Grief's Melancholy Shade - Chapter 5
By: Susan McNeill and Rhonda Hallstrom



When he came back two hours later, David was lounging on the sofa. The
young man seemed amazingly steady despite his fragile condition. Dressed
in navy university sweats that hung over his bony frame, the boy's
glassy stare spoke of his altered state. His hair was long and stringy
with shaggy layers around his face that looked to have been trimmed with
a dull blade. <He could never stand his hair in his eyes.> Kermit
remembered, approaching his brother with caution.

"Have you eaten yet?" Kermit sat down beside his brother and watched the
hatred begin to fill up the boy's body. Even pumped full of heroin, the
volcanic fury erupted through every pour.

"He ate a little, Kermit." Marilyn seemed to have aged dramatically over
the course of two hours and Kermit could see her blistering pain.
His younger sister was never skilled in cloaking her emotions. "I'll send
it with you." Marilyn wrapped the half-eaten sandwich and dropped it
into a bag. "Would you like something?"

"No, I'm fine." He could feel the red-hot anger boring into his back as
he left David's side and gave his sister a warm embrace.

"Mare," came the orchestrated fragile call from the sofa, "please let me
stay. I won't be any trouble this time. Don't let him take me away from
you." The tears rolled down his cheeks in emphasis. "I'm so sorry I hurt
you."

"David...." She couldn't stand it, even knowing the manipulation being
perpetrated by her own flesh and blood. Going quickly to David's side,
Marilyn wrapped her arms around him. "It's for your own good, sweetie.
Kermit can help you. We love you. HE loves you."

"No, he doesn't, Marilyn! He dumped me...us! I'm scared of him! Let me
stay. Please?" Kermit tensed as David began digging his arms around
Marilyn to pull her into his lie.

Looking up at her older brother, she read his shaking head. She knew.
She understood. Pinching her eyes closed against the betrayal David
would perceive, Marilyn hugged back but stood firm. "No, David. You're
wrong. Kermit loves us. He loves you more than anything. This is the
best thing. You'll see that."

Changing personalities as if flipping a switch, David turned his
unbridled anger on his sister. "I HATE YOU, TOO, YOU SELFISH BITCH!!!"
Shoving her backward, he sent her tumbling back over the coffee table.
"Go to hell!"

Rob dove for Marilyn as her head spilled blood over the carpet. David
ran for the door.

Kermit was there first. Tangling his hand in the mop of hair and
twisting David's arm behind him, he turned him around to face Marilyn.
"So this is what family means to you, you little shit??!!"

"I'm okay, Kermit," Marilyn gasped, struggling to her feet with Rob's
help.

"This make you happy, David??!! Hurting one of the few pieces of family
you have left?!" Kermit dragged him over closer to Marilyn, hoping the
shock of what he'd done would touch something inside that was still
David.

"I don't have any FAMILY!!!" David spat, seemingly unmoved by anyone
else's pain. "JAMIE was more family than you and you left him to rot back
there! They'll kill him and you don't care!!"

"That little rat from the flophouse? He took me right to you, David!" He
gave him another shake. "You think he didn't know I'd follow him?"

"You tricked him!" David struggled in vain. Fighting back with words as
his only weapon. "You're a liar! Why aren't you dead??!! I HATE YOU!!!"

Rob Manse held a towel to his wife's forehead. He had finally reached
his limit. "Get that little bastard outta' my house, Kermit. Take him
wherever you have to but get him away from her." Pulling Marilyn close
as she cried, he said sharply, "She's had enough."

Kermit obliged. Being assaulted by anger, worry, and heartbreak at the
same time, he jerked the boy around and headed for the door.

"I'll hate you forever for this, Marilyn!!!" the teenager screeched.

Pushing his face into the wall, Kermit hissed malevolently into the
boy's ear. "If you don't want to spend the next two hours wrapped in
duct tape, you'll shut your mouth right now."

Even riding the power of his high, David knew enough to take the threat
seriously. Casting one last poisonous glare at his wounded sister, he
gave up resistance and let himself be guided out the door.


*********************


Kermit had traded his gaudy Cadillac for the dull Cutlass once more,
enduring many curious inquiries from the rental company for his
flip-flopping choice in vehicles. Crunching the wheels to a halt before
the rustic design of the ranger's station, Kermit addressed his sullen
brother. "Don't move or I'll cuff you again." Plucking the keys from the
ignition, the mercenary waited for a response.

