I'm not your ghost anymore.
First of the Gang to Die
Jar of Hearts
“Hullo James, “Frank said softly.
It’s not what you think; it’s not what you’d even imagine. Frank was standing in the graveyard, in amongst hundreds and hundreds of graves. Gerard had woken him exceedingly early, which nonetheless Frank welcomed warmly due to the rare occasion of exposing themselves to the outside world. They hardly ever went out; movies and dances were almost laughable to the couple, who spent most of their time indoors, in the study or in the bedroom or with other associates. Way had been very happy to see that his younger partner had become more open, more sociable, even it was with gangsters and killers.
But this morning Gerard had been uncharacteristically quiet, distant, out of focus. He had mentioned to his husband the night before that he would be going to the cemetery in the morning and he was welcome to come if he wished, and not to go if his prerogative was so. (Frank had just stared at him then; he had understood about three words in that sentence.) But he had dressed up again, in his black attire, a hat, leather gloves and sunglasses. Frank wasn’t sure if he was trying to disguise himself or whether he just was cold.
They had arrived here a little after six, with about twenty bodyguards in tow; Gerard had taken the boy by the hand and silently taken him to the gates. He has then requested in a hushed, polite tone that he would like to be alone for a little time in the graveyard. Frank had agreed obediently and wandered off on his own, followed closely by defenders.
There was always one aspect of his lover’s life that had remained a mystery to Iero; his family. He never talked about his late brother, felt nothing but seering hatred toward his father, and the one time he had mentioned his mother he had looked pained and pale. The boy didn’t really want to anger or upset him, and so had never really inquired about the topic. He presumed it was best that way.
This next bit I am completely making up off the bat
Frank himself had grown up without his father, the only comments which surrounded him were “fucking bastard” and “stupid cunt”. His mother, Linda
Thats her name right?
Had been poor her entire life and so the status was passed on to her child. She worked up to sixteen hours a day, in some shitty little diner like two hours away. The boy had gotten used to waking up and seeing a different man on the sofa-boyfriends, uncles, whoever they were, they were always present in the Iero household. Some were okay-most weren’t. He knew for a fact that his mother had had several miscarriages over the course of his child and teenage hood, most of which were caused by some abusive guy who she was currently obsessed with. He often got the feeling he was some mistake, something that was supposed to be a one night stand turning into eighteen years of carelessness.
Needless to say, he hated remembering his childhood.
But now he was standing in front of the grave of the person who had tormented, tortured, raped, beaten, shoved, slapped, bullied, manipulated, abused and nearly killed him for six years. His eyes flicked over the headstone, flanked by two angels and engraved in a cross.
IN MEMORIA DI
GIACOMO STEFAN ROMANO
MARZO 23 1904-OTTOBRE 16 1933
DI ETA COMPRESA TRA VENTINOVE ANNI
POSSONO PACE ALL’ANIMA SUA E L’ANIMA SEI MORTI
Frank did not know what the last bit meant, but he highly doubted it translated as a murderer or a rapist. He resented the fact there were so many flowers laid on the ground beneath him.
“Hello, James,” he whispered again. “It’s me. Frank.”
Silence. Well, that was expected. He had predicted this would be a pretty one sided conversation.
“I don’t know if you miss me,” he said. “I don’t miss you.” He could feel his throat closing up. “But I saw your grave over here and I kinda felt like I should talk to you about some things.”
He turned around to see who was in ear shot. Gerard was on the top of a small hill, head bent, completely alone, a situation Frank thought was out of request rather than unanimous decision. The hem of his trench coat fluttered in the cool, sharp breeze. Bob was standing about ten feet away, obviously trying not to listen.
“Bob, can I...er...be alone for a minute please?” He tried not to look as weak as he felt. “If it’s okay.”
“Sure, man, “the blond man answered tactfully, still handling his rifle carefully. “Gotta go pay my respects to my mom anyway.”
Frank nodded and returned to staring at the grave of the man he never thought would be dead. His name swam before the hazel eyes and whispered in the pink shell of his ear, warping their way into his mind.
“I came here with Gerard today,” he continued. He wondered if talking to a dead person six feet under you classified as clinically insane, and if he should go see a shrink or something. He abandoned the thought fairly quickly. “We’re married now. Three months.”
