Cut My Life Into Pieces
When it gets too cold to stay outside, Brian walks despondently indoors and finds Bob sitting waiting for him in the hospital lobby. The drummer is wearing a winter coat and beanie cap and playing distractedly with a cigarette lighter, turning it over and over in his hands. "Hey," Brian says quietly, sitting down beside him, "Are you okay?"
"I should be asking you that," Bob says with a sad smile.
"I'm hanging in there. Where's Ray?"
"With Frankie. Mikey and Alicia are still out and I think Gerard's sleeping. I was looking for you, your cell was busy."
"Oh, yeah I was talking to Stacey. What's up?"
Bob is silent for a moment, sucking thoughtfully on his lip ring. "Well, Worm's been surfing the net," he starts slowly, "And he called me just now to say that there's something happening in the fan community we should know about."
Brian sighs heavily, "Uh oh. Is it bad?"
Bob nods, "Kind of yeah. The daughters of the guy who runs the arena where we played last night are My Chem fans and they were there in his office, top floor, big windows, sheltering from the storm while their dad took care of business after the show. They saw the whole thing with Frank on the bus and posted it online this morning."
"Holy fuck,” Brian groans, "Oh man..."
"It gets worse," Bob sighs, "Other fans saw what these girls posted and passed it on to the official forums where kids have started putting two and two together. Pictures taken on camera phones of Frankie onstage with blood on his guitar or his sleeves have appeared out of nowhere and the story's fucking everywhere now. Fans are posting on our MySpace and all the music mag sites trying to get information on Frank. Some of them are panicking, saying he's dead, and the press are lapping it up. Now with the announcement of the tour being cancelled...Dude, I think it's just made things worse."
Brian's cell phone rings in his pocket and he snatches it up and answers. It's a journalist from a music magazine, one of the big ones, and he hangs up on them before they can finish their first sentence. "This is bad," he whispers, gazing seriously at Bob.
The drummer raises his blonde eyebrows and nods. "Told you," he sighs, thumbing the switch on his lighter and watching the tiny flame flicker and die.
Glaring angrily at his phone, Brian sinks back in his chair and waits for the damn thing to ring again with more bad news but then the sound of heavy boots hitting the lobby floor grabs his attention as Ray comes rushing up to him and Bob. "Guys, you've gotta come back upstairs," the guitarist cries, "Frank's awake!"
But as soon as Frank regains consciousness, his friends are banned from seeing him or even going near his room. The doctors declare that he's in a very vulnerable and fragile state of mind and until the true reasons for his overdose are revealed only family members can visit him.
"But we are his family!" Ray protests, "He means the world to us and we love him."
"Please, please let us see him," Brian begs the Chief Physician on the ward, "You let us while he was asleep, why is it different now? We just want to see if he's okay."
"He's doing better than we thought," the Chief admits, "And I can tell you there's no sign of brain damage which is obviously good news, but until we know what may or may not upset him at this delicate stage, we can't allow you to see him. I'm sorry."
"But we're not going to upset him!" Brian cries.
"You don't know that for sure," the Chief points out patiently.
"But Frank's parents can't be here until tonight," Bob adds quietly, "And he doesn't have any relatives in Seattle."
"I'm sorry, but the rules stand. If Frank tells us personally and without being prompted that he wants to see you then we might make an exception but not before."
So Ray, Bob and Brian are forced to wait outside the ward in a corridor near the elevators, separated from Frank by walls and regulations. A nurse at the front desk keeps an eye on them to make sure they don't move while doctors and psychiatrists hustle in and out of Frank's room to treat him, assess him, medicate him and decide whether or not he's still a danger to himself. The clock ticks on and outside the wintry daylight drains away.
"This is bullshit," Ray mutters, glaring at the latest doctor to walk past them, "Frank shouldn't be locked up alone with all these strangers after what he's been through. He needs people around him who know him and care about him, who REALLY care."
