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[Ongoing story. Here’s James, the one trying to solve his father’s murder. Late in the story.]

One day they took the shitty house from us. How we managed to stay that extra year, I don’t know. Your’e stupid when you’re young, so I guess that’s what kept us going. The landlord probably had a kind place in his heart, because I don’t remember paying rent. Now six years from 18 makes you grow up. Get a job. Pay rent.

I remember the day when they came. Merrill was already gone, disappeared. I have no idea where he’d gone. He’d show up to rummage the fridge which had nothing. He’d take anything I left out, twenty bucks here or there. I didn’t care. I was earning good at that point. Why I wasn’t paying the rent then, I don’t remember. I didn’t really start making good money until I moved to Oakland, but in LA bands need roadies and if you’re organized and can boss other guys around and look decent, you’re in. So I had work.

The day was like all summer days in LA. Parched. But the air had that sparkle that I miss to this day. They came, cops like the kind that are rentable. Nice guys, just said I needed to leave. Kind of surprised all of us that I just filled a suitcase and drove away, leaving them with what my family had originally filled the place with. Those curtains our mother made. The flower pots, filled with packed dirt and very dead plants, dead weeds on top of that. The ugly couch that hadn’t aged well.

Probably the stuff that would have been helpful in finding our dad, too. His shoes, the dusty pack, who knows what was in the drawers in the bedroom. We never went in there. Merrill and I didn’t change much when we got the news that he was dead. I stayed in my room and he in his even though we could have fought over the bigger bedroom of our gone parents. We closed the door. I never opened it.

Must have been strange for those guys who came to clean the place out. All I can think about now is what we might have known about Dad. Or our mother. Two people we didn’t talk about after they left, one then the other. Strange to think about it. What was wrong with us. Wouldn’t you want to figure it out. Like I did recently. But then, I just put my clothes in a duffle bag that I used when I was traveling around California with the bands. I had nice duds, took care of them, and I carefully filled the bag and thanked the guys and left.

I drove away and they kind of swayed in the wind wondering what just happened. They probably showed up expecting a fight, a crazed person screaming on the dead lawn while they threw everything out the door before they boarded it up.

Not me. I had a truck, some money, nice clothes.

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