Chapter Twenty-One Mother to Mom

It was dark when I left Gerards apartment. The small city lights flickered against the jet black night, illuminating parts of the street, so I didnt feel like I was walking into nothing. The cool air was a pleasant sensation through my slightly damp hair, still wet from perspiration and a small shower I had taken with Gerard earlier in the day. I breathed in deeply once I got outside, and I immediately noticed the difference in everything around me; the air smelt fresh, clear, and like things were growing again. There was no longer a bitter aftertaste and smell of car congestion. This was natural, normal, real. I felt a small smile curl its way onto my face, realizing that spring was coming soon. Jerseys gray skyline throughout the duration of winter had really put a damper on things. We had just had daylight savings time the weekend before, and though we lost an hour (an hour I could have been with Gerard) the sky was lighter longer and everything seemed to be falling into place. The grass was becoming a proper shade of green in some areas, spread out thicker in between the dirt that childrens feet had upturned. Tree branches were snaking out higher towards the sky, which was a pale shade of blue most days, the clouds fluffing and rolling themselves like waves.

Id begun to realize on my walks to Gerards place just how much color had come back into my world. I had no idea if it was spring itself bringing out the shades, or my new affinity for naming and recognizing what I saw before me. I was no longer looking at the ground; I looked up at the sky, the grass, the patches of flowers, and weeds here and there. I knew I would have never have noticed these things, in such a fine, minute sense of detail if it had not been for Gerards critical eye. Art was a beautiful thing, but I could extend the metaphor now. Everything around me was beautiful, because in turn, everything was art. I had kept myself so closed off from the outside world for so long, it felt like I was being reborn that night. My mind raced with creative thoughts, and I figured this was how Gerard must have felt every day of his life.

I looked around, and even in the dark, I could picture everything that I saw with a clear light. I saw the blinding yellow of dandelions and the calm mauve of snap dragons that seemed to spark up everywhere, even in between the cracks of gray sidewalk slabs. The ground was damp, and some of the clouds collected in the center of the sky, threatening more rain. It seemed to rain now instead of snow, furthering the melting process. The rhythmic pattern of the rain against the window made falling asleep at night easier, and the nocturnal showers helped the plants that were just starting to grow move their renewal right along. The puddles would be thick during the morning, before the sun had dried them up, and sometimes children would fall in, getting caked in mud from head to foot before they had even gotten on the school bus.

Not everything was beautiful though, I realized as I walked alongside the filing-cabinet-like apartment building. There were still cracks in the pavement, dirt without a hope of grass ever covering it, and litter infecting the patches that were lucky enough to have growth. There were still homeless people, drug dealers, and bodies being found in the local park. In fact, there may have been even more (public) crime because it was spring and the sun was out longer now, so more felonies were visible. But God, I was still finding beauty in it.

I shoved my hands deep into my pockets, breathing in the night air. I looked over next to the convenience store alleyway. I saw the same bum I saw in there every time. An older man, maybe even around Gerards age. His skin was white, but he almost appeared to be brown by the amount of dirt and old facial hair that covered him. He was dirty, but his eyes were bright blue and could pierce the night sky I was walking under. He had on a black hat, its rim rolled up and his greasy, long hair sticking out. But the most striking thing about this individual, other than his eyes, was the dog he kept by his side. It was a mutt of some kind, looking like a black lab, only not as big. The old bums feet were tangled under a putrid green and tattered blanket, his dog perched next to him.

The man looked miserable. Though it was spring and it was warming up, if you were outside too long, you would feel the effects of the chilled air, especially if the wind was strong and blowing directly on you. The bum was dirty, poor, and sad you could see it and feel it in his presence as you passed by. But when the dog looked up at him, its wet nose pressing against his chin, he smiled. His teeth were crooked and missing, but he bared them anyway. He saw his dog and he petted her, realizing that not everything in his life was completely miserable.

