Move over, Lara Croft.
The next few seconds are the longest I’ve ever had to wait in my life. The mechanical beep of the cell phone contrasts violently with the slamming of my heart against my ribs and I hold my breath because it’s less painful than breathing. Time passes and still no answer. Come on, come on, come oooooon.
“Frank? Frank is that you?”
“JESUS CHRIST ON A STICK,” is my response. “Gerard, Gerard, oh my God, Gerard.”
“Yes, it’s Gerard,” says Gerard. “Where the hell are you? Everybody is really, really worried. I wanted to tell you I’m sorry I was such a dick to you back then, I dunno I was really angry and I didn’t know why and with all the stuff that’s been happening recently I think I’m going crazy, I do. But I decided I don’t get care Frank, I don’t care anymore. God, this sucks! I need to speak to you in person. Where are you?”
“Ah,” I begin slowly. “That’s a...that’s a bit of a tricky one. Now I don’t want you to freak out...but through a series of misconstrued and very unfortunate circumstances I seem to have found myself kidnapped by the mafia.”
Silence on the other end of the line. I wait patiently, checking up every now and then to look anxiously at the door. Finally he speaks. “Frank,” he says carefully. “If this is a joke-”
“-I’ve never been more serious about anything in my life. They’re at war with the emos and they’re looking for something, some kind of weapon, and they think I’ll know what it is-”
“-Hold up. The mafia are at war with the emos?”
“-Yeah dude. It appears that at some point in our lives we crossed the line of reality and stepped into the land of shit storm,” I reply. “Gerard, dude, you gotta help me out. I’m gonna DIE. I’m actually going to DIE.”
“Shut up, you’re not going to die,” says Gerard but I can hear the panic rising in his voice tinged with something else...distrust. I pick up on it instantly.
“You believe me, right?” I ask, hearing the plea in my voice. “Gerard, say you believe me.”
“I do believe you...” Gerard replies but it’s so heavy with doubt. “But...Frank...this is just so...unlikely.”
“I know, I know,” I sigh. “But what else is unlikely is first they started smashing a sawdust dummy to pieces and now they’ve started smashing me.”
“Ok ok ok. Look around you. Can you see anything that hints to your location?”
I glance swiftly around the warehouse, spying a small square window to my right. Squinting real hard I can just make out a faded orange and red sign. “I’m opposite a sign for Bucky Kentucky’s fried chicken,” I say into the receiver. “On some kind of dirt road. All I see is desert.”
“Road names? Sign posts? Landmarks?”
“Alright, fine, fried chicken. Hold on, I’m going to go get an adult.”
“Wait...no...don’t leave me!” I wail but it’s too late, he’s gone. My head falls onto my chest in dejection. What if he doesn’t come back? What if I’m left swinging from this beam forever? What if the orange and yellow Bucky Kentucky sign is actually a red and green Burger Barn and I’m just colour blind?
Three minutes pass and I am strongly starting to consider chewing off my tongue when Gerard’s hurried voice comes crackling back through the receiver. “I’m back,” he says.
“Did you get an adult? What about my mom, have they told her? When is SWAT coming? Hey, do they even have SWAT in Italy? Who knows, not me.”
“Well...here’s the thing Frank,” Gerard begins and as soon as I hear the words my heart sinks. “When I told Mr James that Frank Iero had been kidnapped by the mafia for torture in order to find out a secret weapon hidden by an emo-vampire cult from our school he kind of...gave me a detention.”
“WHAT?!” I cry.
“I know, right?” says Gerard passionately. “How unfair? Bosh says stupid shit all the time and he gets away with everything just because they’re in the same missionary circle-”
“Gerard-do-you-honestly-think-I-give-a-flying-fuck-about-your-detention?!!” I snap in one breath, conscious of the movement of feet behind the warehouse door. “Omigod, omigod. I have to go. They’re coming. Oh fuck, they’re coming.”
“Shitshitshit ugh...don’t worry. I’ll get help,” but he still sound unsure, so unsure that it does absolutely fuck all for my confidence. “Everything is going to be fine. I’ll get help. I’ll get...I’ll get Cam! She’ll know what to do. Just sit tight, okay?
“Well it’s not like I’m GOING anywhere!” I cry, feeling the first beginnings of a new wave of tears prick my eyeballs.
