From the eyes of a helpless friend.
Sooo... yup. Oh and Lindsey is on tour again! Which means its Gerard's turn to raise Bandit on his own! HA! Hope he has fun with that... :3
Part One: Frank
All I ever heard was the gist of what had happened, a painfully read account that came from Mikey Way's twitching lips. They wouldn't even let me see the photos. Only Mikey got to see those. When I had asked, he felt it was better that it should stay this way. And of course I couldn't ask the only person who was actually there -- because he can't talk.
What I do know is horrifying enough, but I also know it isn't the whole story.
Gerard had come home from recording with myself and Ray. Mikey hadn't been there that day, he was out blowing all his cash on something stupid like usual. Adam, his boyfriend of about six months had been there. Adam was a rebound relationship. Gerard denied that, but we all knew it.
Lindsey had left him a year before. It had crushed him, mostly because it seemed pointless. The only reason she had given was that she felt as though they were growing apart. Gerard ran back to New Jersey and into the muscular arms of strange men less than a month later. But he claimed he had found real love with Adam. I personally never really believed that, but I spent enough time with them to see that Adam treated Gerard very sweetly, and so even I, with great hesitation, accepted him to be worthy of Gerard's affections.
All this considered, what happened on this terrible Wednesday night was a shock to everyone. Indeed, he had come home from recording. And what occurred after is shrouded in confusion and mystery. The only things that were known for sure was that a drunk Adam had beaten Gerard enough to break half of his ribs, leave a very deep laceration in his skull, knock four of his teeth out, and finally, pinned him against a wall and strangled him hard enough to paralyze his vocal chords --- taking his voice along with them.
Those injuries were what was listed in the official reports. The ones that I, or Ray, or anyone else who wasn't immediate family was allowed to see.
I suspect -- no, I know there is more than that from the few interactions I've had with Gerard since the incident, but Mikey is very determined to protect Gerard's privacy. Perhaps in doing so, he feels like he's protecting Gerard himself -- something I know he's been feeling extremely incapable of as of lately. I guess I can't say that I blame him.
I feel the same helplessness now, as I sit across from him on this dinky table at Starbucks. He was discharged from the hospital a little less than a month ago, but this is maybe only the third time I've been able to be alone with him. So far, I may as well have went out alone.
I know it's not his fault, of course. He's trying. I can feel him say exactly that every time he looks up at me over the coffee he's barely sipping, his expression pleading his apologies. So I try to smile at him encouragingly.
"It's okay, Gerard." I tell him, "No pressure. I knew what this would be like when I invited you out."
A few minutes later, I feel something hard graze my hand. Gerard has pushed his little notepad towards me. I pick it up and read a messy scrawl in black ink:
'Thank you, Frank.'
I give him another smile and the silence resumes again.
For now, Gerard lives with Mikey and Alicia. He owned the apartment that he and Adam stayed in, and I don't think there's technically anything stopping him from going back. I think he just doesn't want to. No one has bothered to suggest it to him.
Aside from sometimes driving him to therapy, Ray and Mikey spend their days taking Gerard to his favorite places. Comic book stores that are six hours away, donut shops that are in different states entirely. They try to make him forget.
I don't bother, because I already know he never will. I think he appreciates me a little more for it.
In the weeks to follow, I do try to see him as much as possible. Sit with him for hours while he soundlessly cries. Watch all the old horror movies that we've abandoned since we had families. Stay up with him when he knows it will be another sleepless night, instead of trying to force him to sleep like Mikey does.
I just want him to know that he won't have to go through this alone. Because every time I look at him, I know that that is exactly how he feels. But Gerard never did well alone. He was terrified of being alone. The irony is that this wouldn't have happened if he would have just let himself been single for a little while longer. He wouldn't have been alone even then. He would have had us. He would have had me.
I guess Gerard just had a different opinion of what being alone really was. On one hand, I hope he's learned his lesson. On the other, I'm scared that he's traumatized from reaching out ever again. I know no matter what, he won't ever be the same.
I look into his eyes and I see nothing but a hazel colored storm of fear and scorn. A wounded animal on the verge of going feral.
I think it might not even be the beating he endured that renders him so, but the handicap he has gained. Gerard has always used his voice for everything, from a way to express himself to a way to escape. Without it, he is lost.
And I think he must need it now more than ever.
When Ray confronts him about pressing charges against Adam, Gerard shakes his head tiredly. With everything going on, I feel certain that he simply does not want to deal with the pain of possibly having to see Adam again. Mikey and Ray try to work out a way to take him to court without Gerard's consent or involvement.
