"Does he really like all this stuff?"

Clara dug through the bag of groceries – that being a loose term, since what she and Nicholas had purchased from Sewardsville's finest convenience store was a collection of the least nutritious foods available anywhere. Cupcakes, cookies, lollipops, hard candies, chips – the only item that could possibly be considered slightly healthy was a bag of dehydrated apricots, and even those seemed to have an extra coating of sugar.

"He more than likes them," Nicholas said. "He loves candy to the point where he dreams about it. Kenny has the biggest sweet tooth I've ever seen."

They walked away from the car, leaving it in a crumbling parking lot. Clara couldn't decide if the lot belonged to a lawyer's office bordering it on one side or a paint store on the other. Maybe the two businesses shared it.

She rushed her pace to keep up with Nicholas, noticing that he seemed nervous. She understood the reason – the visit to Kenny already had her feeling shaky, and they hadn't even made it to his apartment building yet.

"Well, I hope someone goes shopping soon and brings him real food," Clara said. They turned a corner onto a side street that led away from the broken Sewardsville downtown area.

"My mom does sometimes," Nicholas said. "But Kevin's mom – my great aunt Kathleen – she's the one who spends the most time taking care of Kenny."

"What about his parents?" Clara asked.

Nicholas dropped his voice. "From what I heard, his mom had all kinds of trouble. No one's heard from her in years. She never married Kenny's father. I don't even think she knew for sure who he was."

"Wow. Kenny's had it rough," Clara said.

"He has," Nicholas said. His voice sounded heavy. He looked up and pointed to a dark seven-story tenement halfway down the block. "That's his building."

They continued. As they passed a smaller apartment building, a group of vagrants stared at Clara, making no attempt to hide their ogling.

"Don't look," Nicholas whispered. "Keep walking."

Once they'd made it past, Clara said, "Your mom comes here alone?" She fought the urge to look behind her and make sure the vagrants weren't following them.

"Sometimes," Nicholas said. "My dad and I go with her when we can. And Kevin comes a lot – sometimes with his mom, sometimes on his own." He turned to her. "Clara, Kevin can't find out we were here. He'd be super pissed."

"He won't," Clara said, reassuring herself. "As long as Kenny doesn't tell him."

Nicholas lifted the bag of junk food. "That's where the bribes come in."

Clara half-smiled. "And will that really work?" she asked.

"For sure," Nicholas said. "Kenny's been messed up in the head ever since the Castle fire. His brain is like a little kid's. He's on medical disability because he can't keep it together enough to hold down a job, but he's still functional in a lot of ways. Logic works on him. Especially when you have candy."

"Good to know," Clara said. "Then I'll just stay back until you think he's comfortable with me talking to him."

They reached Kenny's apartment building, stopping on the stairs. Nicholas put his foot on the first step and looked at Clara. "You won't have much of a choice. He has curtains across the room that he he always stays behind."

Clara was ready to laugh at the idea until she saw no trace in Nicholas' face of it being a joke.

"You're serious?" she asked.

Breach Point (Haunted)Read this story for FREE!