“Gran, I’m sorry. I didn’t think—it didn’t occur to me that—” she stopped, biting her lip. “I—I’m sorry. This isn’t like—like that was, I promise.”
He looked at her, eyes drained of all spark, and nodded. There was a deep-seated fear there though, seated where the spark usually sat. She wished she could push it aside for him and rekindle the spark. All she could do was take his hand in hers and squeeze, trying to fill him with a reassurance she wasn’t quite sure she felt herself.
Later, after they’d gotten Gran to bed, Quinn asked in a hushed voice. “That picture—was that—”
He was quiet a moment. “I barely remember him. He was almost never around,” he finally said.
“Yeah. He was already mostly gone by the time we met.”
“I guess there’s been no word on him?” He didn’t sound like he really needed to hear the answer.
“No, not since the hospital.” She sighed. “I used to go down to the police headquarters and ask about it. Once every couple months at first, then once a year. I haven’t been in a few years, now.”
“He was … kind of a hand full,” he said, sounding like he was picking his words very carefully.
She chuckled. “It’s okay, you can say it. Gran’s asleep. Phil was trouble, real trouble. After his mom died, the things he’d say …”
“I remember a little of that. Not much.”
“Yeah, you didn’t come by very often when he was around.”
“That wasn’t an accident. He scared the crap out of me, Jo. He was a few years younger than us, and he scared the crap out of me.”
Jo wasn’t shocked by that; Quinn had always been a small kid, while Phil was fairly big and strong for his age. She’d never had anything more than suspicions that he’d bullied other kids even before his mom died until just now; the look in Quinn’s eyes told all.
“He always seemed so fearless,” Quinn continued, “not many of us wanted anything to do with him. Even the older, bigger guys usually avoided him.”