Four retreated to his room and closed the door behind him. He didn’t anyone to bother and they usually didn’t this way. He sits down on his bed then looks at the strange ghost.
“Who are you?” Is the first thing out of his mouth.
A pained expression passes over the man’s face. It looked like the pain of a wound that’s been reopened. Then he responds, distracting Four, “Dave.”
“Okay then… Dave. Why’d you defend me?”
“I know- knew- someone like you once. I wanted to help you where I couldn’t help them.”
“Oh,” Four paused, stunned. Then, feeling this was right, asked, “What was their name?”
“His name was Klaus.”
“…Maybe talking about him would help. Would you like to tell me?” He’d been told that he tended to be very “loud” and “out there”, mostly from his father, so he was trying a nicer approach than demanding answers. “Dave?”
The way Dave was looking at the desk beside the bed gave him enough information. It was an empty, haunted stare that pleaded for someone to help. Four had seen it many other ghosts. That was the look of someone remembering how they died, the people they left.
He quickly decided to distract the man, he said, “So, could you tell me about him? If you don’t want to, I understand, if I died and came back as a ghost and had a kid asking me questions I wouldn’t talk either. How ‘bout I tell you about my fam-“
“Hey- hey, kid, it’s okay. I think it actually would help.” Dave had stopped looking around and was looking directly at Four, who could see the sincerity in his eyes. “Klaus… he was… my boyfriend, fiancé really, during our time together. We were gonna get married soon. Then I died in the war and he lived. I guess I should mention we met in Vietnam, war isn’t the best for love, I guess.”
Four tried to remember what he could on the Vietnam War and America at that time. “I’m sorry if this sounds rude, but isn’t gay marriage illegal?”
“Yeah, but we found a priest that would do the ceremony and had some friends for witness. Can I continue?” Four nodded.
Dave then told him of this mysterious man who arrived with a flash of light in his barracks one night. About this man with curly black hair and this smile that lit up entire rooms, no matter the size. About this junkie with siblings who always thought the worst about him.
This man who was an amazing guy with a terrible past. Who loved people unconditionally, even as they pushed him away. Who got high to escape his demons. Dave told of this man who just needed love.
The way Dave described Klaus… It sounded like he hung the stars, created planets. Like he was the only thing Dave lived for. After hearing of this man, Four wanted to be him. If it meant having people care for him, love him even, he would go through anything to be him.
“He sounds…,” Four searched for the right word. “Amazing.” He’s not sure what else he can say.
“He was. He really, really was,” Dave murmured. “You know, Four, I would go through it all again, boot camp, the war, dying, just for him. It’s crazy, isn’t it?”
At this point, Four had started feeling uncomfortable. There’s only so long a ten-year-old can listen to this lovey-dovey stuff before feeling sick.
“I’d bet anything you’re feeling weird. Probably think I’m dumb too, huh? For saying all this sweet stuff.” By now, Four was fairly sure Dave could read his mind.
“Um… Yeah, actually, but Dad says that’s rude so I wasn’t gonna say anything. I, uh, was actually wondering how you died because I can’t really see any wound or anything and well- you know?” Four realized how horrible that sounded as soon as it came out of his mouth.
Oh, how he wished for the ground to swallow him up.