He felt a little weird as well, telling his ex-fiancée-who’s dead, by the way-that he was now married, hopelessly in love with the man James had sworn eternal vendetta upon.
“I know you hate him, James, but I love him.” His voice was cracking as he went. “He’s very, very good to me. He calls me his bunny rabbit. He cares about me, he protects me.” He got a little angrier; his hands balled into fists by his side. “He doesn’t make me have sex with him if I don’t want to!”
He was taken aback by the sudden, spiteful outburst. He trailed his fingers over his mouth as if he couldn’t believe he had just spat it out into the open. He glimpsed around quickly to see if anyone had heard him-but he was safe. Everyone else was praying or laying flowers or even just standing above the grave, solemn and red eyed. They seemed to be in their own little world as Frank murmured to his dead abuser.
“He allows me to eat whatever I want. Even Oreo’s.” He shuffled his feet and watched as some dirt fell from the heap originally in place. When he spoke next, he talked in a low, hushed tone one might use when confronting an unfaithful lover.
“You did bad things to me, James, “he said softly, sounding the name out slowly. “Really, really bad things.” Gerard walked over to a different grave on the hill; then he stopped, and began to simply gaze down upon the stone again. Frank saw him kneel down and lean against one headstone. Then he returned to the conversation. “Things you don’t do to someone you love.”
Tears pricked at his eyes. He wiped at his face, but it was futile. He was crying silently to himself, black kohl running down his cheeks in tributaries, lip clamped down by his front teeth. He waited for a moment, shuddered, and began to talk again.
“But that’s the thing, isn’t it? You didn’t love me. You never did.”
No one confirmed or denied this. Frank was sure it was slowly getting more arctic as the cold ran through the gates and rattled the metal. Some great April this was.
“I think I did like you at one stage. But not a lot. Not for what you did to me. And what you made others do to me.” He squeezed his eyes shut, water still leaking from them. “I got my lip pierced again. I know you hated it. You said I looked like a cheap whore.” The orbs flew open; large; wet; docile. “I asked Gerard and he said it looked good.”
“And I’ve gotten fatter, too. Not fat; just not a skeleton.” He held out his arms as if James would be able to see them-the bony limbs that could snap any moment were gone, and his arms looked thicker under his heavy coat. “I weigh nearly a hundred and thirty five pounds now. You called me huge when I was one twenty.” The sob caught in his throat. “You were such a dick to me.”
“I think I might dye my hair, too, “Frank spat, though that had just been a passing flit of a thought, not a full fledged proposal. He was worried his husband wouldn’t like it. “Because I hate looking in the mirror and seeing the same person who was with you. That person makes me sick.”
“And I killed someone, ya know?” For some reason utterly beyond him, he smiled. “I killed someone. His name was Richard Mancini-you know him. He was your best fucking customer. And I shot him. In the head. And in the ribs as well.” His face darkened and sobered. “I wanted to make him suffer, make him feel pain...like I did.”
He looked up to the hill and saw that Gerard was no longer there. He ignored it and moved on; maybe he was just out of view or something.
“I love him,” he whispered, tears dropping off the tip of his nose, his breath swirling around in the icy air. When he was a kid he used to joke that he was smoking. “I love him a lot, James. Yeah, he kills people just as bad as you used to-well, no, he’s killed way more than you had- but he loves me back, James, I know he does. He tells me and I believe him and he says he’d love me no matter what and he thinks I’m perfect-“his breath gave and he burst into fresh tears, gasping and whimpering meekly, sucking on the piercing. He decided that was enough for one day.
“So I just wanted you to know that stuff,” he mumbled in a thick voice. “And that I fucking hate your guts.”
Frank sniffed and shoved his hands in his pockets as he walked away, head lowered, until he bumped into something very solid.
“Sugar?” A gloved hand titled Iero’s chin up. “Are you okay?”
The boy quivered until his emotions could take no more, and he began to sob quietly, nuzzling into Gerard’s neck, hot tears streaking down his collar bone.
“Did you huh-hear what I suh-said?” He hiccupped, wondering if Gerard would be freaked out that he had been having an argument with a dead man. “How long wuh-were you huh-here?”
