Frank is beginning his now-homeless life, and meets Gerard on the way.
It's past 2:45am and I need to be up in about 5 hours, and I pretty much wrote the end half in the past half an hour where I have been super tired and relying on coffee so I'm hoping it isn't terrible. Sorry if it is, please just comment telling me to edit if it's a complete shipwreck.
Sooooo, I'll shut up now because you just want to read.
Never was this meant to be,
But nothing will ever be the same.
You never planned it starting this way,
But some things you can’t control.
I yawned and stretched as the sunlight pierced through my eyelids. Yay, another shitty day of trying to get money the only way I knew how. I had to admit I had thought of stealing some money to help me get by, but when it came down to it I felt too guilty. Sure, I had nothing, and too many people seem to spend their money frivolously, but I couldn't take money I hadn't earned. Plus, I doubt I'd survive a day in prison if I ever got caught. (So tempted to write 'I know what they do to guys like me in prison' there. Anyway, back to the story.)
I suspected I'd regret taking the moral high ground if and when I died of starvation, dehydration or hypothermia, but at least I could die without guilt.
Except for the guilt of knowing that you let them down. You let them all down so much that they tried to shut you away from the world forever.
Shut up shut up shut up!
Still growling to myself, I made my way to the set of public toilets, cleaning myself up as best I could, like I did every morning. It seemed it had become a ritual to pretend the mirror was venomous, because as usual I avoided it as though it could kill me on the spot, only glancing at my features without delving too deep. It didn't matter that I didn't know what I looked like, because even before they put me in that place I haven't looked like me. I haven't been me for far too long.
I went back to the town square and stood in my usual spot, getting out my guitar. I had only been playing for an hour or so, when I heard music. I assumed it was someone playing something through a speaker at the other side of the square, but I recognised the song, and the voice definitely didn't fit the usual singing. The guy singing this cover of the track, whoever he was, had the voice of an angel, and I could tell that whoever was playing the guitar was amazingly skilled.
It wasn't until I heard applause from the same direction that I decided to go and check it out. They wouldn't be applauding a recording being played, so someone else must be trying to steal all of my business. I didn't care how amazing they played, or how envious I was of the guy's voice I was; if anyone stopped me from getting my food and drink then I hated them.
I packed away my guitar haphazardly and marched over to the other side of the town centre, where the noise was coming from. As I got closer I could see a small crowd gathered. The music had stopped for now, so I shoved my way through the crowd, hearing various disgruntled remarks from those I had pushed past.
I stopped dead at the front of the crowd, looking at the boy who had been playing. He was short in stature, and very thin, with chocolate coloured hair flopping slightly over his left eye. He looked young, way too young to be living on the streets alone, although his height may have had an impact on that.
What I noticed the most, though, was not that this boy was undeniably beautiful. No, it was the large purple, some slightly yellowing, bruises covering almost every inch of his face. The poor boy looked as though he had been through 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. He had two black eyes, and the severe bruising around the bridge of his nose told me it was probably broken.
My anger wavered as I took sight of this broken angel, but the groan of my stomach reminded me of why I was there.
Before he could begin playing again I pushed my way out in front of the crowd, took the boy by the shoulders and pulled him to one side.
"What? What's going on?!" He spluttered, staring at me with confusion, anger and... Something else I couldn't put my finger on. From the corner of my eye I could see the crowd dispersing, obviously realising that the show was over. I had to admit I was intrigued by this boy… Well, more than intrigued. I wanted to know why he was here, how someone so beautiful could be so obviously broken. I also couldn’t understand some of the other feelings I had… I wanted to help him. I wanted to make everything better for him, somehow. I wanted to fix him, to put all the little jigsaw pieces back together and turn his life around.
But I also had survival instincts, and right now the fight reaction of my ‘fight or flight’ had kicked in, and I wasn’t giving up on the one meagre hope I had left. The adrenaline pulsing through my veins shoved out any feelings other than anger which I felt towards the boy, eclipsing my mind in fury.
“You. You need to stop playing, now.” I threatened, pointing a finger and glaring at the now wide-eyed boy. “Move on to somewhere else. There isn’t room for you here. Take your stuff, and go.” I spat through gritted teeth, heavily emphasising the last word before turning my heel and marching away.
He didn’t say anything back, or maybe he did and I had already walked too far away to hear it. I didn’t care though. Okay, that’s a lie. I did care. And that was the part that scared me most. How could I care about someone I had just met, didn’t know the name of, and hadn’t even had a proper conversation with? But somehow I wanted to hear his reaction, wanted to know his story, and most of all I wanted to know whether there was anywhere else he could go, and if he would be okay.
That’s just idiotic. Why should you care so much? No one cares about you. This is why you’re in this mess. You’re a freak, you’re messed up and all backwards.
Maybe you’re right.
Of course I am.
I set up my guitar once again, playing louder and more forcefully than before, as if trying to block out my own thoughts with the noise. I didn't even pay attention to anyone walking past, so it came as a huge surprise when I found a $10 note tucked away in the corner of my guitar case which I had laid out open in front of me.
I collected up the rest of the change lying in the case without bothering to count it, packed my things, and ran over to the nearest fast food establishment. I ordered myself the biggest meal I could afford, and savoured every single bite. Sure, it was unhealthy, but I was thin enough and it was time to start getting a little fat on me.
I thought pointlessly that I could have saved that money. For what? It'd probably take me a decade to save enough for a month’s rent on a place, I might as well enjoy it now.
I stayed in the restaurant for a while after I’d finished eating, just enjoying the feeling of being full and not being sat outside. In here I could almost pretend I was normal. I could make-believe that I was here with my friend, or my brother, rather than alone, and that I would soon be going home. Unfortunately the harsh pang in my chest forced me to shove those thoughts to one side. As much as I wanted to imagine being normal, I missed my brother too much to think of him.
