ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 315: David, Dead
I’m at the library’s computer for a writing session but before beginning it, I check my e-mail.
I rarely have any. But this morning I do. The message is from my sister Tish, and it’s addressed to all her brothers and sisters. “I have sad news. Dave died . . . ”
I stop reading. I put a hand to my mouth. Sad news. Dave died. Dave. Her husband, whom Ernie and I met way back, when Tish and he visited the stucco cottage to spend a Christmas with us. David. Dark curly hair. Heavy eyebrows that almost met in the middle. An accent, at least to my semi-Southern ears; he was born in Rhode Island. He made she-crab soup. He fished and surfed. To me, he was exotic.
David, dead? How can this be? He’s only a year or so older than I am.
As a teen, he left home where he was neglected to live with his best friend’s family. For a long time, he drank. For a while, he used cocaine. Or was it heroin? A sensitive person hiding his hurt, trying to escape his pain. As Ernie was and did. As I am and did. Hey, we’re all sensitive creatures.
I go back to Tish’s e-mail to read more. David was working as foreman of a construction site in Charleston. Either Tish flew to Charleston or David flew back to Virginia for weekend visits. The exception was Thanksgiving: they planned to celebrate it a week late, when airports weren’t so jammed. But the day after Thanksgiving, when David didn’t call at his usual time, Tish became alarmed. She waited and waited. Waited two days. Finally she called the Charleston police. They forced open his apartment door and found him.
Tish and David have been together nearly as long as Ernie and I. I feel slammed. I’m able to focus on this writing only because I know there’s nothing I can do for Tish just now. I offered to go to her, but my sister Jude and my brother John are already on the interstate. They’ll arrive at her house tonight.
Just last week I mailed Tish and David a holiday package that included jams and cheeses — the first package I’d sent them since our six-plex days. Her mailman delivered it at 5:30 Thanksgiving Eve. She unwrapped all the gifts, then re-wrapped them for David’s pleasure.
In an earlier e-mail she mentioned that David had an upcoming doctor’s appointment. I wanted to ask her then if he was okay, but I also didn’t want to intrude. Yet, friends can ask questions, can’t we?
No more chances to ask about him. To be kind to him. He’s gone.
Tish is going to suffer. She doesn’t know that yet. She hasn’t felt it yet.