This may have been the stupidest thing he had ever done. Before this, he was pretty sure helping Dylan steal that PS3 had been the stupidest thing he had ever done. They almost got caught. They could have been arrested. He could have been in juvie. Instead, he only got busted by his mom. She was pissed. He got a big fat bruise and a busted lip for that one. But he still got to go over to Dylan's house. And Dylan's mom didn't know what to do with the thing, so she had let him keep it. So that meant he got to play video games. That stupid thing worked out pretty well, right? So maybe this one would too.
He still wasn't that sure. Didn't they tell them in elementary school 'stranger danger' and all that other bullshit? Don't get in vans with guys with candy. Well. This guy didn't have candy. And his car sure as hell wasn't a van. It was probably worth more than his life now that he looked around at it. Leather seats. GPS system. There were more buttons than he could figure out what they connected to. Yeah. It was definitely nicer than a van.
The guy driving the car didn't say much. Asked if he needed help, and well, he kinda did. So, he said yeah. The guy told him he'd take him and get him a burger. Sounded good to him, hence his answer of a nod and a shrug. His bike was in the back of the car and they were going to get a burger. Maybe he could get a shake. His mom never let him get those, said it was a waste of money, to shut up and to eat his damn food. He normally went along with that and ate his burger and fries.
He was out today because his mom had found out about what he and Dylan had done the week before. It wasn't their fault. It was their summer break before eighth grade. They were bored. Shit happened. What did she expect, it wasn't like they were at one of those fancy summer camps or something. So they had to come up with something to entertain themselves with. The new office building that was going up a few blocks away didn't have anyone there since it had been raining that day. A deserted construction site seemed like a fun place to hang out, kill a few hours, be out of the house. So they went over there.
When Dylan started throwing the rocks, they were just small ones and they made funny sounds against the huge glass panes. He started throwing them too. The only problem was they ran out of the little rocks quickly and moved on to medium ones. He threw one sorta hard. And then it happened. The window just SHATTERED. Dylan and him stood there, jaws dropped, huge eyes, watching. It felt like it was the loudest noise ever. They looked around and realized… there was no one to see. No one had heard. So, they did it again. And again. And one more time for good measure before they decided they were pushing their luck. It would have been fine, no one would have known it was them, but Dylan had confessed to his mom. His stupid mom. She was always around. She was always there. She always knew when they were "up to something" as she put it. So Dylan's mom had called his mom. When his mom answered the phone and said who it was, he knew what was going down. Rather than get hit again, he ran out the door, grabbed his bike and rode.
He didn't really know how he ended up at the construction site. Part of him wanted to see if they had fixed the windows. They had. He even heard the guy say that they weren't behind schedule at all. So he didn't feel as bad about everything that had happened. Dylan had stupid ideas. He needed to remember that. Although, he may be winning in the stupid contest getting in this guy's car. So who knew.
They pulled up to In-and-Out. The guy parked, probably because he was scared of food getting all over his nice car. And they were going in public, where there were security cameras, so probably wasn't worried about getting caught for his murder later. "Let's go. I'm thinking I want a Double-Double." He couldn't tell if the guy was smiling at him, but he thought he might be, which made him smile back. He climbed out of the car and shoved his hands into his sweatshirt pockets as he walked in.
"So, kid, what do you want?" He looked up and noticed the guy wasn't looking at him, but the menu.
He looked up at the menu and after a minute decided to go for it, "Double-Double animal style, animal fries, chocolate shake."
He waited for the guy to tell him no way, that was too much. Instead the guy just nodded, "Sounds good. I'll get the same." Wow. He definitely lucked out on that one.
They pretty much were quiet until their order was ready. He was halfway through his burger when all the sudden something came over him. Maybe this is what happened to Dylan. His mom was nice so he just told what he had done. But it was happening to him. He didn't even manage to swallow his bite of burger before it all came spilling out, "So, I broke the windows in that building you were working on. Well, it wasn't just me. I was with my friend Dylan. It was his idea and he started throwing the rocks and then I did and then the windows broke and then we left and we weren't going to tell and then he told his mom and she called my mom and I didn't want to get a whooping so I left and I don't know why I went back there but I did and you asked if I needed help and I didn't want to go home because, like I said, my mom, so I'm here." He didn't normally talk that much. Especially when he had screwed up. But it all just came out. The guy had put down his burger and was just staring at him. And again, he wanted to talk, "I guess I just wanted to say sorry. Because, you know, you're being nice and all and I broke your windows, or your building's windows, or whatever. But you let me get the shake and everything and you didn't have to and yeah. Thanks." Before he could say anything else, he shoved a bite of burger into his mouth again.
The guy watched him for a minute before he spoke up, "Its okay. Not that I'm saying you should go break more windows, but it wasn't a big deal to fix at this point. And at least you fessed up. Although I'm not sure breaking a couple windows is worth a whooping." He felt the guy's eyes looking over him and he decided then and there he had been wrong. He wasn't going to get killed. Definitely going to get molested tho. This guy was a perv, the way he was just staring at him, staring at his face and… oh fuck. He probably noticed the bruise that was still hanging out on his left cheek.
