It took him about thirty minutes to walk there. The streets were pretty calm, nearly empty. A few late walkers like himself strolled by; a few of them looked homeless, but one or two had briefcases and nice clothes, keys clinking together in their pockets. Lucky beasts.
A few cars drove past. The headlights made Dex happy. It reminded him of Christmas time. It wasn't that far off, Christmas. Just a few months, but he wouldn't be on Earth. He would be up in space somewhere, with billions of lights surrounding him constantly. Stars!
Dex turned off a brightly lit street into a dark alley that most other people would have veered away from. It didn't bother Dex. This was his world. He had never mugged anyone, or hid in an alley waiting to attack anybody, but he had hid in an alley so that he wouldn't be attacked. Or caught. Dark alleys didn't bother him. Besides, this alley wasn't the greatest for people to be hiding in, waiting to snag an innocent pedestrian. There weren't any dumpsters in it, and it was right next to an active home, that was always in and out, dumping garbage into trash barrels. Trash barrels, not dumpsters. He shivered a little. He was walking into the wind now; and tiny ice-cold drops of water were in the air, hitting him in the face. It felt like minuscule needles, the wind was blowing so hard, but it felt good, too. Why did anybody ever where scarves over their ears and noses?
It was just silly. You couldn't feel the wind and the icy gusts of wind that way. Of course, this made his nose run worse, and even made it a little red, but he didn't care. It felt like spearmint gum washing over him, without the taste or smell. Just the ice.
He turned onto another street, and then jogged down two alleys, and then onto a street again. There was an apartment building there, the windows and door shining with bright lights from within. He took a deep breath.
Now or never, he thought.
Ugh! He didn't want to do this. Jamie was always nice, but Dad? Ugh. No. It would just be torture to go in...it would hurt both of them, that he was leaving the planet. Neither would appreciate it. Dex recapped. No, Dad wouldn't care. Dad didn't miss him when he was gone, and he wouldn't miss him when he was gone for good either. Jamie might care though, and it was only fair that he give her an explanation for his sudden disappearance. He took a deep breath and climbed the seven steps to the door and knocked loudly, wincing as his dry knuckles cracked.
He heard Jamie say something, and then, "I've got it, dear."
He waited patiently, enjoying the cold, and then Jamie opened the door. Her face lit up.
"Dex! What are you doing here? Come in, come inside before you make yourself sick!"
You had to love Jamie.
"Hey, Jamie," Dex said, smiling.
"It is so good to see you! Oh, gosh, you have grown. I thought you quit doing that."
"Guess not," said Dex.
"No, no, guess not, guess not. What brings you this way?"
"I just came to...visit some," said Dex, turning serious.
Jamie's face fell and grew dark.
"You're okay, aren't you?" she asked, her voice wavering a little. "You're not - "
"No," said Dex quickly.
"Oh, good. Don't scare me like that Dex. I nearly had a heart attack. Mercy, your face is so cold!"
Dex realized that Jamie was holding his face between her hands. She's the sweetest person I know, Dex thought. She had wide, green eyes and dark brown hair that was loosely curled. She didn't seem old enough to be Dex's stepmother. But she was; she was the same age as his father. She was one of those people that just didn't age much. The kind that looked fifteen years younger than they actually were.
Dex smiled to reassure her and then looked beyond the dark hall.
"Um...is Dad here?"
She nodded. "Yeah!"
"Mmm. I might go talk to him a minute. But - I would like to talk to you too and have a brownie before I leave."
She smiled. "Definitely! Take your time. He's in there listening to the radio and reading the newspaper."
That is so typical Dad. Dex thought.
"Okay." Dex walked down the dark entryway until he reached a door and then he turned into it, bumping into the wall with his shoulder as he passed.
His Dad was sitting there, his thinning light brown hair glowing in the soft lamp light. He turned when he heard Dex enter the room. He had light gray eyes, the same color as Dex's.
Awkwardly, Dex walked around the old recliner and sat down on the couch opposite it. "Hey Dad."
"Son," said Ray Marshall, coolly. The thing about Ray; he tried to be warm. He really did. He just couldn't do it. Dex rolled his eyes.
Same 'ole, same 'ole.
"I don't know what's wrong with calling you 'son.' Fathers say that to their sons, and you are my son."
Dex sighed and looked away from those piercing gray eyes. Same color, different story. One of Dex's greatest fears was that he had that same hard look on his face. He never wanted to look that way.
"You're alright, then? I thought I heard Jamie say something about it in the hall."
"Yeah, Dad, I'm fine. I just came by to talk."
"Well, that's a first," said Ray, folding up his newspaper and setting it on the floor next to his chair.