Dakota had been telling Chev for years to come out and find him if he needed help or a place to stay. Of course, the only catch was he couldn’t use anymore. So, it came as a shock when he heard a raspy, shivering voice over the phone.
“I need a place to stay.”
Dakota paused. “Chev?”
“Yeah. Who’d you think it was?”
“I’m sorry. You just sound… are you all right?”
At the end of a trail of coughs, Chev says that he’s not.
“I just tried to hang myself with a shoelace. It snapped”
Dakota wanted to laugh and cry all at once. He sounded so embarrassed. Chev was always impulsive but at least he wasn’t dead yet and for that, Dakota was thankful. The girls, and Seamus too, had all given up on Chev after what he’d done to Dizzie. Dakota kind of hoped he could salvage the old Chev.
“I’ll have a plane ticket ready for you if you want it.”
The line was quiet and Dakota thought the call had been dropped. “Hello? Chev?” He heard a sniff, like the person on the other line had been crying.
“Can I leave tonight?”
“Sure. I mean, but don’t you need to pack or something?”
“I don’t have anything. My dad kicked me out months ago.”
“Where have you been living?” Dakota asked, though he kind of guessed at the answer but it still surprised him when Chev spoke.
“Nowhere. A shelter.”
Dakota weighed his next words. “Do you have a way of getting to the airport?”
“I’m in walking distance.”
“Two hours, maybe three?”
Dakota sighed. “I’ll see what I can do. Can you call me when you get there?”
“Yeah. Don’t have a charger for this phone, though. It’s, uh, not mine.”
“Turn it off while you’re walking, then,” Dakota said, but he remembered something. “Chev! Promise me you’ll go through with this. You’re going to go straight to the airport, right?”
* * *
After their talk, Dakota had called everyone he knew. It would take a lot more than just one friend to take care of and keep an eye on Chev.
Dakota shifted from one foot to the other. Chev finally came out of the airport and he looked like Hell. He was dangerously thin and painful to look at. He’d always had some weight on him but now it wasn’t even the same Chev. Dakota was worried that the Chev he knew had been peeled away.
“How was your flight?”
“Landing was a bitch. Security practically buttfucked me.”
“But at least you’re here.”
“Yeah. Fuckin’ cold, though.”
Dakota handed Chev a coat.
“What’s this?” Chev asked, eyeing the garment suspiciously.
“Just a jumper.”
“A sweater. You know, to keep warm.”
Chev took it without saying anything. He put it over his shoulders. It was too big but he kept it there.
“I’m tired,” he said.
Dakota wanted to laugh. Or cry.
“Let’s get you home.”