CHAPTER TWELVE

Kieran and Mrs. Camp are back at Debbie's house that evening. The house is full again because David and Debbie's families are also still there. Some members of the Winnipeg Police Service stop by as well.

Kieran talks to everyone, including the city police. They talk mostly about his eulogy at the service.

"Kieran, that was a wonderful speech you gave," says Constable Michael Phillips. "I couldn't help but listen to every word. I didn't know that someone of your age could be that intelligent."

"Thank you, sir," Kieran replies. "I did skip a grade at school, and up until I joined the gang, I never got anything lower than a B."

He excuses himself to go to the bathroom. He's just turned on the light when he hears a young boy weeping and wailing in the room across the hall. The door is closed, so he opens it and steps into Dylan's bedroom. He sees the boy lying on his bed face down, crying into his pillow.

He closes the door, sits down beside Dylan, and rubs his head. "What's the matter?" he asks him. But Dylan keeps on sobbing.

Kieran sits him up and holds him. He shushes him gently and says, "It's going to be all right, Dylan."

"No, it's not," Dylan wails. "I want my Daddy! I want Daddy! Why did he have to die? Why did God have to take him away?"

"Well, Dylan, sometimes bad things happen to good people," Kieran explains. "It's nothing that you or I can control. I know it hurts, but you can't let it get you down."

"I wish he could come back," Dylan whispers through his tears.

"So do I," Kieran says. "But you know that can't happen, right? You can't bring people back to life once they die. That's just part of the life cycle." He lets go of him and looks at his face. "Dylan, I want to ask you something."

"What?"

"Do you still want to be a police officer, like your Daddy was?"

Dylan shakes his head rapidly. "No!" he cries. "No, I don't want to be a policeman anymore! I don't want to die the way Daddy did!" He holds Kieran and starts crying again, this time, out of fear.

"I understand," Kieran whispers, shushing him again. He wipes tears from Dylan's face and says, "You know, Dylan, I had a dream about your father last night. He wanted me to tell you he's very proud to have had you, and that he loves you very much, and he always will."

Dylan stops crying suddenly and smiles at Kieran, though he still looks apprehensive about being a police officer. "Oh, thank you, Kieran, thank you!" The two boys hug each other tightly.

Afterward, Kieran says, "Hey, I have an idea. Let's go see if we can find your Mommy, OK?"

They walk out of the room to hear Debbie's voice coming from her bedroom. It's a vicious argument. She is screaming, sounding angry and upset. Kieran can tell she's fighting with David's siblings, because he hears her yell, "Virgil, Diana and Garry, no! I will not go through with this!"

"Enough, Debbie!" Virgil orders. "I won't hear any more from you! Dylan is going to be a cop, and that's it!"

Kieran becomes interested in the argument. He and Dylan go straight to the bedroom door. It's closed, so they stand outside to listen. They hear Debbie shout, "No, he isn't! It's much too dangerous for him! I've just seen my own husband – your baby brother – get buried! And he was only thirty-six years old, for crissake! Do you think I want to bury my son when he gets to be that age?!"

"But it's family tradition, Debbie!" Diana stresses. "You're not going to tell your own son to go against it, just because of what happened to his father, are you?"

"Why shouldn't I?" Debbie asks defensively. "Look, I just don't think Dylan should go around risking his life all the time. I want to see him live a long life. It's bad enough that I have to be a widow at my age. I won't have Dylan meet the same fate as David. That will kill me! History will not repeat itself in this family!"

"But it's family tradition, Debbie!" Diana repeats.

"I don't give a damn if it's family tradition, Diana!" Debbie snaps.

"Debbie, don't be difficult!" Diana shouts back. There is a pause, then, "Listen, law enforcement has been in our family for generations. You knew that when you met us, and when you married David. Why do you think Virgil, Garry, and many of the cousins on our father's side became cops? Why do you think I married a cop? And why do you think we're raising our boys to be cops themselves? We did all that because we wanted to keep the family tradition going! And we want it to continue for generations to come!"

"Well, here's some news for you all! Unlike my dead husband, my family is not involved in any career tradition, not even law enforcement! Meaning, I can set my own limits on what my son can and cannot be! And I still won't let Dylan be a cop because of the dangers involved! My whole family will agree with me on this! Didn't you notice how upset Dad and Ian were to see David lying in that coffin? They had a feeling this would happen, all throughout my whole marriage!" Debbie starts to cry miserably.

