“Gerard you go to bed, I’ll be there in a minute.” I said as I opened the hotel into the hotel room.
“Okay.” He responded without suspicion.
He drifted off into the bedroom silently, and I pulled Ray aside.
“You need to call the tour off.” I said. “We all know it’s not going to continue. He’s just gonna get worse and there’s no point in pushing him until he’s too weak to leave his bed.”
“I’ll do it. Shit, I have to.” He sighed, leaning on the counter and running his fingers through his hair. “But if I do that, you have to tell the fans.”
“What the hell am I supposed to say to them? Hey, your hero will be dead in 3 months. Love you. Honestly Ray, tell me what I’m supposed to say.”
“You’ll figure it out. You need to go be with Gerard. I’ll take care of the tour.”
“We need to get him home. Not home as in whatever hotel we’re staying in. Home as in back in Jersey, where his parents are. That’s where his heart is, and it just… it seems right for him to spend his last days there.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” He smiled.
I don’t think I give Ray enough credit. One of his best friends is dying, and he’s smiling and taking care of everything for Mikey and I. The guy’s a fucking saint.
“Wait…” I said. “What do I say to him? About the tour?”
“Just tell him he needs a break. The sedatives haven’t worn off yet, so chances are, he'll take it pretty easily. That’s the best thing you can do right now, I’d say.”
I don’t want him to know he’s dying because of me. He’ll figure it out sooner or later, but I’m not going to be the one to tell him.
“Will do. Good luck.” I said to Ray as I headed towards the bedroom.
He’s gonna need it.
“Hey, Gee.” I said, peeking my head around the corner through the door.
“Come to bed.” He responded, his voice sounding weaker than I expected.
Who needs a heart, anyway?
It’s just the sedatives.
I crawled under the covers and decided on a safe distance between him and myself. Although, I’m not sure why I’m worried about physical distance at a time like this. In fact, it would probably be better for me to get as physically close to him as I can in these coming months; it’s my last chance and I shouldn’t be letting it slip past me like this.
But I’m scared. I’m scared that if I were to let myself hold him, cradle him in my arms and pray it gives him at least a shred of happiness… the emotional distance would decrease, and decrease, until we are one. In a sense. And in the end, won’t that hurt more?
Stop thinking of yourself, and think of him. Will you let him spend his last days hurt and confused, or will you man up and make him happy, even if it hurts you?
You’re not the one dying. You don’t even know.
“How are you feeling?” I asked, trying to push that damned lump in my throat down.
“It’ll wear off. Just hang in there.”
I moved a tiny bit closer towards him, almost against my own will. Oh, the constant struggle for power between the mind and the heart.
“Want to go to sleep?”
“I couldn’t if I tried.” He said with a bit of a laugh.
“It’s been a big day. Got too much on my mind.”
“Gee, it’s okay now…”
“We’re going home soon.” I said hesitantly.
He flipped over onto his side, facing me.
“Because you need a break.” I said, remembering what Ray suggested. Ray, the source of all knowledge.
“I don’t need a fucking break, I’m okay.”
“Trust me, Gerard. Please-“
“No, you don’t fucking know what you’re talking about-“
“Gerard, remember that time you kissed me?”
His face went blank for a minute before he appeared to fully take in what I said.
“Since when did I kiss you?”
I don’t need a heart. That’s for sure.
“D-Do you trust me?” I asked.
“I suppose I have no reason not to.”
“You kissed me. Twice, actually. Whether you remember it or not, it was real.”
“Even if it did happen, how is it relevant? How does it have anything to do with what we were just talking about? I mean I’m not saying I’m surprised, I just…”
“Not surprised about what?”
“Not surprised that I kissed you.”
No, Frank. Don’t move any closer.
“It’s not relevant.” I said, placing my hand on top of his. “Just forget it.”
Gerard, it isn’t supposed to go this way. You’re not supposed to say that. You’re not supposed to give me the one thing I’ve wanted ever since I’ve first met you. Not now. Not ever.
You don’t know anything. You don’t have any idea that you’re not going to be here in a few months. I’m keeping the world from you, but what else can I do? I love you, but I can only do so much for you. Of course I would give the world, I would give my own fucking life if I could take this away from you.
Baby, you’re going to shine so bright up in heaven one day. Maybe I’ll be able to see you from all the way down here, and maybe the world won’t seem so bad without you.
I lay awake with Gerard for hours, far after he fell asleep. I watched his chest fall up and down slowly, his face squish up and crinkle like it always does when he dreams. I listened to his breathing; barely within hearing, but still there.
One day, though, all of it will be gone. His chest won’t fall up and down, his face won’t squish and crinkle, and the breath inside his lungs will be replaced with the dead musk of something that was once, but no longer is.
One day, he’s gonna lose this fight. And I swear, I’ll carry his sword until it kills me, too.
I got out of bed, being careful to not wake the sleeping angel. What the hell is the point of watching him, I’m only torturing myself.
I went into the kitchen, where Ray sat at the counter, typing rapidly into his little blue laptop.
“Hey.” I said, pulling up a stool next to him.
“Hi.” He replied, not taking his eyes or fingers off the computer.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Yeah.” He sighed. “I can’t call him. I can’t fucking call…”
“What are you saying?”
“Only what needs to be said. Gerard is dying, and we need to get him home as soon as possible.”
“You’re not elaborating on it…?” I asked.
“Doesn’t need to be elaborated on. It is what it is.”
Even Ray is starting to crack.
God, why Gerard?
“He’s asleep?” He asked, closing the laptop and moving his tired eyes towards mine.
“Good. He’s gonna need it.”
“Have you heard from Mikey?”
“Still in his room, last time I checked.”
“When was that?”
Ray glanced at his watch.
“Half an hour ago, probably.” He said. “A bit after we got back from the hospital.”
We sat in dead silence for a minute or two. No words, no fighting, and we’re all a step closer to sanity.
“Ray…” I said.
“What about heaven?”
“What about heaven? Does it exist?”
“I suppose.” He answered thoughtfully, turning his head around to look out the window. “I see no reason why it wouldn’t.”
“How close do you think he is?”
“He’s getting closer every day. There’s no point in trying to pretend anymore.”
He looked back towards me, and the corners of his mouth turned upwards slightly. It wasn’t a smile, but it didn’t look sad. I don’t know what it was.
“Ray, what the hell are we going to do without him?” I asked.
“We’ll find our way, somehow. He’ll be up there, watching over us. Somewhere.”
“What are you guys talking about?”
That isn’t Gerard’s voice. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.
Gerard stood at the doorway between the bedroom and kitchen. His thin legs then took a few steps towards Ray and I.
“Discussing a song idea.” Ray said, ever-prepared as always.
“How are you feeling?” I asked.
That should change the subject well enough.
“Could be better, could be worse. I suppose it’s all in how you look at it.”
If you only knew the things I’d say to you right now. These words, these fucking words that one day, you'll die without ever hearing.