I was surprised I didn’t try to nap on the couch as I waited for Gerard, but this show had caught my interest. Not in a “wow this is interesting I need to see all the seasons and become a groupie” but in a “where the fuck do you find people to do this shit” way. I don’t understand the point of it all. They’re a bunch of guys that make duck whistles… Where is the appeal here? What made the network jump at the chance to film these guys and make it into a reality show?
I rolled my eyes and shook my head, about reaching my tolerance limit for beards and southern drawls before I’d go absolutely bonkers and take an army of poisonous aggressive ducks in bullet proof armor to Louisiana. I rolled onto my back, staring at the ceiling, too lazy (and possibly masochistic) to turn the channel from this dribble. I focused on the fan blades spinning slowly and tried to recall the last time I saw Gerard.
I know it was a fight. I know things had ended in a fight. He got mad at me and dad for something, and left.
Decorating the Christmas tree with my brother, him standing on the opposite side of the tree, Jingle Bells filled my ears. I’ve always been a holiday person, so I bopped around and wiggled in time with the music as I hung some of the glass ornaments my mother had purchased at least 12 years ago. The Christmas atmosphere changed to one of surprise and curiosity when I heard a crash and a shatter from the other side of the tree where Gerard was supposed to be hanging things, not breaking them. I peered around the side of the large conifer to him, with a hand placed over his mouth and his eyebrows raised. He looked like your typical kid when they dropped something expensive or fragile and broke it into a million and three pieces. I directed my gaze to the floor, where Gerard was staring and saw the shattered remains of the Mickey Mouse ornament my brother had bought for me when I was 5. He bought it because he called me Mikey Mouse, or Mousey, and thought it was clever. It was clever, and I’ve always loved that thing. That was one of my favorite gifts from him ever, and he broke it.
“Whoopsies…” Gerard said. That’s all he had to say to that. Not a “shit” or a “sorry” but fucking “whoopsies”?
That’s when I noticed the reek of Wild Turkey on his breath. He did have a very bad drinking problem, but last week over the phone he promised me he wouldn’t drink over the holiday. He fucking promised. I hated seeing him drunk, and I hated seeing him getting drunk. This shit would kill him and I swear to God I just might if he had broke his promise.
“Were you drinking?” I demanded. I knew the answer was yes, and I was astounded that he could’ve drank so much to make him klutzy between the time he got here and the time we started decorating.
“Um… Do you want the good answer or the bad answer?” He asked quietly.
“Are you fucking kidding me? You promised me.” I snapped, stepping away from the tree.
“Well… In… It’s Christmas eve. I promised not to be drunk on Christmas because Christmas is the holiday.”
“Damn it, you knew exactly what I meant. You wont even apologize to me! Why do you do this shit? Is it funny to hurt the people around you?” I threw my arms over my chest for emphasis.
“Last time I checked, I am 21 years old. I’m a grown up, so I can, and I will… You’re the 18 year old that’s still living at home with our parents. Don’t expect me to take life advice from a little kid.” He retorted, throwing his hands on his hips.
“18 with a job, in a stable and steady relationship, and I’m pretty sure I’ve done more to speak for in the last three months than you have in the last three years. I’m only staying at home until I graduate, you asshat.” I glared at him over the top of my glasses.
“Yeah, okay. Cool. Piss off then.” He shrugged and hastily started hanging ornaments.
You break my favorite fucking Christmas ornament, break a huge promise, call me a kid, and still have the balls to tell me to piss off? I would point out how oh-so-mature that is of him to do, but I was so frustrated with his attitude that I’m fairly certain the only words I could muster would be loud jibberish accompanied my arms flailing around in his face and probably a kick in the shin.
“I wish I had a different brother.” I sighed to myself.
I saw his head snap up, right at me. He was visibly offended. I saw hurt in his eyes with a twinge of anger. His face begged “how could you” as he opened his mouth to reply.
“I wish you… I wish you were never born!” He shouted with momentary hesitation.
“You don’t even mean that.” I shook my head.
“I guess you’re fucking right, but you still want a different brother!”
“I didn’t mean it like that… I was frust-” I began before being cut off.
“Bull-fucking-shit! You hate me! I love you so fucking much…” He paused, and he blinked away tears that had welled up in his eyes. “I care about you so much, I always have… I would do anything for you and you hate me!”
“You’d do anything for me but keep a damn promise. You’d do anything but stop hurting yourself. Stop being melodramatic.”
