"Then he will take his scary shotgun and shoot me right here” I jabbed my chest, “and then I will die”
“ I’m telling you Ray it was the strangest thing ever” I told my best, and only friend that day at lunch. Ray’s in the year above myself, so year 11. He had a bushy afro that matched perfectly with his big brown eyes. He pushed around the school’s attempt at lunch before pushing the whole tray away in disgust and answering me, “What was?”
I sighed, “Haven’t you been listening?”
He shrugged teasingly, “ I dunno bud sometimes you just start rambling and I zone out. Something about a guy showing up in your lawn today?”
“Well yeah, I mean that guy’s just standing there with his back to me and when I called out to him he just ran away so I chased after him right--- ”
Ray interrupted me by motioning me shut up as a perky red-head, by the name of April, walked past our table.
I rolled my eyes, “Just talk to her” I said.
“That’s easy for you to say you talk to girls like it’s nothing.”
I shrugged, “It is nothing….girls are just girls there’s nothing special about them”
“Whatever” he said, “you’ll change your mind when you find someone. Anyway you were chasing this guy, and why may I ask?”
“ I don’t know I just did. Anyway, I finally caught up to him and he was acting sort of nervous and he was barefoot, so I was thinking ‘Is this guy insane?’ but then I decided maybe he’s homeless or something”
“Probably, but you know most homeless people are HMOs”
I scrunched up my face, “ I don’t know. He didn’t act like one”
“How are they supposed to act?”
I laughed, “Well I don’t know, I guess I just expect them to act different than us somehow”
“I guess we’ll never know” Ray responded before changing the subject, “ Oh hey, do you want to come by the coffee house after school today? Mikey’s been wanting to see you”
I shrugged my shoulders. Ray and Mikey were both regulars at the town’s coffee house, which is where they met. However, my mind was far away from Ray’s skinny, mousy-haired friend. In fact, for a reason I couldn’t determine, it was still rapped around the raven-haired boy, Gerard. Gerard. I smiled to myself. I liked that name. Something about the way it rolled on your tongue.
“So, is that a yes?” Ray asked bringing me from my thoughts.
“Sure thing” I answered right as the bell rang, “Meet you afterschool and we can drive over”. I got up to dump my tray which I only now noticed still had all my untouched food on it. Perfect.
A bell dinged over my head as I pushed open the door to the coffee house, so the barista’s bored gaze traveled towards me as I walked over to order a coffee. Looking around I saw A kid that perfectly matched Ray’s description of Mikey.
“Mikey?” I asked approaching him.
“Yeah”. He said smiling up at me, “Frankie then?”
“Yep” I said shaking his outstretched hand, “Ray’s just parking the car so he’ll be in, in a second.”
“Now” Mikey said pointing over my shoulder. I turned around and motioned him over to join us. Ray headed towards us and sat down next to me, “So, I take it you’ve met then?”
“Nope” Mikey answered sarcastically, “ I have no idea who this man is”
I threw my arms in the air, “Stranger Danger!” I yelled, “Help!”
Mikey burst into laughter and I smiled glad to have pleased one member of the audience considering the other was glaring at both of us.
“Hysterical” Ray said.
Suddenly a guy with his back towards me caught my attention. He had shoulder length black hair but when he turned towards me I let out a frustrated sigh. It’s not him. Not Gerard, I thought.
“What?” Mikey asked.
“Nothing” I sighed, “I just thought I recognized that guy” I pointed him out.
“Did you think it was the homeless guy?” Ray asked.
“Yeah” I admitted sheepishly. I could tell Ray thought I was being stupid for still hanging on to him.
Mikey’s face perked up, “Homeless guy?” he wondered.
“Yeah” Ray answered for me, “Frank saw this guy outside his yard this morning, don’t know for sure or anything, but I think he might be HMO”
Mikey looked excited at this, “Did he have long black hair and tattered clothes?”
“Uhmm, yeah” I answered, “but how did you---”
“Where do you live?” He asked suddenly standing up and fumbling with his wallet to pay for his half-finished coffee.
“Down on Baker Avenue but---”
“Thanks. Nice meeting you gotta go!” Then he scurried out the door before either I or Ray could say anything, but by the look on Ray’s face he had as much as a clue about what was happening as I did.
I heard someone call my name, and of course my thought is, Shit. It’s that Frank guy. So, I continued walking down the street hating myself for not already leaving his damned neighborhood. I had no reason to still be here anyway. Except for maybe---
“Gerard!” now the voice was closer and I could hear the person jogging up towards me. I knew the voice as well and it was not Frank, so I turned around. I stumbled backwards by the impact of the massive bear hug my little brother greeted me with.
“Gee!” He squealed again.
“Hey Mikey” I said finding it impossible not smile, “How’d you find me?”
He finally unwrapped himself from me, “Frank told me he saw you in his yard this morning so I—”
I cut him off, “Whoa. Wait a second. You know Frank?”
