The first thing Bob sees as he pulls into his driveway is Frank’s hair. The pink is fading slowly but surely, but it is still very bright, especially set against the bland gray of his concrete steps leading up to his very beige house. Frank looks like the picture of summer: shirt off, Mohawk lazily spiked, a cigarette in one hand and a blue Gatorade in the other. He’s hunched over, the pudginess of his stomach unapologetically accented and beads of sweat clinging to the tips of his hair.
“Dude—“ Bob says amicably as he walks up, hands in his pockets fishing for his own cigarettes, but the tension so clearly visible in Frank’s shoulders makes Bob pause. He considers taking the direct approach and asking if Frank’s okay, but he knows from experience that Frank Iero, at no point, has ever had any intentions of hiding his feelings. He’ll talk.
So Bob remains quiet and sits next to him, reaching over to unscrew the Gatorade top and take a swig. (The lip is a little sticky, probably from Frank’s mouth, but Bob doesn’t mind.)
“How’ve you been?” Frank says, glaring out at the lawn. He’s working up to it, trying not to be self-centered, maybe even avoiding the topic a little until he’s ready.
“Cool, man. Itching to be on tour, but stationary’s cool too. Just been doing freelance gigs for bands that come through.”
What Bob fails to mention is that only one band’s “been through” and work was better in Chicago and he’s been scrambling to make bills, but that’s another story for another time when the line of Frank’s brow doesn’t look like it’s going to cave in.
“I just don’t get it,” Frank starts, then takes a long drag off his cig. He’s quiet for some time, stil staring at some particular patch of grass in bob’s unkempt lawn. (He should really mow it. Soon. Tomorrow.)
Bob pushes, but only a little. “Get what?”
“The wait, dude. We should just go ahead and hire you.” At that, Frank looks over at Bob who’s doesn’t look back but can feel the weight of his stare pin on him. Frank’s mouth is set, maybe giving Bob the opportunity to input, maybe challenging him to because they’ve talked about this before and Bob’s always found some backwards way to tell him that he’d love to but there’s contracts and he’d have to break his lease and Matt’s not so bad a guy and –
“I mean, fuck Otter. He’s weighing us down, it’s as simple as that. I love the dude, but he’s been totally counterproductive with Gerard and fucking up at shows way fucking more than he can make excuses for and when you try to talk to him, he brushes it off like it doesn’t matter.” Frank flicks his cigarette so pointedly, the gesture cuts through the air, frustration radiating off of him. Bob nods, not really having much to say because before it was just run of the mill shit from a band dude, shit that most groups could pull through. But with Gerard’s drinking getting worse, Bob knows Frank is doing everything he can to hold on to this band, the band he basically gave up his life to be a part of. To have someone – someone a part of that – brush it off must be killing him.
The fire in Frank’s chest seems to have burnt out a little and he looks less ready for a fight and more ready to throw his hands in the air. Bob doesn’t think about it much before he places a hand on his spine, kneading in a little. Frank sighs as though bob is manually pressing the air out of his lungs through his skin, and his head drops to his arms, propped up by his knees.
“Fuck. Sorry,” he says and Bob shakes his head and takes the cigarette still propped between Frank’s forefingers.
And suddenly it feels intimate – Intimate Intimate Intimate, the word repeats itself in bob’s mind, the skin of Frank’s back warm and slick with sweat under his fingertips, the cig in his mouth having been between Frank’s lips. Frank next to him – Frank Frank Frank – and that word too, the name belongs to so many people on the Earth. Bob thinks about it like one of those phone commercials, people like stick figures stretching across the globe – thousands of them, maybe more, named Frank.
But Frank, this Frank with the specificity of his energy and his…Frankness.
Bob feels like he should stop touching him, like someone might see them, say something, think something, understand what Bob’s about, exactly what he’s about (all of which is sitting right-fucking-here next to him) but he doesn’t.
He doesn’t move except to take a drag.
Frank turns his head in his arm, one eye visible and Bob thinks about the heat he must be creating underneath him, how it might look to a mosquito. He wants to be there.
Frank says, his mouth a little muffled, the top of his lip and under his eyes, damp – he’s still a little pissed but there’s something else now, something lighter – “Fucker, you stole my smoke.”