"Rules are rules," Brian sighs, "We don't have a choice and maybe the doctor's right, Ray, maybe Frank doesn't want to see us after last night. Some of the stuff he was saying on the bus, god you should have heard him. I mean, yeah, he was wasted but what he was saying - the parts that made sense anyway - were so...I dunno, it was like he really couldn't take anything or anyone anymore without it killing him. He's been hurting for a long time and none of us realized how much until this happened. Looking back we kinda treated him like an addict or criminal when we found out he was cutting didn't we. What the fuck were we even trying to do?"
After a while Mikey returns from his walk alone and finds everyone except Gerard sitting in a state of melancholy misery outside the ward. Tired and under-medicated, he immediately assumes Frank is dead and Brian has to calm him down and go in search of a pharmacist to dispense his new medication. Bob and Ray stay by the elevators drinking filtered coffee and trying to peer through cracks in the blinds covering the I.C.U. windows but they can't see anything. When Mikey's feeling better he goes to see Gerard and the others continue their wait.
In the afternoon Worm drops by with junk food from the vending machines. "I could probably sneak you in some beers too if you like," he jokes, trying to lighten the mood. "Another few hours of waiting and I might take you up on that," Ray sighs.
The day drags on and medical staff wander back and forth, back and forth, an army of white coats and scrubs. Brian lies down across some of the chairs and falls asleep, exhausted, and a few of the nurses try and get Frank's friends to move along and "go home", telling them that he's resting and in no shape to see anybody anyway, but Bob and Ray refuse to move until they give up. Bob curls up with a magazine and listens to his ipod while Ray finds his bored mind wandering back to the months he and the rest of the band spent in the Paramour Mansion recording 'The Black Parade' album. It was a difficult, pressured time for everyone and they had suffered through arguments, depression, nightmares and Mikey having to leave for a while and move in with Stacey because he was getting suicidal. But it was also a time of change and revelations and a new start and My Chemical Romance had emerged from Paramour stronger and closer in their friendship than they'd ever been before. Despite a few ups and downs, things had been going pretty great ever since. Or had they?
'When did everything go wrong for Frankie?' Ray wonders gloomily, 'How long has he been like this? Since his girl split? Since Paramour? Since before then? Hiding all that hurt behind sleeves and a fake smile...' How can anyone act like nothing is wrong for so long when they're dying inside?
As evening approaches and carts loaded with gross-looking hospital dinners trundle down the hallways, Brian wakes up and goes outside to check his phone messages and Mikey finally returns, bringing his brother with him. Gerard is sitting in a borrowed wheelchair that the nursing staff forced upon him, dressed in pyjama pants and a blue zip-up hoodie with the left sleeve cut off to accommodate his sling. His hair is a mess of tangled black spikes and he's been scribbling comic book doodles all over the cast on his wrist with markers. He also looks very unhappy which is not surprising given the circumstances.
"Hi, Gee. How are you feeling?" Ray asks.
Gerard shrugs with his good shoulder. "Better, I guess. How's Frankie? Do you know anything new?"
"One of the docs said he's been sleeping all day," Bob yawns, pulling his beanie down over his forehead, "But I think that's a lie cos last we heard from the nurses he was being evaluated by someone from the mental health department to see whether he should be, uh, y'know..."
"Committed," Ray finishes softly.
"Oh," Gerard whispers, looking down at the floor, "I see."
"Does anybody want some coffee?" Mikey asks, breaking the awkward silence.
"Always," Ray answers quickly.
"Cool, I'll go get some real stuff from a coffee house, not this hospital crap. Are you okay here, Gee?"
"I'm fine, go," Gerard sighs but then the ward Chief appears in front of them looking ready to talk and Mikey stays put.
"Frank is asking for one of you," the doctor says hesitantly, his expression grave, "Which one of you is Gerard?"
"I am," Gerard answers in hopeful surprise, looking up and meeting the doctor's solemn gaze, "Frank wants to talk to me?"
"Yes, but just you. No one else."
