It was about a week after the truth of Tyler was revealed to Lawrence, when the first snow started to fall. The town was covered in snow and the people changed accordingly. Christmas decorations came up all over the town, even though Christmas was about a month off. The school was no different, decorations and posters for winter dances started popping up all over the halls and in classrooms. The students however never changed no matter what time of the year it was. Although it was easier for Lawrence, with the temperature dropping the use of his long sleeved shirts and jacket was now his advantage over his drawback. For some reason Lawrence always felt better in the cold. It was a cold winter day and Lawrence sat with Tyler, Colin, and Heather.
“So Lawrence what are you planning to do for Christmas?” asked Colin.
“Nothing.” replied Lawrence.
“What nothing?” said Heather.
“Ya, I’m not really a holiday guy.” Lawrence told them.
“Why?” asked Tyler.
“I’m just not.” said Lawrence.
They were about to push him farther on the subject, but the bell for first class rang and everyone dispersed to go to class. Lawrence was about to go with them, but he stopped to look at his ringing phone. He didn’t recognize the number, but for some reason he felt like he needed to answer it.
“Hello.” Lawrence said into his phone.
The man on the other end sounded like he was juggling the phone, but he eventually replied.
“Um, hello. Am I speaking to Lawrence Walker?” the man on the other end of the phone asked.
“Yes, who’s this?”
“Lawrence, I’m Dr.Kelly. I’m looking over your sister Claire.” he said. Lawrence always dreaded these calls. He always assumed the worst.
“Is she...” Lawrence started, for some reason he could not bring himself to finish the thought.
“No she’s still with us. It’s just, well I’ve been going over her papers and I’ve noticed that she has refused to get Chemotherapy. I was just wondering why. I think if we start now, she could get better.”
“We can’t.” Lawrence told him.
“We have no insurance and we don’t have enough money to afford it. Claire knows this. So she’s prepared for what’s to come.”
A long pause came over the phone for a while.
“Can you just make sure she’s comfortable?” Lawrence asked.
“Of course. Oh and Lawrence do you have any other way of reaching your father? He wasn’t answering my calls.” replied the doctor.
“Don’t waste your breath Doc. He won’t care.” Lawrence told him.
“I see, well thank you Lawrence for answering my questions. I’ll call you if anything changes.” the doctor continued.
“Thanks.” replied Lawrence, then he hung up.
The rest of the day seemed to go by as they always do. After school Lawrence decided to see Claire. He started to walk down the newly salted street. Heather was not far behind.
“Hey Lawrence.” said Heather with a smile.
“Hey.” Lawrence repled.
They talked for a while about everything. Until Lawrence stopped at a man. He had old tattered clothes and a sign written on cardboard that said “lost job, please help”.
Heather looked at the man, then started to search herself for spare change. She was just about to get into her backpack, when Lawrence pulled two dollar bills from his pocket and handed them to the man.
“God bless you son.” the man said.
“Ya, hope things get better.” Lawrence replied.
Lawrence then motion to Heather to follow him. A few moments of silence passed. Then Heather piped up.
“Hey Lawrence, where do you get all that money? I mean you’ve never mentioned any sort of a job and yet you can just pull two dollars out, just like that?” she asked.
“Well, I guess I couldn't hide the truth from you forever. I rob banks for a living.” Lawrence told her with a sarcastic smile.
Heather chuckled and gave him a punch in the arm. “I’m being serious”
“OK, well the truth is my dad collects unemployment checks every month. When the checks come he sends me down to the bank to cash them. When I do I pocket a little for myself, I figured with all the work I do I’ve earned it.” Lawrence explained.
“Wouldn't your dad get angry if he knew you were taking it?”
“He’s normally too drunk to notice.”
Heather was a about to ask him another question, but they came to her front door. They said their goodbyes and Lawrence made his way to the hospital.
The halls of the hospital were especially busy. Doctors and nurses moving from one hall to another in a mass confusion. As Lawrence approached Claire's room he heard a two voices one was Claire’s the other was some boy.
The door was open so Lawrence just sat in the doorway and watched them talking. Claire was giggling and smiling. To Lawrence that was one of the greatest things in the world, to see his sister happy.
