They came from way up in outer space, she's hard to miss and so they landed on her face.
Gerard and Frank have been what Gerard calls best friends for three years when it happens. Frank is grounded.
It’s a new experience for Frank since usually when he’s bad his mother simply sends him to the kennels, which is different from being grounded because he has lots of friends there and he can growl at any of the visitors he likes from behind the glass and they can’t do anything to stop him. Being grounded though, is when Frank is not allowed to leave the house for a week and he has to eat broccoli with his dinner even on Mondays.
On the first day of being grounded Frank ties himself to the staircase by his ankles and hangs upside down until his mother comes home from work. She calls him a wicked child and cuts him down, which is good because his nose had begun to bleed.
On the second day he goes into the garden, which is still his property so he’s allowed to play there, and collects bugs with his pooter and quadrat, shoving them all into the big bucket they sometimes use to wash the car. Once the bucket is full he goes back into the house so that he can really get started with his plan.
Later that day, Frank is sent to the Way’s house, where he will carry out the rest of his sentence.
After three days fun filled adventures with the Way’s, Frank’s mother turns up on their doorstep. She looks sad but she isn’t drunk and there’s no strange man for Frank to bight so he decides to do what the alien mother always says she’s doing, and counts his blessings. She tells Frank to get his shoes quickly, so Frank leaves bare foot to follow his human mother across the lawn and into the car. Frank asks if he can drive but his human mother tells him not to test her patience.
They drive for a few blocks, Frank enjoying the rush of air on his cheeks as he sticks his head out of the window, his mother tossing him disappointed looks and gripping the steering wheel so tight her knuckles look like they are about to burst out through her skin.
They stop at the church Frank’s human mother used to make him go to before he started complaining that is angered the beast within him. This was what the alien mother calls a white lie, Frank really thought the church smelt bad but he didn’t want to hurt Jesus’s feelings by saying it. Frank holds his breath discreetly as they enter for the same reasons.
Promptly, he is grabbed and tied to the alter. Frank kicks and scratches a bit but it’s really okay because his stomach gets that swooping, dare devil drop feeling when he’s swung around. He spits at the priest as he stands over him and then goes cross-eyed.
“You know I wasn’t sure before,” the priest says, “But now I’m convinced of his wickedness. Sister, pass me the holy water.”
The next hour is the best hour of Frank’s life. By the time it’s passes the priest is passed out in a pool of his own urine on the floor and the Nun has taken a permanent leave. His human mother is sitting a few pews away with her hands covering her face, she’s shaking slightly. When she looks up Frank can see that she’s laughing. Frank frowns and chews on his tongue. She comes to untie him and, much to Frank’s horror, encases him in a warm embrace. He shrugs his shoulders and squirms around until she lets him go. Then they go get ice cream.
Frank assumes that this means he is free from the devil previously living on him like a parasite and therefor no longer grounded. It feels so good to be free that he doesn’t even kick anyone until they get to the ice cream truck and the lady gives him the wrong kind of cone, then he kicks that up into the air where it sores before landing on an elderly woman in passing. This makes Frank’s mother cry again so Frank walks back to the Way’s house.
“Did it work?” Asks the alien mother. Frank bights off one of his finger nails and spits it to the floor. “That will be a no then.” The alien mother sighs, “Gerard’s in his room.”
Frank goes to see Gerard. He tries doing the hugging thing his human mother did to him but it just makes Gerard’s face red like when Frank hangs him upside down for a very long amount of time.
“Did they make you do exercise?” Asks Gerard.
Frank spits another one of his fingernails to the floor before answering. “I got tied up and then ice cream but then my human mother started to cry so I had to walk home. So kind of, I guess. I think I killed a priest.”
Gerard nods and goes back to drawing. Gerard is very good at drawing. He does vampires a mutants killing each other in vicious bloody wars and once he even drew Frank being eaten by a pack of cannibals. Frank still has that drawing above his bed at home.
Once Gerard’s finished his latest masterpiece they go back to the park they always go to. Mikey says that they’re too old to be going to the park still but Frank assures him that he’s only as old as he feels and also that there isn’t anywhere else that his human mother will let him go alone.
They sit on the swings, well, Gerard sits, Frank lays across three. Gerard’s talking about a world without rules and boundaries, where anyone can do anything that they want to do and about how such a place could never exist because all human’s naturally crave companionship and therefor live to impress others. And Frank’s arguing that he does what he wants, when he wants, everyday so he’s already a walking example of this utopia.
“And that’s why I like you.” Says Gerard grinning. Frank makes a face that isn’t a scowl in return.
A human boy calls across the park. “Faggots!”
“We should go.” Gerard says.
Frank looks over to them. They’re big and ugly and carrying a kick ball. “Okay.” He says.
They try to leave the park quickly but the human boys are blocking the gate. “I was talking to you.” One of them says. Gerard looks down at the floor. Frank tries to push past them, dragging Gerard behind him. “Oy!” Shouts the human boy, grabbing Gerard and shoving him to the ground. “Didn’t your mama ever teach you any manners?”
