Grass is always Greener ex 1: My neighbor that I didn't like moved out. I was happy. A drummer moved in. It sounds like he's in my driveway. — Brian Schechter’s Twitter, March 15, 2010.
Rain pelted down on the slicked down streets of Chicago. It was a dark and gloomy night as thunder and lightning overhead rumbled ominously
A groaning, wheezing sound filled the air as a phone booth materialized on the corner of the 'Christian Chicago Orphanage'. The overhead arch of the building protected the phone booth from the rain as the door of the phone booth banged open and shut to catch anyone's attention.
The door paused and then it slowly shut close. The sound sounded again and the phone booth slowly dematerialize, leaving behind its precious cargo. It wiggled in its basket and then a tiny wail erupted from its mouth when the thunder rumbled overhead.
The Orphanage doors opened and a woman in a yellow rain jacket came out with a flashlight. "Hello?"
Lightning erupted overhead and a cry caught her attention. She panned the flashlight over to the side and gasped, nearly dropping the flashlight in surprise.
"Oh, you poor tiny thing!" The woman cried out and rushed forward. She grabbed the basket and shielded the small toddler from the rain and brought it inside.
Inside it was warm and safe and the crying slowly subsided.
Eyes squeezed shut, slowly, they opened and blue eyes looked at the woman holding the basket. She set aside the flashlight onto the floor and moved the blankets away from the toddler’s face.
"Hey there, baby boy," The woman cooed at him and ran a finger down his cheek. "You're safe now. We've got you." She checked the basket for any kind of note but only saw a post-it stuck to the inside that said - Robert.
Bob was about five years old.
At least, that’s how old the social workers thought he was. He had been found on the steps of the orphanage in Chicago with no memory of anything. He knew the year and the basics. He could read and write no problem.
He didn’t have any memory from before he was five. It was like he had just appeared at the age of five and that was it. Who cares about the other four years he was alive and the nine months he spent in his mommy’s tummy?
Bob was six and a half years old.
His adoptive mommy was crying as the policeman held her. His adoptive daddy wasn’t coming home.
He was in a car wreck and didn’t wake up.
Bob understood not waking up meant not coming home. He had to be strong for his mommy now.
He was fourteen now and just starting to get into the music scene.
He’d been playing the drums for as long as he could remember.
There was a beat to them that seemed to thrum in his entire body.
It felt right.
Things were finally starting to look up for him.
Bob was twenty-one and had put down his sticks a couple of years ago.
It felt like it was the right time to do so, and he had learned a long time ago to listen to his instincts. They were always right.
He had a degree in sound engineering from the Florida State University now.
And he was about to go on tour as a sound tech, and he couldn’t be more excited.
He was about to see the world.
Twenty-four years old, and Brian just asked him to drum for My Chemical Romance.
He leapt at the chance.
He got to fucking drum again.
And he got to do it with a band that claimed to save lives.
They were going to save his.
He just knew it.
Age twenty-nine, wrists fucked as hell, and he was slowly being shoved out of the band.
Thirty tracks they had recorded, enough for 2 albums, but the guys were acting weird—more weird than normal.
They were being downright mean to him, and he didn’t know what was wrong with them.
He knew something was wrong—his instincts never failed him; he just didn’t know what to do to fix them.
Bob wiped away the sweat from his brow as he shoved the last of his boxes into the living room. He had finally moved out to Los Angeles. A new start.
Especially since he couldn’t—
Shaking his head and absently massaging his wrist, Bob pushed the thought out from his head. It was a mutual decision.
He couldn't think of it any other way, even with the others acting weird the past few months. They had written at least thirty tracks together and then at the last second, Gerard decided to scrap them all because they didn't go with his 'artistic vision'.
That was the weird part, wanting to scrap at least thirty tracks and when he voiced his objections about not using the tracks; they attacked him verbally and were suddenly not the guys he'd toured with the past few years with. Not the guys he teched for free in Europe.
They were different and it unsettled Bob.
He tried working things out, offering compromises but it suddenly became World War III with New Jersey VS Chicago. He didn't have to put up with that kind of crap and with the way they were acting, if this was how it was going to be like from now on, he didn't want to be part of the band anymore.
So he used his wrists as an excuse and got out.
Things had gotten a bit better between Mikey and him, but that was about it, the others decided he didn’t exist and that suited him fine.
