Monday, October 5, 2015
"And then I ended up running through the corn field wearing nothing but my bibs and a smile." Butch said as he scooped a pile of trash into a long-handled dustpan before depositing it into the nearest garbage can.
"Wow! College sounds like a crazy place!" Toby said with excitement in his eyes as he walked between the groundskeeper and a barely interested Calvin.
"Yeah, and just wait until I get to the part about the sheep farm outside of town." Butch continued.
On the sidewalk across the street from the park, Orson found himself spacing out as he walked home alone. Being completely tired from a rough day at school, his mind didn't quite register as he noticed the three walking down the opposite sidewalk.
"What the hell?" Orson muttered to himself as he realized that his little brother was walking with a stereotypical shady-looking janitor.
"And the boss didn't even know that he just ate a cookie full of dung." Butch said as he continued to ramble on. Calvin was already trailing behind when a firm hand on his shoulder brought him to a complete stop. Both Toby and Butch continued to walk on without noticing a single thing.
"What are you doing?" Orson said as Calvin shot his best friend a glare behind his back before turning to face his brother.
"That's Toby's new friend, Butch."
"...You know better."
"He's not too bad." Calvin quietly said, not wanting to throw himself under the bus.
"He's a stranger. You are not supposed to talk to people like that!"
"Oh, am I supposed to keep my head down and never acknowledge another human on this planet?" Calvin snapped back as his irritation reached a breaking point.
"Hey, watch your tone."
In an act of rebellion, Calvin found himself rolling his eyes.
"That's enough. We're going home. You're grounded." Orson said as he pointed towards their house. Calvin huffed and started walking with Orson following behind. Meanwhile, Toby and Butch continued with their conversation without noticing the brothers' quarrel continuing in the opposite direction.
"Go to your room." Orson calmly said as Calvin chucked his backpack onto the great room couch.
"You're not mom or dad!" Calvin protested.
"When they're not home, I'm in charge! And this is for your own safety!"
"And that's why I was walking with Toby and that guy! I don't like him, either, and I don't trust him alone with Toby!"
Orson plopped down on the couch without saying another thing. Calvin growled a bit before going into his bedroom and slamming the door behind him. For a bit, Orson felt bad because he grounded his brother for potentially being a good-Samaritan. He got out his phone and thought about texting Olivia, only to sigh and put it away.
Back at the Gabriel house, Olivia found herself sitting at her desk finishing her homework with the television on the background. As the clock rolled over to six, a strong melody signaled the transition to the evening news.
"Tonight… a manhunt resumes as a criminal from Oregon escapes from a prison transport. Also, is toilet paper causing ear infections? All that and more in your local news at five!"
Hardly paying attention to the news, Olivia picked up her binder and tried to stuff it into her backpack.
"Portland-area residents mourned the passing of thirteen-year-old Elias Conner over a year ago, in a freak accident that led to a massive criminal activity bust."
Olivia dropped her backpack and turned to the television.
"Authorities are on the alert across the country as the boy's father, thirty-three-year-old Kevin B. Conner went missing from a federal penitentiary on the west coast. If he is spotted, people should notify their local authorities at once."
Olivia's eyes widened. She got out her phone and quickly tapped out a message to Mia asking her to give her a call as soon as possible. To her surprise, her phone lit up almost immediately with an incoming call.
"...Hello?" Olivia meekly said as she answered the call.
"What's up?" Mia said as she walked out of the school.
"Have you seen the news?"
"Yeah, can you believe that they're going to demolish Marilyn Monroe's house?"
"...No. I mean about… Elias' dad."
Mia stopped dead in her tracks.
"...What about him?"
"He escaped from prison, Mia."
Mia took her cellphone down and took a deep breath. This was something that she didn't want to hear.
"...Did they say where he's going?"
"That's another thing. They're saying that he could be anywhere in the country! What if he wants revenge?"
"Revenge? On whom?"
"You. Or Kenton. Or Cameron. Anyone involved with what happened."
Mia took a few seconds without responding to soak in the entire situation.
"Look, Olivia, I have never met Elias's father. I am sure that he kept me a secret from his parents. Furthermore, I don't think that they know about Kenton. Or you. So, relax. Talk to you later."
Olivia looked at the screen as the words "Call Ended." appeared. She sighed as she plopped the phone onto the table. Maybe Mia had moved on, after all. Her train of thought was briefly derailed when she heard the doorbell followed by several footsteps.
"Pizza's here!" Harlow said as he walked through the front door with his nephew following behind.
"Where in the hell have you been? You were supposed to be home at six!" Bud said as he glared at his son.
"He was with me. I stopped by the park to pick him up before getting the pizzas. Like the cool kids say, chillax." Harlow replied as he placed the stack of pizza boxes on the kitchen table.
"Where's Mom?" Toby asked as he grabbed a stack of plates from the cabinet.
"Working late. Again." Bud said as he continued to look at his newspaper and showing no interest in the food.
"Well, we'll save some for her." Olivia said as she started gathering her slices.
"Don't bother. She usually grabs something on the way home. If she's not busy putting other things in her mouth…" Bud started.
"Could you not?" Harlow said as Toby picked out a few pieces of pizza while trying not to hear the rubbish coming out of his father's mouth.
"Just sayin'." Bud said as he decided to take his turn at the pizza boxes.
"Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean that she has to be here to be at your beck and call." Harlow semi-smugly said as he saw his brother roll his eyes slightly.
"So, have any homework?" Bud asked as he sat down with his pizza. Toby shook his head and replied, "I did it all during study hall."
"It's all play and no work." Bud said as he shook his head. Harlow and Olivia shared a glance at the man's colder-than-usual personality.
"I did go to the park and meet this really awesome guy who takes care of the grounds."
"A janitor. Is this town so degenerated that you're stuck making friends with those barely-literate broom-jockeys?"
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with being a groundskeeper. I think it would be an awesome job." Toby said in reply to his father's snark.
"Keep screwing around and that'll be where you end up because you can't get a respectable job if your grades are a pile of sh-"
"Hi everyone!" Toby's mother said as she walked into the kitchen.
"Hi, Mom!" Toby said as he perked up slightly.
"Look who decided to join us." Bud smarted off as Harlow gestured towards the pizza boxes to alert his sister-in-law of their presence.
"Put a cork on it. I had a lot of work to do." She said as Olivia handed her a plate.
"What kind of work? Sitting on a chair or down on all fours?"
"Bud, please!" Toby's mother replied as she looked a bit infuriated. Toby, not wanting to hear any more of this, hastily ate his food before running back up to his room. He was still hungry but didn't want to endure any more arguing just to get seconds.
Once he was in the safety of his room, he closed the door and sat on the edge of his bed deep in sad thoughts. He waited for a while, hoping that either Olivia or one of her parents would come upstairs and comfort him.
After the clock passed seven, he found himself starting to cry out of both the pains of hunger and loneliness. He looked up at his desk and saw a piece of paper sitting there that brought back a memory.
"That's my number. Text me any time you want. I know how scary this can be."
Not knowing what else to do and being on the brink of despair, Toby got out his phone and opened the messaging app in hopes of finding someone in the world that would be able to save him (if only for a little while).