Okay...so I promised to bring some funny, and I will...but I haven't brought it just yet! LOL! I'm hanging out in the 'Anger Management' department just a little while longer. This is one of those "hypothetical" stories so be prepared to have an open mind. Don't panic, there's nothing horrible here, but I can't help but wonder...."what if" Ryan really was a bad boy? What if he didn't straighten out his act when he came to live with the Cohens? I guess we'll read along and find out...welcome to my version of the 'Dark Side'.
Pacing his cell like a caged animal, Ryan couldn't wait to be set free. The problem was, even though he was being released from juvie today, he wasn't going home. A new home and a new life awaited him with his attorney's family. He said he thought Ryan had potential and with the right support he could really do something with his life. Unfortunately for this Good Samaritan, Ryan had no intention of living up to what other people thought he should be. He had no intention of changing his ways and this new family better be prepared to deal with that. Ryan's lips curled into a smile at the thought of the amount of trouble he could cause for the unsuspecting family. The Cohen family would never know what hit them.
Hanging his arms through the cell bars, Ryan stared at the female guard across from him. She was young, new to the facility. Probably right out of the academy, he'd never seen her before. She shifted her weight under his glare, a clear tell to Ryan that he was making her uncomfortable. He liked that control. 'She'll never last,' Ryan thought to himself. His attention was distracted by the opening of the gate at the end of the hall.
The Deputy's voice bellowed through the hallway. "Atwood, Ryan!"
"Here." Ryan's voice was dry and deep, appearing older than his years. He returned his gaze to the uncomfortable guard who seemed to have a hard time looking at him now.
"Come on Atwood. You know the drill." The Deputy waited while Ryan pulled his arms back into the cell and backed away from the gate. Unlocking the gate, "So you think you'll stay out a little longer this time?"
Ryan shrugged, "If I don't come back, who's gonna make sure you're doing your job?"
The Deputy chuckled as he directed Ryan to stand against the wall. Handing Ryan his jacket, he walked him to the lobby where they found Sandy Cohen sitting, waiting.
"Ryan. Good to see you. You ready to go?"
"Do I have a choice?"
With an exaggerated sigh, "Then I guess I'm ready."
Sandy had his mind made up. He could shape this kid, help him make something out of his life. Show him that life could be whatever he wanted. No one said it would be easy, but no one also told him just how hard it was going to be.
"So Ryan, before we get home, there's just a few things I need to go over with you."
"Here it comes..." Ryan mumbled under his breath.
"I know you're used to doing your own thing, but you're going to be living with three other people now. There are some rules you'll need to abide by."
Taping his finger on his leg, Ryan let Sandy ramble on. This was all a technicality and something he had to sit through since he was trapped in a moving car. In Chino he made his own rules. He sure as hell didn't follow anyone else's and he didn't intend to start now.
Sensing Ryan's tension, Sandy tried to keep the conversation from sounding like a prison sentence. "It's not so bad Ryan, just your basic parents rules, nothing fancy. There's no smoking in this house and of course, drugs and drinking are out of the question. No fighting. No stealing. You'll have a curfew..."
Sandy looked at Ryan with a dismayed face, "Of everything I've listed, you're most upset that you have a curfew?"
"Sandy, I don't do curfews," Ryan stated flatly.
"You do now," Sandy retorted, just as flatly. "Look at the bright side, this may not be your version of Disneyland, but it's better than being stuck in juvie."
Clearly agitated, Ryan shot a sideways look at his new warden. "Sounds like a party," he mocked.
Pulling into the driveway, Ryan noticed two people sitting on the front step. Both looked entirely uptight and Ryan could tell they didn't know what to make of him when he got out of the car.
"Ryan, this is my wife, Kirsten, and my son, Seth."
Offering a half nod, Ryan didn't spend much time studying them. He had no desire to get to know them better. And if they knew what was good for them, they'd stay out of his way.
