“Oh my Gawd, I am so frigging high … I won’t be able to go home for days – like, literally, days.”
The young teen girl sitting on the back of the couch and clearly under the influence, her voice slurred and movements insecure, handed the bong to one of the boys on the couch with her, then leaned back against the wall moaning before giggling.
“If you had my parents, they wouldn’t even notice.” the boy to her left groaned, his voice clear as day but deepened with held back frustration.
“Oh boo-hoo, they totally would! You have the same kind of helicopter parents as I do, I mean, helloooooo, your dad and my mom are literally twins. So don’t whine around. They would notice, they care about you, and you KNOW it.”
Another girl, who had been impersonating disliked classmates with a friend of hers, had said those words, her voice clear and dripping with amusement as she was looking at the boy, who placed the bong on the floor.
“Whatever. I need a smoke.”
The boy, fourteen years of age, stood up and left, the girl about one year his junior and with short dark curls followed. Her milk coffee toned complexion and contrasting bright green eyes told the tale of a mixed race background.
“Hey, At least you don’t have a mom like my dad. Always with the lame dad jokes …” the girl tried to up the boy’s mood, while he was lighting a cigarette.
“I don’t have a mom, period! I have some crazy ass lady who popped me out and then forgot about me. Not what I would call a mother.” his voice deeper now with anger.
“But your step-mom is cool – and so pretty, it’s ridiculous.” the girl shrugged.
“You can have her if you like her so much. The step-monster is a goodie-two-shoes fake ass bitch. Ever since she popped out that brat, it was like ‘Blake-Who?’ No, thanks.” he frowned and shook his head.
“Well, babies need a lot more attention than we do at our age. Hello? I have two younger siblings, so I’m in the same boat. I am cool with it. And they are hella cute! I think Blythe is pretty all right … and do you really have to smoke? ” the girl insisted.
“Yeah, I do and am so happy everything is just rainbows and ponies for you.” the boy growled, blowing out a cloud of smoke, which made the girl frown, but she refrained from harping on about it. She had many times before, and obviously he was already in a mood.
“You can come and crash at my place again.” she offered. They were cousins, and had spent the night at each other’s place many times before.
“Nah, I think I’ll go over and hang with great-grandpa for a minute. Ever since his stroke he has been all sorts of weird. I want to spend as much time with him as I can before he takes a forever dirt nap.”
“Duuuude, don’t say that!” the girl tried looked scared and sad at the same time.
“What?! Ally, come on, he is in his 90s. So is great-grandma. They’re not gonna live for-fucking-ever. And when they are gone, the only sane one in this family, besides us, will be grandpa.”
“And grandma. And I think my parents are pretty all right. Annoying sometimes, but I love them. Since my mom and your dad are twins, uncle Ethan is cool too and don’t you even try to argue that. Besides – whatever happened to Blake and his daddy everywhere all the time? You two used to be like Siamese twins!”
“I was replaced, that is what happened, by a shiny new wife and a new and improved son. Now I am just a burden. And my birth-mother gives even less fucks!”
“I cannot believe it! Another F?! What the heck are you doing during tests in school?! Did you fall asleep after writing your name?! You need to get your grades up. College applications are going to come sooner than you think and once you hit school rock bottom, it is gonna be really hard to get it all caught up before the time comes! If you can’t, then what? And quit rolling your eyes at me, Blake Cameron!” Ethan could not keep his voice down, even though he tried.
“Ethan, don’t yell at him, it’s probably just a phase.” Blythe tried to diffuse the situation.
“…probably just a phase …” Blake mimicked his step-mother’s voice.
“That’s it! Go to your room, do your homework and study! You’ll have plenty of quality time for that, since you are grounded. 2 weeks! 1 week for the bad grade and 1 for smoking. SMOKING! And on school grounds! You are 14! I can’t believe it! I am so disappointed in your choices, Blake.” Ethan was fuming.
“Cool. Are we done now? Can I go cry into my pillow upstairs then?” Blake sounded abrasive.
“Go. Please get out of my sight.”
Ethan looked tired as he sunk down onto a chair.
Tired from work, being a father to a toddler and to a very rebellious teenager, who once was a sweet boy, polite and one of the top students in his class.
