Characters: Sam Emerson, Edgar Frog
Spoilers: The Tribe
Synopsis: Alan is gone and Sam doesn't want to lose Edgar too.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Lost Boys
Sam pushes open the door to the comic shop uncertainly. The shutters are open and the lights on in the display window, but it seems like it must be a mistake. He expects the door to be locked but it swings open easily, allowing him into the familiar little shop that has almost become a second home to him over the past few years.
The sunlight streaming in through the windows illuminates every single speck of dust floating in the air. There are no customers inside. In contrast to the boardwalk, the interior of the shop is quiet and still. The whole place seems to have a mournful feel, similar to what you might experience in a funeral parlor or a cemetery. That might be in his head, however, because as he looks around he can notice no actual visual differences from the last time he was here. Whether it is real or not, though, it is almost a relief from the terrible normality he found outside. It seems wrong that the rest of the world can continue as though nothing has happened.
Behind the counter, two hippies sit leaning against each other and the wall behind them. Edgar and Alan's parents working one of their infrequent shifts. Sam is surprised to see them there. But then, he is surprised to see anyone there at all. They are both barely conscious, but looking at him with recognition. The old, black and white television shows nothing but static. Whatever video had been playing has finished and been left, ignored.
As he walks the familiar piece of floor between the shop entrance and the door that leads to the residential area of the building, their eyes follow him. Sam looks at them, really looks for possibly the first time, as he passes. He thinks he sees grief behind their glazed expressions, but that could be his imagination too. Not that he thinks they don't care about their sons, he just isn't sure whether they even realize what has happened. They say nothing as he passes them. Between Mr Frog's fingers a joint is smoldering, slowly burning its way down to nothing as it fills the air with it's sweet, cloying aroma. The ashtray on the counter before them is filled with the remains of several more.
Sam knows that if Edgar were with him, he would have taken the joint away, or sent his parents into the kitchen to finish it out of sight of any customers that might walk in. But Edgar is not there and nor, of course, is his brother.
Sam wonders briefly whether he should say something himself, but decides against it. It's not his business, and if it were, he would choose to leave them be. They have been through enough; they deserve some kind of escape.
He pushes open the door into the part of the building that is a home. He has been there before, more times than he can count, but again it feels different today. It is as though a sense of loss permeates the building. It has soaked through the walls and the floor, the ceiling, the windows, even the air is thick with its foul stench.
He pauses briefly by a chair at the dining table. Hanging on the back is a camouflage print jacket. Alan's jacket. He reaches out to touch it, but stops before his fingers make contact with the fabric. Alan had left that there, shrugged it off as he sat at the table one night. To disturb it seems wrong. Instead, he turns away and heads up the stairs.
The uncarpeted boards creak in all the usual places, but each time Sam finds himself cringing at the sound. To his ears, it is an affront to the respectful silence that had been there before he came. It is strange, he thinks, how everything can be so completely unchanged but at the same time so very different. Once, not long ago, this house had been alive with sound.
At the door to Edgar and Alan's bedroom, he stops completely still, suddenly reluctant to go any further. He holds his breath to silence himself completely, and listens for signs of life within. For a moment, he can hear nothing, then finally he detects the sound of movement beyond the door.
He reaches out to push it open. His arm and hand feel unnaturally stiff, as though something inside him is fighting him, trying to pull him back. On any other day, he would just open the door and stroll inside unannounced. Today, he feels the need to knock. He does so, twice. The sound, like the creaking of the floorboards, is unnaturally loud in his ears. He waits for a response. None comes, but the sound of movement inside the room ceases.
Slowly, Sam reaches out again. This time, he follows through with a push on the wooden door. He winces in anticipation of the squeak of hinges, but it opens thankfully silently to reveal a familiar room inhabited by someone that Sam doesn't know.
The figure sitting on the bed wears Edgar's clothes and Edgar's face, but he is almost unrecognizable as Edgar Frog. His long hair is greasy and hangs lank and flat around his face. The trademark bandanna is gone, his face is pale and sports huge dark circles under the eyes. He looks up at Sam, and says nothing. At his feet lays a half full bag packed with clothes and weapons.
