Gerard's home life with his beloved family.
“Honey, can you open the door?”
“’Kay!” came a response from another room. Gerard waited for the door to swing open. Instead, he heard the scraping of chair legs against the wooden floor nearing the door. Soon, the rattling of the chain came from behind the door. After the rattling stopped, Gerard heard more screeching of chair legs on the floor. Finally, just as he was about to put his hand on the doorknob, the old wooden door swung open. He looked down to find his daughter, Bandit, looking up at him in admiration.
“Daddy!” Gerard kneeled down to her height. They embraced each other and buried their face into each other’s hair. Bandit smelled of soft soap and warm cookies. She smelt like a young child. Thank god. Gerard was always afraid that she would suddenly grow up when he was away at work for so long. He had not seen his beloved daughter in two days. He always left for work earlier than she woke up and came home later than when she fell asleep. He savored every weekend, always playing with her whenever he could. He loved her so much. She made his job almost bearable. Gerard kissed her forehead and asked,
“What adventures did you have today?”
“I opened the door for you! I had to go on a chair, but I did it! Mommy and me also made cookies! I wanted to go to the park, but Mommy said no…” Bandit said, her voice conveyed a little disappointment at the end. Gerard’s heart fell to his feet, but he said enthusiastically,
“Did you save some for me?” Bandit replied by running to their small kitchen. Gerard didn’t want to live in New Jersey. He wanted to raise a child somewhere safe, where they didn’t have to worry whether it was safe or not to go to a playground. Bandit came running back with a demented chocolate chip in hand. Gerard thanked Bandit and took the cookie. It tasted surprisingly good. After he swallowed he asked,
“Do you want to see what I made for you?” Bandit nodded eagerly. Gerard pulled out a piece of paper with a dancing skeleton drawn on it from his messenger bag. Bandit’s eyes grew wide with joy and carefully took the paper from Gerard’s hands, careful not to crumple it. Bandit took after Gerard. She loved everything Gerard did. Instead of playing with Barbies and dolls, she owned superhero and villain figurines and was always flipping through Gerard’s comic books when her mother wasn’t looking. Bandit always looked forward to the drawings Gerard drew for her during his break or whenever he could get away with it. Gerard stood up and walked to the kitchen where Lindsey was making dinner. Gerard greeted her,
“Hi, Honey,” and kissed her on the cheek. She hugged him back. As Gerard took off his jacket, he asked,
“Murder?” Referring to the reason why Bandit could not go outside.
“No…Rape,” Lindsey replied.
“Rape?!” Gerard said, shocked.
“Yes… it was Katie.” Gerard gasped. Katie was their 17 year old neighbor who frequently babysat Bandit. Gerard put his head in his hands. He couldn’t raise a child here. But at the same time, he couldn’t afford to move to a safer location. He hated this. He wanted, so badly, for Bandit to grow up in a good environment. He didn’t want her to grow up and be like him. He felt Bandit pull his right pant leg. She communicated a little concern for her stressed father through her big browns eyes, but she was mostly just eager to ask him,
“Can you hang this up?” holding up Gerard’s dancing skeleton picture.
“Sure, Sweetie,” Gerard replied. He took the picture and went into Bandit’s room, his daughter following close behind. He took the piece of tape he had taken from the kitchen and stuck it on the picture to the wall among all of the other pictures. Bandit sat down on the floor and stared at the wall of pictures contently.
“Dinner’s gonna be ready soon, m’kay?” Bandit nodded and stared back at the wall. Gerard started to close the door but left it open just a crack. He peered in and saw that Bandit was getting up to unearth something from under her bed. He laughed to himself when he saw that she had pulled out a Batman comic book. She carefully opened the book and studied the pictures. She cautiously flipped the pages, making sure they didn’t rip, imitating the way Gerard read his comic books.
After watching Bandit for a while, he returned to the kitchen and started to take the dished and utensils out in preparation for dinner.
“Thanks, Hun,” Lindsey said, taking the meatloaf out of the old oven. Gerard watched his wife gracefully moved around the limited area of the kitchen. Her now-dyed black hair rested down her elegant back, shiny and sleek. She wore no make-up today; Gerard thought she was most beautiful like this. His felt a surge of love and wonder: how could this beautiful woman love him? He didn’t deserve her. He couldn’t even support her. He felt a strong sensation of culpability, wishing he could be better. Lindsey saw her husband staring at him with distant, sorrowful eyes. She walked over and wrapped her arms around her husband.
“I love you, Gee,” she said, and kissed his cheek.
“… I don’t deserve you, Lindsey,” Gerard whispered.
“Gerard. I love you so much. We deserve each other equally. We are meant for each other. I love you and Bandit more than anything in the world. I know your job isn’t what you wanted, but believe me, we appreciate everything you do,” Lindsey squeezed Gerard and kissed Gerard. She took dinner and brought it to the dining room.
“I love you too, Lindz,” Gerard said. Lindsey turned around and smiled with her flawless, white teeth. Gerard went to get their daughter, who quickly tried to hide the comic book when Gerard walked into her room. He chuckled softly and both of them walked to the dining room, hand in hand.