"All his little quirks and unique expressiveness was disappearing day-by-day, being taking over by a new leaden, dull nature."
“I just don’t want to push you,” Gerard worried. Frank laughed,
“You worry too much. I’ll be fine!”
“I love you,”
“I know.” Frank smiled, picked up his guitar, and fixed the transmitter and receiver of the wireless system on the instrument, plugging the cable into the output jack, and slung the strap over his shoulder. They were backstage of the festival stage, hundreds of people crowded and screaming in front. Ray came running up from behind the singer and guitarist.
“You couple ready?” he said, putting his hand on Frank and Gerard’s shoulders. Within certain confines, Frank and Gerard outwardly had become an item, and were delighted to be faced with only compassion and acceptance. The rest of the band took the situation well and joked of the moments on stage years ago when they were conspicuously kissing, was an obvious foreshadowing. Still, they all decided not to tell the rest of the world just yet. It was a delicate time for them, making a new record and all, especially for Frank, who was yet to be completely recovered. Mikey and Jarrod were already getting ready to go on stage, checking everything in need of maintenance, so Frank, Gerard, and Ray followed. Soon, they all ran out on stage, switching to their stage mode, full of energy and vigor.
“Hellloo, Jersey!!”Gerard yelled into the microphone, “God, it’s been so long! We’ve missed you!” Even with the smaller crowd, the people roared with excitement. As always, though, Frank did not look at the crowd and paid attention to his guitar. His stage fright was bad enough as it was and he tried not to look at the audience as best as he could. It never went away even after so many years of playing, the stage fright. “We’re gonna play a song for you, a song that’s never been played live, called BOY DIVISION!!” A live version of the song chords rang through the air, and Gerard started to sing. Frank broke out into a huge smile, his arms thrashing at the strings, and started to move around stage. The familiar movements and loud vibrations of sound resounded in his ears and his heart was pumping with excitement. He looked to the side of the stage and glanced at Gerard, fighting the urge to tackle him with exhilaration. The fast beat of the song controlled his frenzy, and just like years before, he ended up on his back, strenuously moving his finger to reach the right chord. He popped up from the ground and glanced at Gerard again, happier than he could ever remember. He knew everything would go all right. All he had to do was carry out his passion that he so dearly missed. He watched Gerard sing for a moment, his fingers carrying out the motions automatically. Gerard stood fearlessly in front of the crowd, yelling into the microphone. His voice was wonderfully powerful and had a slight nasally hint to it, as his talking voice did, fitting perfectly with every note that came from his throat.
“Wherever you are!!” he screamed into the microphone, and Frank returned his gaze to his guitar, banging out the loud chords. He glanced to the side again, unable to keep his gaze away from Gerard, and saw Ray behind the singer, his fingers flying across the neck of the guitar, the quick notes flying effortlessly off of it. He switched his gaze to Mikey, who was standing in his usual place on the stage, behind Gerard or around him, watching his nod his head in unison with the bass notes. The powerful drum beat coming from Jarrod was heart-pumping and stimulating, almost uplifting the crowd with every hit. How Frank missed this, every aspect of it. Again, he looked back at his guitar and ripped out another chord, this time, though, not hearing any sound. He checked the transmitter his instrument, seeing if the cable was still plugged into the jack. It was unmoved. Confused, he ran over to the amp at the front of the stage and checked to see if the receiver was working. The green light that signified that it was operating was still present and Frank stood puzzled, checking anything on him that could have interfered with the signal. The song was coming to a close, but Gerard decided to playfully interact with the audience, talking to them and allowing for Ray to play his small solo for a littler longer. Things like this were rarely a problem, the transmitter and receiver, but Frank assumed the fault was backstage. He looked to the side and expected to see some sort of maintenance staff that would help him with his dilemma and someone manning the mixing board, but