For those of you who have loved reading this quirky tale so far, here is the 4th chapter.
Hope it is liked!
A MILLION SMILES FOR JUNE
4. Days of June
And so passed another couple of days waiting around for June having breakfast with Bax, making conversations and sometimes not a word at all, instead they’d be watching funny videos on Chad’s tablet or laptop, whichever he had at that moment. The morning June ambled along with her hands pocketed deep and a frown on her face, Bax and Chad were doing just that, watching silly cat videos with Bax almost snorting out his coffee through his nose. She came and stood right in front of them, and it took them a while to notice her finally.
“Hey June!” Chad smiled wide, holding up an offer of coffee her way, but she didn’t take it. Instead, she glared at him, a glare that wasn’t friendly.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
Chad could hear the seriousness in her tone and slowly closed the laptop screen down to Bax’s protests. “Having breakfast and watching funny videos?”
She turned to Bax. “What have I been telling you, Bax?”
Bax sulked ever-so-slightly on the bench. “To leave him alone.”
What? Thought Chad, immediately turning to look to Bax, then June, and Bax again. “Why?”
She ignored him, her eyes locked on Bax till he rose from the seat and stood up. He turned to Chad, but could barely make eye contact with the man. “Look, Chad…” he began, his words heavy and hesitated. “It’s been all great and that…but it’s probably not good for you…or us to keep this going…”
“We can’t keep taking advantage of your kindness and generosity!” June added sternly. “Look,” she turned squarely to face him. “I know you mean well, and we really appreciate it. Bax here, even thinks of us as friends, and misses you, but really…we live here, you, God knows where. For us, this is life, but it doesn’t have to be so for you, Chad! Go home. Get back to your life!”
Chad put down his laptop on the bench and stood up slowly. “Nobody is making me do this, you know that right, June?”
Bax suddenly tensed, sensing June looking his way. He stepped back and nodded to Chad. “I’ll see you another time maybe, mate.” He turned and went back to chasing the Sun as it were before the two of them had started watching funny videos. “Leave you two to sort it out!”
June waited till Bax was out of earshot before she turned back to Chad. “What the hell do you think you’re doing anyway? Bringing us coffee and pastries in the mornings?! What gives you the power to be the only good thing either one of us has in our lives, Chad?”
“That’s right. All you can ever say to me is ‘I’. Ever thought about what this is doing to us? Ever thought how we will feel one day when we turn up here expecting to see you and realise you’re not coming, ever?”
He shook his head, and could almost feel the tears that were fighting her.
She stared at the ground, and when she looked back up, there were indeed tears in her eyes and her harsh demeanour had softened. “It’s making us dream, Chad…and that’s a bad thing for people in our…” she broke down crying, unable to stop the tears from streaking down her cheeks that cold morning. It was bad enough she felt bad telling Chad to stop coming to visit them, she hadn’t really wanted to show him how much it was actually ripping her apart inside that she was the one to tell him. Fighting every fiber in her body to tell him that this was the best thing for everyone involved, she didn’t need her tears to make a liar out of her.
Chad couldn’t help but take her into his arms. It was the first time he’d ever touched her or she’d ever allowed him to. She didn’t protest. The sobs came in faster and faster. Chad didn’t care for the looks he was getting from people passing them by. “We can’t afford to dream…”she was saying in between the hiccups.
It took June a moment to gather herself and when she had, she pushed Chad away, wiped her eyes, sniffled her runny nose and toughened once more. “We need you to go, Chad. Let our lives get back to their normal, or this life, what we have will destroy every last shred of our dignity…”
Chad nodded, barely comprehending what she was saying. He was trying to ignore what she was saying, but he couldn’t really ignore her tears. “You want me gone?”
She shook her head, but said, “Yes.”
Chad nodded again. “So this is it, huh? We say our goodbyes?”
It was her turn to nod. “Is that why you’ve been avoiding me?” She nodded, and Chad suddenly felt like the breakup with Setal was nothing compared to this. He’d never realised friendships were harder to loose than relationships.
“I can’t do this, Chad,” she said. “I can’t! You don’t know how hard this is for me to say, but I just can’t…”
Chad could feel tears stinging his eyes and his throat knotting. “Can I come visit?”
She laughed, and shook her head. “No, because this is what you call visits.”
He nodded. “I’m guessing call is out of the question too.”
She sniffled, wiping her nose on her sleeve. She stood on her tip toes and gently kissed him on the cheek. “I do hope you will have a good life, Chad. I sure do hope for that.” With those words said, her footsteps retrieved away from him, leaving him standing alone in the middle of the park, friendless. Of course he had Terry, and his family whom he occasionally visited, but this was different.
