Chapter 1: 1- Jumping Isn’t Always the Best Way to Settle a Duel
"Mr. Toro,” Ray sat in the seat opposite the doctor’s, and he shivered from the draft of the air conditioning flowing right through him. Ray had wondered why he found himself in the mint green single-sitter of Dr. Tyson’s office. It couldn't have been for a private therapy session. Ray had long outgrown those.
He could always tell the mood of an arbitrary meeting just by the opening line. “Mr. Toro, I'm happy to see progress,” was the most common. Or when Ray had a bad day, “Mr. Toro, I'm disappointed in your reaction to the treatment,” and even occasionally, “Happy Birthday Mr. Toro!”
Ray looked at being in the hospital the same way he looked at being in school: Be on your best behavior, try to make friends, and don't piss off the administration. In a way, the hospital was kind of like a school; a place where so many lost people learned how to cope with debilitating ailments that affected their lives every day. And hey, if you graduate, you get to be a functioning member of society again. That's all anyone on the inside ever wanted. To feel functional, normal, just like before.
At that moment, as he thought about the day he would graduate, Ray realized he couldn't remember what life was like before the hospital. He remembered being a child, with a mom and a dad, his lower-middle-class upbringing, the six dogs that slept at the foot of his bed every night, his basement full of model car parts and kits. Then he was old. Everything after age 12 was a blur. He could recall going into the hospital as a young man in his early to mid-twenties, maybe, but that was about it.
He supposed the whole reason he was in the hospital was so the doctors could help him remember. It never worked though. That was what worried Ray. He thought if he would never remember, he would never get to leave. The only thing he wanted to do more than remember was to leave.
“Mr. Toro.” Dr. Tyson repeated, breaking Ray from his gaze into the glass window where he could see his faint reflection.
“Yeah?” He cleared his throat.
Tyson took a seat directly in front of Ray, folding his hands over the manila folder that he had been carrying around with him. “How has your day been?” He lifted his reading glasses and rested them in his hair. Ray couldn't remember if Dr. Tyson had ever asked how his day had gone flat out; almost as if they were friends.
“Uh, good. It's a new moon, the birds are chirping, there's pudding in the cafeteria.”
“Ah. The pudding. Didn't they change the brand?”
“Yup. It's creamier. I like it better that way.” Ray slid his back down in the seat, gripping the armrests of the seat as if he owned the thing.
“Well, Ray,” Dr. Tyson put his glasses back over his eyes, and Ray watched every move that his ebony hands made. “I'm sorry son, but you won't be eating any more pudding from now on.”
Ray sulked. “What?! Why?”
“Because you won't be here to eat it.” Tyson opened the folder he had been resting his hands on. He slid it over to Ray, placing a pen on the documents inside.
He skimmed over the bolded words at the top, “Official Papers of Discharge.” He knew what that meant: Graduation Day.
"Oh my god." He whispered under his breath. "I'm done?" The pair of eyes that stared up at Dr. Tyson was filled with joy.
"Yes Ray. You just need to sign it right there at the bottom, and you are a free man."
Ray scrambled, trying to grab the pen. He signed the only empty line jaggedly. It had been an eternity since Ray had used his hands for pen and paper writing, almost like summer break.
"Congratulations." The doctor reached out to shake Ray’s hand. Ray shook back eagerly. "Before you leave, there are just a few things we need to go over."
“Sure.” Ray rolled up his sleeves.
"I just want to say that I believe that with the combination of medications and therapies prescribed, you had shown improvement, and near cure within the first year of treatment. I would have released you much sooner if you weren't sentenced to 14 years in our facility. Now, if you want to maintain your prosperity, you must continue to take your medications daily, and attend some sort of therapy or counseling. To prevent a relapse from your conditioning, I'd recommend avoiding anything from your past that may trigger any switch from turning back on in your brain.
As happy as he was in the whole situation, he didn't really know what exactly Dr. Tyson meant by “his past.” For all he knew, his past was taken away by Dr. Tyson. But none of that mattered to him right now. All he cared about was finally being free again. Normal.
Chapter 2: 2- The Night Before Last Was When I Broke the Vase
The following morning at 6:30 am sharp, Ray woke just like he did the day before, and the day before that. But today, instead of going to the cafeteria for breakfast after he had washed up, he had made his way to the front office of the hospital. Dr. Tyson insisted Ray ate before he left, but it was March 18, and Ray was a free man.
His cousin, Andre, had been waiting for him on the other side of the restrictive gate. He had been tapping his foot, making the baggy legs of his pants shake up and down.
The buzzing of the gate unlocking startled Ray as he stepped into the free area with his 16-year-old work boots. Ray had been surprised that the hospital had kept them for this long and that they still fit him well. When Ray first saw Andre in the lobby, he couldn't help but speculate he was a thug. His buzz cut hair and the tattoo up and down his neck, combined with the gold chains and loose-fitting clothes that he wore were all inappropriate for the setting.
“Hey cousin!” Andre greeted, pulling Ray in after an overly complicated handshake.
“Hi. Andre? Is it?”
“Yup. That's me.” They stood in front of each other in silence. “Let's go.” He said, awkwardly gesturing toward the exit as he walked.
Ray followed him along bringing along the bags of medication and old clothes he had acquired. They eventually stopped at a white Toyota Carola that had been parked right in front of the facility. Ray prospered the two seconds of outside air he was able to get on the walk to the car.
Andre unlocked his car, and they both sat in the front. “It's been forever since I've seen you!” Andre reminded.
Ray laughed. “The last time I saw you, you were four feet tall.” He stared back at the young man who he thought was as old as he was when he had first been committed. He longed for his youth again.
“Cousin, that's what I mean.” It was silent for a second. “Uh, did you want to get something to eat?” Andre awkwardly asked as he stuck the key into the ignition.
“Yeah actually. Can we pleeeease go to Denny's?” Ray requested, drawing out the “please” to about four E’s.
“Yeah.” Andre laughed. “I'm down.”
As the two men drove down the street, Ray couldn't help but stare at everyone and everything. It had been so long since he had been somewhere that wasn't the hospital. He had almost forgotten that people could have civilized conversations as they passed a local farmer’s market; or that they could smile and be happy.
The thought of happiness filled Ray in the form of pancakes. Even with the eagerness he felt, he still ate slow, chewing thoroughly; trying his hardest not to make a mess of his banana and caramel stack.
“How is your food?” The waitress checked. Her hair was gray with the last remaining strands of orange holding on for dear life. She looked as if her name was Pam. No, Dorothy.
“Delicious!” Ray sputtered out with a mouth full of food.
Dorothy nodded a polite nod before refilling Andre’s coffee, and walking away.
“So,” Andre coughed. “How was it?”
“My pancakes were great. How about yours?” Ray wiped his mouth with a napkin.
“No, you big goof. How was the hospital?”
“Oh.” Ray blinked rapidly as if it would help him remember enough and formulate an acceptable response. “I mean, fine. I'm better now.” He didn't ask why he had been there in the first place. Andre was too young to know the answer to that.
Andre kicked around at the pole that held up the table, unsatisfied with Ray’s answer, but still respectful of the rules the doctor had given him. In that second, he fiddled around with the diamond encrusted chain around his neck. Fuck. Diamonds. “Aw shit. I forgot.” He took off the chain and placed it in his pocket. It made a satisfying clink as it folded down on itself. “They told me not to wear stuff like this around you.”
“What stuff?” Ray shoveled another forkful of pancake into his mouth.
He lifted the raised edge of his shorts. He rubbed at the whisper of a scar that still decorated his thigh. He didn't know how it got there. “How's Grandpa?” Ray asked.
Andre laughed. Just the sheer randomness of that question was enough to make him chuckle. “He's alright. The doctors keep telling him that his cholesterol is gonna kill him, but the old bat just won't die.”
Ray smiled. Nothing joyed him more than learning that the people he had left behind were still alive.
It was all silent for a second; just a small, long overdue family breakfast. And then, the announcement came on the television up in the corner of the room.
"Bombshell tonight!” Ray could barely believe that Nancy Grace was still on T.V. “In his fifteenth year of imprisonment, Frank Iero has committed suicide in his cell."
Ray became fascinated by the TV. He didn't know why. It was almost as if he recognized the hazel eyes and the feathered, black hair of the man in the mug shot they were broadcasting across America. He remembered. Why remember?
"The St. Helena Institution for Men has not revealed the specifics of how he did it, but the note he left implies that it was because of a past lover of his.” The reporter continued; the strain in her voice growing more distraught as she spoke. “Folks, if you remember, it was over fifteen years ago that Iero and his gang of friends broke into a diamond retailer and made away with more than 65 million dollars in jewelry.” At that point, Andre too had been staring at the T.V after noticing how focused Ray had been. “That was the world's largest diamond heist in history.”
“Ray.” He called, trying to break his attention away from the news.
“Months after the five members’ sentencing, the leader of the group Gerard Way had also committed suicide,”
“Ray, look at me.” He called trying his hardest not to let him relapse. “Ray! I need you to look at me now!” He yelled. People from a few tables away began to stare at them. Ray kept watching.
“and in the note that he left, he proclaimed his love to Frank and encouraged him to follow." The image of Nancy Grace had faded into a picture of the original four criminals from almost twenty years before.
Ray got up from his seat to see the picture on the screen. He had a revelation.
That guy on the far left was Mikey with his ridiculously flat ironed hair. Ray could almost smell his burnt hair in the atmosphere. Next to Mikey was Gerard, his brother. Gerard looked right into the camera as he received a kiss on the cheek by the same guy from the prison, Frank. Frank with his lip ring and his tattooed skin. That's right, Frank and Gerard were in love. He couldn't figure out why he knew all of this.
“This incident coincidentally happened the day of member Ray Toro’s release from the Anthony’s Home for the Criminally Insane.” Ray grew scared as he heard the reporter say his name.
Then, at the edge of the photo was the last man, leaning up against a wall. In that moment, he remembered; remembered it all. That man on the edge of the photograph was Ray. Those guys standing next to him, those were his best friends. He felt a sharp pain pierce the back of his head. A shard of glass cutting open a sausage, it felt like.
“Ray! Sit down.” Andre scolded.
Ray jumped as he was pulled back to reality. He couldn't take it anymore. Without a word, he beelined for the front exit of the diner. He could feel his chest tightening, even with all the fresh air he was taking in. He ran into the alley behind the restaurant, trying his hardest to hide from Andre. He sat next to a dumpster. The rotten smells were the least of his problems.
“Frank, Gerard… Mike … Rob?” He whispered to himself. Trying to keep it all straight in his head. “Frank, Gerard, Mikey, Bob. Yeah, yeah.” He reassured himself. “Frank, Gerard, Mikey, Bob. Ray. Shit!” He rubbed at his tearing eyes. “That was us.” He whispered. “What happened?”
“Ray!” A voice called to him.
“Go away Andre!” Ray yelled. “I need some space!”
“Who's Andre?” The familiar voice echoed down the alley.
“Shit. Shit. Shit!”
“Ray." It screeched. "Oh Mr. Toro!" It teased.
He didn't want to open his eyes. He knew what would be standing in front of him when he did. There was another side of him that needed to open his eyes. Ray didn't spend 14 years in that hospital for nothing. So, he opened his eyes. Surely enough, there he was with his dirty blood-stained feet, his mystic black robe, and his triangular hat with the all-seeing pyramid on the front.
“Got a light?" Aleister Crowley asked, holding out the cigarette that had been perched between his lips.
Chapter 3: 3- A Younger Version of Myself Would Be Crying at the Sight of This
"Patience, do you copy?" Gerard whispered into his walkie talkie from the van. He gripped it tight, almost as if it was going to run away so he could hold down the stiff button.
"Yeah Bender, I read you." Frank whispered back as he sped down the street.
"Okay, repeat what I just said." He ordered.
Frank sighed, stopped in his place, and moved out of the way of the pavement to remember his instructions. "I'll walk into the bank, then wait in line, and go up to a teller. Once I'm at the counter, I'll ask for all the money at her desk and show her my gun. After she gives it to me, I'll walk out as if nothing happened, and you guys will come pick me up out front. We’ve done this before. It's a simple enough plan.”
“Good. Then don't fuck it up. We don't need you using our real names again like last time.” Gerard scolded.
Frank tried to forget the number of times he had vomited from the nerves the night after he had shouted out for Gerard during a heist. He was terrified that the police would be able to find them based off that small piece of information. "I'm sorry Babe, I panicked."
"It's alright. Now go redeem yourself. Over.”
"Over." Frank ended as he continued walking towards the entrance of the bank.
The surprise opening of the sliding door of a van startled Gerard. The giant poof of Puerto Rican afro hair that peered over the edge was unmistakably Ray with three cups of coffee in his arms.
“Here you are Sirs. One black coffee for Mikey, and a strawberries and cream Frappuccino for you Gerry."
"Thanks, Batshit. You're the best."
Mikey took his coffee and turned towards Gerard. "Really?" He asked," A Frappuccino? You’re such a bitch!”
"Shut the fuck up Mikey. No one asked you." Gerard joked.
"Hey, you speak to me like that one more time, and I swear to god, I will tell mom."
"Go on. Tell mom. It's not like she'll do anything about it."
Mikey stuck a raspberry tongue out at him. Gerard returned the favor.
They had always been like this arguing and calling each other names. Ray found the siblings bickering amusing. "Did Frank go in yet?" He asked.
“Yeah, I just got off the radio with him."
Frank pulled the front door of the bank open and stepped in. The flavored air harassed him with scents of pine. The melted rubber soles of his sneakers didn't click on the linoleum as loud as they once could have. He walked over to the roped off line and stood with his hands wrapped in front of him.
There were three people in front of him.
The first woman in line was dressed scandalously in a skin tight burgundy dress. Her hair was glamorous, yet stringy and black. The lipstick she wore was a deep purple that was painted onto the points of her upper lip almost reminiscent of devil horns. Her eyes were surrounded by a smoky black shadow and she smelled of Dior and cigarettes. The money she harbored in her bra totaled almost $3,000, which she had earned all the night before.
The man she had lured to her hotel room the previous night was the definition of desperate. He had paid her $1,000 just to let her fuck him silly. She let him go in raw when he told her that his wife had just gotten paralyzed after she got a spinal cord infection. Hey, there's nothing a morning after pill can't fix. And as she slammed her slim figure up against his fat gut, she thought about all the money she would be able to steal from him once he had fallen asleep. Even in her short life of being a prostitute, she knew that if a man can pay you in cash, he's got a lot more that he's not telling you about. She waited until after he had started snoring ghastly snores to go through his pants on the floor and find his wallet. She pulled out the other bills, slipped back into her dress, and found herself in the Maine Express Bank the following morning.
The man behind her had a sparsely grown comb-over and a cream-colored windbreaker. He ruffled the wad of money in his pocket. His cash was earned earlier that morning at a yard sale. Most of his earnings came from the sale of an armoire. The same armoire his mother begged him not to sell. “Gil! Oh Gil!” She squealed, “You can't sell that dresser!” She pleaded, “I bought that for you when you were born. You've had it your whole life.”
