Doodle was seventeen when he ran away from home. He’d called his parents when he hit Vegas, but they’d pretty much been fine with him being out of the house – he wasn’t a bad kid, but they just weren’t very committed parents, and he was… different. He had magic in his blood, art in his hands. Things they couldn’t understand.
So he came to Vegas, drawn by the peculiar energy that the place exudes, and became a street kid. He was far from alone in that. There were lots of them around; they generally just floated from crashpad to crashpad, with the café and its environs as sort of a loose hub.
Kellen was one, at the time, but he was different.
Most of the street kids were street kids because, like Doodle, they were runaways. Too young. Too inexperienced. Too afraid to venture beyond their little bands.
Kellen was older. Kellen was perfectly capable of functioning on his own.
He just didn’t really care.
And he was silent.
He wasn’t mute. He just didn’t talk any more than he had to, and his voice was soft when he did speak, brief requests for a cigarette or the use of crashspace. And he was respected, probably as much for the mystique as for anything else.
Kellen was twenty-three. He had electric-blue dreadlocks and dark glasses, a painted leather jacket that hung on his gaunt frame, a red bass guitar, and not much else. And he commanded respect just by being in a room.
Doodle, of course, idolized him.
You couldn’t talk to Kellen. You couldn’t just go up and ask him if he’d heard the new Ministry album yet. He was too remote. Griffin was more approachable. Griffin was one of Kellen’s best friends – had been for years – and he was Kellen’s liaison with the real world, so to speak. Griffin had a job and an apartment, though Kellen rarely took advantage of that. Griffin only smoked weed, whereas Kellen…
Kellen seemed to have spent the last few years trying to find new and creative ways to kill himself. It showed in his eyes. It was almost a glow in him, the shine of someone who has quite deliberately walked down the road of methamphetamine psychosis and returned alive, if not whole. There was a nihilistic serenity in him.
Years later, Doodle would fall silent in awe just looking at a picture of him.