instead, he didn’t see anyone but a figure of a woman standing in the light shadow. He didn’t recognize her from the stage preparations, but assumed she was part of the staff that could help him out since he couldn’t see anyone around. He jogged over to call her over, and Gerard, along with the rest of the band and probably the whole crowd, noticed the absence of their rhythm guitar. Gerard’s heart jolted in fear that Frank might have been going through another one of his dreaded episodes. As Frank neared the woman, yelling over the music for assistance, he stopped in mid-sentence. Standing behind the curiously deserted mixing board was Frank’s mother, donning a malicious smile and holding several cords and wires in her hand. She must have unplugged the cords connecting the receiver, amp and mixing board. Frank dropped his pick and flung the guitar strap off of his shoulder, the guitar slamming against the ground and stumbled backwards, blinking furiously, trying to believe Gerard when he said she was only a figure of his imagination. But then, he told himself, who could have unplugged his guitar? That was enough proof to send Frank running across the stage stumbling over stray wires. He ran past Gerard, who reached out to grab Frank by the shoulders, dropping the microphone, which resulted in squealing through the receiver. He only caught Frank for a second, who before struggling out of Gerard’s grip, said,
“She’s here.” Gerard’s heart dropped to his feet from seeing Frank’s utterly terror-stricken. He was extremely disappointed that Frank’s state had worsened, but selfishly, a part of him was upset that Frank’s outburst couldn’t have waited until further into the set. He had so enjoyed performing again and as self-centered as it was, he couldn’t help but feeling how much of a burden Frank was. Horrified to think these thoughts, Gerard shook them out, telling himself how terrible he was, and ran off stage to chase after Frank. At this point, Mikey, Ray, and Jarrod had stopped playing, perplexed at the situation. They weren’t quite as aware of Frank’s situation as Gerard was, and had no idea what could have happened.
Gerard pushed through the technicians and staff backstage, searching for any prospect of Frank. He stumbled over tables and machinery, but finally, he reached the outside of the stage. Standing in a fixed area, he turned his head around, frantically scanning the area for Frank. Just out of the corner of his view, he saw Frank stumble around one of the mechanic’s equipment trucks. Gerard jogged towards the vehicle and saw Frank huddled behind one of the gigantic tires.
“Hey,” Gerard whispered, crouching down next to Frank. Frank looked up feverishly and cried,
“W- Why did you come?! What if she followed you?!” Gerard put his hand on Frank’s shoulder, only for Frank to shrug it off.
“She couldn’t have followed you. She’s not real.”
“How did she take the wires out then?!”
“Wires? What wires?”
“She pulled out the wires so that my guitar wouldn’t be broadcasted through the amps or PA.”
“Frank, nothing was wrong with the wires or receiver or amps or anything.”
“But it wasn’t making any sound!” Gerard tried to touch Frank’s hand comfortingly, but Frank stood up briskly, and growled,
“Don’t touch me.” Gerard stood up, looking down at Frank, trying to appear superior to him. His selfishness preceded him, and his own needs burst out.
“She’s not there! She’s imaginary! She’s not fucking anywhere! She could be dead for all we know, Frank and you need to stop. You’ve ruined the first show we’ve had in years!”
Frank stood emotionless, or at least tried to, and said,
“I’m sorry,” and ran off. At the trueness and hidden hurt in Frank’s voice and face, Gerard’s anger disappeared, and he cried out pathetically at his selfishness. What had he done? He knew Frank couldn’t help it. He knew Frank was trying just as hard to try and get better.
“Oh god…” he whispered to himself. He slowly walked out from behind the truck, his movements heavy with regret and looked around for any hope of Frank. He was nowhere in sight. Sighing, he made his way back to the stage.
Backstage, the festival director was pacing the floor, furiously yelling at anyone in the vicinity. Mikey, Ray, Jarrod, and their manager stood around him, attempting to calm him down, claiming that the rest of the band would get back soon. Gerard half-heartedly appeared in front of the director. He was a thick man, both physically and in the head. A typical New Jersian, Gerard thought, with a rough, thick accent and course movement with no regard to anyone around him.