His mom came home late last week and found him on the computer at 2 am looking at chicks. Normally when she was out that late, she just didn't come home so he figured he was fine. Instead she was just wasted and pissed and took it out primarily on his face. She normally didn't, but it was summer and she didn't have any school counselors to report to. He looked down and to the side, so his face was a bit hidden.
The guy spoke up again, "How often do you get bruises like that?"
"You know that's not right? Parents aren't supposed to do that," the guy said.
He shrugged again.
"My dad used to do that. To my brother and me."
That caught his attention. THIS guy? No way. No way did his dad do shit like this. He wouldn't end up in that car looking like he did working in a job like he did if he came from a dad who did anything like his mom did. His disbelief read on his face.
"Everything we did wrong, we got hit. Figured it was normal, ya know? Hit my mom, too. Then he went away for it, prison. Thought it would stop. Then my mom got boyfriends."
He couldn't help but to nod. He knew all about the boyfriends. They were worse than his mom. They just figured he was in the way and if they pushed him around enough, he'd shut up and go away. "One of my mom's boyfriends broke my nose last year. Told everyone it happened playing baseball," he said quietly. Fact of the matter was, he'd never played the game.
The guy frowned at that. "Ya know, not all parents are like that. I got great parents when I was a few years older than you and they never did that."
He wasn't stupid. He knew not all parents were like that. Dylan's mom never hit him. And the one time she had a boyfriend who smacked Dylan, she dumped him so fast, Dylan's reenactment had them laughing for days. "Yeah, I know. But mine does."
The guy looked like he was thinking again. So they went back to eating what was left of their burgers. It wasn't until he was almost finished with his shake until the guy said anything again, "Listen. You don't know me, but you don't have to, but my wife and I have a house up near Berkeley. Why don't you come up there. I'll work out a deal with your mom, tell her you're not in trouble for the windows and stuff so that way you don't have to get a whooping for this one."
"Are you going to molest me? Or kill me? Because that would suck." He blurted it out before he could think. He felt bad, the guy was offering something nice, but, he had to check.
He figured he was okay when the guy started to laugh, "You're going to be fine. Promise. And I think you'll get along GREAT with my wife."
He couldn't figure out what was quite so funny, but he just nodded and went back to his milkshake. After a few more sips he looked at the guy and nodded with a serious look on his face, "Well, if you're not going to molest me or kill me, I think I could do that."
They drove north from Oakland. He had been up to the Berkeley area once. One of his mom's boyfriends had been decent and took him to a Cal game. It had been nice from what he could remember. They didn't say a lot on the drive, he mostly looked out the window and tried to remember landmarks in case this guy was lying and he had to somehow figure a way back to his mom's house. He was a good runner. He figured it could be possible. Plus, he had Dylan's number memorized. Dylan's mom would totally come pick him up if he called.
They had exited the freeway and were in some neighborhood. He was trying to watch street signs when the guy threw off his concentration, "Hey, kid? What's your name? Ya know. Gotta tell my wife something other than 'This is the kid who broke the windows at my site and I brought him home.'"
He wasn't sure if the guy was trying to throw off his concentration for his return path or just being nice. He decided he might as well tell the guy his name, but just his first one. "I'm Kyle."
The guy nodded, "Kyle. Alright, well, I'm Ryan. And my wife is Taylor. And…" the guy took a deep breath and shook his head. He looked worried. Maybe Ryan's wife was like his mom. He was a big guy, it would take a HUGE woman to be able to make him scared. The guy finally started again, "My wife is great. She's really nice. But she talks. A lot. And I don't. And I think you two will like each other, I'm pretty sure of it because you talk some, but, she talks a lot. So don't let it freak you out."
Okay. That confused Kyle. But he just nodded and watched as they pulled into a house. It looked nice. Way nicer than his house or Dylan's apartment. But it wasn't too nice. It just looked like, well, like a home. It was weird and he shrugged the feeling off as he climbed out of the car once it stopped in the driveway. Kyle walked around the car and stood next to Ryan.
Ryan put his hand on Kyle's shoulder as the pair stood there. "Just follow me. I'll introduce you. She'll talk. A lot. And just let her." Kyle nodded and the pair walked toward the door.
Ryan took a deep breath as he unlocked the front door before walking in and calling out, "Taylor? I'm home and we have company."
A pretty woman came out from a doorway to the right. She had longer hair that was the color of his fifth grade teacher's. He had liked his fifth grade teacher, so that was a point in her direction. She was wearing nice clothes like his, but not as dressy. There was a big smile on her face that didn't falter once, not even when she saw him standing there in his grungy clothes with his hands shoved in his pockets. She had a dish towel she was wiping her hands with as she neared them, "Hey Ryan…" she trailed off, unsure of his name.
It wasn't until Ryan started talking that he realized Ryan's hand was still on his shoulder, "Taylor, this is Kyle. Kyle, this is my wife Taylor."
Taylor looked a bit confused before she extended her hand to Kyle, "Kyle, its nice to meet you."