“Yes mother, I know, but I really want to buy a new television set.” He tried to justify.
When that old woman waddled up his driveway and questioned him about the armoire, he thought it would be an easy sale. He watched her opening and closing the doors and decided to make his way over to her.
“Quanto?” She asked.
“Huh?” He blurted.
“How much?” She repeated.
She tisked. “No. I pay $50.”
He grew angry at her command. “Wh-what? Are you crazy? This is solid Italian wood!” He knocked on the door.
“But it has dent.” She pointed down to the scrape on the corner of the chest.
“That's beside the point. Your offer is a tenth of my price. That's ridiculous!”
“Fine.” She bargained, “$100.”
“$250. Final offer.” He announced.
She thought for a second, pulling out the money in her purse, counting out well over $250. She placed two hundred-dollar bills and a fifty in his palm. Then, she asked him to help her carry it to her truck. He agreed to help her and almost pulled a muscle when he lifted the damn thing onto the bed of her trunk.
“Damn beaner.” He whispered under his breath as he watched her drive away.
The last man, who was standing in front of Frank, still had peach fuzz on his cheeks. He was there to make a withdraw. Two months prior to that day, the young man and his girlfriend had gotten busy. Very busy. Busy enough to forget to wear a condom. So, when his girlfriend was two months late, the young man realized that he needed to get enough money for her procedure and enough to pay off the doctor.
In his mind, Frank calculated that he had about three minutes before a teller would serve him. That wasn't enough, but he knew he could pull it off seeing as he had done it so many times before. He looked at the women behind the desks.
The first teller was a blonde woman. She looked Russian. Her sharp cheekbones and winged eyeliner scared Frank. The second was a black woman with her snake coil hair held behind a red headband. She looked friendly and compliant enough. The last was a Hispanic lady. She looked like she would be easily frightened. The middle teller would be his best bet.
"Jimmy, Delilah, go sit over there while Mommy waits in line, okay?" He heard another woman say as she entered the room and stood behind him in line. He turned to the waiting chairs on the side. The two children that sat there were clean, and the noises they made to each other reached barely over a whisper. They looked like Osh-Kosh models. Their mom was there to take out just enough money to pay for Jimmy’s braces and to get a manicure.
God, why did there have to be children? Frank didn't want to have to hurt them if things got messy. Shit, Shit, Shit. He didn't know why he always got this nervous before each robbery. He had only done this about a thousand times before. All he had to do was channel his inner Tyler Durden. He just needed to pretend that this was something he had to do to maintain his status in the fight club. That always worked.
"Next." The Russian cashier called.
Fuck! Frank walked towards her, clearing his throat along the way.
“How can I help you today, sir?" She asked with a smile. Good. No Russian accent.
“Uh, yeah." He started, "I'm going to need you to give me everything that's in your desk right now." His voice was casual as he lifted back the side of his jacket, exposing the matte butt of his firearm. Mikey had bought all the guys their guns. The serial numbers had been filed off and each person’s code name was sharpied on the side. "We wouldn't want to scare the children, now would we?"
The woman shook her head with fright visual on her face. “Melissa.” She called to red headband.
“Your desk alone will do, hon.” He reminded.
She nodded, fingering the buttons on her computer. One button made a soft chirp when she pushed it. Frank recognized that as the panic button. He had only been to three other banks that had panic buttons like that. That meant once he had the money, he had to book it.
"Take your time doll. Don't raise any suspicion." He added sarcastically.
The compartment holding the money shot open, her shaky fingers reaching for the bills in the slots. Frank remembered how much of a pain in the ass it was for Mikey to count and sort all those small bills. “Big bills only please." He conscientiously added, still not wavering his voice.
She left all the twenties, tens, fives and ones in their place and reached all the way back. She placed the two ten thousand stacks on the counter in front of him. "Will that be all today sir?”
"Yes, thank you Ma'am." He said with a menacing wink.
"Have a Maine express day."
"You too Hon." He replied as he slipped the stacks into his back pockets.
He made his way back to the front, and out the door. He knew they were all still watching him, so he waited until after he was out of the view of the glass windows before he pulled out his radio.
“Patience to Bender, the cash is secured do you copy?”
Chapter 4: 4- My Rosary Burns When I Hold It
“What is the weirdest thing you have ever done?” Gerard asked, trying to make the time pass.
Mikey was too anxious to answer. He knew that another big job was coming up for him, and he needed a clear mind to do it accurately.
Ray, on the other hand, was always down to talk, and for this question, he had the perfect answer. “Okay!” He laughed. “So, Aleister came to me in the middle of the night and said that he wanted me to bring him my dog’s shit one day. I didn't know for what, but he seemed angry. The next day, I talked to my mom, and I was all like. ‘Hey Ma, I’ll clean up Dingy’s crap today’ and she’s all like, “Oh sweetie, you're so polite.’” He mocked his mom’s accent. “So, I get his poop in a bag and I bring it up to my room, and Aleister is pissed because the turds weren't to his liking, and he told me to forget it. So, the next day, my mom comes in yelling at me because I hadn't picked up the crap out on the yard. So, then I told her, 'No! You clean up the dog shit, I won't need it this time.’” Ray laughed.
Gerard laughed along to Ray's queer stories. It was always better to be on the schitzo's good side. Besides, hearing the crazy shit that came from Ray's mouth made him feel a little bit better about himself.
"Patience to Bender, the cash is secured do you copy?"
“Fuck!" Gerard yelled as he spilled his drink all over his crotch in fright of the sudden voice on the radio. “Yeah Patience, we copy. Meet us on Juniper St." He said into the speaker, "Punch it Ray."
Ray turned the keys in the ignition, and the janky old van sputtered its way down the street like an old man who had smoked his whole life. A few turns later, Frank could be seen jogging down the pavement.
Mikey reached over to and slid the door open. Frank jumped after a running start and landed in the van without it ever having to stop. He stuck the landing with his hands over his ass pockets, protecting the money from falling out.
"How'd we do Baby?" Gerard asked with a Pennywise smile.
Frank whipped the stacks from his pockets. Gerard took them in his hands. He sifted through the bills, inspecting each one at the speed of about ten per second. “Twenty thousand goddamn dollars!" He announced as he threw the money to the floor. He grabbed the sides of Frank's face and pulled him in for a kiss. Wet, warm, criminally warm.
"Mike, sort that out please." Frank requested once Gerard had pulled away. He wiped his face of Gerard’s saliva. God, his lips were slimy.
For the rest of the long, and for the most part, uneventful drive home to New Jersey, Frank had fallen asleep on Gerard’s chest as they both laid on the floor of the van. Mikey began dealing the money like a deck of cards almost into four different piles. He had done it so many times that it became second nature to him. Once they were all separated, he counted each pile to make sure that all the stacks had 500 bills each. The piles almost blended together as the bills were slightly shaken when the van drove over a pothole.
The pothole rose Frank off Gerard and sent him slamming back down on him again. Gerard grunted as Frank nearly crushed his ribs. Frank woke up, almost unaware of his surroundings from the deep sleep he was under.
“You're okay.” Gerard soothed. “Go back to sleep.” He held Frank's head in his hand up against his chest.
This time, Frank couldn't go back to sleep. He could only watch Mikey counting and recounting the money on the other side of the van. “I swear. If we actually pull off operation Whopper,” he whispered, “we could wipe our ass with this money."
Gerard smiled. “If we pull off operation Whopper, we won't have to do this anymore. We can buy ourselves a new house, with a flat screen T.V, and a king-sized bed. I'll file for custody, and Ava can live with us. And if they won't let me have her, it's alright. I'll just pay off the judge. We can drive up to Boston and get married. We’ll be set for life.”
“You have no idea how bad I want that.” Frank said as he closed his eyes yet again.
After hours of driving, Ray noticed that the gas tank was almost on E. "Yo, we better pull it in for the night.” Ray suggested. “We're almost out of gas, and there's fuel and a motel at the next exit."
"Yeah. Let's stop." Gerard agreed.
The woman at the front counter of the hotel looked at everyone funny when Gerard requested two rooms; One with two queens, and one with a king bed, for four guys. They didn't let it bother them.
The gang had settled into their rooms and now spread themselves across the ratty motel pool. Frank laying affectionately on top of Gerard in their shared lawn chair, Mikey floating on a piece of spare wood in the pool messing around on his phone, and Ray seemingly lost.
"Dude, you're not scared you're gonna drop that in there?" Gerard asked about Mikey's phone.
“Don't worry about me, alright? I'm potty trained." He spat.
For the next few minutes, Mikey continued to violently text as he drifted on the surface of the water. He didn't talk much, but he always had everyone's back.
Frank began to hum along to the music playing in his iPod. Gerard took one of the headphones out of Frank’s ears and placed it into his own.
“Ah! ‘Saturday Night.’ It’s not Saturday yet.” Gerard grinned an open-mouth smile wide enough for Frank to see his missing molar all the way in the back of his jaw. Gerard had always been self-conscious about it, but Frank found it adorable. He couldn't help but start kissing him. Gerard kissed back, as he noticed the moonlight reflecting on the surface of the pool. The instant he had his mouth free, he moved down to Frank's neck, sucking and biting at the tender skin. He could taste the blood seeping out of the tiny capillaries that he had burst with his suction. Frank began to do the same on Gerard’s shoulder, not nearly as hard, however, all to the sound of Mikey sliding off his board and wading out of the five-foot-deep water.
Gerard could see him out of the corner of his eye as Mikey walked over to the gate around the pool. He could see that he was letting in another man, he just couldn't see who it was. “Is that Ray?” He asked once Frank had pulled away from his lips.
Mikey didn't answer as he opened the gate and let the man in.
“Hey!" He greeted Mikey, pulling him in for a hug-shake. "Gerry, Is that you?" He yelled.
Gerard turned at the mention of his name. He examined the man. With his yellow blonde hair, alarming blue eyes, and the tattoo above his penis that read, "It ain't gonna suck itself," he realized who was standing in front of him.
When Mikey and Ray had first settled into their hotel room, they each had placed their bags on their beds, and Mikey grabbed his swimming shorts before heading to the bathroom.
As Ray laid on his bed, he closed his eyes, finally relaxing from a full day of driving.
“Hey! Ray.” Aleister called.
Ray jumped when he saw Crowley standing over him. “What the fuck do you want now?
“Oh Mr. Toro, nothing much. Why, do you see that tree over there.” He pointed.
Ray stood up and looked out of the window. “Yeah. What about it?”
“There's a squirrel in it. I want him for dinner.”
Ray sighed. “Jesus!”
Aleister hissed. They both turned when Mikey came out of the bathroom.
“Is everyone good in here?” He asked.
“Yeah. We're great— I'm great.” He corrected.
Mikey walked right up to him. “You're good?” He reassured.
“Yup.” He sighed. “I'm amazing Milky Way!”
Mikey laughed. “Uh, Gerard texted.” He awkwardly held up his phone. “He and Frank are gonna hang out at the pool for a while. I invited Bob if you wanted to come.”
“Sure, let me just rest for a bit.” Ray yawned.
“Alright. Sleep well.” He said, reaching up to gently ruffle Ray’s poufy hair with a smile. He tried to hide the yearn in his eyes.
“Thanks.” Ray smiled back. He watched Mikey walk to the pool to make sure he was out of his view.
“Get on it!” Aleister shouted.
“If I do this, you’ll leave me alone?”
“Sure. But if you don't, I'll hex you. Do we have a deal?” The sorcerer threatened.
“Fine!” Ray yelled. He shuffled his way out of the room, stopping when he made it to the tree. He spotted the squirrel. It stared back at him with its beady little eyes, licking and chewing at its claws. Ray really didn't want to hurt an innocent animal, but the consequences would be much greater if he didn’t catch the squirrel.
So, there he stood under that tree, in his underwear, using his pants to try to smack the rodent from the tree. The squirrel squeaked, almost asking Ray to stop.
“Get him!” Aleister cheered. “Give ‘em hell kid!”
Ray kept on whacking the tree. The leaves began to fall and get caught in his hair. “Fuck!” He grunted as a final swing of his pants hit the squirrel, knocked it out of the tree, and got his Levi’s stuck on a branch.
The squirrel fell right on Ray and he fought it in a dust storm. An onlooker might have thought that they were watching a cartoon. Ray tried his hardest to grab it as the squirrel clung to his shirt, leaving scratches up and down his arms and legs. “Shit!” He yelled, as he was finally able to hold the squirming animal in his hands. “Here.” He handed it to Aleister, who took it and immediately snapped its neck.
Ray sat down on the floor and attempted to nurse his scratches. The sucking and crunching sounds Aleister made as he ate were disgusting enough to make Ray turn away. When he was done, he threw what was left of the squirrel to his side.
“That was a tasty squirrel I got there.”
“I hope it was.” Ray agreed, “Now leave.”
“Oh, Raymond! But there's just one more thing I need from you.”
Ray was at his wits end. “Fine.” He sighed, “What?”
“Just light this hotel on fire. I smell Christians nearby.”
“But I don't have a lighter.”
“Then find one you pussy!” Aleister was furious.
Chapter 5: 5- Old Friends Call For Old Champagne
"Bob fucking Bryar!" Gerard laughed as he tapped the side of Frank's thigh, asking him to get up.
Gerard made his way over to Bob with his hand outstretched waiting to be met, shook, and hugged.
"You still a homo?" He asked Gerard.
"You still got herpes?" Gerard retorted.
Just then, through an odd chain of association, Bob remembered the time Gerard tried to take him up on the offer his tattoo posed.
It was fourth period P.E class. Gerard had been allowed to sit out of the football exercise because he had been vomiting all morning. Only Bob knew that it was because he was going through withdraws. After everyone had gotten dressed and made their way out of the boys’ locker room, Bob shuffled in all alone. The reason he had gotten to the locker room late was because he had taken more than five minutes to run a lap around the field. He had been doing this every day and was just now facing repercussions. So, there he was, all alone changing in the walkway of the locker room. He tried to hurry so he could get to lunch before the cafeteria sold out of food. Then, he heard footsteps coming towards him.
“Bob!” Another boy called. “Bob!”
Bob grew nervous from the shouting.
“Bob!” Gerard had finally caught up to him. His whole body was shaking subtly. “Do you have any more of it?” He asked, scratching at his neck.
“Yeah,” Bob answered, “but not for you.”
“Oh, come on Bob, I can't think straight. I'll pay you anything.” He offered.
“I can't let you become your mom.” Bob announced. Mikey needs yo-”
“I'll suck you off. Come on, everyone knows ole Bob Bryar would never turn down a blowjob. I mean, the tattoo itself is literally an invitation.” He looked down at his stomach, almost tempted by the words, “It’s not going to suck itself.”
