"A smile bigger than I had ever conjured up before was plastered on my face, and I had never felt so completely spontaneous."
I didn’t sleep on the night of October 28th. Somewhere, in the very same building, Frank would be administered with some lethal chemical, stopping everything from functioning in his body. I would never see him again. Today, the day after, was October 29th. I came out of my cell, today, and looked around, expecting something, after such a big event, to be changed, but the only thing that was different was when I looked to my right, Frank wasn’t there to smile back. Other than that, everything was unchanged. No one around me seemed to be affected by Frank’s death like I was. It was just another routine day. So, just like every routine day, we were lead to the mess hall for breakfast.
Upon entering the mess hall, everything seemed so much vaster than it had before; the people more intimidating and I felt so alone. I didn’t have anyone to sit with anymore, so I sat myself down at the table we usually sat at, alone. I’d never see Frank, the only one who had ever cared about me here, again. Needless to say, I was more devastated than I had ever been. The vacant feeling I felt inside was tearing me apart, and as much as I wanted to hysterically cry, something, I don’t know what was stopping me. The last time I had seen Frank, I hadn’t said an emotional goodbye, but tried to act like I would be able to take care of myself. I didn’t want him to leave worrying about me, so I tried to act composed. I wish I hadn’t though. I wasn’t able to express what he really meant to me and how grateful I was that he approached me for the first time months ago. My heart was broken and then, the TVs turned on. The news was on and in the middle of a report. Wanting to exorcise the demons ripping me apart, I decided to listen to the news. It must have been an important report because the room had quieted down; I only assumed to hear the news. The volume was turned up and I heard.
“Frank Anthony Iero Jr., many of you may remember as the furious teenage killer, has been the first to be executed in the state of New Jersey. At 11:12 PM on October 28th, yesterday, he was administered with a lethal injection, and was witnessed to have taken his last breath. His last words are as follows.” My eyes widened and I involuntarily took in a sharp breath, waiting to hear the last words Frank ever said. They played the recording.
“I’m sorry I serve no purpose in this world. For that, I deserved to be put to justice. I wanted to mean something to someone, but I didn’t. So, Dad, I’m sorry. To say that I disappointed you is an understatement. I don’t deserve to be labeled as your son… To the parents of the poor victims of my crime, I hope you can find it in your hearts somewhere to forgive me. It’s a lot to ask, I know, but hopefully, my death will serve some relief to you… Not many people at all have stood out in my life, but I can say that one did. Gerard, if they allow you to listen to this, let me just say, I’m sorry for failing you. I’m sorry I couldn’t be your hero, and on the behalf of both of us, I’d like to make a sincere farewell. So, Gerard, I’ll miss you, if that’s possible, and I enjoyed the short time we had together. You are my meaning in life. You are my hero.” Everything around me melted. My mouth gaped open in horror. I had made a terrible mistake. The last time I had seen him, I had acted indifferent so that he wouldn’t worry, but he really needed me just as much as I needed him. I assumed that he would be fine. But I was wrong. He was just as vulnerable as I was, but didn’t express it as openly as I did, just for my good. Oh, no. He died thinking that he meant nothing to me, when in actuality, he meant the world to me.
“No. No, no, no…” I whispered to myself, putting my head in my hands, resting my elbows on the table. Tears landed on the slightly scratched, silver surface of the table. As the seconds went by, the feeling of regret and hopelessness grew substantially, the thoughts shouting accusations of failure at me, telling me how Frank died in sorrow, when he should have died feeling worthy of the world and accomplished in saving another’s life. My cries grew louder, and I felt someone shaking my shoulder softly, words of comfort trying to calm me. I looked up from my zone of bleakness, to see Ray sitting next to me. He had stopped comforting me and was not staring up at the television, where Frank’s face, as a mug shot, was displayed. Irrefutably, this would be the last time I would see his face. He was history now. He meant nothing to anyone now that he was dead. Justice had been served. The image stayed on the screen for a couple more seconds, and then disappeared. Ray looked back down at me. His face was distressed but empathic and he kept his hand on my shoulder.
“Tomorrow,” he said, “Tomorrow at 11, the laundry truck comes.” Biting my bottom lip, I nodded. Tomorrow, just two days after Frank’s death, the laundry truck would come; the truck in which I would jump on and escape. Now, though, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to. I had left Frank so unthankfully and left him regretting his life altogether. He claimed that he served no purpose in life. If only I could disagree with him. This whole time I was so surrounded by the fact that Frank had actually meant something to me that I hadn’t realized that it was mutual. I mattered to him just as he had mattered to me.
