A frightening late night call from Gerard.
Holly was relived he was pleased, “Thanks.”
Arthur turned to her, “So how many more can I expect?”
“Well” Holly hedged, “I’m not sure.” The idea of leaving LA was still rolling around in her head.
“Holly darling, let me explain.” The sliver headed older man said taking her arm. “I want to have a small exhibit of your work. Just a small gathering really for my clients who have expressed interest. I can plan it for next week.”
Still Holly resisted.
“Darling, I know selling these is how you support yourself and Molly. I promise you if we do this you will not have to worry about money for quite sometime. I know these will sell.”
“Theys pweety.’ Molly added to the conversation.
Arthur smiled down at the little girl, “Yes they are. Are you artistic like your mommy?”
Molly looked confused.
“She is.” Holly answered. “Just this morning she was drawing some beautiful pictures.”
Arthur laughed, “That’s wonderful.” He reached down and took Molly’s hand leading her over to a recently acquired painting, “Molly what do you see when you look at his picture?”
Molly stared at the bright, abstract painting a moment. “Mes sees a waerfall of sunshine.”
“That’s right.” Arthur nodded, “That’s very good.”
By the end of their stay Holly had promised at least three more wind chimes would be completed before the end of next week.
Gerard closed his eyes when he heard the front door close. His heart sank as Lindsey’s final words repeated over and over in his brain.
He didn’t get out of bed to redress until he heard Bandit waking up. Why should he? His life was falling apart and he didn’t know how to stop it.
A few hours later Alicia was surprised when Gerard walked in carrying Bandit.
“Hey, Gee. You guys gonna stay for dinner?” She asked softly seeing the look of sorrow in his eyes.
He carefully sat Bandit down. “Sure it that’s okay.”
Alicia impulsively hugged him, “Of course it’s okay. Take Bandit into the living room. Mikey’s in there watching a movie with Molly.”
He nodded, “So where’s Holly?”
“In the garage working. She took the wind chimes she had completed to the gallery today and the owner wants her to do several more by the end of next week. He’s planning a showing for them.”
Gerard sighed, “Yeah I know she went to the gallery today. She tell you she got lost on the way?”
Alicia shook her head, “No, she didn’t mention it.”
He was about to voice his concern over what had happened but decided to let it drop. He took Bandit’s hand and led her into the living room. As soon as Molly saw them she ran to Bandit and hugged her.
Gerard fell into the chair next to the sofa as the little girls sat down on the rug to watch the movie.
“Bad day?” Mikey asked looking over at him.
“Yeah.” Gerard answered but offered no more information. He wasn’t sure why he’d some over except he’d felt so alone he knew he had to go somewhere.
“Wanna talk about it?” Mikey asked.
Gerard shook his head, “No, just wanna hang with the fam.”
Mikey gave him a smiled, “Glad you’re here.”
While they had been talking Bandit had found the remote and was pushing buttons. As the channels flipped Gerard sighed.
However Mikey just laughed. “Uh, Molly see if Baby B will give you the remote.”
Alicia came in and sat down next to Mikey. “Hey what happened to the movie?”
“B’s fwippin channels.’ Molly answered as she held out her hand to Bandit.
Suddenly a music station came on and the sound of Welcome to the Black Parade filled the room.
“Mes ikes.” Molly said turning to the TV. “Mommy pways it.”
Gerard smiled sadly. “Does she?”
Molly was watching the video. “Dares Uncle Bob." She pointed to the drummer.
Alicia quickly stood, “Okay back to the movie Bandit.” She grabbed the remote before Bandit had a chance to run.
“Uncle Bob?” Gerard sat up straighter. “Molly is that what you said?”
Molly nodded, “Yep, dats im.”
Alicia inwardly groaned as she flipped back to the movie. This wasn’t going to go well.
“How the hell does she know Bob?” Gerard whispered to his brother.
Mikey was equally shocked, “I’ve got no idea.”
“I do.” Alicia said sitting back down. “Holly and Bob are still friends.”
