It was a cramped space, tiny as it was stuffy.
Faded brown carpeting met faded off-white walls, against which a yellowed couch was pushed. It was obscurely nestled in the sleepy downtown seashore area, roughly an hour away from the school. When her son went to college, she had invested in a smaller house. She did not think he would return so quickly, head hanging low and full of excuses.
The swim team wasn’t worth it.
College isn’t for everyone.
She asked for it.
He quietly slipped out after the loud optimism of graduation to the sagging old couch of his youth. He sat there, day in day out. His skin had taken on an ashy white hue, falling against sunken cheekbones and dark circles. He hadn’t been outside in months.
“Stop staring. Do you want a beer or don’t you?”
He hid whenever there were visitors, and to avoid this awkward scenario Gentry always mumbled a greeting when he entered.
“You look like you could use one.”
“How many of those have you had?” replied Gentry, more to change the subject than out of genuine interest.
“Why don’t you count. One, two, three…”
As he slunk down the hall, Carly yelled after him,
“Hey don’t start washing your hands until they bleed or freaky shit like that…”
Now he was one to talk. He was the freakiest shit of them all.
But at least he wasn’t a sloppy drunk. Gentry was thankful for that much. It was better when Carly was drunk, because when he wasn’t anything could whip him into a tantrum.
The mother was nice enough, though she spent most of her time outside the house. But there was always enough food and beer in the fridge, so it didn’t matter. They weren’t poor by any means, just a nice modest Italian family with enough money in the bank. Fred had had a good life insurance policy, always thinking ahead. Probably too much ahead.
His picture hung over the fireplace, beside his urn.
It was when he died that Carly started drinking, or so his mother thought. Probably that was why she continued to buy him booze. And it was two weeks after Fred’s death that Gentry had knocked on their door and asked to stay the night.
Carly hadn’t said a word against it, and Gentry decided he was lucky; Most homeless teens ended up on the streets or shuffling from one place to another, but not him. No, he had Carly’s sepulcher.