Chapter 3

As Max slowly starts to regain his consciousness, everything at first was almost in a blur. He was still nauseous and his head was pounding as if he was hit by a ton of bricks. Just as he stands up finally and looks around, he was shocked of what he has seen. He was in his school auditorium, but something was wrong, terribly wrong. As he looked around again he saw that the whole place was trashed and vandalized. Toilet paper was thrown everywhere trash was all over the floors and the majority of the walls were spray painted with names and other words with profanity. Max then realized as he put his hands in his pockets of his hoodie jacket he found two red and green spray cans. Max could believe his eyes; he couldn't possibly have done this. He dropped the cans on the ground and slowly backed away, almost violently shaking.

"No," Max said in fear. "This can't be! I could never have done something like this. But why?"

He then he got out his cellphone in his jean pocket and looked at the time. It was 3 a.m. Max started to panic immediately. Just as he turned to run out the school, police officer flashed a flashlight in his face.

"Hold it right there sir, the policeman said. "You're under arrest!"

* * * * * * *

Max was arrested instantly and was taken downtown by the police officer. It turns out that a neighbor saw someone on school grounds breaking into the school auditorium and the police found Max inside with the spray paint. The police stated the Max was the actual person who did the crime, because he was the only one in the auditorium, when the crime took place.

Max sat in the jail cell until the morning really came. He didn't get any sleep because the situation that he was in. He was really scared of what was surrounding him, which were other people in their cells acting weird, crazy, and some were drunk. The cage made him feel really vulnerable and defenseless. He had no way to go turn for comfort he felt so negatively exposed that he was embarrassed to seen at the moment.

"Looks like we got fresh young meat that joined the cattle," a man said from a cell across from Max. He was a Caucasian strong muscular man that had a lot of tattoos on his arms. "Don't you worry little man; we'll get along just fine!"

Max couldn't believe what he has seen for the past couple of hours. It was like he was in another universe that he didn't recognize and dreaded to be a part of. But the whole world as he knows it was not filled with rose colored glasses. It was the most realistic place that has swallowed him whole. But during his incarceration all that he could think about right now was his uncle Kelbo and what he has said. He felt so ashamed about not being careful and watching out for the warning signs. Now everything is a big mess and he doesn't have anyone to blame but himself in this case.

A few minutes later, Jerry and Theresa showed up escorted by a different officer that Max now recognize. It was their friend officer Barry who has been an officer for many years being close to the Russo family. But now as Max stared into officer Barry's eyes and his parents, he could see the sorrow and disappointment spilling out of them like venom from a snake. The officer unlocks the cell and lets Max out to be accompanied by his parents.

"I'm afraid that you are going to need a lawyer on this matter," said Officer Barry, concernedly.

"What?" asked Jerry

"Even though he's released without bail under your requests," Officer Barry went on. "This still isn't over."

"Thank you, officer," said Theresa, with a sigh. "We really appreciated."

"I hope everything goes well with you guys," said Officer Barry, looking sadly at Max, who was staring at the floor.

"Let's go," Jerry said in unison, trying to hide his anger from Max as they head out of the police station.

Nor Jerry or Theresa said a word to Max as they made their way back home, which causes tension in that air for Max to hardly breathe. As they got home Alex, Justin, Harper, Zeke, and Mason were waiting for them in the living room. They were curious to see what going to happen after Jerry told them that Max got arrested. The three of them went into the living room and sat down with the rest of the family.

"Okay," said Alex impatiently. "Can somebody tell me what's going on?"

"Your brother got arrested, as we said before," said Jerry, his words fuming. "Then as we got there, we was informed that the reason why he was arrested was because he trashed the school's auditorium!"

"Trashed the auditorium?" Alex turned to Max. "Max, is this true?"

"But I could've have done this," said Max, trying to defend himself. "I swear."

"You couldn't have done it?" Jerry chuckled with sarcasm. "That funny because according to the police officer, you were the only one in the auditorium. The cops busted you with two spray paint cans in your hands! Do you want to tell us that?"

Max couldn't come up with anything. He knew that he was the only one that was in the auditorium when it happened. It seemed like he couldn't get out of trouble because all of the evidence was linked to him. He just sat there staring at the floor, wishing that he still had his powers to make it swallow him whole.

"I don't know," Max muttered quietly.

"What was that?" said Jerry. "We couldn't hear you under your own guilt!"

"I said I don't know," Max finally admitted.

"You don't know," said Justin cutting in. "I bet the color on the palm of your hands didn't think so either."

Max looked at his hands which was filled with colors of red and green. His face burned with embarrassment as he looked in the outraged disappointed faces of his family. He was now stuck between a rock and a hard place and he couldn't do anything about it.

"I can't believe you did such a thing!" Alex exclaimed, getting up from her chair. "We as a school and alums worked so hard to build that auditorium for the community and you mess it up like that?!"

"I can't believe it either," said Harper, in disbelief. "And you know what's sad, I thought you were beginning to be the coolest person I know...I guess I was wrong."

