Fandom: My Chemical Romance
Summary: The boys get lost and find the strangest place ever.
Disclaimer: Not true, not harm meant. I make no profit.
Notes:Cross Gardens is real, and in Prattville, AL. If my place in hell wasn’t already assured, using a folk art garden meant to steer folks to the Lord for a slash story just cinched it. Mr. Rice is not a character in this, out of respect to the fact that he is now passed on.
The van was lost.
Gerard looked out the window at the everlasting expanse of weeds and kudzu. “Goddamn, this is boring,” he whined.
Frank groaned from his place on the floor. “Shut up, trying to nap.”
Gerard lit another cigarette. “Why’d we leave the fucking highway, anyway?”
Ray spoke up next, voice flat. “Because, we’re nearly out of gas.” Ray kept driving, jaw tense.
Matt was the one who said it this time. “Well, if you’d looked at the directions better-“
“Fuck off!” Ray threw an empty 64 ounce Slushie cup in Matt’s general direction. “Everybody just shut up and help me find a gas station.” Ray turned his eyes back to the road.
Frank muttered and turned over, sleeping on Mikey’s jacket. Mikey was looking out the window on the other side. “Hey, I think I see a place.”
“Got it,” Ray said, slowing down as the Texaco was spotted up ahead. Gerard smiled a little, he could use a bathroom and something to drink. The Texaco was older, and it didn’t look that clean, but Gerard didn’t care. He was out before the van was even stopped.
Gerard found the bathroom and got a key from the man behind the cash register, a guy in his 50’s who looked at Gerard with vague disapproval. Gerard knew he stunk, and probably looked really weird, so he didn’t mind much. He just went to the bathroom.
When he came out, Ray was paying for the gas and some road snacks, and talking about how they needed to get back on the freeway. The cashier seemed to be more tolerant of them when he found out they were a band.
“Thought ya’ll were coming from up North to see Rice’s house.”
Ray frowned at him. “What? Why? Someone’s house?”
The man shook his head. “He calls it a garden. Mr. Rice’s Cross Garden. He’s trying to save everybody, so he done put crosses all over the place. I think it’s an eyesore, but some people love it. You know, he even sells some of that as art?”
Gerard had been listening intently. “Yeah. Some people will buy anything.” He looks around and sees Frank’s expression go sharp and interested. Mikey looked mildly intrigued as well. Matt was just looking for beer.
Gerard spoke up first. “Where did you say this was again?”
Ten minutes later, they all saw the giant crosses on both sides of the road. “Holy fuck,” Frank breathed out as he saw a giant sign that said “WARNING, YOU WILL DIE: HELL IS HOT HOT HOT.” The sign was written in black lettering on white background, and there appeared to be a lot more where that came from.
Gerard looked around. There were crosses everywhere he looked. Hundreds of them, all over the land, painted on a truck, everywhere. Ray stopped the van in front of a little shack covered in more messages. “Um, want to get out?”
Matt just finished another beer and threw it on the floor. “Nah. You guys go ahead, I’ll stay here.”
Gerard looked over at Frank. “I’m in. You?”
Frank nodded. “I guess. Let’s take a look.” Mikey nodded as well.
Ray and Gerard headed off in one direction, Frank and Mikey in another. Gerard squinted in the sunlight, shaking his head. “Visionary art.”
“Huh?” Ray said. “You’re calling this art? It looks crazy.”
“It is. Both, kinda. Some people, God speaks to them and says “cover your entire property with paintings”, and this guy’s one of them.” He reaches out to finger a busted washing machine with more crosses and the number “27” painted on it.
“Hey, look at this.” It was a hill with a hole dug in it, marked “Tomb of Jesus”. Gerard looked at it for a while, then heads off down a path marked with more crosses.
He finds the Sex Pit, a bunch of signs with messages like “SEX USED WRONG WAY, HOT HOT.” He catches up with Frank there, who’s frowning. “This is less fun and more disturbing.”
“I think that’s the idea. He’s trying to put the fear of God in us.”
Frank shakes his head. “Twelve years of Catholic school wasn’t enough?”
