He Never Told Me What He Did For A Living
November flew by, and autumn faded and winter began. Snow covered the ground, and residents of New Jersey shoveled their driveways and began hanging Christmas lights. You couldn’t drive down a street at night without being blinded by the multi-colored lights twinkling in the darkness.
Now, as I stood alone on the porch watching my breath in the bitter cold, I felt darkness settle deep inside of me. It was a constant reminder of something I’d lost, something that had left a void that hadn’t yet been filled. The first day of November would be remembered forever as the day I’d lost- no, given- my virginity to Gerard Way. I’d given it to him out of what I refused to admit was love, in the hopes I’d change his mind about waiting until I turned twenty-one to bring our relationship to the next level.
It hadn’t worked, and I was left with the bitter aftertaste of rejection. It stung, and I carried it with me everywhere I went. Reaching out, I caught a falling fluff of snow, watching it melt in the palm of my hand. It was too much of an accurate metaphor for what happened to me when I was around Gerard. Slinging my hand, I dispersed the water from my hand and dried my palm on my jeans.
“Josie?” Gran’s voice came weakly through the closed door.
I didn’t waste any time getting to the door. “Yes, Gran?” I answered.
Some might say that things always get worse before they get better. I had a little hope that the same was true for cancer patients. Lately, Gran hadn’t been doing well. As it was, she was struggling to bounce back from what the doctor had assured me was just a common cold. The cold had attached itself to her already weak immune system, and refused to leave. Gran refused to take medicine, claiming the only kind of medicine she needed was the spiritual kind, and so she bowed her head in prayer often, and I joined her when I could. I did not consider myself a by-the-book Christian by any means, but if the Good Lord could save my Gran, then I’d appeal to him as often as I could. I didn’t want to be alone again. As it was, Gerard was preparing to leave to tour for The Black Parade, and thus far, it looked like it was going to be a long time before he came back home. He was scheduled to leave after Christmas, not that he’d bothered to tell me that- I’d found out online. We still talked via text messages and short phone calls, but he’d found an excuse not to hang out with me alone each and every time I’d asked to see him. His excuse was that he didn’t trust himself alone with me, especially after out sexual encounter. I thought it was more that he didn’t trust himself to say, to hell with waiting, who gives a shit what they think? right before he whisked me off into the sunset.
“Josie, sweetie, you’re going to catch your death out there in the cold,” Gran scolded half-heartedly. She wasn’t stupid- she knew something was bothering me. I’m pretty sure she knew it had something to do with Gerard, too.
“Sorry, Gran,” I apologized, wrapping my arms around her frail frame. Her cheek was warm against mine, and I wondered if she had a fever. She caught my concerned look and smiled softly.
“I’m fine, Josie. Please don’t worry so much,” she said as I released her.
I stared at her. “How can you expect me not to worry? You’re all I’ve got, Gran.”
She tsked. “I’m not all you’ve got- you’ve made several friends lately, Josie.”
I sighed, knowing the way this conversation was going to end. It was always the same- I’d tell her how much she means to me and how much I need her, and she’d attempt to convince me that a handful of friends were going to replace her when she was gone. Instead of rehashing, I stared out across the street at the sparkling Christmas lights. “Gran, should I drag the Christmas decorations down from the attic?”
“Oh honey, you needn’t bother with that by yourself…unless you think Gerard could find some time to help you?”
I stared at her, wondering exactly what she knew. Despite her old age and illness, somehow, she’d figured things out. “I’m sure he has better things to do,” I muttered.
“Nonsense,” said Gran. “I’ll call Donna.”
Before I could stop her, she had the cordless phone in hand and was punching Mrs. Way’s phone number in quickly. Quickly, I pulled out the cell phone Gerard had given me and shot him a text message to give him a heads up and informing that he didn’t have to do it.
I don’t have anything better to do. His reply sent a wave of nervous anticipation through me, leaving my fingers trembling in hesitation over the keypad.
I looked up at Gran as she ended her call to Donna. “Gerard said he’d be more than happy to help you,” she said with a knowing look.
Sighing in defeat, I nodded. “I guess I’ll head up to the attic to check out the decorations then.”
“Oh, that’s good dear. If you’ll wait just a moment-” she was interrupted by the doorbell, and I stared at her in horror.
“Josie, dear, that’ll be Gerard,” she informed me, as if I hadn’t already guessed that. “Won’t you let him in? It’s cold out there!”
I pulled to door open and used it to shield myself from the cold. Peeking around, I could see Gerard dressed in dark jeans and a long black coat, with a beanie adorned with the Misfits logo pulled over his white hair.
“Come on in, honey. There’s a pot of fresh coffee in the kitchen. You’re welcome to it,” Gran called to Gerard.
He stepped in and shut the door behind him hastily, brushing snow from his shoulders. Gran coughed, and Gerard looked at me with worry-filled eyes. “Later,” I mouthed. He nodded and slipped his coat off.
It was hard not to snicker when he turned and revealed the cheesiest Christmas sweater I’d ever seen in my life. Thinking about the sweater was the beginning of a chain of thoughts in my head, beginning with taking the sweater off, and when the very last thought surfaced, we were lying in a sweaty and naked heap of tangled limps.
“…Josie? Earth to Josie…” Gerard said in an annoying sing-song voice. He made a noise that was similar to a crackly microphone and pretended to speak into a walkie-talkie. “This is your captain speaking. I would appreciate it if you would put a little swing in those hips and get your ass up those stairs.”
I socked him in the shoulder and blushed furiously. “Nice sweater,” I retorted. It wasn’t much as far as comebacks go, but it was all I could muster. “How’d you get here so fast?” I asked.