A thin sheen of sweat over David's forehead betrayed the building
internal battle. Mockingly saluting, he feigned enthusiasm, "Yes sir,
General, sir! Anything you say."

Fighting the urge to slap off the smart aleck expression, Kermit shot
quickly from the car and pounded his way around a brown Ford Bronco and
into the plain wooden shack. Leaving the door open to keep his
surveillance clear, he focused on the form seated quietly in a rocker in
the corner.

"Oh, excuse me, ma'am," he apologized, pulling his jacket together
against the cold leaking in through the open door. "I'm supposed to meet
someone here and-"

"I'm Harry." The frail, gray-haired woman jerked the small scarf from
her lap to reveal a anvil-sized Ruger Blackhawk, aimed and ready in her
hand. Rising to her full height, which was barely to his chest, the
woman strolled over to Kermit for inspection. Appearing to be in her
sixties, the woman's steps carried the force of a sumo wrestler. "Who
are you?" she asked, appraising him with surgical precision.

"Griffin. Blaisdell sent me." Kermit had sense enough not to make any
sudden moves. This tiny woman's cookies and ice cream appearance
couldn't disguise the calculating demeanor of an agent. "Are you the
doctor?"

Peering past him to get a look at the boy seated in the car outside, and
accepting that as his credentials, Harry relaxed her gun hand and dove
into the job at hand. "Yes. I'm an old MASH doc and I know Paulie from
way back."

"Paulie?" Kermit had to stifle the bubbling laughter.

"Yeah, and don't forget to say hello to the little S.O.B. and remind him
he owes me from the last poker game," the woman said, twinkle in her eye
at the nickname she'd just shared. "Anyway, I know Paul and the business
and who you are so you don't have to keep up the attitude with me. I
know junkies from years at the VA and I'll give you a quick lesson."

Jerking open a classic black medical bag, Dr. Harry began her lesson.
"Being hooked on smack pretty much feels like the following. Wake up,
shoot up, look for more stuff to shoot up, et cetera. You're either high
or scared shitless because you're not." Looking out the door once again,
the woman asked, "When was his last hit?"

"About four hours ago," Kermit reported, still disgusted by the fact that
he'd allowed it to happen.

"Well then, it's started." She looked sympathetically at the young man,
knowing the battleground he was walking into for this boy. "I prefer
that withdrawal be medically supervised but I can't come with you. Take
heart, though, that heroin addicts rarely die from withdrawal unless
they're in such bad physical shape that they go into arrest."

Kermit swallowed at that remark. David weighed barely ninety
pounds at his estimation and coughed constantly. After living in filth for
the past few months, there was no way to know what diseases he could have
picked up.

Reading the concern, Harry patted his arm through his heavy coat. "Don't
worry, son. I'll examine him before you leave to be sure he can take it.
I do think that cold-turkey is the way to go. Methadone just replaces
one drug for another. Get the shit outta' him and set him free! Clean up
the body then you can work on his head."

"What can I expect?" Kermit had not had time for research.

"Imagine your skeleton being pulled apart. Muscles tightened like steel
bands. It's piss and shit and vomit. For endless hours." Watching the
information sink in, she added, "Say that times ten and you have his
future." She'd seen more junkies than she could count and the symptoms
rattled off like a nursery rhyme. "Expect runny nose and eyes, yawning,
no appetite, tremors, panic, chills, sweating, goosebumps, nausea,
muscle cramps, insomnia, and a desperate craving for one more hit."

"How long?"

"It'll come in waves, peaking in two to four days. After a week, the
symptoms should subside." Handing him a bottle with a couple of Valium,
she said, "You can give him a couple of these at first to help him get
some rest before the worst of it starts but they won't do much good
later."

Kermit took the bottle and asked through his growing dread, "What can I
do to help him?"

"Not much, son. Try to get him to eat if you can. Lots of protein. If
he's been on the street, he's had precious little of that. Pour juice in
him to keep him from gettin' dehydrated. Keep him dry and warm and
clean." Harry tried not to look as grim as her information. Smiling in a
grandmotherly fashion, she took his hand. "Keep him from hurting himself
when he gets the most desperate and don't let him hurt you."

The notion that David, in his condition, could do him any harm forced an
audible grunt up from his throat.

Harry reached up to grab the young man's shirt in a firm grip. "Griffin!
Listen to me, dammit!" Not having known fear for many years,
she attempted to penetrate his lack of same. "Heroin is an
opiate, a pain killer. When it starts draining out of him, that boy will
do ANYTHING to stop the pain. Lie, cheat, steal, and kill. He'll try to
bully you and scare you. He'll try to beg and plead. Get anything he
could use as a weapon out of his reach. But the most dangerous thing to
look for is when he gives in."

