Chapter 2: After the Gentleman in Black: A Story of Boston, Family, and Isabella Stewart Gardener
November 14, 2016
I can’t remember the last time my stomach felt like this. That is, the last time it wasn’t because I didn’t have my smoothie. But, hey, I’ll be damned if I don’t have a good reason. Day 1 of knowing my parents, Jonathan and Delilah Drey, who brought me to playgrounds and packed my backpack and stuff–hell, they introduced me to smoothies–are actually thieves of, goddammit, $13 million worth of paintings. It’s funny in a pathetic way, how they were able to keep me so oblivious for so many years. I trusted them so much. Trust them so much. Not ready for past-tense yet.
I should stop thinking about this stuff while walking down sidewalks in Boston. I just almost ran into two dogs at the same ti–”Hey, wait! Chuck! Charlotte! Hey!”
Now, I believe everyone needs a friend with too much energy and not enough sense. Evelyn is mine. However, it is worth noting that I also believe everyone doesn’t always want the one they have. I sigh, and turn to her, coughing because I just inhaled too quick and too hard. Sort of how she’s running down the street right now. You remember that kid in third grade whose actual personality felt like running into a playground fence? She never really grew out of it, just tacked on an insane sense of wit and a love for big hair. Without her, I wouldn’t understand sarcasm or combatting frizz. That’s the kinda girl she is.
Unfortunately, I am not in the mood to deal with that kinda girl right now. As she skids to a stop, cheeks ruddy and curls flying, I hear my name like it’s coming from fifty feet away. “Chuck…Chuck…you okay?” Instantly, I snap back into it, snap back into the nickname I’ve had since years before yesterday, years before my life changed–life change, life changing, life changed– and I try to look at her like I’m not having a nervous breakdown.
“Yeah, sorry, just a little tired,” I lie, rubbing my eyes, only partially to dramatize. Evelyn pushes back her hair and sighs, tugging me away from the thick flow of the Boston street and licking her arm through mine. We begin to walk in Boston Latin School’s direction, and Evelyn rattles on about some group project she’s doing all the work for, and how this is the third time this month. The air feels crisp and sharp and smells like street and perfume, alternating in intensity as our classmates drift by, offering hellos or waves, and I am panicking.
It’s silly, really, the panic. Nobody knows. Nobody needs to know. Nobody is going to need to know. But, Christ, it’s enough to make me want to tell someone just so they can be like “ Holy Crap,” and I can say “I know, right?” I’ve always had that before–with Evelyn, or with someone else. This is the first time that I know it’s impossible. I guess I’m looking too lost in my own head, all eyes-glassed over and expressionless and shuffling, because Evelyn tightens her grip on my arm suddenly and stops us on the street, looking equal parts exasperated and exhilarated. “Chuck, you okay? You seem out of it.” I nod, shove my hands into my jacket pockets, and tell her that I’m just real tired, and she nods, and we keep walking. A little slower, now.