He answered by saying, “Well I mean sort of. Do you remember my friend Ray I told you about?” When I nodded he continued, “Okay, so Frank’s a friend of his from school and he tagged along with Ray today at the coffee house and mentioned seeing you. Of course he didn’t know it was you. Well, I mean he knew it was YOU but he obviously didn’t know you were my brother…..”
“Alright kid” I said chuckling in spite of myself. Mikey’s always great to see especially when he’s in such a good mood like he is now.
“What were you even doing in Frank’s yard in the first place?” He asked me.
I shrugged my shoulders uncomfortably. I always hated discussing my street life with Mikey because it makes him take pity on me and if there’s one thing I did not want that kid to do for me is to pity me. “He’s got good trash and a place to sleep under his porch” I finally answer his question only to get that look of pity I hate.
“You know our house isn’t very far away” He insisted on calling it “our” house even though I haven’t stepped foot inside it in my life, “You can come over whenever you want to get real food you know”.
I did know that his house wasn’t very far away, but I also knew something he couldn’t manage to warp his head around. I knew that if Mom or Dad ever found us together it wouldn’t just find me dead it would find Mikey in jail, and I’d never do that to him. So I changed the subject, “Look kid, well excuse me, not a kid anymore. If Ido remember correctly someone just had a birthday. So, what are you now? Twelve? Thirteen?”
Mikey laughed and shoved me a little, “Sixteen, thank you very much”
“Oh, excuse me. Sixteen, of course, the big one-six. Did all the the cool guys and gals come to the big bash? Did you get someone down in TV to come by and tape it? Show the whole world how awesome you are?” I pointed at an imaginary camera, “ I’m Mikey Way and I’m better than you!”
He snorted, “Right Gerard, and the president stopped by as well”
“Well he should have,” I said tussling his hair.
“How much longer are you going to be in town?” Mikey asked. He was well aware with my policy of never staying somewhere too long. However I find myself unable to tell his eager eyes that I was leaving now, or at least should be. I reasoned with myself that I still need to get him a much belated birthday present and that could take a day or two.
“Tomorrow night or Friday morning,” I answered.
Mikey nodded, “So we can go to our house? Just for a bit?”
“Come on Mikes, you know I can’t do that…”
“Oh please, for me?”
“No Mikey I can’t, or else Dad will take the shotgun from his mantle” I have no idea why all my scenarios of being found out by a hetero involves them shooting me with a gun they take from their mantle, “Then he will take his scary shotgun and shoot me right here” I jabbed my chest, “and then I will die” I fell dramatically into the middle of the empty street, stuck my tongue out, and squeezed my eyes shut.
“Knock it off Gerard” Mikey said pulling me up, “You’re going to get run over”
“Better than being shot down by Dad” I said dusting myself off.
“Dad will not shoot you” Mikey said rolling his eyes, “besides he and Mom are still at work anyway, so just come over. I can make us sandwiches and loan you a pair of jeans and maybe a jacket,” he said eyeing me.
“Mikey you’re a size smaller than me”
“And those jeans are four sizes smaller than me”
This time I was the one to roll my eyes. Mikey stuck out his bottom lip and whimpered like he was a lost puppy or something.
“Oh, Fine” I said, “But only for a few minutes”
Mikey pulled a key out of his back pocket and unlocked the front door. Even though the lights were out and there were no cars in the driveway Mikey called through the front door, “Mom?! Dad?!” When he got no reply he ushered me inside.
“I’ll make the sammiches and bring them up” Mikey said. I silently followed his orders not mention the way he apparently still continued to call sandwiches, and went upstairs to his bedroom. I hopped onto Mikey’s bed and flopped onto my stomach. The cushiony mattress sunk under my weight. I took a second to take in the softness of the fabric and their fresh-out-of-the-laundry smell.
Mikey walked in and handed me a turkey sandwich. I finished the sandwich a lot faster than he finished his, but insisted that I didn’t need another one. So, Mikey made me go over to his closet and pick out a pair of jeans to try on. I selected a pair of black ones and slipped them on. Although they were much more comfortable than mine, I was still reluctant to take anything from Mikey.
“Are you sure you won’t need these?” I asked. Mikey only shook his head no, so I folded up my old pair into a small square.
“When’s the last time you washed that shirt?”
I looked down at my once white shirt. I’ve had it for over two years now. It was more of a dirty tan color now and had a tear under the left armpit. There was also a good-sized bllod stain on the back from a bad fight with a hetie that I didn’t want to talk about. The point is I hadn’t cleaned this shirt ever since I managed to get it.
“I’m fine” I told Mikey, “but I think I should go”
“Are you sure?” He asked as he followed me down the staircase.
“Yep,” I said swinging open the front door, “I’ll be fine kid. And thanks for the Sand-wich” I said making sure to emphasize the correct to pronounce the food.
“Sammich,” He mumbled smirking at me. I closed the door behind myself and my smile quickly faded half of me dying to stay there and the other half knowing that I never could.
Gerard. Gerard was my new fascination.