Gerard recalls his last conversation with Mikey
“Let’s sit down and you can tell me what you remember.”
He released her from his arms then stood back. Immediately she took his hand to lead him to the sofa. Once they were seated she flipped on the table lamp to lessen the growing shadows. “What did you hear?”
He was still shaken by it all. “I remember being in total darkness when I heard Mikey’s voice.” He paused to wipe his eyes. “Shit, he kept saying how sorry he was. How he had a terrible feeling something was going to happen to me that night. I don’t get it. Why can I only sometimes hear him?”
Ayasha shook her head, “I don’t know. But I’m sure he was sitting at your bedside talking to you. I have heard they often tell the family’s of coma patients to talk to them. Were there any other sounds or voices?”
He closed his eyes trying to remember. “I don’t know.”
“Gerard this could be a good sign. Maybe if this keeps happening Mikey’s voice will pull you out of the coma.”
He wanted desperately to believe her. Opening his eyes he asked. “You think that’s possible?”
She nodded wanting to give him hope.
“Fuck.” He whispered. “I don’t want him blaming himself. It ain’t his fault. It was a fuckin’ accident.”
She looked deeply into his eyes. “Was it really?”
Immediately he became defensive. “I already told you it was. I sure as hell didn’t try to end my life. I wouldn’t ever do that.”
Ayasha continued to stare at him.
This only fueled his anger. “How many times have I said suicide is never the answer? If you really knew anything about the group you should know that.”
“I do know that’s something you’ve said in the past.” She said softly.
“And you think I was just lying?”
“I didn’t say that.”
Suddenly he had a sinking feeling wash over him. “Are other people saying that?”
Ayasha glanced away. “People who care about you are upset and confused.”
“People think I tried to commit suicide?”
At one point during the day she’d found a few minutes to pull up several sites. “Like I said people are upset.” She whispered.
“Oh, fuck.” He shook his head, “I don’t want people to think that. I don’t want the kids thinking I tried to take the easy way out.”
“Why?” She wanted to hear his answer believing it was important.
He glared at her. “For years it was important to our band to give kids hope, send a positive message.”
“And you did.”
He nodded, “Yeah, we tried. It meant something.”
“You’ve touched a lot of lives.” Ayasha said slowly. “Your words and music have deeply meant something to a lot of people.” She paused, “When the band first started that fact was clear.”
His eyes narrowed, “And you think that changed?”
“Did it?” She again was staring into his eyes.
Gerard was angry, he didn’t want to answer her question. “I want to see what you’ve been reading today.”
Ayasha sighed, “Okay, but first I really would like to take a shower. Then I’ll pull up the sites for you.”
Gazing closely at her he realized she looked tired. “Yeah, okay. You should eat your dinner first too.”
She smiled slightly, “Not really hungry but I do need a shower. I’ll be quick.” With that she stood and headed down the hallway.
Gerard watched her go with a sigh. He knew deep in his heart she was trying to help him and Lord knew he needed that help.
When Ayasha stepped out of the bathroom in her sweats she was shocked to smell the aroma of something being fried. She reached the kitchen just as Gerard was flipping a hamburger in the skillet. He glanced over at her. “Hope it’s okay but I wanted to make you something to eat for dinner that wasn’t warmed in a microwave.”
“Oh” Seeing him standing in her kitchen making her dinner had left her almost speechless. She knew when she’d left to take a shower he’d been very upset but now he seemed calmer.
“I saw the hamburger but I’ll have to put it on bread unless you have buns?”
She didn’t have the heart to tell him she’d planned on making meatballs out of the pound of hamburger. “No, I usually use bread instead of buns.”
He nodded, “Fuck, never thought something a simple as frying a hamburger could make me feel real. But I still don’t get it. Why can I do shit like this but not use the fuckin’ computer?”
A thought occurred to her. “Maybe because you’re doing something for someone else.”
He gave her a shocked look. “You mean because I’m doing something for you?”
