"Woof, woof, woof…" Indy went running across the house headed for the foyer the second the doorbell rang. Before I could catch up, I heard a loud bang and a surprised yelp from what sounded like the hyper dog had overshot the hall and slammed headfirst into the front door.
"Indy, are you alright?" When I caught up to her, she seemed like she was okay because she was back on her feet, hackles raised and barking ferociously again. "I hear you, girl. The whole neighborhood hears you! Quiet down." The brindle colored Shepard mix instantly silenced. She was sharp with directions but way too eager on her own.
The doorbell rang once more, setting Indy off on another barking tear. "Really? Impatient much?" I was super-tired and wasn't in a mood for something so loud this late. Actually, I had barely crawled under the covers.
Twenty minutes ago, I had gotten off a long shift at the Arena downtown managing vendor sales for some fledgling gang-banging thug with a bunch of Z's and X's in his name who thought he could sing. Or rap. Or croon ballads. Or whatever. The crowd was so trashed – judging by the haze from their top-shelf meds and empty Cristal bottles– that it didn't even matter that he sang like he was gargling. It was an exhausting show, so naturally, I wasn't up for whatever this was going to be.
Standing there in my t-shirt, boxer-briefs, and bare feet, I flipped a switch to light up the porch and looked out through one of the tall, casement sidelights. I could see a young-looking guy, maybe in his mid to late teens. He was hunched over and dripping – no, not just dripping – he was completely soaking wet from his head to his squishy checkerboard Vans. He had a small, hard-sided silver suitcase behind him which seemed out of place.
I took a closer look as he rang the bell for the third time. He looked sad, forlorn, and for some reason, familiar too. From where, I couldn't quite grasp. But he didn't seem like a threat, so I grabbed Indy's collar and opened the door a fraction and asked, "Hey dude, what's going on? What are you doing out here this late in one of the craziest rainstorms we've had in years?"
"Is Randy home?" he asked, totally ignoring my questions. Indy barked once at him but started wagging her tail. Maybe she knew him, or possibly didn't sense a threat. The guy obviously knew Randy's name, so at least that was something.
"No, he's not." I wondered how he knew that Randy lived here. That seemed odd since I knew most of my teenage nephew's friends. But this dude I didn't recognize.
"What about Ricky? Is he here? I – I really need to see one of them. P – Please?" He squeaked out the last part so low I could hardly hear it. The kid looked miserable, totally drenched as he tried to wipe the water off his dark, stylishly geeky glasses. I felt sorry for the dude – I really did. But I wasn't sure I wanted to invite some stranger inside, especially since I was the only one home. Plus, whatever was going on with him, I'd probably end up having to deal with it. Seems like that's my job lately, being the fixer and caregiver to everybody.
"No, he's not here either. What's your name? And how do you know the twins?"
"I live around the corner and up the street a few blocks overlooking the park. I grew up playing soccer with the twins until we went to different high schools. If they aren't home, no worries. I'll come back later when they're here."
"Oh no you don't." I grabbed him by the arm when he started to turn away. "You're not going anywhere until this storm blows over."
"No, no. Let go of me! Honestly, I've got someplace to go," he said, as he tried to get out of my grasp.
He was a strong kid and gave me a hard tug out the door and onto the wet porch. It was slippery on the bricks, and it had turned unexpectedly cold for the middle of June in Southern California. Shivers instantly crawled up my body, but I didn't care. This kid definitely needed some help.
"You're not going anywhere, dude. Get your ass inside. The twins might not be home, but I am. The weather's too freaky right now. C'mon in and let's get you dry and warmed up, okay? Then we'll figure out what's going on with you."
To prove my point, there was a ginormous lightning bolt that danced brightly across the sky, followed quickly by a colossal kaboom, the kind we hardly ever get here in the 626. The atmosphere shifted to Mach 10, and the sound of the driving rain was deafening. The poor guy standing there practically jumped out of his skin.
