Seconds Away Page 31

’’Why didn\'t you just call the fire department?’’

Oops.

’’Why would you call your uncle and tell him you needed help?’’

’’Believe me, if I had anyone else to call . . .’’ I stopped, wishing I had just stayed quiet.

’’Mickey?’’

I turned toward her. She looked at me with those eyes that somehow felt both comforting and oddly familiar. I liked her eyes, not just because they were brown and beautiful, but because I sensed the warmth there.

’’I know it\'s none of my business, but your uncle is trying.’’

I said nothing.

’’He\'s a good man. You can trust him.’’

’’No offense,’’ I said, which is something you say when you\'re about to offend, ’’but you really don\'t know the situation.’’

’’Yeah, Mickey, I do.’’

I thought about that. She had told me that she\'d been my mom\'s friend back when she got pregnant with me.

’’He made a mistake,’’ Angelica Wyatt said to me. ’’You\'ll understand that one day. Life isn\'t like one of my movies. Kids think grown-ups have all the answers, when the only difference between kids and grown-ups is that grown-ups know that there are no easy answers.’’

’’Again, no offense,’’ I said, ’’but it\'s been a long time since I thought grown-ups had all the answers.’’

She almost smiled at that. ’’We mess up. That\'s my point, Mickey. We all mess up. We try our best and we love you so much, but we are such weak, imperfect creatures.’’

Angelica Wyatt looked down. Her face fell and for a moment, I thought that she was about to cry.

’’Miss Wyatt?’’

’’We all make mistakes. Your uncle wasn\'t the only one.’’

The limousine door opened. Uncle Myron looked in and said, ’’Everything okay here?’’

Now I could see why Angelica Wyatt was such a great actress. Her face brightened and you\'d never know that a few seconds ago, she\'d seemed completely crushed.

’’Sure,’’ she said, sliding over to make room for him. ’’Mickey and I were just chatting.’’

Chapter 25

As you can imagine, I got the first, second, third, and fourth degree from Myron. Despite Angelica Wyatt\'s pleading, I still didn\'t trust him. I knew that maybe I should. I knew that when the chips were down, I had indeed called him for help. But both Bat Lady and Shaved Head had warned me not to say anything to Myron.

Still, there was a moment I weakened and almost said something. But then Myron inadvertently gave me another reason to keep him in the dark.

’’Your father went into that house when he was a kid,’’ Myron reminded me. ’’He never told me what he saw.’’

Good point and if my dad chose never to tell Uncle Myron, I figured, well, neither should I.

At some point, Myron threw up his hands and moved back into the den. I debated what to do at this point. I couldn\'t just let it go completely, because the truth was, I did need something from him. I approached the den and sat down on the couch. Myron had bought his childhood home from my grandparents a few years back. That meant that he and my dad grew up right here, and, yeah, that was kind of weird. The two brothers had spent hours in here watching television. It was strange to picture it, my dad as a kid, hanging in this room with Uncle Myron.

I wasn\'t sure how to broach the subject, so I started with familiar territory I knew would interest him. ’’Tryouts went well today,’’ I said.

’’Yeah?’’ As I predicted, this subject captured his interest. ’’Did you work out with the JV?’’

I nodded. ’’But Coach Grady said he wants to see me tomorrow.’’

Myron grinned at that. ’’You think he wants to move you up?’’

’’I don\'t know,’’ I said, though I suspected just that. So did Myron.

’’But you played well?’’

’’I thought so, yeah.’’

’’That\'s great.’’

Silence. Okay, enough with the warm-up.

’’I have to ask you a favor,’’ I said. ’’I know this will sound insane, but I need you to trust me on this.’’

Myron sat up and leaned forward. ’’What\'s up?’’

’’I want . . . I want to exhume my father\'s body.’’

My words hit him like a wet slap. ’’What?’’

I started to backpedal. Man, I should have thought this out better. ’’I want his body moved out here,’’ I lied. ’’So he can be buried closer to us.’’

Myron just looked at me. ’’For real?’’

’’Yes, of course.’’

’’What else, Mickey?’’

’’Nothing.’’

Myron\'s voice was firmer. ’’What else, Mickey?’’

How to put this . . . ? ’’I never saw him,’’ I said slowly. ’’I . . . I need to know it\'s him in that box.’’

Myron took a second now. When he spoke again, his voice was softer. ’’You mean, like, you need closure?’’

’’Yeah,’’ I said. ’’Closure.’’

’’I don\'t think seeing his body now will help.’’

’’Myron, listen to me, okay? Just . . . just listen.’’

Myron waited.

’’I need to know that it\'s Dad in that coffin.’’

He looked confused. ’’What do you mean?’’

I closed my eyes. ’’I asked you to just trust me on this. Please.’’

Myron studied my face for a few moments. I stared right back at him, my eyes unwavering. I expected more questions, but instead he surprised me.

’’Okay,’’ Myron said. ’’I\'ll look into the legal protocol tomorrow.’’

Chapter 26

I suddenly realized that I was both starving and exhausted. Uncle Myron ordered enough Chinese food for a family of twelve. I tried to eat in silence, but Myron had to remind me, like he always did, that this had been my father\'s favorite Chinese restaurant and that he had especially liked the shrimp in lobster sauce.

After I finished eating, I thought about calling Ema and filling her in on what happened, but it was late and I was just too tired. It could wait. After hearing Spoon\'s rumors about Ema\'s home life, I both wanted to keep reaching out and yet feared that it might cause some kind of blowback.

A text came in from Rachel: We still on for tomorrow after school?

Me: Yes. How are you?

Rachel: Fine. Gotta go. Tomorrow.

When the school bell rang at eight thirty the next morning, I was back in my homeroom. Funny how school could smooth the rough edges off everything, even all that I was going through. Back inside this plain brick edifice, life seemed normal. School was boring, sure, but it was also an anchor. The rest of my life might be flying off in every direction, but here everything was wonderfully normal and even mundane.


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