Sometimes a guy just needs some time to think.
Give Him Space
It starts raining as soon as the door slams behind me. Man-oh-man, talk about pathetic fallacy. This is just ridiculous. It comes down in buckets, falling fast and vertically, there being no wind to blow it out of my face. And it’s humid rain too, the sky swollen purple with bruise-like clouds yet the sun still high so it really just feels like warm piss dripping down my neck. Gorgeous.
I stick my hands in my pockets and surge forwards, thinking of ways to distract my tear ducts from watering. I know this sounds really stupid but I hate crying in foreign countries. I kind of feel like people who see me might be judging me, you know like “Hey, there’s that American kid. Do you think all American kids are pussy faggot cry-babies like him? That’s right, American boy. Go home and cry to your mommy and drive your truck and swear at your immigrants like a true red-blooded American male!” I know it’s ridiculous and I’m sure most people from other countries don’t think of all Americans as rednecked hicks but still. I like to make a good impression.
So instead of crying I talk to myself.
“Boy. You’ve really got yourself into a pickle this time.”
“No need to rub it in. Jesus.”
“Whatcha gonna do about it, then?”
“Well, I can’t go back to the hotel. I’ve only been gone five minutes. They won’t take me seriously.”
“Christ, Frank! Would you like me to get a ruler to check if your penis is still the same size?!”
“Hey, hey, hey! Hush your mouth. I’m doing this for Gerard’s sake.”
“No, you’re doing this because you’re a whiney little man-child who isn’t getting enough attention.”
“I am not!”
“Yes, you are! Come on, Frank. Your mom’s an ice-bitch workaholic who values every second when you’re not around as a blessing from God, your dad walked out because he couldn’t bear the sight of your 5 year old hands clutching a feather boa and no one else even cares you exist!”
“Hey, you shut up about my dad!”
“Why the unconditional loyalty, Frank? He left you. He left you for a fucking BLUES band.”
“Okay, yeah, so what? My dad loves me. And I get a Bruce Springsteen album every year to prove it.”
“Your dad doesn’t give a flying shit about you. Neither does your mom. And neither does Gerard.”
So I hit myself in the face, swear a little bit at the insane stupidity of that action and vow never to get into a conversation with that guy again. God, who knew the other half of my brain was such a pretentious little asshole?
I fish a cigarette from my pocket and light it. It doesn’t help much but it does give me a sense of direction. I decide to head into the town square and look at all the little shops and stuff. They’re so brightly coloured and pretty and normal, maybe they’ll make me feel a little better. So that’s what I do, I walk into town, find a bench, sit on it and smoke my cigarette while looking at the little shops and wondering whether I would make it as an ice cream salesman. Probably not. Most likely I’d just eat the merchandise.
My feet raise little ripples in the puddles at my feet. Weird, if what scientists say is true then I have the ability to change the frequency of electro-magnetic waves, causing kinetic energy to physically move the atoms in this little puddle to collide and spread, bending the very building blocks that make up our Universe and yet I am completely unable to sort my own life out. It’s like God or karma or whatever is taking the piss by giving us all these amazing abilities and knowledge and whatnot and then making it completely useless to our daily lives. Thanks for that, Jehovah. You’re a real pal. Next time maybe you could actually make these stupid ripples WORTH something.
I close my eyes, inhaling the familiar smoky smell. But when I open them again it is not without an element of surprise. I am not alone.
There is a man walking towards me. He wears a high-collar coat pulled up across his face to shield him from the rain, designer jeans and expensive Italian shoes. And in my borderline stoner haze I inexplicably find myself thinking the combination quite attractive, more so when his eyes find mine and his lips curve into a smile as he gestures towards the bench.
“Anyone sitting here?”
A stream of smoke escapes from between my lips. “No.”
He sits down next to me, sending me into further confusion. What kind of randomer parks himself next to a total stranger at the risk of a wet ass? But the guy seems oblivious as he takes a cigarette from his pocket and turns to me. “Got a light?”
I nod and hand it over. “My thanks,” he says, smiling with a flash of white teeth.
Fine, yes, whatever. It’s a goddamn lighter. I say nothing, just secretly pleading for this dick to go away and leave me alone.
No such luck. He turns back to me and this time it’s with an expression of “let’s start a friendly conversation” on his face. Fan-fucking-tastic. “So,” he begins. “The rain does not bother you?”
I shrug. “At this point, I’m pretty beyond caring.” No point in pretending otherwise. My pathetic apathy is written all across my face. “What about you? Don’t care about spoiling your nice shoes?”
I know it’s rude, but to be honest I really couldn’t give a crap. He laughs though so unfortunately I am denied the opportunity of a fist fight. “This kind of weather is good for thinking,” he says. “Don’t you agree?”
“Whatever man,” I shrug again. “Look at me. I’m sitting in the middle of town in a foreign country without a buck on me talking to a random guy in a mafia jacket. Does it look like I do a lot of thinking?”