Following Sandy Ryan was pleased to see he'd be on his own in the Pool House. He smiled on the inside knowing he could probably do whatever he wanted out here and they'd have no idea.
It took another fifteen minutes of Sandy's lecturing about life in the Cohen household before Ryan was on his own. It was late. He was tired. He'd see what the day would hold for him tomorrow. Sitting in the dark, he retrieved a pack of cigarettes and his lighter from the pocket on the inside of his jacket. Sandy had spent so much time laying down the rules he forgot to enforce them before leaving Ryan's room. Lighting his cigarette, he took several drags using an empty Coke can as an ashtray. Allowing the smoke to slowly sift through his lips as he exhaled, he looked across the patio at the main house. Through the kitchen window he saw Kirsten Cohen standing at the kitchen sink. Flashbacks of the timid juvie guard crossed Ryan's mind. It wouldn't take much to break her. Just like the guard, she was soft. He always wondered how people like them made it through life.
Finishing his cigarette, he doused it in the Coke can and stretched out across his bed. His eyes felt heavy and within minutes, he was out.
Morning comes quickly in a room with no blinds drawn. Squinting against the brightness, Ryan rolled over and reached for his cigarettes on his night table. Nothing. Raising his head, he forced one eye open to find his pack. Confused, he stared at the table momentarily.
"You can see just fine. They aren't there."
Grinding his teeth at the voice, he rolled back over to find Sandy sitting in his room. No cigarettes and a parent figure on a 'do good' trip was not the way Ryan planned to start his day.
"I told you last night there's no smoking in this house."
Sitting up in the bed, Ryan glared at Sandy. He expected them to be difficult but he really thought it would take longer than this. He didn't expect them to be digging their heels in during the first twenty-four hours.
"You're expected in the house for breakfast."
"I'm not exactly hungry," Ryan grouched, still unhappy about his missing pack of cigarettes.
"Suit yourself. You've got a long day ahead of you. Since we can't trust you to be home alone just yet, you'll be going shopping with Kirsten today."
"Yes," Sandy added, standing up at the foot of Ryan's bed. "Shopping. It's one of those activities that women like to do. She mentioned she needed a new suit...oh and some make up I believe."
"Make up?" Ryan was fuming.
"You better get yourself together. Kirsten will be in here any minute. She's ready to leave. Have a good day today. I'll see all of you tonight, for dinner."
Ryan sat speechless on his bed, too pissed off to even look at Sandy as he walked out. While he was still trying to absorb just how awful the day was going to be, Kirsten walked in.
"Okay Ryan, let's get going, we've got quite a bit to do today." Noticing Ryan's less than happy look, she yanked his blanket off in an attempt to get him moving. "Oh it's not going to be that bad. Come on, get up and get dressed."
"I'm a big boy, I can stay here by myself. I'll stay in my room."
"Well, you may very well be a big boy, but your track record proves you're also a bad boy. This is my home. Until you can show me you're going to respect it...this is the way it's going to be. Now get dressed, we're running late." Seating herself in the same chair Sandy was in, Ryan slowly stewed in his own juices.
"I can get dressed by my...."
"I know, I know, you're a big boy. There's the bathroom. Use it, change out of yesterday's clothes and let's go. I have an appointment at Fashion Island."
Ryan fought his demons in an attempt to choose his battles and this morning's events were clearly stacked against him: Team Cohen, 1...Team Atwood, 0.
Sitting on a pink couch outside of the dressing room, Ryan's face couldn't have projected a bigger pout if he tried as Kirsten tried on suit after suit.
"Hang in there son. You're mom is almost done," the sales woman encouraged.
Ryan winced, unsure of exactly what he was wincing at, the saleswoman's voice, the fact that Kirsten was still not finished trying on suits or the fact that the saleswoman referred to Kirsten as his Mom.
"What do you think of this one Ryan?"
"It's fine," Ryan said, clenching his teeth.
