We were the dead end kids. We knew that none of us were getting out of here, at least not for very long. I think that was always OK with us. We had each other. I didn't mind driving the same streets over and over again wearing out the pavement every day. Some people complain when they move away about how everything has changed when they return. All of their hiding places are gas stations and strip malls. We got to watch it happen. We would share in the levity of the moment when our childhood places were demolished. Those that remained, we returned to often, just to tell the same stories over and over. We would scratch our names in the walls to remind everyone that the dead end kids were here. Will worked on the rails and would spray paint his symbol on the cars.
We had a direction that would correspond to each of us. I was South, Will was East, Joe was West, and Jeff was North. We had matching Eskimo hats with our directions written on the label inside. We would wear them to Horse Island to ice fish beneath a blanket of bitter cold.
We practiced shotgun rules, always. Will had an Escort ESP, which had no back seat, just a hatchback area to lay in. The rules were, you had to call shotgun within sight of the car while we were leaving. If you were ever caught crying, you were in the backseat for a week, and if you "Busted," meaning fell down, it was also a week. Will was the driver, so it was usually me and Joe who would cast the lots to lay in the hatch.
I miss Will tonight. To the point that I can't breathe again. I miss the lobster fork he kept stuck in his dashboard when we were kids. I miss arguing with him over trivial things for hours, he could never handle hypotheticals, he was too mechanically minded. I miss the way he ate steak, cutting off a small piece, then dipping it into the butter jug and pulling out a chunk twice the size of the steak. I miss the way he always tucked in his undershirt to prevent his butt crack from being exposed. I miss the little money change bags he would sow from old flannels. I miss his loud snoring. I used to hate when he fell asleep first, because I would be stuck making music in my head below his bed to the beat of his breathing. Right now, hearing him snore would be brilliant. Most of all I miss his stained and greasy hands, ripped and cracked from the work he loved so much.
I still pick up my phone to call him when something funny happens. It hurts to remember he isn't going to pick up that phone. The battery is dead.
In Vegas, I set my mind to forgetting what was at home as much as I could. I focused on my little brother Andy and my wife. I had such a great time with them and for a few moments, I wasn't back here. I got on a plane to fly home and it began coming back. All of it. We landed and got home and I snapped at my wife for absolutely no reason at all. It just all came back so fast and I was right back where I was before I left and I was frustrated and angry about that. One day before I was standing in the beauty of one of God's most beautiful Creations, the next, I was staring in the face of death again. Watching our ghosts move from place to place under the rolling street lights. It isn't at all fair. No one said it would be.
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