He looked towards me and instantly relaxed for some reason, but didn't say anything. I guess he was debating what to do and after a moment, he ambled across the threshold, head hung low, totally defeated. Indy started to dance and run figure-eights through his legs, but the kid paid no attention to her other than whispering loud enough for me to hear, "Hi, Indica." Apparently, he did know the twins, because nobody got past Indy.
A bright beam of headlights reflecting off the pouring rain stopped me from closing and locking the door. I wondered what a car was doing in our driveway this late at night, so I dashed off the porch into the downpour to take a quick look. A squad car was positioned so I couldn't see it from the porch, and when I put my hand over my eyes to keep the rain out, I could see a tall cop getting out and adjusting his cap. Unfortunately, he looked familiar, and when I put it together, I yelled. "I'll be on the porch. Hurry your ass up."
His stature and gait told me that it was my ex-boyfriend – my first and only boyfriend – and someone I would rather not deal with. I racked my brain trying to figure out why he was here, then thought it must have something to do with the kid standing in the foyer. Sure enough, it was.
"How are you, Jeremy? Long time, no see," Trevor said, climbing up on the porch with me. He was pretty wet too, but I didn't give a rat's ass. "I like your long hair, and especially that wet underwear look on you. You look hot."
"Shut the hell up, you ass. What's going on? You bring that kid here? And when did you become a cop? Do I have to call you Officer Chen-Goldberg from now on?"
"No. Call me Trevor, just like always. Anyway, I just got hired. And it's okay if you call me a rookie. All the guys at the station do, except for one jerk who calls me Officer Jew-Chink."
"Ouch. That's so not cool. But, um, I think I'm going to call you Officer Dick. Yeah. That fits you. Anyway, there are too many other things I could call you, most of which I wouldn't say in front of my grandmother. I'm not going to flatter you by calling you rookie, either. Seeing you is making me pissed off, so make it quick, Officer Dildo – oh man, that one's way better – because I'm freezing and wet now, thanks to you and whoever that kid is."
"Fine, fine. I get you're still pissed at me."
"Stop being a jerk. I've told you a thousand times I'm sorry. I truly am."
"Yeah, you have. But that doesn't negate the fact you cheated on me. With a girl for shit's sake! I was pretty naïve back then, but I'm not anymore. Save it for someone who cares. We're not going to discuss this again and again and again. I'm over you, and I've moved on. Whatever you think is going to happen, it's not. So get on with it. I need to know what's up with the kid."
"Wow. I never thought you'd turn into an asshole. What happened to you?"
"Okay, okay. I would say I'm sorry again, but what's the use, right?"
"Whatever. Would you please just answer my questions? Why are you here and who is he?"
"He wouldn't say much so you'll have to try and get it out of him. All I know is that my partner and I found him huddled up under a bus shelter waiting for the Metro to take him to Hollywood. Apparently, he didn't know the bus doesn't run this late at night. And since we have instructions from the higher-ups to move along all the vagrants and homeless out of our fair city, we stopped to see what he was all about and to get him going."
"Okay, but what does that have to do with me?"
"When we got to talking with him, all he said was he was leaving home, but because he's eighteen we couldn't do much to help him. When we asked him if he had any relatives or friends in town, at first, he said no. But then he remembered the twins and your family, so we brought him here since I know you guys too. I know how your sister helped you out, so I thought you guys could do that for him. It's a long shot, I know, but still. I'm trying to do the right thing here. Sorry if I screwed up. Again."
I let that sink in for a moment because Trevor was trying to help the kid, and as much as I wanted to cuss him out, this wasn't the time or place. "You didn't screw up. It was cool of you to look out for him. He obviously needs some kind of help. Let me see what his story is and if there's anything I can do for him."
"That's great, Jeremy, thanks for doing that. Listen, here's my card in case you need anything. Let me know how this plays out so I can file my report. Or if something comes up and you need my help. My email's on there if you don't want to talk to me directly."