To the man's confused expression, she continued. "Wait for the apology.
For the pitiful 'I'm sorry' to come out. THAT'S when you'll let your
guard down and he'll be dangerous!"

Kermit looked sadly out the door at his brother and imagined the hell he
was about to live through. Having been through hell himself, he would do
anything to spare him. That power was beyond him. The opportunity to
spare David had blown by months ago before the first needle found its
way into his arm.

"Thank you." Kermit tried to smile at the woman and failed.

Handing him a card, the woman closed her bag and offered her last words
of wisdom. "Remember, son. Gettin' him clean is the first part. You have
to help him live afterward. Find out what pain he was killing and help
him deal. He'll always be recovering."

Nodding, Kermit lead her outside for a quick examination of this
brother, the boy climbing down into hell because of him.

The grizzled Dr. Harry turned into a gushing grandmother before Kermit's
eyes as she neared David, who was warily eyeing her approach. "Hi
there, young man," she greeted.

David eyed her up and down and glared at Kermit but restrained comment
as Dr. Harry brought out her stethoscope.

"Let's just take a gander at that ticker, young man," she said as Kermit
glared back at David over her shoulder, warning him to cooperate. Like a
deer caught in headlights, David watched her carefully as she performed a
cursory examination. After she was finished, she patted him on the
cheek. "It'll be all right, sweetie. You'll be just fine. Just gotta'
have faith."

David snorted derisively as the doctor gestured for Kermit to follow her
back onto the porch. Kermit waited expectantly for the verdict.

Dr. Harry sighed. "It's not the worst case I've seen but not the best,
either. He shouldn't arrest, though. At least you have that in your
favor. Got a good, strong heart, lungs still relatively clear
considering...you've got a chance. Don't waste it."

"I won't," Kermit promised fervently. "If you ever need anything-"

"Oh, bother," she said, waving her hand to dismiss his offer. "I'll just
take it out of Paulie's hide." Her eyes were twinkling mischievously at
that notion and even Kermit had to smile for a second or two at the
thought. "Hang tough, kiddo."

<Yeah... > Kermit thought as he waved a good-bye. < I'll try.>



***************



The cabin looked spectacular. It seemed very well tended with a sturdy
A-frame in the front, well-manicured garden on the side of the house
stretching toward the backyard, and what looked to be a sunroom/patio behind
the house. The whole house was nestled in peaceful green trees that hid it
from the main road. Unfortunately, the scenery was lost on its new
inhabitants.

Nearly six hours since his last hit, David Griffin stalked through the
doors of his new home. Pacing like a caged animal, he began building his
walls against the onslaught of need and also against his brother.

Wiping his nose for the fortieth time, dread began to build. This
was how it started; his nose weeping and that angry scraping in his gut.
<I gotta' think of a way out past that arrogant son-of-a-bitch.
He'll have to sleep. Hang on. He has to sleep. >The thoughts made
of desperation repeated in a vicious loop as David watched his older brother
struggle in through the front door, hands full of bags and supplies.

"Thanks for the help," Kermit oozed sarcastically.

Grabbing his hand to stop the shaking, David stretched languidly across
the couch. "Bad back," he answered, completely uninterested as he
reached over his head with aching muscles.

Dumping the boy's feet unceremoniously to the floor with one well-placed
kick, Kermit ordered, "Get your ass up and take these to the kitchen and
these to the bedroom." Depositing the bags to David's right and plopping
the supplies in his lap, the man purposefully sat down on the recliner
to observe.

"I'm not your damn slave." With one hand, he shoved the box of supplies
on to the floor.

<Ah, irritable, huh?> Kermit thought, crossing the room with steps laden
with anger. Grabbing the mane of thin black hair, he jerked his brother
from the cushions and shoved him over to an oval mirror by the back
door. "No, Master Griffin, you aren't lookin' at my slave," he growled,
giving the boy a good look at the ghost of himself that remained.
Slinging him back to the sofa and the scattered supplies, he clarified,
"You have to work up to slave. Clean up that mess."

David glared up with a thick hatred born of his own billowing pain. The
intent was clear. Kermit would do anything to be his master. <That won't
happen. I'll die first! > Eyes locked with the dark green glasses
his brother hid behind, the skilled manipulator shifted to the
offensive. "Just like you, brother. Maybe if you slam me around some
more, you'll stop feelin' like a coward and feel more like a man."

