Thursday, October 16, 2015
Eleven days have passed since Toby found himself up in his room at the brink of despair. Times were almost back to normal as Toby walked into the middle school.
"Hey." He said to Calvin as he got into his locker. Calvin simply glanced sadly at him before slamming his locker shut and walking off. For the past week and a half, this was the new normal.
"He looks salty." A voice said behind Toby as he finished getting the stuff he needed for the first period of the day.
"Yeah, it's his new thing. He got in trouble with his brother, and he's grounded for two weeks. Since then, he's been pissy." Toby replied as he turned around to see his new best friend in front of him.
"How are you feeling?" Lucas asked as he placed a hand on Toby's shoulder.
"I'm doing okay."
"Well, that's good. I was wondering if you wanted to come over to my house after school. Maybe you could stay for dinner, too?"
"Yeah. It will be cool. My dad's out of town with some associates in New York. We can get something delivered and watch a movie or something. Heck, it can be a sleepover if you want."
"Okay, that sounds great. See you after school?"
When class dismissed for the day, Olivia, Orson, and Calvin found themselves walking down the street in silence.
"So, where's your cousin?" Orson asked.
"Don't know. I asked him if he was walking home with me, and he said that he wasn't."
"And you didn't ask anything else?"
"Nope. It's none of my business. Don't get me wrong, I love my cousin and would do anything to keep him out of danger, but I know that he's old enough to want his privacy respected and I trust him enough to know that he's going to stay out of trouble."
"Can you believe this, Pup?" Orson said. When he got no response, he found himself sadly sighing.
"Calvin. Calvin. Stop for a second." Orson then said before posing a question that he had on his mind for a while.
"Are you still mad at me for grounding you?"
No response. Orson sighed again.
"Okay. Do you understand why I did what I did?"
"It's because I love you very much and I don't want to see you get hurt. Do you promise to never do what you did again?"
"You're off the hook. After you finish your homework, you're free to do whatever you want."
"Can I hang out with Toby?" Calvin finally said.
"Sure, why not?"
"Thank you!" Calvin happily said as he got out his cell phone and quickly dialed a number.
"What did he do to get grounded?"
"I caught him talking to a janitor at the park and got that whole 'stranger danger' panic going on."
"Oh, you're talking about Mr. Butch then?"
"So, you know about him?"
"Yes, Toby's mentioned him. My uncle doesn't like him, but he doesn't sound like a bad guy. Like I said, I trust Toby's judgement."
Orson shook his head. There was no way in hell that he would give his brother the same kind of freedom.
"…Oh, okay." Calvin said into the phone before hanging it up.
"No go?" Orson asked because of the disappointment on his little brother's face.
"He's got plans."
"Oh, that's strange." Olivia said as she had a strange feeling telling her to rethink her trust in her younger cousin.
When they arrived at the Frasier residence, Orson unlocked the door and Calvin sulked to his room without saying another word.
"Poor little guy." Olivia said as the two sat down on the living room couch.
"I know. It's so frustrating seeing him depressed. I know that I had to do my part in keeping him safe, but it still hurts when he acts like he hates me."
"It must be something in the air."
"Yes… I noticed that you were a bit down in the dumps yourself. Are you okay? Getting a mid-life crisis… uh… quarter-life crisis…? No, that's not right… maybe it is..." Orson said as he started to verbally trip once again.
Olivia giggled and replied "I'm just going through some problems with a friend. That's all."
"...It's not me, is it?" Orson replied.
"Not at all. Okay. Remember how I said a few days ago, that I had a friend who died because of a birthday party?"
"Well, his parents were manufacturing illegal things and his death caused them to get busted."
Orson perked his head up a bit at this tidbit of information.
"Wait… I remember this. It was national news when it happened. Wasn't he a guy named Eddie… Egbert… Elaine…?"
"Elias. Elias Conner."
"That's right! It was a freak accident involving electricity, right?"
Olivia sighed and looked down. Orson noticed this hint that he might be treading into dangerous territory.
"He was electrocuted while soldering a toy robot. It was actually a present for his best friend… well, my boyfriend."
"Holy crap. That must've been rough on him."
Olivia's mind rapidly replayed that day. From the moment she heard about Elias' death on the news, from her tearful embrace with Kenton while they watched the police raid the Conner residence, and finally to her sitting down next to Mia as she clutched that movie in the video store.
"I'm… so sorry." Orson quietly said as he noticed Olivia wiping a tear from her eye. Olivia tried to say something, but it felt like everything was making her want to cry even more. At this point, the tears were not going to stop, and a small sob left her mouth as she wiped away at her eyes again.
Instinct took over for Orson as he quickly wrapped his arms around her and felt his shoulder get wet from her tears.
“I miss them so much…” Olivia quietly said as she regained her composure.
"It's always good to keep the ones you care about in your memory." Orson replied as he tried to find something better to say. After a few minutes, Olivia was able to regain her composure.
"I… soaked your shoulder. I apologize..." Olivia sheepishly said.
"It's okay. If anything, I should apologize for invading your personal space." Orson replied with a gentle smile.
"No… I needed it. This was building up."
Meanwhile, Toby followed Lucas to a house of decent size a couple blocks away from the Middle School.
"Here it is. We like to call it Elliott Estates." Lucas joked as he unlocked the front door.
"It's really nice. Your parents must be sticklers about cleanliness." Toby complimented as they took their shoes off at the front door.
"Not really. It’s just my dad and I, and we just never use the living room. It does kinda help that my dad works for the park."
"Really? What does he do?"
"Gardening and stuff like that."
"Is his name Butch? Because we know him!"
"That's the one. He's a bit eccentric, but I still love him."
"Is that where you get it from?" Toby replied jokingly.
"I'm not eccentric!" Lucas replied with a laugh.
"But you're wearing shorts when it's cold out! You're weird!"
"Hey, I didn't deny that I was weird. Just that I was eccentric!" Lucas defended himself as he playfully shoved his friend. The laughter that the two shared continued throughout the evening and into the night.
The clock had barely passed midnight when the two boys found themselves under a blanket on the couch watching a movie.
"So, do you like being home alone?" Toby asked, trying to make conversation.
"Honestly, not particularly. I hate being alone. My dad works all the time, and until just recently was working on the west coast. Outside of my aunt checking in with me daily and shopping, I don’t see anyone outside of school very often."
"Me too. I often just shut myself into my room after dinner."
"Really? That's kinda sad. You don't do anything with your family?"
"Not really, my cousin is off doing her own thing and my folks..." Toby quietly replied as he looked down. Lucas knew exactly where the conversation was going, and he wrapped an arm around his best friend and gave him a little hug.
"Say no more. Tonight, you're not supposed to think about what those buttheads do, okay?"
Toby nodded and the two went back to watching the movie.
"So, has your dad been a groundskeeper for a long time? I haven't seen him until just recently."
"Well, he just moved back to town last week. It's a bit of a messy story. He does some work for a bigshot out in Oregon, and he was caught up there for the past year or so.”
"Wow, it's almost the same thing with my dad. He works in Boston and we only see him on weekends. Part of the reason they fight all the time is that they think that one is cheating on the other."
"Really? That's crazy." Lucas said as he was a bit startled at the lack of innocence that Toby had from overhearing all the squabbles.
"Yeah… so, is your dad's name really Butch? That just seems… different for a first name."
"It's actually his middle name. His first name is Kevin. Kevin Butch Elliott."