"Okay. Anything else? I need to check on the kid."
"No, that's it. It was good to see you. I was serious when I said you look good."
"Whatever. Later." I turned around and went inside, slamming the door behind me. I felt kind of embarrassed for how that sounded, but seeing him again reinforced that I was totally over him. Done and done. It was unfortunate, though, that he could still push my buttons. All the bad ones. One day I'd get over that too.
Locking the deadbolt, I asked the kid, "Okay, dude, what's your name and why do you need to see the twins? What's going on and why are you here?"
"You don't remember me, do you?"
"Um, to be truthful, no. You look kinda familiar, but I have no idea who you are."
"Last time we saw each other was a few years ago. You'd wait with me when the twins had pool parties, and my mother was always late picking me up."
It took me a minute before that memory registered. "Zach?"
"Yeah, that's me."
"Dude! You're all grown up. I honestly didn't recognize you. Especially with the glasses. Sorry about that."
"No worries. That was a long time ago."
"Not that long ago. Park your bag over there and then get out of those wet clothes. You're dripping water everywhere. I'll go get some fresh towels, and we'll get you dried off. I'll find some clean sweats you can wear until we get your clothes taken care of. Shit, Zach, you must be freezing."
He didn't move. He just stood there, frozen like a gargoyle, pooling water all over the floor.
"C'mon, dude, start getting out of those clothes. I'll be right back." The kid looked to be about the same size as the twins, a bit smaller maybe, but I was sure I'd be able to find something that would fit. After rummaging around in their sloppy bedrooms and looking way in the back of their closets for the stuff they'd outgrown, I went into the linen closet and grabbed a pile of fresh towels, wrapping one around my waist. I was freezing from the short time standing on the porch, so the little dude must have freakin' hypothermia by now.
Coming back into the foyer, the kid was still fully clothed, standing there shivering and dripping, his arms wrapped tightly around his chest. Indy had sat down in front of him and was studying his face with her famous stare down, cocking her head back and forth like she was waiting for an answer to a question she just asked him.
"C'mon, Zach!" I yelled again. "You gotta get out of those wet clothes right now, or you're going to catch pneumonia or Ebola or something. Here, let me help you."
"No! I can do it. Please, don't touch me," he tried to yell, but it came out pretty weak.
"Okay, no problem," I said, holding my hands up. "Just hurry up and do it before you flood the house."
"Don't be. It's tile. You won't hurt it. We can mop up later on. Just get moving. Give me your wet clothes, and I'll toss them in the dryer, okay?" I asked.
"Yeah, okay. But can you turn around first?"
I didn't quite understand that since I had seen him in the pool many times when the twins had their friends over for birthday parties or soccer celebrations. He ran around just like all the rest of the kids. But maybe now he was feeling shy and vulnerable for some reason.
"Not a problem," I said. "Drop your clothes in the corner over there and wrap yourself in the towels and dry off. When you're dressed, let me know. I'll be hanging out at the end of the foyer."
"Okay," he squeaked. "Thanks."
I moved down the foyer and positioned myself so I could look into the big mirror hanging on the wall. That way I could see his reflection behind me out of the corner of my eye. I didn't want to intrude into his space, but I needed to see if there was something he was hiding. Something didn't seem right, and I had to find out what it was. I watched as he slowly peeled off his wet clothes, and when he was down to his saggy boxers, he turned around, so his back was towards me.
What I saw scared the crap out of me. From his shoulders to the top of his butt were covered with huge welts and big, purple and black bruises. I couldn't even imagine what that was about, but I knew right away that this kid had some serious problems going on, and I made a promise to myself that I was going to help him fix them as best I could.
"So, dude, where've you been hiding?" I asked into the back of the foyer, purposely away from him. "How come I haven't seen you with the twins recently?"
"I guess we drifted apart when we went to different schools. Where should I put these towels?"