"Stop being so goddamn overprotective, Debbie!" Garry says sharply. "So Dylan gets killed in the line of duty! So what?! It happens to cops, and heck, it happens to fire fighters, too. Do you know what that means, Debbie? It means they died for the community they serve! It's just like a soldier who goes off to war in another country. If he gets killed, it means that he died while serving his country!"

"Shit, Garry, don't you even go there!" Debbie shouts at him. "My baby won't be a cop, or a fire fighter, or a soldier! Never!" She pauses to calm down. "Look, I just don't think it's right for Dylan to go risking his life every day after what happened to his father. I'm just looking out for his welfare. He's very important to me, you know. For heaven's sake, you know he's my only child!"

"Debbie!" Virgil barks. "Dylan was born a McBain, not a Seoul! The McBain family has a tradition to uphold! And as a McBain, it's very important that Dylan follows it, and becomes a police officer! It's that simple!"

"Oh, here we go again with family tradition," Debbie sobs. "Sometimes, I think that's all you and your damn family care about!"

Kieran knocks on the door, and Debbie says, "Come in."

He opens the door to see Garry and Virgil standing together, and Diana sitting with Debbie on the bed. He stares at them all and asks, "What's with all the shouting? I think everyone can hear you downstairs. And why does Debbie look so upset?"

Debbie dries her eyes, takes some breaths, goes up to Kieran and says, "Kieran, imagine that you married a policewoman, or a female fire fighter, and you gave her two lovely daughters. Imagine that they love her so much, they want to be just like her when they're older. Then, your wife is killed on duty one day, and you're suddenly left with your girls. Would you prevent them from becoming police officers and fire fighters?"

Kieran thinks about that for a moment, then answers, "Yes, because my daughters would mean everything to me while I'm widowed. It would break my heart to see them go the way their mother did. In fact, I don't even think their own mother would be so encouraging of it."

Debbie steps aside so Kieran can talk to David's siblings. He gives them a concerned look.

"I don't think it's right for you three to pressure Debbie the way you are," he says. "Don't you know how selfish you're acting? You have to think about what her son wants for himself, not just what you want for him. You're talking about family tradition, but that's really not the issue here. I just spoke with Dylan, and he says he doesn't want to be a cop anymore. After what happened to David, I don't blame him!" Then, he tells them all about the dream he had, including what David told him about Dylan.

Diana, Virgil and Garry are all surprised. "What?!" they cry harmoniously. Virgil goes up to Dylan, and squats down to his eye level. "Dylan, say this isn't so. Why don't you want to be a cop anymore? Are you sure about this?"

"I'm sure, Uncle Virgil," Dylan says softly. "I don't want to be dead like Daddy."

Debbie gives them a smug look. "Why am I not surprised?"

Kieran looks at Diana and asks, "Diana, what would you do if your husband were killed on duty, leaving just you and your son? Would you do anything to keep him from having a dangerous job?"

"No," Diana answers. "In fact, I would marry another policeman later on, and still raise my son to be a cop himself. I'm sure that's what Ken would want, and I know that's what Mom and Dad would want."

Kieran frowns at her. But then, he thinks back to the day he met Chief Markham. He remembers David saying that Diana wanted him to be a teacher. He gives her another interesting look. "Hey, Diana, didn't you originally want David to be a teacher, like yourself?"

"Excuse me, Kieran, but that was before I decided to marry a policeman," Diana says, defending herself. "I alwayswanted to be a teacher, but hey, even I had to keep with tradition." She pats the bed where Debbie was sitting. "Come sit down. There's something I think you should know." Kieran feels Diana will tell an interesting story, so he sits next to her and listens.

"Do you want to know what Mom and Dad did when they learned I was telling David to be a teacher?" she asks. "They gave me a long lecture, that's what. They told me about the importance of family tradition, and why all family members should follow it in some way. Dad told me that he wanted to see all my brothers become cops, like he was. And that included David."

"And what did he say when you told him about wanting to be a teacher?" Kieran asks.

"He had no objections to that. Mind you, though, the family was pretty liberated when it came to the McBain daughters. All the sons had to be cops, but the daughters could be whatever they wanted, so long as they married cops if they didn't want to be them. I don't know if David ever told you this, but we only have a few female officers in our family."

Diana returns to her story. "Anyway, he told me that I had to follow tradition in some way, too. Well, I started to do some thinking afterwards, and I decided that Dad was right. It was a lecture I'll never forget, because I learned a valuable lesson then. So I stopped, told David that I changed my mind, and promised my parents that I'd marry a police officer."

Kieran rolls his eyes, sighs, and gets off the bed. "After listening to that story, Diana," he says to her, "I realise that I'm not getting through to you." He looks at Virgil and Garry. "You're not going to give up until Debbie gives in, are you?"