She shrugged, “I don’t know but like this morning when you used the coffee maker you were doing that for me.”
He glanced at the burger in the pan while giving her words some thought. “That would mean I’m being punished somehow for being a bastard.”
She moved closer to him. “No, that’s not what I meant nor do I think that. I just think that maybe doing a kind action for someone else is different.”
He glanced over at her. She’d braided her long wet hair and her face was devoid of makeup. She looked younger and almost innocent. “Well not sure if making you a burger qualifies as some great charitable thing.”
She smiled, “I think it’s quite nice.”
For a moment their eyes locked then she quickly turned to the fridge to pull out the bottle of mustard.
Ayasha laughed, “Don’t like them on my burger.”
He used the spatula to lift the burger out of the pan. He’d already set out two pieces of bread. “There you go.” He said handing her the plate.
“Thank you.” She moved towards the table.
Gerard removed the pan then shut off the burner before joining her.
“Are you sure you don’t want to try to eat something?” She asked.
He sighed, “Not hungry. I didn’t tell you but this morning when I made your coffee I tried to drink some.”
“I couldn’t taste it. When I was frying the hamburger I couldn’t smell anything either.”
“Oh.” She took a bite. “That’s too bad because it smells and tastes delicious.”
“Just salt and pepper.” He said as he pulled a napkin from the holder on the table then handed it to her. “I looked for onion salt but couldn’t find any.”
He nodded, “Yep, grandma always seasoned burgers with onion salt.” Suddenly his face took on a look of pure sadness. “I still miss her so much but it hurts thinking how disappointed she’d be with me.”
“I’m sure she loved you very much so I don’t think she’d be disappointed I’d think she’d be sad.”
He sat back in the chair. “No, you didn’t know grandma. She’d be pissed if anything. She’d give me a swift kick in the ass for the shit I’ve done.”
“That would be because she loved you too.”
He sighed, “Yeah, true.”
For several minutes the both sat lost in thought. Ayasha finished her burger then took her plate to the sink. “I can pull up those sites for you now.”
She was surprised when he shook his head, “Not now. I really don’t think I can stand to read them. I don’t want to see how many people I’ve let down.”
“But you said it was an accident.”
“Don’t really make it much better. I was drinking and doing drugs. Fuck, I admitted I was drinking again so they knew.” Angrily he added “Shit maybe some good will come of this after all. I’m a prime example of what doing that shit can cause.”
Ayasha sat back down. “The best thing that could happen is you wake up from the coma and tell people yourself.”
He snorted. “Hey, I’ve been down that path before. Who’d believe anything I’d say?”
“Yes, you had been down the path before with the alcohol and drugs but you recovered.”
“Yeah and when things in my life got too much I went right back to it.” He said his voice full of anger.
“And you would have the chance to show people again that you could pull yourself out of the addiction. It’s important that they understand the temptation is always there but if you fall you can get back up.”
He studied her face. “You ever go through any of this shit?”
He nodded wondering if she’d tell him the truth.
Ayasha exhaled sharply. She hated to talk about her past but for some reason wanted to be honest. “There was a time in my life where I had no direction. I smoked and drank way too much. If I hadn’t made a change it would have become a serious problem.”
“How old were you?”
The conversation was starting to unnerve her. “I started drinking when I was twelve. I ran with an older group of kids who were always in trouble.”
“On the reservation?”
“I told you that was where I lived until I left when I was fifteen.”
He knew by her tone his questions were upsetting her so he changed the subject completely taking her by surprise. “Tell me about your day.”
He nodded, “Yeah, I just feel like if you tell me about your day it will make me feel better. You know like I didn’t lose another whole day of my life to the nothingness.”
“Oh.” Her heart went out to him. She started to speak then stopped abruptly.
Ayasha looked towards the windows. “It’s such a beautiful night.” The temperature was considerably cooler and the mountain air so fresh.
“Hey, I understand if you want to go outside.” He started to say more but she held up her hand to stop him.
“I don’t want to leave you in here alone.”
