I start surfing the web. They usually give you thirty minutes; if I’m lucky, I can sneak an hour. Check on scores, play a game or two, and look at my hometown paper.
Mostly I skim, but a photograph makes me stop, scroll back.
The numbers are right there next to the door, 2010. My address, our address, 2010 East Division. Hoses snake from fire trucks through the open doorway into the smoldering shell. Enough of the house is left for me to know it was mine. Or, it used to be mine at least. Seems like almost half of it was gone, smoke drifting out my old bedroom window and any other open space. Or maybe it was mostly steam by the time they took the photo. The picture caught my eye, but the headline told the story.
Two dead in local fire. I already know the rest, but I keep reading.
I read their names. My parents, gone. Article said they were probably passed out, intoxicated. Big surprise. They both drank too much. They each had their own reasons. Everybody has things to forget or cover-up or try to escape. Said a cigarette may have started things, they were probably asleep. Probably didn’t know or feel what happened. More surprises.
Mrs. Beecher, from next door, woke up about 2 a.m. when she saw the flames outside her bedroom window. Said they were nice neighbors. Said it was so sad. More stuff about the house and fire. Something about how my dad was a big deal in high school sports. It doesn’t say that they both dropped out to get married when he was seventeen and she sixteen and pregnant, with me.
I think about calling my grandma. Maybe later. Paper said there’d be a funeral next week. It mentions me as their only child. Said no one knew where I was.
Not sure what I’m supposed to think or feel. It had been nineteen long, cold years since I’d seen them. This doesn’t change things. I had no plans to see them again; ain’t going to start with a funeral. Even when I lived at 2010, I’ve always been on my own. Nothing changes.
My table just opened up; if I hurry, I can get a nap before I go back to the streets and start bumming for lunch money.