Gerard has left me alone yet again. I'm deemed too difficult to deal with right now. I wish that I could just be straight with him about what's happening to me and the shit he's caused. I don't know what stops me, he's my brother, he'll support me no matter what, right? Do I really need to hide this stuff from Gerard? Maybe he could help. Maybe he's changed. I won't know unless I try to talk to him. I don't want him to go back to drink and drugs again. He can't. We can't have both of us slipping off the edge. It can only ever be one of us that's fucked up at one time, the other brother needs to stay strong to pull the other up. Despite everything I do feel a sense of duty to Gerard, I shouldn't stress him out with my shit. I'm 25, I should deal with this on my own, yet I still feel like that scared 5 year old kid who used to climb into Gee's bed when the world felt big and scary. Gerard is still my big brother, he's still here protecting me from the monsters, only now the monsters are far more difficult to defeat and take on much more terrifying manifestations. I need him, like it or not it's a fact. I can't deal with this alone. It's hard. I can't take it. I need to speak to him. I need to apologise for being so selfish. Gee isn't just put on this Earth to accommodate me. He's his own person. He's my brother. I guess with our upbringing I've learned to rely on him too much, I never had anyone else growing up and neither did he. Our relationship was bound to get stale at some point right? We just need something to refresh our relationship and this could be it. My downfall could have a good outcome eventually. It could bring me and Gerard back together, make us reconnect, realise what's important. I should probably talk to Frank and Toro too, I mean I kinda owe them an explanation I guess but that opens a new can of worms. It should just be between me and Gerard, we're family, the guys aren't. I want them to be but I just don't connect with them, especially Frank. I've never connected with him. He's just too loud, hyper and dangerous. I just don't think he's a nice guy. I don't trust him at all. He's took Gee away from me. Gerard is my brother can't he see that?! It's not my fault I have a brother and he doesn't. I can't connect with Toro either. I feel like he's trying to make me feel stupid and small, I know I'm not as intelligent as him musically or otherwise. I trust Bob though, he's the only one that's offered help in this insanity. I guess I should go talk to Gee. Here goes!
Gee's sitting alone in the Live room cradling one of Ray's acoustic guitars. He looks withered, tired. I don't know how long he's been sitting up for but knowing Gerard it's probably been a while. He looks like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders, and right now he does. He always has. I can't lay this on him right now can I? I should go. Leave Gee to his thoughts. Maybe he needs someone to talk to. But is that someone me? He'll probably want Frank. If I don't ask I'm selfish but I ask I might not know what to do and he'll think I don't care.
“Gee...” I begin, waiting for him to acknowledge my presence.
He doesn't look up from where he's staring intently at the guitar on his lap. His hands are frozen in position as he focuses wholly on the instrument beneath his fingers.
“The 5 of us dying” He says simply, chewing his lip thoughtfully.
He begins to strum again. The notes are dischordant, a mutilation of Ray's efforts. The lyrics fall freely from his lips, the hopelessly out of tune melody colliding with the powerful harmony in his voice.
“We'll be okay Gerard”
I pat him on the back and smile genuinely, knowing my brother is struggling with this record too.
“I know we will Mikes”
He returns the smile, stands up, groaning as his body straightens up to put guitar back in it's stand.
“Why are you up so late anyway Mikes?”
“Couldn't sleep, I uh-um” I pause, looking at Gerard to gage his reaction. “I needed to speak to you”
“Well here I am little bro, go for it!”
He's smiling, willing to listen to hat I have to say.
It's now or never.
“I just can't handle it Gee. I'm not good enough. I'm disappointing everyone. It's best if I just leave. Let you have your dream. Let you live your life as you please. I'm sorry Gee. I can't hurt you anymore”
I sob. I don't know how much of that was comprehensible but I tried and probably failed.
His voice is so quiet and feeble, like he's afraid of breaking me if he speaks any louder. I look at him, silently begging for his help, his understanding, his approval.
“Mikey this dream wouldn't exist without you. And if you weren't a part of it, it would mean nothing to me. I should have taken better care of you Mikes. I should never have allowed any of that shit to happen to you and I'm sorry. Please don't blame yourself for my mistakes. I failed you Mikey and I'm sorry, I really am”
Gerard breaks down too. We hold onto each other, our bond becoming strong once more. I rest my head against his chest like I did when we were kids, enjoying the comforting embrace. It's Gerard who makes the first move to speak.
“I won't ever go back there again, I promise” He says surely.
For now I believe him, content in the knowledge that I have my big brother back if only for now.
Speaking to Gerard wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but I still held back a ton. If I tell him the truth it will destroy him. I can't send him on another self hate trip. I just can't. Maybe Gee is to blame for me being like this. Maybe not. Personally I don't care. I won't play the Blame Game. I just want Gerard, he's the only person that can save me. Yet I stop him. Maybe I don't want to be saved. Maybe I'm not worth saving. What makes me so special? I can hear my 5 year old self answering that question.