“Well unless something has changed I can’t go outside.” He frowned.
Opening up to people, sharing part of her life was something she didn’t do but for him she’d try. “I have an idea if you’re game.”
“If I’m game?”
She nodded with a smile, “Yes.”
“Okay, I’m game.” He loved her smile.
“Follow me.” She said as she stood up quickly.
Gerard followed her down the hallway where he saw she’d opened a closet door that was between her bed room and the bath. “We’re going in the closet?”
Ayasha laughed, “Matter of fact we are.” She reached up and switched on the single light, a hanging bulb. Then she jumped up and grabbed a rope that was hanging down deeper in the closet. Gerard was surprised when folding stairs slid down.
“The previous owner had started work on making the attic into an upstairs space. I’m guessing they would have installed a staircase but never got around to it.” She turned to face him. “The house is so small I guess they wanted more room.”
“I think the house is nice.”
She laughed again. “Yeah, right. I know it’s not much but it’s mine.”
“First house you’ve ever owned?” He guessed.
“Well the bank and I own it, but yes.” Suddenly her smile slipped. “Kyle thinks it’s a shit hole.”
“And why would you give a shit what that asshole thinks?”
She thought a moment then smiled again. “True, why would I?” She turned and started up the steps. “There’s no electricity so when you get to the top wait for a minute, okay?”
He didn’t answer until he reached to top of the steps. He knew she’d moved further ahead. “How can you see?”
“I don’t need to see where I’m going. It’s just a big empty space.”
He strained his eyes trying to see her shape. A moment later he heard a sound he assumed as a lock being disengaged and then suddenly moonlight filled the space. As he walked forward he could see her standing in front of the opening.
“Wow.” He said moving slowly to where she stood. “Uh, you have doors that lead to nowhere?”
Ayasha laughed, “Pretty weird, right? Yes, French doors that lead to nothing but sky.”
Carefully he took another step, “Uh, that’s kinda dangerous.” He said glancing down at the drop.
“I’m sure the plan was to make a balcony. I kinda get the idea they were going to make this area a Master Bedroom.”
Now that his eyes were adjusting to the shadows he turned to look back at the attic. “It is a big space.”
“I’m glad they finished the floor.” She said as she sat down near the edge of the large opening.
Slowly Gerard sat down beside her.
“See, it’s almost like being outside.” She said softly. “You can see the moon and the mountains.”
“You come up here a lot, don’t you?”
Ayasha sighed, “I love it up here at night but believe me during the day in the summer it’s way too hot.”
“Have you considered finishing the space?”
“Can’t really. For one thing no air, heat or electricity and I can’t afford to fix those problems.”
He leaned back on his arms still looking out. “Yeah and you’d need to have a balcony built.”
She grinned, “You outta see how weird the doors look from the outside of the house.”
“Wish I could.” He whispered but as he turned he saw the frown on her face. He knew she was trying to make him feel better about his situation. “But this is really nice. Thank you for sharing your private space with me.”
“I’m sorry you can’t go out too.” She said sadly. “If you could we’d build a camp fire.”
“A camp fire?”
She nodded, “I know you can’t feel it but at night it gets really chilly. I have a fire pit in my back yard and I enjoy making a fire. It reminds me…”
“What does it remind you of?” He asked gently.
“My grandmother.” She whispered but suddenly she shook her head. “Anyway..” She searched for something to say.
He wished with all his heart she’d share her memories but he didn’t want to push her. “Are you cold now?”
“No, I’m fine.”
Gerard struggled to find a safe topic. “Hey, you’re supposed to tell me about your day?” He reminded her.
Ayasha too leaned back on her arms. “Oh, right. I have to warn you it wasn’t very exciting.”
If only there was a way to make her understand that just listening to her voice, being near her made him feel less alone. “I really want to hear about it.”
For the next few hours they simply chatted about her day, the weather, the house, all the while avoiding serious subjects.
When Gerard saw her begin to shiver he knew it was time to go back downstairs. “Okay, you’re cold. Don’t even bother trying to deny it.”