In the end, there was no more My Chemical Romance. No more drumming.
Just Bob Bryar: behind the scenes once again.
Bob took a couple of deep breaths and flexed his fingers into the shape of a fist and then back out again, calming himself enough to start putting together his drum kit.
He might not drum for one of the biggest bands in the world anymore, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t still mess around on his own kit.
It took him an hour to set it all up properly—toms, snare, bass and cymbals all strategically placed.
And then his throne.
“Welcome Bob Motherfucking Bryar back to the stage and his throne!”
Shaking his head at the memories, he ran a fingernail down the cymbal; a small pinging sound rang out. Bob sighed and got to work on the other boxes. He’d treat himself to some hard-core drumming after he got his shit organized.
Dishes were unearthed, and packing newspaper was tossed into a nearby makeshift garbage and was stacked near the sink for washing. Linen was tossed into a nearby linen closet with the towels, and appliances were dug out. The coffee machine was the first to be set up. Bob would need that appliance if he wanted to survive the morning.
A duffle bag of clothes was tossed into his new bedroom, empty and bare of any personal belongings or furniture.
Movers would deliver the furniture tomorrow.
Deciding he was done for the day, Bob found his bag of drumsticks and headed over toward the drum kit.
Absently twirling the stick, Bob swore as his wrist twinged in pain, causing him to drop the stick. It bounced and rolled over to a marked box that said it was from ‘CHICAGO’ and ‘MOM.’
Sighing, Bob knew he pushed his wrists too much today and there would be no drumming for a couple of days. Tossing the sticks near his kit, Bob sat down cross-legged in a smooth move and opened the box with careful precision.
He didn’t think he left anything back in Chicago, but his mom was his mom, and she had some sort of freaky power of knowing exactly what he forgot.
Looking inside the box, Bob saw there were photo albums, an old stuffed animal, a smaller box and a few of his action figurines from the X-Men comic series. Bob took out the photo albums that were marked from the year ‘2005’ to current; he would look at those later—much later, when the hurt was less. The stuffed animal was taken out with a small smile.
It was a stuffed turtle that he had named Leonardo when he was seven. Half of the plush fur was missing from the stomach where Bob used to rub his cheek. And he could make out a few mends from his mom’s sewing needle. Setting the animal in his lap, he then pulled out the small box.
Bob slowly pulled the top off, and a note fluttered onto the ground. Inside the small box was a black case. Setting the black case down to the ground, Bob opened and read the note as he absently petted Leonardo.
This was with you the night you were found. I had forgotten about it, but when I was cleaning the attic a few weeks ago, I found it and remembered.
I thought you should have it.
The note doesn’t exactly explain what ‘it’ was, and Bob glanced down at the small black case, wondering what was inside.
It was a word that haunted him from time to time. It brought up thoughts and questions that he thought he had gotten rid of.
He didn’t remember anything from before age five. He knew other people who had a few memories from when they were two or three or even four. Not him. He woke up five years old on the steps outside of an orphanage.
The police tried to find his biological parents, but they didn’t have any luck. He spent a year going from foster home to foster home before his mom and dad adopted him.
At six and a half he experienced his first true loss when his dad died in a car crash, and from then on, it was him and his mom against the world.
Picking up the black case, Bob turned it over in his hands, wondering what kind of douche bag biological parents he had that just left him on the orphanage steps with whatever it was in the box.
Bob popped the top open and saw a silver fob watch lying on dark crushed velvet. It had intricate geometric shapes carved into the metal and a chain attached at the top. His blue eyes widened as he traced a finger over the silver.
It felt familiar to him; like he had found a piece of himself he never knew he had lost.
Clasping the fob watch in his hand, Bob’s thumb inched up slowly. He was mesmerized by this object. He wanted to open it. No, he needed to open it. It was calling to him.
Bob’s thumb stroked the clasp as he lightly bit his lip ring in concentration, and he started to press down on it.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
“Open the door, motherfucker!!”
“Fuck!” Bob swore as he was startled and dropped the watch. Quickly picking it up, he stuffed it into the pocket of his hoodie.
Stalking toward the front door, Bob opened it and had a curse ready on his lips when he realized who was in his doorway. “Brian?”
