Sunday, October 18, 2015
"Screw this. And screw you." Calvin said as he walked past his older brother. Typically, this behavior would lead to a complete reaming followed by a week's grounding, but Orson was used to this behavior that was now considered reasonable for his little brother.
"Love you too, jerk." Orson said as he started to pour himself a bowl of cereal. A knock on the door alerted him that his friend was at the door. He glanced at the window overlooking the giant porch on the front of the house and tapped on the glass before gesturing to the person to let themself in. The person, noticing the cue, let herself in and walked into the kitchen.
"Hey." Orson said as Olivia sat down on a barstool at the kitchen island.
"Cereal?" Orson said as he picked up the box. Olivia's eyes brightened up a bit.
"Absolutely! I thought I was the only person in the world to love these things!"
Orson smiled a bit at the new common ground as he poured a bowl for her. The blissful silence was quickly interrupted as sound started pouring out from Calvin's room. Without missing a beat, Orson walked across the room to his younger brother's room. Two heavy knocks on the door were enough to get the young man to turn down the television. With a sigh, Orson walked back to the kitchen.
"He's still being a handful?"
"Always. I don't know what's wrong. Mom and Dad think that he's just getting that whole puberty-hormone-rebellious thing going on. Don't get me wrong, I love my brother with all of my heart, but I'm starting to think that I don't get paid enough to do this sh-"
Orson stopped his rant as Calvin's bedroom door opened. Olivia could feel the tension in the room increase as Calvin walked back into the kitchen to get a drink from the fridge.
"Hi, Calvin." Olivia politely said. Without turning around to acknowledge her, Calvin simply raised his hand as a little wave before saying "Hello."
"Nuh-uh. Put that back." Orson said as he pointed to the thing in his brother's hand.
"What? It's just a drink. And it's only one!"
"It's an energy drink. You're too young for those. Put it back."
Calvin rolled his eyes before putting the larger can back into the fridge and grabbing a plain can of cola.
"Hey, Calvin. Did you know that it's Toby's birthday today?"
"Hey, Olivia. Did you know that I don't care?" Calvin replied in a slightly hoity-toity fashion to mock Olivia.
"CALVIN." Orson said as he was getting ready to shut down his younger brother's attitude for the last time.
"I'm sorry… I guess what I meant to say is that I'm no longer friends with him." Calvin quietly said.
"Oh? Did you two have a fight?" Olivia replied, noticing that Toby wasn't talking about Calvin at all over the past week.
"No. When I got grounded, thanks to Mr. Stranger Danger over there, Toby pretty much decided that he doesn't want to be friends with a 'punk' like me."
Orson sighed at his little brother's minor insult.
"Don't be silly, Calvin. Why would you think that Toby hates you? Who else would dress up as a panda for Halloween just to make him happy?" Olivia replied.
"Exactly. But now he's all about that Lucas guy, who's perfect and does absolutely nothing wrong."
"Pup. Friends come and go all the time. Just because you've been put on the back burner for a little bit doesn't mean that Toby hates you. You know, you should find some other friends to run around with. Expand your horizons, so you don't have to rely on just one friend." Orson added to the conversation.
"Oh, yes. Why don't I do that? Let me tell you something." Calvin said as he angrily slammed his soda can on the kitchen counter. "Nobody likes me because I'm the one with the overbearing brother who constantly talks down to the people around him."
Orson's face turned to a bit of a shocked expression as his beloved Pup was now spewing a load of truth all over him.
"Toby is the only one in this world who understands and tolerates the limitations that you give me! I'm a middle schooler that's one month away from being twelve! And yet, you act like I'm in freaking preschool! What about when I grow up, meet someone, and got married? Are you going to be sitting on the side of the bed during my honeymoon night?"
Olivia could swear that a vein was starting to pop out of Orson's forehead as he took a couple of seconds and a deep breath to carefully compose what he's going to say.
"First, your little incident in the park has proven that you can't handle basic rules like 'Don't talk to strangers.' Second, you better be a hell of a lot more 'grown up' before you get married, because I'm not going to be there to protect you when that time comes!"
"So, you're saying that you're going to keep me on your leash until I'm eighteen?"
"Just go. I'm done discussing this with you." Orson conceded as he rested his head on his forehead. Without saying another word, Calvin picked up his drink and walked back into his room. Orson cringed a bit as he waited for the door to slam, only to be surprised when it closed at a normal volume.
"Does Toby do this?" Orson asked, only for Olivia to shake her head.
"Not really. He just sulks into his room when he's not happy about something. Although, he's been a little happier lately."
"Is it because of this new friend? I wonder if Calvin's been grating on Toby's nerves."
"If Toby's sick of Calvin, he's certainly not said anything to me about it. I think that it's just the excitement of having a new friend that has Toby hooked."
"Calvin's pointed him out to me before. He looks older than Toby."
"He is. He's around two years older."
Orson shook his head before replying with "That just seems a little odd, that much of an age difference."
"I like to think of it as having a guy that he can look up to. Kenton's got the same age difference with his best friend, Cameron. Now, Cameron is a hell-raiser, but I think that he's mellowed out from being around Kenton. So, I have hopes that Lucas can do the same for Toby."
Meanwhile, Toby found himself approaching Lucas' house for the third time that week. To his surprise, there was a car parked in the driveway. He pushed the doorbell and was further surprised when Butch opened the door.
"Hey, birthday boy!"
Toby blushed slightly as Lucas apparently disclosed information.
"Hi, Mr. Butch!"
"I gotta run. Lucas is in the living room. Happy birthday."