“I’ll do you one fucking better.” He growled, still visibly torn up and walked around the tree, and to the front door. Out he stormed, and slammed the door behind him.
Why can’t he just apologize? Why does he have to act like a bitch when he’s called out for being an asshole? I just want an apology for him going against his word. I shook my head and angrily shoved my hand in the box of ornaments and dug around for something to stick on this stupid tree before I heard a car start outside.
Gerard was going to leave, go driving to god knows where, intoxicated. He probably does have a death wish, and I’m not about to let him kill himself.
I ran outside myself and stood right in front of his car, him sitting at the driver’s seat gripping the steering wheel tightly. I slammed my hand down hard on the hood of his car, trying to make my point without having to speak. He didn’t flinch.
“Do you want to get in a wreck and die, Gerard?! Are you fucking insane?”
"I hope I fucking die! There is absolutely no reason to keep fucking around and pretending that it’s okay that I’ve got issues! Who knows, maybe mom and dad will give you that different brother you want so fucking bad." His tone had quieted some, but was still fairly loud, given we were trying to speak with the car standing between us.
"Don’t you dare talk like that, dickhead! Roll your window down and let me talk to you!" I stared at him for a good while, his head hung as he clenched the steering wheel.
He stayed in that spot for a moment, shaking his head as his shoulders wobbled. I could tell he was in tears and that’s when I remembered how much it bothered me when he was sad. He wasn’t upset without reason, I had been pretty rude and I do understand how I could’ve hurt him. Some of the things I had said were bound to cut deep… But I hoped they would make him want to clean up the wounds and do his best to let them heal rather than say fuck it and just chop himself up. I honest to god hope that at some point he gets it. I hope he gets that though they weren’t said in a soft pretty way, they did have some truth. I really don’t think any less of him, I’d just rather him not get himself killed.
“Please, Geegee…” I said and weakly hit the hood again.
He lazily threw his arm over to side with the little switch used to put the windows down, and allowed his finger to press down on the button. When there was now a way for me to talk to him without having to shout, I walked over to the window and leaned in, throwing my arms around his shoulders and giving him the best hug I could from the angle I was at.
"I’m sorry Mikey…" He sobbed, grabbing my forearm. "Please don’t hate me, I am so sorry…"
"Don’t beat yourself up… I… I was just hurt. I don’t like watching you self destruct, and I know one holiday clean might not help, but I just wanted to spend time with you while you were sober….”
He sniffed and rested his head against my upper arm. “I’m sorry… I just… Iunno… I did somethin stupid.”
The cold in the air finally caught up to me and I shivered, cussing under my breath for even stepping outside without a coat. His life was worth it though.
"Come on… How about you come inside and we talk some, hm?" I suggested, pulling away some and rubbing his shoulder.
He nodded and unbuckled himself, waiting for me to step out of the way of the door before walking out. He paused and removed his jacket, draping it over my shoulders.
"You don’t havta-" I started.
"No, it’s the least I can do." He said and started walking toward the house with me.
"You’re the best brother ever, y’know?" I said, on his heels as we entered the house again.
He and I had been close my entire life, and I can only remember fighting with him after his drinking started getting out of hand. I didn’t understand what had happened beforehand to make him want to drink anyway, because I didn’t think he was at the point where withdrawal would seriously fuck him up. I wanted to ask so bad, I wanted to know why he needed to drink. Maybe that would help me deal with his problem, if I could find out what made him need to, habit, emotion, whatever.
When he kicked off his shoes, I took a stride over to him and wrapped my arms around him, giving him an actual hug. He was warm, despite just getting inside from the freezing December air. His cheeks were rosy pink on his flawless ivory skin. He didn’t really take care of himself, but he definitely kept his hygiene in order. It took him a second before he wrapped his arms back around me and patted my back some.
“I’m glad you came back in…” I said.
Gerard was now curled up in a ball of himself on the opposite side of the couch watching some old Rudolf movie intently for a moment before his eyes slowly began to fall shut. He struggled to keep them open, trying his best to stay awake and not crash on the couch. I couldn't help but snicker at him, he's hardly changed since we were kids.
“You gonna fall asleep out here?” I asked, and poked the bottom of his foot with my own. He let out a small giggle and allowed his eyes to part slightly.
“Of course. I always sleep on the couch Christmas eve.” He said, stretching out his arms some and letting them flop back down. “It's tradition.”
“You know mom doesn't like it when we sleep on her nice couch.”
“Well she gets to be unhappy in the name of tradition. You don't just break a tradition, especially a Christmas tradition.”