The boy was about Claires age if not a bit older. As the boy left Lawrence looked back at him, then he looked at Claire and with a slight laugh he said “Really?”.
“Lawrence? How long have you been there?” asked Claire.
“Long enough.” he replied with a smile.
Clears cheeks began to turn red.
“Who is he?” Lawrence asked.
“His name is Frank. He’s an intern here and he’s really nice.” she explained.
“You know he probably has a third grade education. Right?” Lawrence told her.
“Lawrence, he’s not like that. He’s different.” Claire pushed.
“If you say so.” Lawrence said rolling his eyes.
“Same old Lawrence, always the overprotective little brother.” Claire said with a smile.
They talked for a little while longer, then Lawrence made his way home. The snow fell so peacefully to the ground. Lawrence watched as the snowflakes floated through the air without a care in the world. He wish he could be as carefree as they were, but that was all he could do was wish. Lawrence knew he could not live a carefree life because he had people who needed him and that, to Lawrence, was worth more than anything.
The next few days passed and nothing seemed out of the ordinary, except for Eugene. It was as if he had dropped off the face of the earth. That was odd at least to Lawrence, Eugene was normally at school everyday and he would normally contact Lawrence so they could hang out. After the school week had ended, Lawrence tried to call Eugene, but to no use. So he made his way to Eugenes home, as he approached the door the house seemed strangely dark.
Lawrence knocked on the door and waited, after five minutes of waiting Lawrence tried the doorknob, the door slowly opened. He went inside, no one seemed to be home. Lawrence was about to leave when he heard the faint sound of music.
“Eugene?” called Lawrence, but he heard no answer.
Lawrence started to make his way up stairs to Eugenes room. As he got closer the music got louder. Once Lawrence was in front of Eugenes door, he could hear someone on the other side. Lawrence slowly opened the door and saw Eugene sitting with his back against a wall next to his bed. Eugene was wearing sun glasses and holding a brown paper sack in his hand.
“Eugene?” Lawrence said.
There was no movement from Eugene. Lawrence ran over to him to see if he was still breathing.
“Eugene? Eugene can you hear me?” Lawrence repeated.
Eugen finally looked up at him and half smiled, half frowned at him.
“Lawrence? What, what are you doing here?” Eugene said with a cough.
Lawrence could smell something on Eugene’s breath, something strong and foule. Lawrence lifted up Eugene’s sun glasses and saw his eyes were red. Eugene also seemed to be as if in a trance, Lawrence knew it could only mean one thing.
“Eugene are, are you high?” Lawrence finally asked.
“What no!” Eugene replied.
Lawrence then looked at his paper sack and took it from him, he opened it and smelled the scent coming from it.
“Paint thinner” Lawrence said to himself. He then turned his attention back to Eugene.
“Why?” Lawrence asked, he could hear the disappointment in his voice.
“I just needed a way to cope with what has happened.” Eugene replied.
“With what?” Lawrence pushed.
“My dad, he got arrested for a DUI on monday. I just couldn’t handle it.”
“Look Eugene thing like this happen, you can’t control them. Your mom can just post bale and-”
“No, you don’t get it Lawrence! This was his third strike, he’s going away for a long time and I just, I didn’t know what else to do.”
“Look, Eugene I can’t imagine what you are going through right now, but paint thinner is not the answer. If you have a problem, come to me, or Tyler, or Colin. we can help you.” Lawrence did his best to make Eugene feel better, but he knew he couldn’t do much with him. Seeing how high he was.
Lawrence made his way over to Eugene and sat next to him, “Eugene look at me. I’m going to go now OK? I need you to get sobered up and when you do call me. We’ll meet up and deal with this OK?”
“OK.” replied Eugene.
Lawrence got up and started to walk out of the room, he took the paper sack with him. Lawrence stopped at the Eugene’s door and looked back.
“And no more of this paint thinner stuff OK? It’s going to kill your brain.” Lawrence said, just before leaving.
It was hard for Lawrence to leave Eugene there, but he knew it was for the best. Eugene needed to get sober, before any real communication could begin. So Lawrence went home waiting for the call. Hoping that all he said was not in vain.