A Straight Line to My Heart

A Straight Line to My Heart by Bill Condon Page A

Book: A Straight Line to My Heart by Bill Condon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bill Condon
Tags: Juvenile Fiction
Cemetery.
    I lead the way. There’s one floodlight near the street but the further in among the graves we go, the more the darkness buries us.
    Hot nights bring out snakes so I warn Kayla to be careful.
    Immediately she shrieks, ‘Tiff! Tiff! Behind you!’
    It’s a feeble old joke and only an idiot would fall for it.
    She cackles when I jump.
    As we usually do, we prop ourselves up against the headstones of Monnie and Grogan Nash. Being buried together means they have a double-sized slab of concrete in front of them, which is perfect for us to sit on. We don’t mean any disrespect. It’s just that they feel like old friends and I know they’d want us to be comfy. They’ve both been dead for over a hundred years, but we still say hello to them. However, we don’t ask how they are. That would be tactless.
    From out of her backpack Kayla produces a Coke bottle. The drink’s all gone and now it’s half-filled with a clear liquid.
    â€˜Vodka. Nicked it from Inky. If she misses it, which I doubt, she won’t mind.’ She dives back into her bag. ‘Got a couple of paper cups in here, too, somewhere, ah, here we go.’
    We’ve been coming here for years; had a few beers on burning hot days, but we’ve never drunk vodka before.
    â€˜So what’s the deal?’ I ask.
    â€˜You start at the paper tomorrow. That’s special.’
    â€˜Only work experience.’
    â€˜But you might get a cadetship – that’s what you said – right?’
    â€˜A long shot.’
    â€˜You’ll get it.’
    She brushes her cup against mine. ‘Cheers! But don’t scull it – that is deadly stuff.’
    I take a sip, and grimace. ‘It’s horrible.’
    â€˜Give it a chance to grow on you.’
    â€˜I’ve got enough things growing on me already, thanks.’
    â€˜Drink.’
    I have another gulp and roll it around my mouth. It still burns my lips, my tongue.
    â€˜Better?’
    It’s the closest I’ve ever come to drinking diesel, but I don’t want to spoil her fun.
    â€˜Getting there.’
    She doesn’t see me tip it out.
    A yawn is followed by a stretch, and then, as if she’s in her own bed instead of on top of a gravestone, Kayla lies on her side, hands cupped under her cheek to make a pillow.
    â€˜This wouldn’t be such a bad place to end up.’ A sliver of moon shines enough light for me to see that her eyes are closed; it’s almost like she’s talking in her sleep. ‘You’d be right at home here, Tiff. Nice and peaceful, like the library. Throw a few books in with you and you’d be happy.’
    â€˜The dead can’t read.’
    â€˜You don’t know that for sure. They could have reading clubs, right here in Gungee Cemetery. Now there’s something for you to look forward to.’
    â€˜Go to sleep, Kayla. I’ll wake you up if anyone wants to read you a story.’
    She’s quiet for a couple of minutes but awake, and restless . . . 
    â€˜Knock, Knock,’ she says. ‘Anyone home?’
    â€˜No.’
    â€˜I’ve been thinking about things lately . . .’
    A slight tension grips at me; I don’t quite know why, except that Kayla sounds very serious. I’m not used to that.
    â€˜What kind of things?’
    â€˜Well . . . do you think I’ll ever get a job?’
    â€˜Of course, you idiot, I know you will.’
    â€˜I’ve got the same genes as Inky and she’s never had one.’
    â€˜But she’s got kids. That’s her job.’
    â€˜Yeah, great. Thanks for reminding me.’ She sits up now, perched on the edge of the grave. ‘It’ll probably be mine too. I’m getting just like her. I drink and I smoke–’
    â€˜Thought you quit.’
    â€˜That was last week.’
    â€˜Oh.’
    â€˜And in about five years from now I’ll

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