Monday, December 21, 2015
After a brief trip on the public transit, Orson and Calvin found themselves walking down a street as Calvin tried to use the GPS on his phone to find the apartment building where his best friend lived.
"Are you sure that you have the right address, Pup? Do you need me to look it up?" Orson asked as Calvin looked quite confused. Calvin thought about it for a second and was about to hand the phone up to his brother when the two of them heard a noise.
"EAT THE BRICK, SISSY BOY!" an older boy said as he had someone pinned up against the wall of a nearby apartment building. The victim, a slightly smaller boy, didn't bother to retort or try to fight back.
"I SAID EAT IT. EAT IT YOU GIRLY-BOY! TEETH TO THE WALL!" the bully managed to get out before a bigger person grabbed him and slammed him against the wall.
"HOW DO YOU LIKE IT? Why don't you pick on someone closer to your size?" Orson said as the bully tried to struggle. The victim blinked twice as Calvin tried to help him to his feet.
"Calvin… it's you…"
Calvin gasped a bit when he realized Toby was before him. Instead of his typical nicer T-shirt and blue jeans, he was wearing a dirty hoodie, olive green cargo pants, and a beat-up black ball cap.
"You want to eat the brick? DO IT." Orson said as he pushed the bully's head against the wall.
"Toby… what in the hell happened to you?" Calvin quietly asked as he wrapped his arms around his best friend.
"It's like this every day. Every. Day. Usually, a cop passes by and scares this jerk off before it gets to this point." Toby said. Orson, overhearing this, felt a new wage of rage come across him.
"Okay, you're going to listen to me. If you EVER mess with that boy again. I will break every bone in your body, one-by-one, until you're just a pile of nasty flesh. Are we clear?" Orson hissed and the bully nodded as he fought back sobs of fear.
"Get out of here and stay the hell away!" Orson yelled as he tossed the bully away.
"You look terrible…" Calvin said as he felt himself starting to cry both in joy of being reunited with his friend and in sadness at his friend's suffering.
"Thanks… I missed you, too." Toby joked as he felt himself starting to tear up, too.
"Let's get you home." Orson said to Toby with a kind tone that he normally only reserved for his brother.
"Hey, it's the boys!" Bud said as the three of them walked into the apartment. Before the move, this was Bud's "bachelor pad" during the week when he worked in Boston. Now, his family was squeezed into the small two-bedroom domicile and he couldn't be happier.
"What happened to you?" Toby's mother said as she saw the dirt marks on his face.
"He probably got his ass beat again. I keep telling him to stand up for himself, but does he listen? Not a bit." Bud said as he gestured for them to sit down. Orson, having never talked to Toby's father before, couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"So… is it like this every day? How's school going?" Orson asked as Toby's mother went into the kitchen to get some snacks.
"It's going, I guess. My mom's going to try to get certified to homeschool me starting next year. If I'm still alive by then." Toby said, trying to add a little humor to the grim situation.
"If you don't learn how to fight, you won't be, and I'll save a crapload of money on this homeschooling nonsense." Bud replied, not taking his eyes off his newspaper.
"Bud, can you help me in the kitchen?" Toby's mom said as she poked her head into the living room.
"What? I thought that between the internet and your 'hack-lives', you have no need for a man like me in the kitchen." Bud sarcastically said as he put the newspaper down.
"Oh, I pray for the day technology makes your ass obsolete." Toby's mother said as the two went into the kitchen.
"She's so miserable… and it's all my fault." Toby quietly said.
"Anyone would be miserable around that guy." Orson replied as he put a hand on Toby's shoulder.
"I don't think that they'll be married much longer. I can only hope that she leaves him so we can go back to Maine." Toby said, almost spiteful towards his father. The conversation stopped when the two came back into the room.
Later that night, Orson slept on the couch while Calvin and Toby camped out in Toby's room.
"Hey, Toby. There's something I've always wanted to ask you."
"Why was you going to run away with that Lucas guy?"
Toby sighed. He missed Lucas greatly, but understood the consequences of his actions.
"Well, Calvin, let me just put it like this: if what you saw happens when company's over, then think about how it is when it's just us here."
Calvin didn't have a response for that. Toby has casually mentioned (if not joked) about the family tensions in the past, but it never really clicked for him. Without waiting too long for a response, Toby continued his explanation.