I could finally see beauty in that again. Before, I would have just ignored the man, kept on walking and maybe even thrown a curse under my breath. Then I would have forgotten. I may have not even noticed the dog. I did now, and I certainly wasnt forgetting. I was drawing another conclusion, back to art and inspiration. You didnt forget inspiration; it kept on creating. It was possible to forget art. I wasnt going to forget Gerard, my inspiration, and now, I wasnt going to forget this man. I almost wanted to walk up to him, take his hand, and shake it. I wanted to thank him. He would probably think I was as crazy as he was.

It was true; I did feel crazy most days. Gerard was having that effect on me. I couldnt believe it was all going on. I couldnt believe it was happening. I was changing and growing so much, I didnt even think I would be able to recognize myself if I was placed out of my body. If I were to look at the situation from that outside viewpoint, I would just see an abnormally happy seventeen-year-old boy. And thats what I was. People didnt see the artist in me, or the guitarist, or anything else creative that I had become. They didnt have to see it yet. Essentially, they werent supposed to. They didnt see Gerard and they werent able to judge that either. I was a normal kid, happy and well-adjusted.


My mother had even said I was happy. She was seeing a change in me too, and she was happy right along with me. No one had to know that it was Gerard making me feel this way, but I knew it was all his doing. My painting and guitar habits helped as well, but he was the one who made me take them up again. He was the one that directed me towards them, either demanding that I play or teaching me how. I had Gerard to thank for everything, though I never knew how to form the words. He was always so much better at that. Maybe one day, I thought happily, he could teach me how to do that, too.

There would be some times, when I would be at home and I would just look at myself in the mirror. Id be naked, of course, because I felt much more at ease with my body. Id look at my bumps, ridges and yes, even my curves now. I could see and comprehend that my slight belly pudge that I had carried since childhood was no longer fat. It was curves, it was attractive. At least to Gerard. Hed run his hands over me, kiss that region, and tell me every part on my body was beautiful, including those curves I had once struggled to hide. I still found it hard to believe when I thought long and hard about Gerard finding me attractive. Not because I wasnt - I had learned to think of myself as at least somewhat handsome - but because I was attracted to Gerard right back. When I looked at myself in the mirror during those times, I saw the marks he left on my body. Id close my eyes and Id be taken right back to his touches, his lips everywhere on me, and eventually, him inside me or the other way around. I had had sex with him; several times by now. I had initiated it, and then I had let him take me any way he wanted me. I was having sex with a man, something I thought Id never do.

In all of my life, I didnt think I was gay. I had been in relationships with girls (no matter how short or petty, they were still relationships with girls) and I had never really been that attracted to a guy. Id seen them naked, but I saw myself naked, too. There wasnt too much of a variation; I didnt think Id get excited by parts I already had. I had to admit, though, I was curious during gym class and Id sneak a peek. I just did it for vanitys sake, to see if all guys looked the same, and if I was bigger or not. After I found out, I was good. Id never in a million years think of putting my mouth on anyones cock, or any males lips, for that matter.

But when I was with Gerard it was different. It was so different. He made me feel okay. He made me feel better than okay. Like I was beautiful, artistic, and smart. He made me want to kiss him, touch him, and fuck him. It seemed like inside his apartment was the only place I felt safe to act the way I did. It was only with him where I ever felt attracted to another man, and it was only with him that I would ever consider doing those things to. But I still had to ask myself: Was I gay?

I had done everything you could think of with a man. And I liked it. I wanted to do it again and again. If that made me gay, then I figured I had to accept it. If it meant I was gay with Gerard, then that fate didnt seem too bad. I just couldnt tell anyone I knew that much for sure. I only had the freedom and security behind the four brightly painted walls of his apartment. Society was harsh to gay people in general; if I was gay and with a forty-seven year old, I knew that it would be so much worse.

