Gerard is feeling grey. ::Frerard::
Gerard wished he had stayed at home because the coffee shop with its dim orange lights on its dark red and black walls and its soft music and rumble of human speech made him feel drowsy, languid. It started to rain. He thought he might just lean his head down and nap. Instead he leaned his cheek on the heel of his hand, his elbow on the tiny round table, and looked out the rectangle window that went from the floor to the ceiling. Nothing sparked his head back from clouds to sky. A woman with a dog. A man with an instrument case. Cars. Buildings. Sleepy city. He closed his eyes and wished he had bought some coffee. If not for the caffeine, then just the relaxing, satisfying taste.
And Gerard may have fallen asleep, may actually have drifted off into a place of nothingness until he awoke on his own or until the store eventually closed and he would have to leave, if someone had not spoken to him.
Gerard opened his eyes, the warmth in the small building making it much more difficult than it should have been. He looked up at the man with the instrument case. He’d seen him outside, walking as it had just began to rain. And the man was hardly a man at all. If Gerard was forced to make a guess he’d say that the other person was between nineteen and twenty-two. Maybe. His dark brown hair was shiny with wetness. Gerard rubbed his eyes and sat up.
“…Hi?” He didn’t like answering with the question because it sounded almost condescending, but he didn’t have the strength to think up something more polite. The other man’s instrument case was a guitar case and it was slung over his shoulder by the strap. Gerard liked the pose and didn’t know why. The other person stuck out their hand.
Gerard shook it and felt a little more awake. ” ‘m Gerard.”
Frank looked at him for a few moments, subtly pulsing awkwardness, before glancing at the empty chair across from Gerard. “Can I sit with you?” Gerard replied yes in a groggy tone and wondered why because the shop had only about three or four other customers in it. There were about four open tables. He didn’t mind the company regardless. Frank sat down and leaned his guitar case against the wall. Gerard went to run his hand through his hair but realized he was wearing a hat. As a result, his arm did a sort of awkward twist. He saw Frank begin to smile then catch himself. Gerard didn’t find anything wrong with smiling.
“So, uh…” Gerard tried to shake the sleepiness away. “…How are you?” Frank leaned his elbows on the table and folded his hands as if in prayer. They were clad with fingerless gloves. Gerard liked them. He wished he had them.
“Good,” he said cheerily, if a little plainly. He chewed on his bottom lip, his tongue moving the ring on the left side of the flesh. “...And you?”
Gerard shrugged and sat up straighter. His voice sounded a little thick, raspy, tired. “I’m just kinda tired.” There was a moment of silence before Gerard said, “So…what’s up?”
Frank looked a little nervous, embarrassed. “Nothing, I, uh…just thought you looked kind of lonely.”
“Not lonely, exactly,” Gerard replied softly. “Just…dull.” Frank was watching him intently. He parted his lips slightly as if he might speak but closed them again. Gerard vaguely wondered if Frank knew what he meant by dull then realized he didn’t care because it didn’t matter. Frank bit down on his lip for another few moments before finally saying in a tone that was a little too fast,
“Can I, um…buy you a coffee or something?”
Gerard smiled and it was tired and just a little bit sad for reasons even he didn’t know, and said, “Yeah.” Only a crazy person denies free coffee, even if it is by an attractive stranger. They both stood up, Frank looking back at his guitar case as if it may have disappeared in the half second he took his eyes away from it, and got in line behind the only other person ordering coffee. Frank stood next to Gerard, his eyes glued to the back of the person’s head in front of them as if he was scared to look at Gerard. Gerard found this cute, liked it and didn’t know why. He liked the way Frank smelled slightly musty and masculine, liked how he was ridiculously short (at least five inches shorter than Gerard was) and like how nervous he sounded. It was very human.
“So…what kind of coffee d’you like?” Frank asked. Gerard told him anything was fine and found that he wanted to get closer to this person. Emotionally, of course, but also physically. His whole body just seemed small, lean, soft. It wasn’t an overwhelming tug of an urge and it was hardly sexual; just a dull want, the way a moth must be attracted to a flame. Frank ordered their coffee when it was their turn and they leaned against the wall while they waited.
“So, what brings you here?” Frank asked. His voice was a little less thin and careful now, a little more casual. Gerard shrugged.
“I have no inspiration for anything,” he explained. He looked over and Frank who’s expression said that he wanted to understand (was pretending to) but didn’t. “…I write songs. I mean, I paint too. But I really want to write this one out.” Frank nodded this time and Gerard realized even he didn’t know what this one was.
“If you need any help I might be able to help,” he said and shrugged a little, waving his hand as if to add emphasis to his point. He glanced over at his guitar case. “I’m a…musician too, I guess.” He said musician as if he was unsure about it. Gerard noticed how lean and experienced Frank’s hands were and suddenly wanted to touch them. He didn’t.