But it was too late. I had undone the tourniquet which had previously protected me from my lamenting thoughts seeping into my consciousness. It opened a whole box of questions I had previously tucked away with the intention of never asking them until I could actually ask him for the answers.
Why had he let them take me? Why hadn’t he visited me properly after they stuck me in the loony bin?
Why wasn’t he trying to find me now?
Because you’re worthless. You were a shitty brother and he always deserved better. He doesn’t want you back. He was happy when they finally took you off his hands.
No. You’re wrong. Mikey loved me; loves me still. He’s my brother and he needs me as much as I need him.
Are you sure about that? Then why hasn’t he come looking for you? It’s not like you’ve hidden yourself from the world. You stand there in plain sight every day in the middle of one of the busiest squares in New Jersey, right under his nose.
Well… He’s younger than me, he’s still a child. I can’t expect him to have some Jersey-wide search going on. But one day… Soon. He’ll come looking for me, I know he will.
You’re right, he is a child. What kind of child wants a big brother who he has to look after rather than just enjoying themselves? It’s your fault that he doesn’t want to find you. You’re crazy and you were pulling him down with you. It’s better for him that you’re gone. And you need to stay gone.
But… I miss him.
I gave a lengthy and deep sigh, allowing a single tear to cascade down my cheek before I gulped back the rest, not wanting to make a scene by sobbing in the middle of Mc-fucking-Donalds, of all places. Maybe he was right. Well, maybe I was right, seeing as the voice was in my head.
The realisation crashed down on me so quickly that I began to laugh hysterically, forgetting where I was. How could I have always been such an idiot? For years I’ve been conversing with a fucking voice in my head, and I ran away from a mental hospital because I thought I didn’t belong there?
A woman sat at a table with two small children looked up and glared at me, which just made me laugh harder. I’m fucking insane. Why was that so funny?
Because you’re fucking insane…
That’s what I said!
I know. I’m here too, remember? I was just answering your pointless question.
Of course. Ever the helpful one, aren’t you?
I left pretty quickly after that, before I freaked too many people out. Sunset was almost over by the time I stepped outside, and the sky faded from violet through darker shades of blue to almost pitch black the higher you looked. I yawned as I got myself ready to sleep, curling my body around my guitar case in an attempt to stop anyone stealing it in the night. As I drifted into the land of nod I allowed my mind to venture to thoughts about the boy I had scared away today. His face filled the space behind my closed lids, and I let out a content sigh. There was no way to explain the strange attachment I felt towards the boy, but in the mind set between consciousness and sleep it didn’t scare me. In fact, it seemed to make sense somehow, almost as though I’d known the boy my whole life and it was natural to feel this way about him.
But it also filled me with guilt and dejection because I would never see him again, and I was the one that made that happen. I mulled everything over as I tried to sleep, reliving the whole conversation, thinking about things I should have said and done instead of just shoving him away.
In the end I drifted into an uneasy sleep, a thought crossing my mind just as I slipped away which I wished I’d had more chance to think about:
Why hadn’t the voice in my head said a word since I started thinking about the boy?
I peeked through the living room window, half hopeful to see her sitting there, half knowing she wouldn’t be. I sighed as I saw the inevitable; my father sat alone on the couch surrounded by empty bottles. There was no way she’d have come back to live this way again, yet I knew I’d be visiting my house, my old home, pretty much every night just to check.
I made my way slowly back to the town centre, thoughts about the threat earlier in the day swimming around in my mind. I had to admit I was a little afraid of the man, but there was no way I was moving on. I needed to stay. I was finding it difficult to say goodbye. I couldn’t understand it at all. After everything that had happened to me, a sane person would have wanted to get as far away as possible. But me? Oh no, I wanted to stay close enough to keep check on the house I’d had to flee from in order to save my life.
I guess another thing was keeping me here as well, another factor which showed my insanity. The raven haired man. His face had been fleeting through my thoughts all day, beautifully haunted, yet still perfect somehow. When he had told me to leave his voice was angry and demanding, yet his eyes had told a different story. Embedded in his irises I could clearly see the fear which was consuming him, and it was that fact which fascinated me about him. He was terrified, and I immediately decided it wasn’t just fear of living on the streets. It was likely I was wrong, but it was as though something was terrorizing him from the inside, and the fear emanated from his very bones.
What I felt towards him was incomprehensible, but there was definitely something which drew me to the dark-haired man. I wanted to talk to him, to understand him; but that would be impossible. What would he do if he knew I hadn’t left, and wasn’t planning on leaving anytime soon? Somehow I knew he was someone I didn’t want to get on the wrong side of…
I was sure he had spotted me earlier when I slipped a note into his guitar case. I’d made so much during the few minutes I’d been playing, more than I would have imagined to make, and I’d eaten well today. I knew why he’d told me to leave. He needed the money, and wouldn’t earn a much with someone else around busking. His bones were scarily prominent under his clothes, his cheekbones and collarbones jutting out from his skin. He deserved the money, a decent meal.
It was already night by the time I’d made it back, and I trudged silently through back alleyways, trying to find somewhere ‘safe’ to stay for the night. I gasped when I saw the figure curled on the floor, long dishevelled hair covering his face. I stared in awe for a moment, before realising I looked like a complete creep, staring at a guy I’d met once whilst he slept.
I fished around in my bag quickly, pulling out another $10 note and stuffing it carefully into his guitar case for him to find the next morning, before moving away to the other side of the square to find my bed for the night.
I liked to think of myself as a selfless and charitable person, but I had to admit that me giving the guy money had more to do with how beautiful he was than my good-nature.
So, opinions? R&R please!