Gerard always swore he could quit tomorrow. But when tomorrow comes, it could be too late for him.
Gerard had always had some issues with alcohol, no doubts about it. But of course, it wasn't like he let anyone really know the true depths of it. He'd drink himself into unconsciousness if he had the opportunity. He'd done it many times before. His world had come crashing down again. This time, it was in the form of his wife leaving him, taking their daughter with her.
They were on tour again, and by day, he tried to put up a brave face, but by night, he was falling back into the same patterns he existed in when his beloved grandmother Elena had died suddenly years ago. But he denied it being a problem. He could always quit tomorrow, he told himself. And maybe he truly believed it. Every night, a different town. No one would judge him right?
The show had finished an hour ago, and already, Gerard was at a bar. He entered, taking a seat alone at the far corner. "Hey man, what's it take to get a drink around here?" He asked the bartender.
"What're ya drinkin' tonight?" The bartender questioned in reply, approaching him.
"Whiskey on the rocks." Gerard said.
The bartender complied, sliding his drink to him. Gerard quickly gulped it down, slamming the glass that now held only ice onto the bar when he was done. He both relished and hated the sharp burning feel of the liquor running down his throat. He motioned for the bartender to come over. The man complied, bottle of Jack in hand.
"Keep 'em coming." Gerard said as his glass was refilled with the amber liquid.
"No problem." The other man said. And he kept his word well, checking on Gerard's glass every so often, refilling it when it ran empty. The singer sat there, growing steadily more drunk. The bartender noted that he made no move to socialize with anyone else, and ignored any attempts at conversation by the other patrons. He seemed intent only on his drink. He was obviously a man trying to drink away his sorrows.
Soon enough, it was closing time. "C'mon buddy, I gotta close up here." He said gently to Gerard.
"Wha?" The intoxicated singer slurred, looking up in confusion. He didn't seem to be aware of how much time had passed.
"I'll call ya a cab."
Gerard allowed himself to be steered by the elbow outside to wait for the cab.
While they were outside, the bartender asked, "What's got you drinkin' your sorrows away?"
"M' wife lef' me wi' our kid." The singer mumbled in reply, sadness falling over his face.
"Don't let it turn you into an alcoholic though."
"M not a alcoc- aco- fuggit drunk. C'n always quit t'morra."
The bartender sighed as he placed Gerard into the backseat of the cab. So many men said that, but they couldn't quite live up to it.
"I don't know , Ray, but I'm worried he's slipping back into his old ways. Like I know that the divorce is hard on him, but I just, I can't eve!" Mikey said, throwing his arms into the air in frustration.
"I know what you mean, but we can't jump to conclusions!" Ray said, trying to maintain a level head despite his own convictions.
"Ray, he's been coming back tipsy and smelling like booze every night!"
"The guitarist heaved a sigh. He couldn't just sweep this below the rug as well, under the veil of denial they both wished to exist under. "Then we'll talk to him, okay?"
"He's in denial again! He keeps saying he can always quit tomorrow!"
"We should at least show him the truth of how bad it can be before we jump down his throat."
"Fine." Mikey said with a little huff. He knew that there was something wrong with his brother, and he didn't want to wait to fix it.
Then, they were interrupted by Gerard stumbling through the hotel door.
They were vaguely surprised that he even managed to get that far, remembering where he was staying. He somehow made his way over to the couch, flopping down onto it unceremoniously, face buried in the cushions.
Before Ray could stop him, Mikey had opened his mouth and said, "Gerard, you're becoming alcoholic again."
"Not the time for this!" Ray hissed, trying to drag Mikey out of the room by the elbow.
"'M now, I c'n 'ways quit t'morrow" Gerard's slurred words were muffled by the fabric of the couch.
"You've been saying that since she left you!"
"Let's go." Ray said, yanking the bassist towards the door.
Neither of them saw the look of pain that crossed Gerard's face when he heard Mikey's words.
While up on stage, all Gerard could think about his was his next drink. His hands trembled for the feel of a glass in them. His throat held a parched feeling that could only be eased by liquor. His feet stumbled, unaccustomed to the lack of encumbrance brought about by the booze.
There was more than just his outward symptoms. His teeth were being eroded quickly by the nightly puking sessions brought on by all the drinking. The scent of vomit and booze clung to him, no matter how much he washed his clothes or showered and washed his hair. His bunk was crammed with empty bottles he needed to get rid of without anyone noticing, and his esophagus was growing weaker.
Gerard could no longer make it a single minute sober while awake. He was drinking himself into an early grave. Every city he had gone to, fans had come up to him. They all knew his face, his name, but he questioned, did they know a single thing about his shame that weighed him down every day of his life? Did they know that he drank himself into a state of unconsciousness ever single night?
It didn't matter if they did, because he wasn't an addict. He could always quit tomorrow.
After his latest show, he went into a bar, took a seat, and before the bartender could get a single syllable out of his mouth, Gerard barked the words he'd grown accustomed to saying over the past few months. "Whiskey on the rocks, an keep 'em coming."
After the bar closed, and the bartender stood outside with Gerard, waiting for a cab, he said, "Why you drinkin' yo problems 'way?"
"'M wife left me, took our kid wi' 'er"
"I'm real sorry to hear tha', but ya can' go killin' yaself over it."