They grabbed their coffee when it was time, Gerard feeling a bit more alive than he had when he initially sat down inside the warmth and dimness of the building, and returned to their table. Frank grabbed a napkin from the metal dispenser on the table and reached into the pouch on the front of his guitar case. Gerard watched with only a half-interest, sucking the coffee from his cup as Frank produced a pencil from the case. For a split second Gerard thought Frank was going to write down his phone number. Gerard wouldn’t have minded. But Frank pushed the napkin and pencil towards Gerard, who in return furrowed his dark eyebrows but didn’t take his lips off of the rim of his coffee cup.
“Write something,” Frank said simply, smiling back at him, his eyes sleepy. Gerard simply blinked, but found himself taking the pencil and putting down his coffee anyway. He stared at the napkin for a moment, feeling Frank watching the top of his head and a significant lack of ideas flashed like a white sheet in his head, then looked up and said,
“ ‘bout what?”
Frank shrugged. “ ‘bout anything.”
Gerard chewed on his bottom lip before scribbling down Thanks for the coffee and soundlessly pushing the napkin and pencil over to Frank. It was hardly Shakespearean. Frank read it quickly and smiled, writing something else down and pushing it back. Gerard looked.
No problem. You’re sweet.
Gerard responded by drawing a tiny, cartoonish heart. Frank took the paper while Gerard sipped his coffee and his lightly tanned cheeks turned pink. And they went on like that for some time, just passing that napkin back and forth. People came and went in the little shop and they were forced to grab more napkins from the dispenser. Gerard realized Frank’s handwriting was a little sloppy, but he liked it. His own was clean and sharp, precise from years of experienced drawing and painting and art that required his full attention on his hands.
Tell me about yourself.
I really like you.
So, you play the guitar?
I’ve never been out of New York.
They didn’t need to speak and it somehow seemed more natural that way. They scribbled random facts, had a conversation without moving their lips, expressing themselves to one another with bits of information that neither of them had thought about in quite some time. Gerard learned that Frank had played the guitar since he was five, practiced yoga when he was absolutely positive no one was looking, hated yellow squash, had over twenty different tattoos, and liked to sleep naked. Gerard was almost tempted to ask Frank to prove the last statement.
He could feel the blue opening back up, pushing past the membrane of grey, breaking through the solid, ugly color like a hand breaking through plastic wrap; the fingers curled around the plastic and pulled, the blue exposed beneath the grey. With a sudden quick blink, Gerard took the paper and wrote the first thing that came to his head.
Together he and I will walk in heaven
And I can’t help but think that the angels are jealous
Frank took the paper and looked at it for a moment, his eyes moving back and forth as he read it over a few times. He looked up at Gerard slowly.
“What does it mean?” he asked it a little bit sadly and Gerard wasn’t sure why. He shrugged.
“I don’t know. First thing I thought of.”
Frank parted his lips a little then closed them again. He wrote something down. Gerard took the napkin and read it. The paper had creases and smudges of graphite on it and somehow these markings made their work seem so much more personal.
We’re flesh and blood but bone is gone
Gerard didn’t know what the meant either and he figured it didn’t have a particular meaning. And, as far as he was concerned, he didn’t really care. Something about writing this- together- felt liberating, like forcing the dust and cobwebs and suffocation from his head.
Their song- if you could call it that, since at that moment it was only a few scrambled, mismatched verses scribbled on creased paper- didn’t have a tune. It didn’t have a meaning. And it didn’t need to have those things just yet (if at all) because then- right then- was all that mattered. The two of them sipped their coffees and passed the napkin that they folded and bent in search of more writing space and flirted awkwardly and tried not to speak because it just might shatter the thin and frail creativity they had buzzing between them. And when they did speak it was only to make small talk, to ask about the others likes and dislikes, family, musical preference. It was just to break the silence.
Every now and then, Gerard would look at Frank, glance at the glint of his metal lip ring in the dim light or watch the way he tapped his fingers on the table and there would be this spark- no, it wasn’t a spark, it was more of a jolt- of inspiration. He wanted to write about, draw, do something about this person to express this sudden burst of ideas and adrenaline he gave him. It swelled inside him like a balloon filling with air and he could swear that the words, the images, were there behind the thick wall of nothing. It was his turn to hold the paper and the pencil and he wanted to say something.
But he didn’t. Because he simply didn’t have the words.
He didn’t have the words. Gerard blinked and did a sort of excited little jump so suddenly Frank twitched with surprise on the other side of the table. Gerard took the pencil and scratched in the last words in his head, the words that had been waiting to burst through the grey for the past hour or so they had been sitting and writing together. He wrote them quickly on the only corner of space left on the napkin.
And I don’t know the words to say what I mean
I don’t think I have to, I’m sure you’ll get me
Frank pulled the napkin towards himself with one finger on the corner. He read it and didn’t say anything. Gerard had expected something- a word, a glance- but got nothing. Instead, Frank scribbled down as small as he could, right next to the lyrics,
And I do.