CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED-TEN
“Did you hear?” Nash asked while stifling a yawn.
“About the quest?” Charlie asked.
“Nelson, Alex,” Nash said. He leaned in, “Templar treasure. They appeared again. Portugal.”
Charlie raised an eyebrow at Nash. Scowling, he shook his head and looked away. Charlie had been sitting with his back to a school wall napping in the sun during their lunch recess.
“You’re grumpy,” Nash said.
Charlie shook his head at Nash.
“What’s going on?” Nash asked.
“You wouldn’t understand,” Charlie said.
“Try me,” Nash said.
Nash gave Charlie a moment to collect his thoughts. When Charlie didn’t say anything, Nash nudged his leg with his foot.
“What do you want?” Charlie asked, angrily.
“Today’s the anniversary of your dad’s death,” Nash said.
Charlie’s head jerked to look up at Nash. Charlie blinked at the bright sun. Nash moved over so that Charlie’s face was covered in shadow.
“Sandy’s still healing,” Nash said. “Sissy’s in France.”
“You probably feel like there’s no one around who could understand your pain,” Nash said.
Charlie nodded. Nash dropped to a crouch.
“I can’t say that I understand what your specific situation is exactly like,” Nash said. “But I know the feelings you are feeling all too well. I’m willing to listen.”
Charlie didn’t look at Nash.
“You can talk to me,” Nash said.
“And say what?” Charlie asked. “My dad is dead. He was dead yesterday and he’ll be dead tomorrow. I…”
“Last year wasn’t so hard,” Charlie said. “I don’t know why it wasn’t hard. I was happy. We were all together in that stupid tiny apartment. Sissy was finally where she should be. Tink, too. I was learning to read. Everything seemed so exciting. Good. Hopeful. But this year…”
Charlie looked at Nash.
“You want to use,” Nash said.
“Fiercely,” Charlie said. “I did heroin for the first time right after my dad died. I know it sounds dumb, but I miss it, you know, like it was my best friend and not my worst enemy.”
Nash reached out to Charlie, and Charlie took his hand.
“I feel like such a loser,” Charlie said.
“Well, you’re not,” Nash said. “Sandy always says, ‘Your feelings are real…”
“They are just not true,” Charlie said in unison with Nash.
“Listen,” Nash said. “I don’t have any advice for you.”
“I don’t need advice,” Charlie said.
“What do you need?” Nash asked.
“I wish I knew,” Charlie said with a sigh.
Nash sat down next to Charlie. For a long while, they sat together.
“What are you doing?” Charlie asked finally.
“I’m just being with you,” Nash said. “You know, like heroin.”
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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