"Something's going on with her, I know it," said Parker, to Mali post vigor.
"How do you mean? I haven't noticed shit."
"Oh, really? Our typical chain smoking, vulgar mouthed Casey just throws out the pack and secludes into herself? The girl has something to say about everything and have you heard a peep from her in the last bit? No. The answer's no."
"Well what do you want me to do? Start analyzing everyone's every move? This whole trip I've been too concerned with stepping on egg shells trying to keep the peace and I'm fucking tired of it, Parker. I'm too busy thinking about everyone else to think of myself and it just all came pouring out."
"I know this, Mali and I'm sorry. I really, really am. But I think we should reasonably be concerned. Something fishy's going on and I think we need to get to the bottom of it. Seriously, something is really really wrong."
"I guess you're right. She's our friend by chance, and a friend by chance is a good enough excuse for me to be concerned. Should we talk to Joe?"
"I think so, but something tells me he's just as messed up as she is right now."
"You think something happened between the two of them?"
"I'm not sure. Maybe something with the family? I really don't know, but whatever it is I want to help."
So the two marched onward to discuss things with Joe, who they finally found sitting lonesome against an abandoned building looking desolate as ever. The flickering streetlamp lent slight illumination to his face, a single tear dripping past his jawbone to leave one small salted stain on his gray t-shirt.
"Hey man," said Parker, reluctant at speech due to the awkward situation, "want some company?"
"No, not really, but I suppose you're going to have a seat anyways."
"Well, you're right," said Mali, "and we're not leaving until we get some answers."
Joe rolled his eyes at the notion of talking to the two of them, but what choice did he have? He was sitting in a place he didn't know, all by himself, all the while shedding tears regarding an ailment unbeknownst to the rest of the group. Everyone but Casey, whose life was unravelling before her very eyes.
"I think Casey's heading out," said Joe, "I think she's done with me. Done with the two of you. Done with Gordon. And done with this trip."
Mali and Parker exchanged bewildered glances and continued prodding Joe for the answers.
"So, why? Was it something we said? Is she pissed at us? Is there something going on back at home?"
As Mali prodded, Joe failed to make eye contact paying mind to a single inquiry. He just responded simply, "Us."
"Us?" questioned Parker, "Us? What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, I'm sure you guys are going to find out sooner or later," said Parker while fishing through his tattered jeans to find his smokes, a habit that grew more intensive since the breaking of the news, "Casey's pregnant. It's mine. And we're freaking out."
"Woah, woah woah," said Parker, "a child of sin? A bastard? You should be ashamed of yourself."
"Not the reaction I was going for, but thanks anyway, prick."
"I'm sorry, I ill reacted. What are you going to do?"
"Well, I want her to carry it and consider adoption. The other 'a' word is just too intense for me to handle, at least in my current state. She's going to do what she's going to do but before she takes any action I would like to know. It is, you know, half my fault as well."
"Can I have one of those?" asked Mali, motioning toward Joe's smokes. He extends his pack out and Mali lights one, coughing a little, and then inhaling the sweet smoke offered from the fragile cylander, all the while Parker looking at her with disgust.
"Oh for fuck sake, Mali, since when are you typical trash?"
"Not the time, Parker, there are other matters at hand," said Mali, "Well, should we find Gordon, let him know what's up?"
"I suppose so. Casey will come around when she wants to. She's taking her time to deal which I understand. That's precisely what I was doin' when you lowly fucks came to my rescue."
"Oh, thanks a lot," said Parker.
"I'm fucking with you," said Joe, "Let's find the lad."