When Blake was 10 and Ethan married Blythe, the three of them moved into this new home, all was wonderful, a happy little family, until they found out she was expecting.
Shortly after Elias’ birth and more so the older his half-brother got, the worse Blake became until Ethan could not recognize his own son anymore.
Now at barely 14, Blake constantly seemed angry and full of hatred, they had been through almost every trouble with him that a boy his age can get into, including at school, his entire family was clueless what to do, he was dropped as a patient by two therapists.
About a week later, Ethan received a disturbing call at work and rushed to San Myshuno right away. Luckily traffic during the early afternoon hours wasn’t too bad.
After he parked and entered the building, he could hear the commotion long before the elevator had reached the penthouse floor.
The apartment door was wide open, he hurried in and there was Blake, who had his mother Amy backed into a corner as he was yelling and gesturing.
Ethan pulled his son away from his ex-wife and a light physical altercation happened but Ethan was able to subdue Blake until he calmed down, while Ethan turned to a very scared, distraught and sobbing Amy.
“I am so sorry, Amy. Are you okay?” he asked her, worried.
She just sobbed and collapsed against Ethan’s shoulder, where he calmly comforted her, shooting their son angry glaces and reprimanding him for his action – and for leaving school early.
“Mommy?” the voice of a toddler who now came into view, a drowsy looking little boy, Ethan stopped speaking right away and smiled at Amy’s little boy with her new husband Carson.
“Fucking hell! Goddamn Blake-replacements everywhere!” Blake hissed and ran out of the penthouse.
When Ethan followed, Blake was nowhere to be found, the small gleam of hope that he may be waiting by the car dissipated quickly.
“Dang it, son, what happened to my sweet little boy?! I miss him so much.” Ethan leaned his head onto the steering wheel.
Blake disappearing, even sometimes overnight, was not new either. Disheartening, scary, sad, all of that, but it had happened several times before.
Ethan had talked to his parents, his sister, his best friend, his cousin so many times by now … nobody knew what to do anymore.
One of the following weekends, about 8 PM at Everleigh and KC’s home.
“No, kid, not stiff, you’re not trying to dig for peanut butter from a jar, loosen them digits up some. Yeah, like that, there you go.” KC smirked as he spoke.
KC watched Blake play the same riff again, this time it sounded almost like what KC had demonstrated for him, and he smiled before he told his grandson.
“Ooooh – so close. That was almost a smile there on that grumpy face of yours. You still have teeth, right?” KC faked a serious and worried expression but his eyes belied it for teasing.
“Ha ha – funny, granpa.”
“You know I am always here to listen, right?” KC said plainly.
“Okay, my mistake. That sounded like you had an option. Serves me right for trying to be nice. Talk! And don’t even try to talk your way out of it or dodge. This is happening.” KC’s deep voice was firm.
“Why? You got no other problems than your disappointment of a grandson?” Blake’s words sounded of the inner turmoil the boy seemed to feel inside.
“You are not a disappointment kid, you are well loved and you know it. I have lots of other problems, thanks for asking. But you affect my girl, in other words you are worrying your grandma, and now this is top priority.”
“What is it with men in our family and them being puppets to their women? That’s totally disgusting. I am never gonna be like that. The bitches can do as I say, or leave.” Blake said angrily.
“HA! Sounds just like me at your age! You are so adorable!” KC pinched Blake’s cheeks just to get a rise out of him.
“Stop! Think I am 5 or something?!” he protested, obviously annoyed, as intended.
“Looking at you, no. Listening to you, yep. Maybe more like 3. And in need of a nap and a hearty spanking.”
“Sure, beat around on me. May need to pick a number, long line.” Blake said.
“Is there a dress code for the pity party or come as you are?”
“OMG – grandpa!”
Blake put down the guitar.
KC pointed at the instrument.
“That’s a gift. You keep it and practice and bring your ass over here so I can teach you not to sound like cats in heat. Do you have some other clothes still up in your dad’s old room?”
“Don’t think so, why?”
“Cos we are going fishing. Just you and I. I’ll text your grandma and dad, and we will be off.”
“Are you like senile and crap? It’s dark out, and I don’t want to go fishing in the middle of the night. What the hell?!” Blake complained.
“Sounds like a personal problem. I am older, bigger and much stronger. You are going.”