A wave of sorrow came over Max like an eclipse in the sky. The last thing he ever wanted to do was to disappoint his family. But he knew that it was too late to fix anything right now. He had no choice but to face the music, because the damage was done.

"I'm sorry," said Max, trying to hold back the tears. "I really am. I didn't mean for all of this to happen."

"I don't think sorry is going to cut it this time," Justin said, bitterly. "You really blew it this time! And do you know what gets under my skin? Is that you don't even care! But why am I waisting my time with such disgrace. I mean your head must be filled with too much air to understand what you've done. I have better stuff to do to be dealing with this little lowlife we call a brother!"

Alex, Harper, and Justin abruptly left the living room leaving Max to face his parents alone. Zeke and Mason, who stuck around but decided to distance themselves from the conversation, was looking at Max with worry and concern.

"You know that your brother is right," said Theresa boldly. "Do you realize that you could go to jail for what you have done. Max, this is no joke! This is real life reality we dealing with here. What does it have to take for you to just grow up for once in your life?"

"We've raised you better than this," said Jerry. "I'd expected this behavior from a two year old, it's-."

Everyone now looked at him trying to figure out what he was about to say. But what Jerry said next hurted Max like putting a knife through his heart.

"It's like we raised a big disappointment!" Jerry exclaimed, without thinking.

Max couldn't believe what he has heard, even Zeke and Mason was stunned. Whether he did the crime or not, those words that Jerry said had gone too far and he hadn't realized it. But it didn't matter now, the tension was too much at a boiling point.

"Honey let's all just calm down a little bit," said Theresa, trying to break a brewing storm. "Why don't we all just get some rest, and later on we just call a lawyer and deal with this from there okay?"

Everyone agreed, as Max gets up from his seat and leaves with Zeke and Mason only to stand in the doorway to listen to their parent's conversation which sends chills down his spine.

"I don't know what to do now Jerry," Theresa admitted. "Never in a million years would one of my kids would do something like this."

"I swear that kid's brain is like the size of a fricking kernel," Jerry fumed. "It seems like what we do is not working."

"That's just it," said Theresa. "We tried grounding him, we have taken stuff away from him, and I mean we tried everything."

Jerry shakes his head as he plops down on the couch and puts his face in his hands and sighed. Max heart seemed to jump into his his throat all at once. He didn't like where their conversation is going to at all. It was a place that Max in all of his life has dreaded to hear.

"I don't think that I can do this, Theresa," Jerry admitted. "I'm getting too old for this, and I just can't take it."

"Wait," Theresa jumped lightly. "What are you trying to say?"

Jerry hesitated for a second then stared at the blank T.V. screen. Theresa couldn't stand the silence any longer.

"Jerry," said Theresa, with concern.

"We gonna have to put him out," Jerry said in unison.

"Put him out?" Theresa whispered, frantically. "Where is he going to go?"

"I don't know, Theresa," said Jerry, honestly. "But the boy needs to be taught a lesson! Ever since the wizard competition has ended, he's been so out of control that is not even funny!"

"I know things has been tough, honey," said Theresa. "But there has to be another way to settle this, I mean we just can't throw him out in the streets."

"I know," said Jerry softly. "But I feel that's like the only option for him to grow up and be a man!"

Max couldn't stand to listen anymore and with that said and done, he rushed down the hall to go to his room. After he slams his door, he fights the urge to have a breakdown. He calms down after he takes a few breaths and he collapse into a nearby chair. His closes his eyes wishing that it was all a bad dream and that when he opens his eyes, he would be in his bed in his pj's and it would be the day before. But in reality his nightmare had came true. It was Sunday morning and he was stuck in the most horrible mess ever. A few minutes later there was a knock on his bedroom door. Max just stood still, with the knocks on the door stapling his feet to the floor.

"Max?" Zeke's voice snapped him out of his state.

"Yes?" Max asked, in a croaked voice.

Zeke opened the door and walked in slowly followed by Mason. Zeke and Harper were dating each other for the same amount of time Alex and Mason were dating which have been two years. Now already college students their relationships were on different levels but it's now stronger than ever. Also Zeke and Mason got to know Max as well besides Max's growing family estrangement.

"We just came by to see if you're doing alright," said Zeke.

"Yeah, that was really bloody intense out there," said Mason, concerned. "It was like we had to prepare to battle."

"I'm afraid it's more than a battle," said Max, with a blank expression. "They're thinking about kicking me out."

"As in kicking you out of the house," asked Zeke, frantically. "Where would you go?"

"I don't know," said Max, running his hands through his hair trying to keep his composure. "I guess this is it."

There was silence for a brief moment where all of them exchange looks at each other. They didn't want to see Max go down for the count, but for now, there was nothing they can do. All of they can do for Max is that they can only support him instead of turning their back on him.

"Listen, Max," Zeke said, finally. "For whatever it is that you did or didn't do, the only best thing that we all can get past is to stick together."

"Yeah, said Mason, with a weak smile. "We're a family, no matter what happens."

"Oh, you guys," said Max. "Thank you."

Max gets up and hugs the both of them, blinking back his own tears. Even though the moment was bittersweet, Max knew that it was the beginning of a big storm that brewing upon him.