Breakfast ended. I was still in a daze from the news. Constantly, I found myself looking around for Frank, only to remind myself that he wouldn’t be around, no matter how much I wished. We were forced outside to the prison yard. It was a relatively warm day and the sky was a pristine blue. I stared in scorn at it. How can it be such beautiful weather when something so tragic just occurred? I sat down in the usual corner where Frank and I sat, the exact same spot where we had met. I tried to calm myself, until out of the corner of my eye, from behind the chain-link fence, I saw a car coming out of the prison. This wasn’t unusual, but this car was different. It was shiny black, longer, but taller in the second half. It was a hearse. I jumped up to my feet and watched it move slowly down the pavement. Impulsively, I sprinted the length of the prison yard to the fence. Around me, I could see the officers twitch nervously, gripping their guns, a little uneasy at my sudden burst. I ran up to the fence, my fingers weaving into the holes, my eyes following the black car. Undoubtedly, Frank’s body was inside the car. Slightly at first, I shook the fence, making it clang against the metal posts. This time, more violently, I shook it. I wanted to see him one last time. I wanted to see his face. I followed the car along the fence, my fingers gripping each sections of wire, until the same hand that had comforted me before clamped shut on my shoulder. He pulled me away from the fence, leaving me scrambling to get back, the car getting further and further away, until the guards opened the gate and let it pass through. The car vanished behind the gates. I stopped struggling and my legs gave way, leaving me limp on the ground. My hands wove through my hair, gripping my scalp. My eyesight blurred with tears, I gasped quickly, letting out quick sobs. I felt Ray’s hands on my sides, getting a firm hold to lift me back on my feet. Huge, silent tears fled down my face, and he held me in front of him, sorrow in his eyes.
“You okay, buddy?” I nodded, obviously lying. I wasn’t okay. I couldn’t live without Frank and I wouldn’t be able to survive on my own, but I knew Ray would urge me to escape. Then, an idea dawned upon me. I would try to escape. Just not the way we had planned. In a way, I’d be escaping from more than just the prison.
Ray stood with me by the fence with his arm around my shoulder, helping me stay standing and comforting me with words I did not pay attention to. All I did was stare at the gate from which Frank’s body left.
“Hey,” Ray said. I looked up at the tall inmate, only then to actually listen to what he had to say. “I miss him, too.” I wasn’t the only one who was emotionally distraught by Frank’s death. Ray’s expression was heavy with despair and his eyes were touched with red. Moved by his mutual feeling of loss, I moved in to hug him, staying that way for a few moments, appreciating the rare intimate friendship between inmates. I regretted not grasping the actual importance Ray had in my brief time here, and wished I had gotten to know him better.
“And I’ll miss you,” I said. The shrieking whistles started to sound and we released our embrace, walking back to the doors of the prison. Closer and closer with every step, we neared the dreaded building, until we were mere feet away from it. Two guards rounded behind us, as we were the last of the group, but while Ray kept nearing the building, I stopped. The officers behind me stopped simultaneously. They were probably confused. Then, in a sudden movement, I twisted around on my heels, push past the two of them, and sprinted down the dusty prison yard. Shrill whistles pierced my ears seconds after I started running. The muscles in my legs adjusted to the once familiar vigorous movement, being awaken from their dormancy. I hadn’t moved like this in years. Just as I because aware of my impulsive actions, my heart burst with excitement, adrenaline, and pure exhilaration. I surprised myself with the capability I had to move like this. After so many years, it felt like I was completely free. I knew, of course, there was no way out of the prison yard. It was completely fenced off, but it was so vast, and the seconds seemed to last forever. I wasn’t even out of breath. I started laughing. A smile bigger than I had ever conjured up before was plastered on my face, and I had never felt so completely spontaneous. There was nothing I couldn’t do. No limit. Amidst my laughter, tears, I don’t know of what, whether it was joy or sorrow, appeared in my eyes, and flew down my face in the wind.
“Frank, I’m free. Just like you wanted.”
I felt the bullet before I heard the shot.
It flashed red.
A/N: First, I have to say thank you for all the reviews on the last chapters! There's a reason I didn't respond to them though, clearly, because I didn't want to give anything away. So, thank you so much for them! They were the greatest reviews I've received. Second, I have to apologize. I know all of you wanted Frank to live, but there was no way around it. Also, I planned the story to end this way since the very beginning and I wanted to keep it realistic. Once someone is sentenced to death, it happens. I'm sorry. Just in case you were confused, when Frank was given the anesthetic, he was knocked out, so he wouldn't be awake, per se, to experience his death. Sorry if I confused you. Sometimes, I research so much, I don't realize that the audience has no idea what I'm talking about. So, I'm sorry if I disappointed you.
I intended for this to be kind of a "Romeo & Juliet" kind of thing. I know, the Shakespearean relationship was a little shaky, given that it only last a few days, but the simple theme of not wanting to live without the person you truly cared about really struck me and I thought I might put it in here. It's the ultimate sacrifice and symbol of true caring, to give their own life because they couldn't imagine living without them. They would be totally devoted to them. In this case, Gerard couldn't imagine living without Frank, but he wanted to carry out what Frank had wanted him to do: to be free. Unfortunately, Gerard didn't want to be free without Frank, and even if he had successfully escaped, he would still be burdened and trapped with the regret of leaving Frank with such indifference. In a way, he really wouldn't be free. So, for one moment of his life, he got to be free and spontaneously burst out to a run. He felt freer than he had ever been. No boundaries, no walls, nothing, and then, everything was released.
Sorry if I disappointed you... D: Please tell me if you want an epilogue!
Rate & Review please! I'd actually like to know what you thought of it, whether it be good or bad :D