“Hey Frankie, it’s me,” I smile as I grip the smooth, dark plastic tighter. I nearly melted at the sound of his angelic voice.
“Gee!” Frank instantly snapped out of his haze and squeaked. “I was worried you were never going to call me back,” he giggled at his not so funny joke. Still, his laughter alone make me chuckle back. “So, whatcha need?” I paused to gather my thoughts.
“Well, uh, let’s just say I ran into a few familiar faces at the mall yesterday and they weren’t exactly, um, pleased that they got suspended.” I say while remembering the unfortunate crossing of paths with our offenders and the wonderful surprise they bestowed upon me to plague my mind all through the weekend. I’d nibbled my nails all day long, non-stop; it was a wonder how I hadn’t reached their wicks yet.
“Whoa, whoa, wait! Are you okay?” Frank gasped. I didn’t really mean to get a rise out of him, but the sincere concern in his voice made my heart swell.
“Oh, yeah, I’m fine. They barely touched me,” I chortled.
“Glad to hear!” His voice shifts to a soft hiss as he continued, “Hey, I don’t mean to impose, but would you mind if I come to your house for a bit? I just really… really need to get out of the house for a while, is all…”
“Uh…” I scan the room for my mom who doesn’t exactly enjoy having guests over when the house is a ‘cluttered mess.’ She must’ve been lurking in another part of the house. Good, as long she wasn’t in hearing range.
“Hello… You still there?”
“Sure, um, but you’ll have to come in through the basement window, if you don’t mind…” I mumble, still glancing around.
“No problem. Be there in ten minutes.” The line goes dead and I scurry towards my beloved dungeon. I lock the door behind me, while I spring down the steps three at a time. Once at the lowest level of the house, I gap at the condition the room was in. Reading material, clothes, discarded or forgotten drawings were scattered all about the 10' x 12' cave in which I lived. With time ticking away, I wasn’t even going to make a dent, but I could at least clear a spot where Frank wouldn’t be buried up to his neck.
Scooping all the junk I could carry into my arms, I begin to toss the piles into my closet. Just as I was about to throw another heap into the tower of crap, I heard a tap at the window. The glass swung toward me and out popped a pair of black converse shoes. I got distracted from my task at hand by the fact that his shirt caught the window ceil and exposed the lower half of his back. Once he unhooked himself, he landed gracefully on top of my desk and turned to me grinning like a small child.
“Hey Gee,” he giggled. I missed that sweet sound. Frankie’s laugh was so care-free and happy sounding; making it seem like everything was right in the world. “Um, what’s that in your hands?”
“Oh, yeah, this is nothing. I was just tidying up a bit…” I blush as I chuck it into the closet with the rest of the shit and slam the door. As I turn back to Frank, I hear a shattering sound, followed by liquid splashing onto multiple surfaces. I must have had a guilt mixed with shock etched on my face, because Frank immediately sprang into action and yanked open the door to expose booze trickling down the walls. I had forgotten that the bottles were stashed on the top shelf and now, because I wasn’t careful enough with the evidence, my second big secret came pouring out onto the walls, my clothes, and other belongings. At first, I am speechless; in complete awe. My stomach feels like it just had just been dropped from the highest hill on the roller coaster. I could vomit from the guilt, but I willed the nausea away, in fear that it would just make things worse. Instead, I remain frozen, like a deer in headlights, anticipating what Frank will do next. I rip my eyes away from the closet to chance a peek at his expression which is blank until a slight smirk slides across his lips.
“You drink some really shitty beer, y’know,” he giggles as he reaches for a printed label from the bottle which still had broken shards sticking to its adhesive side.
“Wha- um-… What?” I stutter, utterly shocked.