“A little while,” he replied, stroking his hair and cooing in his ear as he crumpled into his arms. “It’s alright, sweetheart, please don’t cry.” He took his gloves and pulled them up the boy’s quaking hands, and even though they were too big for him they provided a form of comfortable heat for Iero. “Aw, baby, you’re so cold.”
Frank nodded. While he had been talking he had completely neglected his decreasing body temperature.
“I thought it was actually lovely,” Gerard said in a low tone, pressing his lips to Frank’s ear, and breathing deeply into the shell, hot air rushing against the boy, tickling his cheeks. “It was honest and heart breaking, sugar, you nearly made me cry.”
“Is that hard?” Frank whimpered softly, still wiping at his lamps, which were red and puffed.
“Don’t do that, honey, you’ll hurt your pretty eyes,” he cooed gently, handing him a handkerchief. “Yeah, that’s pretty damn hard to do.”
"I must look disgusting," Frank said thickly, sniffing, dabbing at his nose.
"Of course you don't.You're gorgeous."He kissed the tip of Frank's nose."Such a pretty little rabbit."
“Where were you?” Frank questioned innocently, rather out of making conversation than actual curiosity. “I’ve never been up on that little hill before.”
Gerard removed his glasses and handed them to a nearby guard. His damaged eye looked terrifying, in a graveyard, of all places.
“There’s a reason for that,” he answered, taking Iero by the hand and leading him up to what looked like an overgrown garden, vines and ivy hanging over the walls, probably after decades of neglect. Gerard walked up to a wall which was covered by some a weeping willow and swept it across with his hand. There was a copper door in front of them, with random words etched into it. It looked very old, very heavy, and very foreboding.
“’Via’?” Frank whispered, tracing the largest carving with his index finger. “What does that mean?”
“Way,” was the simple reply, before Gerard took the key-the same key for his study-and shoved it into the lock with a little too much force than what was necessary. The chamber door swung open and revealed the cemetery of the Way family.
It was, of course, large and grand, without being gaudy; statues of the Blessed Virgin and angels were featured amongst the decorations, as well as a mausoleum at the back of the plain. Flowers, mostly fresh, as well as rosary beads and miniature crucifixes, were draped over headstones, all of which were huge, looming slabs of granite with intricate, gothic script. The most striking attribute was the statue of a prophecy as they walked in-it was absolutely massive, a hooded figure clasping a scythe in his right claw, one skeletal foot propped up on the ledge. Behind the stature was also a deep lake, dark and dangerous.
Everything was black, and everything was dead.
“My grandfather could not stand the fact that he and his family would be buried in the same soil as a Romano,” Gerard explained, “so he built this at the back of the original graveyard. Most members of the gang are buried here, not just the actual blood relatives.”
“Is Alicia here?” Frank breathed, his eyes frantically searching about, trying to take absolutely everything in. “I thought she was buried at the Church.”
“You do that as a front, so no one gets suspicious. For reasons beyond me some people get a little freaked out if you have your own private graveyard.”
“Who’s that?” The boy asked, pointing up at the statue, which had to be at least twenty foot tall, and made of solid stone. It actually scared him, so he quickly leant against his lover’s chest, who took the hint and wrapped him in his arms.
“Angelo della Morte,” he said, and Frank had to wonder which was his first language-Italian sounded more authentic to his voice. “It’s Death, honey. There’s just Italian prayers underneath. Though I walk the valley of the shadow of death-“
“I will fear no evil; for thou art with me, “Iero finished, out of formality. He had gone to a Catholic school for twelve years-you learn a few things there. “That’s Psalm 23.”
“Y-yeah, “Gerard replied, slightly surprised. Obviously he wasn’t the only person who had a received a Catholic education above and beyond the call. “It is. How did you know that?”
He shrugged. “Catholic school. Bible thumpers.”
Way wore a knowing grin and nodded.
“Did you go to Catholic school?”
“I went to a private place of education,” he said softly, tugging him to another area of the bereft place. “But my parents were devout Catholics and I was taught about the Bible every day. We went to church four times a week.”
“Oh. I only went to church on Sunday’s.”
“You were lucky,” Gerard murmured, leading him through the yard, winding round stones and mounds of dirt, occasionally telling Frank to mind his step or his head.
“Do you know this place well?” The boy asked, after Gerard held back a low branch for him without even looking.