"Thanks!" Toby politely said as the two passed each other. On seeing Toby enter the room, Lucas immediately smiled and picked up a box to present to his best friend.
"Happy Birthday! I got something for you." Lucas cheerfully said as he handed the box to Toby. Toby's blush became clearer as he never expected anyone outside of his family to get him a gift. He slowly opened the box to reveal a plain blue visor. It was something that one could get with mere pocket change at the dollar store, but it was the gesture that counted the most.
"I know it's not much, but I see you brush your hair out of your eyes often. I saw it and I thought of you." Lucas added, his words starting to trail off as he noticed tears forming in his friend's eyes. The other gifts that Toby received that day were from his family, something that could almost be taken for granted.
"Are you okay? Do you like it?" Lucas asked, concerned. Toby looked up at his friend and hesitated a bit before practically tackling him with a hug.
"I'm sorry. I know that guys don't hug other guys." Toby said as he continued to cling onto Lucas.
"That's stupid." Lucas quietly said as he wrapped his arms around the other boy. After a few seconds, the two let go of each other before taking a seat on the couch.
"Lucas… why do you do all of this for me?"
"Because you need a friend. You deserve a friend. I can tell that you feel that people don't feel love you, and that's ridiculous because you have so much love for this world."
"Thanks… there are times when I feel like I'm in the middle of fighting. As I've said, my parents don't get along, and it's actually worse because my aunt and uncle moved back in."
"Really? Your family must be huge."
"Tell me about it. My aunt and uncle, Olivia's folks, own the house. When they moved back from Oregon, my dad's felt that he's being ran out."
"Oregon… huh? Interesting…"
"Oh, it's nothing. I tell you what. Make yourself at home, I'm going to step out for a second to check something on my phone." Lucas politely said before getting up and walking out of the front door.
Toby could see Lucas through the picture window and watched as he dialed a number and started a conversation. He could tell from Lucas' facial expressions that he was nervously asking a question. After a bit of back-and-forth that couldn't be heard, Lucas' face lit up with glee as he hung up the phone.
"Toby, I got something that might be better than a visor." Lucas said as he sat down on the couch, close to his friend.
"Lucas, really, I'm happy with this…"
"I know this sounds crazy, but please hear me out. I'm moving to Oregon next week."
Toby's face turned from cautious curiosity to heartbreak quickly. Lucas put his hands onto Toby's shoulders before continuing.
"I want you to come to Oregon with me. We can start over. I just talked to my dad, and I've been telling him about how your family is messed up. He took a bit of convincing, but he seems like he's on-board.”
"Like I said, it sounds so crazy. But I, well, we all love you, very much. You deserve so much better than what you have here. It'll be a new adventure that we can go on, together."
Toby was speechless at the proposal laid out before him.
"I know that this is completely out of left-field, Toby. I want you to think about this. This is a lot to ask."
Toby nodded and thought about it for a moment before speaking his mind.
"I don't need to think about it…"
"Oh…" Lucas said, a bit disappointed at the pending disapproval.
"Of course, I'll go to Oregon with you!"
Lucas almost leapt back in surprise before smiling. He was glad that he could finally save his best friend.
Later that night, Toby and Olivia sat on the living room couch watching television in silence. This was a tradition for the two to stream trashy sitcoms on Sunday nights, never reaching their goal of staying awake until bedtime.
This night was not an exception as Toby found himself snuggled up next to his dozing-off cousin. He thought about the commitment that he made to his friend earlier that day. He was so over-joyed when he found out that they were going to be living together as a big family. And now he was going to throw it away? Toby sighed as he wondered if it was too late to back away from the deal that Lucas proposed.
"What do you want from me, Harlow? You won't take any rent; do you want me to get on my knees and…"
Hearing his father attempt to start something with his uncle made him committed to this plan more than ever.
Monday, October 19, 2015
The next day, Toby was getting his books ready for the first class of the day when he saw Lucas approaching him.
"Hey, if you want to back out, you can at any time." Lucas quietly said to his friend as he put an arm around him. Toby only shook his head and replied "I'm all in. But what am I going to do for school?"
"That, I don't know. Dad says that this is something to be kept on the down-low, so I think they're going to set everything up after we get to Oregon. But they might not want to do that for you, since you're technically running away."
"Even if I don't want to be found?"
The two stopped their conversation as Calvin walked past them and quickly opened his locker. A quick glance between Toby and Lucas signaled the end of the conversation.
Friday, October 23, 2015
The next week took an eternity for the two boys as their departure day approached. That Friday played out like a normal day with Olivia hanging out at Orson's house.
"I hope I'm not being a pain, being over here so often." Olivia politely said as Orson poured cereal for them both. Orson smiled and shook his head.
"It's okay. I think my parents are happy that I have a friend, for once."
Orson sighed as he realized that he came off as an introvert, once again.
"Great. That came out weird. I mean… well, you know what I mean."
Olivia giggled as they heard the front door to the house open followed by frantic footsteps.
"Hey." Orson said as he glanced at his brother placing his backpack on the couch while keeping his head down.
"I said, hey." Orson repeated as his brother looked up with him. Immediately, his heart dropped as he noticed that Calvin's eyes were freshly red and puffy, showing that he had been crying.
"…What's wrong?" Orson urgently said as he walked over to his brother and put his hands on his shoulder. Calvin tried to talk, but every word was interrupted with a sob.
"Pup. Pup. Take a deep breath and talk to me." Orson said as he wrapped his arms around the crying boy. The warmth of his big brother's hug allowed Calvin to get his composure long enough to spit out the problem.
"It's Toby. He's in danger!"