The leopard would die in its cage, and so would Gerard.
Disclaimer: I do not own any life-changing bands by the name of MCR, their frontmen or anything related. This is just fictional ramblings of a bored teenager, I am in no way implying this is how Gerard really feels.
Gerard hated the zoo.
He hated the swarming crowds that buzzed excitably through the flesh-teeming grounds like insects following the tang of weak blood. He hated the ignorant clusters of sunscreen-slathered faces and brashly coloured tank tops. He hated the copious smells that scrabbled invasively through his senses; a stagnant mingling of sweat and fast food and over-crowded animal dung. He hated the sticky, harsh glare of the sun whose humidity crawled across his skin like half-dried glue, scratchy and irritating even through the layers of evasive black.
But most of all, he hated the animals. It wasn’t the animals themselves he despised. He actually found them fascinatingly beautiful. But the animals were the brutal truth; the bitter, twisted reality hiding behind grimy glass that reflected Gerard’s mask-like face, warped and watery in the harsh heat haze.
What he hated, was the way the visitors leered through the glass at every enclosure, plastering their sweaty, slimy, salt-slicked hands against the smeary glass and peering invasively into the cramped enclosure, their glassy eyes awash with unashamed fascination. Just watching it made Gerard feel sick to the pit of his food-deprived stomach; watching countless people leer invasively in at their temporary entertainment of spots or stripes or long, mottled necks.
And then they’d just turn and walk away.
As if the creatures behind the glass were nothing more than exotic ornaments to decorate an otherwise boring environment. As if they couldn’t really see that the creature they’d been staring at with glassy-eyed ignorance for the past several minutes was alive. It had a heartbeat, a pulse, a soul. It wasn’t just some strikingly coloured freak show for them to stare at. Couldn’t they see it staring back?
Gerard had grown to dread the summer-vacation zoo visit with his daughters and wife. The reason for this was not the buzzing crowds or the pungent smells or the cyanide glare of the sun that assaulted his eyes even behind the tinted shield of his favourite black sunglasses.
It wasn’t even the fear of being noticed that he dreaded, although he loathed that almost as much. Usually, though, if he hid behind his lank hair, wore sunglasses and black to blend into the shadows, people didn’t generally twig who he was, thank god. It was so much easier if he could just blend away into the masses, even if only for a day.
What he dreaded the most, was having to join his family at the humanity-smeared glass of the leopard enclosure and pressing his long, clammy fingertips against the glass just like everyone else. They always trembled a little- from the adrenaline that constantly chugged through his system or from the aftermath of being an alcoholic, he didn’t know.
And then he’d have to raise his eyes from his $500 dollar black boots and squint through the mildew-encrusted glass of the enclosure, the harsh sun beating down on his back like forgotten sins, as he forced himself to look into the leopards liquid amber eyes and saw, everything that the masses seemed to miss.
At least, Gerard was pretty certain they missed it; otherwise he couldn’t see how anyone could bear to set foot in the zoo.
But really, could no one else see the horrible, potent abyss of dilapidated brown riddled through all the animals’ eyes? The African elephants and the tropical birds, the striped zebras and the fluffy koalas, every single creature- but most of all the leopard. The leopard’s were the worst by far.
Gerard knew that the rusted pair of amber eyes boring through the smeary glass at him, bone-breakingly heavy with their lamenting sorrow, would haunt him for the rest of the holiday. Whenever he’d feel hard done by or engulfed with the horrible, scaly talons of misunderstood anger, those ghosted, amber eyes would slink into the shadows of his darkest thoughts and remain, unblinking, until he conceded he was lucky to have the life she did, despite the snagging flaws of plasticity and hyped fame.
The leopard was slumped at the back of its enclosure, half-hidden behind a drooping, lichen-encrusted branch. Its once brilliant amber eyes were drooped half shut, and its whole posture was matted; limp and defeated, as if it was trying to shrink away from reality itself.
Gerard sighed heavily, heavily, watching his frustrated exhale clouding the rawness of the leopard’s unblinking gaze.
How could no one else see? The expression in those muddy eyes? It was there, in every single one of the animals eyes, tainting them, staining them.
Gerard knew the feeling. That chug-full, sour-bile taste of being nothing but another vaguely interesting showcase for the repulsive masses; to blister with their unseeing gazes; to contaminate with their smeary, sausage-like fingertips, slick with sweat and petty human excitement; to obsess and stare and fantasise over but never really see.
Oh, they could stare at countless photos, slick and glossy from endless editing or the unclean enclosure-glass, but they could never really see more than the phenomenon- be it spots or singing or stripes. Gerard knew the feeling he could see screaming in the defeated leopard’s eyes far too well, because, in reality, he knew he wasn’t far different.
As his salt-smarting eyes stared through the black-tinted shield of his sunglasses disguise and the thick grey glass to the leopard, his empty stomach churned sickeningly again, because, in the dead-amber eyes silently challenging him, he could see his own face reflected; his own truth reflected.
Ensnared. Ghosted. Screaming. And that was when he realised, how different was he to this once beautiful creature?
The leopard might be trapped inside the tedious, smeary glass enclosure of a zoo, but Gerard was trapped inside the repetitive, plastically-glossed enclosures of pointless magazines.
The leopard might only be exhibited for its exotic markings and origins, but Gerard was only exhibited for his striking voice and looks.
The leopard’s feelings were definitely irrelevant, but these days, so were his. That was all they were. Just pieces of hacked-about meat for everyone else to chew on. But couldn’t they taste the horrible, grey gristle of misery? Didn’t it stick in their throat and congeal in their gullet?
Sun burnt Gerard’s back blisteringly by this point, and his legs were beginning to ache from standing for so long, but he couldn’t bring himself to turn away. The realisations were more and more agonizing with every visit to the leopard enclosure, because each time, he suddenly realised he was hardly any different to this matted, defeated creature with ghosted magnificence.
The leopard would die in its cage, and so would Gerard.
Only one difference resided between them, and it was this difference that killed a little bit of Gerard every time he had to visit the leopard enclosure, this difference that made his stomach swill with sour guilt and shame.
The leopard hadn’t chosen this life for itself.
But Gerard had.
Um, I hope that wasn't complete shit and actually made sense...The idea was sort of born when I saw this photo online of Gerard in this crowd, and he looked really trapped and...yeah. R&R? It'd seriously make my day, and I'd love to know your thoughts, as like I said before, I've never posted something like this before. Thanks so much for reading!