Suddenly, Bob began to regret his stick-n-poke tattoo that his brother had given him in their mom’s basement. It always worked with the ladies, and now apparently, it’s working with a guy. “First of all, I'm not selling you coke anymore. Okay? And second, you wouldn't want to suck my dick right now. I got a red, itchy present from Tiffany.” He said as he put his shirt back on and walked out of the locker room. Even if that was a lie, it still put Gerard's offer to rest.
“Touché." He said as he placed the 24 pack of beers that he had brought on one of the lawn tables.
“Frank, this is Bob. He went to my high school." Gerard introduced.
Bob waved back.
They all pulled their lounge chairs into a circle, each drinking a beer.
“What brings you down here?” Frank asked.
Bob sat all the way back in his seat. “Mikey text me. ‘Staying at the Bella Muerte. Having a pool party. Bring beer.’ So here I am. I guess the bigger question is what you are doing in Connecticut?”
“Long story.” Frank laughed.
“So, how long have you two been a thing?” Bob asked pointing to Frank and Gerard.
“Like, three years.” Gerard answered.
“I don't fucking know.” Gerard took another sip of his beer.
“No. Don't apologize for my stupidity.”
The awkward silence was broken by the sound of Ray trotting up to the pool gate in his underwear.
Mikey ran back up to the gate and opened it for him. “Hey everyone!” Ray steered, “Mikey, do you have the keys to the hotel? Oh, and a lighter?" He asked in a nonchalant tone.
"Ray," Gerard started with concern in his voice, "why do you need a lighter?”
He looked at Gerard like he was wasting his time. "Cuz I'm gonna string this motherfucker on fire." He explained.
"Alistair told me to."
"No Ray. Alistair Crowley did not tell you to burn down the hotel."
“Yes, he did!"
“No, he didn't. I'm willing to bet my share of the pile that he did not."
Ray grunted. "Whatever!" He walked over to the table and grabbed a drink. He sat down, pulling another chair to join the conversation. Mikey and Bob each adjusted their chairs, expanding the circle so Ray could fit in.
“So, what's this whole 'share of the pile' thing? Did you win a poker game or something?" Bob asked.
Gerard sighed. "Can we tell him?” The reaction he received from everyone was a combination of nods and shrugs. “You can keep a secret?” He asked Bob.
"Yeah. My mother did not raise a rat.”
"Alright. I'm holding you to your word. We robbed a bank this morning in Maine.”
“Oh shit! That was you guys? How much did you make?"
"Five grand each."
"Wowie. I don't think I'd be able to make that money in a week dealing. That's crazy."
“Yeah, brother." Gerard bragged.
Bob stared awkwardly at his feet; remembering that after he would mooch and spend the night in one of their hotel rooms, he would have to go home to his mother’s basement that lacked heating in the winter and smelled of mildew. He remembered his shitty job at the foundry. He remembered the burns on his hands from the accident. He realized the perfect escape from it all. "So. Um, would you mind if I-I joined you on your next crime spree? Just so I could make a few bucks, ya know."
“Well, if you want to be with us, you've got to prove yourself.”
"What? Do I have to kill someone?” His offer was almost too enthusiastic. “Cuz I'll do it."
"No. No. We’re not a fucking gang!" Mikey informed.
Bob nodded, now embarrassed by his assumption.
"First off, have you ever been arrested, or have you had any interaction with the police that was more than a parking ticket."
Bob hesitated before answering. "No."
"Good. We don't fuck with the famous cuts of meat. Secondly, whatever you make out in the field must be earned. We're not gonna pay you just because you were there with us."
“Yeah. I've got connections that could come in handy to us."
"He does." Mikey attested.
“Good. You're in." Gerard announced. We'll call you… Hookup, because you've got the hookup."
"Thanks dude! You just saved my life.”
“I don't know about all that.”
“To hookup." Ray cheered stretching out his can.
Chapter 6: 6- If This Is Your Best, Then Go Home
"To hookup.” They all cheered, bumping their beers in the center.
Bob took a sip of his beer. "So, if I'm hookup, then what are you guys?"
"Ray is Batshit, because he's a fucking nut."
“Gerard, you will be partnered with Ray. You two shall memorize and recite, “Jesus Loves Me,” by the end of class. Is that understood?” The Sunday School teacher ordered.
“Yes, Sister Veronica.” Gerard squeaked in his little five-year-old voice. He walked over to Ray, the kid who was always quiet and couldn't seem to groom himself. Gerard sat down at his table. Ray didn't acknowledge him.
He handed Ray the sheet of paper with the song lyrics on them. “Hey Ray! Quiz me! Jesus loves me this I know-”
“No!” Ray shrieked. “I'm busy.” He turned away from Gerard.
Gerard ran around the table and stood right in front of Ray. “Doing what?”
Gerard gasped. “Really. Jesus?”
“Yeah. He says he doesn't love you. He doesn't love any of us.”
“But Sister Veronica said so. She read us The Bible and it said-”
“She lied. They all did. Leonardo just told me.”
“The other man who talks to me.”
“Where is he?”
“Right there.” Ray pointed right in front of him.
Gerard followed his finger. He wasn't exactly surprised when he found no one standing where Ray was pointing to. “You've got an imaginary friend? That's so rad!”
“He's not my friend. He's mean to me and he makes me do things I don't want to do. And, and, he's got this gross smile and a coat that smells really bad and he won't leave me alone.”
“Well, let me help you.” Gerard turned around to face where Ray had pointed. “Leonardo! Be gone!” He screamed, bearing his teeth and making the sign of the cross with his fingers.
Ray began to hysterically laugh. “He says you have stupid teeth.”
“Hey!” Gerard yelled.
Little episodes like that didn't bother Gerard up until the age of 10 when everyone else lost their imaginary friends. Ray only seemed to gain more and more as time went by, and Gerard felt that it was his responsibility to defend Ray from anyone who ever dared to comment about it.
“Next, Mikey is 'Milky' because if you replace it with his first name, you get the best chocolate bar in the goddamn universe."
Mikey could remember his childhood as if it had just happened the week before. The smell of fire and herb seeping through the locked door of his dad's room, and pure silence coming from his moms. "Ma." He called in his small five-year-old voice.
"Mommy can you get me cereal? I'm hungry."
His mom just laid on the floor; the dirty needles next to her, the spoon spilling the heroin on the stale carpet.
“Mom, are you okay?" He squealed, moving his little legs along the floor.
His mother turned to face him. Blood ran down her nose.
"Mommy!" He grabbed her shoulders.
“Mikey, No!" Gerard yelled as he ran towards him.
“What's wrong with mommy-ah?" Mikey cried. He thought she was dead. Even through his immaturity, Gerard wished she was.
Gerard covered his eyes and dragged him from the room. He locked the door before closing it behind him.
"Mommy will be okay in the morning. Are you alright?”
"I'll get you a sandwich. Go sit on the couch."
As soon as he had closed the door behind him, he ran to the kitchen, almost tripping over his mom in determination. He pulled out the ham, cheese and bread; slapped them all together; and brought it to Mikey. Mikey ate the sandwich through his tears.
Then, trying his best not to make too much noise, he grabbed the landline and began punching in numbers. The line rung and rung and rung. Gerard feared that no one would pick it up. Then she answered. “Grandma, help us. Mikey and I need to stay with you. Mom’s asleep again and she won't wake up.” She agreed to come, and Gerard packed his and Mikey’s bag just as she had ordered.
The next morning, Gerard heard the buzzing of the doorbell. His mother picked herself off the floor and walked to the door. “Elena?” She yelled. “What are you doing here?”
Gerard pressed his ears up to the door, leaving Mikey asleep in his bed. “Where are the boys?” He heard his grandma ask.
“What are you doing here?”
“Gerard called me last night. Did you shoot up?” He heard what he thought was his grandma grabbing his mother’s arms.
“Stop! You can't take them. They're my kids!” The voices were moving closer to him. He moved away from the door.
His grandma opened the door. “Ready boys?”
"Frank is Patience because he has none."
Frank rarely experienced real anger or rage. But, there was always a sweet spot in his heart that was held just for his father.
"Lookie here boy," He would always yell. "You're gonna need to know how to fix an engine if you're gonna take over the family business." Pshh. Like Frank was actually going to take over the auto shop.
"Okay. Frankie my boy, when are you going to bring home a daughter in law for me?"
"I don't know."
“Make it quick. Your mother and I want some grandbabies soon."
“Dad, I just graduated. Can I have some time?"
His life became so much clearer that one day when Gerard stopped for a tune up.
"I think there's a problem with the engine. It gets really hot really quickly." He explained. He took a good look at Frank’s face; ridden with tiny scabs, paler than cotton, framed by his black hair, with a lip ring that Gerard thought would feel great pressed up against his own lips. Gerard was long overdue for a good fuck and it showed in the way he handled himself around Frank.
"Okay sir. I'll take a look at it, if you want to just sit over there."
“Alright.” He said, placing his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, placing all his weight on one leg, licking his canine seductively before heading over to the waiting chairs. Frank felt tempted to say the least.
He popped open the hood of the car. Upon first inspection, nothing looked wrong with the car, but even after years of not paying attention to his father, Frank knew that first inspections didn't pay the bills. So, he doubled over the edge of the car reaching for fluid compartments to see which ones were empty. He looked over his shoulder. Surely enough, Gerard was staring right back at him, using a magazine to hide his developing smile. Crossing his legs to hide his developing-
Frank continued to open and close different compartments, checking each one with homemade paper dipsticks for the clear fluids. Oil level? Good. He was scared that Gerard might make a move on him. He wasn't ready for that kind of advance. Radiator fluid? Good. He was scared that Gerard wouldn't make a move on him. He knew he wouldn't get this opportunity ever again. Transmission fluid? Good. He needed Gerard to make a move on him. There was no way that he was going to marry some girl for the soul purpose of being married and having kids. He wanted love. He wanted to get fucked. Coolant? Actually, quite low. Frank cleared his throat. "So, it looks like you are running out of-"Frank stopped as he felt Gerard wrap his arms around his waist, reaching for his belt. Thank the Lord. He had never wanted something more in his life.
Those delicate fingers of his unhitched the clasp and whipped the leather out of his slots. Frank lowered the hood back on the car and helped pull down his own pants. Gerard unbuckled his belt, and within seconds, his boxers and pants were at his ankles.
Frank grasped the sides of the hood for leverage. Gerard spared no time as he slipped his preexisting erection into Frank, thrusting himself in and out.
“Fuck!” Frank couldn't control his volume as he let out painful sounding grunts and whines. It was his first time after all. Frank got louder and louder, almost screaming at one point. Gerard liked that. The women he would screw would always moan. He could tell it was always fake. But with men, there was nothing to fake. All the pain they felt was real. All the groans they made were genuine.
"Frank, are you alright down there?" His father yelled down.
Gerard tried to pull out in fear.
"No, keep going." Frank ordered with a sort of cry in his voice. He could feel the veins in his forehead protruding.
Gerard fulfilled his promise.
“Frankie, did you hurt yourself?" His dad persisted, his approaching footsteps growing louder.
“Dude, someone's gonna come in here and-" Gerard warned.
"Just finish!" Frank screamed slapping Gerard behind him.
Gerard continued. That spank only served as motivation.
Frank felt Gerard cum inside of him. Wet and warm, like a balloon popping in a pipe.
Frank's dad came bursting through the door. The only thing he could see was Gerard standing over his son with his ass out and a head full of sweat ridden hair.
“What in the fuck is going on here?!" He yelled, completely taken back by the sight of his own son being ass fucked by a customer.
Gerard picked up his pants and jumped in his car. Frank grabbed his jumpsuit off the work table and joined Gerard without a second thought. Within seconds Gerard was driving his way out of the shop, and Frank's dad was dodging the moving vehicle. They were on the road, running red lights, and doing anything possible to get the hell away from that auto shop.
"Rough childhood?" Gerard asked once Frank was settled back into his clothes.
"I feel you." He nodded, "So, uh, what's your name?"
"And I'm Bender because I definitely don't have a drinking problem."
Ever since that day in the auto shop three months before, Frank had not returned home. Instead, he moved in with Gerard at his apartment. They had taken a shot in the dark with their relationship, and they were so lucky that they worked out.
On one lazy Friday night, the two had spent the whole day inside wrapped up in blankets on the couch. The buzzing of the doorbell shook them both. Gerard walked over to the door, opening it without checking the peephole.
“What are you doing here Lindsey?” He asked.
The woman standing outside pushed her way into his apartment. “Nothing much. How has your night been?” She tried to hustle.
“Why do you care? Why are you here?” He persisted as he followed her.
She sat down on his couch. She looked over at Frank. The look on his face was almost terror. He didn't know who Lindsey was or what she planned on doing. “Who’s this?” She asked Gerard.
“Frank.” He answered. “My boyfriend.”
She looked at Frank again, then at Gerard, then back at Frank again. “What? Y-your boyfriend? You said you loved me!” She ran up to Gerard; ready to kill. “You said you loved me and now you're fucking him?” She started slapping and punching at him. One of her fists had hit Gerard right in the eye with enough power to make Gerard feel his skin swelling. He grabbed her arm and twisted it behind her back.
“Don't you fucking touch me Gerard. I'm pregnant with your baby.” She yelled. They both stopped in their place. Gerard's eyes were too swollen to cry. Lindsey whipped her arm out of Gerard's grip.
“Bullshit.” His voice almost a whisper.
She ran over to the couch and grabbed her bag. She pulled out a folded-up piece of paper and handed it to Gerard. He unfolded it, tracing the shapes of the fetus on the sonogram with his eyes. “It's mine?” He asked.
“Whose else would it be?”
"So yeah." Gerard finished. "It's getting cold. We should really go in.”
On the way back to the hotel room, the entire group shivered in the cold. They all changed into their oversized Jessie Pinkman jackets and their comfy pants. Bob changed in his car and came back to Frank and Gerard hotel room where the rest of the gang had been waiting for him.
“Hey guys.” He addressed. “Did you see that gnarly fucking dead squirrel outside? It smells terrible!” He laughed.
“No? A squirrel? Where?” Ray asked defensively.
They spent the rest of the evening in Frank and Gerard's hotel room eating Doritos and Funyuns, passing around some of Bob's premium weed. Bob lit the joint, took a puff, and passed it on to Frank. Frank held the cigarette in between his lips. "Aw. What's this shit around the end?" Frank asked about the pre-existing grease that touched his own lips. He wiped it off with his fingers.
"Oh." Bob reached into his pocket. "It's just my lip balm." He held up the squeeze tube of Carmex medicated lip balm. "I have dry lips." He slipped it back into the pocket of his jeans.
"Alrighty my dudes. In a few days, we'll make it back to New Jersey and Operation Whopper will be under way." Gerard reminded.
“Operation Whopper?" Bob asked.
“We're gonna rob a diamond store. It'll be the biggest diamond heist in history.”