Chad was stunned, and he had waited around for an hour or so before he realised they weren’t coming back to and tell him it was a joke. It left him with nothing better to do than go home. When he walked in through the front door, he froze, just on the inside of the threshold and looked around the place. It was almost as empty as he felt, bare, and not good for anything but resting a weary head at night. At least he had this, whereas God only knew how June and Bax spent their nights out in the cold.
That night, he couldn’t sleep as usual, worried about his friends and how they were doing. Could he really keep away from them? Could he really sit without a care in the world at Tyler’s café anymore and not feel a thing looking out the window to the Park? No, he couldn’t really. With all these thoughts swirling in his head, Chad sat on his bed and decided to try and distract himself. After all, he always had written better when he was emotional, and that night he couldn’t even describe how he was feeling.
So he sat, in the dark gloom of the room with the clock ticking closer to midnight, his legs stretched out before him whereupon his laptop rested, opened to a new page on the screen. It’s small black cursor blinking expectantly at him like an old friend, one who would never tell him to go away. It was a strange feeling for him, as he stared at the old object with new found appreciation.
He posed his fingers atop the key board, and breathed in the moment, his fingers resting on their homes out of habit. He closed his eyes, feeling the cold keys beneath his fingertips. He started typing without much of a thought, nor a plan. It had been weeks since, but as he started the words simply poured out. Words that started as random thoughts, and Chad was just happy he’d written something, but as he went over it in the next hour, he couldn’t help look at it and sigh. He clicked his tongue and closed the laptop and threw it aside. He’d just begun to write a journal entry and that never bode well for him. He’d decided he needed to see his psychologist soon and get all the junk out, junk that had the potential to pour themselves into creative works which could do without it. The last time he’d let his own feelings infuse into his book, it hadn’t gone down well with the fans. He didn’t need that again.
Chad could feel the throbbing of his temples and welcomed the pain. At least, for the moment, they were distracting him from his real problem. He’d lost two people he’d kind of came to care about all in one day. In the dark of his room, like that, he fell into an uncomfortable sleep where his thoughts turned into violent dreams.
When he woke, the Sun had forgotten to come out, hiding like a shy child behind the heavy blanket of clouds. He could smell the wetness lingering in them before it even began to rain. He forced himself out of bed and changed into street wear, and for some reason, he left the house, on foot and minus an umbrella. He needed the walk, to feel the cold against his face, to feel the hard ground beneath his feet. Eventually, the heavens did open up as Chad completed his first lap around the block. He contemplated walking into his house and grabbing an umbrella, but by this point he was soaked, and there would be no point. Besides, he was sure the one umbrella he remembered might have been Setal’s and therefore no longer inside his property. So, he spun himself around with a new spring in his step at the thought of dodging that bullet and powered on down the street determined to complete another lap. When the rain became too much, he found himself sheltering beneath a quaint little store’s awnings.
The door behind him opened and a small lady appeared, she held out a foam cup towards him. “I made you tea…thought you could do with a cuppa” she smiled as Chad reached out for the offering, and just like that, she disappeared back inside the store. And suddenly it hit him, as he sipped that cup of tea while rain poured down all around him, how June and Bax must feel every time he went to meet them. It was a mixture gratitude, disbelief, anger and shame. He was a little closer to understanding why June sent him away now than he had been the day before.
It was a hard thing to do, keeping away from Hyde Park or Tyler’s café for the next couple of days for Chad. He just couldn’t bring himself to walk to the station, catch a train, get to Tyler’s café and sit there, as if the last three weeks had simply been a dream, or worse, figment of him imagination. As if June and Bax didn’t exist anywhere other than the realms of his mind.
On one such late morning, few days from their walking away from him, Chad sat on his kitchen bench top, legs folded beneath him, eating from a bag of red-seedless grapes, still in his pyjamas. He had turned into a recluse, even more so than before. This was what he’d been reduced to in an attempt to respect June’s wishes to be left alone. He sat there, listening to the radio cranked up high, his only human contact for the last 48 hours, but he wasn’t really paying attention to it until a news bulletin sent him flying off the bench top and pouncing on the radio. He listened intensely.
It was a breaking news: A bearded middle-aged man, who seemed to have been one of Sydney’s many living on the streets, has just been pronounced dead at Royal Alfred Hospital after coming under a bus in the early morning traffic outside St James station. It seems the man ran straight into oncoming traffic and sustained injuries that eventually proved fatal. The police are urging anyone with information regarding the man or his next of kin to come forward.
A chill coursed again and again through Chad. Something told him that the man wasn’t a random, not to him. He quickly changed into whatever clothes he found around his bed, not caring to take a shower, or comb his dishevelled hair, or address the three-day shadow on his face. He grabbed his coat and ran out the door, leaving the radio on behind him in the empty house.