Dewey's head had always been a mystery to his brothers. For one thing, he occasionally listened to classical music, as he did now. Now matter what was going on inside him, he kept his usual airy expressions and mannerisms. Malcolm saw him playing out a silent film from his mind with toys and action figures; he rolled his eyes, went on his way. And of course there's more.
In the middle of turning a toy dinosaur's head so it could bite its own neck, Dewey froze. A voice outside the bedroom had asked for his location, and footsteps neared it. Dewey shrunk inwardly upon himself, tried a smile on for size and decided on a blank face.
Francis entered, frantic and appearing exhausted. He seemed to be between gulping and choking as he managed to say, "There you are." He was breathing heavily, and he extended an arm holding a torn envelope.
"You read my poem."
"I did," said Francis, "And I'm not sure whether you want to kill yourself, or have sex with me, but at any rate, we need to talk."
Dewey shook ever-so-slightly, holding a pause as if either taken aback or deciding what to say. He was sure he had a plan for this, but after the nerve-corroding wait and the intensity of an actual confrontation, Dewey was at a loss. "What do you want to talk about?" he asked.
Dewey had expectations. Maybe Francis would have rushed into a hug with him, or they would elope to Delaware or Ireland, or something. No matter the unlikelihood, Dewey could only imagine the most favorable of outcomes.
Francis could only ask, "What's up with you?"
And it was back on Dewey.
Dewey sighed and slowly descended to sitting on the floor. Francis sat as well, a few feet in front of and facing him; his expression was soft but firm, his eyes not searching or pleading but patient. Yet Dewey looked away.
"What is it, kiddo?"
Dewey said many things in his mind, held several imaginary conversations, each progressively depressive, until he realized he was glaring into the floor, and Francis was waiting. Dewey was absolutely choking.
Francis bounced a little, and pulled up the envelope again. "Wanna know what I think?"
"No," Dewey answered immediately.
Francis opened his mouth to tell him anyway, but he stopped himself. He really didn't want to hurt Dewey.
"Tell you what," Francis said in a way that made the whole world lighter; for one instant Dewey was hopeful, and in the next he berated himself viciously. "How about I take you to the carnival that's in town?"
Dewey laughed. Just where the freak belongs, he thought.
"We can go on every ride, and I'll buy you cotton candy."
"Sweet," said Dewey, and he offered Francis a smile.
And as they left, Francis said, "Not as sweet as you."