Crouching down and balancing his hands on his knees, Kermit looked
at the boy -- or, the piece of the boy. The shivering had started. David
fought to cover, chewing his lip and demonstrating his frenzy of
disintegrating control. Kermit ached, knowing what was to come.
<He shot up. He brought this on himself. > Kermit continued to argue, trying
to remain steadfast.

Looking into the eyes of growing panic, Kermit kept his tone level and
sure. "Do you feel like a man, David? With your guts twisting and feeling
like your body's about to burn? Do you?"

Unconsciously, David began cramming the supplies back into the box.
Anything to keep the hands occupied. Gripping the bottles and cans hurt.
"You don't know shit about me, Kermit! You stopped being my brother when
you dumped me with that witch Helen."

So long ago and yet the agony assaulted him with both barrels. Every moment
burned into his memory -- and in David's memory as well. The day his
little brother's adoration flipped into hatred....

****************************

David and Marilyn, just home from school, poured into Aunt Helen's
kitchen. David tried to observe the rules and paused before plowing into
his brother. Ever since his return from capture in Vietnam, it was
understood the Kermit couldn't be approached without care.

Kermit, on the other hand, met him with a rough hug, pulling him
close and tight. Memorizing the joyous look on his younger brother's
face, he knew it wouldn't last. Paul Blaisdell had brought him there
to say good-bye.

Quickly drawing Marilyn into the embrace, Kermit could feel her
relief as she hugged them both tightly. She had called Paul
in an attempt to save Kermit's life. "So we can start over," she
had said. Kermit's assault against two town bullies - brutal enough to
land him attempted murder charges - were miraculously wiped away as if
it had never happened. He had been released from the town jail
only to find himself exiled. Now....he would have to tell them.

"Hi, guys! How was school?" Kermit held on tighter.

"Stunk! Are you staying for dinner? Can we go somewhere?" David had no
idea what was coming. Marilyn hadn't told him about what had happened
in town, trying to protect him from the ugly truth. That protection was now
at an end.

From the look in her dark eyes, Marilyn was beginning to pick up on
Kermit's mood. Another hard rain was about to fall.

Wrapping his arms around their shoulders, Kermit said, "No, sport. I
can't stay for dinner. But I have to talk to you both about something.
Let's go outside."

Paul Blaisdell threw a sympathetic glance from his position on the
sidelines, then followed them outside. Kermit was grateful for his
hovering support. There was nothing that could hurt him more than
what he was about to do to two children who loved and trusted him.

But it had to be done.

Paul was there to take him away; away to another life where maybe he
could teach him enough control over the murderous urges in his blood
so that he could be useful to the agency. It was all he had left. After
Kermit had nearly murdered two men, this was all that was
left for him.

Paul Blaisdell faded into the background to wait.

"What is HE doing here?" David demanded, pointing.

"That's...my friend, David," Kermit told him. "My...best friend. Come
here and sit by me, kiddo."

Marilyn bit her lip as Kermit began. "You know that...this isn't going
to be easy...."

"Can we live with you now?" David piped up. They had spent months with
Aunt Helen, miserable months. With their father long dead and mother
dying while Kermit was still a prisoner in some Southeast Asian
hellhole. Aunt Helen's hateful prison was their only option. Upon
Kermit's return, the Griffin siblings had all talked joyfully of "The
Plan", a plan in which Kermit would establish himself as a responsible,
wage-earning citizen in town and then apply for guardianship for his
two siblings. All Kermit had asked of his brother and sister was patience.
He would make the plan work. He'd promised them.

However, their dreams were now at an end.

"No," Kermit said softly. "Look, guys, there's been a change. A big
change of plans. I'm sorry...." He looked directly at David, unable
to look at Marilyn with the tears welling in her eyes. "I'm sorry, guys,
I blew it. I tried, I really did but...it's not going to work. You won't
be able to live with me. There was a fight and I got into a bit of
trouble. The police would never let you live with me now."

Marilyn slumped in the face of Kermit's revelation. She knew the
details of what had landed Kermit in jail, of course, but this was
news to her as well.

"You were in a fight?!" David was going pale. "You fought somebody and
ruined The Plan?! OUR plan??!!"

"David-"

"You said you were going to take care of things! You said you were going
to take care of us-!"

"I will, David! I will!" Kermit took a deep breath. "Only I won't be
here to do it. Look, I'll send you money and you can start a new life-"

"I don't want your money! I want.... Mom back!!!"

