Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Sunday, June 1st
Wright Anything Agency
He was bored.
No, he was very bored. It had been two hours since Trucy had left and in that time he had cleared off the piano and played every song he had memorized (Which was quite a lot of them, actually), browsed the bookshelf and attempted to read a heavy, dusty law book (Not as interesting as the books in his mother’s library, that was for sure), played a bit on the small, palm-sized ocarina around his neck (Mostly all the same songs; he really needed to learn more), and used up all the battery on his phone playing Temple Run.
The few times he had run into Athena, things had gone pretty smoothly. She would enter the room, and he would promptly exit through whichever door was closest. At one point he found himself sitting in a broom closet, admiring the speckled ceiling tiles, until she’d left. Another time, he’d walked in on Mr. Wright guzzling some grape juice in the kitchen. The man had casually tried to hide it, so Chase pretended he hadn’t noticed by examining the celebrity magazine on the counter, with a picture of Tom and Myrtle Marshall on the cover, showing off their matching wedding rings. That hadn’t helped him feel any better, though.
Now, Chase was sitting on the couch with the black case open on his lap instead of over his shoulder. His silver trumpet gleamed and he stared at it longingly. It would've been great to have a chance to practice, and he almost picked it up before remembering that he was trying to be invisible and that playing loud brass instruments would attract way too much attention. He sighed with a frown and began to polish it instead.
When that was done and the instrument shined like the top of the Chrysler Building, he closed the case and stared around the room, relapsing into boredom. Looking for something else to do, his eyes lingered on the broken TV. Nothing seemed very wrong with it; well, the screen wasn't broken at the least. What was it Art had said that one time? Umm… When electronics this old break, it's probably because the the fuse is burnt out. Look there first. After that, check that the connections are all nice and tight.
It was relatively easy to find the fuse in the TV, and he determined that it was just fine. He did realize, however, that some of the screws were loose. Grabbing a screwdriver from the broom closet and tightening them up did the trick, and it was only a few minutes before he was back on the couch, flipping through channels.
Nothing good was on, so he settled for an episode of How It's Made. It was at least interesting enough to stave off his boredom for a while. It was nice to relax, anyway...
“Leave my dad alone!”
He didn't realize he had fallen asleep until he heard his own voice. His eyes snapped open and there was his face, too, on the TV screen. It was panicked and angry and shouting, and he felt this face -- the one on him right now -- flush.
But he couldn't tear himself away. He felt that familiar guilt grip his stomach and his head spun when the news anchors started to analyze the scene, their derisive comments stinging.
He only turned after the TV clicked off and a familiar voice said, “Hey. Maybe you should watch something else.”
“Oh, Art. What are you doing here?”
The couch sank as Art sat down next to him. “The Chief Prosecutor said that they were taking care of you here. I wanted to see how you were fairing.”
“I'm…” He shrugged. “I dunno. Alright, I guess.”
“I heard what happened and I'm very sorry.”
“It's fine. It's not like it's your fault.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes, Chase still turned away. He thought of that trumpet, one he and his dad could hardly afford, and of how it had been a birthday present from Art. This man had always been so nice to him, and Chase desperately wanted to spew it out -- the frustrating story of the past day -- all at once.
But something held him back. There was a wall, invisible and strong, that his heart was ramming against, over and over. He simply said, “Gosh, I feel so broken.”
“What do you mean?”
“I feel like a mockingbird that’s been shot and left to die. I just… wish I could make this stop.”
Art sighed. “Yeah, I think I know what you mean.” He was wearing a thin leather cord around his neck that Chase hadn’t noticed until the man took it off for him to see. On it was an elegant yet almost gaudy ring out along with the cord. “I was looking around in my attic… And I found the engagement ring. The one I would've used if… You know…”
“If she was still here?”
He solemnly whispered, “Yeah.”
It was quiet for a long time after that, while Chase tried to picture anything but her bright smile and long orange braid. It didn't work.
Eventually the conversation picked up and they were smiling again. But Chase couldn't get rid of the image of her, and the sense of unease he felt about the whole situation. It stuck with him throughout the rest of the day, as Trucy got back from investigating and as he left the Agency for the day. He fell asleep late that night, in Mr. Justice’s small guest bed in the small apartment, wondering what the heck was wrong with him, and why couldn't he just get over it all.