Image Chapter 8 by Wil Moore

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SUMMARY: About a boy growing up and his unusual friends.

8

It was some time before Old Bill left that his roommates had not been around as often as they used to be. It went by unnoticed until Old Bill was gone, then not only was he aware but fearfully observant, sometimes panicked about the fact. Days would go by where Kak wouldn't see Jelly, other times Frankie would be nowhere in site, sometimes both of them would be missing at the same time. Those days were the worst. Loneliness churned up his slender body only to meet with horrendous fear that sunk deep down from the top of his head. He could taste the god-awful concoction on his lips and smell its musty vapors in the air. It was as if life all around him had stopped and he was the sole animation remaining in the world.

It was about a year after Old Bill had gone that finally Jelly left for good also. Kak could see it coming. She was gone more than she was around, and every moment she wasn't there Kak missed her. But the longing for his playful friend had been masked by fright, an unrelenting fear that she would never return, and finally that fear was realized. He avoided speaking to Joey about it. He was too afraid it would end the same way it did when Old Bill had gone. He never wanted to see those eyes from his lifelong friend again. But when Frankie vanished, only a year after Jelly, he had no choice but to act.

"I'm the only one left, Joe. The last to come, the last to go? Is that it?" Kak asked trying to keep his frustration at bay. Years of thought, question, and speculation were behind the words, but he didn't want that to be known. He wanted a straight unbiased answer.

"What?" Joe sneered; he was relaxing on his bed reading the sports section of the news paper. He half attempted to fold it then set it aside. He moved his bulky frame to the edge of the bed and let his feet hit the floor. He sat rigidly, giving him an intimidating outline.

Joey was now Joe and had been for almost two years. He was eighteen now, grown, large, strong, and when he talked his power carried with his voice. The days of building and playing in forts out back, and running through the house weaving in and out of furniture were over for him. He had put aside childish things and replaced them with burdens of the real world.

"I know you're not going to pretend you haven't noticed, or that you don't care. Like you did with Old Bill," Kak bellowed. He had never stood up to Joe this way before. It felt strange, he felt out of line even though he knew he wasn't. "What's happened, Joe? Where did they go? Are they ever coming back?"

Joe stood to confront him, not viciously; he had never raised a hand to someone so dear to him as far as Kak knew, but rather to show that he meant business. Because he did, he didn't allow anyone to talk to him that way, not without having something to say about it.

"Look Kak. Just because I don't show it doesn't mean I don't miss them, or that I don't notice they're gone. I notice, I know," Joe boomed. His face turned a light shade of pink. "These people have been with me since I was a kid, how could I not care? Not know? It was just time for them to go."

And just then Kak saw what he was looking for.

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