"David, they'll put me in jail if I don't go-"

"GOOD!!!" David sprang up. "Go to jail!!! Rot in HELL!!!"

"DAVID!!!" Marilyn exclaimed.

"YOU RUINED THE PLAN! OVER ONE FIGHT! ONE!!!" David
screamed. "I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! HOW COULD YOU DO
THIS TO US???!!! GO AWAY! I HATE YOU!!!" With a shove to
his older brother's shoulder, he ran off into the house.

*********************************

They both saw the memory as though it was yesterday, different thoughts
coursing through their minds. David's hatred consumed him as ever
before. <How could you leave me like that??>

Kermit, as he did three years ago, felt the emotional dagger through his
heart as if it was ripping flesh. Why did David have to pay for his
mistakes? For his life? But he refused to play the game aloud. Kermit
got up and grabbed the box of supplies. "I bought you a few things. Go
put them in your room. First door on the left. I'll get us something to
eat."

"I'm not hungry." It was a lie. He was starving; ravenous for another
hit and nauseous with the need. Every fiber was screaming for smack.

"You'll eat, anyway. Move it."

Storming past Kermit, the boy stomped a path through the cabin. Even in
his agitated state, one tiny detail leaped out to slap him in the face.

"Why are all the doors gone?!" David made a quick inspection to verify
his observation. Not one door remained hanging inside the entire cabin.
Bare hinges dangled after their hasty removal. "Not even on the
BATHROOM??!!"

Kermit couldn't hide the smirk. Paul Blaisdell was nothing if not a
master of minute detail. "Since you've been pissin' in alleyways, I
didn't think you'd mind a more airy decor."

Slamming the bags down on his bed, David vented his wrath. Bony fingers
raked furiously through his long hair to scrub the itching skin
that seemed to be prickling his scalp. "I'm not your fuckin' prisoner!!
There are laws about shit like this! You can't keep me here!"

He would remain calm if it killed him. Kermit looked on at the
ranting trip his younger brother took over the entire expanse of the
cabin. "Let's take those one at a time, Squirt."

"DON'T CALL ME THAT!!!!!" David's body was reeling with sensation; the
tugging ache that stretched his joints; the shivering that threatened to
drive him to the floor; that itch making the skin crawl over his entire
body. <Keep moving. Out-run it.>

"I'll call you what I like," Kermit replied flatly as he put away the
groceries. "Now, to answer your little tirade, yes, you ARE my prisoner.
Yes, I can keep you here as long as I want. And as to the law," he
peered over the dark green shades at the traveling target, "I wouldn't
invoke the law, if I were you."

David continued his canter across the room, disguising his frenzied
state as exploration. Twitching hands examined every item in the room,
appraising street value and envisioning each knick-knack changed into
tiny brown blocks of heroin. All the while, he could feel his brother's
eyes boring holes through his flesh, watching, waiting. It was worse
than the way the pushers eyed you, worse than the perverts cruising for
a boy to take a ride.

As Kermit watched him crack, David moved toward the door.

"Stop," came the call over a sizzling kitchen grill. Kermit flipped the
burgers and never took his eyes off the boy.

"I just want to go outside for a minute," David wheedled, hand on the
knob.

"Open that door and you'll finish this ride handcuffed to the bed."

Escape thwarted, David latched onto the imagery. "Yeah, I'd think you
were into that, Kermit. Bet the chicks just follow you around." The
pacing resumed.

"Not the smart ones."

Kermit delivered them each a plate to the small kitchen table and called
to the tense cat prowling the den, "Dinner's ready."

The smell was disgusting. The thought of eating, even more so. "I'm not
hungry."

Strolling to the den, Kermit laid claim to his brother once again.
Grabbing one skeletal arm, the man rudely dragged David to the table.
It took little effort. Estimating David's weight with heartbreaking
analysis, he kept repeating what that doctor had said. <"Heroin addicts
rarely die from withdrawal unless they're in such pitiful condition that
they can't take it. "> She seemed to think he was strong enough to
survive.

Head bobbing slightly from the force used to cement him to his chair,
David scowled at his burger and fries. "This stinks. You're trying to
poison me!" He poked one finger at the vile concoction that was adding
to his churning stomach. "What next, Kermit? Bamboo shoots under my
fingernails?!"

Ignoring the slam, Kermit took his own mouthful of burger then shook his
head studiously. "How passť. I prefer electric shock these days. Much
more entertaining."