I turned around to see him pull on a Trojan sweatshirt over his head. His hair was still wet and starting to soak his fresh shirt. "Give me those. I'll take care of them. But first, hold still for a second. You didn't do a very good job on your hair. See? You're still dripping all over the place." I grabbed the driest towel and ran it through his mop of long, curly brown hair. He let out a deep sigh, and sort of leaned back into me, which surprised me since he didn't want to be touched. "There. That feel better?"
"No problem. So, what's your story? Why are you soaking wet and pulling around a suitcase in the middle of the night? Don't you have a car?"
"Um, no. I don't have a driver's license. Can we talk about this later? Please? I don't want to talk about it right now." He said that so quietly that I had to lean in and cock my head to hear him. His lip was quivering, and I couldn't tell if he was freezing or if he was on the verge of tears, or both.
After a minute of looking harshly at him, I said. "Sure. No problem, dude. When was the last time you ate? You gotta be hungry."
"Um, no. Not really. Can we please just go dry my clothes? I don't want to be rude or anything, but if the guys aren't home, I should be on my way."
"Not going to happen, buddy. Not on my watch. You're not going anywhere tonight."
"Why not? What are you talking about?"
"I'm going to dry your clothes, but you don't get them back until you tell me what's going on. And you're not going anywhere until this rain stops. Maybe I can help you, maybe I can't, but if I can't then I'm sure I can find someone who can. But either way, you're not leaving here until you tell me what's up with you. If you're a friend of Randy and Ricky's, then you're a friend of mine. You should know I'd do anything for them, just like the twins would do anything for their friends. I may be their uncle, but they're like younger brothers to me since we're only three years apart and we pretty much grew up together. So, chill for a while and let's get you warmed up, okay?"
"Oh. I didn't know you're their uncle," he said, looking at me in the eyes for the first time. "Since you guys look alike, I assumed you were all brothers. Anyway, I'm pretty sure you can't help me. Maybe I could spend the night, and I'll be off in the morning. I can sleep on the couch if that's all right."
"Sure. You can do that. But just so you know, Indy will be all over you, and you probably won't get much rest. The guest room will be much more comfortable."
"Yeah, you're probably right. I remember Indica. Such a funny name," he said with a slight smile and started scratching her head between her ears. The dog hadn't left his side from the moment he walked in the door. "I remember when all us guys would have campouts in the backyard sometimes, and she'd be all over the place. Even though she's a girl, she thinks she's one of the guys." He had a faraway look in his eyes, and it was evident to anyone looking at him that he was thinking about happier days and remembering fun times long ago.
"Yup, that's her. My sister says she's the girl she never had. And as for her name, it was already hers when they rescued her from the animal shelter. C'mon. Let me make you some soup or a grilled cheese sandwich or something hot. It's late. You must be hungry. I know I am." I didn't wait for an answer and instead turned around and headed through the rambling ranch-style house towards the kitchen. Since he had been here before, I figured he'd remember how to find me.
A minute later, I heard the familiar tap tap tap of Indy's nails on the tile floor and looked over to see a happy dog and a sad teen come into the big chef's kitchen.
"I see Mrs. Farnsworth remolded her kitchen again. Looks nice," he said, as he climbed up and sat on a plush leather barstool, grimacing quite a bit. Guess the bruises on his back were fresh and still painful. "It looks a lot bigger than I remember."
"Yeah, she's always doing something around here. My sister tries to spend every cent of my brother-in-law's money," I joked. "When she remodeled a couple of years ago, she blew out the back of the house to make the kitchen and family room larger. And I scored big time when we converted the living room we never use into a suite for me. Now I have my own bedroom, bathroom, and a little office. But best of all, I finally have peace and quiet since the twins are at the other end of the house. So, what will it be? I'm not the best cook around, but I can do the basics pretty well."
"Can you open a can of soup and warm it up? That would be great," he said, and suddenly let out a loud yawn. It was going on one A.M.
"Sure, no problem. What do you like?"
"Anything but tomato."