"That's what you said about the last one."
"Actually it's what I've thought about the last ten."
Putting her hands on her hips, Kirsten tilted her head and looked at Ryan. "Okay, you've been patient enough. I'll be right out."
After setting several suits aside, Kirsten paid the bill and arranged for the suits to be tailored.
"Okay Ryan, one more errand."
"I can't wait," he offered sarcastically.
A rather lengthy walk found them on the other side of Fashion Island at one of the premiere cosmetic stores. The woman behind the counter was particularly grumpy and seemed to be disgusted with every choice Kirsten made. Ryan found it strange that he noticed himself frustrated by the way the woman treated Kirsten.
Bored to death, he watched Kirsten make choices in foundations, blushes and eye shadows. "Okay, almost done, I need two tubes of lipstick in Plum Frost."
The saleswoman rolled her eyes for the umpteenth time and searched through the drawer of lipsticks. "Do you have to have that color?" she moaned.
Kirsten and Ryan exchanged a look. "Yes. I do. It's what I wear."
Shaking her head, the saleswoman continued to search the drawer while Kirsten turned her interest to some perfume bottles on display. Ryan noticed the sales lady move two tubes of lipstick to the edge of the drawer and then close it, leaving the keys in the lock.
"I'm sorry. We're out of that shade."
"Are you sure? Out of that entire drawer?"
"I'm sorry ma'am. There's none left," she snapped back.
"Then I guess I'm finished. Could you ring these out please?" Walking over to the cash register, Kirsten noticed Ryan bending down looking at something.
"So, how did it go today?" Sandy inquired, watching Kirsten plate up dinner.
"It wasn't bad. I expected it to be much worse. I thought he did pretty well. He didn't complain at all. You could only tell he was miserable if you looked at him," Kirsten explained, laughing.
"Oh well that's good."
The only problem I had was at the cosmetic counter and it was with the saleswoman, not Ryan."
"She was just in a foul mood. I couldn't get my lipstick. Unfortunately for Ryan that means another trip to another store tomorrow."
Sitting on his bed Ryan hung up the phone just as Sandy entered his room.
"Hey kid. How ya doing?"
"Dinner's ready if you'd like to come in. We'd love for you to have dinner with us."
Again, Ryan winced. He hadn't had a family life in years and now that someone was offering it to him, it seemed really lame and nothing he wanted to have any part of.
After Sandy went back into the house, Ryan snuck down the driveway to a waiting car and drove away.
All of the Cohens watched the clock tick into the wee hours of the night and there was still no sign of Ryan.
"Do you think he's coming back?" Seth asked, trying to imagine what Ryan might be doing.
"I guess we'll see," Sandy answered looking at the front door again as if Ryan was scheduled to walk in any minute. "If he gets into trouble and the Police pick him up, he'll be back in Juvie in no time. And then he'll be stuck there."
Sandy went upstairs for a bit and Kirsten sat drumming her fingers against her coffee mug as another half hour without Ryan went by. Finally, at 2:30am, lights against the wall signaled a car in the driveway causing Seth and Kirsten to stand up simultaneously.
"Wait, wait," Seth intervened. "Let me get the door. If you jump on him the minute he walks in, he's going to walk right out again. He's not used to answering to people, remember?"
Seth had a point and she knew it. They would wait and see what the situation would bring.
Scuffling outside the door had Seth opening the door with apprehension, unsure of what was waiting for him on the other side. On the porch Seth found two rough looking characters holding up a completely inebriated Ryan.
Sliding out on the porch, Seth closed the door behind him. "Ryan! What are you doing? My parents are going to have a fit!"
Seth's warning fell on deaf ears as a red-eyed Ryan struggled to stay on his feet and the partying trio broke out in laughter at Seth's concern.
"He's all yours," one of the thugs said, placing Ryan's arm across Seth's shoulder. The weight of Ryan's muscular body pulled against Seth's slender frame.