“What the hell happened?” the man practically spit at Gerard. As calmly as he could, Gerard said,
“The show will still go on. We’ve got a backup guitarist.”
“And what happened to the other one?”
“He’s… not well. I’m sorry.”
“Well hurry up and get on with it. The crowd is pissed.” During their exchange, Ray had already gotten their substitute guitarist ready to play. Before going on stage, Mikey elbowed Gerard.
“What happened?” he asked. Gerard took a deep breath and explained what had happened and how a lot of the drawback was because of him. Upon explaining, Gerard was only reminding himself of how awfully he had acted towards Frank, his one and only. Now, he couldn’t even find him. “Okay,” Mikey said, “But where is he?”
“I don’t know,” Gerard said, deep in thought.
“You don’t know?”
“Well,” Mikey said scornfully, “Don’t you think he’s a danger to himself? What happens if he gets hurt? How are you going—“ Gerard interrupted,
“He’ll be fine. We have to go this.”
“He’ll be okay.” Truthfully, Mikey’s comments scared him to no end. Every horrible possibility occurred to Gerard: suicide, car accident, theft, just anything no matter how off the possibility was. They walked on stage, and Gerard apologized to the crowd, who’s energy seemed to be a little less excited than the very beginning of the show. Confused clatter came from the audience from the absence of the beloved rhythm guitarist. Still, they played on. Throughout the set, Gerard stopped singing momentarily, letting the audience sing, a little too often. Ray nudged Gerard in between songs, and asked,
“You okay?” Gerard nodded solemnly, but still stayed dazed throughout the set. In the end, though the crowd seemed to be a little dissatisfied with the concert and immediately after the last song ended, Gerard quickly thanked the substitute guitarist and ran off the stage. He grabbed the bag he had brought, containing Frank’s medication, just in case, and other necessities, and fished out his phone and looked for his keys while he quickly walked towards the parking lot. Sticking his hand in one of the pockets, the keys weren’t there. He swung the backpack down on the ground again and emptied it, desperate to find the keys. They weren’t anywhere. He stopped in his tracks and walked back to the stage. How could he have lost his keys? Someone couldn’t have stolen them, he thought. Then, he realized, Frank could have taken them. Running back, a little out of breath, he went around the backstage, busy with activity to set up the stage for the next band. He asked nearly every person he passed whether they had seen Frank appear backstage or not. After his voice was almost hoarse with yelling around the area, he found a single person who had said he had seen a glimpse of the guitarist while they were playing.
“Where?” The person, a young man who looked fresh out of high school, said,
“He was just by the stage and I wasn’t really paying attention, but he stayed there for about a song, I think, and then ran off,”
“Why didn’t you stop him?” Gerard cried.
“I didn’t know anyone was looking for him.” Gerard was seething, having Frank so close but nowhere to be found, and the only person who saw him was dull enough not to stop him. He wanted to slap the boy upside the head, but instead, he ran back offstage to his car. He looked around the small back parking lot, his yellow Volkswagon Beetle unseen. Shit, Gerard thought, he must’ve taken the car. Quickly, he grabbed his phone from his pocket and dialed Frank’s number. Every ring made Gerard’s heart pump faster, hoping Frank would pick up. It went to voicemail.
“Shit!” Gerard cried, still standing hopelessly in the parking lot. He redialed the number. Again, no answer. Cursing, Gerard kept redialing. Finally, on the seventh call, someone picked up.
“What?!” the voice said.
“Frank?” Gerard said hopefully.
“Where are you?”
“Well, who the hell do you think is driving?” Gerard inhaled. He didn’t need the attitude Frank was giving him. Still, Gerard knew that he was at fault, but still, he needed to tell Frank how irresponsibly he had acted.
“Frank, I’m so sorry for what I said. I’m so, so sorry for acting that way but you have to understand how much stress I was under.”
“Your stress? How about my stress?!”