"Works for me." I went to the pantry and got two cans of Italian Lentil soup, dumping them into a saucepan on the stove. "While this is warming, I'm gonna go throw your clothes in the dryer. You going to be okay for a couple of minutes?"
"I'm okay. Thanks, Jeremy. And, um, for everything you're doing for me."
"No worries, dude. Be right back." I sprinted to the foyer and scooped up his soaked clothes off the floor. I felt a lump in the pocket of his jeans and decided to check all of his pockets. I found a wallet and a smartphone, but nothing else, not even keys. My curiosity got the better of me, and I dropped the clothes back on the floor while I fished through his wallet.
True, the driver's license listed his name as Zachary Gaspard Dumont, Junior, and the address was a few blocks up from here in a more exclusive area of San Marino, like he said. So his story seemed accurate. I looked into the side where he kept his cash, and I was surprised that he had a massive wad of hundred-dollar bills tucked away in there. Must have been thirty or forty of them, but it was hard to tell since they were soaked together.
I sat his wallet on the marble lamp table and clicked on his phone. He didn't use a password, so I went through his texts and his contacts, but there was little to give me a glimpse of who or what Zach really was. Actually, there were few contacts and even fewer texts. Not even a contact for mom or dad. I guess the poor guy didn't have many friends, or maybe he deleted everything. That surprised me because he wasn't a bad looking guy.
Dropping his phone on the table next to his wallet, I yelled out for him to stir the soup a couple of times. When I got to the laundry room, I fired up the washer to run the spin cycle to get out most of the rainwater and dumped in his clothes, but not before going through his pockets one more time, just in case.
I'm glad I did because I pulled out a soggy business card from his front pocket for the Gay & Lesbian Center's youth outreach program in West Hollywood. "Oh," I said out loud. "Wonder what this is about."
Winding my way through the house, I was trying to figure out how I could ask him about the stuff I just discovered. I decided I wouldn't say anything – yet. Back in the kitchen, I set his phone, wallet and business card down on the counter in front of him. I didn't say anything or even look at him, and instead went over to the stove to make sure the soup wasn't boiling. I grabbed a couple of bowls out of the cupboard and ladled the warm soup into each one, then set them on the bar. After settling in next to him, he hung his head low, let out a sigh and finally said something.
"I can explain this..." Zach started, pointing at the business card.
"I'm sure you can. And I'd bet you a gazillion bucks it'd be a big-ass lie. So, before you say anything, let me tell you something. I'm gay, so if that's part of your problem, you don't have to worry about that with me. Okay?"
"No way! You are?" he shouted, startling Indy and making her jump up from underneath the bar stools.
"Yeah, totally sure. I've been this way pretty much my whole life. Why are you so surprised? Lots of people are gay. And lesbian. And Bi. And Trans, and all kinds of other sexualities. Some people are even straight."
"I know that. I'm not that stupid. We had a lady come in to one of our classes to speak on diversity. That's where I got the card."
"Then why are you surprised I'm gay?"
"Because you don't, I mean…you're not…"
"What? A hairy leatherman? A bouncy twink? What?"
"I didn't want to say it, but…yeah. I've only seen a few gay people, and they seemed kinda obvious. Like the ones on TV. And the lady that gave us the talk? She looked like a guy but said she was non-binary. It got kind of confusing when she said to call her they or them."
"There are all kinds of different gay people, and sometimes it is complicated because terms change so fast. Like for your speaker at school. But from my experience, some people like to flaunt it, some don't. For me, I'm just a regular guy. My friends, family, and people that need to know, know. I don't see any reason to go around advertising it to the whole world. I mean, I'm not into rainbow tat's, nipple rings and designer underwear and fifty-dollar jockstraps like some of the guys I work with. That's fine for them, but that's not me," I said, taking a big spoonful of soup. "I mean, if you had hemorrhoids, would you go around telling everybody?"
"Geez," I laughed. "Are you really eighteen?"