“Sounds like fun." Bob added.
“Yeah. The only problem is, we need a way to disguise ourselves. I mean there's always masks, but then there'll be a record of us buying them and-"
"I got it!” Bob cut in, “My friend is a special effects makeup artist. She can give us new faces for free just so she can get the practice."
“That's pure genius." Ray complimented. "We can tell her to give us old man faces, so when the cops come, the jewelers will tell them to look for a couple of old dudes. It's the perfect red herring."
"Your friend is in Jersey?" Mikey asked.
“Yeah. She lives right down the street from my old house. I'll call her later. We can just say it's for a music video or something. She'll totally believe it.”
"And that's why we call you hookup." Gerard said, now 100% confident in their plan.
Chapter 7: 7- By God to Texas
"What's the name of your band again?" Danni, the makeup artist, asked as she sat down on her bathroom sink, applying the first layer of liquid latex to Frank’s face. He gagged at the fishy smell of the product.
“My Chemical Romance." Mikey answered before anyone could say anything stupid.
My Chemical Romance had meaning. It stood for all the times these five idiots ingested all those drugs. For the times the absinthe waltzed through their brain cells. For when the ecstasy made out in their minds. Especially for when the cyanide hate-fucked up against their consciousness. It represented the process of love on a molecular level; the love all of them shared for each other that couldn't be broken by the strongest force on the planet. This fictional moniker served as an inside joke that the boys could use to look back on and remember all the fun and great times they had long after Operation Whopper.
“Groovy." She drew before blowing her cold, mint scented breath onto Frank’s face to dry his latex.
“Yeah, we're dropping our next EP in a month. It's gonna be fire." Mikey added.
“Ooh! What's it called? Would I know any of your other songs?"
Mikey thought for a second. "It's called... You Know... What They Do... To Guys Like Us... In Prison." He had completely made up that name on the spot. It was funny how it kinda worked. Mikey flopped his hand around to signal someone to pick up the question.
Gerard started, "Oh! And a couple of our older songs are called... I Never Told You What I Do for a Living, and The Vampires Will Never Hurt You."
Ray snort-laughed at the ridiculous song titles. "Let’s not forget about our most popular songs, Early Sunsets Over Monroeville and Heaven Help Us." He played along, trying to make up the stupidest sounding names.
"A little lengthy, but I dig it.” She moved onto Ray’s face. “Are you guys on iTunes?"
“I'll have to check you out then.”
A majority of the age makeup Danni had to do involved covering a stretched area of supple skin in latex, waiting for it to dry and create wrinkles, and painting it. It really was a simple job, but because it had to be done on the entire faces and necks of two people, she knew it would be an all-day job. Ray was scared that they wouldn't have enough time to get to the shop on schedule because he had not been made aware of this beforehand.
Nearly five hours later, Danni was finished with their face transplants. Both seniors could feel the resistance from the makeup on their face.
"Holy shit Babe. Is that what I'm gonna have to wake up to in forty years?" Gerard joked at Frank's freshly aged face.
It was in that moment that Frank realized that he would be waking up in forty years. He stared back at himself in the vanity. As he looked at his crow’s feet and the deep bags under his eyes and all the sunspots that covered his face he saw the golf club memberships that came along with them and the, what would be, vintage sports cars that he would collect. He pictured the golden band on his finger and Gerard's daughter and all the other foreign kids they would adopt coming back home to their cozy two story house to visit them once a month. All with the money that Frank would collect that day.
"Oh, you know you still want this." Frank teased, snapping back to reality. He dressed. Grey shirt, careful not to touch the neckline to his face, right leg left leg into his black pants, then over it all with an inconspicuous over coat. He wore latex gloves under his black fingerless gloves with the skeleton bone designs, he turned them inside out to draw less attention to himself.
Ray did the same in Dani’s bedroom. He was grateful that Dani had given him a bald cap. He was very much committed to keeping his identity a secret, but there was no way in hell that he would shave off his easily recognizable curls. He slipped on his loose-fitting navy blue button-down, and Fuck! That's what he'd forgotten: His pants.
“Bob!" He called into the hallway.
“Yeah, Ray?" he answered.
"Do you have any nice pants? I kinda left mine in Connecticut.”
Bob laughed. "Yeah. I'll try to find you something."
He ran back to the van, searching through the duffle bag he had brought from home. He eyed the pants he had worn the night before. He hoped Ray wouldn't mind the smell of marijuana that came off the fabric.
"Here you go." He said as he handed Ray the pants through the open door.
“Thanks, dude." Ray took the pants and put them on. He grabbed the hat that had been lying on Danni’s dresser and threw on his cream-colored windbreaker that still smelled like the thrift store that Mikey had bought it from. "I look like my grandpa." He laughed.
His grandpa. The man that would invite Ray to his room every Saturday morning, so they could watch the reruns of The Price is Right and Family Feud that they had missed during the week. The man who showed Ray the real way to eat peanuts and how to be so organized.
“All you have to do is put things back in the exact same place you found them, and you'll never lose anything ever again.” He could still hear him say.
The crew made their way down the highway. One rookie, a narcissist, a damaged delivery, and two senior citizens.
"Are you ready Ray?" Gerard asked.
“Yeah!" Ray responded, turning the van out into the freeway.
"How about you Frank?"
"Oh, I'm there, baby." He stood up, reaching up the passenger seat enough to give Gerard a cheek kiss. Gerard stopped chewing his gum long enough to give Frank a flat surface to plant his lips on.
“What about you Mikey?"
"Fucking ready.” He pulled out his pliers, tin shears, electronic scale, a calculator, a pencil, and a notebook, double checking that he had all his supplies.
"And you Bob?"
“Let's do this."
They were all prepared for today. If everything went just right, these five criminals would be millionaires.
Gerard was on cloud nine from the excitement alone. The waves of nerves stormed over his stomach in a steam roll. He found himself humming from the thrill, barely resisting the urge to hysterically laugh or yell loud enough for all nine realms to hear. He rolled down the van window and screamed, "Row, Row, Row your boat.”
He waited a second for everyone else to join in. “Gently down the stream.” They sang. “Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily.” Even Mikey was singing at least.
“Life- is- but- a- dream!" Gerard shrieked, all drawn out and louder than the rest.
Nobody understood what that was all about, but then again, no one seemed to mind it.
“What is that even supposed to mean?" Ray asked at the song lyric. "Life is but a dream? Is the song implying that what we are living is all just a figment of our imaginations? That we aren't really alive?"
“Would it be better if the line was, "Life is but a dream... for the dead.’?” Gerard offered, his voice was warm and scratchy from his musical outburst.
Chapter 8: 8- A Room Before A Room
Ray and Frank stepped out onto the sidewalk a few blocks in front of the James Rogers & CO. diamond retailer. The two couldn't help but smell the arrogance that the little shopping strip exuded. This was where the stock market investors and the wives of the Wall Street executives shopped when they got bored of all the name brand store’s current stock. Ray had been stalking the store for months now and had gotten used to the stench.
“I'll do the talking for this one Patience." Ray recommended.
"Okay." He responded as he opened the door of the store. He nodded to the security guard that patrolled the brick-built fortress of jewels. He tipped his hat to Frank and Ray as they walked into the vestibule. They prepared themselves, making sure every little detail of everything was perfect.
The first step went well. The guard didn't even notice Frank satchel full of crinkled newspapers. The idea was that if the guard saw him come into the store with a full bag, then he wouldn't question it on their way out.
They passed through the second door, almost going blind from all the yellow fluorescent lighting. The two made their way to the front counter. There was a single woman standing behind it. All alone, just like Ray had calculated.
“Hello gentlemen. What can I help you with?" The woman asked.
"I want to get my wife an anniversary present. I was thinking maybe a bracelet or a necklace." Ray let out in an older sounding voice.
"Oh, how nice! How long have you two been married for?"
“60? Congratulations! 60 means diamonds. I have the perfect thing." She ran to the corner display case and pulled out a bracelet, laying it out on a velvet sheet in front of the two.
Ray picked it up and examined the platinum band that was completely covered in a row of diamonds, all at least a half carat each. There was a blank plaque in the middle that curved to fit comfortably on a wrist.
"Very nice!" He exclaimed.
"I'm glad you like it. The bracelet itself is $7,999.99 and engraving it will cost $5 per letter. We can have the engraving done in under 30 minutes if you're in a hurry."
Ray looked back at Frank. He nodded along seeing the perfect opportunity.
“I'll take it." Ray explained.
"Oh goodie! Let me just get the engraving form.”
She turned around and opened a filing cabinet filled with paperwork. Her red stiletto nails plucked out a half sheet of paper, again placing it in front of Ray with a pen.
He wrote down his “name”, inserted the generic old lady name, "Henrietta," and selected it to be engraved in the italicized font. He handed it back to her.
The sales clerk grabbed a calculator and jabbed at the loud buttons with her middle finger. A receipt printed, and she cut it with the serrated metal attached to the roll of paper.
"Your total comes out to $8688.60 in total. How will you be paying for that today?"
“Check." He said as he reached into his coat pocket for his stolen checkbook. He wrote out the check, using his non-dominant left hand to write. He slid it over to the woman.
"Thank you Mr... Ross." She read from the check. "I'll just be in the back engraving this for you. Feel free to stay in the shop or come back in 30-35 minutes.”
“Thank you ma'am." He responded.
She shut the door behind her as she walked into the engraving room. Seconds later, the loud buzzing of the drill could be heard.
Step two was complete. Just as Ray had predicted, there was no one else on staff today, meaning that they had the store all to themselves.
Frank pulled out the crowbar that he had hid down his pant leg. With a single swift motion, he stood up and brought the metal down onto the glass cases. Shit! It was way too loud. He knew that if he kept breaking the glass like that, then the woman would hear him over the engraver. On the next case, he tried doing it softer, barely tapping the glass to create small cracks, then slowly making them bigger by using his gloved hand as a noise cushion. One by one, he shattered the glass, and Ray scooped up all the jewelry, placing it into the satchel on top of all the newspaper.
Just when Ray turned the corner, he bumped his hip against one of the displays with a giant shard of glass hanging over the edge. He winced in pain as it cut through his pocket and grazed the flesh of his thigh. He could feel his own blood running down his leg as if he had forgotten to bring an extra tampon. Good thing Bob’s pants were black. He made sure to take the piece of glass with him, as not to leave behind any DNA.
They had cleared out the whole room of value and finally made their way out. That sales lady was in for a big surprise when she walked out of the engraving room.
“Have a good day, gentlemen.” The security guard wished as he watched the two “old men” crossing the street after they exited the store.
Oh, if only he knew.
Chapter 9: 9- My Goal Is To Piss Off The Baby-Boomers
“Here we are.” Gerard handed the two room keys to Frank as he began unloading all their bags from the van.
Frank stared down at the two keys that sat in his hands. He began doing the math in his head. Him and Gerard in a king bed in one room; Mikey in a queen, Ray in a queen in another; and Bob? “You only bought two rooms?” He asked.
“Yeah.” Gerard strained as he pulled out the bag of jewelry. It weighed almost as much as Frank did.
“Where's Bob gonna sleep?”
“Shit! That's what I forgot. Let me go get him another room.” He began to pull out his wallet.
“No. No.” Ray protested. “I don't mind sharing a bed with Mikey.” He offered, looking over at Mikey for his opinion.
Mikey smiled. “Uh, yeah. Whatever. That's okay.”
The noises Ray made as he ripped off all the latex from his face could have been taken out of context if you didn't know what he was doing. When he finished, his face was left red and with open sores. Mikey had warned him that that would happen if he didn't use the baby oil to soak the old man skin off. When Mikey first saw the cut of Ray’s leg, he scrambled throughout everyone's stuff trying to find an emergency sewing kit and some sort of unflavored alcohol.
Mikey made Ray sit on the kitchen sink. He gave him no warning as he poured the remaining amount of vodka into Ray’s gash. He screamed and dug his nails into the bar of soap he had been tossing around. Then, with the needle he had sterilized with his lighter, he sewed the wound closed. After a few stitches, Mikey was almost certain that Ray had passed out from it all. Then, once he had finished, Mikey slapped the wound causing Ray to sit up in pain.
“There you go.” He said, peeling off his disposable gloves and tossing them in the trash bin.
Ray gathered himself, barely catching a glimpse of Mikey leaving the bathroom as he opened his eyes again. He looked down at the Frankenstein-esque stitches that ran across his leg. He rubbed at it, realizing that he would always have something to remember this day by with him always. “Bobby." He called, walking out of the bathroom. "Thanks for the pants." He threw the wad of denim back at him.
"No problem Ray."
He immediately dug into his pockets for his lip balm in withdraw. His hand exited the other side of the pocket through the ginormous hole in the bottom. The Carmex wasn't in any of his other pockets either. Oh well. A tube costed two dollars at CVS. Bob could buy a million if he really wanted to.
Mikey sat on the floor of the room on top of a blanket. He found a used condom underneath one of the beds. There was no way he was going to sit on the floor bare. In front of him sat his scale, calculator, note pad, pliers, tin shears, and the bag of jewelry. He almost pulled a muscle bringing the damn bag in. He began piece by piece, isolating and removing the diamonds. Some of the smaller ones were a bitch to get out in one piece.
“Hey Mikey, you need help?” Ray offered. Mikey could tell that he was bored and Aleister was probably getting to him.
“Uh, no thanks.” It was always better if he worked alone.
About an hour later, he had created a pile for the diamond, the miscellaneous rocks that accompanied the diamonds, and one each for the gold, platinum, silver, and iron castings. He placed all the diamonds onto a Tupperware container and placed it onto the scale. It read 4,571.42857 grams. Then he took to his calculator, multiplying that by one thousand to get that measurement in milligrams. Then, he divided the new number by two hundred to find the number of carats that were in the 4,571,428.57 milligrams. Then he was left with 22,857.1429 carats, and because each carat has an approximate value of $2,800, he multiplied the number of carats by that amount. He was left with just over $64,000,000. Then he divided that by five. Each person would be going home with just about $12,000,000.
“Motherfucker!” Mikey yelled as he ran over to the shared wall of the motel and banged on it, signaling that he wanted Frank and Gerard to come over to their room.
"Aw Shit.” Gerard moaned, splayed out across the crusty motel mattress. "Do you even know how rich we are now?"
“Yup. We're each about twelve million dollars richer than we were this morning.” He answered as he tidied the pile of dirty laundry that had accumulated on the bathroom counter.
"I mean, I never expected to see this money in ten lifetimes, but now that it's sitting right in front of me, I kinda don't believe it's real.” Gerard sifted his hands through his allotted amount. His eyes glanced over his bag of metals.
Frank laughed. He packed all his things in his bags. His black jeans, grey shirt, over coat, left glove, and-. Shit!
Where was his right glove? He bent over and surveyed the ground for the small black mass. The pulse in his ears grew louder as he continued to fail at finding the glove.