"Um...Ryan? Can you help a little bit here?" he begged.
"Pfft! Are you always this weak?" Ryan rattled off. He didn't like anyone who was weak.
"Um right. You might wanna be nice to me for a while because I'm the only thing keeping my parents off you."
After a beat Ryan sized up Seth with hazy eyes. He had a point. "Fine. Can you just get me to my room?" Ryan slurred.
"Okay. That's probably a good idea," Seth nodded.
Pulling Ryan through the front door, they came face to face with Kirsten.
"Ryan," she regarded, attempting to keep her voice even. "Where have you been?"
"Out. Can I go now?" he answered, swaying and leaning against Seth to keep from falling. His breath reeked of alcohol and his eyes stared a hole through Kirsten. He wanted to go lay down and he wanted to go now.
"No. You can't go until you tell me where you were." Holding her ground Kirsten stood firm with her arms crossed against her chest.
"I told you, just out," Ryan argued back.
Growing more and more agitated with every passing second, "What does it matter? I went out! I need to lay down."
"Ryan..." Kirsten began, but was cut short by Ryan doubling over and vomiting on the foyer floor.
"Oh God that's so gross!" Seth complained out loud while holding Ryan around the waist to keep him off the puke soaked floor. "I can feel his stomach every time he does that!"
Kirsten, however, was not amused. She waited a moment until Ryan stopped heaving. "Are you finished?"
Defeated, Ryan nodded.
"Alright let's go. Pool house. Now. I'll take it from here Seth."
"Thank God!" Seth muttered, rather happy to be relieved of the puking Ryan.
Kirsten held onto Ryan and shuffled him back to the pool house as Sandy came downstairs and looked over the mess on the foyer floor.
Sighing, "Apparently. I'll take care of this. Go to bed Seth."
Back in the pool house, Ryan was talking but it was all drunken nonsense so Kirsten didn't answer him. Removing his jacket she noticed him tugging at his belt buckle.
"You okay Ryan?"
"I have to go to the bathroom," he slurred, angrily pulling harder against his belt buckle.
"Oh no you don't! Not here! No way!" Grabbing Ryan by the arm without any mercy for his condition, she literally dragged him across the room to the bathroom, barely allowing his legs a chance to negotiate any impassable objects along the way.
Steadying Ryan in front of the toilet, "Wait right here Ryan, just lean against the counter. I'll go get Sandy."
But before Kirsten could even turn to leave, a dizzy Ryan fell against her and managed to open his jeans with a single tug. "Can't wait," he garbled.
Steadying Ryan, again, "No no no! Ryan, I can't help you with this. I have to get Sandy. I'll only be a minute just hold on. Just wait."
"I told you I can't wait," he barked angrily in his intoxicated stupor and a familiar sound filled the room as he leaned against Kirsten for stability and relieved himself in the toilet.
Looking away from Ryan at the opposite wall, Kirsten clenched her teeth, shook her head in disgust and mouthed her frustrations at the wall. Sandy's words rang in her head. "No one said it would be easy." She knew there was no sense trying to reason with him in his current drunken state. She also reminded herself that as awkward and uncomfortable as this situation was, it was better than changing wet clothes, wet bedding, or cleaning up another floor considering the mess he'd left in the foyer.
When the room fell quiet again, "Ryan...are you finished?"
"Yeah..." It almost seemed he had a moment of clarity and sobriety, realizing what had just happened but Kirsten knew it was just her wishful thinking. Raising his head, his eyes were still cold and peeved, not to mention clearly drunk.
"We'll talk about this tomorrow. Let's get you into bed."
Guiding Ryan back to the bed, he let himself fall face first down onto the bed, and that's where he stayed. With one last perturbed shake of her head, Kirsten left him to sleep it off.