But before I have time to hear the reply the door opens and I click off the cell-phone, stuffing it hastily back into my pocket with my one good hand. Antolini strides into the room with a deathly glare in his beetle black eyes, eyes that move instantly from my pocket to my face. I swallow. Hard.
“What a fabulous turn of events,” Antolini snarls. “The American boy is using his first degree technology to ruin our evil plans. How original.”
I brace myself for the blow but it doesn’t come. Instead, Antolini fixes me with an almost pitying gaze and shakes his head sadly. “Children,” he says with a small sigh. “They never can tell when an adult is being serious.”
He gestures at one of the guys behind him who throws a banana at me.
“Bet that hurt, didn’t it?” says Antolini with relish. “And there will be more where that came from tomorrow. For now I find that some urgent business is pulling me a way.”
“But boss,” interjects hench dude. “We have zumba fitness right now, did you forget?”
Antolini gives a hollow laugh. “Don’t be ridiculous, Sergei. As if a man like me would engage in such trivial excersise.”
“But boss. It’s our favourite time of the week. Zursday is Zumba day and then ve go for milkshakes afterwards-”
“-Sergei! Shut your fucking mouth you crazy white trash bastard! American Boy, await our return!”
And with that they stride once again from the room, leaving me alone with my hopes of rescue.
And it is swinging there, left with a sense of ever-building desolation, abandonment sitting on my shoulder like the devil himself that I start to cry again. I am alone. Gerard is not coming back. I am completely and utterly alone and what’s more there is nothing I can do about it. I am useless, just as I’ve always been, a pathetic waste of space no one will even miss. And now there’s nothing left for me to do but-
Use the Force, Frank.
“Grandpa Morton...is that you?”
Use the Force.
“I can’t, grandpa. The Force only exists in movies and San Diego.”
Not so, my boy, not so. The Force is everywhere, it is in everything. It is all around us, guiding us along the path of truth and righteousness.
“I really, really think it’s only in Star Wars.”
Now son, that doesn’t make much sense, does it? If the Force was only in Star Wars then why would you be hearing a disembodied voice of your long dead favourite relative, ey?
“That is a point.”
You are not alone. There is something you can do, something you have always been able to do. Feel the power, Frank.
Frank? I’m getting pretty bad reception up here. You still there?
“Yeah, I’m still here.”
You have a strength Frank. A strength that has dwelled inside of you all these years. I have watched it grow and been proud...so proud, my boy. You make an old man very happy.
“Aw shucks, grandpa. You know I wouldn’t be here today without you. And not just technically speaking, either. You were always one of the only people on this earth that I could think of as truly good. Not one bit of bad in you. You’re my hero, gramps.”
Aw now my boy, you don’t want me to cry now, do you? It’s an awful task crying when you’re dead.
“Nah, that’s okay.”
Swell. Well m’boy, I have to go. But hear my words Frank, and don’t you forget them. For every man there is a purpose for which he makes for himself in his life. Let yours be the doing of all great deeds. For the Force lives in us all, no matter what our creed, colour, religion, or political beliefs. We all have the potential for greatness and times will come when that potential must be put into practice. And when it does...I know you’ll know what to do.
Sniff. “Do you have to go? Cantcha stick around a little?”
I have lingered too long here already. But you will never be alone, for as long as there is truth, justice, Great People and the Sci-Fi channel I will be with you. So be strong. Be resilient. Be young, be fucking brilliant. Say hi to your mother for me...and by the way...the drop really isn’t that far.
I look down and cringe. Maybe it isn’t that far but there’s no guarantee that I won’t severely injure myself in the falling process. Then again the alternative is to wait to be beaten to death with a baseball bat/banana so I guess I don’t really have a choice. Then suddenly an idea comes to me.
I swallow as much air as I can into my lungs and shout until my throat is sore, hoping against hope at least someone will hear it. I scream, I call, I even start singing at one point until eventually one of Antolini’s henchmen make an appearance.
“Fascina!” he snarls. “What ze hell do you think you are doing?”
“I need to pee,” I reply.
“What?” he spits. “Now? Seriously?”
“Yes, nooooooow,” say I, crossing my legs as a mark of desperation.
The henchman rolls his eyes. “You can hold it.”
“No I can’t! Let me down you crazy bastard or I will pee all over this warehouse. It will be like Noah’s flood.”