“Like hell I am! I don’t have to listen to you. I am going to drop out of school, run away soon anyway and live on my own. I don’t take orders from you or anybody anymore!”
Blake reached one of his by now infamous temper boiling points, his eyes nearly shooting sparks as he looked ready to fight.
“Wanna bet?” KC didn’t seem impressed in the least.
“What are you going to do, old man? Punch me? CPA would have a feast. Police too.” Blake said, feeling superior, as KC burst into loud laughter, which was not the effect Blake had aimed for, and it showed.
“Is that supposed to scare me? ME? You are about as scary to me as a legless lion. Kid, I have been to prison more times than I can count. What’s one more? Evey will forgive me, she always does. And your dad is my son who works for my wife. What else you got?” mocked KC.
Blake’s aggressive stance and expression had made way to honest surprise, his dumb facial expression fueled KC’s laughter.
“You’ve been to prison?” stuttered the teen.
“Oh – ooops, I wasn’t supposed to talk about that. But now that the cat is out of the bag – surpriiiiiiiiiiiise. Yep. Sure have.” KC finally managed to get a hold of himself.
“Did you drop the soap? Be some big dude’s bitch?” Blake had caught himself and hid behind the usual stand-off-ish ways.
“Nope – I WAS the big dude.” KC smirked confidently.
“Do you have any proof?”
“Proof? Like what? A class pic with the rest of the inmates? A lovely scrap book made off prison-issued toilet paper decorated with pieces of teeth and bones left from some prison brawls? You’re kidding, right? But nix fishing. I have something better to show you. I was never going to even have you as much as know about this, but since you think you are so big and bad, you’ll get a spoonful of reality check. Since I am super-grandpa, I’ll spare you the meet & greet unless you don’t knock off that wanna-be gangsta BS when we get there. Your very childish plan may look cool from where you sit, but let someone who knows tell you, you couldn’t be more wrong. In other words, Jeep, now!” KC’s smile faded and his last words were delivered dead serious.
“When are you ever gonna buy a new car? That geriatric Wrangler is ancient. We’ll probably end up stranded somewhere.” Blake whined.
“If we do, you get some exercise pushing it. Helps with the munchies.” KC told him.
“Don’t even try. I can smell the marijuana on you. And the cigarettes. Despite your attempt of a full body scrub with some car air freshener. Consider this your official first and last warning by me to stop both. If I catch you again, kid, it won’t be pretty. I am not your dad, I don’t play by rules. I’ll get you where it really hurts.” KC grinned at his grandson.
“Kid, I know you are so young and have much left to learn, but here is one life lesson you need to get in right away: you cannot bullshit the bullshitter. Drugs, cigarettes and I am just going to throw booze out there for good measure, all that needs to wait till you are in your twenties. End of discussion. You can read up on the whys online.”
The drive out to wherever KC was taking him was quiet.
Blake was grateful.
He didn’t feel like talking.
Out of all his miserable family, his grandpa and great-grandparents were his favorites.
They were the least intrusive, not constantly trying to better him but always had something of substance to say in a way that made sense, rather than just endless pounding on his mistakes.
His grandpa was the coolest person he knew, he wouldn’t admit that now, but he secretly admired him and hoped to one day be just like him. Especially the music.
They arrived at some dark, remote, run down spot somewhere in no-man’s-land, not anywhere Blake had ever been to and he tried to refuse vehemently to get out of the Jeep, but KC made him.
“Where the heck are we?!” whined Blake, looking around scared and appalled.
“My sweet, darling childhood home. Yep. There is nowhere to go but the crooked route from here. All the girls that ever lived and still live here end up across the street at the strip club, at least those who live long enough, and the men end up amounting to nothing, drinking themselves to an early grave after several stints in the slammer. Or drugs take them. Or they get themselves shot. Say hello to your dream future. Smells like roses, right? No wait, that’s not roses, that is literal trash, piss, shit and decay! Look around, take it all in, take notes and styling ideas for later.”
“OMG – I wanna go home. Please grandpa, take me home!”
“Home? Whaaaaat? Why not spend the night? I am sure they have a bed for ya. It would be your family, after all. I have no clue who of them is still alive, but this is my side of the family, the real McCoys.” KC knew he won this battle and smiled victoriously.