He walked out into the room and looked everywhere. Flipping over pillows and papers. He checked areas the glove could not have possibly been in.
"You okay?" Gerard asked noticing Franks frantic state.
“NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!" He yelled, grabbing his head in his hands and sinking to the floor. His voice cracking as tears swelled in his eyes.
“What?" Gerard asked, running to Frank's side.
"I forgot my fucking glove!" He yelled. "I went in the shop, and I left it there! They're gonna catch us!" He was hysterical.
Gerard gripped him tight. "They’re never gonna get us. You know why? Because my Frankie doesn't forget. We’re bullets in a flock of doves. Okay?”
Frank didn’t understand what that meant, but it gave him hope. “I can't find it. Help me." He cried.
“I will. I will." He assured. "But I need you to calm down first. Relax."
Frank laid back and scrunched his eyes.
Gerard reached for his shirt, pulling it up with the gentlest hands possible. He stared down at Franks protruding hip bones, pulling down those baggy pants of his and his boxers, contacting his mouth to Frank's crotch, and finessing with his tongue. Soft and serine. No teeth today. He wasn't hard because of the adrenaline, but it still felt great.
Gerard looked over to his right halfway through, spotting a small black mass sitting under the bed. The glove. He pulled away from Frank and reached out to grab it.
“We are not going to prison." He rasped, leaning in to kiss Frank on the forehead. He placed the glove right on top of Frank's chest.
Frank laid there, gripping the shit out of that glove, realizing what a mess his life would be without Gerard.
Chapter 10: 10- Filthy Lies Will Land You A Fist In Your Skull
"Mr. Bryar, we understand that you have been convicted for selling marijuana.”
“Care to explain why your DNA was found on a tube of Carmex medicated lip balm at the scene of the robbery that took place on the 8th of June, 2004?”
"I told you already, I didn't rob that store. I live in Connecticut with my mom. Do I look like I wear diamonds? Can I go now? It's been three days." He begged. The yellow ceiling light beat down on him. He could feel the sweat forming in his pores.
"Sure, you can leave when you post bail. Maybe you can use some of your stolen diamond money?" The other detective suggested.
“Robert, don't say another word!" Bob's public defender commanded as he busted into the interrogation room.
The two cops stood up and left the interrogation room, discouraged because Bob had just pursued his rights.
“Thank you detectives." The attorney sat down at the table. "Okay kid. I don't know who you are, or what they're charging you with, I just know that you did it, and after reading your case file, it doesn't seem like you did this alone. Son, do you know what a plea deal is?" He spat it out all so fast.
Bob shook his head.
"It's an agreement between you and the police saying that you'll plead guilty in exchange for a shortened sentence, typically. But if you want a maximum of 5 years, they'll also want the scoop on all of your buddies."
Bob thought for a second. "I will not rat out my friends. I can't do that to them." He said with pride in his voice.
"Kid, you're up against 27 years without a deal. Are you sure about that?"
“27 years?" He asked. The situation became so real to him in that moment. This was more than just a marijuana conviction.
The attorney nodded. “I mean, if you’re going down by yourself, why not go down with your friends. It would only be fair that way.”
“I-I. I'll do it."
“Good choice, kid."
“Okay kid. Start from the beginning.” The detective ordered.
“Okay. So, I was just hanging out in my basement when I got a text from an old friend saying that he and his brother and their friends were handing out at the Hotel Bella Muerte.”
“What's your friend’s name?” The second detective asked.
“Mikey, Michael Way.”
The detective wrote that on his pad. “Okay keep going.”
“So since the Bella Muerte is only like ten minutes away from my house, I ran over to the mini mart and picked up some beers.”
“And all this was on what date?”
Bob did some mental math. “June 6th.”
“So I show up to the hotel and it's just me, Mikey, his brother Gerard, his boyfriend Frank Iero, and their childhood friend Ray Toro, I think his name is. And we were all talking, and they brought up this whole ‘share of the pile’. So, I asked them what the pile was, and they explained how it was their share of the profits earned in a bank robbery.”
“Did they say which bank it was?”
“Uh, the Maine Express Bank.”
“And they were telling me how much money they earned, so I asked if I could join. They let me join them because I have connections.”
“Connections? Like the mafia?”
“No, no. I have a lot of friends that come in handy. So, they were telling me their plans to rob the diamond store, and I told them that I have a friend in Jersey that is a makeup artist who could help us with a disguise. So that night, I called her, and we drove over to her house the next morning. She gave Frank and Ray old man faces to throw everyone off.”
“Wait. So, you're telling me that the perps were not elderly men?”
“Yeah. It was Danni’s makeup. When they were done with the makeup, we drove down to the diamond store, they went in, and we picked them up when we got a signal on the walkie- talkies.”
The detectives were in utter shock.
Chapter 11: 11- Tattoos last forever, You know
In the time after the heist, the boys’ days of thievery were over. They figured that they wouldn't ever need to steal again for as long as they lived. They vowed to it. Frank was still the love of Gerard's life. Mikey was still his brother. Ray and Bob would always be his greatest friends. They all were better people now that they had moved on.
Gerard had payed Lindsey a lump sum of child support that would last her well over 18 years if she used it wisely. In exchange, she agreed to share custody of their daughter Ava equally. For the first time in her short 6-year life, Ava was able to spend quality time with her father. He had taken her to the ice cream shop on the good side of town near their new home. Kids like ice cream, right?
“Hey Ava." Gerard called.
She looked up from her rapidly dripping cone of chocolate ice cream.
She brushed the curtain of brown bangs out of her eyes. "Mr. Swinton made me student of the week. I got a certificate at an award ceremony, and mommy was there. I told her to stop taking pictures of me, but I guess she was really happy."
"Student of the week? That's great baby! I wish I could have been there."
"That's alright." She said resuming to eat her cone.
“Look at my Baby, Frank. Isn't she the best?" He asked with real fatherly love in his eyes.
Frank smiled back. "She's beautiful."
Gerard came in and kissed him.
Ava looked a little confused. "Daddy?" She asked.
“Why did you kiss Frank?" She asked. Her question was innocent and pure.
Frank turned red.
“I kissed him because we’re married. I love him."
"But mommy said you loved her." God, what had Lindsey been telling her?
Gerard cleared his throat. "I thought I did a long time ago. I made a mistake. But you know I love you, right? I may have been gone for a long time, but I still loved you."
“I know Daddy. Mommy told me."
“What else has your mom told you about me?"
She thought for a second. "She told me that you hurt people. She told me that she misses you, and that you were just scared and confused when you left.”
"I was scared." He admitted. "I didn't want to hurt you or your mom anymore. But I'm back now. For good.”
She nodded. "Bert says you do bad things."
"Mom's boyfriend. Is he right?"
They both were tense. Frank grew especially uneasy.
"Not anymore. I gave all of that up for you and Frank. I'm not bad anymore."
For a second, he felt ashamed of his past. Ashamed of what he had done to get himself where he was in that moment. All the laws he broke and the drugs he took and all the people he had cheated weight upon his conscience. But then he realized that if he hadn't done what he did, his daughter wouldn't be sitting in front of him right then. He wouldn't be wearing the golden engagement band on his finger that showed everyone his love for Frank. He wouldn't be wearing clothes that didn't smell as if he lived on the streets. He wouldn't be driving a car that was always at risk of combusting. And then, he realized that he shouldn't feel so terrible about his ability to escape a terrible situation.
The three walked in front of the stores of the mall. Gerard on the left, Frank on the right, and Ava in the middle holding both of their hands as they window shopped.
“Oh my god!" Ava screamed as she broke the grasp of both men. She ran up to the window of the Hot Topic and stared right at the plush sitting in the display. "Daddy. This is the cutest little doggie ever. Can I get him? Please?" She begged.
Gerard walked up to the window and stared at the stuffed dog. It was a green Japanese kawaii zombie dog with stitches in its side, a missing paw, and an eyeball dangling out of its socket in a cartoonish way.
"You don't think it's a little gross?" Gerard asked.
"I like gross scary things." She answered with the cutest smile on her face.
"Alright baby. You can have it."
Ava ran in at him, squeezing his hips as hard as she could in a hug.
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
She ran in the cramped store and grabbed the dog.
“She is definitely your kid." Frank said as they followed her into the store.
Hot topic had not changed since the last time Frank had been there, a hundred years ago. The black ripped t-shirts all displayed in plastic just like they had been since Frank's punk phase in middle school. The stands spread across the store still barely gave you any room to walk around. As uncomfortable as it was, it still gave Frank nostalgia remembering the time he thought he was so cool for wearing more than one studded belt.
He looked up at all the band shirts. Classics like Pink Floyd, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Marylin Manson and the newer hits like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco all had their logos plastered onto shirts.
Frank laughed and turned to Gerard. "Where are the My Chemical Romance shirts?" He joked.
“Mama! Look what daddy bought me!" Ava yelled as she walked back to the front step of her house. She held the toy out in front of her.
“How cute baby." Lindsey praised. "Why don't you go inside? Let me talk to your father. Bert’s making chicken." She ordered.
Gerard could only stare at Lindsey's protruding stomach. His gaze was only filled with hate when he realized that the child growing inside of her was Bert’s.
“Okay." Ava ran into the house, waving to Frank and Gerard just before she closed the door.
Lindsey walked over to Gerard's car and leaned on the rolled down window. "I'm giving you unsupervised visitation with our daughter, not Frank. I didn't have to do that you know." She bitched.
“And I didn't have to give you that $100,000. I did it out of the kindness of my heart. I fucked up big, and now I want to make it up to Ava like a real man would." Gerard responded.
"Oh yeah, just like a real man? Would a real man leave his wife when she was pregnant with his kid for a slice of Iero Family Auto Shop fruitcake?"
“Don't even start with me Lindsey. Let's keep something straight, you were never my wife. Don't you dare talk about Frank like that and keep my name out of your prick boyfriend's mouth. I hope that ass-hat will stick around when his kid is born like a real man would.”
She backed off the car as Gerard rolled up the window and drove away.
Gerard revved the engine of his Impala as he drove out of the dead-end street.
“Don't let her get to you like that.” Frank reminded as he noticed Gerard clench his jaw and attain an almost unresponsive gaze in his eyes. “She doesn't mean shit. She’s just a dirty whore who can't-”
Gerard stopped the car, making him and Frank almost fly forward. His rigid grip on the steering wheel almost left indentations of his nails on the leather. He unhooked his seatbelt and lunged toward Frank all without a second thought. “Who can't what?!” He asked, his hand had a firm grip on Franks bottom jaw, threatening to crush it if he had the strength. “Who can't what?!” He dared. “Go on. Finish your sentence.
Frank shivered. The edge of his eyes threatened to spill over with tears. “Who can't keep her legs closed.”
“Frank, you understand that I hate that woman a thousand times more than you do, but at the end of the day she is the mother of my child. I love you, but I love what that woman has given me more. Do you understand?!” He screamed into his face.
Frank nodded, pulling Gerard's hand away from his face. The close proximity to his face caused Gerard to notice the strings of saliva that formed when Frank lifted his tongue in pain. He let him go, clicked his seatbelt back on, and resumed his hands on the steering wheel. He kept driving, this time at the limit.
The tiny whimpers of fear and violation, almost, that came from Frank instantly made Gerard regret his actions. Seeing the love of his life in pain was never his goal. He thought he left all that hurtful bullshit in 2004. But it was a new year, and there was nothing to be vengeful about.
As soon as they had pulled up to their house, Frank ran out of the car, his eyes red and prepared to rain as soon as he had privacy. Gerard felt like an abusive husband at that point. He had started to ruin his first confirmation of happiness and success. “Fuck!” He yelled as he slammed his fist on the car horn, letting it ring out long enough for him to realize that he needed to make up his mistake to Frank.
The best thing about having a bigger house is the spare bedroom that you can sleep in when your spouse wants to rip your head off. Gerard found himself sleeping in that spare bedroom that night in attempt to avoid aggravating Frank.
The next morning Gerard woke up tangled in the sheets of the bed that had never been slept in. He rubbed at his eyes and made his way over to his bedroom where Frank had been sleeping. He targeted his form under all the feather-filled duvet. He lightly wrapped his arm around him from behind, nuzzling a kiss in the crook of his neck.
Frank woke on the verge of fear from the warm contact. The words from yesterday still lingered in the air; lingered in his heart.
“I'm sorry.” Gerard whispered.
Frank laid silent.
“Are we good?” He asked.
Frank nodded, making the sheets around him rustle.
They both knew that what each of them did was wrong; Frank calling Linsey a whore, Gerard getting Physical. The apology wasn’t perfect by any means, but it gave them a great place to recover from.
Chapter 12: 12- They All Fall Down
“How's your French toast?”
Frank coughed. “Good.” He wiped the powdered sugar off his chin.
“It’s too bad they ran out of eggs.” Gerard persisted.
“Yeah.” Frank began to stare off to the side of the restaurant, taking in all the surrounding people with real reflection in his eyes. “Remember the first time we dropped Ava off at her mom’s?”
“Yeah.” Gerard recalled.
“I shouldn't have said that about Lindsey. I just can't imagine loving someone as much as you love your daughter. I’m not a father. It’s hard for me.” He reluctantly admitted.
“Well,” Gerard held Frank’s hand on the table, “we can change that.” He looked down at their connection; his hand cupping Frank’s. The acceptance of his apology.
“Speaking of kids, do you know who that whole Bert character is?” He had been waiting to ask that question since July.
“No.” He lied, taking in another fork of his pancake stack.
He knew exactly who Bert was. He knew his cartoonish last name, his scream of pleasure, and the taste of his kiss. It all came down to that one night in the hotel. It was back in 2000 after Bob had moved to Connecticut once they had graduated and Gerard's drug supplier had disappeared. He had been clean from the hard shit for almost four years. His sobriety from narcotics however was separate from his alcoholism.
That hotel party was just another regular weekend for Gerard. The room of young addicts only added to his buzz. At that point, his lights were on, but no one was home. He heard everyone’s voices but couldn't distinguish any words.
Mikey had been outside on the balcony with a group of people all laughing and drinking. They were playing truth or dare.
“Alright Bert,” A girl started. “I dare you to go around the room,” she laughed, “kissing dudes until you find someone who will kiss you back.”
Bert turned red as everyone else began to laugh at him.
“Hey!” Mikey caught Bert’s attention. “My brother’s a queer. He’ll kiss back for sure.”
“Mikey!” The girl slapped him. “Why are you making it easy for him? I want to see him get punched.”
“Which ones your brother?” Bert asked as he looked through the glass of the balcony.
“That dude sitting on the floor wearing the black jacket with all of the zippers on it.” Mikey pointed.
“Alright! I'm going in.” Bert announced, chugging the last of his beer and throwing it over the edge.
He slid open the door to the room and beelined for Gerard. Without even so much as an introduction, Bert sat down on Gerard’s lap, straddling him with his legs. He grabbed up on the sides of his face and pulled him in for a kiss.
