Darkest Fear Page 75

“You’d be willing to let him walk?”

“Yes,” Myron said. “But Melina’s father has juice. And he won’t.”

“I thought you advised him against taking the law into his own hands.”

Myron shrugged. “No one ever listens to me.”

“That’s true,” Win said.

Win drove.

“I just wonder,” Myron said.


“Who was the serial killer here? Did his father really do it? Or was it all Stan?”

“Doubt we’ll ever know,” Win said.

“Probably not.”

“It shan’t matter,” Win said. “They’ll get him for Melina Garston.”

“I guess,” Myron said. Then he frowned and repeated, “ ‘Shan’t’?”

Win shrugged. “So is it finally over, my friend?”

Myron’s leg did that nervous jig again. He stopped it and said, “Jeremy.”

“Ah,” Win said. “Are you going to tell him?”

Myron looked out the window and saw nothing. “Win’s credo about selfishness would say yes.”

“And Myron’s credo?”

“I don’t know that it’s much different,” Myron said.

Jeremy was playing basketball at the Y. Myron stepped into the bleachers, the rickety kind that shake with each step, and sat. Jeremy was still pale. He was thinner than the last time Myron had seen him, but there’d been a growth spurt over the last few months. Myron realized how fast changes take place for the young and felt a deep, hard thud in his chest.

For a while, he just watched the flow of the scrimmage and tried to judge his son’s play objectively. Jeremy had the tools, Myron could see that right away, but there was plenty of rust on them. That wouldn’t be a problem though. Again with the young. Rust doesn’t stay long on the young.

As Myron watched the practice, his eyes widened. He felt his insides shrivel. He thought again about what he was about to do, and a swelling tide rose inside of him, overwhelming him, pulling him under.

Jeremy smiled when he spotted Myron. The smile cleaved Myron’s heart in two even pieces. He felt lost, adrift. He thought about what Win had said, about what a real father was, and he thought about what Esperanza had said. He thought about Greg and Emily. He wondered if he should have spoken to his own father about this, if he should have told him that this wasn’t a hypothetical, that the bomb had indeed landed, that he needed his help.

Jeremy continued to play, but Myron could see that the boy was distracted by his presence. Jeremy kept sneaking quick glances toward the stands. He played a little harder, picked up the pace a bit. Myron had been there, done that. The desire to impress. It had driven Myron, maybe as much as wanting to win. Shallow, but there you have it.

The coach had his players run a few more drills and then he lined them up on the baseline. They finished up with the aptly named “suicides,” which was basically a series of gut-heaving sprints broken up by bending and touching different lines on the floor. Myron might be nostalgic for many things connected to basketball. Suicides were not one of them.

Ten minutes later, with most of the kids still trying to catch their breath, the coach gathered his troops, gave out schedules for the rest of the week, and dispersed the boys with a big handclap. Most of them headed toward the exit, slinging backpacks over their shoulders. Some went into the locker room. Jeremy walked over to Myron slowly.

“Hi,” Jeremy said.


Sweat dripped off Jeremy’s hair, his face coated and flushed from exertion. “I’m going to shower,” he said. “You want to wait?”

“Sure,” Myron said.

“Cool, I’ll be right back.”

The gymnasium emptied out. Myron stood and picked up an errant basketball. His fingers found the grooves right away. He took a few shots, watching the bottom of the net dance as the ball swished through. He smiled and sat back down, still holding the ball. A janitor came in and swept the floor Zamboni-style. His keys jangled. Someone flipped off the overhead lights. Jeremy came back not long after that. His hair was still wet. He, too, had a backpack over his shoulder.

As Win would say, “Showtime.”

Myron gripped the ball a little tighter. “Sit down, Jeremy. We need to talk.”

The boy’s face was serene and almost too beautiful. He slid the backpack off his shoulder and sat down. Myron had rehearsed this part. He had looked at it from all sides, all the pluses and minuses. He had made up his mind and changed it and made it up again. He had, as Win put it, properly tortured himself.

But in the end, he knew there was one universal truth: Lies fester. You try to put them away. You jam them in a box and bury them in the ground. But eventually they eat their way out of coffins. They dig their way out of graves. They may sleep for years. But they always wake up. When they do, they’re rested, stronger, more insidious.

Lies kill.

“This is going to be hard to understand—” He stopped. Suddenly his rehearsed speech sounded so damn canned, filled with “It’s nobody’s fault” and “Adults make mistakes too” and “It doesn’t mean your parents love you any less.” It was patronizing and stupid and—

“Mr. Bolitar?”

Myron looked up at the boy.

“My mom and dad told me,” Jeremy said. “Two days ago.”

His chest shuddered. “What?”

“I know you’re my biological father.”

Myron was surprised and yet he wasn’t. Some might say that Emily and Greg had made a preemptive strike, almost like a lawyer who reveals something bad about his own client because he knows the opposition will do it. Lessen the blow. But maybe Emily and Greg had learned the same lesson he had about lies and how they fester. And maybe, once again, they were trying to do what was best for their boy.

“How do you feel about it?” Myron asked.

“Weird, I guess,” Jeremy said. “I mean, Mom and Dad keep expecting me to fall apart or something. But I don’t see why it has to be such a big deal.”

“You don’t?”

“Sure, okay, I see it, but”—he stopped, shrugged—“it’s not like the whole world’s turned inside out or anything. You know what I mean?”

Myron nodded. “Maybe it’s because you’ve already had your world turned inside out.”

“You mean being sick and all?”

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