Gerard’s eyes narrowed. “They’re still friends?”
Alicia nodded slowly. “Yeah, Holly told me.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?’ Mikey asked.
“She asked me not to. She knows there is bad blood between you guys and Bob and she just didn’t want to deal with it.”
“Yeah, she’s right there is.” Gerard growled. He thought a minute, “Are you telling me that Holly has remained friends with him all this time?"
“No.” Alicia explained, “Bob didn’t know where she’d gone either.” She made sure the little girls were engrossed in the movie before she continued, “That’s not how it was.”
Gerard started to stand and Alicia knew he was going out to confront Holly.
“Gee sit down and listen to me.” Alicia said angrily.
It was rare for his sister-in-law to speak to him that way. He glared at her, “What?”
Alicia had thought a lot about this, “Bob did what we should have. He found Holly. He remembered her ex lived in Missouri so he called him but Sonja answered. She’s the one who told him where Holly was living and gave him the number.”
“When was that?” Gerard asked.
“Three of four months after Holly left.”
“So Bryar knew all that time where Holly was but didn’t tell us?”
Alicia nodded, “Yeah because she asked him not to.” She then went on to tell them how Bob had found Holly alone on Christmas Eve.”
Gerard was still angry. “So they’re best friends now?”
“Gee” Alicia said softly, “Bob was there for her. He was with her for Sonja’s funeral.”
“Oh.” Gerard’s anger was fading.
“He was there for her but we weren’t.” Alicia said sadly.
“But that’s because we didn’t know where she’d gone.” Mikey said.
Alicia smiled sadly at her husband, “If we’d been the kind of friends to her we should have been we’d have remembered her ex lived in Missouri. We’d have tried to find her but we didn’t. Bob did.”
“Shit.” Gerard muttered wondering if this day could get any worse.
“Hey, Gee.” Holly said walking in the room. She stopped in her tracks when she saw the looks on their faces. “What’s wrong?”
Gerard spoke up, “Nothings wrong.” He lied. “Nothing at all.”
During dinner Gerard glanced over at Holly as often as he could without her noticing. What he saw disturbed him. She picked at her food eating little. Something seemed defiantly wrong. Someone needed to confront Holly about it but he wasn’t sure that person should be him. He had so much going on his life at the moment he didn’t believe he was the person to help her.
As dinner progressed his mood turned darker. When everyone had finished he said quickly, “Hey would it be okay if Bandit spent the night here?”
Mikey nodded, “Sure. You got plans?”
“Yeah.” He lied. The only plan he had was to go home, drink and wait for his wife.
As he was getting ready to leave Molly handed him the picture she’d made. “For youse.” She smiled.
Gerard took the picture from her. “Thanks.” He whispered deeply touched by her sweetness.
“Mes wants youse to be appy.” She smiled.
Tears pricked at the back of his eyes.
After the dishes were done Holly returned to the garage. Alicia had assured her that she and Mikey didn’t mind watching the girls. She worked until it was bedtime for Molly then went back inside.
She saw that Bandit was asleep in Alicia’s arms and that Molly, who was on Mikey’s lap was very sleepy.
“Let’s get them to bed.” She said softly.
Once the girls were settled down for the night Holly went back to work. Around midnight Alicia popped her head out to tell her that she and Mikey were going to bed. Holly wished her a goodnight then continued working. When her phone rang an hour later she was startled by the sound.
“She ain’t fuckin’ comin’ home.” Gerard slurred.
Holly sat back, “Gee? What’s going on?”
Gerard slid to the floor grasping a bottle in one hand and the phone in the other. “Told you she ain’t fuckin home. Said she don’t wanna.”
“Oh Gee.” Holly said softly, “Why are you doing this to yourself?”
“Hey you’re one to talk. You’re fuckin’ yourself up.” The alcohol was making him say things he’d meant to remain unsaid.
He shook his head, “Oh nothing. Don’t matter. Nothing does.”
“Gerard stop it." Holly’s voice was stern.