Once again, morning in Newport came quickly. Ryan cursed out loud at the lack of blinds in the pool house. His head was pounding with a fresh hangover and the bright sunlight wasn't going to let him sleep any longer. Pulling himself up a familiar sight awaited him. There sat Sandy in the 'Warden's chair' and he did not look happy. Ryan regarded him with reservation, waiting for the words to follow. Obviously he did something wrong but had no idea what it was. The previous night was lost in drunken bliss.
"Morning," Sandy started, breaking the ice. "How's your head?"
"It's going to hurt worse when you see what awaits you today."
Disgusted, Ryan rolled his eyes and got out of bed.
"I'm not done talking to you Ryan."
"Yeah well I'm done talking to you," Ryan said grabbing his wallet and shoving it in his back pocket.
"Do you realize, that in the forty-eight hours you've been here, you've broken almost every rule I gave you?"
"Almost every rule? Damn. I was shooting for a clean sweep."
"Sit down and listen to me!" Sandy's voice meant business and it got Ryan's attention.
"Alright, what?" Ryan asked sitting down on the edge of his bed, offering Sandy a cold as ice stare.
"Why are you trying so hard to do the opposite of what we ask? Do you really hate it here that much?"
Ryan paused and thought on Sandy's comment. "This is only temporary. No sense getting used to it," he said looking down at his boots.
"Now that decision is up to you. I can't make you stay here. I can't make you want to be here. You have to want that for yourself. The only thing I can tell you...if you keep up on the path you're on, whether you want to be here or not, if you do something that lands you back in Juvie I won't be able to get you out next time. That would be strike three my friend."
Of everything Ryan listened to Sandy babble about that hit home. Going back to Juvie would be the worst. If Sandy couldn't get him out, then he'd be stuck there. And this time he'd be spending some serious time there. He wanted to push the envelope, but not to the point of returning to Juvie.
Sandy could see Ryan was absorbing at least the last line. He knew the kid didn't want to go back to Juvie. He also knew that Ryan's life prior to coming to Newport was quite the wild ride. There was no way this kid was going to change over night.
Sitting quietly on the edge of the bed, an extremely aggravated Ryan avoided looking at Sandy. He hated the fact that Sandy was right and that trapped animal feeling came back. He had to find a way out of this conversation without acknowledging what Sandy said. He sure as hell wasn't going to offer to do better. Just when the silence was growing too long, Ryan's hangover provided an out.
"I think I'm going to throw up."
"Bathroom's that way," Sandy countered calm and collected, not missing a beat.
Shaking his head, Sandy watched Ryan rush across the room, not even bothering to close the bathroom door. Listening to Ryan's stomach empty in the other room, he offered some encouragement.
"Remember Ryan...this is supposed to be fun!"
"Shut up Sandy!" he managed to shoot back before heaving again.
After several more minutes Ryan finally emerged from the bathroom looking pale and weary. He raised his hands at his sides hoping Sandy would see his surrender and back off with the joking.
"Glad to see you're miserable. But somehow I don't think you're learned a lesson from this."
Biting his bottom lip, Ryan just shook his head.
"Far enough. At least you're being honest...for now."
The comment brought a smirk to Ryan's face. Touché. Sandy was proving to be better at this game than he expected.
Rising from his seat, "By the way, you owe Kirsten an apology."
"For exposing yourself and reliving yourself in her presence."
Tucking his lips in, Ryan turned his head and just stared at his bed. The previous evening's events were just one big blur. He couldn't remember a thing. He knew he could upset Kirsten at the drop of a hat. She was soft just like the guard back at Juvie. But if what Sandy just said was true, then he must have really floored her. Surely her son Seth had never even snuck a drink behind her back, let alone gotten completely wasted and experienced all the gross stuff that goes with it.
"I'll apologize," Ryan consented quietly.
"Good. She's in the kitchen. I'll see you tonight...and I will see you tonight because you'll be staying in tonight. Got it?"
Ryan's sideways glance threw daggers at Sandy as he gritted his teeth and looked away. Opting for silence. It was going to be a long day.