Carol Jean approached him then, gently placing her left hand on his shoulder and standing up on her tippy-toes to whisper in his ear, “It's ok Charlie. Just tell us what happened. We aren’t angry with you; we just want to understand what is going on. Why we are here. We are feeling so confused, life is just over? Just like that? You have the answers that can help put us to rest. Please just talk to us Charlie. Please.”
She seemed so sincere, so loyal. How could he refuse? Where his pop had been volatile, Carol Jean was soft and warm. He could feel the emotions and memories he had had before pouring back into his head and into his heart. Ahh, then suddenly he was hard and mean and dispassionate, just as before. It was so much easier to be this way.
He explained it all in minute detail. How every nail, every piece of glass, every particle of the bomb had been lovingly crafted for someone who had wronged him in the past.
And as he explained all of his horrible deeds and villainous thoughts, one by one the people in the group began disappearing. At first he couldn’t believe his eyes. Where were they going?
Quietly June pulled Carol Jean aside. Charlie could hear June whispering words to her, words of “so sorry,” “big mistake,” and “not your time.” Carol Jean’s figure began to fade away. She briefly made eye contact with Charlie, until there was nothing left but mist and a subtle scent of lavendar in the air.
Charlie began to panic. This was all for her. It would all be for nothing if she was gone.
“Wait! Where are you taking her? Where is Carol Jean? She is supposed to be here with me!”
June turned and gave Charlie a smile. It wasn’t a smirk or a smile of condescension, rather a smile of pity. And that was the worst kind of smile that Charlie could have received from someone. He knew that meant that he was the one being punished and that the others were all being given a gift. Again he had missed out on something. Again, Mr. Rogers had forgotten to visit him.
Instead, Mr. Rogers had come to collect those innocents, those students from MIT. But where was his adored Carol Jean? Why was she taken from him? He was left alone in that grey formless room which gradually receded into nothingness. The walls faded back until they were simply no longer there, but he couldn’t see anything else take their place, it was just dark, misty, a place of nowhere. There was nothing around him. No ceiling, no table, no chairs, no people, nothing. And it was there he waited for another 63 years for his dearest (for by that time she again became dear indeed) Carol Jean to return to him.
Because what he hadn’t had a chance to tell anybody was that Carol Jean was his partner in the crime. They had been communicating via email, she wasn’t sure who he was or what exactly he was going to do, but she was sure that she wanted to be a part of something dramatic. She just didn’t want to be part of the dying and somehow she hadn't been. And now that she was finally dead, Charlie was going to find out just how she had gotten away with it. Why she got to continue to live and he had been in hell for all these years. Without her. Remembering.
She should be here any minute, right?
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