"Yeah. As of yesterday."
"Seriously? That's awesome, dude. Eighteen is a great number. You must be excited."
"Yeah, maybe," he said, slurping up the last of his soup.
"You don't sound like it."
I changed the subject once more because apparently, Zach wasn't ready to talk about his situation yet. But I could feel he was getting close. "Want some more?"
"Sure, thanks. I'm finally warming up."
"Good," I said, getting up and crossing the kitchen. "Since you're eighteen, you must have graduated last week, right?"
"Yeah, I did. I got my diploma, but I didn't go to graduation. It would have been…awkward with all those people knowing who my dad is. No big deal. Hey, can I ask you a question?"
"Sure, buddy. You can ask me anything you want, anytime. The twins still come to me with their problems because they think it's easier than talking to their parents. They know I'll give the straight-up answer. Fire away."
"Well, that cop? We're you two…um, you know? I sorta overheard you yelling at him, and it sounded like you guys have some sort of history."
"Yeah, we were. We were together for a while when I was a senior in high school. But we broke up a month before I graduated."
"Why? He seems like a good guy. I think he was sincerely trying to help me out. And damn, he sure looked hot in that uniform. Um, sorry, no offense. I can't believe I said that. Geez, sometimes I'm such a dork. His partner was a big asshole, though. That guy seemed mean."
"No offense taken, and no, you're not a dork. Trevor generally is a good guy, but he did something that I couldn't forgive him for doing, so I had to break up with him."
"What'd he do, if you don't mind me asking."
"Dude. Are you planning on becoming a psychiatrist? I'm trying to help you out, and now you've turned the tables on me," I laughed.
"No, I'm interested is all. You don't have to tell me if you don't want."
"I will, but we have to do something first."
"We have to celebrate your birthday! With a drink. Do you like whiskey?"
"I don't know. I've never had it before. Actually, the only alcohol I've had was a beer once. Plus, my mother…"
"Maybe this is a bad idea. I shouldn't have offered you that. We don't have any cake around, but I could find a candle and stick it on a Pop-Tart or a cookie or something."
"No! Don't do that. It's time for me to man up, and let loose. Like you said, turning eighteen is a milestone, even though it sucked. Let's do it."
"Okay, but only one. We don't drink around here much because the twins like to party hard with their friends. I can't tell you how many times I've had to pick them up somewhere because they were totally trashed. They finally toned it down when I made them wash the puke out of my truck. Ask them about it, they'll tell you. I have a bottle hidden in my room so they can't find it. I'll be right back. Do me a favor and rinse out the pan and soup bowls for me, okay?"
When I got back, Zach surprised me. He had made himself useful and had not only rinsed out the bowls but had also put every dirty dish into the dishwasher and wiped down the counters. Whatever his problems were, at least he had good manners.
"Thanks for cleaning up, buddy. Okay, so here's a shot for you and one for me. Fair warning. This is an expensive bottle, and even though its smooth, it might be a little much for your first time. The trick is to down it. Ready?"
"Yeah, guess so."
"I'd sing the Happy Birthday song, but then Indy would go ape-shit crazy and howl like a loon because I can't carry a tune. Okay, here goes. Happy birthday, Zach." We clinked our glasses, and down the hatch they went. The kid's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets, but he was a trooper and handled it like a pro.
"Not bad, actually. My tummy is tingling."
"Yeah, that's what it does. Okay, where were we?"
"You were about to tell me what that hot cop did to you to make you break up with him."
"Right." I took a deep breath and continued, "I met Trever through a friend when I was a senior in high school. He was a couple years older than me, but he seemed pretty cool, and we connected right away. I guess you'd say we had chemistry, which is probably why I'm still pissed at him. He worked security at various concert venues around L.A. and would get me backstage passes and awesome seats to concerts and sports events he worked. He was fun to be around, too. We always had a good time whenever we were together."
"What went wrong? It sounds great, and you two look like you'd make a cute couple."
