Seconds Away Page 59

’’And do they?’’

Myron smiled. ’’If anyone has a sure answer to that one, be wary. Anyone who answers definitely yes or definitely no is someone who isn\'t thinking things through.’’

’’So the answer is sometimes?’’

’’If it was always or never, life would be far simpler. But life isn\'t simple.’’

’’So sometimes it\'s okay to lie.’’

’’Of course. Are you dating yet?’’

’’No.’’

’’Well, here\'s an example. If your future girlfriend asks you if a certain dress makes her look fat, say no.’’

’’That\'s not what I mean.’’

’’Oh?’’

’’I mean something big. Is it okay to lie about something big if the truth will really hurt the person?’’

Myron thought about that. ’’I wish I could give you a definitive answer, Mickey. It depends.’’

’’How about if a parent asks you to lie to their child? For their own good? I mean, you can\'t just go against the parent\'s wishes, can you?’’

’’Wow,’’ he said. ’’You\'re in a mess.’’

I said nothing.

’’I lied to my father once,’’ Uncle Myron said. ’’It cost me my relationship with your father. I sometimes wonder, if I had told the truth . . .’’ He stopped and looked away. Tears filled his eyes and ran down his cheek. His head dropped. I could feel the anger starting to rise in me now. Yes, Uncle Myron, maybe if you\'d told the truth, maybe if you\'d been more understanding and kind, my father would be alive and my mother would be out of rehab and I would be nowhere near you.

I almost stormed out right then and there, but Uncle Myron, as if sensing what I was about to do, put his hand on my forearm.

’’Here\'s what you need to know, Mickey. There\'s always a price you pay when you lie. Once you introduce a lie into a relationship, even for the best of intentions, it is always there. Whenever you\'re with that person again, that lie is in the room too. It sits on your shoulder. Good lie or bad lie, it\'s in the room with you forever now. It\'s your constant companion. Do you understand?’’

’’I do,’’ I said. I pushed his hand off my forearm and stared down at the pizza. ’’But suppose the truth will devastate the person.’’

’’Then maybe you should lie,’’ Uncle Myron said. ’’But you need to understand the price. You need to ask yourself if you\'re ready to pay it.’’

Was I?

We had both finished the first slice in silence and were reaching for our seconds when Myron said, ’’It\'s all arranged.’’

I stopped. ’’What is?’’

’’The exhumation of your father\'s grave. We fly out to Los Angeles tomorrow afternoon. The county officer said we can bring up his coffin the next day.’’

I just sat there, stunned.

’’Are you sure you still want to go through with it?’’ Uncle Myron asked.

’’Yes, definitely.’’ And then maybe because I wanted to reach out a little or maybe because he really seemed to need it I said, ’’Thank you, Myron.’’

Chapter 48

The next morning I woke up early and put on one of Myron\'s old suits. It was a little big in the chest and waist, but it did the job. Uncle Myron\'s tie closet was jam-packed with bright pink-and-green ties from some friend\'s clothing company, but I managed to find a darker, somber one that would fit the occasion.

My cell phone rang. The caller ID said: KASSELTON HIGH SCHOOL.

’’Hello?’’

’’Mickey, it\'s Coach Grady.’’

’’Oh.’’ I sat down. ’’What can I do for you?’’

’’I just got off the phone with Chief Taylor,’’ he said. ’’He said all the charges against you have been dropped. In fact, he thinks you\'ve gotten a pretty raw deal.’’

I could feel my grip on the phone tighten.

’’Mickey?’’

’’I\'m listening, Coach.’’

’’Well, when I\'m wrong, I\'m wrong. You\'re no longer suspended from the team. We will see you at practice Monday afternoon.’’

I nearly leapt in the air with joy, but then I remembered where I was and what was happening today and so I stopped, thanked Coach Grady for calling, and finished tying my tie.

’’Do you want a ride?’’ Uncle Myron asked.

’’I\'d rather walk.’’

’’I\'m not sure I understand why you\'re going. I mean, this is really sad and all, but this boy vanished twenty-five years ago. You obviously didn\'t know him.’’

I didn\'t bother correcting him.

’’Mickey?’’

’’Yeah?’’

’’Whether you knew this kid or not, I mean, you look kinda happy for a guy heading to a memorial service.’’

I decided to tell him. ’’Coach just called. I\'m back on the team.’’

Without warning, Myron threw his arms around me and pulled me close. My body went rigid at first, but then I softened. We both got this what the game meant to us. Not even Ema could understand like Myron could. I wouldn\'t say I hugged him back or anything, but I stayed there and let him hug me and then I thought about how much Spoon loved hugs and I gently pushed him away.

I ran most of the way to the memorial service, ran that stupid thrill out of me, so by the time I slowed down, I remembered why I was here. I thought about the Photoshopped picture of the Butcher. I thought about the Bat Lady and where she might be. I thought about Ema wanting to know who her father was, and I thought about finding out the truth about my own father. I thought about Spoon and when I did, I could feel a stab of pain go so deep in my heart I could barely breathe. And mostly, I thought about Rachel and her father\'s desire to protect her and what, if anything, I should do about it.

The church bell rang. The sun shone bright off the church spire as if it were making fun of the sadness. There was a blown-up photograph of Dylan Shaykes on an easel board in front of the church door. It was the same picture of the sad-eyed, curly-haired boy I had seen in Bat Lady\'s hallway.

The church was maybe three-quarters full. The organist played something appropriately sad. The people communicated via ’’church whispers,’’ though today they were even quieter and more respectful than normal. I sat in a pew near the back and checked out my surroundings. The same photograph of Dylan Shaykes was up on the altar.

I looked around for a familiar face, but so far, he had not shown up.

The organ music stopped at exactly nine A.M. The whispering faded into silence. The service began. Dylan Shaykes\'s mother had passed away, but his father, the man the authorities suspected at first, sat front and center. He had a shock of white-gray hair and wore a tweed jacket.


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