“Shut up." Gerard yelled back but immediately his voice changed, “Fuck, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for so much shit, Holly.”
Fear filled Holly’s heart. She’s only seen him very drunk a few times but they had been extremely bad. “Gee, how much have you drank?”
“Dunno.” He closed his eyes, “Don’t matter.”
“Shit.” Holly wasn’t sure what to do. Should she wake Mikey? As she was thinking she heard him disconnect. “Shit.” Her voice echoed in the empty garage. She ran inside, grabbed her purse and keys then set off into the night not knowing if it was the right or wrong thing to do.
Holly arrived at Gerard’s and immediately went to the front door but after numerous times of ringing the bell and knocking fear was beginning to take over. In her haste to get to him she hadn’t even considered she might not be able to get into the house. Walking around she prayed that she would not set off their alarm system but something told her that if Gee was alone and drunk he wouldn’t have remembered to arm the system.
The house was eerily quiet as she made her way around to the back. She arrived at the patio moving slowly through the darkness. Her heat sank when she saw the doors leading out were to the patio were closed.
However her heart started beating wildly as she reached them and looked inside. Gerard was on slumped down against the wall not moving. She pulled at the door but it was locked.
Knocking loudly she called out his name but he didn’t move. Her mind was racing. What if he had ingested drugs along with the alcohol? She yanked at the door with all her might but it didn’t budge. Without thought to her own safety she picked up a decorative rock from the ground and smashed it against the glass panel near the door handle. The glass shattered and she reached her hand in to unlock the door. When she pulled open door she saw the sound had not roused him. His body was so still, so lifeless.
“Gee.” She ran across the room to knell beside him. “Gee.” She screamed taking a hold of his shoulders to shake him.
His eyes fluttered open briefly.
“Thank God.” Holly muttered in relief for a brief moment she’d feared he was dead. “Gee.” She said again placing her hands on his face, “Gee wake up.”
“What?" He slurred barely opening his eyes, “Holly?”
Anger filled her, “Damn it, Gee. You almost scared me to death.” When she pushed his body into a more upright position the almost empty whiskey bottle at his side fell over.
His eyes were closed again.
“Gee, damn it, wake up.” Holly screamed.
Holly wanted to slap him. “What’s the matter? You stupid son of a bitch. You’re fuckin’ passed out on the floor, that’s what’s the matter.”
“Don’t yell.” He said trying to push her away. “Leave me alone.”
“Yeah, that’s what I should do.” Holly retorted, “I should just get out of here and leave you the fuck alone. Why the hell did I even bother?”
“Cause you care.” He whispered as she started to stand, “You shouldn’t.”
Holly felt her anger fading as she looked at him. “Yeah, true.” As she started to stand again he reached out and tried to grab her hand.
“Shit.” Holly cringed in pain looking down at her hand and seeing she was bleeding. She realized a shard of glass had cut her as she’d reached through the door.
Gerard’s brain tried to process the blood, “What happened?”
“I broke one of the glass panes on the door.” She said getting to her feet. She crossed over to the bathroom. When she returned minutes later she’d washed away the blood and bandaged it the best she could for now.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered. “Shouldn’t have called you. Sorry about so much.”
Holly groaned, “Oh no, you don’t. Not now.” She wasn’t about to discuss anything with him except getting him up. “Gee, you gotta get up.”
“No.” His head fell back on to his chest.
“Do you want Lindsey to come home and find you like this in the morning?”
“She don’t care.” He whispered.
Holly didn’t believe that. “Stop it Gee.” She reached down to place her hands under his arms trying not to flinch at the pain that shot through her injured hand. “Get up.” She yelled.
His body started to rock slightly but the movement caused his stomach to heave. Vomit splattered down the front of his shirt.
Holly moved back narrowly avoiding getting hit. “Shit.” She muttered. All she wanted to do right now was get him cleaned up and in bed.
“Sick.” He groaned.
“Yeah, serves you right.” Holly said in anger. “Now get up. We’ve got to get you to the bathroom.”