“Because you're Gerard's baby brother”
But now that fact doesn't really cut it. It doesn't mean anything anymore. Gerard has Frank, Ray and Bob now. He has friendship, options, alternatives, whatever you want to call it. The end result is the same. I'm blown into proportion. I'm just not good enough. Me and Gerard used to be so close. We shared everything. Toys, clothes, feelings, the highs and lows of each other's lives. Now we're both in our 20s we've outgrown each other. Me scarred, damaged and broken beyond repair. And Gerard a shadow of his introverted self, a martyr for misfits and outcasts worldwide. A hero. Where do I fit into this? I'm beginning to realise that I don't fit into the new Gerard's life. I don't fit into the band. I never have and never will, unless I wake up tomorrow more talented. It's ironic that I don't fit into a band aimed at kids that don't fit in anywhere. Would they still idolise Gerard if they knew the truth? How he drops people, trades them in for someone more interesting. Things are getting ever better for Gee, he's fought his alcoholism and his depression, but he wasn't alone. He thought he was but he was wrong. Absolutely everyone had his back, they carried him. I have no-one. The guys don't care. Gerard's blinkered, too wrapped up in his own thoughts and fantasies to comprehend the damage caused. Management don't even know my name, let alone care. Alicia, I don't even know. I haven't seen her in so long. I haven't even spoken to her since coming to this dreadful place. There's no phone signal anywhere around here. I can't even text her. I'm completely consumed by the band. There's no solution. There's no way to save me. I'm alone with my disease. The voices in my head scream constantly, battling for my attention. It wears me out. I don't know how long I can keep up this charade. I care about Gerard too much to let him suffer again. The past is the past and I have to learn to let go.
I stand in the bathroom, studying myself in the full-length mirror. I'm decaying. The skin is hanging from my bones. I'm disappearing into myself. I don't recognise myself anymore. My hair is falling out , surely that's not normal. None of me is normal. I'm a Way. We're cursed with depression. I miss my parents. It's weird. I've never missed them before. The difference is I never needed them before, and if I did they were only a phonecall away. I feel my Sidekick vibrate in my pocket, belting out some Misfits song. How has this happened? Am I imagining it? I retrieve it from my pocket and examine the screen. The caller ID reads “Mom”. I press the green call button and hold it to my ear, eager to hear my Mom's voice.
“Mikey!” She chokes out through tears. “It's your Dad! You have to get home, I don't know how long he has left”
She hangs up without another word.
What do I tell Gee? Maybe Mom's told him already. But he would've come to find me wouldn't he? I'm so confused. I don't know what to do. Is this real? Is it a cruel joke? I want someone to tell me everything will be okay, even if it isn't the truth. Sometimes it's better to believe a lie. The truth is hard to hear. I run my fingers through my hair trying to both soothe and compose myself. I fail. I pick up random objects, squeezing them with all my hurt then launching them around the room. I'm crying, screaming, yelling. The mirror has fallen to the floor, broken into a thousand tiny shards. Some of the glass has cut my foot but I don't care. It's numb. I've got used to the bleeding. It's beautiful. I search through the broken glass, my fingers getting gashed. I look with wonder at the different colours reflected in the lights, I squeeze it, feel the texture. The sharpness.
“Mikes? You in here?”
Fuck! That's Gerard. He can't see this. He can't see the chaos. He can't see what I've done.
“Yeah I'll be done in a second. I'm just ummmm having a shave.”
I don't know how I'm going to explain any of this to the guys.
“Well we're having a practise soon but don't rush”
“I'll be there in a second”
How do I explain the various cuts now gracing my palms and forearms? I might just have to tell the truth. But the truth will hurt.
I take my place on my stool, hoping no-one notices my injured hands. It hurts. It hurts a ton but I have to play. I brought this on myself.
“Mikey would it be indecent to ask you to focus?” Frank drawls, throwing a pick at my head.
I wait for Gerard to jump to my defence. I'm disappointed. He just laughs and high-fives our rhythm guitarist.
“We can't all be as chirpy as you Iero. Some of us have dying fathers” I reply, not looking up from my bass.
“What the...?! Mikes I think you and me need a little chat. Dad's fine. You know that.”
Gerard doesn't look worried. Not at all. Doesn't he care that our Dad is dying?
“What is wrong with you Gerard?!” I yell, shoving him in the chest.
“Dad's dying! Does that mean nothing to you!?”
I hit him with all the strength I can muster, trying to make him realise the severity of the situation.
“He's gonna die Gee” I sob, not caring about my bandmates' presence. “He's gonna die and we won't be there”
“You're losing the fucking plot Michael” Frank jibes. “We're all going to die. Get over it”
“Get out now Iero!” Gerard growls, glaring menacingly at the shorter man.
“It's obviously contagious!”
“Iero I've warned you once. I won't tell you again Motherfucker. Get the fuck out!”
I'm scared. Frank's so close to me. Gerard's yelling. I'm going to get hurt. I just want to disappear. I crawl towards Gerard in the hope that he'll protect me, instead I come face to face with Frank.
“Awww has ickle Moikay got fwightened?” Frank mocks, pulling my hair harshly. “Do you need your big bro to come save you?”
Bob and Toro step in.
“Frank enough. Let go of him” Toro says simply.
Bob kneels down to me offering his arms, I accept willingly.
“Help me” I sob, clinging to our blonde drummer.
“We will Buddy. Just let us in”
Bob smoothes a hand through my hair, beckoning Gerard with the other.
“Is what he's saying true Gee?” Bob whispers, trying to make sure I don't catch his words.
“No. I dunno. He's just confused.”
The guys surround me, all voicing their individual theories. I feel like a circus freak. Put on show for people to stare, poke and make fun of.
“SHUT THE FUCK UP ALL OF YOU!”
I storm out of the room without another word from any of my bandmates.