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Thursday, March 2, 2017



My sister dreams about Charlie a lot.

The key word in the above sentence, is, of course, "about". Her deceased son, you see, is seldom directly in contact with her during the dreams (as she often reports them to me over morning coffee).

Dreams are different from nightmares, which she also has, but doesn't much talk about. She doesn't have to, as they are probably similar to my own, only more vivid as her mind races through it all again. The police cars. The chest compressions. The electrodes. The breather bag. All in vain.

The dream that recurs quite frequently is pretty basic in format. She's at a family gathering (we have a lot of those), and everything is fine, because Charlie is off playing among his many cousins.

He's wherever they are - maybe she sees his bushy lollipop head disappear around a corner, or hears the chirp of his voice, or one of the other kids runs up and tattles about something Charlie just did.

As long as it doesn't dissatisfy her sleep-state brain, that's an okay dream. But if anything in the dream causes her concern, she tries to find him, and is unable to. That usually ends the dream and troubles her back to consciousness. I suppose it doesn't take a certified dream analyst to figure out what it means.

I hope that you cannot imagine what she feels. Even if you wanted to, you'd have to compound her grief and loss by the wrongdoings of our local Liars Club: M.E. Joyce deJong, Investigators Joanne Catania and Kai Cronin, and WMed Deans Hal Jenson and Tom Zavitz. These are the monsters under your bed, the ones who have conspired to perpetuate the abominable falsehood that appears on my nephew's death certificate.

Unlike the many kind souls who have donated their time and money to Charlie's charity, the above entities have collectively exhibited little more humanity than a warm block of processed cheese spread.

After all these years, it turns out the Heller family had the misfortune of being in a place where the crooked coroner has all the power, where the county lawyers are practically lapdogs who lick her rubber-glove-scented hands, where even the County Commissioners seem beset by paralysis, and where the media knows its proper place - up on Coward's Hill.

So you'll understand when I assure you that on some nights my sister doesn't want to go to sleep. And on some mornings she doesn't want to wake up.

pH 3.o2.16


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