“Alright then, I'm going to follow your lead but first I'm going to change.” I shook my head, grinning at him.
“Aw shit yeah I don't want to sleep in these jeans. They're too damn tight.” He agreed and sat up.
I made my way up the steps, Gerard close behind me before he ducked into the guest room. I got into my own room shortly after and changed into a ratty band shirt and a comfortable pair of pajama bottoms that were littered in ducks. I took a moment to breathe before going back downstairs, to see my brother already curled back up on the couch in a longs sleeve shirt and pajama shorts.
“That's a little silly, don't you think?” I said, sitting back down in my own spot opposite Gerard.
“What's a little silly?” He asked, perking up slightly.
“Long sleeve shirt and shorts.” I snickered.
“It can be a little silly all it wants to be, but it's more than a little comfy.” He said and stuck his tongue out at me briefly before resting his head back on his pillow and closing his eyes.
I smiled and pulled a blanket from the back of the chair and managed to cover both Gerard and I without any issue. Snuggled into mom's nice pretty couch while leaving the TV on for background noise, I feel asleep.
Christmas is absolute madness. Alicia, my girlfriend, had finally made her way down to the house, and she refused to stop gossiping about Gerard with my mother and father. They were discussing his alcoholism with her over their third large glass of red wine. I couldn't stand listening to them, so I just hung out with him for a while, sitting on the floor, watching another Christmas movie. Occasionally one of us would get up to get things to drink, but there wasn't much time spent around the fucking gossips for Gerard to hear his name mentioned.
I finished my glass of water and decided I should refill it now even though I didn't want more immediately. I hoisted myself off the floor and made my way into the kitchen where they were, standing in a half circle rolling their eyes every time they spoke his name.
“Okay, I want to let you know, I can fucking hear you.” I snapped at them, trying to keep my voice down.
“Mikey we're not even talking about you.” Alicia smiled.
“You're talking about my fucking brother and I honestly don't think you should be because you don't fucking know him.” I pointed at her. I think this is the first time I've been legitimately pissed at her.
“I know enough about his type.”
“His type my ass. You don't know my damn brother so you can just cut this shit out.”
“He's a deadbeat drunk. He smells like stale booze and looks like he hasn't washed his hair in three years. His clothes have burn holes in them from smoking. Let's face it, he's pretty much the poster child for people that're wasting their life.”
“I know he's got a drinking problem, but-” I started before I was cut off.
“I didn't know I was involved in any ad campaign, Alicia.” Gerard spoke up, coffee mug in hand.
“Hey now, be nice to her.” Dad added.
“Were you even fucking hearing her talk? She called me a god damn drunken whiffy deadbeat.”
“In her defense, you are getting a little... sloppy.” Mom chimed in. I shot her as intense a glare as I could muster.
“A little sloppy?”
“Gerard, she didn't mean it like that...” I started, stepping toward him.
“That's fuckin' bullshit, you're all sitting out here havin' a fuckin' babble session ya bunch ah flibbertigibbets.” Gerard snapped.
Everyone that wasn't Gerard shared a look of confusion due to Gerard's sudden (and correct) use of flibbertigibbets. He had a shocking vocabulary when he was legitimately angry.
“I was standing up for you...” I began. “But it would probably be in your best interest to stop drinking so much...”
“Oh, here we go again. Fuck you, princess Grinch. You've got quite the way with ruining the holidays.” He pointed at Alicia.
“Excuse me? Are you going to let him talk to me like that?” She inquired, giving me a disapproving look.
“Can you maybe calm down some, Gee?” I requested. I couldn't be mad at him for calling her out for being rude.
“Mhm, take the demonic bitch's side. That's fine. I'll be fucking leaving now.” Gerard stated and marched out the door, mug in hand, without any of his belongings.
“Look at what you fucking did!” I hissed at Alicia. “It was none of your damn business and none of you could just keep your comments to yourself until he fucking left.”
“Right now you're no better than your brother with the way you're talking to me.”
“I'd go as far as to say you deserved everything he said to you!” I replied as she rolled her eyes and turned away from me and my parents looked at the ground rather than at me. “Un-fucking-believable.” I scoffed and left the kitchen, storming upstairs to my bedroom.
I guess that was the reason I couldn't remember our fight... I didn't want to. My brother needed someone on his team and I wasn't there for him. I got a bad feeling just thinking about how hurt he probably was. I promised myself that when he got here I'd hug him and apologize before anything else, it was the least he deserved.