The coolness of the reply briefly stunned him. He could see his brother,
the mercenary, enacting torture. After all, he was gleefully torturing
him. <Sadist! He's gettin' off on it!>

"Eat."

Cramming a repulsive mouthful of the hated food into his mouth, he spat,
"There! Happy?" Gagging imperceptibly, David forced the morsel down his
throat into the raging canyon of his guts.

"Very." Kermit began to remember how long it had been since his last
meal and continued to eat. His brother was managing to force down a few
more bites through his visible queasiness.

Taking an opportunity to talk, Kermit asked, "Can you tell me when it
started? I think I deserve that much."

Amazed, David shook his head and laughed. "So you think your guilt money
earns you a look into my life?" Dropping his burger and grinning
sarcastically, David elected to reply. "Fine. You wanna know when I fell
into that 'bad crowd' Aunt Helen screeched at me about? Well, it was
kinda my only choice. Too stupid for the nerds. Too weird for BMOC. Too
much of a wimp for the jocks." Leaning over into a stage whisper, he
winked unkindly, "But the heads don't care. My music's good enough. My
hair's good enough. And best of all...Helen hates all of 'em. Makes her
crazy."

"An expensive rebellion you've selected," Kermit replied coolly, internally
hurting at the loneliness displayed. Latching onto the music comment, he
pried further. "What happened to the guitar lessons?" In Marilyn's
letters she'd mentioned David's interest and in true generous fashion,
Kermit had supplied a brand new Stratocaster and money for lessons.

"Ha! Helen hated that one big time!!!" David spat hurt and
disappointment. "First time I let 'Stairway to Heaven' rip, she had a
fit over the 'Sounds of Satan' bein' in her house and took it!"

"Why didn't you let me know?!" Kermit shouted, angry beyond belief.
How dare she take away something that made him happy. "I would have
made her give it back."

"How?!!" The boy's disbelief was transparent. "Over the phone? Like she
cares what you say, or me, or Marilyn! You weren't there!"

No new information to the guilt-ridden brother in charge today. Trying
to touch some sensitive chord, he changed the focus. "Is that why you
and Jamie connected? Because he felt outcast, too?"

"Yeah," nearly letting the sorrow choke him, "Jamie's trash like me. Now
he's out there without me."

"Because you had to leave and didn't have a choice?"

Analogy lost on the fifteen year old, David slammed back, "Because YOU
had to make yourself feel good by playin' hero."

Softening his well-schooled attitude, Kermit tried to offer a ray of
hope to his brother. "Maybe now that Jamie's alone, he'll take that
money and go home." Kermit knew it to be a lie, but it could by some
miracle happen.

Looking astonished at what even he knew to be a lie, David snarled,
"Go home?! Do you know what he had to go home to? A stepfather who
woke him up every morning by fryin' his arms with cigarettes. His mom's
dead and he was stuck with an asshole who beat the crap outta' him
for the fun of it!"

<Still collecting strays even when he's become one.> Kermit observed
the impassioned defense David painted of that dirty kid left a couple of
hundred miles away. He couldn't count the wounded birds and stray dogs
David had hidden under his bed as a child. Nothing had changed and it
gave him a glimmer of hope that such compassion, even if in twisted
form, still existed in his brother.

"Jamie depends on me! He was all alone out there until I came along!
We were partners." David clattered the chair from under him and resumed
his frantic march.

"You and Jamie were children hooked on smack who spent all their time
getting high or finding stuff to steal to get another fix. NOT
partners." Kermit injected his reason, only inflaming the boy further.

"It's so fuckin' hard for you to believe that somebody could need me?!
David the screw-up! He depended on me. NOW, he's on his own and he'll be
at the mercy of those perverts cruisin-" He stumbled to a stop. He never
planned to go into the details of their survival.

It required no explanation. Kermit already knew about Jamie but was
grateful to have a mystery about David. He didn't want to know if it had
gone that far. It didn't matter. The battle was wearing on both of them.
David's agitation was spiraling. It was time for a little relief.

"Here, David," Kermit held out a white capsule, "take this."

Suspiciously, the boy took the medication and held it up to the light.
"So your drugs are okay and mine aren't? Nice double standard!"

"It's a Valium to help you get some sleep. It's the only one you'll get.
You need to rest for what's coming."

It didn't matter if it was Valium or rat poison. Relief would be grabbed
when it came. David swallowed it and threw himself on the bed in his
room, bringing his knees up to ease the twisted knot in his stomach.


To Be Continued...
Part 6-->