“Just leave me.” He yelled as he cradled his head in pain.
“Not happening.” Holly yelled back. “You’re gonna get your ass up now.” She leaned down. “I mean it.” She said as she grabbed the bottom of his shirt and pulled it over his head. A trail of vomit covered his face. She quickly took the shirt into the bathroom and threw it in the tub realizing as she did there was no way she’d get him into the bathroom.
His eyes were open when she returned with a wet washcloth. As she wiped his face her anger faded as he broke into tears. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” He said over and over.
“Yeah, me too.” Holly said softly. She cleaned him up the best she could deciding if she could just get him to the bed it would be an accomplishment. “Gee, you didn’t take anything did you?” She asked needing to make sure he was just drunk.
“No.” He whispered. “Just drank too much.”
“Okay, we’re gonna get you up now.” She said softly. “But you gotta help me.”
He nodded slightly. She was able, with his help, to get him across the room where he fell onto the bed.
Her fingers quickly began to work at his belt buckle. The jeans were splattered with vomit.
"Holly’s undressing me.” He sang drunkenly.
“Shut up.” Holly snapped.
“You’ve done it before.” He sang.
“Gee, shut up, I mean it. I’m too old for this shit. I’m not your mama or your wife and I shouldn’t have to take care of you. You need to grow the fuck up.”
Her tone silenced him. “I’m sorry.” He whispered.
After a few minutes Holly managed to get the jeans off his body. She took them to the bathroom and threw them into the tub next to the shirt.
His head rolled over on the pillow to look at her, “Holly why’d you come?”
“We’ve already been over that one.” She sighed. “Gee, listen to me. I think it would be best if no one knows I was here. You’re gonna have to say you locked yourself out and broke the window, okay?”
His mind was trying to process her words, “Window?”
She rolled her eyes, “Yeah, the window on the door I broke to get in here.”
He squinted his eyes noticing the bandage on her hand, “You got hurt?”
“Not bad.” She said as she pulled the sheet over her body. “I hope you get up before Lindsey comes home. You need to get up in the morning and clean yourself up.”
“Don’t matter.” He answered.
“Yeah, it does matter you jackass. What if she picks up Bandit first? You want her to see you like this?”
He closed his eyes.
“Well?” Holly pressed, “Do you?”
“No.” he whispered.
“That’s right, you don’t. You need to stop this shit, Gerard. Enough is enough. Take control of your life.”
“I can’t.’ A single tear rolled down his cheek.
Holly refused to be moved by his tears, “Yeah, you can. You’re stronger than you know. You’ve done it before and you can do it now. You have to do it now.” In her mind she knew she had to be tough, she had to make him realize what he was doing to himself and those who loved him.
“Lindsey came home earlier, we made love. I fuckin’ thought it meant something.” He whispered.
Holly willed herself to remain strong, to keep her personal emotions in check. “Gee, whatever is going on between you two…you need to talk to her about it. Made her understand you love her and want your marriage to work. You gotta stop this drinking.”
“You think me drinking makes a difference?”
“Oh good Lord, Gerard. Yeah, I think so. You have to know it ain’t helping.”
His voice was full of emotion, “But I didn’t start drinkin’ like this until things started to go bad.”
“And the drinking is making it worse. Talk to her Gee. Figure out what’s wrong. Find out what she’s feeling, what she wants.”
He closed his eyes, “But what if what I want ain’t what she wants?”
“Gee, talk to her. You two have a child together, a life you’ve built together. Don’t let is slip away without trying to save it.”
He remained silent and she wasn’t sure if he’d passed out again.
Holly watched him a few minutes then started to leave. The pain in her heart was overwhelming.
“Holly?” He called out softly.
She turned, “Yeah, Gee?”
“You’ve always been too good to me. I ain’t never done anything to deserve you.”
Holly smiled sadly, “That’s not true.” She walked back out into the darkness with tears in her eyes. No matter what had happened between them in the past she would always care deeply for him. So much so that she was willing to do anything to help him get his life back in control.