She smiled, “Okay, I’m cold but this has been nice.”
He nodded, “Very nice, thank you. While I don’t understand any of this shit, I’m glad if I have to be trapped between the worlds I’m here. But damn, I’m glad you knew who I am.”
She giggled, the first time he’d ever heard her utter the sound and he liked it. “I suppose it was good. I have to admit I’d have been pretty freaked out by a trapped complete stranger.”
He sighed, “But you really didn’t know me.”
She looked at his face in the moonlight. “You really are bothered by that, aren’t you?”
“Believing that the people who only know you through your music don’t really know you.”
“Well they don’t.”
She tilted her head still studying his handsome face. “That’s not exactly true. Admit it or not, you’ve let people into your life, complete strangers. And in doing so, they feel they know you.”
His voice was rough, “It was all a fuckin’ act.”
She knew she’d struck a nerve. “If you say so.” She said then stood.
He jumped to his feet. “What do you mean, if I say so? I’m telling you it was all an act. I ain’t a nice guy. I’m just some mother fucker who sings.”
She closed the doors plunging them into darkness except for the small light coming from the bottom of the steps. As soon as she latched the doors she brushed past him.
Gerard quickly caught up to her. “You know that’s pretty fuckin’ annoying.”
She ignored him as she carefully climbed down.
He climbed down quickly then spoke again refusing to let go of his anger. “I said that’s pretty fuckin’ annoying.”
She shoved the steps causing them to retract then turned to leave the closet.
“Ayasha.” He ground out hating how she was ignoring him.
“Gerard, I agreed with you.”
He left the closet after pulling on the chain to shut off the bulb. “No, that’ s not what you did.”
She walked into the living room suddenly feeling sad. They’d spent several hours enjoying each others company but now he was angry. “Yes, I said, if you say so. That’s agreeing with you.”
“Your tone sounded like someone speaking to a petulant child.”
She sighed, “If you say so.”
“God damn it.” He roared, “Stop it.”
She folded her arms. “I will if you will.”
“What the fuck did I do?”
“What you are doing is trying to make me believe what you want to believe about yourself. I’m sorry I don’t think you are a heartless bastard. I can hear the love in your voice when you speak about your brother. I hear the same when you talk about your grandmother. A heartless bastard wouldn’t love this family the way you do.”
He clung to his anger, it made him feel more alive. “Just because I love my family doesn’t mean I give a shit about anyone else. For that matter you only think you hear love in my voice. You have no idea how I’ve hurt my brother. The day it happened….” As the memories filled his mind he grew silent. Anger now replaced with guilt and shame.
Ayasha was suddenly too tired to deal with this. “I’m going to bed.”
He was so lost he wanted to beg her not to. But at the same time feeling that way caused him to once more give into anger. “Do whatever the fuck you want. Leave if you want, you can it’s just me who’s trapped.”
She stared at him a moment then turned. When he heard her bedroom door slam he had to keep himself from calling out to her.
“Shit.” He walked over then fell onto the sofa. Why was he pushing her away? He closed his eyes wishing for the sweet release of sleep but it wouldn’t come. The only thing that did was memories and those tore at his heart. How could he have spoken such words to his brother?
Late Wednesday afternoon
“Hey Gee, wait up.” Mikey ran down the hallway of the studio to catch up with his brother who’d stormed out of the booth several moments earlier.
“Forget it Mikey.” Gerard continued walking.
“Gee, stop.” Mikey grabbed his brother’s arm but Gerard roughly shook it off.
“Leave me the fuck alone. I’m done. You guy don’t like the song, rewrite it. I don’t give a shit. Do whatever you want.”
“No one said we didn’t like it.” Mikey tried to explain. “Just that we think we should work on it a little more.”
Gerard pulled out a cigarette, as soon as he was through the door he lit it. Mikey was on his heels.
“You just don’t get it.” Gerard said before taking a deep drag. “I don’t care anymore. We have an obligation to put something out so we will. Who gives a shit what it sounds like?”