Sure enough, Gerard kissed back, hard, yanking on Bert’s shaggy black hair.
Everyone in his and Mikey's group roared with laughter as they watched.
Gerard felt Bert’s sandpaper five o'clock shadow scraping up against his face. It stimulated his senses enough to break him from his catatonic state. He could taste the Jägermeister in Bert’s mouth. He tried to pull away, but Gerard wouldn’t let him. Neither of them minded.
“Okay Bert, you won. Let's keep playing.” The girl called.
“Come on, it's not funny anymore.”
Bert let one hand free and shooed the group away.
“Let’s just keep going outside.” Mikey suggested. There was just something unsettling about watching your brother sloppily make out with another guy in a drunken haze.
They continued on the floor even after the game had left, just kissing, not making any other advances. Finally, Bert let his grip around Gerard's waist with his legs go.
“No. Don't leave me.” Gerard whined, grabbing Bert’s arm as he began to walk away.
Bert complied, sitting down next to him holding out a hand for him to shake. “Well I'm Bert. And you?”
Gerard shook his hand, “Gerard.”
Bert reached into the pocket of his jeans, all ripped and tattered. He pulled out a pill, holding it out in his hand, offering it to Gerard. “Here. Take this.” He said.
Gerard grabbed it without thinking. He looked down at his palm and saw the rectangular shaped pill with the “XA” stamped into it. No. Not again. He screamed, throwing the pill away from him. Gerard's Xanax days came and went with Bob to Connecticut. “Fuck you!” He yelled to Bert before storming his way out of the crowded hotel room.
So there they sat, right in the center of the uptight restaurant, proud of each other that they had been able to overcome the first big fight of their marriage. Their pride only lasted until the SWAT team began to storm the restaurant. Gerard saw the men with glass shields and their black uniforms.
“Get under the table.” He whispered to Frank.
“Get under the table!” He pushed Frank by the head down hard, trying to hide him from the quickly approaching men.
Gerard stood up, pulling out the unloaded pistol he had secured in his pants. The metal was warm from it being in constant contact with the skin of his groin, and even though it was a harmless weapon, he still carried it with him to make himself feel protected.
“Everybody down!” The leader of the SWAT team commanded. Everyone in the dining area grew tense as they all ducked under their tables. Some women even screamed after seeing Gerard’s gun. Frank then understood.
“Sir, drop your weapon!”
“Make me, pig.” Gerard called, adjusting his grip on the handle of his gun.
“Mr. Way, this doesn't have to be a gunfight. You are very much outnumbered.” The officer warned.
Gerard turned around, still pointing his weapon in front of him as he spun. He was surrounded by a sea of black clothed men, almost all pointing their guns at him. He could hear the helicopters whirring above him. He could smell the anxiety in the room building, the sweat production of everyone else increasing.
“Okay, I’m going to give you to the count of three to surrender your weapon, yourself, and Mr. Iero. If you do not surrender, you will be shot. Is that understood? One …”
Frank was dying under the table, which blocked his view of it all. He feared that whatever reason they had been caught was his fault. He just knew it was.
“Two…” Gerard still wouldn't quit, now, manically twisting himself around and around in circles.
“Thr-” Gerard threw the gun at the officer, leaving his hands raised in the air. “Higher!” He ordered. “Raise them up high.” He held his hands vertically straight. Three officers came at him all at once, tackling him up against the table. One man binding his hands, one man shackling his feet, and the last pinning him down.
“Frank!” He screamed as they pushed him out of the dining room.
Frank held onto the pole of the table for dear life. Another three men came for him, pulling his legs and trying to weaker his arms. Frank sobbed at the realization of it all. The new life that he had just build for himself was over, and the whole world would soon know about it. No more home, no more freedom.
Ray peered out of his window waiting for the man to arrive at his house. He had posted an add on the dark web about his diamonds, and someone had responded. They offered to buy a million dollars’ worth of jewels, so the previous day, Ray had bagged out 357 carats for the buyer. They never exchanged names, and only agreed to initiate the sale if both men were masked.
The clock hit 4:30 pm and Ray finally spotted the unfamiliar black van. It parked right in front of his house. A man wearing an all-black suit and a ski mask stepped out of the car, holding a leather briefcase. Ray was surprised at how well he was dressed. He didn’t realize that people on the dark web could have that much money or maintain themselves.
As the man began approaching his driveway, Ray slipped on the pillow sack he had cut eye holes in over his head. He self-consciously adjusted it, giving him more of a Zodiac Killer look instead of a Klansman’s hood. With the bag of diamonds in one hand, and the other on the door handle, Ray took a deep breath.
He made his way towards the man, staring over at the children in the street riding on their scooters.
“Let me see the money.” Ray requested.
The man opened the briefcase. For a second, Ray expected to see a golden light shining back at him, but he wasn’t disappointed to see the stacks of 10,000s all in rows.
“Here you go.” He handed the man the bag. The man placed the briefcase on the floor. He opened the bag, sticking his hand in and holding a handful of various sized gems up to his eyes.
“Are these African or Russian?” He asked.
“Uh, I don’t know. They’re whatever James Rogers mines.”
“We got him!” The man yelled.
Shit. A cop. Ray began to run back towards his house as another dozen men with guns and badges began chasing him. Ray muttered incoherent curses under his breath as one officer grew closer and closer behind him. He finally got close enough to Ray to grab his shirt collar and yank him to the floor. They both let out loud grunts as they fell on top of each other.
Ray tried to pull himself forward under the weight of the officer that had sat on top of him and restrained his other hand in a cuff. “Stupid! Stupid. Idiot!” Ray whispered to himself as his other hand was locked into the other cuff. He turned his head, looking back at the children with the scooters. They pointed and laughed at him as another officer helped Ray to stand.
Aleister tried to blend in with the other men around the black van, but he couldn’t resist tormenting Ray. “This should be fun.” He laughed as Ray was shoved into the back of the vehicle.
At this point, Mikey was terrified to leave his apartment. He had heard about Frank, Gerard, Ray, and Bob. They had already gotten national attention, meaning that the entire nation was looking for him. He was the last standing. It had been nearly a month since Mikey had left his apartment. He had boarded up all the windows and didn’t open the door for anyone.
As time went by, the food in his fridge dwindled down to only bottles of condiments. So, with his fear of being spotted, and his refusal to drink mustard, Mikey decided to water fast. Every two seconds it seemed, Mikey would run up to the sink and refill his gallon jug with more water to fill his stomach. To prevent himself from getting water poisoning, he’d tap in a few shakes of salt and packets of sugar before downing his water.
Fasting was terrible. As much as he drank, he still wasn’t full. The small amounts of fat and muscle that adorned his body exponentially decreased daily, with visual results. His belt didn’t fit him, even on the smallest hole, the bags under his eyes became more prominent, his breath stank no matter how many times he brushed his teeth, and he couldn’t concentrate to save his life. No unsafe amount of water could even come close to the sensation even a small amount of food would give him. It was only after accidentally turning on the food network that Mikey realized this.
Even the crapily cooked risotto on Kitchen Nightmares looked appetizing. It was as if Gordon Ramsey was jumping at him, screaming at him through his television, “Mikey! Eat something!” Mikey held his car keys in his hand. He stared down at them, realizing that if he didn’t eat that night, he would probably be dead in the morning.
As he drove down the street, he shook like a cold chihuahua. The closest grocery stores he could find was the Whole Foods he had always passed by on his way to Gerard’s house. Without a second thought about what he was wearing or how he smelled, he turned into the parking lot.
He used the cart to hold up his weight as he limped through the aisles of produce. The bag of grapes that Mikey had been grazing on was nearly gone by the time he had gotten to the bread section of the store. As he looked down into his basket, he realized that he was practically buying the whole store.
Feeling a bit more replenished, Mikey made his way to the checkout line. For once in the last week, the room stood still, and he could understand the conversations around him.
He could feel the eyes of the man before him in line boring a hole into his soul. The old man, wearing a light-yellow golf shirt with white flat front shorts that could barely stretch around his beer gut, stared at Mikey as if he knew him. Mikey had almost forgotten that he was a wanted man.
“Is your name Michael?”
Mikey swallowed; a dry lump sliding down his throat. “Y-yeah.” He answered, still too weak to think about his actions.
“Well,” he placed his wallet on the handicap ledge, “then I’m going to have to make a citizen’s arrest.” He announced it loud enough for everyone in the store to hear.
“No.” Mikey whined. “I just need some food. Please.” He pleaded, slowly backing away from the man backwards, pushing his cart away from him.
“You’re the fellow who robbed that diamond store.” He accused. “I saw your picture on TV.”
“No. No I’m not.” Mikey cried. “I’m just hungry!” The yellow lights were shining down on him so hard, making him sweat bullets. The man’s determination scared him. He realized that there was no use fighting the inevitable. He collapsed.
He woke up behind the bars of a holding cell.
Chapter 13: 13- Look Where You Got Yourself, Kid
When all the luxuries of life are suddenly ripped away from you, you start to question everything. All inquiries aside, one thing was certain for Frank and Gerard: The next forty years together were going to be very boring.
The two would spend their time at the St. Helena's Institution for Men. They were so lucky that the New Jersey Department of Corrections was, at the time, overcrowded, meaning that they would be sentenced to time in the same facility. Apparently, St. Helena wasn’t the most enthusiastic of saints. There was no color in a 100-mile radius of that place. Everything was a shade of cold metal, and the walls, a musty cream. It only added to the dullness by being relentlessly overcast the entire first week of their imprisonment.
“Hey #3.” Gerard greeted as he sat down at the Frank’s table. The steel seat was cold. He could feel it even through his sweatpants.
“Hey #47.” Frank laughed, dealing out all the checker pieces.
“Man," Gerard started, holding his cigarette in the v of his fingers. “I can finally say I've lived."
Frank looked over at him with a smirk on his face. "And why is that?" He asked as he moved forward one of the, only, eleven red checker pieces.
"Because I can say that I pissed off Nancy Grace." He laughed, purposefully blowing his cigarette smoke directly into Frank’s face.
Frank took in the smell. "Yeah. That one-hour special on us was pretty amusing to watch." He snickered.
Gerard set his hand down on the table, cigarette still burning away. He stared at the red and black squares of the checkerboard. He got lost in the uniformity of the squares; so perfect and exact, all either black or red, not leaving any room at all for individuality. He sighed, looking down at his beige jumpsuit, then looking up at Frank and all his fellow inmates. Just like a checkerboard, all forcibly the same. All because Gerard wanted to live a good life.
All he wanted was to live his life with Frank and his daughter. He didn’t want to hurt people, but that’s what had to happen. He promised that he would make it up to the world, but that opportunity was taken from him by a selfish man who would be getting out thirty-five years before the rest of the group. Now, his life was gone. He had Frank, but not even Frank was strong enough to boost Gerard’s will to live.
"Makes me wonder if there's anything more to life." Gerard questioned. He flicked away his hand which had been stung by the burning cigarette that he had forgotten about.
“Shut up.” Frank dismissed. “Come on, let’s go play poker with Lint Roller and Domino.” Frank chuckled at their ridiculous nicknames as he stood up from the table.
“No!” Gerard grabbed Frank’s hands begging him to stay. “They all cheat at cards.”
Frank sat back down. “Don’t you want to win more cigarettes? What’s wrong?”
Everything, he wanted to say. He wanted to tell Frank how heavy his brain felt in his skull; how even in the silence in his cell was so painfully loud to him; how nothing else but Frank mattered to him. "You know, I never thought I'd ever say this, but I-I miss my mom."
Frank was beyond worried now. "Don't say shit you don't mean." Since the beginning of their relationship, Frank knew that Gerard hated his mother for all the pain she put him and Mikey through as children.
The boiling hot tear that dribbled down his cheek was immediately followed by the unsightly contortion of his bottom lip, like a toddler mid-tantrum. He cried into his shirt. "I don't know what I mean."
In the dead of the night, Gerard stared blankly at the ceiling of his cell. The thought of ending it all infected his mind like a drop of blue ink in a glass of clear water. "Hey Pac." He called to his cellmate. "Pac! Wake up." He whispered little louder.
"What?!" His cellmate answered, angry and bothered. "Fuck! Can't you see I'm trying to sleep here?"
“Do-” He thought twice about what he was asking for, because once he had asked, there was no taking it back. “Is it true that you sell shanks?" Gerard asked.
He sighed. "Why? Who told you that?”
Shit. There it was. “Nuh-No one. I just overheard it.”
“Well, it’s true.” Pac confirmed. “Why?”
Gerard hung his head over the edge of the top bunk, feeling all his blood rush to his face. "I'll buy it off you for a speed stick from the commissary."
"Bitch, just a speed stick? Do you know how long it takes to make a quality prison shank?”
“Fine, I'll throw in a pack of cigarettes." He didn’t know how much a shank should cost. For all he knew, he was being ripped off.
Pac thought for a second. "Deal." He got out of his bunk and searched through his drawers for the blade. Gerard watched his long, dark arm reach up and drop it on his bed sheet next to him. He looked over at the shank; a spoon from the cafeteria with the handle wrapped completely in scotch tape, and the sides of the spoon’s bowl filed down into a point. Almost like an arrow head.
“Who are you gonna use it on?" He asked once he was back in his bunk.
Gerard couldn’t conjure enough strength to say himself. "Who would you use it on?" He diverted.
"Nobody. I'm trying to live a more peaceful life, ya know? God wouldn't want me to kill anyone. I've never done a crime I didn't have to do."
Gerard laughed. "Then why are you selling shanks?"
"For the pay. It takes me weeks just to afford the shit that I need like fuckin’ toothpaste or shaving cream. Plus, I’m getting out soon, so, fuck it.”
"You never told me what you were in for." Gerard reminded.
Pac scoffed. "It's pretty obvious you've never been to jail before. Everyone knows you never ask what someone’s in for.”
"Oh. I had no idea."
"Yeah. You only do that if you want to get beat down. You're lucky cuz I tolerate you. Anyways, back in Cali, I was in a gang.”
He stood up and lifted his tank top to show Gerard the tattoo across his stomach that read, "Thug Life." "My group was down in Vegas one night, when our rival group drove in close and shot up me and everyone in my convertible. A week later, I woke up from a coma with five bullet holes in my side." He pointed to the five scars that ran up and down his stomach, back, and chest. “They never told anyone that I'd pulled through, and just sent me here for being involved in a gang."
"Wait, everyone thinks you're dead?" Gerard asked.
"Yeah! The motherfuckers never told my mama or nothing. I mean, I did kill that fucker in the alley, but the cops never knew about that shit. They just shipped me off to the east coast to break up the gang activity. When I get out, I'll have to remain in witness protection for a while until I'm settled in. Then I get a fresh start."
"I'm glad someone thinks so." Pac finished as he laid back down for the last time.
Just before going to sleep for good, Gerard slipped the shank under his pillow, for safe keeping.