“Bob Bryar! You never write, you never call and I had to find out from Pete Wentz—Pete Wentz!—that you had moved next door to me,” Brian stated as he pulled Bob into a one arm hug.
“You live next door?” Bob asked a bit dumbly. He didn’t expect Brian to be here. He had just picked a house in Los Angeles, far away from Chicago and memories, and moved in under a month after everything that happened.
It also showed how far apart he had grown from Brian that he didn’t even know where he lived in Los Angeles.
Brian had to look up a little, Bob’s five foot ten frame dwarfing his own five foot seven. A tattooed arm rose upward, and a strong hand curled around Bob’s bicep and squeezed in comfort.
In that gesture of comfort, Bob knew that Brian knew he had left the band and Brian was saying he was here for him.
Brian had left the music business because he had burned out. Bob left his band because they turned against him.
And after all of that, of him trying to put his life back together post-band, he was confronted with a face from the past.
“Wentz knows where I live?” Bob asked. It was the only thing he could think of to ask as Brian removed his hand.
“He knows all and sees all apparently,” Brian scoffed. “Are you going to invite me in?”
Moving to the side, Bob watched as Brian entered his new home.
“It’s a bit sparse in here,” Brian asked as he took in empty house.
“Furniture is getting delivered tomorrow,” Bob mumbled, running a hand over his beard.
They stood around in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. They hadn’t really talked to one another in a couple of years, not since Brian left. Just a few sparse emails and texts, but it looked like Brian would be in Bob’s life again.
“C’mon Bob, it’s depressing in here. Let’s go get take-out and get you drunk,” Brian decided.
Bob took a look around with his hands shoved into the pockets of his hoodie. His hand curled around the silver watch, and he decided Brian had the right idea.
“Yeah, let’s do that, but you’re paying,” Bob stated as he grabbed his keys and wallet.
Brian chuckled as they walked out of the house, Bob locking it behind him as they left.
An orange sky with trees of silver leaves green forests with golden fields and red deserts. It felt like home.
The cries of people dying around him.
It was burning around him and then a pain in his head and it felt like his body was on fire. Shimmers of orange light flashed before his eyes.
An image of a silver fob watch came up, followed by a kid crying as rain poured around him.
Bob awoke with a start.
Groaning, he ran a hand down his face and grimaced as it came away wet. His entire body was damp with sweat.
Pushing the covers off of him, Bob absently scratched his bare stomach and pulled his sweats up a little as he padded over to the bathroom.
It had been three months since he moved into his new house, and a couple times a week he had that dream.
The dream felt important to him, but it was just flashes of images and impressions of feelings. It filled him with something he couldn’t describe.
Change was coming. He didn’t know when or where, but it was coming, and it would affect him. Bob didn’t know how he knew this just that he knew.
The last time he had this sort of feeling was when he joined My Chemical Romance, and look how that turned out in the end.
Bob splashed some water on his face and quickly towelled himself dry. He decided that in the morning after a shower and some coffee, he’d call Brian and see if he could pull some strings for Bob to do some teching.
Maybe he could get his head on straight and away from these dreams if he were on the road again.
The Bamboozle Road show.
A couple months of craziness was exactly what Bob needed to get away. Even Brian joined in as tour manager. It felt right working with him again, like they had gone full circle.
He’d gotten away from his own headspace and the dreams in Los Angeles, but now a new, yet not new, ache was penetrating his bones and making his wrists ache. It was a little bit worse when fans recognized him and tried to take pictures of him. It even got a little crazy at one point when one fan grabbed his arm and tried to pull him away.
Bob really missed Worm as he managed to disengage himself from the fan and get back to work.
The ache persisted throughout the tour, and Bob realized it was him wanting to get back up on stage and pound the shit out of the drums.
The solution he came up with was to work harder. He went full tilt for about two weeks straight, getting barely any sleep, when Brian cornered him one evening.
Bob was leaning against one of the teching trailers, cigarette in one hand and beer in the other, as he stared out into the night.
“What are you doing, Bryar?”
Startled, Bob nearly spilled his beer cup and choked on his cigarette. Coughing, Bob turned his head to glare at Brian. “Jesus, Schechter, you nearly gave me a heart attack.”
Brian smirked. “And you didn’t answer my question.”
Bob stared at Brian and then finally looked away. “I’m relaxing; what does it look like?”