“Looks can be deceiving,” he says with a smirk. “But you do not strike me as an idiot. You must have a reason for your actions.”
“Uhuh, and you have every right in the world to know them,” I roll my eyes. “Christ, you adults are all the same. Always assuming you know what’s best, always assuming we actually give a crap. Hey, did you ever stop to think that I don’t actually have a reason? That I’m only here for the living hell of it? Kids do that, you know. We do stupid things. It’s not like every man out there’s made it to 45 as a goddamn saint.”
I descend into huffy silence, arms across my chest, feeling irritated with myself for the sudden outburst. Jeez, I really need to learn to control my temper. If I keep flipping out on random people I don’t even know it’s a matter of time before I end up in Italian prison. I cast him an apologetic look. “Sorry,” I mutter. “Bad day.”
“I kind of figured,” says the man, blowing smoke into the sky.
“I tried to kill myself, you know.”
“Suffocation. Starvation.” I sigh. “Nirvana.”
“Mio dio, that’s rough,” the stranger frowns sympathetically. “Girl trouble?”
“Erm...” if only it were that simple. “Something like that.”
He nods, his face sad, almost regretful. “Well, we’ve all had our share of heartbreak,” he says.
And it’s those words, those few words which make me do it. I don’t know, I guess finally meeting someone, hearing someone understand what I’m going through...it’s enough to make me do something retarded with relief. But either way I turn to him and give him the biggest, craziest smile I can muster and when it’s returned I feel so happy I could dance.
“I think you need to give yourself a break,” he tells me.
“I think I need to get tripping on acid,” I tell him.
“When was the last time you did something really crazy?” he asks me.
Think back. “Approximately...twenty-five minutes ago,” I reply.
“Okay...when was the last time you went to a bar with a random Italian stranger?”
“Done Swedish, German, Lebanese. Never Italian.”
“Well come on then,” he stands up and holds out his hand. I just stare at it like a retard.
“I don’t even know your name.”
“It’s Carlo. Come on.”
“You could be a rapist paedophile murderer cannibal.”
“Looking at us I think you’re more likely to win if I actually took you on.”
Oh wow. Complimented on my obvious physical strength. How the hell could I refuse that? I take the hand, allowing him to pull me up onto my feet and follow Carlo through the town, my heart thudding with every footstep as I take in the pure foolishness of my movements. I am going to a bar. I am going to a bar with a random stranger. I am going to a bar with a random stranger called Carlo. And the reason? I’m so laden down with self-pity that if I don’t get a drink soon I think I might just jump into the air and turn into Sylvia Plath.
The other reason, of course, is because I’m depressed and when I’m depressed I tend to do very stupid things.
But to be honest, all I give a fuck about right now is the fact that Carlo really is pretty hot, I’m broke, I’m thirsty, the object of my teen affection probably wants me dead and I’m in serious need of a good time. So I follow Carlo through the dark alley and I don’t ask questions when I realise I have no idea where we’re going, I don’t ask questions when some shady figures jump out from behind a brick wall and I don’t ask questions when someone approaches me and hits me hard across the back of the head with a baseball bat.
Of course, the reason I don’t ask questions right then is because I seem to have suddenly lost the ability to speak.
This is my last thought before the world goes black.
When I next open my eyes I discover I am no longer in the alleyway but in some kind of warehouse. My hands and feet are bound and I am tied to some kind of beam suspended above the ground. My head is bleeding.
What. Da. Fuq.
“Excuse me?” I call out. “Hello? Excuse me?”
A man snoozing in a saggy armchair near the door looks up. “Hi,” I greet him. “Would you mind explaining to me what the hell is going on here?”
The man shrugs. “Mi dispiace ma io non parlano inglese.”
“Oh okay,” I reply. “That’s cool. Don’t worry about it.”
The man goes back to sleep. I swing from side to side a little, wishing my head would stop ringing. Seriously, how hard did that sonofabitch have to hit me? I can almost taste my own blood on my tongue, as if the bat went through to the other side. Or maybe my senses are all out of wack. I can definitely make out footsteps...and as my vision becomes clearer four men. And one of them is Carlo.
“Aha! The boy-child awakens!” The smallest of them smiles a creepy, malevolent smile.
He is short, squat and balding, a regular Ian Flemming character with the suit, holster and sunglasses to prove it. The only thing missing is a cigar. The other two look proper hench...but without a brain to share between them. And Carlo looks like I remember him...but with a satisfied smirk rather than his previous sympathetic look.
“Bene Mr Davide,” Baldy praises. “Was he difficult to find?”
“On the contrary,” Carlo replies. “I seem to have walked straight into him.”
“Well, he will not be walking very far for a while,” he speaks in a thin, wheezy voice that makes me want to wince. “How are you feeling today, American boy?”