Chapter 14: 14- There is Nothing Cold About This
Aside from being torn from the people he loved the most, The Anthony's Home for the Criminally Insane was what Ray needed. It wasn't an asylum. It was a hospital where he got the help he had needed his whole life. It was a damn shame that it took Ray getting arrested, exposed to the world, and a criminal record with a big red "Felon" splayed across it.
That first day in the institution, was so frightening. Not only was he torn from his friends and family, but he was also placed in an environment with people that he had never been around. Those people in the lounge and the cafeteria were all so distant from Ray. They all sat in their own groups and practically lived in their own universes it seemed.
“Hey Ray!” Aleister screeched.
Through all the commotion happening in his life, Ray had forgotten all about Aleister. “What?”
“What are you doing?” He leaned over on the table, resting his chin on his hand.
“Nothing. I don’t have anyone to talk to.”
“I know!” Aleister laughed so hard he wheezed out a whistle. “No one likes you here, Ray. You fucked up with your real friends. Ray, you’re just a fuck up!”
Ray grew heated at Aleister. His comments were really the last thing he needed. “You know what Aleister? I’ve had enough of you!” The rest of the people in the lounge stared at him in surprise. “The reason I’m here is to get rid of you!” He pointed his finger right at Aleister, using his other hand to wipe away the tears from his face.
“Raymond Toro.” The doctor called.
Ray jumped. People only called him Raymond during the trial. He hated that name. It was too long. The “mond” part always seemed like an afterthought to him. He put his finger down and began walking toward the doctor
“Have a seat.” He instructed as Ray stood right outside of the doorframe of his office.
Ray sat on the only mint green single seater on the appropriate side of the doctor’s desk.
“Okay.” The doctor sat on his side of the desk. “Good morning Raymond. My name is Dr.
Neil Tyson.” He greeted.
“Uh, good morning, Dr. Tyson.” He adjusted his glasses higher on the bridge of his nose, sniffled, and held out his hand for Dr. Tyson to shake. “It’s just Ray if you don’t mind.”
“I’m sorry.” The doctor corrected himself. “Well, Ray, do you know why you are here?”
“I’m here because me and my friends got caught after stealing some jewels, and because I plead guilty by reason of insanity, because I see people that aren’t there.”
“Very good.” His voice was so soothing to Ray. “Can you tell me a bit about your friends?”
“Sure.” Ray began. “So first, there was Gerard Way. I think he had a middle name. I can’t remember.”
“It’s better if you don’t.” Dr. Tyson admitted.
Ray was confused. “Um, okay. He and I were best friends since childhood. Then there was his brother, Mikey; there was Bob, from high school; and Frank, Gerard’s husband.”
“Okay. Tell me more about the people who aren’t there.”
“Uh, when I was little, I went to catholic school, so I saw Jesus, and a bunch of other people. They were always so mean to me and they forced me to do things I knew I wasn’t supposed to do. And now more recently, I’ve been seeing Aleister, Aleister Crowley.” It was all so embarrassing for Ray to admit to someone out loud. “But just mean he is to me as ones before him.” He sighed. He just hated it when he spoke nonsense like that. He grew even more embarrassed.
“Alright. How often do you see Aleister?”
“Twenty times a day, at least.”
“Wow. Is he with us right now?”
Aleister stood in the corner of the room, shaking his head no while dragging his finger across his neck and sticking his tongue out of his mouth.
“No.” He lied.
“Okay Ray, I think we have our priorities worked out here. We will start your intensive treatment on Monday.”
Bob and Mikey would serve their time 350 miles away from the others in The Bellamy Grey Correctional Facility of Vermont. That first day of captivity was eventful to say the least.
Mikey navigated his way through the lunch line. He gagged at the microwaved lasagna that sat on his tray. Even though it had been months since the whole grocery store incident, Mikey still had not mentally recovered from the stress he had put his body through.
After he sat down, he picked up his pear. It was cold. He couldn’t tell if it had just built up condensation or if the people on lunch duty were too lazy to dry the pears after they had washed it. He bit into it, exposing the rotten, brown center. He spit the pear out onto his tray, pushing it away from himself.
Then, he began examining the lunchroom out of boredom. Skimming over the sea of bald and brunette heads, then finally spotting the head of nasty blond hair that sat above the face of a mouth breather with alarming blue eyes. He left his tray on the table as he stood up and stormed over to the man. Hey, it's not like he had anything to lose. He was already serving 40 to life. He pulled that little bitch from behind, throwing him to the floor.
"No!" Bob screamed as Mikey straddled and pinned him down. “I’m sorry! I had to. I had to!” He cried, trying to hold down one of Mikey’s fists.
Mikey grabbed Bob by the hair with his free hand and slammed his head into the concrete. Without words, Mikey beat his fists down onto Bob's head. So hard, and deep they went into his skull. He could tell Bob was gone when those poor excuses for arms stopped flailing at his sides.
Mikey stood up to all the other inmates cheering around him as he wiped his blood and brain-soaked knuckles on his jumpsuit. He raised his arms in surrender to the prison guards that closed in on him and took him away.
He would spend the few months in solitary replaying the murder scene over and over in his head, understanding his newly found niche for killing, and realizing how proud the rest of the boys would be for getting their revenge.
Under the din of the yard coming from outside, Gerard stroked at Frank’s hair.
“You’re so warm.” Frank giggled as he squeezed at Gerard’s torso. Cuddling on the inside was almost the same as cuddling on the outside. The only main difference between the two was the bed size. Even in the twin sized bottom bunk, Frank still managed to lay on top of Gerard like a house cat.
“No,” Gerard corrected. “You’re just cold.” He stretched his legs out.
“What are we gonna do when they let us out of here?” Frank questioned.
“Are we gonna see the day that we make it out of here?”
Frank crinkled his eyebrows. “What are you talking about? Of course, we will. You’ll be 67. I’ll be 62. That’s old, but it’s not death old.”
“Would you still love me in forty years?”
“Would you fuck me in forty years?”
“Yeah, if you could still get it up by then.” Frank joked. They both laughed.
“Would you kiss me in forty years.”
Frank scooted up closer to Gerard’s face, planting a reassuring kiss on his mouth. “I’ll kiss your lips again and again for as long as you’d let me.”
Gerard kissed him back, grabbing Frank at his sides. “This is why I fucking love you.” He kissed his lips again, and again; each time growing steamier and more aggressive with each one.
One of the only good things about being in prison was that Frank and Gerard would only have time to be together. They would sneak into each other’s rooms once everyone was at breakfast or dinner and have sex in the privacy.
After the first week, they had learned exactly how to get away with it. They made sure to get food and be seen by the staff. Then, they would throw the food away and make their way back to the dorms. This could only be done once a day, seeing as they still wanted to eat at least one meal.
Once they had perfected their craft, they could truly enjoy each other just as much as they did on the outside.
“Hey Gomez." A guard called as he peered through the glass window of the closed cell door. "We got ourselves a couple of fags!"
Gerard turned back at them, mortified as they kicked their way into the room. "Indeed, we do." The shorter one replied.
"Gentleman," he started again at the two, “Am I to understand that you know where you are?”
"Yes sir." Frank respected. “We are in the St. Helena’s institution for men.”
“That’s right. For MEN.” The shorter one emphasizes. “You need to at least act like a man since you can’t actually be one.”
"Stand up!" Gomez demanded. The two stood up and stared with blank expressions toward the guard. Frank was visibly shaking.
"Take your fucking shirts off!" He ordered.
"What?" Gerard asked, appalled by the guard’s request.
The smaller guard ran up to Gerard with an open closed fist, rocking him right on his nose.
The cracking of Gerard’s nose was almost as loud as the yells that came from the two guards. He yelped, high pitched, almost sounding like a moan of pleasure. The blood began to spill from his nose.
"You heard the man! Strip! Underwear too." He persisted.
The boys followed their orders. They both started first with their shirts, dropping them to the floor and kicking aside their pants and boxers shortly after. Gerard blew his nose in his shirt before tossing it. There they stood naked, humiliated, petrified.
Gomez walked over to the bunks. He whipped the sheets off the top bunk and wrapped it around Gerard's chest and midsection. The ends were tied in knots to hold the sheet in place on his body. The excess sheet hung below his waist like the skirt of a dress. He watched as Gomez did the same to Frank with another sheet from the bottom bunk.
"Now, it's obvious that you two ladies are not real men. No sicko pansy who likes to take it up the ass is. So, why don't you two beautiful women drop down and give me 50!" He yelled.
Frank immediately fell to his knees and started his push-ups. The last thing he needed was to get hit.
"You people are wrong!" Gerard yelled as he followed.
"Well sweetheart, I’m not the one suckin’ dick.” Gomez laughed.
Gerard could feel his muscles tensing and the blood refilling his nose all the way down to his throat as he neared his 13th push-up. He gagged, coughing up a mucusy ball of blood on the floor below him.
Chapter 15: 15- You’ve Just Gotta Leave
The showers, fortunately, were somewhat private. Gerard was grateful of this as he lathered his shampoo through his hair. He used the suds from his head to wash the pits of his arms as he stared back at the latchable stall door separating him from the rest of the empty bathroom. The horrible floor was covered in grime and disease. The anti-slip shower mats he stood on barely provided enough protection for his feet.
He didn’t use bar soap for his body because he couldn’t afford it after paying Pac. Plus, fuck soap. A stream of water from his head dribbled down his cheek, making its way to the hollow of his eyes. He hissed as shampoo from his head dripped down into his eye. “Shit!” He whispered, turning himself to face the shower head to wash out his eyes.
He couldn’t hear the bare footed footsteps coming closer to him as the water flowed over his head like a tin roof sliding off droplets during a rainstorm. He couldn’t hear the man behind him unhooking the lock on the stall and stepping into the shower with him.
“Fuck!” He screamed as the inmate charged him up against the wall of the shower, using his pure muscle to hold him in place. “No!” He squirmed from underneath the man’s cold, naked body. The inmate was solid and hard, putting up a real fight against Gerard. “Let me go!” He tried to wiggle his way out somehow or use his legs to kick at something. He just couldn’t move.
“Don’t worry kid.” The man growled. “I heard about you and Iero. I’m Italian. I shouldn’t be too different from him.”
Gerard never even saw the man’s face as he exited the shower, laying on the floor to wail in the mess that he had left behind. He screamed on the anti-slip shower mats, not even thinking about the bacteria or infections they held. Nothing on those mats could even compare to how dirty Gerard felt. Everything in his body down to the bone hurt. His hands ached from the grip that he held on the metal stall of the shower. His hip hurt from the fall he took once he was finally free. His stomach hurt from the penetration. His mind hurt from all the violation and trouble he had seen.
As Gerard came back from the shower, all he wanted to do was lay down in his bed. To his surprise, he saw Pac standing outside of their cell with a displeased look on his face. He ran over to the entrance and peered in. "What's going on here?" The anxiety was still in his voice as he watched the three guards searched through his things.
“We always randomly inspect the newcomers to our prison. It's standard procedure. There's no need to stress unless you have something you shouldn't." The female guard informed.
Gerard freaked. All they needed to do was check under his pillow and he was fucked. One woman searched behind the thick metal bars that covered the window, another man in their drawers, and the last, stripping back the bedding of Pac's bottom bunk. The speed stick that Gerard had bought Pac, his intact razor, and the half empty bottle of shaving cream that Pac kept in his drawer was not deemed conspicuous. Neither was Gerard’s wedding ring, which he had taken off to shower, or the photograph of him, Frank, Ray and Mikey.
He found nothing and moved on to Gerard's top bunk. He ripped back those sheets and found nothing. Shit! His hand was moving towards the pillow. He ripped it back and exposed a clean underneath. Seconds later, Gerard heard the clink of metal hit the floor.
The guard picked it up and examined it. "Well, look what we have here." He announced to the other guards, holding up the spoon in his gloved hand.
"I'll tell you what we have." The female continued, "A week in solitary confinement.”
The solitary cell was eerily quiet with its ultra-sealed solid steel door. By then, he was enraged. Nothing mattered to him at that moment. “Come on fuckers!” He yelled. “Give me the chair! Fry my brains and turn me into a vegetable.” The tears began to swell in his tonsils. “Or better yet, a lethal injection! Turn my blood to poison. Make me swing from a rope if you dare! Snap my neck and let me hang from the gallows!” He paced across around his new ground level bed manically, pulling at his hair, still walking with a slight limp from the shower incident. He rubbed at his nose, still sporadically bleeding from the blow it had took the day before.
He had finally had enough. The bones in his knees had given out, letting him land on his mattress. He wrapped his hands together, right over left, and pressed his head against the wall of his cell, like a sick dog. The thought of God, as irrational and useless as it seemed, was Gerard’s last resort. He never thought he would revert to his Sunday School ways. “Oh, Heavenly Father that art up in heaven,” he tried to remember. “Forgive my sins of sodomy and of thievery. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, please bless me and Frank. Us, two men as God had made us. I can’t- Well I can apologize for our mistakes and beg that you grant us salvation. Please, Heaven help us get out of here!” He pleaded. “On my grandmother’s grave and my brother’s soul and my daughter’s life and my mother’s eyes, I say this prayer.” He wept. “Amen.” He ended, falling over on his bed once he removed his head from the wall.
He instantly passed out from the exhaustion of it all. He dreamt about everything and nothing at the same time. The dreams of Frank and his daughter and his brother were all so great as they came, but terrifying and nauseating as they left Gerard in a state of manic withdraw from the people that seemed like mere ghosts of what he remembered them as.
"Frank!" He cried as he awoke from another one of his dastardly dreams. "Frank. Please come here! I just want to hold you and-” He hyperventilated. "Ava! Daddy loves you! Help! Anyone!"
"Can it, Way!" He could hear a guard shouting at him.
He stopped screaming. Not because he wanted to, but because he physically couldn't anymore. His voice was raw and hot in his throat, hurting with overuse and exhaustion. He felt as if he had burst a blood vessel in his face or something.
Chapter 16: 16- I’ll Be With You When The World Ends
16- I’ll Be With You When The World Ends
He continued to weep into the stale mattress of his cold, empty cell realizing just how miserable his life had become that current moment. He figured that the only way to comfort himself was to go back through his memories, like the day he and Frank got married.
It all started at 9:30 in the morning. Mikey, Ray, Gerard, and Frank all pulled up to Lindsey’s house in Gerard’s Impala. Frank and Gerard stood at her front door, waiting for someone to answer the doorbell.
“It’s your daddy.” They both could hear Lindsey telling Ava through the door.
“Hey baby!” Gerard squealed as Ava came in, grabbing at his waist.
“Daddy! Frank!” She jumped straight from Gerard to Frank.
“Hey sweetie.” Frank hugged back, nervous to show affection to Gerard’s kid in front of Lindsey.
“Do you have comfy shoes on today? We’re gonna do a lot of walking.”
Ava ran back up to her room to change her flip flops without a word.