I continued my walk, going slightly slower than average to take in all of this beauty never seen before. I wasnt too far away from Gerards apartment when something caught my attention. For once, it was not the street lamps and their amber glow illuminating nature; it was the bright florescent beaming of the still-open liquor store. I shielded my eyes as I walked past, my pupils horrified by the fakeness.

Hey, Frank! I heard someone yell from somewhere around me. It wasnt quite behind me or in front of me, but more off to the side. My arm was blocking them, but I could have recognized that voice anywhere. Every function in my body ceased movement, and I was paralyzed on spot.

It was Sam. Worst of all, he was coming over here, and Travis was following close behind. I didnt know what to do. I saw the red glow of a cigarette that I didnt know he smoked come over to me. Sam usually walked with such haste and a bouncy quality. He always had to be going somewhere, anywhere fast. But right then, he walked with a stride in his step, a bitterness furrowed deep down beneath his shoes. I remained on the sidewalk as he and Travis took a place in front of me.

Hey I said uneasily. I jammed my hands down in my pocket deeper and resisted the urge to look behind me at Gerards place. I sometimes wondered if he watched as I left, from his balcony and often checked to see if my inkling was right. I swore some days, I saw the white and pasty figure in the window, but I was never quite sure.

If Gerard was watching in that moment, I wanted him to save me. Throw paint on my former friends again or just do something. I couldnt be left alone with Sam and Travis. They had been asking too many questions recently and I had been disappearing more and more. There had already been another weekend where I had lied to my mother and said I had been at their houses, but they had not called like last times. Or at least, they didnt tell me. Maybe that was what they were going to confront me about now; I had no idea. All I knew was that I was coming straight out of the place where all my secrets were encased in a thin layer that was beginning to chip away.

Where have you been? Sam asked casually, not bothering to disguise the slightly bitter tone in his voice. He placed a hand against the pole that was to my right, leaning back a little as he started to smoke. I watched as he breathed it in and out through his scrunched up nose, wondering just when the fuck he had picked up that habit. When he blew the noxious substance out, I was relieved to see that he didnt look half as good as when Gerard did the same action. He just looked like an awkward teen trying to be cool. Trying being the key word.

Ive been around, I answered, shifting my weight from foot to foot, along with my gaze around the place. I locked eyes with the bright orange light of the liquor store and quickly changed topics. Hanging out for beer again?

We have enough beer at home, actually, Sam interjected, motioning to Travis to his left with the lit cigarette.

Travis was standing hunched over a little (he did this a lot when he was around Sam and me because he was at least six inches taller than the both of us put together), his dark hair falling in his face. He was thinner than I remembered him being, and his skin hung close to his cheeks, his flat tipped nose off the to side. Perhaps it was because of the dark, but it looked like he was glaring at me. Travis was never one to glare; he either ignored you or told you straight up how he felt. He didnt waste time glaring.

Oh, I uttered, trying to make conversation that somehow didnt incriminate me. If they had enough beer, why were they still at the liquor store?

We were waiting for you, Sam stated slowly, taking another drag of the cigarette and prolonging my agony. I breathed in a little too sharply, taking Sams smoke with me. I coughed a little, but that was for sheer terror.

Youwere? I asked them lowly, biting my lip and unable to move any part of my body. I wanted to run away so fast; I just wanted to bolt and never look back. Id probably run back up to Gerards apartment and ruin everything, but I didnt care. I still felt his key deep down in the bottom of my pocket. If I could just grab it, then I could

Sam cut my thoughts off.

Yeah, we were. What were you doing in that building anyway?

Sams voice was harsh, strong, and to the fucking point. He took a final drag on his cigarette, then threw it on the ground and stamped on it. The way he did the action, never losing eye contact, made everything seem like a threat. Sam himself embodied the very notion of hostility and violence.

I was in that building? I asked, just to fucking say something. I didnt want to admit to anything at all; even if it was just being around the apartment. Maybe they were testing me, teasing me to see how much I really did know. Maybe they hadnt seen everything.