“I was in the neighborhood,” he said with a shrug.
“But you texted me back.”
“Yup,” he said with a pop of his lips on the ‘p.’
“So you texted me while driving?”
“Why, are you gonna lecture me if I did?”
“Josie, just shut up before I kiss you.”
“But-” He shot me a warning look before the rest of my sentence could escape my lips. “Wait. Did you say-”
“Are you trying to make me do it?” he asked giving me a look over his shoulder as he stretched up to grab the rope to pull down the ladder for the attic. I caught a glimpse of pale skin as he did, and I cursed myself for feeling this way about him.
The hinges creaked as he eased the ladder down, and I made a face at the cobwebs. “Is there a light up there?” he asked.
I thought for a moment. “I think so.”
He unfolded the ladder and made sure it was sturdy. “After you.”
I stepped back a little. “You go first.”
Gerard huffed and pulled his beanie off, revealing his white hair. “You just want me to go first so you can look at my ass.”
I rolled my eyes as he made his way up the ladder. When he reached the top, he stepped into the attic and flipped his phone open and used the light from the screen to navigate around boxes.
I quickly followed, and heard a click of the light switch as I made my way over. The light flickered once before shedding a soft glow over the attic, revealing stacks of boxes, each of them labeled with permanent marker. There were various odds and ends here and there, but for the most part, things were organized.
“Wow,” Gerard said. “There’s a lot of stuff in here.”
I looked at him, doing my best to ignore how beautiful he looked with the soft light casting his delicate features in shadow. “It’s an attic…you know, where people stick all their unwanted stuff for storage?”
He ignored me. “Where’re the Christmas decorations?”
“Uh, I’m just gonna throw this out there, but I think they’re in those boxes over there,” I said sarcastically, pointing out a stack of boxes with the word ‘Christmas’ scrawled on the sides.
“Right,” he said and walked over to them. “So, how about I hand them down to you?”
“Not gonna work, because I can’t handle the Christmas tree alone.”
“So we’ll take it down together first?”
I nodded. “Sounds like a plan.”
The plan, however, was easier said than done. Even with Gerard handling the bulk of the weight and me guiding it down, the task was still difficult. The weight of the 8 ft. artificial tree kept throwing me off balance. I didn’t have enough hands to guide myself and the tree down. Ergo, the first time Gerard’s hands slipped on the box, it came rushing down at the speed of light, sending me crashing to the floor. With no one on the bottom to balance his grip at the top, Gerard did his best to hold on to it while worrying over me simultaneously. “Josie! Are you okay?” he yelled down at me.
I longed to say something sarcastic, but for that, you need to be able to breathe. Lying there flat of my back, I tried to remember how to breathe. A simple autonomous function, but it’s one of those things you never appreciate until it’s gone. “Josie, I can’t hold it alone for much longer!” Gerard yelled again, and I became aware of a box containing an 8 ft Christmas tree suspended over me precariously.
“Oh, shit,” I heard him whisper in horror. “Move!” he yelled, as he lost his hold.
For me, time slowed down. I had a lot of time to mull over what was going to happen here. I was either going to lay here worrying about a silly little thing called breathing and be crushed by a fucking Christmas tree, or I was going to get my ass up, breathing be damned, and move out of the way.
If I’m honest, I did neither. I did what I could- I sort of roll-flopped over until I felt I was out of harm’s way. As the box came closer, I threw my arms over my face just in case.
The entire world was silent for a while, and I was aware of pain, then life resumed. Gerard rushed down the ladder as quickly as he could; worry was clear and bright in his hazel eyes. His face was determined, his lips pressed tightly in a straight line as he gave the box a shove.
“Carefully,” he said as he helped me sit up against the wall.
I sucked in a deep breath when a shock of pain raced through my side. But on the plus side, I could breathe again. Carefully, I eased my shirt over my side, and winced when I saw the ugly scrape. A shiver worked its way up my spine as Gerard’s fingers gently felt over my ribs, his cool touch a jolt against my heated flesh.
“I don’t think your ribs are broken or cracked, but then again, I’m not a doctor. Does anything else hurt?”
“No, just the scrape,” I said.
“You sure know how to scare the shit out of a person,” he said with a faint smile. Though his lips held the curve of a smile, a wrinkle of worry still creased between his dark eyebrows. He wasn’t fooling me.
“Well, maybe you shouldn’t throw a Christmas tree on me,” I teased him.
Gerard let out a surprised laugh and raised his eyebrows. “The last thing I wanna do to you is throw a Christmas tree on you,” he said, his eyes darkening and his voice heady.
A tremor shook me, and I practically had an orgasm on the spot. It was my turn to raise my eyebrows. “And what do you want to do to me, Mr. Way?” I asked quietly.
He considered me for a moment, and then looked up as Gran approached.
“Josie, what happened?”
“Gerard threw the Christmas tree on me,” I quipped.
He looked at me in horror. “I did not!”
Gran laughed and shook her head. “You kids ought to take a hot chocolate break-”
“Yes!” Gerard exclaimed, punching his fist in the air.
“After Gerard brings down the tree decorations, of course,” Gran finished.
“Aw man,” he said, pushing his lower lip forward in a pout.
“Did I mention I have homemade hot chocolate, Mr. Way?” Gran reminded him.
I giggled as he scrambled back up the ladder. “I’ll be right down with those!”
Gran made her way slowly back to the kitchen, but I could tell she was still smiling and shaking her head. As much as it hurt my heart to be around Gerard like this, I would do it as much as my Gran wanted it, because seeing her smile made it all worth it.