“She says she did.” Frank says. “But I don’t remember it.”
“Frank, leave it!” Gerard says, sitting up with a frown.
“Shut the fuck up!” Says another human boy.
“We’re leaving now.” Frank says and pulls Gerard up. “Goodbye.”
“The hell you are.” Snaps the first human before punching Frank in the face. Frank blinks, surprised when all he can see is red.
When Frank’s vision comes back, it’s just him and Gerard, sitting on the floor. His hand kind of hurts. Gerard stares, wide eyed for a moment before leaning forward and kissing him.
“Sorry.” He says afterwards.
Frank shrugs. “It’s okay.” He says and kisses Gerard back.
Frank wonders then, if this all means he has to be nice to Gerard from now on. The idea isn’t completely repulsive but Frank isn’t sure he exactly knows how to be nice. Maybe he should only pretend punch Gerard all the time, like he does when Gerard’s been crying. Or re you not supposed to punch someone at all if you’re kissing them at the same time? Perhaps one cancels out the other. He kicks Gerard in the ankle for good measure. Gerard smiles to clearly this was the right thing for Frank to have done.
‘Faggots!” Frank says happily then squeezes Gerard’s hand until he yelps.
Frank shares Gerard’s bed that night, he knows that is what you’re supposed to do after kissing someone because it’s one of the few things his mother taught him right. He’s laying, watching Gerard’s face to make sure he’s really asleep and not just pretending like he does before school some mornings. Gerard blinks his eyes open and grins.
“You’re still awake.” Frank nods, because truth. Gerard pulls Frank closer to him, Frank squirms a little but eventually gets close to comfortable, he can hear all the noises Gerard’s chest and stomach are making and Gerard always smells kind of funny, but it will be okay to sleep with. “Love you, Frankie.” Gerard says and closes his eyes again.
Frank’s eyes, which had just drifted shut, snap open in confusion. Frank has never loved anyone or anything, excluding the Dixie Chicks, in his life. That’s 15 years of never loving anything. He’s pretty sure no one has ever loved him before either, well, apart from Jesus who is forced to love everyone by the priest. It makes Frank’s chest feel all warm and a little bit like it might be filling with puke, but not in a bad way. He licks Gerard’s cheek and tries to get some rest.
Frank must have been chasing rabbits again in his dreams because when he wakes up Gerard is on the floor. He looks surprised and sleepy when Frank pokes him in the leg to wake him up so Frank gives him a quick, loving pinch to the cheek and tells him to “Buck up, little camper, you took quite the fall there!”
Gerard smiles, though he still looks a bit confused. Frank flicks his nose and bounces off to get breakfast.
Over the next few days, Frank discovers two fundamentally changing things.
1. Though he may hate porridge, he does not, in fact, hate ready break.
2. Frank does not hate kissing Gerard.
Kissing Gerard actually turns out to be great fun because Frank can pull Gerard’s hair and claw at his arms and back and even lick his tongue without Gerard complaining or freaking out. Also, Frank can pin Gerard to the bed like he does when he’s feeding him ants or trying to spit in his mouth and Gerard makes these noises like he’s in pain but he assures Frank that he is really not.
His life has a million, new different and exciting layers for him to explore.
Frank is telling Gerard and Mikey about the time he replaced Jamia’s Nutella sandwiches, at school, for mud ones and got sent to the principles office for the rest of the day. It’s a really great story because, thanks to his new English teacher, Frank knows a thousand different adjectives to describe Jamia and the teacher’s faces.
“It was so syrupy.” Frank finishes with a chuckle.
“I don’t understand why Jamia is friends with you.” Mikey says.
“Because I pay her to be with, bobby pins and green skittles and invisible euros.” Frank says.
But really that’s a lie. Frank is just stronger and faster than Jamia and her parents can’t afford to switch her to the catholic school. Which means it’s always easy to catch her if he wants to. He’s not sure Gerard and Mikey would understand that, though.
One day, whilst they’re throwing bread at the ducks in the old people’s park, Frank decides that he has had it up to here with being nice, and pushes Gerard into the slimy green water. This is, obviously, hilarious but probably a bad idea because now Gerard is crying because he landed on a duck and killed it. Frank feels bad and jumps into the pond with him, killing another duck so that they can be even when they go to hell together.
Gerard has recently taught Frank all about empathy and how to use it. Empathy is when you feel back when someone you know, or care about feels bad. You are supposed to do empathy when you have hurt someone you love or like or when you see dying children on the television. If you do empathy all the time you become a god called Empathic.
Frank doesn’t do empathy for anyone but Gerard but he thinks he might still become a god because on some days, Gerard cries a lot.
Like the other day when Gerard thought he saw to dead mice hugging each other and Frank had to pretend to cry too even though the supposed mice were really just a stick.
Frank hugs Gerard in the water until he stops crying and then swims to the bottom of the pool, which really isn’t very far away, to get some duckweed. He and Gerard share and everything is better again.
AN so I’ve come to realise that we’re actually nearing the end of our journey. I’d give it another two chapters. W0w.