Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Two

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“I think I might have heard that somewhere,” I replied. I took a step toward him.
“No, Doc. Stay there,” he demanded, the seriousness in his voice froze my foot mid-step. I lowered it back to the platform and was about to ask him why when he plead softly, “Please.”
Not knowing where else to go I stepped over to the railing, stopping at the same spot where things could have turned out so much differently for me. I looked over the railing at the ground below.
“Long way down,” Preppy pointed out.
“Would’ve been,” I agreed, “but I never found out thanks to this guy who didn’t want me haunting his precious tower.” When I lifted my head I felt suddenly dizzy and had to close my eyes and take a deep breath, tilting my chin up to the bright moon and swaying on my feet.
“Steady there, Doc,” Preppy said, his voice smooth, warming over me like a much needed blanket. “I didn’t do shit. I followed the girl who stole from Mirna and by the time I got up here I saw a naked chick and wanted to touch her before she went splat. That’s all that was.” Preppy adjusted his position, his clothes rustling against the tower. “How is Mirna?”
“She passed. Six months ago,” I said. “She held on for a really long time, longer than most hang on with her kind of dementia. Funny thing was that when she died she hadn’t been herself in so long, that in a way I was relieved.”
“Sorry. For an old chick, she was a pretty fucking great one,” Preppy said.
I thought about the way she forgave me after I stole from her. Gave me a place to stay. Gave me the benefit of the doubt when I didn’t deserve it. “Yeah, yeah she was.” I cleared my throat in an attempt to keep the tears at bay. “For never thinking I’d talk to you again; this is...”
“Fucking weird,” Preppy inserted.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “I was going to say amazing, but weird works too.” I wrung my hands together and bit the inside of my lip.
“Amazing is just weird’s older more mature sibling,” Preppy pointed out.
I looked to the sky. “I had this list of things in my head. A list of things I would say to you if I ever had the chance again and now...”
“And now?” Preppy asked, like he wanted to know how that sentence ended.
“And right now I can’t think of a single one of those things,” I admitted.
“The weather,” he said, suddenly.
“What?” I turned toward the shadowy corner, wishing I could see his face again.
“When people don’t know what to say to one another they talk about the weather right? So.... shit’s kind of hot tonight.” A line of silver smoke from his exhale billowed into the air, grey smoke on top of black shadows.
I swallowed hard. “Yeah, it’s hot,” I said. “But if you want to talk news and current events I’ve heard there is a stalker out on the loose in Logan’s Beach. He stands on back porches and glares into the windows of unassuming women.”
“I think I heard that too. But it was just the window of one unassuming woman. And he’s not a stalker.”
“More like a peeping tom.”
I laughed and stepped toward him again, I could feel the argument on his lips, but before he could speak I sat down just outside of the dark space, only a foot or so away with my back against the tower next to a white tarp that was littered with buckets and brushes, smelling like fresh paint. “Why did you come to see me?”
“Why did you come to see me?” was his immediate reply. We were both quiet, probably because neither one of us could answer that question simply. “It’s quiet here,” he added.
“Yeah, it is.”
“Since I’ve been home everything seems so fucking loud,” he lamented.
“Preppy, what happened to y...”
He cut me off before I could finish. “No, Doc. Not now. Not today. Probably not fucking ever.” I looked over and saw the burning red glow of the cherry burn brighter as he inhaled, wishing it was just a bit brighter so I could catch a glimpse of the lips attached to end of that cigarette.
He must have been looking at me too. “I like your glasses,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said, pushing them up on my nose. “My vision had been a little blurry for years. I always thought it was because of the heroin, or maybe that’s just why I didn’t care. It wasn’t until after I got clean and it didn’t get any better that I went and got my eyes checked. I was still in shock when they told me it wasn’t the heroin after all. It was just me.” I laughed nervously. “Guess you’re probably surprised I managed to stay clean after all this time.”
“No, I always knew you’d kick that shit,” Preppy said, the confidence in his voice taking me by surprise. He took a deep breath. “Doc, I have to say this. Four years ago...”
“Preppy, no. You don’t have to,” I interrupted. “You’re not obligated to say anything about what happened back then. It was so long ago. It’s all been long forgotten,” I lied.
“Fours years ago,” he started again, with more determination. “I was a complete shit to you. Thought about it a lot since then. Thought I could just push you away instead of dealing with how mixed up I was feeling. I just wanted to send it all to the back of my brain and keep it there.” He laughed like he couldn’t believe his own words. “For years I thought I was such a badass because you leaving didn’t affect me like it ought to of. Truth is that it did. A fucking lot. I just didn’t let it show, and for some stupid reason in my mind I thought that it was the same as not affecting me. It only took being mostly alone in the dark for months on end to realize how fucking ridiculous that really was.”
What the fuck happened to you, Preppy?
“I thought that way for a long time too,” I admitted. “And that’s one of the reasons I’m here. In town. For closure. I’ve made so many mistakes. So freaking many.”
“Did you find it?” Preppy asked. “Your closure?
I looked over to the dark corner and felt his eyes on me when I whispered, “Not even close.” I pressed my teeth against my lower lip. I sighed and let my head fall back against the water tower.
“Why not?” Preppy asked.
I looked up at the perfect cloudless night sky and the thousands of twinkling stars overhead. I closed my eyes tightly. “Because I found you instead.”