Frank is sitting up in bed on a pile of crumpled pillows with one of his bandaged arms hooked up to an I.V drip and and his hair falling into his bloodshot eyes, sticking in damp strands to his pale unshaven cheeks. He looks so small and miserable that it hurts Gerard to look at him as he tiptoes quietly into the room - leaving the pointless wheelchair in the corridor. Frank's eyes flicker up to his friend's face and a glimmer of relief appears in his exhausted face which quickly disappears when he notices Gerard's plastered arm. "Oh god," he whispers hoarsely, "Did I do that to you?"
"No," Gerard blurts, automatically trying to spare Frank's feelings, "Not exactly. You had an accident where you kind of fell and I got in the way but it doesn't matter now, Frankie. It's not as bad as it looks, really. It's nothing."
"Nothing?" Frank asks shakily, chewing on his lower lip.
"Yeah," Gerard reassures him softly, walking closer to the bed and putting his hand gently on Frank's shoulder, "I'm fine. It's you that's got everybody worried right now. Are you feeling any better?"
"Not really," Frank mutters, running a trembling hand over his eyes, "I feel like I'm gonna puke my guts out and everything hurts cos they turned off the morphine or whatever so I'm more awake. I can't taste right and my ears are ringing like crazy, and shit Gee, they said I've got some nerve damage in my left hand from cutting up my wrist and they don't know if it'll go away!" His voice cracks and breaks on the last few words and he shakes his head, nearly in tears.
"Frankie..." Gerard whispers, a lump rising hot in his throat.
"I'm sorry," Frank sobs, looking up in desperation, "I'm so sorry for all of this, for what I did and w-what I said to you and Brian. I'm so fucking sorry! Can you forgive me? I really need to hear you say you forgive me."
"Well yeah of course I do but there's nothing to forgive, Frankie. You were in pain and I'm the one who should be sorry cos I didn't notice and I didn't do more to help you. It should be all of us who are apologising to you."
"No! Fuck, I'm so stupid," Frank cries, angrily wiping his eyes, "This was all so fucking stupid and pointless and now I've screwed everything up! Everything inside of me and everything we've worked for, and all this-"
"Frank, stop it! Your life and your happiness are the top priority now, nothing else."
"But the band-"
"Fuck the band! Fuck the tour, fuck all of it! It's not worth anything if it means losing you!"
The words ring loudly in the static air and Frank sniffles and curls up on his side with his face buried in the sheets. Gerard stands there helplessly staring at him, upset and cold in his pyjamas, not knowing what to do or how to make things better. Nobody ever deserves to feel this sad and hopeless, especially not amazing, kind, funny little dudes like Frank.
It's in this painful moment that a doctor appears in the doorway and scowls irritably at Gerard. "I heard raised voices," he says accusingly, "Perhaps you should leave your friend alone now. He's not strong enough to cope with any stress at the moment."
"I don't want Gerard to leave," Frank mumbles from under the covers.
"Sir, as your doctor I have your best interests at heart and I really think that you should be resting right now-"
"I don't want him to leave!" Frank yells, sitting up and glaring daggers at the doctor, "It's you I want to get the fuck out!"
"Well I don't think-"
Frowning, the doctor turns back to Gerard, "Five more minutes," he warns sternly as he finally exits the room, leaving the door wide open behind him.
"Fuck," Frank groans miserably, "I can't deal with being in here, Gee. I want to go home."
Gerard nods, thinking about their parents back in New Jersey. The idea of home is always a comfort whenever he feels sick or sad while on tour. It's somewhere safe and loving and familiar and what he wouldn't give for a hug from his mom or dad right now. "Me too," he whispers.
Frank sighs heavily and lies down flat on his back, staring at the ceiling. For the first time Gerard notices that he's wearing a red rubber band around one of his hands like a bracelet and he asks about it to fill the silence. "What's that for?"
Frank glances down and his lips curve into the ghost of a smile. "One of the psychiatric guys gave it to me for when I want to cut. It's a way of hurting myself without actually doing any real damage." To demonstrate this he tugs hard on the band and snaps it sharply against the back of his hand, not even blinking as it lashes his skin red.
"Is it helping?" Gerard asks softly.
"Not really," Frank sighs, closing his tired eyes on the world, "But it's something I guess."