Friday, October 23, 2015
Calvin got out of his eighth-hour class and went to his locker alone. This was the standard procedure for the young man anymore. Today was a bit different as he noticed a piece of paper sticking out of his locker with his name on it.
I need to talk to you. Meet me in the bathroom by the auditorium.
If he didn't recognize Toby's handwriting, he would have just assumed that this was some misplaced perverted note meant for another person but having acknowledgement from the friend that he thought abandoned him was enough to get him to act. After gathering his stuff, Calvin high-tailed it for the restroom. He slowly walked into to see Toby glancing out at the sky through the high windows.
"I'm here." Calvin said. Toby turned around and walked over to Calvin.
"…What's going on?" Calvin asked before Toby grabbed his former best friend and hugged him tight. Not too opposed, Calvin quickly returned the hug.
"Are you okay? Are you hurt?" Calvin asked as he noticed a few tears leaving his friend's eyes.
"I'm not supposed to talk about it… but I can't leave us like this."
"What do you mean? Leave?" Calvin asked as his mind started to draw a conclusion. Toby had mentioned his messy home life to him on occasion, but Calvin didn't have the maturity to help his friend through it. However, middle schoolers were given lessons on depression and self-harm and Calvin was expecting the worse at this point.
"Toby, please talk to me! Don't hurt yourself! We can fix this!" Calvin pleaded.
"I'm not going to hurt myself. I don't want to hurt you or Olivia. You are one of the best things to ever happen to me…" Toby said as he choked up a bit.
"Then what is going on?"
Toby opened his bulkier-than-usual backpack to reveal that he had several changes of clothes with him.
"You're moving away?" Calvin asked, now a little confused.
"Yes, I'm moving away with Lucas to Oregon. I'm getting on the bus after school. Don't tell my folks because I don't want found."
Immediately, Calvin's sadness gave way to anger.
"Are you freaking serious right now? You're going to just run away from everything? You're going to make us all worried about you!"
"I'll be fine!"
"Because you're clearly fine enough to make this decision."
"Hey, you don't know me as well as you think you do! You have your perfect family that loves you! I have a new family that loves me! Be happy for me."
Calvin grabbed Toby's arm to restrain him as he realized that Orson's gut instinct was one-hundred percent precise.
"LET ME GO!"
"LISTEN TO YOURSELF! LISTEN TO ME! YOU CAN'T DO THIS!"
Frustrated at himself for making such a slip-up, Toby jerked his arm left to get out of Calvin's grip before giving him a hard shove backwards to allow him a chance to escape. The force of falling backwards onto the restroom floor disoriented Calvin long enough for Toby to make his escape.
Within a minute, Calvin was back on his feet and running down the hallway while waiting for his phone to boot up. After another minute of searching and waiting for his phone to get a decent signal, Calvin tried to call Toby's phone. After a default voicemail greeting, Calvin found himself standing in front of the school as the tears started to pour out.
Out of ideas, Calvin needed someone's help. He ran to his house in hopes of that someone being there.
Calvin heard a quiet giggle as he frantically went through the front door of his house.
"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!"
"…What?" Olivia said as he had her full attention.
"He's running away to Oregon with Lucas. They're leaving right now!"
"Are you sure that he's not pulling your leg…" Orson said as he noticed a look of horror come across Olivia's face.
"He… he had a big backpack this morning. He said that it was his gym clothes, but now that you mention it…"
"Oh… shit." Orson said as he realized that the situation was very real. Without saying another word, Olivia got out her phone in hopes of getting a hold of somebody else in her family.
"Calvin. Did they say exactly how they were getting to Oregon? By air? Train? Bus?"
"I'm getting on the bus after school."
"Bus. He's taking a bus."
"Olivia. The bus station's ten blocks east of here. Let's go." Orson said as he took control of the situation. She nodded and the three of them took off with her still on the phone.
At the bus station, Lucas, Butch, and Toby sat on a bench. Lucas heard Toby take a deep, nervous breath and put an arm around him in reassurance.
"So, what's the game plan?" Toby asked, trying to pass the time.
"We're taking a bus to Bangor. I’ve got a guy there signing the paperwork to get a decent SUV for us to go on our extended vacation." Butch replied.
"Can we go to Mount Rushmore?" Lucas asked.
"Sure, why not?"
"YOU." A voice yelled out across the station. Toby looked up as he saw Orson, Olivia, and Calvin looking at the group. Lucas and Butch looked at each other with great concern.
"You are in serious trouble. Your parents are on the way." Olivia sternly said.