“-Uhuh. Angry Italian will not lift the pee stains from this fine floor. Let me down and take me to a restroom or I swear I will direct my wiener into your face.”
Maybe it’s the unintended homosexual connotations linked to my last statement, maybe it’s the fact that it takes ages to get the smell of pee out a warehouse but the guy sighs, nods and takes a knife from his pocket before working to cut the rope. I try hard not to look too gleeful as my bonds are broken and I fall to the floor only to bounce up again quickly with no more than a slight twinge in my ankle. Guess the drop really wasn’t that far.
“Two minutes,” says the guard. “I vill come with you.”
“Pervert,” I mutter but he will not be persuaded. Apparently if he lets me go Antolini kills his dog or something, like I really care.
I am blind folded, grabbed roughly by the arm and led down some kind of corridor until I can feel the breeze of the outdoors. I relish it for a moment; the warm air feels so nice on my sweaty skin and I can smell corn somewhere in the distance. But before I have a chance to experience my moment of freedom properly my hand is pressed to door handle.
“Go in,” the guard tells me. “I vill be outside. Don’t even think about taking the blindfold off.”
Which of course is an absolutely ridiculous thing to say. The blindfold is on the floor as soon as the door is closed and I am desperately looking for some means of escape. A window perhaps, or a vent. But there is nothing except for a little lead piping.
Hmm. Lead piping.
I bend down to expect it further. Hey, one of these could really do some damage! I imagine calling the guard in and smacking him round the head; once, twice, three times, out cold. I could do that. I could definitely do that. But how to get it out the wall? They’re pretty tightly wedged in. Maybe I could use soap to make it slidey...
“Hey!” comes a muffled voice from behind the door. “What are you doing? You better not be trying to escape!”
“What do you THINK I’m doing, you paedophile!” I screech back. “God, you got some kind of pee fetish or something? Let me urinate!”
“No one pees for FIVE MINUTES!”
“I had a liquid-y lunch!”
“You had no lunch!”
“How do you know?”
“Because I would have given it to you!”
Okaaay, think fast, looks like he’s on to me. I squeeze a handful of soap into my palms and lather it over the edge of the pipe, immaturely conscious of what it looks like hehehehe and tug hard. It budges but with an almighty creaking of sewer systems. Oops.
“What in the hell was that?” screams the guard.
“I...” think fast think fast “...flushed my leg by accident.”
“Bastardo! You are trying to escape!”
Oh no oh no oh no. Quick, think of something witty and cutting to throw him off track. “No I’m not!”
“You little shit! You betrayed by trust and now I’m probably going to lose my job! I’m going to pummel you to a bleeding pulp, you stinking putane!”
“Your mom’s a stinking putane!” I cackle as with one final pull the pipe comes free. I hold it above my head in triumph. “Come at me!”
BANG. A huge crater appears in the door and the whole toilet quakes as the mafia henchman throws his enormous weight into the tiny entrance. Sweat beads start to form on my brow as I remember the bat-in-ribs incident. I really don’t want to go through that pain again but at the moment my mind is too clouded with the prospect of death to see a brighter future. BANG, the door flies off its hinges and I feel an urge to fly into the corner of the toilet. But resolution sticks me to the spot, the weight of the pipe reassuring in my hands as the seven foot tonne of sheer muscle rips through the door, ham like fists curled and biceps tensed, eyes burning with furious rage.
“I’m going to stick you so hard,” he growls and it’s then that I notice the knife. “You’ll wish you never got kidnapped!”
Oh yeah, because I was so thrilled at the start but then it got a little bit tame as time suspended from a beam went on. I make to swing my weapon into his face but he catches me off guard, knocking my arm back so the lead pipe goes flying. The knife catches the glow of the Italian afternoon sun. I let my shoulders drop as the evil smile advances slowly towards me.
But then he stops, the evil smile no more than a frozen etch as the eyes blank and the seven foot tone of sheer muscle collapses into the ground. Perplexed, I peer round what’s left of the toilet door to see Gerard Way, holding a chair like a battering ram, his face set alight with triumph.
“Not if I stick you first,” he says.
As if she just included quotes from Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Grace Petrie AND the Qur’an in one single chapter.
BE STRONG. BE RESILIENT. BE YOUNG, BE FUCKING BRILLIANT.
So I’m totally going to have that song in my head for the whole day.
Two chapters left!! Stay tuned, folks!