Mikey looked crushed, “Gee, we all care.”
“Speak for yourself.” He started to walk away but again Mikey grabbed his arm.
“Gee, what’s wrong?”
For a moment Gerard wanted to tell him. He wanted to spill out all his fears but that moment quickly passed. “Ain’t nothing wrong. Now I’m heading out to have some fun.”
“Come home with me.” Mikey pleaded. “Alicia’s got dinner ready.”
The fact that his brother had someone waiting at home for him only made Gerard angrier. “No thanks. Run along home to your wife I’ve got shit to do.”
“You’re going to the bar?” Mikey asked holding his breath waiting for the answer he knew was coming.
“Sure as fuck am.” Gerard nodded, “Gonna drink then get laid. Yep, that’s my plan.”
“Don’t.” Mikey whispered. “You know what happened last time you went there.”
Gerard gave a short humorous less laugh, “Yeah of course I do. What? You don’t think the publicity was good? Got my name all over the place.”
Mikey’s face fell. “That’s not how you want people to see you.”
Gerard’s eyes narrowed, “Don’t care. It just don’t matter anymore. The dream is over, the ride has come to a complete stop. You my brother, just don’t realize it yet but you will. Now leave me the fuck alone. You ain’t my keeper.”
“Gee, I love you.” Mikey whispered hopelessly.
“That’s your fuckin’ problem.” Gerard ground out. He would never forget the look on his brother’s face.
Ayasha’s eyes flew open and she instinctively knew something was wrong. Quickly she slid from her bed then went into the living room. Gerard was stretched out on the sofa, his eyes closed. However when she grew near he could sense her presence. He opened his eyes to see her kneeling by the sofa. He was shocked when she used her fingertip to wipe away the tears on his cheeks.
“I’m crying?” He whispered not feeling the tears.
She nodded then stood. Looking down at him a minute she wrestled with her decision. Finally she did something she rarely did, she followed her heart. “Come.” She said softly taking his hand. When he stood she led him to her bedroom.
Gerard was still feeling deep sorrow over the memory he’d just recalled. He gave her a confused look.
She crawled into bed then slid over. “Lay with me.” Her voice was gentle but her mind in turmoil; she’d never invited a man into her bed. This house, every room of it, was her private space. Sharing this space was hard.
He craved her nearness, he needed it. When he was in bed she slowly moved closer to lay her head on his chest.
“I know you don’t sleep but…” She was secretly relieved knowing he couldn’t feel the tension in her body. She knew he needed to see she was close but being this intimate with him brought up so many emotions.
“Being near you makes me feel stronger.” He whispered.
She closed her eyes, she’d been right, he needed this. However a moment later her eyes opened and without thought she did something else she rarely did, she allowed herself to speak honestly, “I’ve never had a man in this bed.” As soon as the words left her lips she regretted them.
Gerard was shocked but before he could even begin to process her words she spoke.
“Forget I said that. Goodnight.”
He touched her arm that was lying lightly over his chest. “Ayasha, please don’t do that. Don’t allow yourself to tell me something I know is important than dismiss it.”
“It’s not important. There was no reason to tell you that.” Her voice was hollow.
He knew in his heart it was important and he believed he knew why. “Maybe you didn’t need to tell me but I’m glad you did. I’m touched you trust me enough to lower some of your defenses.”
“Trust.” She whispered, “No, I don’t trust. I can’t.”
“And yet here I am. Why?”
“I don’t know.” She sighed.
He stroked her arm. “I think you do. You knew I needed to be near you and you put my needs first.”
The fact that he really did understand scared her. She was overwhelmed with doubts and fears. “Good night.” She whispered.
He understood for now he should back off. “Good night.” He said softly looking down at the woman curled up next to him. He may not be able to physically feel her body but he’d told her the truth. Being near him made him feel emotionally stronger, it gave him a small amount of hope something he desperately needed.
AUTHORS NOTE - HAPPY NEW YEAR!