What's life like bleeding on the floor?
– bodyredbloodglasswaterbodydeadohGOD. The strangled cry as he recognised the face - pale, bloodless… gone. And he ran to the phone, knowing there was no point, they wouldn’t get here in time, there wasn’t enough time, time was up.
Gerard opened the door, and a sliver of moonlight beamed into Frank’s face.
“What’s up, Gee?” His voice clouded by sleep.
“Frank, can we talk for a while? I can’t sleep.” His voice was soft and dark, full of emotion, yet somehow emotionless. As if the outcome of this ‘talk’ meant everything in the world to him though he didn’t want it to…or didn’t want Frank to realise. Gerard turned and walked to his bedroom, as Frank got up and followed wordlessly.
“Sir, we need you to stay calm.”
She had picked up the phone, “911, what is your emergency?” And he had dissolved into hysteria – deadgonebloodonthefloor. Oh god, he’s DEAD.
The operator didn’t know, how could she know what was happening. She was asking him to stay calm and he wondered, through his hysteria, if she would be calm if she had just seen what he had. He took a breath.
“Sir, what is your name? Address? What happened?”
He explained everything as quickly as he could, just fucking get here please. But time was already gone.
Gerard wanted this to happen. He purposely steered the conversation the way he wanted it to go. But Frank never answered the way he wanted. Gerard started pushing buttons.
“Fuck, I want a smoke. A pack of smokes and a nice big bottle of Vodka.”
“Cause I don’t want to feel anything anymore.”
He didn’t know what to do. Pacing around the kitchen was not doing much good, maybe he should go call the brother. Nonono. He didn’t know for sure. Maybe just asleep. Of course he was dead.
Oh, that was good. Talking to himself. Having a full-blown conversation with himself. Fuck, he was going crazy.
He slammed his fist into the hard wooden panelling of the cupboard and collapsed on the cold tiles of the kitchen, curling into the foetal position, all the while screaming silently.
Frank’s voice was angry now, frustrated. “Why that? Why alcohol and cigarettes?”
“Because it’s all that I’ve fucking got.”
“Did that hurt?”
“I can’t change what you think.”
“Try me. Besides that’s not the whole truth. There’s more. But you don’t want to hear it.”
“No I don’t.”
The steady flow of paramedics and police officers to and from the bathroom had not stopped all morning. Despite that, with each uniformed blur that went past, a small sob escaped from the equally small frame curled up on the couch. The officers paid no heed – they had seen this sort of thing too many times to be overly affected. It wasn’t their grief anyway, it was a private grief that no one else could ever understand.
“But you don’t understand!” Gerard yelled, fighting to keep his voice strong, though it shook and broke, turning his last word into a whisper.
“I don’t fucking want to, Gerard. I don’t want to bloody hear it. Go take your fucking cigarettes and your goddamned vodka and numb whatever the fuck with that.”
Quiet, no longer fighting to stay strong. His voice was almost a breath, barely distinguishable above the rain hammering on the roof. Almost like he’d given up. “I wish I could explain, Frankie baby. I wish I could just find the words and tell you. Cause then, maybe you’d understand.”
The paramedics finished whatever it was they were doing in the bathroom, and finally wheeled out the gurney. Stirring at the noise, the figure on the couch looked up. Realisation mixed with the tears and the person froze, the only sign of life was his chest as he fought down hysteria and his eyes, fixated upon the shape underneath the white sheet as it rolled out the door. “From the earth to the morgue.” His lips formed the words as if they were something broken easily, even by sound. And he knew that he would never hear the voice that gave those words their meaning again and that anyone who tried couldn’t do those words justice. Only break them.
“Gerard. I. Don’t. Want. To. Fucking. Understand.” Spelling it out now, as if he had had enough.
“Frank. I. Need. You. To. Understand.” Pleading now, as if he couldn’t take any more.
“No. Get the fuck over me Gerard.” Simple, strong. Frank left, unable to stand the sight of Gerard crumpling and collapsing, like he’d been physically hit.
A whisper, “Frank?”
And then there was no one and nothing but the sound of his own sobbing and the rain on the glass.