“A lot of people I know have died. When they die, they are brought here. And in turn, I visit here.”
They were now at a more secluded, barren, obviously ignored spot of the place. The grass was wilder, the flowers wilted and withered. There was only one grave in the distance, under a large, dying chestnut tree. It was completely cut off from the rest of the graves, and seemed to be simpler; less fancy. It looked like it didn’t belong here.
Frank didn’t recognize the name inscribed on the stone-only that her last name was Way, and that she had died when she was twenty six. He turned to ask Gerard but saw that his face was in his hands, and soft snuffling was being emitted from inside his extremities. The boy took a second look at the etching, engraved completely in English, compared to everything else, which was Italian, and figured out the relation.
Donna Lee Way (nee Rush)
February 10th Eighteen Eighty Five
August 29th Ninteen Eleven
May God rest her soul and the soul of the dead
Iero said nothing but simply waited for Gerard to calm himself.He decided to speed up the process by hugging him tightly around the waist. He hoped to God he wouldn’t refuse, and push him away-and he didn’t.
“I’m sorry, Gerard,” he said quietly, regretting what he said in the past about his mother and the Brigata. “I didn’t know your mother died.”
There was some silence. Then:
“She didn’t die.” His tone was harsh and cold, but hurt at the same time, like he had a hoarse throat. “She was killed.”
Frank took his hand and leant his head on his shoulder. He didn’t know how that was meant to be comforting, but it seemed suitable to the situation.
“By the...Romano’s?” He questioned. He prayed he wasn’t coming across as nosey or inquisitive-but Gerard said nothing about it.
“No.” He sniffed. “By my father.”
The brunette boy became overwhelmed with horror. He knew he hated his father for some reason-but he had assumed it was just that they were very different people, that they just didn’t see to eye-to-eye. But to kill your wife...Jesus Christ.
“Your dad?” He lifted his head and looked up at his husband. “He...killed her?”
Gerard took a deep breath and closed his eyes, rootling through his mind of memories to peer at the one he had never shared with anyone. Ever. He had never even talked to Michael about it-they just dealt with it separately and moved on. Evan never cared enough to inquire. And Donald...well, every time that name was mentioned around him the twenty nine year old would nearly spit in front of him.
“My father never intended on having children. He had several girlfriends and mistresses at the time that my mother got pregnant. But typically, in the Italian way of life, which includes severe practice of Catholicism...you should not bear a child out of wedlock.” Another sharp inhalation. “So they got married.”
Frank waited patiently.
“They didn’t love each other. Or remotely like each other. They fought constantly. There was adultery on both sides. They beat each other senseless, screaming and shouting and roaring until someone’s voice would disappear. And yet somehow my brother was born three years later.”He rubbed at his eyes. “I don’t know if he is actually my real brother-my mother had many suitors at the time.”
“Did he know? Your father?”
“Yes. They would compare lovers and scores, like some childish game of being unfaithful.” He scoffed. “It was disgusting.”
The boy nodded and waited for him to go on.
“My mother may not have been perfect, but at least she cared for me and Michael. She never slapped me or hit me, and did her best to bring up two children in one of the most notoriously beastly families in the whole of the States.”
Iero bit his lip as he asked the next thing on his mind.
“Did your father ever hit you?”
“Oh yes. All the time. It wasn’t hitting-it was beating.” He spat the word out like it was some foul, vile substance. “He’d whack me with a belt, or his gun or whatever suited. As he grew older, and became the Don when I was five, he would gradually hit me less and less. Reputation and all that. He still does hit me sometimes.My father had planned to give the supremacy, as in the leadership of the group, to his most likened henchmen. But the rules go that you must give it to your eldest son when he is of age,which in gangster terms,is twenty five."His jaw tightened. “He had to give it to me.”
“My mother knew of my father’s intentions-or rather obligations-to make me head of the gang one day. She hated him for what he did-he started training me when I was just a kid, making me fight him for food or whatever.” He cast his eyes downward. “My mother refuted this. Said that he had no right to do what he did, no right to throw me into violence at such a young age.”
“Was she in the Mafia?”
“No,” he said, turning to face Frank. “She worked in a bakery for a few years before I was born. She was only twenty when I came along, y’know.”
He nodded, wondering what gruesome tale lay behind the story. “Go on. Please.”
