Cherry who was too stoned, dreaming of her fantasy life as a rock star, to be interested in housework.
She overdosed on junk from a lousy dealer who built her up to buy more and more. Howie hated him, glared every time the scumbag slunk into their carriage-house apartment, hidden behind his mother-in-law's big home. Supposedly the jerk came by to put together Cherry's band, but his visits were really just to shoot her up.
So there he was at 20, a widower with an infant. Howie grew up right away. It was bad enough he'd messed up as a teen, seduced by beautiful, flamboyant, drug addicted Cherry who introduced him to heroin. Funny thing was, he didn't like it. He liked her, was crazy for her and how they made love, all the time. Then she was pregnant.
They married in a Reno chapel and Howie kept driving, their tricked-out van a comfortable haven that kept them moving. Kept Cherry's
eyes on the
road and kept her clean, other than some booze and pot. Howie fed her stir fried meals full of vegetables and organic meats and then she gave birth to Mikka. A week later she had needle marks in her arm. It was a fast slide downhill from there, and Howie couldn't do anything to stop it. So he kept their apartment clean and cared for the baby and prepared himself for the wrenching emergency room fiasco that provided Cherry's exit from this world. The sad thing was, she really could sing.
His mother-in-law paid for college classes. Howie studied computer science with a passion, little Mikka bouncing on his knee and jabbing at the keyboard. Howie was so happy when he discovered his deep flair for code and realized he was a pretty good parent as well. Life had been tough for him as a kid, but he was making a good go of it now. Mikka was in elementary school
when Tark recruited Howie, offering him a well-paid position at zDepth, with full benefits and stock options.