"She has to come to her senses," Garry says.

Kieran leaves the room. On the way out, he whispers to Debbie, "Don't give up, woman! If you have to, marry someone who doesn't have a life-risking career. Then, change your last name, and make sure Dylan does the same thing. And again, David says that he loves you very much, and always will." Debbie nods, and Kieran takes Dylan into the living room.

They can hear Debbie cry and scream at her in-laws as they walk down the hall. A few minutes later, they see Garry and Virgil walk quickly into the living room to speak with their parents. The four of them go back to the bedroom, as Mrs. McBain yells in the hall, "Deborah! Deborah, we want to talk to you!"

Kieran rolls his eyes again, and takes Dylan into the basement. "Let's see if we can find your cousins," he says to him. They see the cousins are watching television and playing Scrabble. Dylan and Kieran sit in front of the television, but they don't pay attention to the show.


Kieran begins an entirely new part of his life as he leaves Debbie's house that night. He will focus on himself and his future. He vows to forget his troubled past – the fights Brock caused, the miserable street life – and move forward. The eulogy he read at David's service has given him the power to do so. And he swears that he'll honour David's memory by making his own dreams come true.

He walks into the house, takes off his jacket and shoes, then heads for his bedroom. He looks all around the room. There are no framed pictures of him and David together, and he knows that. The pictures he has are all in his heart. He only pretends that they're hanging on his walls in decorative frames.

He changes into his pyjamas and kneels before his bed. In his prayer, he says to God, "Please watch over my father and brother, and watch over my friend, David, too, for David was the best thing that ever happened to me. Amen."

He turns out the light, turns on his ghetto blaster, and tucks himself into bed. He falls asleep and has another dream.

In this dream, Kieran is on a beach alone, walking alongside the shore. He is barefoot, wearing a colourful beach top and swim trunks of green, turquoise and purple, his colourful "surfer" towel covering his shoulders. The day is very hot, and the sand is too hot for Kieran to walk on. So he runs to the shore and walks alongside. The wet sand feels much better for his feet, as does the water as the waves splash on them and his legs.

As he walks along, he sees that he is not alone. There is a man in a pair of swim trunks, lying on his stomach on his towel. His face is hidden around his arms, and he is wearing a baseball cap on the back on his head. He has no umbrella to protect him from the sun.

Kieran walks quickly to the man, his feet getting hot in the sand again, and frowns. The man's bare back and back legs do not look protected, and Kieran sees that his swim trunks are black. He sighs and gets on his knees beside the man.

"You forgot to put suntan oil on your back, kind sir," he says. "How long have you been like that? I'm surprised you haven't burned yet." He grabs the suntan lotion next to him, pours and rubs it in his hands. While he applies it to the man's back and legs, he stares at the swim trunks. "And a black swimsuit? What are you thinking, mister? Don't you know that the sun's rays absorb black? You'll be hotter than ever, literally."

The man adjusts his cap and turns on his side to face Kieran. It's a familiar face, but when he takes his sunglasses off, Kieran can identify the man as David. "Well, thanks for the health advice, kid," he says.

Kieran is surprised and happy to see him again. He starts to hug him tightly, but they fall upon David's towel. They realise both are in a lying position, and Kieran gets off David quickly.

"Don't trouble yourself, Kieran," David says. "There's nobody around but the two of us."

"Still," Kieran says, "that felt a bit weird for us both, don't you think?"

He sets his towel down next to David, and uses sunblock on his arms and legs. He's not interested in tanning. He lies down and closes his eyes as the sun heats his face. David quickly covers it with sunblock.

"Oh, that feels so nice," Kieran says. "Thank you, David."

"Hey, anything to protect you, boy," David replies, "whether it be from crime or the blazing hot sun."

They are listening to an oldies station on David's radio. He changes to an "easy listening" station. They hear the opening bars of a slow dancing song that is very familiar to both of them. Kieran opens his eyes and looks at David, who smiles as he strokes Kieran's hair.

"Hey, I remember this song," Kieran says. "Didn't we dance to this…"

"At the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Spring Dance?" David finishes. "Oh, Kieran, I'm so glad you remember how we met."

Kieran sits up, brings himself closer to David, and puts one arm across his upper back. They look up at the sky, staring at the clouds. They're pointing out what they see in the clouds, what they look like to them. One looks like a cheetah that's running, another, a hiking shoe. Kieran points out a cloud that looks like Spain and Portugal overlapping on a map. Suddenly, albatrosses and seagulls fly into their view. Few birds land on the beach, while a seagull lands on Kieran's arm. He pats the bird's feathers gently, and offers for David to pat them, too. A minute later, the seagull flies away.