"We were at his apartment one night, having chow mein and left-over corned beef and watching a Dodger game on his big screen when he told me – no, more like boasted – that he let some teenage groupie girl give him a hummer in exchange for letting her backstage for a Justin Timberlake concert. Or was it Bieber? That part doesn't matter."
"What's a hummer?"
"A blowjob. The worst part is, Trevor told me that he kept thinking of me the whole time that skank was gnawing on his bone. Like that's supposed to make me feel good?"
"Wow. What an asshole. I'd kick his ass to the curb, too."
"No kidding. That's when I figured out that if he does things like that, then he'd probably do it all the time. I didn't want any part of that shit. The sad part is, I genuinely like him. Well, liked him."
"I'm sorry. That must have sucked. Oh, crud! I didn't mean it that way." Zach's face instantly went red. After all his doom and gloom, the look on his face was adorable.
"You're funny, dude. But yeah, I couldn't see him anymore. I guess I'm a romantic, and I have no tolerance for cheaters."
"I'm the same way. That's what scares me about being gay. Not that I have any experience or anything. Seems like what I know about gay guys is all the sex they have. You know, like with a lot of different guys. At least that's what my parents used to rant and rave about."
"That's not necessarily true. Some guys are like that, and some girls are horn-dogs too, but I think most people want a healthy, stable relationship. I guess it depends on who you are on the inside, and how you were raised. But then, bad people come from good families, and good people come from bad ones. So, who knows?"
"I might not know much, but I do know one thing. I want a loving, monogamous relationship with a man. A life we can build upon, you know? An old house we can work on. Get a dog and a couple of cats. Maybe a llama, even. You know, boring but normal. The exact opposite of what I had growing up."
"Bingo. That's exactly what I want too, but I'm not sure about the llama. Anyway, I could never have had that with Trevor. You don't know this, but my parents were killed in a car crash when a drugged-out maniac hit them when he was speeding down the freeway going the wrong way. I was just a little guy when that happened."
"Oh, God. That must have been horrible. I can't even imagine what you and your sister must have gone through."
"Yeah, it was rough there at the beginning. Thing is, I'm worried my memories of my parents are starting to fade away. That scares me. But the one thing I remember strongly about them was how devoted and truly in love they were. If there's anything good that came out of that terrifying scene, is the fact they died together. I want a relationship like they had too."
"Is that how you ended up living with your sister and her family?"
"Yeah, pretty much. At first, I lived with my grandparents, but they were grieving and not able to take care of a rambunctious kid. So, when my sister and brother-in-law bought this place, they took me in. I'm lucky they did because they're great people."
"How come she's so much older than you?"
"When she was in high school, I was the surprise baby my parents thought they were too old to have."
"Wow. I guess everyone has not-so-good stories to tell about their families," Zach said, sadly.
"You ready to tell me yours?"
"Not really, but I will. You just shared like everything with me, so yeah, it's time I told somebody. But we should probably have another shot of that whiskey. I think that will make it easier for me to tell, and for you to hear."
"Okay, but that's all. It's two in the morning, so it's last call at this bar. Let's go sit on the couch in the great room. It'll be more comfortable."
We downed our shots and followed them with a big swig of Pepsi. Not the best, but that's all we had. After we got comfortable on the couch and Indy had climbed up and plopped her hairy head in his lap, I asked, "Where do you want to start?"
"Um, I guess I'll just blurt it out. I think I killed my mother."
Please note that this is the start of a multiple chapter story, and that the further chapters were not submitted for this writing challenge. When they are submitted there will be a little next chapter arrow in the right hand margin.
This story is part of the 2018-2019 story challenge "Recovery". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 4 January to 25 January 2019 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the challenge home page.
This challenge is to write a story based on the recovery of one or more of the cast from a dark place. There is no picture. Instead we are looking for tales which are able to paint a dark word picture and show recovery and hope.
Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]
* Some browsers may require a right click instead