"When Olivia and Uncle Harlow moved back, things got so much worse because Dad is jealous of Uncle Harlow. I wanted to leave because I couldn't stand to see how it was going to hurt Olivia."
"You should've told me. Maybe… maybe you can come live with us."
"Oh, please. Your brother barely tolerates me as it is."
"So… did you know about Lucas's father? About him being a criminal?"
"Nope. It's kind of scary when you think about it. Lucas never mentioned having a brother. In fact, I think he actually said that he was an only child." Toby said, thinking back.
"So, you think that he doesn't even know about his brother? Are you sure it's the right guy that you identified at the bus station?"
"Calvin, I'm not sure of anything anymore. All I know is that the names matched up and the pictures matched up, too."
"But for him to use the same name? It seems like it would be too obvious."
"Maybe that was the point. The thought of him using his real name is ridiculous, and therefore they wouldn't be expecting him to use it."
"Good point. So, did you know about the guy's other son? Lucas' supposed brother?"
"You mean Elias? Yes, Olivia's talked about him before. I guess he was the boyfriend of her best friend, Mia, and his death really messed her up. I know that it was a sore spot, so I never brought it up."
"So, he must've been a good guy despite his messed-up situation?"
"From what I could tell, he was. Knowing that, maybe it's better that Lucas never finds out about him. It would spare him some pain, I think."
"Yeah… I don't know where I would be without Orson." Calvin mused as he looked out of the ajar door at the teenager lying on the couch.
"It must be awesome having someone like him watching out for you. I know that you think he smothers you, but I'm actually a bit jealous."
"Be jealous all you want. All I know is that it's going to suck in two years when he leaves to go to college. He's looking at an arts college in Illinois. That might as well be on the other side of the world. And then I'll be all alone."
"But you'll have me." Toby instinctively said, forgetting for that moment that they were also hundreds of miles apart.
"…I mean, we'll keep in touch over the internet." He said trying to correct for his misspoken words. Calvin sighed and nodded, understanding what his friend meant.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
The next day, on the opposite side of the country, two familiar faces were walking out of a familiar restaurant on the corner of Panther and Jaguar street.
"Boy, it feels good to enjoy a home-cooked meal." Butch said as he walked next to his son, who could only nod.
Butch had his cake and ate it, too. The event at the bus station, which could be (rightfully) construed as attempted kidnapping, gave him the leverage to convince Lucas that the two of them had to lay low for a while. With one of his associates giving the authorities a potential lead in Los Angeles, Butch felt safe enough to take his son out for lunch at the local restaurant in town.
"That place was pretty nice." Lucas commented.
"Tell me about it. It's ran by the pretty lady who used to be the school secretary. Put the books down and picked up an apron. Traded up, in my opinion."
The two of them arrived at a shabby-looking house with an un-kept yard. As far as Lucas knew, his father "rented" the house cheap because of it being formerly used by criminals. What he didn't know was that he was taking part in squatting, made possible by having running water and electricity rigged up by his inclined father.
The two of them walked inside. Even after arriving there two weeks prior, the place was still a mess with only a couple of couches supplying them comfort for rest. Lucas was okay with it as he knew that it would only be temporary.
After eating breakfast at her grandma's, Olivia walked out of her front door and down the street down a path that she walked many times before back when she was an Oregon native. She arrived at Mia's house and rang the doorbell despite there being no cars in the driveway. When there was no answer, she sighed and turned around to leave. After walking five feet, she felt something cold slam into the back of her coat.
She turned around to see her best friend standing there with a childish smirk and another handful of snow, ready to toss.
"Hey! I should've known that you were going to do that!" Olivia said as she ran to Mia and wrapped her arms around her.
"I was starting to think that you've forgotten my old tricks." Mia said as she squeezed her back.
"I missed you so much."
The two girls started to tear up when two snowballs flew in their direction, one hitting each.
"CAMERON!" Mia said as she let her friend go with the intent of decking her other friend. Without any further hesitation, Olivia walked over and hugged her other friend.
"You've been greatly missed. You wouldn't believe how savage Mia acts without you." Cameron said as he hugged her back.
"And you didn't have anything to do with that?" Olivia asked.
"Me? Why, no!" Cameron replied, acting sarcastically bashful.
"Get your butt inside. Until Kenton gets back in a couple of days, you're mine!" Mia said as she opened the front door.