After listening to another song, David turns off the radio, and he and Kieran go out into the ocean. They are belly deep in the water, and Kieran splashes some onto David, laughing. He runs until he is up to his chest in water, then David tackles him, and sends him under. Both are under for a few seconds before they come back up. Kieran is screaming wildly because he is now very cold, and his wet clothes are sticking to him. But he tries climbing up onto David's shoulders anyway. David leans forward, and when Kieran has his arms around his neck, they fall underwater again.

"Glad you're so used to it, son," David says when they resurface, then they go further into the ocean – up to their necks – then back under once again, to go swimming this time.

Neither David nor Kieran are wearing any scuba gear, yet they're able to breathe without it. They are swimming as fast as dolphins. They find various kinds of fish and water wildlife – mackerels, salmon, tuna, jellyfish, an octopus. They even see two dolphins and a shark. Like the great protector David is, he is able to knock the shark out with one punch. Along the way, they find an old sunken chest full of treasure. Kieran wants to take it back to the surface with them, but David objects.

"It's not really ours to take," he tells him. "If we do, it's like stealing."

They continue swimming until they find the base of a big rock. They want to know how high up it is, so they climb it. As they climb, they find themselves resurfacing. When they reach the top, they see they are six feet above water.

They are sitting on top of the rock, and Kieran says. "David, look at the view. Isn't it beautiful?" David nods, smiles at Kieran, put his arm around him and pulls him close. The beach is very far away, but they don't care. The view of the ocean is magnificent. A few hundred miles away, they notice more land, but all they can see are trees along the shore.

"Do you supposedly think it's an island, David?" Kieran asks.

"I can't really tell," he replies. "The shoreline is farther than my eyes can see. It's sure got a lot of forest, though."

They stay on the rock for a few more minutes, looking around them, then they dive off and swim back to their beach. When they arrive, they see that nothing has been stolen. They also notice a large picnic basket and a fifteen-pack case of soda sitting beside David's towel.

"I wonder who put this here," Kieran says as he and David dry themselves off.

The basket is so heavy, neither David nor Kieran can lift it, not even when they try together. Kieran is surprised and happy that some kind stranger left them a picnic feast to share. In the basket, they see two paper plates and plastic straws, as well as a load of chicken, turkey and tuna sandwiches.

"Oh, this is so wonderful," Kieran coos. They straighten their towels out again and sit back down.

He and David are sharing a friendly picnic dinner. They don't say very much except to offer various sandwiches, but give each other friendly, intimate glances. David turns on the radio to hear soft piano music. As they finish the last of the sandwiches and sodas, they see the sun is just beginning to set.

They share the last soda as they watch the sun descend into the water. David sighs in awe as he looks at the sky. The heat is sultry, but it doesn't matter to them.

"Look at how beautiful that is," he says. "The clouds are there, but they have beautiful blue and silver linings. And the rest of the sky, look how colourful it is. All the red looks like scarlet, and the orange and yellow look so wonderful together. I think I see some gold in between. And over there, the blue and purple mix together magically. It looks more like indigo, if you ask me. Kieran, this is a masterpiece painting come to life.

"It looks more like a rainbow beneath the clouds, I think," Kieran comments.

David and Kieran continue to watch the sun set on the water. When it's completely gone, they look directly at each other enamourously for a long time.

"Oh, David," Kieran finally says, "you don't know how much this means to me."

"But I do, Kieran," David replies. "I know how much you wanted to spend this time alone with me, sharing these beautiful, sacred moments. Now you have. Notice how there hasn't been a single soul except the two of us this whole time."

"Thank you for sharing all of this with me," Kieran says. "I love you, David."

"I love you too, Kieran." They put out their hands and touch, their fingers entwining with each other.

Kieran and David lie back down on their towels. As the beautiful music continues playing on the radio, they're on the backs, their arms spread out, fingers still entwined on the hands still touching. They close their eyes, the sultry heat basking over them.

Kieran squirms around in his bed, engrossed in his dream. Suddenly, he can hear the opening lines of Eric Clapton's hit, Tears in Heaven, on his ghetto blaster. He awakens, sits up in his bed, and realises he is alone again in his dark bedroom. As the song plays, he stares up at the ceiling, pretending to see David in heaven.

When it's over, Kieran whispers in a soft voice, "Good night, David, wherever you are. May you rest in peace." Moments later, he falls asleep again.