“Pretty good thanks,” I reply pleasantly. “Just hanging, really.”
This issues chuckles from the men behind, silenced immediately with Baldy’s terrifying glance. “Oh, you are a funny boy,” he looks me up and down with distaste. “An American with a sense of humour. You know, I have a sense of humour too although I am not sure it will be to your taste. Bruno-”
He gestures towards one of the hench dudes who steps forward at once. My eyes widen as he raises the baseball bat high above his head and brings it down on one of the warehouse crates. It shatters into splinters and the unwelcome image of my own skull is brought to mind. But I force my features to remain impassive.
“Nice,” I nod in mock-appreciation. “Very nice. Boy, you really showed that crate what for.”
A knife slices through the air and I issue a silent cry as it implants itself in the wall behind me, missing me by inches. The thugs laugh heartily and Baldy cracks a wry grin at my shaking, bound hands. Ohmigod. I’m surrounded by psychopaths. Actual, honest to Zod psychopaths.
“My name is Antolini,” Baldy tells me with a slight bow. “I work for a company that is very interested in some things that we believe you can tell us. Have you any idea of to what I am referring, Frank?”
“Uh...” I try to think quickly but my brain seems to be fixed on knife wounds. “The...um...mafia?”
I’d meant it as a joke. Honest to God I did. But one look at their crazy faces and I knew for sure. This was serious business. “What?” I gulp. “You’re...you’re actually are the mafia?!”
“You are a smart boy Frank,” says Carlo wryly. “Looks like I was right about you.”
Oh my God. Oh Jesus Christ. Oh Allah most Merciful and Great. Oh Ram and Ra and Osiris and Ceridwen...I’ve just been kidnapped.
I’ve just been kidnapped by the mafia.
“What the fuck do you want with me?” I cry. “I’m just a kid! I’m a high schooler on an educational vacation with the newspaper team! How can I have done anything to get mixed up with you people?!”
“Don’t play that bullshit with me, cazzo!” Antolini spits venomously. “A high schooler you may be but we know all about your secret agenda!”
Oh. Right. That’s awkward. “Okay...” I begin carefully. “I’m sorry if you don’t approve. But you gotta understand, what I feel for Gerard goes beyond superficial attraction. Legit. And it’s not like I’m manipulating him or anything, just kind of...bending his will to...um...”
I stop at one look at their perplexed faces. “You weren’t talking about the guide to the 20 ways at all,” I state dully. “Were you?”
“Erm, no. We weren’t,” Antolini raises an eyebrow. “But if you’re trying to win over the one you love using lies and manipulation then that is no way to start a healthy, happy relationship.”
“I know but it’s just so hard! Do you even realise how difficult it is to find a quality guy in New Jersey?”
“Yes, I realise it must be. We are quite lucky here in Milan you see, what with the models and the actors.”
“Erm, signore?” Carlo interrupts. “Aren’t we getting a little off topic?”
“Hmm? What? Oh yeah, don’t bullshit with me!” he says again, pointing a wavering finger. “We know about you and your little cult, trying to take over Italia! Well that’s our job, goddammit! We’ve been here a long time before you and we’ll be here a long time afterwards! This country is ours, and there is nothing you luridi branco di cani bastardi can do about it! Now do you understand me?!”
“No, I don’t!” I cry. “I don’t fucking understand you, you crazy bastard!”
“YOU VAMPIRE SCUM, TRYING TO TAKE OUR POWER! IT’S NOT GOING TO WORK, DAMN YOU! WHO IS YOUR LEADER? WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS TO TAKE MILAN? WHERE IS THE HOME OF THE VOLTURI? YOU WILL TALK, BASTARDO, OR I WILL RIP YOUR FUCKING GUTS OUT THROUGH YOUR ANUS!”
“JESUS CHRIST, WHY SO MENSTRUAL?” I yell back. The emos. He’s talking about the goddamn emos. Suddenly everything seems funny again. “I’m not a vampire, for Godsake. The people you’re talking about belong to this stupid gang at school. They wear white foundation and drink tomato juice. I’m not one of them, I just happen to dress sort of similarly. They stole my look, you see. Big misunderstanding.”
The mobsters look at each other. Carlo shakes his head. Antolini turns back to me, eyes mad with anger. “YOU LIE!” he screeches. “But soon, Frank Iero, you will talk. And when you do it will be the last thing you ever say!”
And with that he strides from the room, taking his mafia lapdogs with him, leaving me to hang from the beam with an ever growing feeling of dread.
So how are you guys? I'm cool, doing good thanks. Except that I have Parkinsons.
Ok, so I probably don't have Parkinsons. But I still have to go and get myself tested. And I might get myself tested for a personality disorder while I'm at it because the Almighty Internet told me that there was a mild possibly that I could be a schitzotypal, whatever THAT is. Thanks, man. Way to boost the confidence of someone doomed to die at 40.