I bit my tongue to stop myself from saying, “Yeah, right. Did you figure that out before or after you killed your fam?” He seemed to know what I was thinking and he bit his lip again. He was trying to keep himself from crying.
Way to go, Frank.
We entered our room in silence and Gerard went to the bathroom immediately to wash his hands. He came back out and I sat on the bed. He quickly went to the small cupboard like closet and pulled out one of the new sheets and carefully put it on the bed. He sat down. “You never really told me why you’re in here.”
I didn’t say anything as I laid back and let my head fall against my pillow. “Yeah, I did. I’m here against my will.” I said simply.
“That’s not a good reason.” Gerard mumbled.
“You know, I liked it better when you didn’t fucking talk at all.” I snapped back at him. He looked down and I sighed. “I’m sorry. I don’t like talking about it, is all.” I grumbled.
“Oh.” Gerard said simply, and there was a silence. Finally I sighed, knowing he was still waiting for an answer – and who knew what things he was conjuring up in his head. I turned on my side and faced him.
“You really wanna know?” I raised an eyebrow. He nodded a little too eagerly. I shrugged. Here goes nothin’. “I had this friend, named Eric, when I was fifteen. He was a pretty cool guy, y’know? He always came up with the coolest shit to pass the time after school. ‘Course my parents hated him, even though they never met him. They thought he was a ‘bad influence’.” I air-quoted the last two words, scoffing. What did they know?
“Anyway, Eric liked doing… risky things.” Risky was the right word, right? “He’d be the kid who’d get drunk and go smashing mail boxes or stealing something from a gas station and practically waving it in the cashier’s face, y’know? And the more I hung out with him, I guess the more I wanted to be like him. He didn’t go to the same school as me, and I’m pretty sure the people there were getting fucking sick of hearing me talk about him. Couldn’t help it though – he was a fun dude.” It was true.
“Anyway, to the point. It was Halloween. That’s my birthday.” I added quickly. “Y’know how everyone’s pranking people and shit on Halloween… Well me and Eric wanted to do something cool. Something that would really get people’s attention…” Gerard shifted uncomfortably. “Shit, man. This is the good part.” I told him quickly. “There was this church, right? Nobody went to it, except like an old lady that was off her rocker.” I chuckled. “Eric said he wanted to do something, and he wanted me to keep watch. So I went to the door and stood.” My smile faded as I remembered that day. “It apparently didn’t go as he planned. I remember the smell of gasoline and then whole place fucking lit up. And when the cops came… that fucking… jackass…” I felt rage flood through me. “Fucking abandoned me. I got blamed for the whole thing and I hadn’t even known what happened.”
I took a deep breath. “Anyway, they were gonna put me in juvi, y’know? But they didn’t. Hart,” That bitch “ended up talking to them. She happened to be ‘driving by’ when it happened. Then for some fucked up reason I ended up here.” I shrugged my shoulders.
Gerard didn’t say anything and he looked like he was thinking something over. “Have you ever seen Eric since then?” He asked softly.
I nodded my head. “It’s funny – they hardly let anyone see anyone from outside, unless it’s family, but somehow Eric got in here.” I felt a smile creep onto my face. “It’s like it was his way of apologizing. He came to visit almost every fucking day for a year and a half. Then a few months ago…” Smile faded again. “Hart pulled me into her office for another one of them ‘talks’… She said they wanted me to ‘try some medication.’” As if I needed it. “Afterward, Eric stopped showing up. I guess he was sick of the way I acted on the meds, or maybe Hart just got him to stop coming.” I was seriously starting to hate that bitch. “I miss him.” I said after a moment.
Gerard nodded, knowing that I had finished my story. He looked as though he was trying to piece a puzzle together, and I wondered what was going through his mind. He frowned and laid down. “Thanks for telling me.” He said, in that soft voice of his. He slowly turned over, his back facing towards me.
I shrugged. “You’d probably end up finding out sometime, anyway.” I paused. “Are you ever going to tell me your full story?” I asked.
He didn’t reply for a few minutes and I had thought he had fallen asleep. Then after what seemed like hours he whispered,