“Look I know, I know, I know how bad it is for you and I hate myself just as much as you hate me right now.”
“I don’t hate you,” Frank said quietly. Gerard didn’t respond, but his disposition was uplifted a little. Finally, he said,
“Frank, please come back and I’ll drive us home. It’s a long drive.”
“No, I’m okay. You can just get a ride from one of the guys.”
“Please, Frank, the medication can mess with your head and I don’t want your health at risk.”
“I’m okay. I feel fine!” Gerard persisted,
“You can’t be far! Just take a U-turn and come back! Please, I want to talk to you.”
“Gerard! I know you’re worried, but I just want some time alone! I—“ Gerard interrupted,
“No, Frank, come back here right no—“ Frank countered the interruption,
“I don’t w—“ Frank was cut off, and Gerard heard a loud sound, unrecognizable, but probably only the feedback of low connection over the phone. The continuous beeps of disconnection started and Gerard hung up. Soon, Frank would probably have good reception and Gerard would call back. In the mean time, Gerard paced around the parking lot, hoping and praying that Frank would be okay. Mikey came running down from the stage, out of breath.
“Did you find him?” Mikey huffed.
“No, he took my car and drove home himself.”
“Is he okay to do that?”
“Apparently,” Gerard said passively.
“I can take you home,” Mikey said.
“Thanks,” said Gerard, picking up his backpack. Inside, pills rattled inside of the their bottles. Upon hearing this, Gerard felt his throat closed, and his eyes stung. As much as he wanted to deny it, Frank was broken. Everything about him falling apart. All his little quirks and unique expressiveness was disappearing day-by-day, being taking over by a new leaden, dull nature. Gerard sniffed, telling himself it was not the time to be emotional, especially when Frank was the one needing emotional support.
“You okay?” Mikey asked.
“Ray said they were all good with the packing up and everything and they understand what’s happening so I can take you home.”
“Are you sure?” Gerard asked, feeling selfish for the second time that day.
“Of course,” Mikey said, “Actually, everyone’s been really worried about you.”
“Me? Why? There’s nothing wrong with me.”
“Well, maybe that’s just because you’re telling yourself you’re okay.”
“No, I mean, you’ve been under so much stress lately and I know you really want to do anything for Frank. I mean, I can’t believe how much you’ve given just for him to be happy.”
“Well, I mean, maybe, but compared to Frank, a little stress is nothing, and as long as he’s happy, I am.”
“See, that’s the problem. You’re being too selfless. You gotta tend to your own needs sometimes, Gerard, and you know I love you and I care about you, so just promise me you’ll take care of yourself, too.”
“Selfless?” Gerard scoffed, “I’m anything but! I mean, it’s all my fault Frank drove off. I told him everything was his fault and he ruined the show, and I just hate myself for saying that! He can’t help it, and while I’m here, healthier than I deserve to be, why should I complain about him, the one who needs the most help?” They reached Mikey’s car and stopped just in front of the trunk.
“Well, that’s what came from a lot of stress, and don’t ever say you don’t deserve your health. You deserve every bit of it, but what you’re doing to yourself isn’t good. You have to let some of it out sometimes and maybe that wasn’t the best time, but after all that suppressing, it was bound to come out under high-pressure situations.” Gerard nodded, listening to Mikey’s wise words, and said,
“Okay. Okay, thank you, Mikes, thank you. I just hope Frank forgives me for saying that.”
“I’m sure he will. He loves you.”
“I know,” Gerard said, smiling to himself, and took out his phone. By now, Frank should have some reception to answer Gerard’s call. He dialed the number, but it went straight to voicemail. Gerard frowned, but thought it might have been for the best. The only thing Frank needed to pay attention to was the road. Gerard and Mikey sat themselves down in their respective seats, pulled out of the parking space, and onto the main road, an hour or so to go until they reached the comfort of their own homes.
A/N: Yay longer chapter! :D Haha, nothing to say about this chapter, so I hope you enjoyed!!