I promise to myself that I will get to Adam before the police ever do, but my concern for Gerard is stronger than my hatred for him. So first, I do everything I can to make sure he's okay.
The very expensive therapy seems to go nowhere, and Gerard barely uses his notepad. I am certain that he has much more to say than he has been writing, but I'm not sure if he's just lazy or if it's more than that. The doctors are beginning to wonder if his muteness is more psychological than physical. Only time will tell, they shrug.
Two months in, and we've all been gathering together more than we're used to. If the incident has done one thing, it's forced our group of families almost closer than we're comfortable with.
One night at dinner, an inevitable topic is raised.
"I called Mark today." Ray says before shoveling a forkful of mashed potatoes into his mouth, "All further plans for the band are officially cancelled."
We decided to cancel instead of postpone, so Gerard does not feel any pressure on the length of his recovery. I for one, know that this will not lessen the pressure Gerard feels at all. But Mikey disagrees. And if we've had one thing hammered into us for this entire episode, it's "Mikey knows best".
We start discussing what we're going to be doing with our lives for the next year instead of My Chemical Romance. We have almost wandered into different topics entirely before Gerard holds up his notepad. Since Alicia is closest, she grabs the pad and reads it aloud to the rest of us.
"Can still do shows with replacement singer."
An uncomfortable silence settles around the table. It is not uncomfortable because we agree to this, but only because no one can deny that it hasn't crossed our minds at least once. Everyone had been excited for the new album and tour, and no one was happy about having to give up the project. Yet we all knew we were kidding ourselves if we even began to think that it would be the same without Gerard.
"Never." Mikey is the first to say, and agreement resounds throughout the dining room. We do our best to make it clear that replacing Gerard is out of the question, even to ourselves.
Gerard says no more and returns to his place, wincing as he swallows anything solid.
There is so much focus on restoring Gerard's voice that I worry that the healing of the rest of his physical wounds are under threat of neglect. Of course we combine our funds to afford him the best medical care possible, but I see so little progress in the reduction of his grimaces and gritting teeth.
Slowly, Mikey allows me to see Gerard more frequently. It annoys me that I have to seek his permission for anything, but I don't argue because I feel sorry for him just as well. Ignore them though I may, I can't pretend I don't see the bags under his eyes or notice the weight he's been losing.
As I lie with Gerard in his bedroom, his head resting on my chest, I try my best to observe what skin the position has to offer me. I want to lower top of his jeans and see below the hipbones, see the content of those photos that were never revealed to me. I want to examine the source of the limp that I sometimes glimpse, although I'm not sure that I imagine. I think Gerard notices, and I feel him curl up a bit more. He blocks everything but the top of his hair from my sight.
Slightly, I feel hurt that he shies away from me. I had thought we were closer than that. I, after all, have shown him all my scars. Still, I respect him too much to push him, and so I simply bury my lips in his hair. My nostrils take in the minty smell of his shampoo. I close my arms around him tightly, and try to feel relieved that he at least allows me to do this after what he's been through. He trusts me enough, at least, to know I would never hurt him.
Stroking his slender arms with my fingers, I mutter to him spontaneously. I speak words we have not exchanged for many years, and that I have doubted we would ever speak to each other again -- because until recently, I no longer thought them to be true.
I tell him I love him.
This gets him to look up at me, his mouth slightly agape in an expression of surprise. It seems like now, more than any other time since that monster had broken his voice as well as his heart, Gerard is desperate to speak.
"Shh, don't. Don't strain yourself." I hush him immediately, trying to resume things like nothing had happened. But now Gerard seems restless, and I slightly regret what I had said. The last thing he needs is another cause for insomnia, and now I know he won't sleep tonight. But I had thought of Lindsey and of Adam, and I felt that they were words he needed to hear.
I leave after two more movies, and no other words are exchanged. I go to my car to drive home to my wife, who has already spent many nights alone in the past three months. I reach in my pocket to pull out my key. Instead, I feel a piece of paper stuffed inside. I remove it and I have to use my phone light to read it in the winter night's darkness.
'I love you too.'
I smile and turn to the apartment complex I had just left, looking up at the lit window that I know is his. I wave, knowing he is probably watching. And I know if he had his voice, he would be yelling out some humorous farewell to me. But tonight, there is no sound except the howling of the wind.
I wait for a minute longer -- for what, I don't know. And then I drive away, knowing I will be back the next day for another silent evening with a certain silent boy.
I think about all that's happened and I feel a sense of joy as I read Gerard's note once again. Yet when I crawl into bed with Jamia that night, who is lying wide awake, I realize that this silence is bound to break one day.
...and oh, how deafeningly loud the world will seem when it does.