“We’re dumbass Catholics, Frank. Far as this guy is concerned, we’re going to hell on principle.” Frank snorted and turned to look at some more crosses.
“You shouldn’t curse like that.”
Gerard turned around and found two kids, about eight and ten, staring at him. They were thin, blue eyed and very close in appearance, a boy and a girl. “I’m sorry. My friends and I just stopped to look. Is it a bad time?”
The girl shook her head. “No, but Grandpa can’t come out and talk. He’s sick these days.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, does he talk to everyone who comes to visit?” The two kids nodded. Gerard wiped some of the sweat from his forehead. “It’s hot out here, wow.”
The kids nodded. “Would you like some sweet tea?”
“Sure.” Gerard took the hand of the girl and she led him to the shade and a lawn chair. The boy kept him company while the girl got him a giant glass of the sweetest iced tea he’d ever had. “Thanks.”
The girl looked at him. “Where you from? You’re accent’s funny.”
Gerard laughed a little. “I’m from New Jersey. I’m here with my friends, we’re on our way to Nashville, and we got off the freeway for a little while.”
She smiled at him. “I gotta go back in, you stay as long as you want. Put the glass on the front porch when you’re done.” Gerard nodded and sipped more tea.
Ray came strolling toward him, face set in confusion. He sat in another lawn chair, next to Gerard. “They brought you tea?”
“Yeah. You totally should ask for some.”
Ray shook his head. “No. This place is weird, Gerard. Everyone’s going to hell, it looks like.” He nudges his toe against a clump of grass.
“I know. What’s the belief, that only 350,000 people are ever going to be saved? If that?” Gerard wants a cigarette, but figures he’d better wait until they’re back in the van. “I mean, these beliefs aren’t that unusual, it’s the way he’s expressing them.”
Ray looked over at him. “That Sex Pit thing is crazy. I think the only sex that’s allowed is heterosexual married sex for procreation.”
“Duh. We’re Catholic, that’s what they told us too.” Gerard and Ray laughed as Frank and Mikey came walking up. Frank looked angry, Mikey oddly serene.
Frank said “Okay, I’m ready to go. Let’s get out of here before I tear one of those crosses down.” Gerard got up and put his tea glass on the porch. Ray walked over next to Frank and rubbed at his back, to get him to calm down. Mikey smiled calmly.
Gerard looked over at his brother. “You seemed to enjoy it.”
Mikey’s response was interrupted by Frank. “He was actually praying.” Ray looked over wide-eyed. Mikey shrugged.
“Yeah. I figured that no matter what I thought of this, whoever made it was talking to God. So maybe while I was here, God would listen to me.”
Gerard just looked at him. “I don’t think you’ve prayed since we stopped going to church.”
Mikey just turned to head back to the van. “It was worth a shot.” Frank just shook his head and stomped back to the van, shoulders hunched. Ray looked over the place one more time, then started walking away. Mikey and Gerard followed.
Matt was passed out in the back, snoring, when they got in. It was Mikey’s turn to drive, so Gerard said a prayer of his own. Mikey wasn’t that great a van pilot. Ray sat in the second to the back seat, Frank sat up front with Mikey.
“So, that was weird.” Ray said, conversationally.
“I guess it kinda was. I didn’t think it was that bad.” Gerard sort of enjoyed it.
“You know that guy thinks we’re all going to hell, for playing rock music, and drinking, and cursing, and all sorts of shit.”
“I know. But I can’t hold it against him. He saw a vision and he did what he had to, right?” Gerard got a cigarette, lighting it and drawing on it hard. Ray looked out the window. Gerard put a hand on Ray’s knee.
“Hey, it’s okay. Can’t hurt us. He just believes differently than us.” Gerard said softly.
“If he knew what you and me did…” Ray said, voice too soft to hear by anyone else.
“Don’t think about it.” Gerard rubbed Ray’s knee in a circle pattern. “We haven’t done anything wrong. Ever.”
That got him a smirk. “Ever? Like, in our existence?”
“That’s right. We are holy men. We do nothing wrong.” Gerard kissed Ray’s cheek.