Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Charmaine and Kenton approached a restaurant just down the street from the hotel they were staying at in New York City. The two of them entered and Charmaine approached the host.
"Hello. I'm Charmaine Hayes. I'm here to see Edward."
The host, barely into his elderly years, blinked and nodded before walking to the back.
"Is it just me, or does this place give you the creeps?" Kenton quietly said to his mother, who subtlety elbowed him as a reminder to mind his manners. The host crept back out.
"Back hallway. Third door to your left."
"If you're not comfortable, you can wait for me outside." Charmaine said. Kenton, a bit reluctant, nodded and walked back out the front door. Charmaine continued down the back hallway and through the door.
Meanwhile, in Boston, the three boys were awake and playing video games in the living room while the adults were in the kitchen talking. While Calvin and Toby were concentrating on the action on the screen, Orson kept an ear peeled to the kitchen.
"We're not moving back to freaking Maine. Drop it."
"Come on, Bud. He's getting the crap knocked out of him every day. It's only going to get worse."
"It's his own fault. He needs to act like the man he's growing up to be. It's not my fault that he was an outie and not an innie."
"Bud, please. If we don't do something, he's going to be like those cases you hear about on TV. For God's sake, he's already tried to run away once!"
"He needs to learn how to face his problems."
"He is facing them. The problem is that those ruffians out there are forcing him to face the wall. I'm scared, Bud. I'm scared that I'm going to come home to find that my baby boy dead because he couldn’t face the world!"
Toby's mother turned around to hide the tears forming in her eyes as she was getting emotional. Orson, having heard the entire conversation, looked over towards the two other boys. He could tell from Toby's eye movements that he was listening, too.
"He's going to man up and take it. He's going to snap, and when he does, they'll learn not to mess with him."
"Is that how you want your son to act?"
Bud and Toby's mother looked up to see Orson standing there in the doorway.
"Kiss off, boy. This doesn't concern you."
Toby's mother could see the anger and concern in the teenager's eyes.
"Bud, why don't you give the boy a chance to speak. Because you sure aren't listening to anything I have to say."
"Whatever. Make it quick and then get back to babysitting."
Orson walked in and closed the door between the kitchen and the living room before continuing.
"Do you two know exactly why Toby tried to leave with those guys?"
"Yeah, because he couldn't face growing up to being a mature adult." Bud said as he nonchalantly took a sip of his coffee.
"It's because the two of you constantly bicker. Yes, he tells Calvin about it and Calvin tells me!"
Bud started to open his mouth to retort. Orson raised a finger to keep the man from speaking.
"Don't try to deny it. I can hear you from in there having a 'discussion'. What's more important is that Toby heard what you said. Especially the line you said about killing himself." Orson said as he turned to Toby's mother. At this, she gave a bit of a sob and turned around again.
"If the idea wasn't in his head before, it probably is now. And can you blame him? Would you want to live in this kind of environment? He must decide between this emotionally hostile environment in here or the physically abusive environment out there. If you really loved your son, you would do everything in your power to keep him from having to make such a decision."
With that said, Orson turned around and walked back into the living room. Bud stood up, ready to retort, but he had nothing to say. Instead, he turned towards the kitchen sink and threw the coffee mug in, causing it to shatter.
He walked over to his wife and she looked him in the eyes, wondering what was going to happen next. He wrapped his arms around her and started sobbing uncontrollably. All she could do was return the hug and cry into his shoulder. After a few minutes, the two of them regained their composures.
"That boy… he's got a point." Bud said as he sat back down at the kitchen table.
"They're good people. Calvin was the one who told Olivia that Toby was running away."
"What the hell was I thinking? Putting my own ego and needs before his. I pulled him away from people who really cared for him and I put him in this dump." Bud said, completely out of guilt.
Without agreeing or disagreeing, his wife carefully swept the broken pieces of the coffee mug out of the sink and put them into the garbage can.
"It is obvious that you're going to need another mug." She said, trying to put a little humor into the situation. Bud chuckled and shook his head.
"I'll buy one when we get home."
In New York City, Charmaine walked through the door and closed it behind her.
"Have a seat, please."
Charmaine turned around and was speechless. She knew the guy sitting on the opposite side of the desk and his name was indeed Edward. But she also recognized him as Andrea's uncle.