“So when he said he wanted to move to Los Angeles she was furious. She wanted to live in New Jersey all her life; she was born there, as the rest of her family were. The night we came here, they had such a...”his eyes were slightly vacant, dazed. “They fought the worst I’d ever seen. Screaming, swearing, crying-he was winning. The he pushed her so hard she fell against a wall and-and she went kinda limp.” His vocabulary was failing; his voice was cracking-the upset was about to come.
“And then he picked up her wrist-to check her pulse, y’know?” He wiped his eyes again, and the smaller of the two pressed himself closer against the gangster. “And h-he just w-walked away.” Tears streaked silently down his cheeks, dropping onto the cold, wet floor beneath them. Frank snuggled closer into his chest, listening intently. “And I remember calling out for my momma and she didn’t answer back and I tried to shake her but she wouldn’t move and then I saw she was covered in blood and I just-I just sat down and fucking cried, Frankie.”
He was crying into his lover’s shoulder, years of a repressed memory streaming back into his conscious mind, his chest compressed by tightness and discomfort and most importantly, sadness. He never told anyone that-that horrible, childish image that had lodged itself in his brain for over twenty three years, twenty three years of denying the fact that his father had killed his mother in such a brutal, disgusting form. Meanwhile, Frank just continued to hug him tightly, kissing him lightly on the cheek as means of absolution.
“I’m really sorry, Gee,” he whispered softly, Gerard bending down to return the embrace. “That is awful.”
Way just barely nodded,trying to shove the memory back into it's cage.
“Leadership is different between both the Way and Romano families. In my family, the position is handed down to sons when he turn-in the other, it is simply the best fighter.My grandfather began this feud in eighteen eighty when Lucas Marshall Romano killed his brother,” the older man informed him, “and was Don for nearly thirty years. My father was the leader for seventeen years.” He took out a cigar and began to puff on it.
“But you said that you became Don when you were twenty two,” Frank said, “and I thought you had to be twenty five.”
“My father became aware the federal government were after him. He decided it would be a good option to make me head of his group so that he could deny any involvement in the Cosa.”
“He could do that?”
“He was the Don. You can do freaking everything when you’re the Don.”
“How did he find out?”
“We moved directly from Jersey to California after it happened. The authorities in my home state seemed to think that Donald Way could never be as grizzly as to murder his own wife.” A sour, unimpressed look adorned his sweet features. “They were wrong.”
“So...the police found out?”
“They drew conclusive evidence that my father had killed her, yes,” he said coldly. “But that did not do a lot of good to me when I was already head of the Mafia.”
“Why didn’t they put him in jail?”
“Because the man in charge of the constabulary mysteriously disappeared,” he said, sucking at his cheek. “No prizes for guessing his killer.”
Frank nodded and looked down, sucking on his lip. He hadn’t noticed it was getting so cold, and how he was snug inside his jacket and Gerard’s huge leather gloves. He really did marvel at how well he was treated by Gerard before but now he was astounded. He had assumed his lover’s life had been great, filled with luxuries and riches-not like that. If Frank had been raised like that, he wouldn’t be nice to anyone. He felt not only love and pity, but gratitude toward his husband.
He hadn’t noticed that Gerard had flicked out his cigar and stomped on it, and was proceeding to walk away. Frank followed him quickly.
He turned around.
“I really am sorry.” He tried to sound as sincere, as fully sympathetic as he could. “I didn’t think you had such a hard life.”
He shrugged. “Doesn’t bother me. One day that bastard’ll be dead and I can gurantee it’ll be done by me-I haven’t done it yet because I need the right moment. Then I want to get away from this country as soon as I can-go somewhere nice. Europe. Asia. Fuck it, Russia. Anywhere but here.”
Frank felt stupid as he asked the next question.
“Can I-am I coming too?”
Gerard’s mouth tugged at the sides.
“Of course you’d come, sugar. Without you to counteract the annoyance of fucking everyone else I’d blow my goddamn brains out.” He checked his pocket watch and then held out his hand. “C’mon, we best get moving. The sun’ll be up soon and it would be good if I wasn’t around.”
Frank took his hand and followed him back through the door, through the main yard and back to the black Buick that forever waited on them.
be honest,it was shit wasn't it?God help me I cannot write moving stuff for my life.