"So? They'll be too busy arguing to do anything!" Toby retorted.
Olivia immediately knew what her cousin meant, and she wanted to cry at her ignorance.
"Toby. I'm sorry. I'll do whatever I can to keep your parents from fighting. Just please come back to us."
"I want to see the world. I don't want to be trapped forever. I want to be on an adventure!"
"We can go on any adventures that we want when we're older! Please, listen to us. I promise, I'll go on an adventure with you, someday!" Calvin cried out, trying to get his friend to come back to his senses.
"How in the world can you expect to keep a promise like that?" Toby replied with skepticism.
"I… I don't know… but I promise that I'll figure it out!"
"You don't know. So, I have a bunch of empty promises from a bunch of people that don't love me…"
Calvin started to yell out a phrase in response, but the sound of sirens pulling into the parking lot was enough to drown it out for everyone not in the immediate area.
Butch whispered something into Lucas's ear. Lucas looked at the still-distracted Toby with sorrow and regret before running off with his father.
"I'm sorry, Toby, but I think you'll be better off this way." Lucas thought to himself as they escaped through a side door.
There was a whirlwind of police officers entering the building at the reported attempt at child abduction followed by Toby's parents. The two adults wrapped their arms around their only child and Olivia could swear that she saw a tear leave her uncle's eye as he held his son tightly.
In the commotion, Calvin and Orson found themselves at the sidelines as the detectives questioned Toby about the events.
"Orson, do you think Toby's going to hate me for what I've done?"
"Pup. You might have saved his life. He might be upset with you now, but he's going to realize that he's got us and that he's wrong about not being loved."
"And he had a blue ballcap." Toby said as he finished his description. The officer clicked away at his laptop and let the program do its thing to generate a description.
"Is this him?" The officer said as he showed the screen to the younger boy.
"Pretty much. Wait…" Toby said as he pointed to another picture that happened to be open on the laptop's screen.
"What about it?" the officer said as the picture from an internal police website with news bulletins about wanted criminals in America.
"That's… him. Exactly him."
"…What? Let's see."
The officer opened the picture up and expanded it to take up the entire screen.
"Yes. That's him. That's even his name. Kevin Elliott."
"No, that's Kevin Conner. Kevin Butch Conner, to be exact." The officer said as he noticed that it was shockingly close to the result given by the profile software. The officer waved down a superior officer and showed him the two pictures.
"…Son of a bitch." The commanding officer said before starting to bark orders into the radio.
It didn't take long before the news made it to Olivia. She sat down on the bench and took a deep breath as it all felt like some large cosmic joke. The man who made her late friend's life a living hell almost took away her cousin three-thousand miles away. She would've had better odds winning the lottery. And then it hit her even further: if Butch was Lucas' father, then that would mean that Lucas was Elias's brother.
Life was turned upside down for that small Maine town on the day when the country (if not the world) focused on them. However, as two months passed by, it was like nothing ever happened for most of the population.
Toby's parents found a little common ground after this incident and concluded that Maine wasn't the best place for their son after all. The three of them packed up and moved into Bud's apartment in Boston just before the end of October.
Friday, December 18, 2016
December 18th was here, and it was three short days before Olivia was to get on the plane back to Oregon. However, school was just getting out for the holiday break and Olivia decided to invite Orson over for once, since the house was lonely.
"Are you absolutely sure that your family is okay with this? We're the only ones here." Orson said as they walked into the living room.
"I'm sure. Would you like some cereal?"
"Sure. Doesn't it seem like we always eat cereal when we're together?" Orson said as he laughed. Olivia, realizing that he was right, found herself laughing, too. While she started getting along better with her peers, for some reason she never saw a reason to expand her circle of friends beyond Orson. Something about his company made her feel a certain happiness that she was missing since she left Oregon.
"So, how's your brother doing? He does know that Toby doesn't hate him, right?"
"Well… about that. I haven't mentioned Toby to him. I just think that it would be best to get his mind set on finding friends close by. Please… please don't be offended by that."
"It's fine. I know what you mean." Olivia said as her phone gave a little chime to announce an incoming message. She had a look of confusion on her face as she read it.
"'There is a special delivery coming very soon.'" She read from the phone's screen. Orson gave a similar look of confusion. The two of them almost jumped out of their skins when the doorbell rang.
"What in the world...?" Olivia thought aloud as she got up from her seat. Instinctively, Orson walked a bit behind her, ready to protect her should the need arise. She slowly opened the door and her heart raced as she saw the person on the other side.