Edgar's eyes follow Sam's to the bag, before rising to meet his, and he nods, confirming in that gesture everything that Sam suspects. Edgar is going to leave.
The thought of losing Edgar too is too much to bear. Sam steps forward into the room, crosses the space between them quickly and sits down next to him on the bed. He opens his mouth to speak, but no sound emerges. Edgar barely reacts except for to track him with his eyes
“Where?” Sam finally asks.
Edgar merely shakes his head mutely. At that moment, Sam notices the photograph in his hand. It is of the three of them together in the comic shop. The Frogs aren't big on photos. As far as Sam knows, they don't even own a camera. If he had ever asked them about it, they would probably have said something about vampires, maybe that they could use images of hunters against them or something, and it would have sounded so worryingly plausible that it would put Sam off photos for life. So he hadn't asked. The one in his hands may even be the only photograph of Alan that Edgar possesses. He is holding it very carefully, fingers and thumb gripping the edges gently so as not to bend it, not making contact with the image itself.
The photograph shows a happier time, a time that they will never get back. Things will never be that good again. But if Edgar leaves, they will both have no one. Sam can't see how that could possibly be better.
“Don't,” he says. “Please, don't.”
He knows Edgar has lost so much more than him. Sam feels grief too, of course he does, but he cannot – dare not – imply that his is worth the same as Edgar's. Whatever he feels for the loss of a friend, he knows that it must be magnified a hundred times for the loss of a brother, but he hurts too, so much more than he can put into words. And he can't lose Edgar as well. He just can't. He reaches out and puts an arm around him, gripping tightly, as though he can hold Edgar in place by physical force.
Edgar finally turns away from the photograph and looks at Sam. In his gaze there is a glimmer of the real Edgar; the one that Sam knows.
“Where?” Sam asks again.
Edgar glances back at the photo, then places it carefully within the pages of an old issue of Destroy All Vampires for protection before putting it into the bag by his feet.
“North,” Edgar says. His voice sounds odd. Always gravelly and deep, it sounds more so today. Like everything else, the same but different. “Someplace cold.” he adds. “We...I've got enough saved to buy a cheap second hand car. I'll just keep driving 'til I see snow.”
Sam chews on his bottom lip. He almost asks why. Not why he wants to leave, that part is obvious, but why north? He doesn't, because he realizes that he already knows the answer to that too.
“If you want, you can...” Edgar begins, but then stops and shakes his head as though the idea is so absurd it isn't even worth mentioning.
It isn't just that Edgar wants to get away from this town and all the memories it holds, not to mention the monster still out there somewhere wearing his brother's face. He also wants – needs – to be somewhere different. Somewhere with no boardwalk, no beach, no carnival on his doorstep. Somewhere that doesn't reek of seaweed and marijuana and death.
Sam knows that because he knows Edgar. On any other day, he would be sure of something else too – that Edgar would be unable to go through with his plan. Sure, he might be able to afford a crappy third or fourth hand car that would probably break down ten miles out of town, but he has no money for gas, no clothes suitable for the kind of winter that demands more than a jacket and a pair of waterproof shoes.
But it isn't only that. The Edgar he knows wouldn't be able to leave things like this. He wouldn't be able to leave Alan like that. A monster. He might leave, perhaps for weeks or months or perhaps even longer still, but sooner or later duty and obligation would pull him back to Santa Carla.
But this Edgar, the one with the half packed bag and the photograph in his hand, is not the Edgar he knows. He is the same, but different, and Sam doesn't know what he might be capable of doing.
He leans in closer, resting his weight against Edgar's body, and he can actually feel the grief and pain coming off of him in waves. They batter Sam's already delicate emotions so hard that he almost backs away, but he doesn't. He can't.
He hates the cold. He hates long car journeys and the idea of leaving his family. He hates the uncertainty of being on the road, not knowing when the next bathroom break or decent meal will be. He knows he wouldn't be able to sleep properly in a car, and that motel rooms would be a luxury too far. He thinks it's a terrible idea, and he has absolutely no idea what he is going to tell his mother.
None of that matters.
“When do we leave?” he asks.