CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and FIFTY-SEVEN
“You must feel horrible,” Bernie said, mildly.
Nodding, Nash had to bite his lip to keep from crying.
“I understand,” Bernie said. “I am a man who has always tried my very best. I am also a man who has hurt those who love him the absolute most.”
Nash grunted rather than respond, which made Bernie grin.
“Who made your mug?” Nash asked.
“My son,” Bernie said.
“Seth?” Nash asked with a laugh.
“Saul,” Bernie said looking at the mug. “He made this when he was three. He was an incredible artist, truly magnificent. If you’d like a real treat, ask Seth or Maresol to show you his paintings. That’s his sculpture in the side yard. Don’t tell anyone, but his ashes are buried there too.”
Bernie winked at Nash, and Nash nodded at the seriousness of what Bernie had said. Bernie squinted as if in pain..
“Had he lived, I’m sure he would have risen to the level of the masters,” Bernie said. He looked at Nash. “War will make corpses of us all.”
He touched Nash’s shoulder in a kind way that somehow made Nash feel better.
“I love that book,” Nash said.
“Book?” Bernie asked. “Most boys your age would just have seen the movie!”
“Sandy wouldn’t …” Nash sucked in a breath.
“Let’s watch it together this afternoon,” Bernie said. “Maresol makes the best popcorn. Seth will be playing. Ava’s at work. It’s a perfect time.”
Nash gave him a numb nod.
“Dale and I sometimes dress up when we watch movies,” Bernie said. “Dale says that it’s very popular among young people now. I think it’s a gas! I usually dress up as Gandolf, although last time I dressed up as Wormtongue.”
Bernie laughed. Nash looked at the ninety-something year old. Bernie took out his tea bag, liberally doctored his tea, set the half-and-half in the refrigerator, and walked out of the room. Nash watched him go. Thinking about Bernie, Nash looked after him.
He startled when he realized that Delphie was standing right in front of him. She grinned.
“Come,” Delphie said. “Let’s sit in the pool house.”
“But it’s so cold out!” Nash said.
“Maresol built a solarium off the south side,” Delphie said. “It’s warm and private. You’ll love it.”
Nash gave her a numb nod, and she smiled. She gave him a metal tin. He tucked the tin under his arm. They walked across the grass in the bracing cold until they reached the pool house.
The pool house had once been a garage behind Seth O’Malley’s father’s home. When his father had broken his hip, Seth had this lap pool put into the ground back here. During her remodel, Maresol had added an apartment for Dale on the mainfloor, remodeled the four upstairs apartments, and added a sun room and green house.
After the frigid cold of the back yard, the air in the pool house was moist and warm. It hit Nash like a wave. For the briefest moment, he felt everything — exhaustion, terror, self-rage, and overwhelm. Then, as he always did, he packed it away. When he looked up, he noticed that Delphie was watching him.
“This way,” Delphie said.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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