The breakfast table was quiet save for the sound of cereal too swiftly eaten to soften in its milk. Lillie held open her book, done with Bullfinch for the time being, and instead poring over an illustrated collection of world myths. This time, Taliesin, with a plot of Welsh consonants to navigate. Three drops of the cauldron held all the wisdom in the universe, but everything else that boiled there, was deadly poison.
This time of year, Lillie was up early, getting ready for the 6:40 bus that would trundle through the Dump and back around through the town and get her to school.
After their attempt to get anything from Officer Milligan had proved futile, she’d felt him withdraw. Unlike Willy’s long stints of silence, when Adrian didn’t want to talk, even about the morbid and awful thoughts that must occupy his mind, Lillie felt pressed to help.
It had been a good week since they had exchanged a word.
“Why are you up?” She asked under her breath, aware that it was a good ten minutes left before the bus would be coming.
“I’m up.” Not an answer, but its self-evidence served. He was awake because he wanted to be awake rather than dreaming. Lately, Lillie could understand that desire. Not scrounging for a whiskey bottle still bearing one last sip, he squinted, almost thoughtfully in her direction before walking carefully towards the fridge.
“You remember the day the bank blew up?” She glanced over her shoulder.
He let the door he was holding open swing closed, the light it brought snuffed behind it. “Why are you asking about that mess?”
“It’s…Adrian. He wants to know how his father died. You know, what really happened. He thought maybe you could remember something the police wouldn’t…couldn’t tell him.”
Willy stood over the table, his eyes as bleary and bloodshot as if a child had applied clay versions to his face with their thumbs. He gripped the curvature of the pine chair’s back. His tongue clicked slightly. “Adrian’s asking me about this?” That was the magic word. She nodded, bemused by his sudden interest. Adrian’s opinion held frightful sway over her stepfather.
“I don’t know nothing about them kids at First National. They weren’t from Falls Valley. Kids around here don’t think to do shit like that.”
“So you didn’t see his dad run into the bank?” She set her spoon down into the concentrated pool at the bottom of her bowl, gently. By the look on his face, still hungover from a few hours ago, she wasn’t sure how he could remember yesterday much less nearly twenty years ago.
“He ran around the back way. He must have…” He shrugged. “I don’t remember whether Charlie Senna was anywhere near that damn bank.
Lillie pulled her backpack off the back of her own chair, already exhausted by the emptiness of the conversation. She could wait awhile for the bus outside, in the dark.
“I reme…” He closed his mouth quicker than his blood alcohol approved of, and he held his head, suddenly dizzy.
“When I heard, when we all heard, I went down there. Just to see what an exploded bank looks like. But she was there first. I always wondered why she stood there. Holding you on that street corner like she got all the time in the world.”