“Walking? Lindsey asked, “Where are you guys going?”
“Oh,” Gerard started, “we’re just driving up to Boston. Maybe check out the Liberty Bell.”
Lindsey laughed. “Where are you really going, dumbass? The Liberty Bell is in Philly.”
“Babe, who’s at the door?” Bert asked, coming closer to the door, holding their baby on his hip.
“Oh, Gerard! It’s uh, been awhile since I’ve seen you.” He laughed.
“Yeah,” he breathed out, almost scared by his presence. “Frank and I were just uh, picking up Ava and we’re just waiting while she gets her shoes.”
“Oh, why don’t you come in? She can be so indecisive when it comes to clothes.” Bert suggested.
“Oh no, we couldn’t.” Gerard informed. “She’ll be down any second it’s really not-”
“No, no, come in. We insist.” Bert looked down at Linsey, her face evilly neutral.
Gerard turned around to Mikey and Ray, who were still sitting in the car. He motioned with his finger that he would only be a minute. They both nodded, then the couple walked into the house.
“That’s the couch right there.” Bert pointed, his baby gurgling and giggling from the fast twisting motion he did at his waist. The two sat down.
“So where are you taking my kid?” Linsey asked, crossing her arms and leaning up against the edge of the sofa.
“We’re actually driving up to Boston so we can get married.” Gerard admitted.
“Oh shit!” Lindsey cursed. “Really?”
“Does she know this?” Lindsey asked.
“No. It’s a surprise.”
“Oh, well let me make sure she’s dressed nice for pictures.” She began to run up the stairs.
“Married?” Bert laughed. “Well, what’s your name?” He asked Frank.
“Uh, Frank.” He answered.
“Well, Frank, take it from me. You’ve got an amazing kisser on your hands.”
Frank turned to Gerard, his eyes open wide with shock and disbelief. “How would he know?
Gerard sighed, “That’s a story for another day.” He assured.
“Congrats you two. It’s just a shame you can’t have your own kids naturally.” Bert sympathized. “I swear to God!” He held his baby out in front of him. “I look at this little munchkin and I’m just so happy I was able to make a smaller version of myself with the person I love.” He boasted, gazing intently into his son’s eyes. “Did you want to hold him?” He asked Gerard. But it wasn’t a sincere ask. It was more of a “You’re going to hold him” ask.
“Ugh?” Before he had the time to protest, Bert had made his way over to the couch and the baby was in Gerard’s hands. He held him out in front of his body, his arms frigid and stiff with the young life dangling on the edge of his gentle hands. The baby was cute. He had a wisp of Lindsey’s hair, her real hair, and his father’s blue eyes. The jumper he wore was covered in green and white stripes with a cartoonish monkey on the front. The baby cooed and giggled, reaching out to grab at Gerard’s sunglasses. Frank smiled at the kid, lightly squeezing his cheek.
“Jeez Gerard, what? Have you never held a baby before?”
Gerard could hear Lindsey’s and Ava’s footsteps coming down the stairs. He knew he’d be leaving soon, and that it wouldn’t hurt him to drop a strong one-liner before he left. He stood up, handing the baby back to Bert as Ava came jumping down the stairs. Frank followed. “Nah Bert. I’ve never held a baby before, I was too busy doing bad things.” He quipped. “Let’s go Ava.” He reached out to her with his newly freed hand.
Frank could only stare back at Bert’s dumbfounded face in awe as they left. Sometimes he loved it when Gerard was petty. The three walked back to the car all in locked hands. Gerard could feel Lindsey’s and Bert’s bitter eyes on them as they left.
Frank was so grateful that Ava was comfortable around him as she was around Gerard. When it really boiled down to it, she had only known Frank for as long as she had known her dad. That made him feel special.
Ray got out of the car when he noticed them walking back. “Hey little one!” He greeted as they all grew closer.
“That’s Daddy’s good friend Ray.” Gerard informed her.
“Hi Mr. Ray.” She responded. “Uncle Mikey!” She recognized as she jumped in the back seat of the car.
“How’s my favorite Niece?” Mikey laughed.
Ray took his seat back in the car as Gerard took the driver seat and Frank rode shotgun. “Everyone got their seatbelts on?” Frank asked, trying to be a good stepfather.
“Yup!” Ava responded, smiling ear to ear.
The crew had been driving for nearly thirty minutes when Gerard had finally pulled into the parking lot of the shopping center. Ava didn’t question anything as all five of them walked passed the Bella Donna dress store. Every time they would pass the store, Ava would go on and on about how much the dresses in the windows reminded her of the Disney princesses and how much she wanted to wear one.
There they stood in front of the store. Her eyes were open so wide that they nearly consumed her face.
“You know how you always wanted to be a princess?” Frank knelt to her level.
She nodded fiercely.
“Well today you can.”
She gasped. “Really?!”
“Yeah sweetheart. You can pick any dress that fits you.” Frank couldn’t help but smile at her excitement.
“Oh my gosh! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” She squealed, hugging Frank first, then Gerard.
Ray’s and Mikey’s hearts both melted at her gift.
She ran right through the front door of the store, dragging Frank along with her. The rest of the group had to sprint to keep up with her. She started row by row examining each of the dresses on the mannequins that met her at eye level. She skimmed over dresses, pink, blue, and green, ranging from iridescent fabrics, to matte fabrics, to bedazzled, to lacy, and frilly.
Frank and Gerard really didn’t care what color dress she picked out. They would just base their outfits to compliment whatever she chose as not to restrict her decision. All four men breathed a sigh of relief when she spotted the white bell-shaped gown with the red belt with the flower at the waist and the rose petals that lined the bottom edge of the skirt and climbed up at asymmetrical heights.
“At least it’s not neon pink.” Ray whispered to Mikey, making both laugh in consolation.
Once she was in the dress, Ava could not stop dancing and moving around. Just putting the dress on fulfilled so many fantasies of hers. They all left the store, Ava wearing her new dress.
“Hey Mikey, Ray, can you take Ava to the hair salon while Frank and I get all our suits?”
“Uh, Yeah.” Mikey answered, reaching for her hand.
“Just let her get whatever she wants as long as the accessories match the dress. Oh, and what size are you guys?”
“Uh, 34 on top, and 32 in pants.” Mikey answered.
“36 for shirts and 34 for pants.” Ray added.
“Alright, we’ll meet you at the salon when we’ve bought them.” Gerard waved back at Ava.
Frank and Gerard scrambled through Tony’s Mens’ Emporium to find everything they needed.
First, Mikey and Ray’s simple suits; two regular black and white tuxes in their necessary sizes and a red handkerchief.
Gerard picked himself out a black pair of pants, a black shirt, and a red tie. He stood in the fitting room tying his hardest to tie his tie, wrinkling it and almost creating a knot around his neck.
“Let me see what you’ve got on.” Frank requested from outside of his stall.
“One second.” He grunted as he tried to untangle his fingers from the fabric. When he opened the stall door he was shocked to see Frank in his white button-down shirt and red tie under a black vest. The way his piercing caught the lighting of the fitting room and how he rested his hands in his pockets was so stunning and satisfying. “You look... amazing.” Gerard let out gazing directly into Frank’s eyes.
Frank smiled, as he attempted to compliment Gerard. “Uh, did you need a little help with your tie there?” He asked.
“Yeah.” Gerard admitted, getting closer to Frank to let him fix his tie.
“Shit!” He cursed as he tugged on different parts of fabric around his neck. “What the hell did you do? I thought you went to Sunday School.”
“I did. But,” Gerard corrected, “our uniform was just a polo shirt and some khakis.”
Frank laughed. “You poser! I went to catholic school every day.” Gerard jerked his head as Frank finally was able to free both ends of the tie with a firm pull. “Therefore, I know how to tie a fuckin’ tie.” He knotted the Half Windsor.
Gerard walked into the view of the big mirror in the center of the room. Frank followed. The two scanned each other from head to toe, realizing that what they were wearing in that moment was the same thing they would getting married in in just hours to come. “What would I do without you?” Gerard smiled, leaning down to Frank, planting a kiss on his cheekbone.
After yanking off the price tags of all the clothes that they planned on buying and giving them to the woman at the front desk, they gleefully bought nearly $800 worth of clothing. With a neatly folded tuxedo in each mans’ arms, they made their way back to the salon.
Even before walking in, Gerard could see Ava sitting in the styling chair, her hair curled and pinned to her head almost looking like a bouquet of flowers all wrapped up in a red ribbon. He thought she looked absolutely adorable with the iridescent glitter the hair stylist had put on her eyelids.
They walked in, handing each suit to their correct wearer. “Go change in the bathroom.” Frank requested as they both stood up and made their ways to the back of the salon where the bathroom was.
“You look beautiful!” Frank complimented Ava. The hairdresser smiled as she sprayed on the last finishing touches of hairspray.
“Your brother was telling me about your big day today.” She said. “Congratulations you two.”
“Oh, thank you.” Gerard was a bit caught off guard. He didn’t realize that his life didn’t need to be so secretive anymore. Getting married wasn’t illegal. They weren’t breaking any laws. He realized that he should be telling everyone in the world that it was his wedding day.
After a four-hour car ride and several bathroom stops, the five had arrived in Boston. By 4:30, they had finally made it in front of the Jetsetter’s Wedding Chapel. It looked like a regular church, just 1/6 of the size. There were stained glass windows that Frank could tell would cast different colors of light across the inside of the chapel.
When they walked inside, they were greeted by the officiant who was wearing a brown suit. He was almost shorter than Frank with his short, stubby torso. “Howdy!” He greeted as he saw the group walk in.
“Hey!” Ray greeted from the back of the group.
“How can I help you guys today?”
“Ugh, we were looking to have a wedding here today.” Gerard informed.
“Okay.” The man started as he began to walk down the aisle of pews to be closer to them all, “Usually you would need an appointment for that, but luckily for you, we don’t have any events booked today.”
“Oh! Cool!” Gerard exclaimed.
“Are you the groom?” The officiant asked him.
“Yeah.” Gerard answered.
“And where's the bride?”
They all pointed to Frank. He stood there, beginning to laugh and blush.
“Oh...” The officiant realized. “Well, even better!”
Filling out the paperwork to get married took longer than the actual wedding it seemed. All the documents and paperwork that the two, and even Mikey had to sign, as a witness, tired their wrists.
Once it was all said and done, Frank and Gerard stood parallel to each other, their hands joined between them. The officiant stood behind them, microphone in hand. There was no need for a bible. They both agreed that they didn’t want a religious ceremony. “Dearly beloved.” He started. “We are gathered here today to witness the love and union of these two young men, Gerard and Frank. Before you exchange your rings, Gerard, you must repeat after me. ‘I Gerard,’”
“I Gerard,” he started.
“‘Take you Frank to be my husband.’”
“Take you Frank to be my husband.” He snickered from all the pressure.
“‘To have and to hold, From this day forward, for better or for worse,’”
“To have and to hold, From this day forward, for better or for worse,”
“‘For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.’”
“For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.”
“‘To love and to cherish, ‘Till death do us part.’”
“To love and to cherish, ‘Till death do us part.” He finished with a shrill giggle.
“Now place the ring you have brought for Frank on his left hand.”
Gerard fished through his pocket for the ring, finally finding it and placing it on his ring finger. The rings were nothing special, just plane gold bands that Frank made sure to snag during Operation Whopper. He was still thinking with his thief brain when he took them, not realizing that they would have money to buy better rings. But because he had taken them, those rings had a story behind them. Gerard wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Now Frank, repeat after me, ‘I Frank,’”
“I Frank,” he started.
“‘Take you Gerard to be my husband.’”
“Take you Gerard to be my husband.”
“‘To have and to hold, From this day forward, for better or for worse,’”
“To have and to hold, From this day forward, for better or for worse,”
“‘For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.’”
“For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.”
“‘To love and to cherish, ‘Till death do us part.’”
“To love and to cherish, ‘Till death do us part.”
“Now place the ring you have brought for Gerard on his left hand.”
Frank too found the matching ring in his pocket, then placed it on Gerard’s hand.
“Now, with the power vested in me by the state of Massachusetts, I pronounce you, Gerard Arthur Way, and you, Frank Anthony Iero Jr, husband and husband. The grooms may now kiss.”
And just like that, with an eager, wet kiss, the two were married.
Chapter 17: 17- Flowers in Arizona
17- Flowers in Arizona
The second Gerard got out of solitary, he knew what had to be done. That day at dinner, he sat right next to Frank instead of across like he had been doing for weeks.
"I'm so glad you're back Gerard." Frank consoled.
"I'm glad I get to see you again." Gerard reached for his hand under the table. “I just don’t know what I’d do without you.”
Frank grinned, “You won’t need to know because you’ll never need to see a day without me.”
"I just love you so much. You understand that anything I have ever done or will ever do has
been all for you?”
“That whatever I do will always be for the best."
"What do you mean?" Frank asked.
“Nothing, I just want you to know that I never intend to hurt you."
Frank still looked up at him, more confused than ever.
“Like when I took you home with me the first time we met" He elaborated. "I was the one who suggested that we robbed the 7-11 in the first place. Now look at us, 20 lbs. underweight, and jailed."
Frank laughed. "But would everything really have been the same without me? If you wouldn't have taken me in, I would still be at home with my parents, probably married to some ugly chick who was pregnant with my kid. Gerard, you saved me. And I'm sorry, but I probably wouldn’t be alive if I hadn’t met you.”
Gerard found himself crying again. The realization of his last hour had made him so sensitive. "I love you Frank." He pulled him in and kissed the crown of his head, taking in the smell of Frank's hair for the last time.
"I love you too Gerard."
“I gotta go piss. I’ll see you later.” He lied, walking to his cell without turning back a last time. He couldn't stand to see Frank's beautiful face anymore.
He walked into his empty cell and shut the metal door behind him, barricading it with a drawer in case Frank were to come back for him. He pulled out a notepad and pen and began to write.
If you are reading this, I, Gerard Arthur Way, am at peace. I'm probably hanging right in front of you. I want you to know, that I am fine now, safe from this hell hole that is the world and all the cocksucking inbreds that inhabit it. I don't know where I'll end up, but even God's worst judgment would be better than this bag of shit.
Just know that the institution did this to me.
Let Bob know that karma is a bitch. I will be coming for him in the next life, and I'll spare him no mercy. Tell Lindsey to go fuck herself. Tell my sweet daughter the truth about us when she is old enough. Let Ray know that he is still the coolest. Tell Mikey that I loved him. Tell Frank that I loved him even more.
Let him read this for himself.
Frank, you were it for me. I know that what I've done will cause you the most pain, but just understand that you meant the most to me. I can't stress how important you are. You stood by me to the end, and for that, I know we will always have a special place in each other's hearts. If you ever care to join me, there will always be a spot next to me in the endless march of the black parade. I love you so fucking much Frank Iero. Never forget that.
So long, goodnight.