A set of tapes to try to remember, but will it help.. or hurt?
Chapter Ten: Mikey’s Journey
"Do you know who I am, Gerard?"
She looked at him again with those vacant eyes that had become so familiar to him. They were in a canyon this time. Although it was night, much of the scene was lit by an abnormally large moon that hung over yonder. They stood on the edge of one cliff, that was slightly higher than the rest. The cracks between the other cliffs looked steep and bottomless, as though they led past the rocky ground that one could only assume was somewhere there.
Gerard took another puff of his cigarette and looked down at his steel toed boots, blatantly avoiding her gaze.
"No, I'm sorry." he admitted, "To my credit though, we never did do a proper introduction. I mean, you knew who I was off the bat, but you refuse to tell me your name."
"Well that's because you should already know who I am." she replied, a smugness in her voice. His teeth gritted at the way she taunted him. Gerard was a blunt man, who was never fond of teases.
"Look, I probably forgot." Gerard sniped, stopping to take another puff of his cig, "People forget meeting people sometimes, it happens! I meet tons of people all the time, I have to as a part of my job. You can't blame me for forgetting a face every now and then."
He turned to face her again, and to his surprise, she was smiling. It was a very charming smile, one which Gerard was not aware that she was capable of. She walked closer to him and took the cigarette from his hand, taking a puff for herself.
"You couldn't forget me, even if you tried." she spoke in a smooth tone.
"Looks like I didn't even have to try, did I?" Gerard argued, taking the cigarette back from her.
“I’m but a whisper tonight.” She said vaguely, her hair whipping at her face once more. It was strange, because cold as it was, there was no breeze.
When Gerard opened his mouth to speak, he blinked slightly. And in that literal blink of an eye (or two, in this case), the girl had gone. Gerard found himself alone in the canyon, a chilly wind blowing at him.
As he wrapped his arms around himself, he wondered how he was supposed to get home. He spun around to see that it was now dawn, and he knew he had to get back soon. Anything to get out of this chilly weather.
Gerard walked forward, and continued to do so. Finally, he wandered off the cliff, but the ground was then replaced by nothing but air. It was no sooner than Gerard realized this, that he found himself falling into the depths that he had noted to be so gaping just moments ago.
Instantly after, Gerard awoke with a start. He found himself already cradled in Frank's arms, who had one hand holding the back of his head, while the other held his waist.
"I was shaking you awake. Gently, of course." Frank explained, seeing Gerard confused by the position.
Gerard gave a little noise of understanding before Frank laid him back down.
"Do you want anything to help you go back to sleep?" Frank asked him, not seeming entirely awake himself. Gerard returned to a blank stare, but Frank figured that he would have done something if he wanted to say yes.
"Okay Gee, goodnight."
Frank fell back onto the bed, never removing his arm from Gerard's waist.
The next day, Mikey visited with a large cardboard box that clattered loudly as he carried it in. Frank and Jamia stared with curiosity as Mikey set it down on a coffee table.
"We've been cleaning the house out." Mikey explained, "For the new baby and stuff..."
Frank looked inside the box and saw various tapes and picture albums, as well as books and CDs. It did not take much assessment to understand what Mikey meant by "cleaning out".
"You're throwing out all of Gerard's stuff." Frank phrased it bluntly, looking right at Mikey, who turned a bright shade of pink.
"Only to make more room for the baby." said Mikey defensively. "Anyway, I thought that some of these might be useful to help him remember things.".
"We can try them." Frank shrugged, eyeing the tapes in particular.
That night, they sat Gerard in front of the television. Mikey stayed to help put on some tapes, but Frank knew that he was curious for Gerard’s reaction as well.
They started with some childhood memories: video recordings that Donna or Donald had made when they were nothing but simple kids, in a low class town in New Jersey. They had uncovered footage of Gerard’s first day of school, as well as Mikey’s own birth.
Frank and Mikey did both watch Gerard closely, but the only reactions he showed was a smile here and there when he heard his own name being said.
Their teenage years were apparently much less documented. It made sense, as the era of adolescence often finds little time for mommy and daddy’s video camera. Still, there were some precious moments captured, like graduations and birthday parties. At this point, the brothers were able to take turns operating the camera themselves.
“I can’t believe your just dumping this stuff out…” said Frank suddenly to Mikey, as they both sat on the living room couch.
“The baby…” Mikey was about to remind him again, but Frank held up a hand to stop him.
“Yes, yes, I know Mikey –- the baby.” Frank sighed, “You know what my first thought was when you first told me you and Alicia were expecting?”
“How great of a father you’re going to be, based on how well you’ve taken care of Gerard over the years. “
Mikey looked surprised by his answer, but said nothing. He stared at Frank instead, who then continued.
“In a way, Gerard used to be your baby. You coddled him quite a bit, and you got really overprotective at the stupidest times.” Frank laughed, mentally recalling one or two instances of Mikey yelling at him for dragging Gerard into another one of his dangerous stunts. “You were always worrying about him, and you stayed up with him on nights when he was sick or just having a hard time. That kind of stuff is what being a parent is all about. You always did those things, even before Gerard and I knew we could do them for anyone else. I know that you’re nervous with the new baby coming, and I’m glad that you’re finally getting one of your own…”
Frank turned to look at Gerard, who had his back turned to them.
“…Just… don’t shut him out of your life like you are with these videos and pictures. He still needs you.”
Mikey looked slightly upset. He shifted around nervously before saying in a hesitant mutter, “He shut me out for Bandit.”
Frank was about to argue, when he suddenly noticed that Gerard was wailing. They looked at each other in confusion before Frank went to console Gerard. Mikey watched the screen, trying to see what had triggered the sudden fit. There did not seem to be anything unusual, it was just one of many videos that documented their very first attempts at playing instruments together.
…or had he heard their conversation? Even if he had, did he understand?
“I’m going to go take him up to his room. Something’s upsetting him.” Frank stated the obvious as he pulled Gerard away from the area. As he watched the display, he could not help but repeat Frank’s words in his head.
Was he shutting Gerard out?
Perhaps, Mikey thought as he collected everything but the tapes, that would be for the best.
Next chapter: Gerard has a nasty encounter and finds himself in a spot of trouble.