Kyle just gave a little smile and nodded as he shook her hand back. Her hands were soft. She probably never hit Ryan. Wonder why he seemed nervous around her then.
Ryan's nerves weren't showing like they were in the car though. He squeezed Kyle's shoulder and looked from Kyle and then back to Taylor, "Kyle is the young man who broke the windows at the site-"
"I didn't break them all, just two, Dylan broke the others!" Kyle blurted out, immediate self defense mode thinking he was about to get in trouble for this. But when he looked up at Ryan, he was smiling. It was so weird.
Ryan nodded and then looked back at Taylor, "Kyle is the young man who broke SOME of the windows at the site and he is in a little trouble for it, so I thought he might come over here and spend some time with us."
When Kyle looked up from his shoes, he saw that there was definitely something clicking in this Taylor chick's head. But she wasn't talking. Ryan said she talked a lot. Why wasn't she talking. Apparently this was making Ryan nervous too. He felt Ryan's hand tense when Taylor finally did speak. "Ryan, can I speak to you in private?"
Ryan cleared his throat and nodded before he looked down to Kyle, "Hey, go in the den, through that door, I've got an X-Box set up. Play video games, we'll be back in a few minutes."
Kyle did as he was told. He didn't have any problems playing video games at all. Their TV was great, the surround sound made the game even better, and if it weren't for the clock on the wall, he wouldn't have realized that the two adults had been gone for over an hour. He heard some yelling, but the game blocked out a lot of it. He mostly heard a girl's voice, so he figured Taylor finally started all that talking. He paused the game at the hour mark and tried to listen in. They were talking about him. What Ryan was thinking bringing him home. Did Ryan know anything about him? The kid broke windows, what other trouble did he get into.
Kyle looked around at the house, thinking he wouldn't be there much longer before he heard Ryan's voice. Something about Ryan being a lot like Kyle. About how getting sandy had saved him? The beach saved him? They weren't anywhere near the beach right now. He stopped thinking about that one and went back to listening in. About how he needed to do this. About how Kyle needed their help. Kyle wasn't so sure he needed their help, but he couldn't deny the fact that this was kind of nice. Better than home. He wondered if his mom realized he wasn't there. Was his being here make him kidnapped or a run away? Because he did run away from the house first, but then Ryan brought him here…
Apparently Taylor had the same thought because he heard the word kidnapped come from the other room. Their voices faded again but now he was curious. He got up and slowly started making his way from his spot on the floor toward the doorway that went into the living room where Taylor and Ryan were talking. He could see them now. She talked with her hands a lot. And moved around him. He just stood there, listening to her, and making points when he needed to.
He really thought he'd be going back to Oakland until Taylor finally stopped moving around. She got really quiet and he noticed Ryan got tense again. Then, she smiled. And she nodded. "Alright. He can stay. I get it. We'll figure this out." And then she kissed Ryan.
He didn't mean to say anything, it just kind of slipped out, "Yuck."
His slip up caught the adult's attention and they broke apart, looking at him standing there. There were smiles on both of their faces as they started towards him. "Not a fan of PDA?" Ryan asked.
Kyle shrugged "I dunno. Sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt."
"Its okay. I guess I'll have to get used to it if you're going to stay here, that is, if you want," Taylor said sweetly.
Kyle gave another shrug before looking at Ryan. He realized that Ryan was waiting for him to say something else so he nodded, "Yeah. I like your Xbox."
So that was that. He stayed. He figured it'd be for a few days, and then he'd go home. But Ryan had gone to talk to his mom. She apparently was happy to have the kid off her hands and a 'custody arrangement' was reached. He figured he should feel bad about that, but he didn't mind. It was nice here.
He played Xbox with Ryan and his brother. He liked doing that a lot. Seth was better than Ryan, but Kyle still beat him every time. He probably would have let him win a few, but Seth made such a big deal about losing and Ryan laughed so much that he just kept kicking his butt. It was nice because when they did that, no one treated him like a little kid who was in the way. Instead, they actually wanted to hang out with him. Seth wanted to hang out with him and play video games with him so much, his wife got mad at him for not wanting to hang out with her. He thought that was pretty cool.
Taylor made a lot of lists once he was going to stay. Ryan had brought some of his things from his old home, but Taylor wanted to get him new stuff. New clothes, new shoes, new backpack, new sheets, all sorts of junk. Then she started signing him up for stuff. He ended up at one of those camps that he never thought he'd go to. She signed him up for baseball camp. She said that if he had an arm strong enough to break the windows at Ryan's site, he would do good at baseball. And he was decent. He ended up getting placed on one of the better teams come the end of summer when they started playing games against each other. Taylor was at every single one of his games. She yelled louder than any of the other parents. Some of the guys asked if he was embarrassed of his mom for being that crazy. He never told them she wasn't his mom because really, it was just nice having someone there at all. He made a deal with himself that as long as she kept coming, he didn't care how crazy she was.
By the end of the summer, Kyle decided he finally had figured this all out. His mom sucked. Everyone could see that. She never wanted to be a mom, especially not his. So, he left home that day and found a new one. And they didn't suck. So maybe all of it wasn't the stupidest thing he'd ever done.