Yeah, you were, dumbass, Sam cut in again, his voice reaching the many octave ranges it got to when he was angry. I heard Travis breathe out a huffed breath and I knew this wasnt going to end well. Sam demanded again, Just tell us what the fuck is going on.

Nothing! I exclaimed, raising my hands out of my pockets, nearly knocking the key ring out with them. I held up my palms as if to show them I meant no harm.

Sam scoffed, and my two so-called friends began to look me up and down. I felt like fucking livestock, ready to be evaluated. And then eaten alive. I wanted to throw up on the fucking street, and if I had been able to move, I just may have.

Look, we were just wondering who the fuck your new friend is, Sam said sharply, his voice like a razor in the cool night sky.

My eyes widened and my mouth dropped open. Oh God, oh God, oh God, was all I thought. Had they seen me with Gerard?

Yeah, Travis finally added, flinching his head up slightly. This was the strongest I had seen him, without the aid of any kind of substance. This was getting serious. Too serious.

I dont have a new friend, I lied again, hoping they would believe something. Anything.

Fuck you, Frank, Sam finally let out. He dropped his hand down from the pole with an aggravated sigh. Jesus. I thought we were friends? Why the fuck are you acting like a little bitch?

Im acting like a little bitch? I spat back right away, leaning my body into the conversation. I had no idea where the burst of extra confidence had come from, considering the fear that had overcome me only moment earlier, but as Sams eyes widened and he began to lean forward too, I knew this was a mistake.

I couldnt fight Sam. People just didnt just fight Sam. He may have been short, but God, he knew how to handle himself. He would kick their ass if anyone ever tried anything, and so far, I had managed to avoid being on the wrong side of a beating. I had been his friend, or so he thought, which made me able to escape his fists. Now, he was accusing me of leaving them. Friendship was just too fucking complicated.

Look, Im sorry, I finally said, after pulling away from the center and calming myself down. Sam recoiled as well, nodding his head and folding his arms over his chest, satisfied. I knew he thought he had won inside his head, and I was going to let him relish in that victory. He had stopped talking about this new friend I had, which made me think that Sam knew shit. If he had seen me and Gerard, he would have said something right away. I knew Sams vindictive nature too well to realize he would not let something this incriminating bypass him. We may not have been friends anymore, but I still knew his personality. Friendships changed, but people rarely did entirely. Even I was still the same semi-submissive Frank I had always been in front of my friends, despite Gerards influence. I made a fucking mental note to listen to him more.

Are we done here? I asked, shrugging my shoulders after we had all been silent in our bitterness for awhile. I didnt want to sound too rude, but my anxiety manifested itself that way. I looked back up at Sam and Travis, my eyebrows lowered just in case there would be another bout of anger. Instead, Sam and Travis parted, and Sam extended his arm, allowing for me to pass through.

Be on your way, Frankie, Sam said to me, being so polite and child-like, it just came off as fucking mean. I crushed my eyes closed, and pushed my way past them, keeping my head low to the ground. As the cold air from their glares burned into me, I wondered just what the fuck had happened to my friends.

Oh, and Frank, Sam called once more when I was only a pace ahead of them. I stopped and stiffly turned around to meet them, my eyes closed in aggression. What the fuck did they want now?


The way Sam looked at me, with a half-smile and a crooked glare, made me think something else was behind his eyes. Something worse than seeing my new friend, even if that was just bullshit. Sam had something under his sleeve only for me, something that would hurt a lot more than losing their friendship.

We went to your house, Sam started, his smile not faltering. He practically hissed as his venom came out through words. Next time you tell your parents youre with us, make sure you actually are.

My eyes widened as my blood drained away from my body. I watched Sam and Travis, both with evil, wicked grins on their faces, giggle for a while until something inside of me just snapped. My stomach dropped, and my eyes remained wide with horror.

And then, I ran all the way home.

: 2015-09-07; : 240.


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