“I think it looks like you’re slowly killing yourself,” Brian pointed out. “You know, I never really thought you’d need an intervention.”
“I’m not an alcoholic or on drugs,” Bob muttered, but he knew what Brian was talking about. He could feel just the plain run downness of being on tour affecting him more than usual and a tickle in the back of his throat.
Damn it, he didn’t like getting sick.
Brian didn’t flinch at the comment of ‘alcoholic’ or ‘drugs.’ He’d done his share of therapy and had been clean and sober for years. “It’s an intervention of stupidity, Bob.”
“‘Fine,’” Brian quoted in a monotone voice. “‘Fine’ like you were ‘fine’ when your leg nearly rotted off from gangrene or the staph infection? ‘Fine’ like when you did your first video shoot with an almost broken foot? ‘Fine’ like your wrists acting up ‘fine’?”
Bob scowled at Brian. “Yeah, like I said, fine.”
“Bob,” Brian said softly.
“Fuck you,” Bob growled out. “I’m fine!”
“So fine you’re running yourself ragged,” Brian pointed out. “The tour is over in a couple of weeks, so take it easy so you don’t make yourself sick. You’re such a little whiny bitch when you’re sick.”
Snorting, Bob took another gulp of his beer and a drag on his cigarette, nearly sucking it back to the filter. “I’ll be fine, Brian.”
Bob was dying.
That was the only explanation for the continued hacking, stuffed up nose and general achiness that Bob attributed to post tour tiredness. He wasn’t sick, really. He wanted to sleep through the night without hacking up a lung. He wanted his mom and her homemade soup.
Crap, he was sick.
He hated being sick, and he cursed Brian for being right. He was a whiny little bitch when sick.
Grabbing another Kleenex, Bob blew his nose into it, and it sounded like a goose was dying in his house as green gunk came up and coloured the tissue.
Shivering in his long-sleeved shirt, Bob sighed and got out of his blanket fort and pillows, tossing the gunked up tissue into a nearby trash bucket. Bob opened up his closet and started to scrounge around for a clean-ish hoodie. He still hadn’t done any laundry after getting back; he was too busy being sick, and Brian was too busy to help him out at the moment.
A forced ‘ha’ escaped from his lips, quickly turning into a wet hacking cough as he found a semi-clean-ish hoodie. Pulling it over it his head, Bob breathed and a little wheeze escaped. Stuffing his hands into the pockets, Bob frowned as his hand encountered something heavy and metal.
Curling his fingers around the object, he pulled it out and frowned.
It was a fob watch.
What was this doing in his hoodie pocket?
Blue eyes widened as he remembered finding this in the box his mom sent him from Chicago. It was the watch that his biological parents left with him. How had he forgotten it?
Bringing it up to his face, Bob’s eyes took in the detailed geometrical shapes carved into the metal. It looked like writing or a pattern of some sort.
Turning it over, he traced the carving with the pad of his fingertip.
“FUCK!” Bob cursed as he dropped the watch. It landed on the carpet with a dull thud.
Please? I’m tired of being in here.
“What the hell?” Bob muttered as he cautiously poked the fob watch with his toe.
The voice sounded young, not quite a kid, but not quite an adult—an adolescent of some kind.
Bending over, Bob picked up the fob watch. Taking a deep breath, he pressed the clasp, and it popped open.
Frowning, he looked at it, turning it over in his hands. Inside, it had a normal face and hands, but it wasn’t working.
Soft wispy orange light started to escape from the watch. Bob wanted to drop the watch and run, run far away. But he couldn’t; it felt like the watch was moulding itself to his hand.
This, this was the change that had him running to go do teching.
Nothing would be the same after this fob watch finished whatever it was doing.
The light poured out faster and faster and started to engulf Bob. It invaded his skin and slinked its way into his nose, mouth and ears.
Bob started to moan as the pain became more apparent. It was nothing like he’d ever felt before. It was more pain than when he hurt his ankle, more than the burn on his leg, more than his wrists.
Make it stop, make it stop, make it stop!
Screams ripped from his throat; it felt like he was being rearranged from the inside out, and his head burned as though it were on fire. He welcomed the blackness that started to creep in around the edges of his eyes. It meant the pain was about to end.
Were the last words that Bob registered before he finally passed out, the watch clasped firmly in his hand as he fell face first into the carpet, unconscious.
END PART 1.