“You heard me,” Frank grins as he licks some of the liquid off of his thumb. “I mean seriously Bud Light?” He winks jokingly. I feel my lungs slowly release the air I had been holding for what had seemed like an eternity and try to get an idea of what was going on. Was he mocking me or just lightening the mood? I let a small smile form at the edge of my lips as he continues, a bit more earnestly, “Don’t feel bad, Gerard… I was just kidding. You shouldn’t feel so ashamed. Hell, I’ve done whatever I could to numb the pain of my own issues. I’ve even indulged in liquor a few times. No one’s a saint, y’know. Don’t be afraid to talk to me if you ever need someone to listen because I’ll be here for you whenever you need me… All you have to do is ask…” Frank trails off, but keeps his russet irises fixed on my hazel ones. How did I ever end up with such a perfect person to be my friend? I knew he was special from the very first moment I ran into him. Something just… radiated off of him. There was something in him that welcomed and understood me- or at least tried to. How would I ever measure up to the kind of friend he is to me?
“I- You really don’t know how much this means to me Frankie…” I whisper, overcome by emotions. I could feel tears manifesting. I force my blurred gaze to the floor to hide the fact that my corneas were drowning in an ocean. The next thing I know, Frank is slithering his arms around my waist and pulling toward him. He had to stand on tip-toes to rest his chin on my shoulder. I bent slightly and he took the opportunity to bury his face into the crook of my neck. I let the tears fall now. They trickle down my face and onto his soft, white cotton shirt. I could stay like this forever. I needed this hug more than anything and I had a feeling that he did too.
“No problem,” Frankie murmur danced on my skin, raising goose bumps in its wake. With all the commotion, I had forgotten to tell Frank why I called him in the first place. He still didn’t know about the potential dangers that may occur when we return to school.
“Frank, when do you have to go home,” I say while slightly recoiling from his embrace.
“Whenever... I really doubt my parents care when or if I come home,” he says slipping out of my grasp. Hell, it’s Saturday night, I don’t need to bring up the plan just yet.
“Want to spend the night? My mom doesn’t really know that you’re here, but she is usually asleep by ten anyway.”
“Yes, please!” He squeals in excitement and turns back towards the window, “Let me just run back to the house and grab a few things.”
As I watch him climb onto my desk and out of the small, rectangular opening, I head up stairs to gather handfuls of food. With my mom oblivious to the fact I had a friend over; Frank most likely wouldn’t be welcomed at the dinner table. The least I could do was make sure he didn’t starve. I head to the kitchen and start digging through the cabinets looking for fat laden treats.
“Um… What are you doing with all that food?”
I jump right out of my skin at the sound of Mikey’s voice and whirl around to face him. A bag of Cheetos falls out of my arms and sends the round, cheesy balls rolling across the kitchen tile. At first, I thought of lying and telling him I was really hungry, but why lie? One of my favorite things about Mikey is that he can keep a secret. Any secret, if it means a lot to me. I guess that feature has its downsides with the type of secrets I throw at him, but I’ve never complained about him not spilling them. I prefer it that way.
“I was just gathering snacks for Frank… I’m having him spend the night. Please don’t tell mom, she doesn’t know he has been here,” I say quietly. It was an innocent enough request. It wasn’t like I had murdered someone and needed him to help me stash the body. If mom found out though, I fear a murder may occur and I would be 6 feet under before morning.
Mikey’s eyes light up and a smile creeps across his lips. “Cool, I won’t tell. Tell Frank I said ‘hi.’” He bent down, picked up a Cheeto, and tossed it into his mouth before turning to leave. I scramble to clean up the rest and hurry down to the basement. Frank still hadn’t returned when I re-entered the dimly lit room so I took the time to clear off the bed and pull out several horror movies for later on. A half hour went by and Frank still ceased to grace me with his beautiful face. Where is he? What if something happened to him? As I wring my hands over all the 'what if's", I hear mom’s dinner call so I slowly climb the steps to be immersed in the aroma of bacon.
“Hope you’re hungry! The BLT fixin’s are on the table…” My mom announced as she popped another few slices of bread into the toaster. Even though my mom makes wonderful BLT’s, my appetite was miniscule. As I sit down in my usually seat next to Mikey, I can see him peering over the rim of his glasses out of the corner of my eye. He knows something is off, but also knows he couldn’t ask. “Help yourselves,” she says as she sits down and selects some strips of bacon. I start to reach for the toast when a loud crashing sound followed by a sharp yelp emitted from down stairs.