"C'n alw'ys qui' t'm'rr'...." Gerard slurred out, nearly incomprehensible. But even as he did so, a little voice in the back of his head asked quite clearly, "But can you really?"
The lights of the ambulance glowed red and white, wailing, turning a vaguely quiet night into a day of squealing. The doors slammed shut, leaving Frank, Bob, and Ray, their faces ashen.
"I told Mikey not to confront him... Not yet at least. Oh God, this is all my fault." Ray choked out after a few minutes of silence.
"Ray, I'm pissed about this too, but you can't blame yourself over this. None o f us knew how bad this really was." Frank offered.
"Frank's right, Ray. We were all scared to jump on him about it in case we were wrong. This time, he hid it better than he ever had." Bob added in.
One hour earlier, Mikey was searching frantically for Gerard. He had disappeared right before the show and they weren't going to go on stage without him. Unable to find him alone, he enlisted the help of the rest of his band.
45 minutes ago, Frank heard a gasping, choking noise coming from a grimy broom closet. His hand shaking, he opened the door. A wave of air reeking of vomit and mildew and cleaner hit him. When the door opened, it revealed that the better part of the floor was covered in the contents of someone's stomach.
That someone was Gerard, as evidenced by him in the corner, gasping for air, pupils dilated, skin pale and clammy, a sheen of sweat on his forehead.
"Gerard? Are you okay?" Frank asked, feeling like a frightened 5 year old running into his mother's room in the middle of the night all over again.
Gerard tried to answer, only to make a strange gagging noise in his throat.
"Holy fuck." Frank breathed, before gasping in air, and yelling at the top of his lungs, "MIKEY! I FOUND HIM!"
30 minutes ago, Mikey called the EMTs, who showed up on the scene before long. They proclaimed him to be suffering probably alcohol poisoning, possibly dehydrated, in shock, and perhaps having ruptured his esophagus from vomiting so much so forcefully.
As he passed out of consciousness, the EMT's loaded his comatose body onto the stretcher, starting an IV line, before moving the whole setup into the ambulance. They allowed only one member to travel with the singer. Mikey was the one elected to go with his brother.
15 minutes ago, the remaining 3 members went on stage, informing the audience that Gerard had suffered a medical emergency, and that they regrettably had to reschedule the show, but they would give refunds.
Each of the 4 conscious members questioned himself the same thing. Why hadn't he confronted Gerard sooner?
In the hospital, Gerard lay still unconscious, in a bed in the ICU, his brother nearby. Before long, a doctor came in to talk to the younger Way.
"You're Gerard's younger brother?"
"I'm afraid I have some bad news, sir."
Mikey felt his stomach plunge. "What?" he managed to choke out past the lump that was forming in his throat.
"Well, it looks like Gerard may not make it to the morning."
The doctor let out a sigh, as if he'd dealt with too much sadness for one night. "May I sit?" he asked.
Mikey nodded numbly.
The doctor took a seat across from Mikey, smoothing out his white coat. He glanced down at his charts. "Where do I even start?" he asked, an edge of sorrow in his voice.
The bassist swallowed, scared to hear the truth confirmed that by the morning, he would be an only child.
"You brother Gerard was an alcoholic, and probably for a few years, Mr. Way."
Mikey didn't even bother correcting the doctor on the name part, only saying, "He used to have alcohol problems in the past, but he got over it. I mean, in the past few months, I was suspicious he started again, but I was scared to accuse him about it. He just said it was a few drinks and he could always quit tomorrow."
"I see. Often times, alcoholics say they can stop when they feel like it, but many times, they can't. Your bother's liver and kidneys are barely functioning. They'll last him another 5 years or so if we're lucky. But of course, that's provided he stops his drinking. "
Mikey nodded, dumbly, knowing somehow that Gerard would never get a chance to stop drinking.
"His blood alcohol level tonight, more alcohol than blood, near fatal levels. He has alcohol poisoning, which we're trying to correct, dialysis to help his poor kidneys do their job. He was so intoxicated he was vomiting quite a bit according to the EMT reports. This was so forceful, and his esophagus probably already so weakened from prior vomiting that it lead to Boerhaave's Syndrome. His blood levels, phosphates, potassium, sodium, and so forth, are all out of order. His heart is experiencing arrhythmia." The doctor said, eyes full of regret at having to be the one to inform the bassist of all this.
However, the only thing that Mikey could ask, with a perplexed look on his face was, "Boerhaave's Syndrome?"
The doctor took off his glasses, closing his eyes for a moment. He took a deep breath, before opening his eyes again, and saying, "Boerhaave's Syndrome is when a person vomits so forcefully that they rupture their esophagus. Usually, the person has a history of purging, alcoholism, or a disease that causes frequent vomiting."
Mikey nodded, fighting back tears. "Is there anything you can do?"
"We're waiting for a specialist to come and do whatever they can to help Gerard. Even so, the prognosis isn't good. There's about a 1 in 4 chance of him dying, even if the surgery goes well.
"I understand." Mikey said quietly.
Just a little something based off Framing Hanley's song "Can Always Quit Tomorrow." Thought this one up in Chemistry class some time in April. I do have to say, it seems that over the past year, Chemistry class is where I've been coming up with some of my best ideas for fics. Somehow, I still passed. Might continue this, I don't know yet, it depends on what kind of feedback I get.